Monday, May 28, 2012

A little house and a birthday celebration







I was supposed to do a cake house for one of my cake decorating lessons last year.  But, I missed that particular lesson as I were overseas during that December period.  So when I was planning for a birthday cake to celebrate my little girl's birthday in school this year, the cake house came to my mind.  A cake house that is a little fairy-tale like, but not exactly a princess castle either.  Instead of searching for cute biscuits to decorate the roof-top, I decided to bake some macarons shells for the roof-top!

Last year, I made a Princess Barbie Doll Cake for little girl's birthday, and that took me over 3 days to complete the various stages (though it could be done within a day, but I prefer to relax over 3 days).  This cake house?  From preparing the mixed-berries compote, lemon curd, buttercream, macarons roof-top, baking the sponge cakes to putting the whole house together, I managed to complete the cake in 2 days! Getting more efficient, huh ^_^




As the cake is rather heavy after stacking layers together, I inserted "support pillars" in the middle to prevent the bottom layers from getting squashed (see picture above).  These pillars were actually chocolate wafer rolls.  If you do not have chocolate wafer rolls on hand, you can use thick straws too (method refer here).





This is a portion of the leftover cake at the bottom layers (about 1/3 the full height of the cake).  If you examine carefully, the layers from bottom to top are: chocolate sponge, plain sponge, mixed berries buttercream, mixed berries compote, plain sponge, lemoncurd buttercream, plain sponge, mixed berries buttercream. 





Happy Birthday, my little girl!



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Happy Birthday to my May babies







My hubby and little girl's birthdays falls on one day after another, so we always celebrate their birthdays together.  My preference is to have a simple birthday party at home, where we invite our family members for the celebration.  






This year, our birthday party menu includes fried mee siam, baked Thai chicken wings (recipe adapted from Wokking Mum), potato pie, lemongrass drink, lontong (ordered from Malay stall), assorted macarons and of course, the birthday cake! 


Tangy Thai Chicken Wings

For desserts, I prepared macarons with assorted fillings.

Assorted macarons: Lemon, mixed berries and green tea


Back to the birthday cake.  It is a 10" mango mousse cake, with 3 layer of sponge, 3 layers of mango mousse and finally topped with mango jelly.  





Share with you a baking tip which I find very useful.  I learnt this during my baking class.  If your cake ring is not tall enough for your cake, you can push up the ring a little (after the cake has set), so that you can add another 1 or 2 inches to the cake height.  For this mango mousse cake, after I prepared the sponge/mousse layers and set the cake, I loosened the cake ring and push up the ring by another inch.  This allows me to create the top jelly layer.  To ensure the cake ring does not slide down, I secured with toothpicks around the cake as shown in the picture below.  From this picture, you can see this is really a very tall mango mousse cake.









Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Special #3: Lemongrass Aloe Vera








Pamper your mum with this light and refreshing dessert treat.



Preparing the aloe vera

Remove the outer hard skin of the aloe vera with a sturdy vegetable peeler.  Cut into big chunks and simmer the aloe vera in a pot of hot water for about 10 minutes.  Remove the aloe vera chunks and discard the water.  Though I've read there are many benefits and healing properties of the juice and gel of aloe vera, I still dislike the raw smell and taste of it.  I find that simmering helps to remove the unpleasant smell and taste of the raw aloe vera.

Cut the aloe vera into small cubes and combine with the lemongrass syrup.  Keep in fridge for a few hours before serving.  Add a few slices of lemon and serve chill.






Lemongrass syrup
2 stalks lemongrass, crushed
2 thin slices ginger
4 cups water
1.5 piece of brown sugar (片糖) - or adjust sweetness accordingly

Method:
1) Combine ingredients, bring to boil and let it simmer for about 20 minutes.  Drain the syrup and discard the ginger and lemongrass.

2) Add about 1 tbsp lemon juice to the syrup.

Note:  The prepared syrup should taste a little sweeter than your desired likeness cos after adding the aloe vera, it will become less sweet.  






Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's Day Special #2: Mango & Strawberry Shortcake






For the sponge
(makes two 6" cakes or one 8" cake)

(A) 4 eggs + 80g sugar + pinch of salt
(B) 100g plain flour, sifted
(C) 60g butter, melted + 40g milk + 1 tsp vanilla extract

Method:
1) Whisk (A) at high speed till stiff.  When lift up the balloon whisk, the batter should cling on the whisk and only start to drip after a few seconds.
2) Fold in flour, follow by (C).  Fold till batter is shiny.
3) Pour into greased and lined cake pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 160C for about 40 to 45 minutes.
4) Remove cake from oven and cool on rack.






To assemble:
(for 6" cake)

300g whipping cream, cold from fridge
2 tbsp icing sugar
1.5 tsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water, dissolved and cool
Chopped strawberries, mango
Extra strawberries, mango for garnish
Apricot glazing gel
Simple syrup - dissolve 1 tsp sugar with 2 to 3 tbsp water


Method:
1) Whisk whipping cream and icing sugar till soft peak.  Pour in melted gelatin and continue to whisk till firm.
2) Slice cake into 3 layers.
3) Place a slice of cake onto cake board and brush with syrup.  Spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the cake, top with some chopped fruits and cover with more whipped cream.  Repeat steps with second slice of cake.  Stack the third slice of cake and brush with syrup.
4) Cover the whole cake with a thin layer of cream (crumb coat).  Keep in fridge/freezer for 10 minutes.  Remove and cover the whole cake with remaining whipped cream (reserved some for garnish).
5) Decorate the cake with strawberries and mango.

Note:
I run out of whipping cream and had whisked only about 200g whipping cream.  It was not enough to cover the whole cake.  Hence, this cake was covered with topping cream (or non-dairy cream) instead.


An early Mother's Day gift ...

An early Mother's Day present for me..... additions to Fong's Kitchen:  new oven and base cabinets from IKEA.  



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day Special #1: Waffle & Cream







This is a simple yet delightful treat to prepare for your mum.  


Making the Waffle
(makes about 10 waffles)

(A) 1 egg + 30g sugar + pinch of salt
(B) 60g salted butter, melted
(C) 2 tsp vanilla extract + 240ml milk
(D) 180g plain flour + 1 tsp baking powder, sifted
(E) 1 tsp instant dried yeast + 1/2 tsp sugar + 1 tsp plain flour + 2 tbsp water (set aside for 5 minutes).

Method:
1) Beat (A) together till frothy (I manually beat with a balloon whisk for a few minutes).
2) Stir in melted butter.
3) Alternate mix in (C) and (D), stir till no visible lumps.
4) Stir in (E).
5) Cover and set aside.  Batter is ready to use when it turns thick and foamy (note).
6) Prepare waffle as per instruction of  your waffle maker. 

Notes:
a) I kept the batter in the fridge for a few hours before making.  Remove from fridge, rest in room temperature, then use.
b) The waffle can be prepared in advance and keep in fridge/or freezer for later use.






Making the Sandwiched Cream Filling

200ml dairy whipping cream, cold from fridge
2 tbsp icing sugar
2 tsp gelatin + 2 tbsp water, dissolved
3 to 4 tbsp strawberry puree* (or 2 tbsp strawberry jam)
1 tsp rum extract
Few strawberries, cut into small pieces
Small piece of mango, cut into small pieces

Method:
1) Whisk whipping cream and icing sugar till soft peak.  Add in the melted gelatin and continue to whisk till firm.
2) Add strawberry puree, rum, chopped strawberries and mango.  Mix well.
3) Spread cream filling generously over a slice of waffle and cover with another waffle.
4) Place in fridge to set the filling.  
5) Cut each waffle into triangular shapes and serve chill.

* To make the strawberry puree
In a small pot, combine some chopped strawberries and a squeeze of lemon juice.  Cook till soft.  Add sugar to taste.  Mash with a fork.  


Variations:
1) Add a teaspoon of chocolate paste into the batter for chocolate-flavoured waffle and pair with strawberry cream, Oreo cream or Nutella cream filling etc.

2) Replace 10g plain flour with green tea powder (baking type) in the waffle batter for green tea-flavoured waffle and pair with green tea cream or black sesame cream filling etc.




Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Red Rice Wine Chicken Mee Sua







Another one-dish meal that I prepared for dinner.  Method is the same as here, except to add more fermented red rice wine paste, water etc since I am having it with mee sua (vermicelli).  





Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Kimchi Tofu Hotpot







Recently, I find myself preparing many one-dish meal or one-pot meal for dinner.  Should I blame the hot weather or just my plain laziness?  I'm just not in the mood for cooking.  So when I saw Ellena's Kimchi Tofu Soup, I decided to have it as a hotpot by adding more ingredients to the soup.

There's no fixed recipe for making this hotpot meal.  You can prepare a vegetarian kimchi hotpot by omitting   all meat; or like what I did, add some chicken, sausages and bacon for a complete meal.  To make the soup more tasty, I stir-fried the cabbage with ginger slices before adding to the soup and added a cup of homemade stock (or you can use store-bought stock) to prepare the hotpot.  


Cabbage, tofu, carrot, sausage, bacon, leeks, chicken, kimchi, onion, ginger, garlic, spring onion








Friday, May 4, 2012

It's Nutella Cupcakes Again!







This is one cupcake recipe I do not mind baking over and over again cos it is really easy to make and taste so yummy!  Recipe over here.






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