Category Archives: Eating In

Project Wedding Cake

Hi all! Its been a hectic past week for me because MY BEST FRIEND GOT MARRIED TWO DAYS AGO. It was an exciting and happy event, filled with dancing and eating and general fun. And as you’ve guessed from the title of this post, I was asked to make the wedding cake. She only asked me a month before the wedding, and at first I was very nervous about it. I’ve never made a great tasting layered cake before, and the ones I have made usually 1) don’t look so great, and 2) don’t taste awesome. Thankfully though, I’ve made bad layered cakes before, so I knew what to watch out for. Thus started my journey of making a perfect wedding cake for my best friend.

Bride and Groom with the wedding cake

Bride and Groom with the wedding cake

Wedding cake:

One of my most trusted recipe blog sites is Smitten Kitchen, so I headed over right away to find a wedding cake recipe. Finding a wedding cake recipe is important because cakes tend to be heavy, and stacking them usually results in a dense cake. Although there is that fine balance between texture and being stackable, it was more important that my cake didn’t crumble under its own weight. Thankfully, Deb has made a wedding cake before, and her recipe is delicious. I decided to make both cakes, although I quickly realized the chocolate cake is very tender. My friend asked for a two-tiered cake, and although I would much prefer to have lots of chocolate cake for the bottom tier, I was afraid that the cake would not hold. Thus, I decided the bottom would be the yellow butter vanilla cake and the top would be chocolate cake. One of my baking habits is to NOT use vanilla unless the flavor of vanilla is a prominent feature (such as creme brulee), and that back fired on me on the big (baking) day. I forgot to use vanilla on the cake. =( Fortunately, the buttercream got some, so it all worked out. My final recipe is:

Yellow Butter Cake (for 8×3 inch cake pan):

  • 300g cake flour
  • 19g baking powder
  • 300g sugar
  • 7.5 oz butter, cubed, slightly chilled
  • 180g buttermilk
  • 48g buttermilk
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  1. Line your cake pan fully with parchment paper.
  2. Add cake flour, baking powder, some salt, and sugar together into a LARGE bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer, Cream the butter into the dry ingredients by adding a piece of butter at a time. This helps the cake rise evenly without doming.
  4. Add the 180g buttermilk to the creamed mixture, and whisk the batter until light and fluffy.
  5. Whisk 48g buttermilk with 3 eggs and 2 egg yolks.
  6. Add egg mixture in to the batter. Mix until smooth. Pour into cake pan.
  7. Bake at 325C for 1 hour and 20 minutes

Chocolate Cake (for 6×3 inch cake pan):

  • 180g hot water for coffee/cocoa mix
  • 64g cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee/ espresso powder / strong coffee
  • 180g cake flour
  • 225g sugar
  • 10g baking soda
  • 5g salt
  • 6oz butter, cubed, slightly chilled
  • 144g buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 eggs (24 g = half an egg)
  1. Line your cake pan fully with parchment paper.
  2. Make strong coffee using 180g hot water. This could mean brewing your own coffee, or using a couple of packets of espresso powder in water. I typically do 3 tbsp of instant coffee. Just taste the coffee – you want it to be fairly bitter.
  3. Add the 64g cocoa powder into the strong coffee and mix. There will be clumps but don’t worry about it.  Set aside.
  4. Again, cream the cake flour, sugar, baking soda, salt with cubed butter using an electric mixer.
  5. Pour the 144g buttermilk in to the creamed mixture again, and whisk until light and fluffy. You can add some of the coffee/cocoa mixture in as a reference to see when the batter has become lighter.
  6. Add 1 and 1/2 eggs into the coffee/cocoa mixture, and whisk until smooth.
  7. Pour coffee mixture into cake batter, and mix until smooth.
  8. Pour batter into 6×3 cake pan, 3/4ths high up. There will be tons left over, so I typically pour the rest into a pyrex dish and bake it as well.
  9. Bake at 325C for 50 minutes

Fillings:

The next thing to decide was flavors. At first I just wanted to be boring and use buttercream between the layers. However, upon reading all of Deb’s post for the wedding cake she made, I was inspired to do lemon curd for the yellow butter cake and raspberry for the chocolate layer. I knew the bride liked lemon tarts (cause I made her one a few months ago), and raspberry with chocolate is always a good combo. I opted for using Serious Eat’s lemon curd recipe (without the strawberry part). The raspberry part took a little more fiddling with. My recipe ended up being 200g frozen raspberries, 50g sugar, 30g corn starch (dissolved in minimal water) and created a congealed raspberry glob that was thick enough to create a nice, thick layer of raspberry in between the chocolate cake layers. The congealed part was important because I didn’t want the sauce to be flowing out of the cake once the layers were stacked on, and I found that unless the raspberry layer was thick, its flavor was not very prominent as I had hoped.

Project Wedding Cake 2

Buttercream:

To my dismay, the buttercream recipe Deb provides at Smitten Kitchen tastes like butter. And while that is awesome for cake making, eating a cake with that buttercream recipe tasted like I was rubbing my mouth down with sticks of butter. My favorite buttercream recipe is from the book The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated Cookbooks) (which I HIGHLY recommend), but it is unfortunately at the bottom of my many boxes that are waiting to be moved to Chicago. So I turned to Serious Eats for another recipe. I don’t always count on Serious Eats for good baking recipes, but since it came with a slideshow regarding the technique to creating buttercream, I went along with it. The fact that it called for egg whites in grams also made it seem very promising. It turned out to be utterly delicious, and it is now my new favorite. Although the recipe calls for 1 lbs of butter, I typically add just enough butter just to get it to turn from a water-based emulsion to a butter-based emulsion, so the consistency tends to be loose.  This is usually calls for 3 to 3 1/2 sticks of butter. I flavored the buttercream with vanilla extract in the end. The buttercream is not a big part of the flavors of the cake however, because I used just enough to “glue” the fondant to the cake. Which finally brings us to….

Fondant:

What. A. Bitch. Fondant was by far the hardest thing to deal with while making the cake, but to be fair I’ve never worked with fondant prior to making this wedding cake. As for the recipe, I wasn’t choosy so I just went over to foodnetwork.com and found a fondant recipe. Translated into weights, that recipe means 60g water, 1 packet of gelatine (~8g), 170g light corn syrup or glucose, 28g glycerine, and ~2lbs sugar, depending on how much I work in. I think the trick to working with fondant is to try to not work too much sugar in initially, and then use tons of sugar while you are rolling it out to prevent it from sticking to the table/itself. If you add too much sugar into the fondant (rolling it out too many times due to rips, or working too much sugar into the fondant to begin with), the surface of the fondant won’t be smooth and end up looking like elephant skin.

Design:

Finally, the most fun part of a wedding cake: design! I chose to go with a simple quilted pattern (like a Channel bag), and used buttercream to glue on pale yellow beads. I cut a cardboard into a triangle, and traced the edge into the fondant using the rounded tip of a butter knife. I used 2.5 cm intervals between each line. The yellow beads the bride got for me from Michael’s. Near the big (baking) day, I was told a two-tiered cake would look tiny on the table, so the bride got me a 10x3inch and 12x3inch Styrofoam fake cakes to cover with fondant. In the end it required 1 1/2 buttercream recipes, 2 1/2 fondant recipes to cover everything properly, since the fake cake portion needed buttercream as well (as glue). The bride also asked her florist to put some flowers on top as decoration.

Tons of thanks to my wonderful helper, Demi Wang

Tons of thanks to my wonderful helper, Demi Wang

And finally, I would like to thank everyone who was encouraged me through this long process of learning how to make a wedding cake, and all of those that I have stuffed the cake down the throats of. 7 cake trials, 6.5 hours on the big (baking) day, and the magic of one florist later, the cake was baked.

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Sesame Wafers

From my blogroll, the one that always makes me want to try their recipe is Pores au Chocolat. Maybe its because she’s British, and so all the things she makes seems new and exciting (let’s face it, American blogs seem to only care about making cakes, cupcakes, pies, or scones/biscuits).  Or maybe its the simplicity of her photography and recipes that draws me to it. Or maybe its the fact that all her recipes are posted in weight as opposed to cups, and in the metric system no less. Either way, when I’m feel like I need to step out of the usual desserts I make, I turn to her for some good recipes.

Sesame Wafers 1

I think what drawn me to this recipe was the use of sesame. I usually don’t see white sesame used in sweets, but black sesame is one of my favorite flavors or fillings in Asian desserts. I followed the sesame wafers recipe here, except for halving the recipe (I didn’t want to make 50 of these things), and substituting dark brown sugar for light brown sugar (its what I had on hand). Also, my cookies turned out baked at 6 minutes, and burnt at 10, so if you plan on making these be sure to check your oven often.

Sesame Wafers 2

The texture reminded me of the brandy snaps I made last year, also from Poires au Chocolat. Both cookies/wafers were lacy and sugary. However, the toasted white sesame seeds gave it an incredibly savory flavor that reminded me of some sort of childhood snack. They are very delicious, and it is unfortunate that I burnt my first batch. I wish mine were perfectly round like hers, but hey taste is more important. If you are interested in making these, head over to Poires au Chocolat and check out the recipe!

Sesame Wafers 3

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Cheesecake Flan

Cheesecake Flan 1

I forget how I came across this recipe, but it contained two things I love, cheesecake and flan, so I knew I had to make it. Although I overcooked my first batch (an issue I will address with I provide instructions for the recipe), the second batch I was much more careful and the results were amazing. The texture was perfectly smooth and silky. The hybrid of the two desserts is interesting, and I debated for a while whether or not I liked it enough to want to share it. The first one I had was very, very tangy, predominantly the taste of cream cheese, and only sweet enough when I ate it with the proper amount of caramel from the bottom. This was about 1/2 hour after I took them out of the oven. I didn’t like it so much.

Cheesecake Flan 2

However, the second time I had it, after a night in the fridge (the flan, not me), it was more flan-like than cheesecake. Perfect sweetness and texture of the flan, and an occasional tanginess to kick. Maybe inverting it onto a plate made the caramel spread more evenly and made it taste better. Perhaps the 3rd time tasting it will reveal the answer. Anyway, I think this recipe is interesting enough by itself to share, and my 2nd flan was quite delicious. Its a little heavier than flan, but not as heavy as creme brulee or cheesecake. Think of it as a heavy flan, or a light cheesecake I suppose.

Anyway, I got my recipe from the Food Network, and here are some tips to help.

  • The baking time for this recipe called for 30 minutes at 325F. People get varying results probably because the amount of water they use to fill the container is different. I used a 9×13 baking pan with ~6 cups of water and the flan was fully baked at around 30~35 minutes.
  • Your flan is over-baked when the top of the custard is puffy and has bubbles in it
  • You can substitute low fat cream cheese with regular cream cheese if you would like.

Have you ever made any desserts that was a fusion of two separate desserts? How did it turn out? Tell me about it! I would love to try more interesting mashups.

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Tamagoyaki

Tamagoyaki 1

Growing up, I’ve always disliked eggs. I remember my mom used to ask us at dinner if we wanted a fried egg for dinner, and I would always say no. Although I grew up liking dan bing (Chinese egg pancakes), it was definitely the bing, or pastry part, that I liked better. Then, after watching a lot of Good Eats, I realized it wasn’t eggs that I disliked, it was overcooked eggs that I disliked. Overcooked eggs are smelly and unctuous, so I always prefer them a little undercooked, at least a little creamy.

Tamagoyaki 2

With that in mind, I tried to make my version of the perfect tamagoyaki. I watched the tamagoyaki video by Cooking with Dog, which is an adorable channel in which a poodle seems to narrate the the steps for making Japanese food while a Japanese women cooks. Anyway, tamagoyaki literally means “fried/baked eggs,” and its typically a rectangular sheet of egg rolled up seasoned with dashi (Japanese fish stock), soy sauce, and sugar. The original recipe called for parsley, but I didn’t want to bother with it because really, who is ever able to taste parsley anyway? I also didn’t have dashi on hand, so I substituted it with some chicken broth powder. After a couple tries, I think I have this recipe down.

Tamagoyaki 3

Ingredients

  • 3 Eggs
  • 3 Tbsp stock of your choice
  • 1 1/3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp soysauce
  • Cooking oil

Note: I use 1 tsp Lee Kum Kee Chicken Bouillon Powder and add it to 3 tbsp water to make the stock

Procedures:

  1. You will need a Tamagoyaki pan, but if you don’t have one a small frying pan is fine, preferably a non-stick one. Heat the pan up with medium heat and add a small bit of oil of your choice
  2. Beat the 3 eggs and add the other ingredients (not including oil). When the pan is hot, use a ladle and add 1 spoonful of the egg mixture. You want to have enough egg mixture to cover a thin layer at the bottom of the pan.
  3. The egg layer should not bubble or sizzle while its cooking. If so, turn down the heat. Give it 2-3 minutes to cook until the egg layer is not liquid, but not necessarily cooked through. Roll the layer up using spatula and chopsticks, making the rectangle roughly 3-5cm wide. Push the rolled up egg to the side of the pan.
  4. Pour another ladle of egg mixture onto the pan, making sure the egg touches the original egg roll. Repeat the process of rolling the egg and pouring the egg mixture. When you are rolling the egg, be careful because the edge of the egg roll and the new egg mixture is fragile, and breaks easily.
  5. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

Tamagoyaki 4

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Port Wine Sauce

Panna Cotta sans sauce

Panna Cotta sans sauce

I was fairly surprised how well this recipe turned out to be. I only bookmarked this recipe because I had some port wine left that I needed to use up, and I had put off making it for a couple of weeks because it wasn’t really a recipe I was excited about. However, the result turned out to be a deeply chocolate-y and luscious panna cotta with a nice tangy sauce to go with it. Not bad at all.

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Sauce 2

The original recipe can be found at Baker’s Royale.

Yield: Makes a total of 20 oz. about 5 servings

Ingredients:

Chocolate Panna Cotta

  • 2 cups plus 1/4 cup of half & half or heavy cream
  • 1 envelope plain gelatin (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1/4 cup  sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Cocoa Powder
  • 3 oz. dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Port Wine Pomegranate Sauce

  • 1 cup port wine
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Procedure:

To make chocolate panna cotta

  1. In a wide bowl, pour 1/4 cup dairy and the packet of gelatin on top. This is to allow for blooming, so that it melts and gelatinizes evenly.
  2. In a small pot, combine the rest of the dairy with the cocoa powder. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before heating it on the stove. Add the sugar and bring it to a simmer.
  3. Place the chocolate in a bowl, and pour the hot mixture over it. Allow it to sit for another 5 minutes and stir to combine. Add the vanilla extract and pour the solution through a sieve.
  4. Pour the hot chocolate dairy mix onto the gelatin, and stir until dissolved. Pour into 4 or 5 ramekins. Chill in the fridge for 2 hours or overnight covered loosely.

To make port wine pomegranate sauce

  1. Add port wine, pomegranate juice and honey into a pan and cook, only letting it simmer. Stir until the liquid is reduced to your liking.
  2. Drizzle on top of set chocolate panna cotta at time of serving.

Chocolate Panna Cotta with Pomegranate Sauce 3

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