The pink cake

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I’m so happy that a friend allows me to bake a cake for her 4YO daughter’s birthday. I mean, who would be so daring? Few want to take the risk.

I have not met the young girl but browsing her pictures from FB, I could see a beautiful and sweet 20130906-202058.jpgchild. The mother describes her as mischievous and asked me to experiment! Be fun! Be creative! Cake can be in pieces (jus not crumbs).

I like such responses but also worry if the daughter would like my design. I had wanted a garden design for her and perhaps make a figurine since I want to show the free-spirited side of this child, enjoying playtime in the nature. So I made ladybirds and bees, flowers and leaves.

A few weeks later, the mom said the girl would like the cake to be pink.

Gosh! Pink? Pink garden?

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Hmmm…. it’s back to the drawing board again. A garden with pink background doesn’t really seem realistic. Thankfully, there was an order for Hello Kitty cupcakes and I was experimenting with the recipes and the toppers and decided that the little girl should have a few of those just in case she doesn’t like my cake.

In the end, I have decided to make a vanilla sponge cake with different shades of pink/red. It will be coated with italian meringue buttercream and the border covered with multi-coloured sprinkles.

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So the work actually started a week before with the ladybirds and bees, the cake 2 days before. The cake was covered with the buttercream a day before and the final assembling took place on the day of collection. I feel if the cake is allowed time to bind the flavours, it will turn out better.

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Yup, the cake is made in stages. Slow and steady. This also allows for mistakes to be rectified.

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So, I wasn’t very satisfied with the cake design, to be honest. After the cake was completed, I took a look at it and realised that the side wasn’t smooth. I didn’t use a benchscraper to do the job! What was I thinking of? I also wanted to design such that the flowers seemed to be falling off but well, the combination of icing sugar flowers and fondant ones didn’t really look like a good match. The fact that my fondant flowers softened because of the rainy weather didn’t help at all!

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When I packed the cake, part of me felt relieved, the other part frustrated. I could have done better. Hump!

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In any case, the cakes were sent out and I hope the girl loves them.

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Update: So my friend sent me pics of the cake during the birthday celebration. And of course, helpful feedback which is so important to me. At the end of the day, the birthday girl was very happy and ate the kitty and the ladybird (both fondant). I wanna faint. Too much sugar!

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[Foodie Fridays] Banana cake topped with caramel sauce

I am thankful that people have started ordering baked goods from me in a slow but steady manner. Thankful because baking keeps me sane from taking care of the baby. It is a hobby which is definitely not cheap. Apart from the ingredients and electricity bills, certain apparatus has to be purchased and all these cost money. So, the little cash received from baking them is helpful, no doubt. More importantly, I’m able to continue learning through baking.

So, more orders result in a messy kitchen and since mine is not a big one, it has extended to the dining table. Yes, it’s a mess and at times I couldn’t stand it. To add to that, we have toys strewn on the floor, thanks to little Faith, not forgetting the drools as well.

I’m heartened that I’m not alone in this journey. After reading about other moms’ posting on this, like A and J, I felt a little better. Surely I cannot possibly expect the house to be spick and span all the time; I certainly will be very busy!

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I took a picture of this while baking for an order in the morning. Yes, it’s messy. So be it.

Let’s talk about the banana cake topped with caramel sauce. When it comes to banana cake, I always go back to Joanne Chang’s recipe which is Flour‘s famous banana bread. It’s tried and tested deliciously good. My friend wanted caramel sauce on it and even pointed me to a recipe by Bourke Street Bakery. So, I’ve heard a LOT about this bakery as I surfed the Internet recently and did their caramel sauce. One day, I’ll visit the bakery (yup, I make it a point to do this sorta stuff when I travel).

The review? From my whatsapp:

“Everyone likes the cake”
“It goes fabulously with coffee.”
“I’m on my 3rd slice”
“Thanks for the cake. They all said it’s lovely!”

So, here goes. I’m sharing the recipe with you. I think it’s good too.

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Flour’s Famous banana bread (I think it can be called a cake too)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cups canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe bananas, mashed (about 350g)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche (or replace with sour cream)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped (I used pecan nuts before. Good too)

1. Preheat the oven to 160C degree. Butter a 9 by 5 inch loaf pan.

2. Sift flour, soda, cinnamon, and salt together in a small bowl.

3. Using a stand mixer with a whisk attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat the eggs and sugar together over medium speed for 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (This step will take longer with a hand mixer)

4. On low speed, drizzle in the oil slowly. Adding the oil too quickly could deflate the air you have beaten into the eggs. Add the bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla and mix until just combined.

5. Using a spatula, fold the flour mixture and nuts into the wet ingredients. No streaks of flour should be visible. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

6. Bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until it is golden brown on top and the center springs back when you touch it. Let it cool for 30 minutes on a wire rack then take it out of the pan to finish cooling.

7. The bread can be stored wrapped tightly at room temperature for several days or it can be well wrapped and frozen for up to two weeks. Thaw the bread overnight at room temperature for serving. But it is best eaten on the day it is baked.

Caramel sauce (adapted from Bourke Street Bakery)

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200ml double cream
100ml water
300g castor sugar
80g unsalted butter

1. Pour the cream into a saucepan over high heat and bring it almost to boiling point. Put the water,sugar and glucose syrup in a sauce pan and stir until sugar dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, do not stir and just allow it to cook for about 7 – 10 minutes or until the liquid is a caramel colour. Mine took quite long so the best is to gauge by the colour. Remove from the heat.

2. Pour the hot cream into the pan with the with the caramel. It will bubble up so be careful. Place it back onto the heat and whisk until smooth. Remove from the heat and then whisk in the butter

3. When the cake is ready, take it out from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the tin and place it on the platter. To serve, poke about 40 holes into the cake using the skewer. Pour the caramel sauce over the top of the cake while it is still warm. Best eaten warm. If left overnight in the fridge, then just microwave it for about 20 seconds.

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