Friday, April 27, 2012

Mandarin Orange Chocolate Cake



Mandarin Orange Chiffon Cake with Chocolate Shavings



I passed by Tampopo Deli one day, at the basement of Liang Court and my eyes were automatically glued to the beautiful slices of cakes at their display counter.  What a feast for the eyes and inspiration for my home-baking!  So, a few days later, I came up with an orange chiffon using homemade Mandarin puree and dolled up the cake with dairy whipped cream, chocolate shavings and orange segments.

Why orange chiffon?  I read about making Mandarin puree at The Sweet Spot  some months back.  My first thought is to try making the puree during the Lunar New Year period since there will be plenty of Mandarin oranges then.  But, it slipped my mind totally.  Only just recently, Hubby told me NTUC has brought in a new type of Mandarin oranges from Taiwan (not the ponkan).  These oranges are very sweet and juicy.  It's the perfect timing for making my Mandarin puree ......


This cake is filled with zesty citrus goodness!


Making Mandarin Puree
I cook 3 Mandarin oranges and there are still leftover which I stored in the freezer.

3 Mandarin oranges
Sufficient water to cover the oranges (see pic - top left)
Sugar to taste (I added about 4 to 5 tbsp)

Method:
1) Wash the oranges and place in a pot with water.  Cover, bring to boil and then simmer till the oranges are soft.  Turn the oranges around halfway into cooking for even cooking.  Poke a knife or chopstick into the oranges.  If it slides in and out easily, it's ready.  I took about 30 minutes to cook the oranges.

2) Remove the oranges and discard the water.  Let it cool briefly and remove the seeds from the oranges.

3) Blend the oranges (skin included) in a food processor till pureed.

4) Pour the puree back into the pot.  Add sugar and cook till sugar dissolves.





Orange Chiffon Cake

The ingredients for making the orange chiffon is similar to my earlier banana chiffon, except to replace the banana puree with Mandarin puree and to increase the corn oil to 80g.

(A):
5 egg yolks + 50g sugar + pinch of salt
80g Mandarin puree
1 tsp Mandarin orange peel, finely chopped
80g corn oil
80g plain flour + 30g corn flour + 1/2 tsp baking powder (sift together)

(B): 4 egg whites + 50g sugar + 1/8 tsp cream of tartar


Method same as banana chiffon.  When cake is cool completely, cut into 3 slices.




To assemble the cake:

350g dairy whipping cream, cold from fridge
3 tbsp icing sugar
3 tsp gelatin + 4 tbsp water, dissolved and cool
1/4 cup Mandarin puree, about 60ml
Mandarin orange segments, canned
Chocolate shavings

Method:
1) Pour the cream and icing sugar into a cold stainless steel bowl.  Place the bowl into a bigger bowl/basin, filled with cold water or ice cubes.  

2) Whisk the cream till soft peak, then gradually pour in the melted gelatin and continue to whisk till firm.  Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes before using.

3) Take about 1/3 or less of the cream and fold together with the Mandarin puree.  This is the filling in between the cake layers.  Keep the remaining cream in the fridge.

4) Place one slice of cake at the bottom and spread half the filling evenly on the slice.  Sprinkle some chocolate shavings over the cake.  Repeat with another slice of cake and filling.  Finally, top with the last slice of cake and cover the whole cake with the remaining whipped cream.

5) Decorate the cake as desired and keep the cake in the fridge till ready to serve.  


I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations.




Thursday, April 26, 2012

Salmon Fish Head Miso Soup






This is one quick and easy soup for dinner.  Few ingredients are needed.  Preparation takes about 5 to 10 minutes, cooking takes about 40 minutes, but bulk of it is simmering time.  The actual "cooking" is done within 10 minutes, which is pan-frying the fish head (season with a pinch of salt) over high heat till fragrant.  At this point, I like to add a dash of cooking wine (optional).  Thereafter, add in the other ingredients and water.  Simmer till soup is rich and milky in colour, then add in desired amount of miso paste to taste.  



Salmon fish head, winter melon, carrots, Chinese leeks, ginger, spring onion






Monday, April 23, 2012

Pandan Kaya Cake (班兰蛋糕)







I have not done much creaming and piping since my cake decoration class ended in February.  Usually, I will just decorate a cake with fresh fruits.  Simple, nice and healthy.

For this pandan kaya cake (or pandan layer cake), I thought I should just practise my piping again before my skills turn rusty.  So, using my favorite piping tips, the star nozzle #21, rose tip #103, leaf tip #67, round tip #2, some on-the-spot practises and an hour later, I have my first pandan kaya cake.  Yeah!


Pink roses and shell border to decorate my cake

To make the kaya filling, I extracted the juice from a big bunch of pandan leaves.  So, you can imagine the pandan fragrance when I served the cake!  


I used a whole bunch of pandan leaves to extract the juice for this cake

Recipe:

Sponge:
(A) 4 eggs + 80g fine sugar + pinch of salt
(B) 100g plain flour, sifted
(C) 30g melted butter + 50g corn oil + 20g pandan juice* + 1/2 tsp pandan paste (mix together).

Method:
Whisk (A) at high speed till stiff (the eggs would be tripled in volume).  Fold in plain flour in batches and follow with the melted butter mixture.  Fold the batter well and pour into a greased and lined 8" round pan.  Bake in preheated oven of 160C for about 45 minutes.  Cool the cake and slice into 3 layers.






Kaya filling
400ml pandan juice* + 50g butter + 120g fine sugar
250g packet fresh coconut milk + 150g water, mix together
70g hoen kwe flour
2 tsp instant jelly powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pandan paste (optional)
2 to 3 drops of yellow food colouring (optional)

* After washing the pandan leaves (about 7 to 8 leaves), warm them briefly in a microwave oven and cut into small pieces.  Blend the leaves with about 500ml water.  Sieve the pandan juice and discard the leaves.  Use about 20ml for making the sponge and the remaining for making the filling.

Method:
1) Combine pandan juice, butter and sugar in a pot and bring to boil.
2) Mix coconut milk, water, hoen kwe flour, instant jelly powder, salt, pandan paste and yellow colouring together.  Pour this mixture to (1), stir and cook till mixture thickens.
3) Remove from heat and let the mixture cool slightly before pouring onto sponge.

[Source: Mainly adapted from Richard Goh's baking class]


These are for my neighbour... quickly snap a picture before bringing over to them

To assemble:
1) Place a slice of cake into a cake ring and pour 1/3 of the kaya filling onto the cake.  Repeat layering of cake and kaya filling (2x).  
2) Cool the cake first before placing in the fridge to set.
3) Remove cake from cake ring and coat the sides with dessicated coconut (I used freshly grated coconut, add 1/4 tsp salt and toast in an ungreased pan till dried).


I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations. 




Friday, April 20, 2012

Braised Fish in Soy Sauce








Each time I see the advertisements on Happycall Pan ("HCP") or posting of mouth-watering dishes prepared from Happycall Pan by Facebook pals, honestly .... I felt so tempted to get one HCP for myself.  After all, I cook everyday, so the pan should be well-utilised.  But no... till now I have not bought one yet!    

I have one wok, one grilled pan, one frying pan and several pots of various sizes.  The most-utilised is my wok, where I do all the stir-fry, deep-fried, shallow-fried, braised, and even steaming in it.  From what I gather, the HCP is great for frying or grilling fish/meat with no grease, smoke, smell and you get the perfect moist fried fish (credits to the sealed-in silicon strip).  But, it is not the ideal piece of cooking utensil if you are looking for "wok-hei" in your cooking.  And since my cooking involves steaming, boiling, stir-frying most of the time, I reckon that I will not be needing a HCP afterall [read: I do not "need" one, but if FOC, of course I dun mind lah ;p]  So when I prepared this braised fish in soy sauce, I had to bear with the oil splatter (I protect myself with the IKEA splatter screen) and the grease.  I do not mind the cooking smell though cos what's cooking without these aroma??  

Ingredients:

Fish - any kind (I used yellow-tail snapper)
Small piece of ginger, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cloves of shallots, minced
Spring onion, chilies (garnish)

Seasoning sauce -  Mix together:
1.5 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy sauce
2 tbsp mirin
1 tsp sesame oil
A little water



To prepare this dish: rub a small pinch of salt on the fish before frying.  I'm using the wok, so heat up over moderately high heat.  When the wok is hot, add a little oil and carefully place the fish into the wok (and I immediately cover the wok with the splatter screen.  The splattering will just be the initial moments when you put in the fish, after that you can remove the screen).  For frying fish, do not be tempted to turn or move the fish for the first minutes.  Let the fish fry for a while till the side turns light golden brown, then carefully use the spatula to flip the fish over to the other side.  

Dish the fish out and set aside.  Now, heat the wok till very hot.  Add a little more oil and add in the shallots, followed by ginger and garlic.  Fry these condiments till fragrant and add a dash of cooking wine from the sides of the wok.  Immediately add in the seasoning sauce and place the fried fish back into the wok (lower to moderate heat).  By now, your kitchen will be filled with the wonderful aroma of ginger, garlic, wine and soy sauce.  Let the fish and the sauce simmer for another minute or two, till the sauce thickens a little.  In between, taste-check to see if you need to add a little more soy sauce or mirin.

Garnish with spring onion, sliced chili and serve hot.










Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Banana Raspberry & Chocolate Delight







When I was a little girl, I love to eat a three-flavour ice cream bar, consisting of banana, strawberry and chocolate.  I can't remember the name of the ice cream, but most likely it was one of those King's or Magnolia ice cream, where you can easily buy from a neighbourhood grocery store.  It was my brother who first bought me this yummy ice cream bar.

With this month Aspiring Baker's theme "layers of love", I had in mind pictures of my childhood's favorite ice cream - a nice yellow, pink and brown combination.  Instead of inter-laying chocolate sponge with mousse filling, I decided to experiment a little with texture.  I will have three chocolatey layers with a different texture - a layer of chocolate digestive crumbs at the bottom, a layer of chocolate sponge in the middle and coated with a top layer of chocolate ganache.  In between them, I have banana caramel cheesecake (non-baked) and a layer of raspberry mousse.




How should I describe the taste ..... it has that delightful melt-in-your-mouth feel.  Not exactly like eating ice cream, but somehow the cheese, sponge and mousse just blend together smoothly.  The tartness from the raspberries helps to balance the sweetness of the banana caramel, so the cake does not taste too rich or heavy.

I happily kept a slice of this cake for my brother.  Looking at how carefully he tasted each and every layer,  it reminded me of the yummy ice cream bar that he bought for me when I was small :)




Ingredients:
(makes a 7" round cake)

Chocolate digestive biscuits 
6 to 7 pieces of digestive biscuits, finely crushed
40g melted butter + 1 tsp cocoa powder, mix together

Method:
Combine crushed biscuits, melted butter, cocoa powder and press evenly onto the base of a 7" cake ring.  Place in freezer to harden while you work on the rest.


Banana Caramel 
15g butter + 30g fine sugar
1 to 2 tbsp rum
3 to 4 medium-sized bananas, thinly sliced


Method:
Combine butter and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat.  When mixture melts and starts to bubble and caramelise, add in the rum (Careful:  The mixture will bubble-up a little, but will subside after a few seconds).  Add in the sliced bananas and cook till softened.  Set aside to cool.  I used about 100g of banana caramel for the cake.  Any leftover can be used as toppings for waffle or pancake.... yum!


Banana Caramel Cheesecake
100g dairy whipping cream, cold from fridge
150g cream cheese
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp sugar
100g banana caramel (see above)
2 tsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water, melted

Method:
1) Whisk whipping cream till soft peak.  Keep in fridge.
2) Beat cream cheese, lemon juice and sugar together till smooth.
3) Add in the banana caramel and beat till batter is smooth.
4) Pour in the melted gelatin and mix well.
5) Fold in the whipped cream from step 1.


Chocolate sponge
(A): 3 egg yolks + 30g fine sugar + pinch of salt
(B): 3 egg whites + 50g fine sugar + pinch of cream of tartar
(C): 70g plain flour + 10g cocoa powder, sifted together
(D): 30g melted butter

Method:
1) Whisk (A) till thick and creamy.
2) In another bowl, whisk (B) till stiff peak.
3) Fold (A) and (B) together, then fold in (C).
4) Pour in melted butter and fold well to combine.
5) Pour batter into piping bag (fitted with a round nozzle) and pipe a 7" round disc on baking paper.
6) Bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 15 minutes till light brown.
7) Remove from oven and cool on baking rack.

Note: The batter is enough to make two more round disc.

Raspberry mousse
100g raspberries + 3 tsp sugar
120g dairy whipping cream, whisked till soft peak
1.5 tsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water, melted

Method:
1) Combine raspberries and sugar in a pot and cook for a few minutes till raspberries turn soft.  Leave aside to cool.  Mash the raspberry jam with a fork or spoon.
2) Add the melted gelatin to the raspberry jam and fold in the whipped cream.

Chocolate ganache
80g dark chocolate + 20g dairy whipping cream
100g dairy whipping cream, whisked till soft peak
1 tsp gelatin + 1 tbsp water, melted


Method:
1) Combine chocolate and cream in a stainless steel bowl.  Place bowl over simmering water to melt chocolate.  Let it cool.
2) Fold the whipped cream into the melted chocolate and mix in the melted gelatin.
3) Keep in fridge to harden the ganache a little before spreading on the cake.


It may seem like this cake requires a lot of time and steps to prepare.  All you need is a little planning ahead and spread out the preparation steps.  For instance, the biscuit base, cheesecake and sponge can be prepared one or two days in advanced.  So, you only need to prepare the mousse and ganache on the day where you assemble the cake.  

Notes on preparation steps:
1) The biscuit base, cheesecake and sponge layers can be prepared in advanced.
2) When (1) is ready, cook the raspberry jam (it takes only a few minutes to cook) and let it cool.  
3) While waiting for the jam to cool down, whisk the whipping cream for both raspberry mousse and chocolate ganache together, to cut down on the time spent to make this cake.  Use about half the whipped cream for the raspberry mousse, and keep the rest in fridge (for the chocolate ganache).
4) After pouring the raspberry mousse layer, place in freezer for at least an hour for it to set completely, before spreading the chocolate ganache.
5) While waiting for the cake to set at (4), prepare the chocolate ganache.




Finally, to assemble the cake:

1) Pour the banana caramel cheesecake mixture over the frozen biscuit base.  Place raspberries on the cheesecake mixture. 
2) Place the chocolate sponge over the cheesecake mixture. 
3) Pour the raspberry mousse on the sponge layer.  Place in freezer till set.
4) Remove cake from ring and cover the whole cake with chocolate ganache.
5) Keep in fridge for another one to two hours before serving.


I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations.





Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sweet and Sour Pork (咕噜肉)






Can't believe why I waited so long to attempt this all-time favorite and classic Cantonese dish.  I have never cooked this dish before, even though I have always wanted to do so.  Lazy perhaps, but the main reason is it involves deep-frying and I tried to avoid deep-frying at home, where possible.  

Merely browning or pan-frying the pork will not bring out the real flavour of this dish.  You need to deep-fried the pork in hot oil till golden and crispy.   Hot oil is essential to give it a crispy coat and seal in the precious meat juice, so that later you will not be biting into tough pieces of meat.  Next, stir fry the side ingredients over high heat, pour in the mixed sauce (cook the sauce briefly) and finally toss in the crispy pork to coat the pieces with that savory sweet and sour sauce.  What you need now is a bowl of hot rice.

The preparation ...
I used about 200g to 300g pork.  I don't know whether this portion is called tenderloin of what ???   but it's a long strip of pork with visible fats and it is used for making sweet and sour pork.  If you buy your pork from butcher, tell him you are making sweet and sour pork.  If from supermarket, the package will usually labelled it "for sweet and sour pork".

Cut the strip of pork into bite-sized cubes and marinate with about 1 tbsp soy sauce, a little each of sesame oil, pepper, cooking wine and corn starch.  Leave in the fridge to marinate for about 2 hours.  Then add about 1/2 beaten egg into the pork.  Place some corn starch and potato starch (about 2 tbsp each) in a plate and toss in the pork pieces (discard the marinate sauce) to lightly coat them with the flour.  Leave the flour-coated pork aside for a few minutes, as this helps the flour to coat on properly during deep-frying.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce:  1 to 2 tbsp tomato sauce, 1 tsp chili sauce, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sugar, 1 tsp black vinegar, a pinch of salt and mix well with about 4 to 5 tbsp water (or more).  Get ready some corn starch solution (to thicken the sauce).

For the side ingredients:  The star combination will be pineapple, green/red bell peppers (I substitute with Japanese cucumber and tomato) and onion for both taste and colour to the dish.  Cut them into equal cube sizes.  Chop up 2 cloves garlic too.

The cooking ...
Deep-fried the pork in hot oil till golden and crispy.  Set aside and drain the oil.  Clean the wok and bring it on high heat.  Add cooking oil and stir fry the side ingredients with garlic till fragrant.  Pour in the combined sauce (hear the sizzling as you pour the sauce into the wok .... I love this part... the aroma).  Bring the sauce to a boil.  Taste at this point if you need to add any more seasoning (more sweet... more sour etc).  Thicken the sauce with a little cornstarch solution.  Add in the deep-fried pork and toss to combine.  Serve hot immediately.





Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tiramisu Cake






I have made Tiramisu several times before, but have always used store-bought ladies finger biscuits.  This time round, I decided to bake my own sponge fingers.  They are easy to bake, taste better and definitely much cheaper to bake your own.

When piping the prepared batter for sponge fingers, use your cake pan as a guide to determine the length you need to pipe for each finger, so that it is not necessary to trim the fingers later to fit in your cake pan.  That's the added advantage of baking your own sponge fingers!

Sponge Fingers

3 egg yolks + 30g fine sugar
3 egg whites + 30g fine sugar + pinch of cream of tartar
90g plain flour, sifted

Method:
1) Whisk egg yolks, sugar and salt till thick and creamy.
2) In another bowl, whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar till stiff peak.
3) Fold the egg yolk mixtures and meringue together.
4) Fold in the sifted flour and mix well to combine.
5) Pour batter into piping bag (fitted with 1 cm round nozzle).  Pipe strips of batter onto baking paper.
6) Bake in preheated oven of 180C for about 15 minutes or more till golden.





Tiramisu filling:

250g dairy whipping cream, cold from fridge
2 egg yolks + 1 whole egg + 100g fine sugar
250g mascarpone cheese
3 tsp gelatin + 3 tbsp water, melted


Method:
1) Whisk the cold cream to soft peak.  Keep in fridge while you work on the rest.
2) Place the eggs and sugar in a stainless steel bowl.  Place over a pot of hot water and whisk till thick and creamy (be careful not to cook the eggs!).
3) Add in the mascarpone cheese and whisk till smooth.  Pour in the melted gelatin and mix well.
4) Fold in the whipped cream from step 1 and mix well.

Note:
If you are making tiramisu in a cup, omit the gelatin mixture.  The gelatin is added over here to set the cake.





To assemble:
(makes one 7" square pan)

I used a normal square cake pan (i.e. without loose-bottom), which means I need to invert the cake to remove it from the pan.  So the bottom layer is the top layer of the final product when I turn the cake over.  If you are using a loose-bottom cake pan, start with sponge fingers layer and end with tiramisu filling.


You will need:
200ml strong black coffee (no added sugar) + 100ml coffee liquor (I used rum) - combine together
Sponge fingers
Tiramisu filling (see above)
Cocoa powder
Fresh strawberries

Method:
1) Line the square pan with cling wraps.
2) Pour 1/3 of the tiramisu filling into the pan (I make 3 layers, so divide the filling into 3 portions.  If you want to make 2 layers, then pour half the filling).
3) Dip finger sponge into coffee mixture and place on top of the tiramisu filling.
4) Repeat filling, sponge fingers in coffee (2x).  The top layer is the sponge fingers.  Cover and place in fridge for at least 3 hours to set the cake.
5) Place a cake board over the cake pan, turn over and gently slide the cake onto the cake board.
6) Dust the top with cocoa powder and decorate the cake with fresh strawberries or as desired.  Serve chill.






I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations. 





Friday, April 13, 2012

Mango & Strawberry Roll







This is fresh from the oven!  Yes, I baked this Swiss roll early this morning and gave it to my girl's kindergarten teachers when we visited them in school this afternoon.  My girl misses her kindergarten teachers very much and often asked me to bring her back for regular visits.  I miss the friendly chats with her teachers too!  

Since mango and Korean strawberry are in season now, I make this Swiss roll using my favorite Swiss roll recipe.  I love the bright and colourful combination.  And I'm so pleased that the sponge turns out very light and soft.  





Happy Weekend to All!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Banana Chiffon Cake








Whenever I bake a chiffon cake, I will be very nervous.  This is one cake that I can never tell whether it will be a successful bake or not till I remove the cake from the tube pan.  I had too many failed attempts with chiffon - either too wet, cracked on top, partial wet, traces of egg whites not properly fold, cake deflates too much after baking, not springy enough ... and even had the whole cake dropped out when turned over (no greasing at all!).  So, I will bake a chiffon cake when there is no one at home (to disturb me) and that I have ample time on hand (I don't like to rush).  




Today, I am so delighted to present my Banana Chiffon Cake - soft & light, spring back when pressed, correct moisture level, no cracks, nicely brown and very tasty.  My perfect chiffon cake!  




Ingredients:
(makes one 21cm tube pan)

(A):
5 egg yolks
50g sugar
A pinch of salt
100g mashed banana
60g corn oil
80g plain flour + 30g corn flour + 1/2 tsp baking powder (sift together)
1 tsp banana essence (optional)

(B):
4 egg whites
50g sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Method:
1) Beat egg yolks, sugar and salt at high speed till sugar dissolves.
2) Add mashed banana, corn oil and mix well.
3) Add in the flour mixture, banana essence and mix well.  The batter looks similar to muffin batter.  Set aside.
4) Whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar till stiff peak (Note 1).
5) Add about 1/4 of the meringue into the egg yolk mixture and mix well.
6) Pour the egg yolk mixture into the remaining meringue and fold well with your hand or spatula till batter is smooth.
7) Pour into an ungreased chiffon tube pan, bake in preheated oven of 175C for about 45 minutes, at the lowest rack (I need to cover the top with foil after 15 minutes to prevent the top from burning).

Note 1:
In the past, I usually whisked the egg whites to soft peak, as I find it very difficult to properly fold the stiff meringue into the egg yolk mixture w/o deflating the precious air bubbles.  I often had bits of meringue still floating in the cake batter, but too afraid to continue folding for fear of collapsing more air bubbles.

Then, I learnt that the best spatula is actually our hand.  Folding the cake batter with our bare hand is the easiest and most effective method.  The meringue is easily folded into the batter w/o breaking the air bubbles. And of course, you clean your hand thoroughly before folding :) 









Sunday, April 8, 2012

Stir-Fry Lettuce with Fried Dace & Black Beans





豆豉鱼炒油麦菜 


My generation grew up eating fried dace with black beans, luncheon meat, Char Kway Teow with crispy pork lard, animals innards (including my favorite pig's blood pudding).  Gosh .... all seem to be terribly unhealthy food for today's standard of low salt, high fiber with less fats.

I have not eaten fried dace with black beans for a very long time.  In fact, this is my first ever purchase!  Back home, my mother would usually serve this with plain porridge --- super satisfying!  

To make this a healthier dish, I used half the sauce/oil in the canned fish (discard the remaining sauce) and cook with lots of lettuce and chopped garlic.  Serve with rice.


Method:
1) Break the fried dace into smaller pieces.
2) Blanch the lettuce in hot water briefly (add a little salt and oil) just to soften the lettuces a little for easy stir-fry.  Drain water away.
3) Heat wok on high heat.  Add a little oil and stir fry some shredded ginger and chopped garlic till fragrant.
4) Add the lettuces and give a few quick stir.  Add in the shredded fried dace, black beans and some sauce/oil from the can.  Stir well to combine.
5) Add some sliced chili, stir and serve.





Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Banana Chocolate Cake






Slices of bananas piled on a bed of banana caramel cream, sandwiched between thin layers of chocolate sponge and finally covered with rich chocolate ganache.  Chocolate and bananas, you are such a perfect match!  








For the chocolate sponge:
(makes one 8" round cake)

4 medium-sized eggs (55g net weight each), room temperature
90g fine sugar + a small pinch of salt (the salt helps to stabilise the eggs without using SP)
90g plain flour + 10g cocoa powder, sifted
100g melted butter

Method:
1) Whisk the eggs, sugar and salt on high speed till pale, thick and stiff.  When you hold up the balloon whisk, the batter should stay on the whisk for a while and does not drip immediately.

2) Fold the sifted flour into the egg batter, in three batches.

3) Just after folding in the last batch of flour (can still see traces of flour in batter), pour in the melted  butter and fold till batter is shiny.

4) Pour into greased and lined baking pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 160C for about 40 minutes.

5) Remove cake from pan, cool and cut into 3 slices.

Note:
Always assemble the bottom-most slice (flip over) to be at the top layer of the final cake, so that the top is leveled for easy frosting & decoration.






Banana Caramel Cream:

(A):
60g fine sugar + 20ml water
15g butter
200g banana, sliced (about 2 large banana)
1 tbsp rum (optional)

(B):
120g non-dairy whipping cream*, whipped till stiff
100g dairy whipping cream, whipped till soft peak
2 tsp gelatin powder + 2 tbsp milk (dissolved together)

* Whip about 200g non-diary whipping cream.  Reserve a portion to crumb-coat the cake.

Method:
1) Place sugar and water in a small pot and heat over medium-high heat.  Leave the sugar to melt and do not stir.
2) As the syrup starts to caramelise and turn golden brown, add in the banana slices and butter.  Lower the heat, stir the mixture and cook to soften the banana.
3) Add in the rum.  Use a fork or spoon to mash the banana to a thick paste.  Leave to cool.
4) Fold the banana paste and non-dairy whipped cream together.  Stir in the melted gelatin.
5) Fold the mixture with the dairy whipped cream.




For the chocolate ganache:
100g dairy whipping cream
150g dark chocolate (room temperature)

Method:
1) Heat up the dairy cream and pour the hot cream over the dark chocolate.
2) Stir till chocolate has fully melted.  Let it cool completely before using.
3) Whisk the ganache for a lighter texture (about 3 minutes when you see the ganache changes from a darker to a lighter chocolate colour).   Fold in 3 heaped tablespoons of non-dairy whipped cream (from (B) above).







To assemble the cake:

You will need:
3 slices of chocolate sponge
Banana caramel cream ("BCC")
Non-dairy whipped cream (for crumb-coating the cake)
Chocolate ganache
A few bananas, sliced 

Method:
1) Place a slice of cake at the bottom of a cake ring, spread a thin layer of BCC over the cake.  Arrange banana slices on top and cover with some more BCC.
2) Repeat step 1 with the second slice of cake. Place the final slice of cake on top.
3) Place the cake in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
4) Remove cake from the cake ring.  Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of whipped cream to crumb-coat the cake.  This is to help in the final covering of chocolate ganache over the whole cake.  Place the cake back in the fridge for an hour or so to harden the cream.
5) Spread the chocolate ganache over the whole cake and decorate with sliced bananas (Note: Squeeze some lemon juice over the banana slices before placing on top of the cake.  This helps to prevent the banana from turning brown).
6) Place the cake in fridge till ready to serve.





I will be submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #18: Layers of Love (April 2012), hosted by Sam of Sweet Samsations.  



Monday, April 2, 2012

Another 3 plus 1 menu








This 3-plus-1 weekend meal was prepared several weeks ago, picture saved in my draft and I almost forgotten about it.

The 3 plus 1 meal:
* Chinese Cabbage Fish Maw Pork Ribs soup
* Century Egg/Salted Egg Spinach
* Prawn and Egg Tofu "Hotplate" (I used a shallow claypot instead of hotplate)


For more simple home cooked meal ideas, you can check out this page.




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