Tag Archives: cake

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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Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache Filling

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Filling 3

Finally, a second post for my Saturday Baking Project! I have been really busy previous Saturdays due to student org activities, and the products turned out not as amazing as I wanted it to be, so I didn’t post about it. This week, I chose a recipe from my The Science of Good Cooking cookbook, which is definitely one of my favorite cookbooks so far. I’ve been eyeing this recipe for a couple of weeks, and given that its the week of Valentine’s day, I think chocolate cupcakes are very suitable.

Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake with Ganache Filling 1

Makes a dozen

Filling:
2 oz bitter sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp confectinoers’ or granulated sugar

Cupcakes:
3oz. bitter sweet chocolate, chopped fine
1 oz Dutch-processed cocoa
3/4 cup brewed coffee, hot
4 1/8 oz bread flour
5 1/4 oz sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of distilled white vingar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Procedure:

  1. For the filling: Microwave chocolate, cream, and sugar in a medium bowl until mixture is warm to the touch, about 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth and then transfer bowl to refrigerator and let sit until just chilled, no longer than 30 minutes
  2. For the cupcakes: Line 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners. Place chocolate and cocoa in a medium bowl, and pour hot coffee mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth, then transfer to refrigerator to cool completely about 20 minutes.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl. Whisk oil, eggs, vinegar, and vanilla into cooled chocolate mixture until smooth. Add flour mixture and whisk until smooth.
  4. Using an ice cream scoop or large spoon, divide batter evenly among prepared muffin cups. Place 1 slightly rounded teaspoon ganache filling on top of each portion of batter. Bake cupcakes until set and just firm to the touch at 350F, 17 t o19 minutes. Cool cupcakes.

I thought it was a great recipe, mostly due to the ganache filling. I did not make the frosting because I was lazy. Reading the recipe now, I realized that I forgot cocoa powder, which is why the cake lacked a deep chocolate flavor. The recipe called for distilled white vinegar, but I didn’t have any on hand so I used rice vinegar, so maybe that’s why it tastes strange. I also didn’t have vegetable oil so I used olive oil… but that’s okay, the delicious ganache filling made up for it. Despite the flavor being off, it was a tender and moist cake. I’m sure the cake itself is a great recipe if I actually did it right =(. I’m not the brightest during the early hours of Saturday morning.

Look at the bubbly ganache filling!

Look at the bubbly ganache filling!

I have to warn you though: wait for it to cool before eating! As much as ganache delicious, burning your tongue on hot ganache is not.

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Layer that cake

It was a friend’s birthday recently, and so I decided to make a cake for her. =) However, I didn’t want to make a regular cake. I think cakes are boring, and I personally don’t like cakes, so I went on a few blogs that were into Japanese cakes.  If you didn’t know, Japanese cakes tend to be very fancy/elaborate, with layers of cake and whipped cream or mousse and more layers of general yumminess. Since I loved mousse, and should practice it before I start teaching my baking class, I decided to go for it.

So then I had this coffee cake in mind that I had book marked and wanted to make before. However, when I told the friend arranging the party that I would make a cake, she replied, “I suggest something disney themed (if you’re putting a design on it) preferably minney/mickey mouse… or something chocolate flavored.”

I kind of didn’t know how to react, to laugh it off or be appalled. Disney themed!? Do I look like a cake designer to her? If I was so good I wouldn’t be in school; I’d be working in a cake store in New York! Geez. But anyway, the chocolate thing I could do, I suppose. Luckily, blogspot blogs have a “You might also like:” at the bottom of each post, which led me to a passion fruit chocolate mousse cake the same person did. But wait… passion fruits are expensive here… why don’t I go with raspberries instead, which are in season, and commonly paired with chocolate? Bingo, I had my cake.

Cake, final product (Photo Credits to David Hsu)

I did 3 layers, so I will separate them so.

Original recipe from Yue’s Handicrafts.

First Layer: Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:

  • 4 eggs
  • 65 g sugar
  • 50 g plain flour
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 30 g butter, melted
  • 35 g milk

Procedure:

  1. Beat the egg yolks with sugar until thick. Fold in melted butter.
  2. Sift the flour and cocoa powder. Add to your egg yolks along with the milk and fold until smooth.
  3. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the two components together in 3 installments and until the batter comes together.

    Slight fail where the egg whites on the edges are over beaten =(

  4. Pour into a greased 8″ pan (VERY IMPORTANT, GREASE GENEROUSLY) and bake at 350F for 15-20 minutes.

    Pierce with knife to make sure the cake is done

Note: I forgot to do this step, but I would have added a raspberry cake syrup to the cake too, using 2 tbsp water, 1tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp Chambord.

Second Layer: Chocolate Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 350 g whipping cream
  • 190 g 70% dark chocolate
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Procedure:

  1. Melt your chocolate
  2. Whip heavy cream and sugar into soft peaks. Fold together.

Third Layer: Raspberry Mousse

Ingredients:

  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 150 g whipping cream
  • 100 g raspberries, smashed
  • 50 g sugar
  • 50 g water
  • 8 g gelatine, or 1 packet
  • 2 tbsp Chambord

Procedure:

  1. Add your gelatine to cold water and let it bloom for 10 minutes. Heat the water (I used a microwave) and completely melt the gelatine.
  2. Whisk cream cheese and sugar until smooth.

    I looove cream cheese/cheesecakes

  3. Whisk heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  4. Fold the cream into the cheese, then the mushed raspberries, the Chambord, and finally the gelatine.

    All the components of the raspberry mousse, before folding

Putting it together

  1. Using a mold (or form a mold from aluminum foil), place the cake at the bottom.

    Aluminum foil mold with cake at the bottom

    Ghetto mold using tape to hold it together

  2. Brush on syrup generously.
  3. Pipe or dump the chocolate mousse on top and try to smooth this out. Put into fridge to set.

    Chocolate mousse on top of the cake

  4. Pipe or dump the raspberry mousse on top and smooth it out. Allow the mousse to set, preferably overnight. The resulting mousse should be firm to the touch, and not sticky. Garnish with raspberries before it sets if you would like.

End result, with melted chocolate writing

I actually ended up taking the raspberries off and eating it because I only put them on after the mousse had set

A few more things I would like to add: the original recipe called for cutting the chiffon cake layer into half, making one disk into a 7″ circle, and placing that on top of the set chocolate mousse before piping in the raspberry mousse layer. I didn’t feel like the  cake layer was thick enough to do so, so I omitted this step. But it was a bad move to do so. The mousse layers are definitely very heavy, which crushed the chocolate cake layer and made it very dense. It would have been better if the cake layer was thinner, so I would suggest splitting the cake and adding that extra cake layer on top.

Also, piping is suggested for the mousse layer because when I took off the aluminum foil, the layers were not pretty! I probably would have helped if I actually did the white chocolate decors on the side, but I don’t have any confidence in tempering chocolate. Icing it would have been excessive because most of this cake was a mousse anyway…

Birthday girl with a slice and her own chocolate covered strawberry as garnish (Photo Credits to David Hsu)

Overall, I think this recipe was okay. Would I do it again? Probably not. The construction of the cake is actually very easy, despite the layers, but I think the chocolate mousse doesn’t hold up well in the fridge. As in, the texture was very, very different from what I tasted the night before: creamy, light, chocolate-y became course/gritty, and not light. The chiffon cake layer too, wasn’t amazing due to it being compressed. However, the raspberry mousse was amazing, and I might make that just by itself someday.

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Sprinkles @ Georgetown

I have been waiting SO LONG to do this post. There are so many things I have to say, not just about the amazing cupcakes I had at Sprinkles. To begin, let me describe to you what my impression is about the food blog/sites that I usually hang out at.

I have an obsession for food, obviously, and the best way to deal with the obsession other than eating food is to go on sites like food gawker and taste spotting.  These are sites that have a lot of users posting to it constantly with beautiful photography of food that looks and probably tastes amazing.  Now when I first entered this blogging-sphere, I was excited to submit photos from my blog to food gawker, hoping to share my food obsession.

I was rejected. Sadly.

Of course, what I didn’t realize was that there was actually a standard for the photos submitted to food gawker, hence why the pictures are always gorgeous (some more gorgeous than others). Now, I’m not someone who is particularly interested in photography as a hobby. Pictures are nice, and pictures of food are even better. That was my relationship with photography before. But now that I have this blog, I began to realize that having people read my blog is harder than it seems. If I had prettier pictures, and was able to submit to sites like food gawker, I would get more traffic and all that jazz. But I’m not interested in photography.

And that’s the thing that irks me. I feel so pressured to buy a fancy camera with fancy lenses, set up a photo shoot studio for my cooking/baking products just because I want to maintain a food blog. I feel pressured to pick up photography as a hobby, just like all of those other successful blogs other there. I don’t want to do it. I just want to share food pictures/recipe.

So in defiance, I started to follow a few blogs with mediocre photography, people who obviously don’t have DSLRs like me. Yet, I soon lost interest in those blogs. Why? It was simple: the pictures were not appealing. Hanging out in those parts of the food community had “trained” my brain into wanting perfectly lit pictures with the perfect composition and colors. I now realize that people don’t take gorgeous pictures of food because they are snobby with their fancy 600 dollar DSLRs and 600 dollar lenses. People take these pictures because well lit, well composed food photography is better than pictures taken from your phone’s camera. Maybe I’m not interested in photography as a subject for the sake of photography, but I’m all for food photography.

In light of this, I took the chance of meeting up with my boyfriend to do a photo shoot with his DSLRof these tastey cupcakes I got from Sprinkles.  Its my first time using his camera without his help, hence the lack of skill/proper lighting.  I didn’t know what I was doing, and I didn’t know how to read numbers to make sure lighting wasn’t off (which most of them were).  However, I did want to play with focus and composition and whatnot, so that’s what the pictures are mainly about.

To the cupcakes: I got a banana chocolate cupcake and a chocolate marshmallow cupcake.  The first one was basically a banana cake with milk chocolate butter cream on top, and the second one is a dark chocolate cupcake with dark chocolate butter cream/ganache (?) with a little bit of marshmallow filling in the middle.

These cupcakes were amazing, just like the ones in Vanilla Pastry Studio. (On a side note, I can’t believe I haven’t reviewed that place yet!) I think I liked the chocolate marshmallow one better simply because I love dark chocolate.  However, the banana cupcake itself was very good: fragrant, banana-y, soft and fluffy. It might have contained some banana chunks, I wasn’t sure, but it definitely smelled like bananas. I also liked that neither of the cupcakes have too much butter cream; that stuff can be too rich or too sweet, and I loved the subtle flavors that wasn’t being covered by the sweetness. However, there was a strange aftertaste for the banana cupcake… I wasn’t sure if it was because they used some sort of banana extract or what.

The chocolate marshmallow cupcake was disappointing in the fact that I was expecting an actual marshmallow or marshmallow phlough-like thing.  It turns out it was just “marshmallow cream,” as their site tells me. If you think about it, isn’t that just corn syrup, vanilla, and heavy cream? After all, that’s what you would be tasting in homemade marshmallows, unless you added some sort of extract or oil to it. Still, the dark chocolate is very well executed. It was not to sweet and had a deep chocolate taste.

Bottom line? I love their cupcakes.  They are good. I will hopefully be getting some more when I visit my brother at La Jolla. =)

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Matcha Souffle Roll

Summer = lots of time.

Biology research = a lot of down time waiting for things to grow.

Summer + Biology research = lots of updates(?)

Yesterday afternoon a good friend of mine and I decided to bake an Asian cake. I don’t plan on going back home to Taiwan this summer, so I was feeling very nostalgic of Asian cakes. Although I don’t typically like cakes or whipped cream, I like Asian cakes because they’re very soft and have a smooth texture, something that cakes here lack. Still, most Asian cakes are smothered in whipped cream (I wonder how they even make whipped cream, given that there is no such thing as heavy cream in Taiwan…) and I tend not to enjoy them. Anyway, I digress.

Since we didn’t have that much time yesterday, we decided to go with a very simple cake from Evan’s Kitchen, and the original recipe can be found here. Its just a simple flat chiffon/souffle/sponge/whatever-you-want-to-call-it cake and then rolled up with whipped cream. It turned out to be very soft and fluffy, which was what I was hoping for. However, we did bake it a few minutes too long, so the surface had caramelized making it hard to roll up. As ugly as it may seem, it was a very tastey cake and I suggest all of you to try.

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 60g cake flour
  • 5g matcha powder
  • 60ml milk
  • 85g granulated sugar

Note: I used confectioner’s sugar and I feel like that may have contributed to not being able to obtain stiff peaks with the egg whites. I was only able to get soft peaks and I went with it anyway. The original recipe calls for castor sugar, which is finer than granulated sugar, but I think granulated sugar should be fine too.

For the whipped cream:

  • 100ml whipping cream
  • 2 tsps confectioner’s sugar

Procedure:

  1. Combine egg, egg yolks, and vanilla extract and beat until combined
  2. Sift together flour and matcha powder.
  3. Melt the butter in a small sauce pan and add the cake flour and and matcha powder. Add the egg mixture a little at a time while stirring.
  4. Strain the mixture because there will be clumpy matcha powder.
  5. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks, and gradually add the sugar in the process. Fold the matcha “sauce” into the egg whites carefully
  6. Pour onto baking pan lined with parchment paper. The original recipe suggested 11″x11″, while I used a 9″x13″. Both works.
  7. Make the surface pretty =)
  8. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Check around 18 minutes. If it starts browning take it out immediately – browning makes the rolling part very difficult.
  9. Let the cake cool. You can also cut off the edges if they are very crusty.
  10. Whip up the whipped cream with heavy cream and sugar. Apply a thin layer on the cake.
  11. Roll it up! I would suggest to roll it up loosely to avoid cracking of the surface.

Since I don’t plan on perfecting this cake, these pictures will have to do. Maybe cutting off the browned portions would have helped too, but our cake was rather thin and I don’t have a bread knife. The original post at Evan’s kitchen shows a gorgeous green on the exterior, but the inside looks brown. I think the caramelized portion tastes delicious, but it just doesn’t look very pretty.

Our finished product

Try this recipe and tell me what you think!

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