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Monday, March 28, 2011

HCB: Orange Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

This is going to be a short post. I got a nasty cold over the weekend, and am still pretty run down from it. But I managed to force roll myself out of bed long enough to make this cake. I made 1/2 recipe baked in 7 x 3 inch pan.

The cake is pretty easy to make, and especially so since I've made it for the Bostini last year.

First, mix the egg yolks, orange juice, orange zest, and vanilla in a bowl. Then mix all the dry ingredients in the stand mixer. This cake calls for unbleached AP instead of cake flour/bleached AP for the Bostini. Once all the dry ingredients are mixed, add in the egg yolks mixture. Then whip the egg whites until foamy, add in cream of tartar, whip until soft peaks, then add the 1 Tbsp of sugar and whip until stiff peaks. I usually use my hand mixer for this one. Once the egg whites reached stiff peak, fold them into the egg yolks flour mixture.

Pour into the pan and bake.

I had already taken out my flower nail before starting the cake, but had somehow forgotten about it (it was hidden behind the the book). And only after the cake's been in the oven for 10 minutes I remembered the flower nail. What to do? I quickly open the oven door, grab the pan and stuck the flower nail in the middle of the cake anyway. I wasn't sure whether I should do this but the middle of the cake is still liquid so I thought why not. The cake baked for 35 minutes, and though it did rose in the middle, it sunk upon cooling. So maybe the sunken middle is due to my forgetting the flower nail.

You can see in the picture below how the middle is a lot shorter than the edges of the cake.

I wanted to make the whipped cream but just didn't have the energy to do, so I skipped it. 

Tasting impressions:
This cold has killed my taste bud, I can't smell a hint of orange in the cake but can't taste it at all. It is spongy, that's all I can tell you. Hubby said that the cake is good. A bit dense he said but he liked the flavor. I'm sure it'd be much better with the orange marmalade whipped cream. I will have to make this again when I feel better.

Monday, March 21, 2011

HCB Free Choice: Mini Vanilla Bean Pound (Cup)Cakes

I made this cupcake a couple of weeks ago. I was actually making the Pecan Pie from the Pie & Pastry Bible, and felt like making something from RHC as well. So I made the mini vanilla bean pound cake as cupcakes. I figured it's easy enough to do. I made 1/3 of recipe, which yield 4 cupcakes - about 45-50 grams each.

I am not going to go over the recipe in this post. It's pretty easy - like a regular butter cake. But also because I had forgotten what the recipe is like and I don't have my book with me. Haha. The downfall of baking ahead :).

In the recipe, the cake isn’t frosted, only syruped, but I felt like having some frosting. It’s been a long time since I made buttercream, and I have yet to try Lyle's Golden Syrup on neooclassic, so that’s what I made - flavored with orange flower water and orange oil. I figured since the pound cake does not have a strong flavor it would go well. And it did. So good was the buttercream that I ended up forgetting to syrup the cupcakes.

Frosting the cupcakes was fun. And I thought it needed something else so I took a bar of Green & Blacks white chocolate I had in the freezer and grated some over the cupcakes. The topped with little pink non pareils for more cute effect :).

Tasting impressions:
I didn't miss the syrup in the cake at all. The cake remained moist. It's definitely more dense than the yellow butter cake/cupcake but in a good way. The neoclassis buttercream is excellent. With Lyle the taste is phenomenal.

And I will leave you with a picture of the Pecan Pie. I made the chocolate version and decorated them with lattice top and whipped cream.

Monday, March 14, 2011

HCB: Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

WARNING: This post contains many pictures - most of them are mouth-watering. Please have something sweet nearby, a piece of cake would be nice, or if not available, a piece of chocolate/candy.

Got your candy?


This is one of the cakes that I've been looking forward to. I've never had a Devil's Food Cake (not a cake fan before HCB) and usuallt ganache is too rich/sweet for my taste but the picture in the book looks so luscious that everytime I see it I felt myself almost drooling. So when Marie scheduled it this month I was yelping with joy.

Rose advised to soak the cherries 8 hours ahead so I soaked it Friday night. Looking into the liquor collection in the pantry, I do not own a bottle of Cognac. Hard to believe, but true. I do have a bottle of brandy so that's what I used.

In going with the theme "let's divide the recipe as little as possible and using odd fractions if possible" I made 1/4 recipe, baked in 6 inch hearts pan. I had thought of taking Marie's dare comments and do 3/7th but I didn't want to mess it up.

First, I made the ganache. Rose said to make it at least 6 hours ahead. I didn't have time the night before, so I started first thing in the morning, 8.30, bright and early. For those of you who don't think 8.30 AM is bright and early please remember that this Sunday was daylight saving's time, we moved up 1 hour. So essentially I was up in the kitchen at 7.30 *grin*.

The ganache calls for mixing cocoa powder and boiling water, then cooling it down to room temperature. Whenever I make this, I always took Rose's suggestion and put it in the fridge - so much faster that way. While the ganache was cooling, I prepped the chocolate. The chocolate is a block of Schaffen Berger from the freezer. It's hard as a rock but whacking a piece of it is no problem, thanks for a tip from Monica to use a chisel.

Once the cocoa mixture cooled down, I made the caramel. For once, I thought to opt out of measuring the temperature of the caramel and just judge it by sight. Rose said until deep amber. I took the pan off the heat when it's medium amber and then watch the caramel turned to almost deep amber. Then poured the cream over it. Since I've taken the pan off the heat a minute earlier, the cream didn't sizzle when I poured it, so I was a little worried then. Maybe I undercook the caramel? But then I stir the cream with a spatula, and it sizzled indeed. I did wear my oven mitts when I poured the cream because I did not want to have caramel burn again.

Next, place the pot back on the heat until the caramel has dissolved. Then poured it over the chopped chocolate. The chocolate was in a bowl. I opted out of using the food processor. I don't feel this is necessary for ganache, plus it's such a small amount.

Next, I made the cake. And this is where my poor mis-en-place skills showed. I have not read the instruction for the cake so I didn't realize that the cake also calls for mixing cocoa (and chocolate) with hot water and cooling it down. To speed things up even further, I placed the cocoa mixture in the freezer. I don't know whether this is a good idea but I did it anyway, and set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, it's still a bit warm, so I put it back for another 5. By then it's completely cooled. Yay!

Rose recommends an alternate mixing method for a less tender cake, so I tried this method. It's quite different than the original recipe. It calls for mixing half the cocoa mixture with the wet ingredients (sour cream, eggs, vanilla) and the other half goes with the butter into the dry ingredients. This method also cuts down on the frequency of mixing time since there's only 1 wet ingredients mixture to incorporate (vs two in the original recipe - egg mixture and cocoa mixture). That means less scraping the sides of the bowl, which I'm happy about (yes I need to get the beater blade - it's on my wish list!).

The good thing about making smaller portion of a recipe - aside from the obvious of not having too much dessert around or the headache of finding people to help you eat dessert - is that things cooled down much faster. The ganache is supposed to take 6 hours until it gets to a spreadable consistency. But with 1/4 recipe, after 2 hours it's ready.

I thought the cake needs dressing up a bit, so I made a little whipped cream and piped rosettes around, topped with leftover drunken sour cherries. 

Tasting impressions:
Be still my heart! This is the ultimate chocolate cake! The chocolate cake is fudgy and moist - like a really good brownie. And the ganache. Let me tell you! This ganache is a killer. I was licking the spatula, my fingers, the bowl (psst.. don't tell anyone). Even hubby, who's usually not a chocolate cake fan, said this is really really good.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

FFWD: Beggar's Linguini

We don't eat a lot of pasta, so when I saw this on the schedule, I thought I'd skipped it. But then  after speaking to my HCB/FFWD blogger gal pal Monica, who said: "pasta, yeah, what's not to love?" - I changed my mind.

Well okay in her defense, that's not her exactly words/sentence, but it's along the same "yeah let's make it!" lines.

In any case, looking at the recipe, I have to admit it looks interesting (I've never made pasta with dried fruits and nuts before.)

And most importantly - easy to whip up!

So I made this for lunch one Sunday afternoon.

I used whole wheat pasta, which is healthier and a bit tastier than regular pasta. Cooking time is a couple minutes longer, so no biggie.

A couple of minutes before the pasta finished cooking, I melt some butter over medium low heat until it started turning brown. Then add in the sliced almonds, dried figs, and golden raisins (I forgot to get pistachio). Once the almonds and dried fruits started getting brown, I added the pasta, salt and pepper. Stir everything up. Once they started smelling fragrant, I called hubby down for lunch and served with some grated parmesan.

Tasting impressions:
Hm.. it's not bad but it's really nothing special. While I do taste the beurre noisette flavor in the pasta, I feel like I'm eating buttery pasta, which is not very pleasant. So in the end we make sure we ate each bite of pasta with some almonds and dried fruits, just so we have other flavors in there. I'm sad to report that this dish - while super easy to prepare - probably will not make another appearance in the kitchen.

Monday, March 7, 2011

HCB: Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise

I made this cake for my birthday in 2009 but never posted it. I made 1/2 recipe, baked in 2 6 inch pans. It's funny to go back and dig up old photos of cakes. If I had make the cake this weekend, 2 things would have been different. I would have decorated it differently and the photos would have been much better.

Still, I think it turned out kinda cute. I know I''m complimenting myself here, something that I try not to do. But it is so funny to see this cake after over a year and the happy birthday with the smiley face, written in strained raspberry jam.

As it's been over a year, I do not remember much a lot of details about this cake, so this is going to be a very short post.

Moist Chocolate Genoise is one of my favorite chocolate cake. It's a chocolate cake that I've made most often (twice as black forest, once with whipped chocolate ganache, and this cake).

Too lazy to make raspberry sauce, I bought a jar of raspberry jam/preserve and strain the seeds. I don't remember that I was too lazy, but I know myself, so I know that's what I must have done LOL.

I see from the picture that the ganache it turned out smooth, which surprises me because if I had made it today it probably would have turned out grainy. This tells me that I must have had better patience back then. Have I grown more impatience over time? Something to ponder and work on I suppose :).

Though I don't remember much about making this cake, I remember my tasting impressions. The cake was good but it was a bit too rich for me (I might have used a higher cacao content chocolate or something). I remembered that I could only eat a small slice and ended up bringing the rest to the office. The raspberry taste is barely noticeable (should've made my own raspberry puree).