Thomas the train chiffon cake 🎂 

It’s always a privilege to bake for others and especially so when your good friend asked you to do so. Just last week, an ex-colleague whom I’m really fond of asked if I could bake a cake for her youngest. Why, of course!

I couldn’t bake a fondant cake in my current capacity. I know it will not turn out well. Dan requires a lot of my attention and if I want to do a good job for the cake, I need to devote time to it. And it absolutely saddens me if I can’t do it well.

So, the kind of cake I could do currently is chiffon cake, the creative type. I only have Suzanne Ng of Loving Creations For You to thank because her works inspire me to want to bake beyond a basic chiffon cake. I bought both her books so that I could learn a thing or two and so I thought I should practise baking a few if possible.

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As usual, a design needs to be thought of and the colours noted. I get forgetful easily these days and penning what I need for the cake really helps.

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I’ve baked a similar-themed cake before using fondant and decided to recycle the design. This is a 7″ chiffon cake because I have only this pan but it feeds 20 pax all right with no wastage, according to my friend.

It is much easier and faster making such a cake as compared to the fondant-covered ones. However, I encountered one problem with regard to the marshmallow cream . It’s really a pain using it and I wonder if I could stick the various pieces using royal icing?

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So yea, I made this boy happy and there is nothing more joyful than seeing smiles on children.

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Kids grow up too fast. They were both just babies a while ago. How did they grow up so fast? Am I missing anything?

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So, there you go. My first cake for November. Could I bake some more? Am I able to go back to baking for others again?

Anyway, the next cake is going to be for Faith who will turn 4 this month. What would that look like? Hmm..

P.S. Thank you, ZM, for sending the pics over and assuring me that the cake is well-received. 😉

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August bakes

I didn’t expect to bake, for others, because I was really tied down by the kids. However, one fine day, a friend asked me if I could bake her daughter a birthday cake since the baker she wanted to engage was not available. It was a chiffon creative cake, one of those cakes that I don’t often bake. I like challenges once in a while and I thought why not try?

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Chiffon cakes turn out to be easier to bake and once you have the right tools, decorating it can be fuss-free too. This is my first nicer creation because I have the available tools and cutters.

You do need to plan the colours that you need beforehand and bake them. After that, it’s really just cut and paste.

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This is an Elmo lychee chiffon cake. Again, once you have the cutters, it’s an easy job.

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This is the cake requested by her. It took a while to complete this cake because the decorations are 3D in nature and that means I would have to sculpt them. There was also some problem with the recipe and in the end, I had to rebake the pandan chiffon base. Just look at the different colours that you need for this cake!

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With the first request came other similar requests for Chiffon creative cakes and I had one new order for this Mickey Mouse cake. Again, I have the cutters so it made life a tad easier for me.

Get the idea?

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One of those days, I baked the charcoal chiffon cake to munch.

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The last cake has to be this rainbow buttercream cake with the fondant Care Bears figurines. It’s back to doing what I like (figurines) but I seem to have lost the touch for making buttercream cakes. Anyway, this cake makes the recipient very happy and that’s good enough.

That’s it. That’s the round up for my August cakes!

To bake or not to bake?

A few days ago, I received a WA message from a customer-turned-friend for whom I’ve baked a cake last year. “Are you still baking? I need a cake!”

And I asked myself if it is time for me to revive this passion of mine. Could I do a good enough job for others? With two kids now, it can be rather challenging in terms of the workflow and I want to make sure that the cake pleases more than it frustrates.

So, based on what she wanted, I got down to working on a simple chiffon cake, just for me to know if i could still do a decent job out of it.

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It’s an orange marmalade chiffon cake and I thought I could dress it up as a lion using a piping tip to make its mane. I have used a normal cake pan instead of the tube pan that is used for chiffon cakes.

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To make the eyes and nose, I used a portion of the chiffon batter and added charcoal powder to it.

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Tip 898 – nose
Wilton tip no. 2 – eyes

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And I used a chocolate pen to do up the finishing touches.

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Made a batch of swiss meringue buttercream because it’s less work than the Italian method. Now with two kids, I really ought to make things easier for myself.

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Add some orange colouring to the buttercream to create the type of lion that is often illustrated in storybooks.

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There you have it. Can he pass off as the king of the jungle?

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Moist and light! Perhaps I should start baking for others now and revive #twenty12byjann, just for interest’s sake?

 

Ke-ki delight with Chef Yamashita @Bosch

[Event invite]

You know I love baking. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to share baked goods with loved ones and it always brings a smile to my face when the aroma of those delicious products fill the kitchen. What is more delightful is the chance to meet a renowned chef and to brush shoulders with him.

Last Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to attend the launch of famed pâtissier Chef Yamashita’s third recipe book – “Tanoshii Ke–Ki” – at Bosch Experience Centre and learn how to bake a Yuzu Chiffon Cake from the great baking master himself.

chefyamashita[Credit: Bosch]

Chef Yamashita is such an affable chef and also a funny one. He put all of us at ease as he spoke in Japanese the steps to making the Yuzu Chiffon Cake. Of course, we were able to understand his instructions as he had a translator working alongside him.

A few pointers to note as he showed us the steps:

:: Sift the flour once or twice to aerate it.
:: When preparing the egg yolk batter, you need to add the olive oil really gradually, just like how you make home-made mayonnaise. Do not rush this step to prevent splitting.
:: When the batter is ready, pour it a portion at a time, using a bench scraper if you have. This is to prevent air bubbles to be introduced.

Don’t know what I’m talking about since you don’t have the recipe? No worries! Chef Yamashita has kindly agreed to share it with you!

In Bosch Experience Centre where this event was held, we could see for ourselves how machines can help to make life easier for us. Say, the MaxxiMUM kitchen machine, for example, it could beat the egg whites on all sides of the bowl and its SensorControl could automatically detect the ideal stiffness of the egg whites. Cool eh? And the oven? It’s even smarter with all the different kinds of settings that are available including steaming! You can take a trip down to experience all these cool kitchen gadgets when you are free.

I tell you, the Yuzu Chiffon is simply tantalising. Soft and not overly sweet and more importantly, you could really taste the yuzu. You have to try baking it!

 We were also treated to his lovely Sakura roll cake and Castella cake, a popular Japanese honey spongecake which was originally introduced by the Portuguese merchants to Nagasaki area in the 16th century.

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Flipping through Chef Yamashita’s third book, I realised they are easy to bake Japanese-inspired French confections. They range from his signature sponge, chiffon and mousse cakes to egg-free treats so that everyone can recreate these easy-to-follow cake recipes in their own homes. I’m really excited and tempted to bake all of them!

For a start, why don’t you try your hands on this Yuzu Chiffon Cake?

Ingredients:
120g pastry flour
3g baking powder

Egg yolk batter
4 egg yolks
40g castor sugar
45g olive oil
30g milk
85g honey yuzu tea syrup

Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

Chantilly cream (optional)
400g whipping cream
20g castor sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together pastry flour and baking powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add olive oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Add honey yuzu tea and mix again. Set aside.
  4. Prepare meringue. Using an electric mixer and a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk egg whites gently until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whisk util firm peaks form.
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue egg yolk batter and mix gently with a rubber spatula. Add flour mixture and mix until incorporated. Add remaining meringue and mix well.
  6. Pour batter into chiffon cake tin. Tap tin gently on counter top to release any air bubbles.
  7. Bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of cake comes out clean. remove from oven and invert mould on a wire rack. Let cake cool completely before unmoulding.
  8. Tap sides of mould to release cake.
  9. Prepare Chantilly cream. Using an electric mixer, whisk whipping cream and sugar at high speed util medium soft peaks form.
  10. Decorate cake with Chantilly carea,, fresh fruit, chocolate balls, dollops of honey yuzu tea syrup and biscuits crumbs if desired.
  11. Refriegerate for 30 minutes before serving. Consume within a day.

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Chef Yamashita Masataka trained at the Tsuji Culinary Institute, a well-known and respected culinary institute in Osaka, Japan. He gained experience working at various patisseries around Japan for a decade before starting his own patisserie in Nara, which quickly became one of the top patisseries there. Eight years later, yearning for new challenges and a change of scenery, che Yamashita moved to Singapore where he took charge of the kitchen at Patisserie Glace, turning it into a haven for delightful cakes and pastries. Chef Yamashita soon saw an opportunity to revive his patisserie from Japan and re-established Flor Patisserie at Duxton Hill, Sigapore. Today, chef Yamashita runs his own highly successful Japanese artisan patisserie at Tanjong Pagar Plaza, aptly named Chef Yamashita.  He is also appointed as brand ambassador for Bosch Home Appliances.

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[Wordless Wednesday] Featured

Mid-week.

Was dealing with some domestic affairs and was obviously flustered and frustrated when a friend whatsapped me and asked if the following was my creation.

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So it is.

I wasn’t surprised since the bride has told me about it and asked how I wanted to be mentioned.

Nope, I don’t want to be mentioned. I’m just glad to be given this opportunity to make this wonderful cake. It’s been a pure joy and working with an easy-going bride made it even more enjoyable.

It’s been a rather tough afternoon today but I’m encouraged by this.

Read the full text here.

Awesome August

August started off on a sweet note for me. I received an email in July from a lady asking me if I could bake for her daughter’s first birthday. To set the record straight, I bake for family and friends and seldom do I take up offers from people whom I do not know simply because I could not handle big orders and that I bake for fun, for hobby.

I don’t know why I agreed to bake for this lady, SP, and as we continued in our discussion, more stuff was added and before I knew it, I was to bake cupcakes, cookies, madeleines, smash cakes, birthday cake and a surprise cake for her niece. I must have calculated the timing wrongly and thought I was still in my second trimester which translates to having the energy still to bake and decorate. Alas, nearer the date, I realised I was in my third trimester already! Oh oh!

But it was all good. SP was a very nice lady to chat with and as we went through the details, I was challenged to come up with designs that could suit her theme and also make cakes that I would normally not make. I must say that I caused much disappointment for her two smash cakes as the colours condensed and bled ( I placed them in the fridge) but she was magnanimous enough to forgive me! What a wonderful lady!

IMG_20150808_063640This was the dessert table that SP created for her daughter, Chloe. I contributed some of the baked goods in the picture and when she sent me this image, I felt all the hard work has paid off. It was beautiful and I’m inspired to have a dessert table for my daughter and newborn too.

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This two-tier cake is made of an 8″ lychee sponge cake and a 6″ rainbow vanilla sponge cake. On the actual day itself, I took the whole of the morning and afternoon to do up the decoration since there was very little I could do beforehand. The horses had to be hand-painted and dried and thankfully all was well. It was undoubtedly a very heavy cake!

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Three flavours of cupcakes were requested to match the colour theme. Here we have chocolate-mint, strawberry and blueberry-flavoured ones.

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SP loves madeleines and she specially requested for lavender ones and I’m more than happy to bake these treats for her because Faith also loves them.

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Cookies for the guests. I can’t afford the time to use royal icing to decorate the cookies but I hope the fondant ones will do the job. 😉

20150801_152259 (2)This is the surprise cake that is meant for her niece who also turned 1YO around the same time as her daughter. This is a 6″ red velvet cake with minimal decoration except for the name and three owl figurines!

20150801_154446 (2)This is the part that I love most. To see the completed product and waiting for them to be delivered is really a joy in itself. And I definitely heaved a sigh of relief when they were all delivered safely!

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A week after that, i was to bake a 6″ lychee owl cake for SP’s niece. It was challenging not because of the amount of work but because it was raining cats and dogs on that day and if you have experience dealing with fondant, you will know that that is not the most ideal circumstance – the fondant perspired! I was racing against time and had to place the cake back and forth into the box that is filled with drying agents just so that the fondant will stay the way I wanted it to be.

Thankfully, the ‘owl’ was cooperative and stayed the way it was till cake-cutting.

It was indeed a wonderful first two weeks in August making these sweet treats and thanks, SP, for the opportunity to work with you!

Japanese Strawberry Shortcake

It’s my sis’ birthday tomorrow and I thought that I should bake her a birthday cake since mom’s cooking dinner this evening. Naturally, the Japanese Strawberry Shortcake came to mind because my nephews love strawberries and our family prefers light cakes anytime. Thankfully, I have strawberries and whipped cream in the fridge so it makes decision making easier.

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I went ahead and used the traditional sponge cake method. 6″ cake pans were used since I did not want a big cake. That said, I do have a tall 6″ cake in the end.

(A)
4 eggs
120g caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour (sifted)

(C)
70g melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended.

3. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the greased pans. Bake at 180C for about 20 min or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cakes. Remove them from the pans immediately when done and let cool.

I’m used to using IMBC and was rather hesitant about using whipped cream because my kitchen is really warm. Since there is no harm in experimenting and because it’s really for family, I decided to give it a try. Using 300g of whipped cream, I used the balloon whisk and whisk it till stiff peak. Preferably, the metal bowl should be cold but I forgot to keep it in the fridge before that. But hey, it still works. And I’m pleasantly surprised that it holds well even when it’s kept out of the fridge for half an hour (before the cake cutting).

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My folks said the sponge cake is rather light but I think it can go lighter. The next time I experiment with it, I might use cake flour and add a little glucose to see the difference it will make. Also, the whipped cream is a tad thick so I should just reduce it by a wee bit.

familypic (2)In any case, I’m glad to have baked this cake. It’s been a while since I last baked a cake for a birthday celebration. And more importantly, it warmed my heart to see the folks enjoy this dessert.

Pandan Kaya Cake Roll

 20150414_141458Recently, I went on a mission to look for recipes on Pandan Kaya Cake Roll and boy, did I have fun! The swiss roll is easy to make and bakes fast. So if you have the Kaya jam on hand, a dessert can easily be made.

Firstly, let me show you how to make pandan juice.

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Pandan leaves can be bought from the wet market or the supermarket for less than a dollar for a packet. Cut the blades into smaller pieces and place them in your blender/chopper. Add about 3/4 cup of water into the blender if you intend to use up the whole lot of pandan leaves from a whole packet. After the blender has done its work, pour the juice through a sieve and squeeze the juice from the leaves as well.

To make the Pandan Kaya jam, you would need the following:

200ml coconut milk
2 large eggs
50g sugar
2tbsp pandan juice
1tbsp corn flour
1tbsp plain flour
3 blades of pandan leaves
(If you prefer a stronger pandan flavor, add 1/4tsp of pandan paste.)

Steps:

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1. Mix coconut milk, eggs, corn flour, plain flour and pandan juice together until well combined.

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2. Strain mixture into a saucepan, add in sugar and pandan leaves.

3. Cook over low fire and stir constantly until mixture thicken. (Do not overcook.  Once kaya is too thick, it will turn lumpy and will be difficult to spread on the cake). The trick is to keep stirring! Discard pandan leaves and set aside to cool.

:: I have tried a few variations to making the Kaya jam. To make a healthier version, I used brown sugar instead of caster sugar and the flavour is more intense. There is also a difference if you use the pandan paste and pandan flavour. The pandan paste will give you a green kaya jam (pic on the left) whereas when I added the pandan flavour, the colour is more natural. So it really depends on your preference.

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Making the sponge roll is easy and for this following recipe, the steps require that you separate the egg yolk from the egg whites. This requires more work, of course. I have added another way to making the roll in which you use the whole egg. for the second recipe, you will yield half the amount of the first recipe.

Sponge Roll
Ingredients:

3 egg whites
70g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
45g cake flour
10g corn flour
1/4tsp salt
40g vegetable oil
1/3tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside. My tray measures 24cm by 16cm by 3cm. If you use a bigger tray, then the roll will turn out thinner. But that should be fine.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.

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4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the egg whites until foamy.

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5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till stiff peaks are formed.

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6. Switch mixer speed to medium and slowly add in egg yolks and pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the veg. oil into the batter until well blended.

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9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10. Bake in a preheated oven for about 10 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the tray you use. 

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11. When it’s done, the surface gives a nice golden brown look. Remove the sponge roll from the tray and cool on a rack with the skin facing up.

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I let the cake roll rest for about 5 to 8 minutes before I assemble. I find that if I wait longer, it will be difficult to roll and cracks will form.

Assembling the cake roll:

1. Carefully transfer the cake onto a greaseproof paper with the skin facing down.

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2. Spread pandan kaya on the cake.

3. Gently roll the cake by using the paper to lift the cake and to guide the roll.

4. Rest the roll in the fridge to stabilize its shape.

5. Remove, slice and serve.

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For an easier method and a smaller portion, the following works for me, using the size of the tray which I had mentoned earlier.

Ingredients:
2 eggs
35g caster sugar
25g cake flour
5g rice flour/corn flour
pinch of salt
20g vegetable oil
1/4 tsp pandan paste

Steps:

1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Line and grease the baking tray and set aside.

3. Sift cake flour, corn flour and salt together and set aside.image

4. Use a cake mixer and whisk the eggs until foamy.

5. Add in sugar gradually and whisk till the colour turns to pale yellow.

6. Switch mixer speed to medium and add in pandan paste. Whisk for another minute till well blended.

7. Fold flour lightly into the mixture in 3 portions until well blended.

8. Lastly fold in the vegetable oil into the batter until well blended.

9. Pour batter onto the prepared tray.

10.Bake in a preheated oven for 10mins.

Have fun baking!
I used and experimented with the recipe from happyflour.blogspot.sg and she has an awesome collection of good recipes!

Totoro cake

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This is one celebration cake which I’m pleased with because it is simple to make but pleasant to look at. A friend had asked me to bake a banana cake and decorate it with characters with Totoro and friends. Since she has two toy figurines already, I would only need to make the other two using fondant.

I love decorating a whole cake because it saves the trouble of slicing the cake into layers and filling them with buttercream. Covering them with buttercream and then fondant can sometimes result in a messy appearance. Or perhaps my skill is not there yet.

To bake the banana cake, I used Joanne Chang’s recipe and reduced the amount of sugar since I feel that the sweetness in the bananas is sufficient. The original recipe named it a bread but I think it makes a good cake. The key thing is to use very ripe bananas and sometimes I prefer to use pecan nuts over walnuts but both are good. This recipe fits a 7″ by 3″ round pan very well.

Ingredients (source)
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose f lour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil
3 1/2 very ripe, medium bananas, peeled and mashed (1 1/3 cups mashed)
2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup walnut halves, toasted and chopped

Directions:
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

2. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment (or a handheld mixer), beat together the sugar and eggs on medium speed for about 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. (If you use a handheld mixer, this same step will take about 8 minutes.)

3. On low speed, slowly drizzle in the oil. Don’t pour the oil in all at once. Add it slowly so it has time to incorporate into the eggs and doesn’t deflate the air you have just beaten into the batter. Adding it should take about 1 minute. Add the bananas, crème fraiche, and vanilla and continue to mix on low speed just until combined.

4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the flour mixture and the nuts just until thoroughly combined. No flour streaks should be visible, and the nuts should be evenly distributed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and smooth the top.

5. Bake for 1 to 1 1⁄4 hours, or until golden brown on top and the center springs back when you press it. If your finger sinks when you poke the bread, it needs to bake a little longer. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes, and then pop it out of the pan to finish cooling.

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6. The banana bread can be stored tightly wrapped in plastic wrap at room temperature for up to 3 days. Or, it can be well wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen for up to 2 weeks; thaw overnight at room temperature for serving.

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Lovely, isn’t it? And from past experience, I find the cake to be more delicious when you wait it out for the next day to consume.

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To cover the sides of the cake, I cut out stripes of yellow and frilled them before adding them unto the cake.

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Another type of cake design is to just use cupcakes and create a garden with flowers and bees. I must say the characters are really cute!

Superman cake

Do you have a superhero in your life?

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For one family, the superhero is the dad and I was asked to make a simple vanilla-lemon sponge cake with the Superman logo on it.

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A few days before the cake was baked, I sourced for the logo and resized it to fit the pan which I’m going to use.

imageCut out the shape of the logo and trace it onto a cardboard and you would need to cut it (the cardboard) again before using it as a guide to cut out the shape from yellow fondant. I added tylose powder to the fondant as I need it to harden. You would need to use your sugarcraft tools to cut out the shape from the fondant.

imageUsing the cardboard as a guide again, cut out the finer details from the red fondant (with tylose powder) and very carefully put the red piece on the yellow one and leave to dry.

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After the logo has dried (which takes a few hours), I used the black food coloring and paint the outline. This has to be done really carefully as you want the border to be neat!

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Once that is done, you would need to let it dry again. The paint will take a while to dry up. To quicken it, you may add extract or alcohol to the coloring so that it will help in the drying process.

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Remember the cardboard that you have in the beginning, that is useful when you carve the shape of the cake. Assemble as you would for other cakes. I used Italian meringue buttercream in between the layers.

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I piped scallops for the bottom of the cake using Wilton tip #21 or any small star tip. Lastly, you would need to place the fondant logo very very carefully and precisely on top of the cake and that’s it!

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🙂

Pororo cake that went ;(

Recently, my cousin asked me to bake a Pororo cake for my nephew and I went, “What is Pororo?”

Okay, I know I am really ignorant but pardon this busy mother, all right? When she showed me a picture, I know for certain that I have seen this character before. He’s so cute!

Nothing much was asked for the cake except that it has to have the Pororo figurine somewhere. My cousin is easy on the cake, just a simple vanilla and a non-fondant one will do.

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A few days before the actual cake collection, I set out to do the centre-piece, which is Pororo itself. It isn’t difficult to do the body. In fact, you just need two big round mass for the body and head respectively. The difficult part lies in the finer details like the pilot’s hat and the specs. I took quite a while to figure out the proportion of the hat while using two different sizes of the piping tip to make the spectacle rims.

IMG_20150103_2257130.7179084798424332The decoration pieces were made two days in advance.

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I used Wilton’s food writer pens to draw in the details of the hat and the eyes itself on the actual day of the cake collection.

IMG_20150104_1718340.2740290181284296So, I used a super soft vanilla sponge cake for this cake order. I took a risk by laying a piece of fondant on the top so that I could stick the figurines and other decor pieces on it. The Pororo figurine proved to be too heavy for the sponge cake and I had to insert a dowel/ lollipop stick to sustain the weight.

IMG_20150104_1719460.5715718599551294Originally, I had wanted to put some trees as part of the decoration but the sponge cake is really not suitable to withstand the weight. In the end, they had to be placed on the cake board. I think I should just stick to my regular vanilla sponge cake recipe.

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But you know what? The cake didn’t impress. Granted that the Pororo character is cute (I find that it is adorable!) but the sponge cake itself is a flop. My dear cousin gave me an honest feedback about the cake and I do believe I have to go back to testing the recipes again. I’m just angry with myself that the sponge cake has escape my QC during the assembling stage! Arghh…Perhaps something went wrong during the mixing part but oh well… need to really make improvement!

I’m thankful that folks gave me feedback regardless whether it is good or bad review. We all need it for improvement, don’t we?

😉

Merry Christmas!

I know it’s a bit late to wish everyone a blessed Christmas but I’ve been really busy these days. Days leading up to this wonderful day, I was spending time with the family, bringing Faith on outings with her cousins and meeting up with her playmates. On top of these, there were also cake orders so blogging has taken a step back. There are many memories that I want to record but I just couldn’t find the time! What has added to this agony is the fact that my macbook is showing signs of dying for it runs at an incredibly slow speed, making blogging a real pain. Do you face the same situation as me? ;(

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Anyway, this post is about some Christmas cake orders that I had and I thought I should just blog about it, for memories’ sake and also for my own personal record. Hah.

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On Christmas eve, my friend ordered 20 cupcakes from me and asked specifically that they be decorated with fondant. There are many Christmas cupcake toppers on pinterest and I love the tutorial of the Santa Claus from The Designer Cake Company. Aren’t they adorable? I ❤ pinterest a lot!

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I love it when cakes/ cupcakes are packed in boxes! It’s an exhilarating feeling, I kid you not!

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An ex-colleague ordered this chocolate cake with topping cream and chocolate ganache. In it, I put in various kinds of fresh fruits namely raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and cherries. Expensive fruits, I must say, if you are from this part of the world. It’s a small cake and it looks so elegant. Makes me very happy!

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The last cake for this Christmas season is this log cake. I had wanted to bake it for a Boxing Day gathering. Alas, the meeting was cancelled Since I had bought the toppers and they couldn’t last me for another year, I thought I should just go ahead and bake the log cake, using a light chocolate sponge cake.

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
95g all-purpose flour
15g cocoa powder

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Grease and line a shallow pan (I used a 25 x 25 x 2cm). Set the oven to 190C.

2. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

3. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

4. Add (C) and mix well.

4. Pour the batter into the pan and bake at the middle rack for 12-15 minutes. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

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I turn it into another parchment paper that is sprinkled with icing sugar so that the sponge cake will not stick so much to the parchment paper.

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 With the seam side down, let the cake cool completely before proceeding to the next step.

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Unroll the sponge cake, brush a layer of sugar syrup (with chocolate extract) and put a layer of whipped topping cream and add in cherries (those that come in the frozen pack).

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Roll the sponge cake back! It will look a little ugly at this point in time but not to worry, you can always beautify it with chocolate ganache!

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Since I’m using a small cake board, I have to divide the sponge cake into 2 portions and since the smaller one at an angle so that it will attach nicely to the main one (as in the pic).

20141225_155038Spread chocolate ganache on the cake and use the tines of a fork to make the lines. Add the toppers and sprinkle some icing sugar to create the snowy look and…

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There you have it, a simple log cake! I got my family to taste it and my mum who is oh-so-critical approves of it! Yay!

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Once again, have a blessed Christmas! Hope to find more time to add more entries on this space!

Baking madness!

The past week or so, I have been really busy with making cakes, all thanks to friends who support me in my hobby! It is tiring, no doubt. The washing part is most dreaded and that includes the cleaning of the countertop and the floor since I don’t want ants to occupy my kitchen. Nope, they cannot even enter!

The cakes baked thus far:

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This is a simple 7 inch vanilla sponge cake with vanilla buttercream and peach between the layers. The mummy has requested that the design fit the theme of a magic show and thus I came up with this design.

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Christmas came early! A friend browsed my pinterest account, saw this cake and asked me to do it for her. It’s a cranberry infused sponge cake with cranberry sauce in between. I took a long time to source for the cranberries and finally found frozen ones at Marketplace at I12. My friend requested for a 1/2kg cake but you know, I don’t work by weight but by size. So, the cake came up to be about 1.5kg. Hah!

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Frozen cake #1. A hit among my friends when I posted it on FB. The design is simple but the figurines make it look awesome. My friend wants it really simple and she didn’t want blue-coloured layers because she felt the colour look weird on a cake. Agree too so I just did a simple cake for her daughter.

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Rainbow cake. Still a hit and this is for the last day of school party for a preschooler. Her class is called Rainbow 5 and it’s absolutely apt to bake such a cake for her! Naked cake can look really pretty! Love the colourful sprinkles too!

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A last-minute order from a friend. This is for her daughter who turns 22! I used to teach her when she was in primary school and now she’s a young adult! I feel so old! Rainbow cake inside and Nat was surprised as she cut the cake, she told me.

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The wheels on the bus go round and round…. this is an order from the hubs’ friend. Her son wanted the bus on the cake along with some animal figurines. A rainbow cake was requested and I found that when I bake about 200g of the batter in the 6″ pan, the cake came out even and I didn’t need to slice the top of the cake. Will go with this method the next time a rainbow cake is requested. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s ok. It’s just for my reference. ;p

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Frozen cake #2. This is a tad more complicated than #1 in the sense that my friend wanted a blue side and a white top that acts as snow. I prefer this design.

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60 Hello Kitty Chocolate cupcakes. I was more stressed and tired over them than all other cakes. It’s definitely more tedious to come up with these toppers and could get really mundane. But the labour was worth it when the girl received them with joy. I make kids happy. I love my job.

😉

Hello, Hello Kitty!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and I’m inspired to decorate my cakes according to this season. How about a simple Hello Kitty cake for a start?

I bought the Hello Kitty pan a while back and it has been sitting in the cabinet for too long. I had only used it once and I thought I should give it some life!

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I decided to bake the traditional sponge cake, a recipe by Alex Goh, the one that is rather soft and one whom my mom might approve. All these while, the cakes that I bake are dense since they have to be decorated with fondant. It’s time to bake the softer version!

(A)
4 eggs
120g sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

(B)
110g all-purpose flour

(C)
70g hot melted butter

1. Whip (A) until light and fluffy

2. Stir in (B) and mix until well blended

3. Add (C) and mix well.

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4. Pour the batter into the greased pan (you really need to grease this pan well!). Bake at 180C for about 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Remove it from the pan immediately when done.

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This cake can be troublesome to slice into two and I find it a bit plain to just eat the cake with buttercream only. So, I injected some strawberry jam using Wilton tip #230 before covering it with with Italian Meringue Buttercream and dessicated coconut to give a more natural feel to Hello Kitty. The more common ones we see in bakeries are covered with fondant but I think it is equally good to cover it with buttercream. To create the Christmas theme, I added cranberries and the fondant holly leaves. Faith saw the cake and kept saying, “I want eat cake.” She had her wish of course since this is not a very sweet cake. My father-in-law who has a very sweet tooth much preferred the sweeter version. Difficult to please!

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There’s no occasion for the cake. We just cut and eat! I think the sponge cake can be softer if I use the cake flour. Fellow bakers, why don’t you try and let me know?

😉

‘Caking’ my way through November

Oh, you mean it’s November already? So soon?

The beginning of the 11th month saw me working real hard in kitchen. I have started taking cake orders again after a two-month break. And November is a popular month and there are orders every week! Thank God! Faith’s birthday also falls on this month and I’m still thinking if I should bake her a cake. ;p

Rainbow cake continues to be a popular choice and when it comes to young children, you won’t go wrong with animal figurines. Each day, when Faith saw the figurines on the dining table, she would climb up the chair and admire them and at the same time, practising her counting. 😉

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So, I’m thankful that the hubs didn’t complain about the messy dining table. He also gave up a bit of rest to spend more time with Faith while I work in the kitchen. Thank you so much!

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I love animal figurines such as these because they help make a simple cake look adorable (I think!). And I so love the colourful sprinkles!

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Both the cakes happened to be for two-year-olds. 6-inch for both but oh, how tall the cakes are!

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The third cake for the first week is for a good friend of both the hubs and mine. She is our ex-colleague and we had so many wonderful memories working with her. She is also very wise and is a mom to three beautiful children and this cake is for her youngest. I finally have the privilege of baking for her! I’m elated that she told me that her folks love the cake. I was actually afraid that the cake might be too bland since I have reduced the amount of sweetness based on her request. But yay, love the positive review. I’m so encouraged!

Besides the baking adventures, November is off to a good start as our church celebrated her 28th year and I’m thankful that we are placed in this community of believers. I felt belonged and know that there will always be brothers and sisters-in-Christ who will be there to help and encourage us in this journey.

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It’s definitely a bonus that Faith has found herself friends to grow up with in church. I’m praying that they will grow into youth and adults together! 😉

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This is what happens when she stays with us during service – beautifying chairs.

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The week came to a close as we celebrated the birthday of Faith’s uncle. She had such a wonderful time with my in-laws which brings me great joy too. I’m thankful that she feels loved by the people around her. *Blessed*

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Looking forward to a busy but fulfilling November! And definitely more cakes!

*Photos of Faith courtesy of Mummy Trisa and Auntie Eunice!

How do you price your cakes?

This is not a parenting post but one about my other love – baking and cake decorating.

If you are a home baker who bakes at the request of friends, how do you determine your pricing?

I find it really tough to answer this question. Sure I did my rounds of checking out the cakes at the bakeries but I can’t do a direct comparison because what I’m doing is customised cakes. These cakes will inevitably cost more than what are available in the usual bakeries simply because they are made upon specific request. Where sugar art is involved, the cake will definitely be priced higher because of the time invested in creating and beautifying the figurine(s). The ingredients themselves already cost more, what’s with artwork?

I pen down this post because this is a question that is often posed to me when I’m teaching cake-decorating classes. I have no definite answer but what I am certain is that we must cover the cost price of the cake which includes the ingredients used, electricity bills, transportation cost to purchase the ingredients and materials. Cakes that involve sugar art like fondant-covered cakes need a cool environment and that is when most bakers would switch on the air-conditioner just for the cakes. Do we need to take that cost into consideration? I definitely think so!

What is commonly overlooked are labour cost and the time taken to design the cake. How would you pay yourself as you spend time creating the cakes? But sadly, these are often overlooked by those who order cakes.

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I have been teaching cake decorating lessons for almost a year now and each time after the class (especially so for sugarart lessons), the participants will always tell me that it is so time consuming and involves so much work that they now understand why such cakes cost a bomb. More recently, one participant started to bake cakes that require sugarart for others and she would often utter, “It’s not worth it. I spent so much time and effort in creating those cakes but the customer doesn’t want to pay that kind of price.”

My advice to them? Don’t accept such orders. I mean unless you are okay with it, you are better off not accepting the order. In the end, you have to be happy doing what you love and not grudgingly.

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Recently, I made this 6-inch x 3.5-inch Devil’s Food Cake using Valrhona chocolates. How much would you have priced it?

I guess for me, I want baking for friends to be a passion and not a business venture. Baking for {much} profit kills my love for baking but yet at the same time, I do have to cover the cost and maybe get a little bit of return so that I can continue to practise my craft and to buy those materials (hah!). Then again, I think I have underpriced most of the time. Maybe I should look into my pricing again?

If you find yourself at a loss when it comes to pricing, here are some helpful links that were searched by the dear hubs:

– http://www.cakeboss.com/Cake-Stuff/Articles/How-Much-Should-I-Charge

– http://www.veenaartofcakes.com/pricing-your-cakes-a-beginners-guide/

– http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2013/09/pricing-cakes-like-a-pro/

– http://www.celebrate-with-cake.com/p/price-guide.html

Hope this helps.

Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake

I’m excited.

To bake.

You should have seen the many bookmarks that I have made on the cookbooks.

I’m itching to bake them.

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First up is this Poppy Seed/ Black Sesame Seed Beancurd Chiffon Cake. The original recipe calls for poppy seeds but because it is illegal for us to own them, the alternative is to use toasted black sesame seeds.

(Adapted from Alex Goh’s Fruity Cakes)

Ingredients (A)
4 egg yolks
1/4 tsp salt
50g vegetable oil
40g soy milk
65g beancurd

Ingredients (B)
100g cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

Ingredients (C)
4 egg whites
80g sugar
1/8 tsp cream of tartar

Ingredients (D)
1 tbsp poppy seeds/ toasted sesame seeds

1. Mix (A) until well blended and then add (B) and mix well.

2. Whisk egg whites in (C) until soft peaks form (foamy stage). Then add sugar and cream of tartar. Continue to whip until stiff peaks are formed.

3. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix with the above egg yolk mixture from step (1) until well combined. Add the remaining meringue and fold well.

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4. Add (D) and mix until well combined.

5. Pour the batter into a 22-cm angel food cake tin. Bake at 170C for 40 -45 minutes. I used a 17-cm tin and it worked okay.

6. Immediately invert it after taking it out from the oven and let it cool.

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7. When it is cool, remove it from the mould.

* I used poppy seeds for this cake since I have a little left in the kitchen.
* Didn’t manage to take a lot of pictures for the steps since I thought that it would be a failed attempt but it works! Will do so the next time!

Timeout for baking and a madeleine recipe

I have been baking cakes for friends for about a year now and looking back, I’m glad to be given the opportunity to do so.

I’m thankful to friends who trust in me enough to ask for celebration cakes from me. Truly, it has been a humbling and enriching experience.

The last two weeks have been really hectic and I’ve reached the point of exhaustion. Sometimes I wish my cakes could taste a little better and that I could be more adventurous in terms of flavour. Alas, I have no time to experiment with recipes. There are household chores to do, meals to prepare, lessons to teach the little one, classes to teach and the list goes on. So to be honest, what has begun as a love for me -baking – has turned out to be a chore in recent times. I have to stop. To take a break from baking for others and go back to baking for leisure, for my family. The husband has complained that he doesn’t get to eat any of the baked goods nowadays. ;p

With these final cakes for the season, I will have to bid farewell for a while to baking cakes for friends so that I can resume my home-based culinary lessons which I have started since the days in Boston.

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Vanilla sponge cake with chocolate ganache

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Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image and meringue border

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Vanilla sponge cake with IMBC, topped with edible image

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A simple yuzu sponge cake with IMBC for a 1YO boy

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 I will still make figurines during this period since I need to continue to hone my skills in that area. But more importantly, I want to take time to improve on my baking skills and continue to learn the science of it.

For a start, here’s a recipe for madeleines – scallop-shaped cakes that epitomise classic French patisserie. They are easy to make and are best eaten fresh from the oven. All you need is a stiff metal whisk. Simple?

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(Adapted from Perfecting Patisserie by Dr Tim Kinnaird)
Ingredients:

3 eggs
120g caster sugar
50ml milk
175g all purpose flour/unbleached flour for a healthier version 😉
1 1/2tsp baking powder
200g melted butter

(yields 22 big ones)

1. Preheat the oven to 230C. If you are using a metal madeleine tray, lightly butter and flour the tray. I use both silicon madeleine tray and the metal one.

2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl and whisk in the sugar and milk until well combined. Whisk in the flour and baking powder until the batter is smooth, but don’t over-work the mixture as this will develop gluten in the flour and toughen the madeleines. Whisk in the melted butter.

3. Fill each scallop-shaped mould of the tray to half or at most 2/3 full.

4. Bake for 8 minutes in the oven or until golden brown. You may want to turn the tray 180 degrees halfway through the baking.

For variation, I added yuzu concentrate to a batch (I took out one portion) and green tea to another batch before baking.

Enjoy! 😉

Drummer boy cake

Today must be a dry day. The fondant I put on the cake didn’t perspire much.

I worked on a drummer boy theme cake for a 3YO boy. His father is a drummer and I think the little one aspires to be one too. So the dad asked me if I could make a rainbow cake for his birthday in the theme of a drum, leaving the design to me.

I went for a figurine. Because I want to practise.

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As usual, the figurines were made a few days in advance since I need to dry them. A day before the collection of the cake, I baked three layers of the cake and today, I baked the rest. So I used my usual sponge cake recipe. the recipe yields about 1130g and I divided the portion into three colours = 376g per layer. I think this is a bit too much for an 8″ cake because if I put on 6 layers, it will be more than 4 inch tall! Today, I put on 5 layers only because I was multi-tasking and forgot about that one layer. But all’s good. I thought it looks better. It’s proportionate.

*Note to self. To divide into 4 layers for an 8″ cake and 3 layers for a 10″ cake.

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I used IMBC and a little of the conventional frosting (the one with icing sugar) and surprisingly, the fondant works well with it. I’m happy!

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I’m beginning to enjoy making figurines!

This is the full version of what has happened today.

The Ninjago Cake

I know one fine day I would bake a Lego cake. It’s not surprising since children and even adults love playing with these bricks. I remember when I was young, I could spend hours building and even without the guide, I would draw on my imagination and do a layout of a room or house.

Recently, a friend asked me to do a Ninjago cake for his 6YO son. The cake took a week for me to make, simply because I could only do the figurines at night, after the little one has gone to bed. I was really apprehensive about the turnout and threw a couple of figurines away because they didn’t work out.

In the end, this is the completed product.

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It’s a 3-inch chocolate cake and I’m thankful that the frosting didn’t melt in the heat. I did a double layer of fondant covering after frosting the cake.

The bricks and figurines were done a few days before the cake was assembled since I needed them to be dried. Tylose powder works wonderfully well for these.

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I had problems with the temple though. Initially, i had wanted to build one with either rice crispy or some biscuits for the interior but I thought it would weigh the cake down and decided on doing that single panel. Not my ideal but I guess I would just have to make do.

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In the end, I was most pleased with the bricks and the banner with the name on it. It was a last-minute idea and I did it free hand but I love the result.

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3.5kg

A cake for Mr Wood

Relatives from my hubs’ side came back to visit and I was tasked to bake a cake to surprise Mr Wood, an ardent fan of The Harlequins. Of course, I know nothing about this football club until the hubs told me and I had to do some reading up on it and browsing of pictures before I decided on the figurine that I would be making. Initially, a cake in the shape of a football was called for but I don’t have the pan and I’m not ready to sculpt a cake and decided to just settle for a figurine.

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It’s a rich devil’s food cake that I baked and I decided to pipe some ‘grass’ on it. It’s a simple cake but one which I like because of the figurine. It was made the night before though I wish I had more time. Had I more time, I would have made another player lying on the ground. But that week had been crazy with playdates, homeschool stuff, teaching assignment, a seminar to attend and a cake order in the weekend too. Not that I’m complaining. I actually enjoyed all the activities. Just that the spirit is willing but the body is weak and  I felt it protesting already.

Thankfully, the folks were easy to please and I think the cake satisfied.

I wonder how this week looks like.

Yuzu sponge cake

I fell in love with Yuzu after trying the Yuzu drink sold in the supermarket. I like that it is aromatic and refreshing without being overly citrus. And I thought I should infuse it into my cakes! I did just that for refreshment during the recent playdate that we had.

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I did some changes to a vanilla sponge cake recipe by using more cake flour instead of using all of plain flour. I also reduced the amount of sugar since my friends prefer less sweet stuff. Instead of vanilla extract, I used Yuzu concentrate which I purchased from Kitchen Capers.

So here goes:

Yuzu sponge cake

2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
200g unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
1 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 170C. Line baking tin with baking paper. I baked a 6″ cake for this one and the height goes up to 4 inches. Very tall cake!

1. Sift the flour and baking powder.

2. In a mixer bowl, cream the butter for 1-2 mins and gradually add the castor sugar. Beat the mixture until it is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating after each addition or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

4. Add the Yuzu concentrate and beat until combined.

5. With mixer on low speed, add a third of the flour, beat until combined. Add half of the milk and beat. Repeat and then add the remaining flour and beat until combined.

6. Spoon mixture into baking tin. If you are doing rainbow or ombre cake, you would have to use your scale to divide out the batter equally and then add your desired food colouring. Bake for about 20-30 minutes (depending on the portion you bake) or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

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Italian Meringue Buttercream
150g fine sugar
60g water
4 egg whites
220g unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch bits
1 tbsp Yuzu concentrate
Pinch of cream of tartar

1. Pour the sugar into the water in a saucepan and let boil to 120C. Do not stir the sugar when boiling. Go on to step 2.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar on high until it reaches the sift peak stage (foamy stage).

3. When the temperature of the sugar syrup shows 115C, whisk the egg whites on high until stiff peak. When the sugar syrup reaches 12oC, turn down the speed of the mixer to speed 1 and then pour the syrup into the meringue (beaten egg whites0 by the side. Do it carefully in a steady stream. Once all the syrup is in, turn the mixer on high and whisk the egg whites until the sides of the mixer bowl no longer feels hot. This will take quite some time.

4. Once the meringue has cooled, turn the speed down to medium and add in the pieces of unsalted butter, one at a time. It will look like it has curdled but fear not, keep whisking and in the end, it should look like this.

5. Lastly, add in the Yuzu concentrate.

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Once you have the buttercream, the next step is to frost the cake. Enjoy the process!

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Verdict: So my friends ate slices of it and one of them commented it’s still a tad sweet. The husband likes it and I think it’s just right too. Try it yourself and see if you like it less sweet by reducing the sugar to about 3/4 cup. If you really want a soft cake, you can just use cake flour. Experiment with the recipe. This is the fun thing about baking.

😉

Cakes made this week

The last week of May saw me making two fondant cakes for my friends. Just a month or two ago, I declared that I would not work with fondant in this type of humid condition but my heart turned soft when my friends asked me to bake for their niece and nephew respectively.

This first cake was a chocolate cake for a 10-year-old girl. I was told she was a precocious girl and after browsing some pictures on my FB, she decided to go for a simple design – one with bow and stripes on the surface. V (the birthday girl) likes the combination of turquoise, pink and white and it shall be done for her!

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There were problems along the way. Due to the hot weather, my whipped chocolate ganache didn’t stay whipped. In fact, it soon turned watery which was a great cause of concern for me as I need to cover the cake with fondant. As a backup, I made a batch of buttercream (wilton method) and applied it on the ganache (crumb coat and first layer) in the hope that it will help to crust. To ensure that the fondant will not turn soft and thus destroy the cake, I put double layer of fondant on the cake.

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The bow never materialised as it cracked as I was about to put on the cake. I should have stuck to the same brand of fondant that I have been using all along. The current one that I’m using doesn’t really do well in terms of drying and can be rather fragile. Thankfully I took a picture before it cracked.

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Panic set in of course. I had a few more hours before delivery and I had to think of an alternative design and fabric roses came to mind. Along with some blossom flowers, there were 10 flowers on top, signifying her age. And I thought it turned out better in appearance (or am I trying to console myself?). I thought this cake was rather mature looking, good for a grown-up in fact. ;p

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The 1.9kg chocolate cake decorated with fondant.

The second cake was a rainbow cake with chocolate ganache. My friend was easy about this. There was no need for much decoration except for some animal figurines for his 3YO nephew. I love making figurines and spent each night working on one since it is rather difficult to do so when the kiddo is awake. I had better do a good job for the figurines since they take the centrestage. The rainbow cake was baked and then put together on the day itself. Again, the chocolate ganache posed a problem since it got watery again in this weather although I have used the proportion of 1.5:1. Sigh! I should have just insisted on using buttercream since the 6-inch cake can get mighty tall and I need each colour of the cake to ‘stick’ well to the other.

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I actually had problem with the frosting and I panicked again. In the end, I decided to pipe some green leaves using buttercream to hide the ugliness and as usual, I place fondant on top so that the figurines could sit on it. The white fondant covering was intended to have a natural look in case you would think that I have made a mistake by placing it a little slant. I love the colourful letterings which was a last-minute idea that popped into my mind. At the 11th hour, I did the colourful bunting to complete the look.

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I actually like the finished product! My friend was happy and said that her nephew loved the animals and kept admiring them even after the birthday and this absolutely made my day! All the effort was worth it! Together with the figurines, this 6″ cake weighs 2.1kg.

20140526_192322Rainbow cake seems to be well-liked by many these days eh? A fad?

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My garden theme cupcakes. I certainly hope to do more to complete the whole series.

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 And the last cake for the week: Yuzu-vanilla lychee cake with whipped cream. I much prefer to use buttercream if you ask me since it won’t melt that easily in our climate. I did that for the lychee cake a few months back for a friend and received good review about it. I’ll post the recipe once I’m satisfied with the result. 😉

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Lychee cake with buttercream

Sisterly cakes

I’d like to think that I’m in the business of making people happy, hopefully, with my cakes. During the weekends, I had the immense privilege of baking cakes for my ex-classmate,A, whom I have not met since 15 years ago. What an honour!

She had asked me to bake two 6″ rainbow and ombre pink cakes respectively for her two daughters. Since it was a family celebration, they wouldn’t need a big cake which was fine by me. I love baking 6″ cakes because they are manageable. 😉 There’s no great need for any decoration. Birthday buntings will do.

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I started working on these cakes a few days before the delivery day. Since I have to take care of Faith in the day time, I could only do most of the jobs in the evening when she’s in bed. The buntings were done first using craft paper, washi tapes and decorative letterings.

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Next up were the cakes which could take a fair bit of time since each layer of batter was weighed and coloured and then baked.

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This is the ombre pink cake for the older sister. I didn’t smoothen the outer layer of the buttercream since I wanted a rustic feel to the cake. Adding small love sprinkles on top, I thought it completes the look of a rather romantic cake. ;p

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This is for the younger sister who is celebrating her 10th year. I wanted the cake to be a tad more fun and added the colourful sprinkles on top. At the end of the day, I just hope both of them would love what their mother had done for them and to eat the cake. 😉

Loving buttercream cakes

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It has been raining rather often these days and this is no good news for decorating a cake with fondant at my place. So, whenever friends asked me to bake for them, I will promote buttercream cakes, for sure!

Over the weekend, I did one rainbow vanilla sponge cake for an 8-year-old boy. 6 inch and I love the size. It’s definitely more cumbersome to bake a rainbow cake since you need to colour the different layers for the batter before baking them. A weighing scale will help if you are into precision. 😉

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My usual proportion for the swiss meringue buttercream will not be sufficient to cover the cake. So I decided to add one more egg white with the same amount of sugar and butter. Works well but I guess we can do with more. So I guess I’ll need to experiment more with the recipe. For this batch, the measurement is:

130g egg white (4 large eggs)
135g sugar
227g unsalted butter, soft but still cold, cut into small equal size of cubes

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More recently, I find myself loving the use of ribbons to cover the base. The collection is growing at quite a steady rate, I must say. Since I would be using a toy superman figurine on the cake, I put a layer of fondant on top before placing another layer just for the decorations. It’s suppose to mean that superman emerge from the clouds… Hmm, did any one of you get it?

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All the wordings were done a day before since I need them to harden a little. Tylose powder is added to the fondant.

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Building this cake in stages takes the stress away. I must say I quite enjoy making this cake!

WW | A hobby takes flight

“When God closes a door, He opens another.”

And that really happens to me. If you have been following this blog, you would know that I resigned from my teaching job to look after the little one (LO) full-time because both the hubs and I felt that this is the best arrangement for her, at least for the first few years of her life. I love teaching, everything about it, and to leave this vocation is a blow to me.

Being a SAHM has its perks and pain and I find it crucial to get away from the LO at times, just to maintain sanity. I turn to baking and further hone my skills in cake decorating by going for courses. And one fine day, I was offered a freelance job at a cake decorating school. This is an awesome arrangement because I get to teach again, on stuff I love to do and I can choose when I want to teach (times when I need some ME time!).

I didn’t really share this publicly because I don’t know how far this will take me but now I’m ready.

In February, together with a group of lovely ladies, I attended a training on creating really huge and beautiful cakes from an instructor from Planet Cake. We would all be assessed on our skills and cakes because if we pass, we get to teach the similar stuff!

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And I’m pleased to share this piece of good news with you: I passed!

These are the cakes we made.

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It’s really fun as I learnt quite a fair bit of techniques in creating these cakes, which includes drilling and airbrushing.

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At the end of the day, the family is the beneficiary of the cakes and they got so tired of them that they asked me to give them away. Arghhh!

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I’m thankful that the hubs gives me total support in my hobby and my parents who helped to take care of the LO while I was busy during that period. My hobby is really taking flight and quite literally, I am flying off to somewhere soon to learn more about cake decorating.

Life has taken a turn, and this is really quite unexpected. I’m thankful for all these opportunities!

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The celebration weekend

For the past few days, I have been baking. There was batter and cakes and pops. The house (kitchen and living room) was in a mess but there were two celebrations and cakes were called for and so I baked.

The wedding cake was a three-tiered lavender cake covered with buttercream and boy, was I glad. You see, the weather turned extremely humid on Friday and if it was a fondant cake, I would be done for. Nonetheless, it was still an adventure making this cake. I have wanted to bake with culinary lavender flowers and extract and I had to hunt them down. I have searched a few baking suppliers but they do not have the things I want until I went to Kitchen Capers and saw the last packet of lavender flowers. GRAB, so I did and with bottles of extract. I burnt a big hole in the pocket that day.

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The lavender cakes were baked 2 days before since there was quite a fair bit of things to work out before the actual day. Since the cakes had to be refrigerated, they had to be moistened with sugar syrup during the assembling stage.

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Did the mashmallow pops which I love because they are so pretty and I so love washi tapes which helped to further give the pops some life.

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On the actual day, I went down to the site (which is sooo sooo romantic) and set the cake up. The toppers were made of fondant + tylose and the bride requested that they be made as closely to the ones on the invite. The pot (Kam Cheng) was difficult to make since I can’t make it fully of fondant as it would be too heavy on the cake so in the end I had to wrap another cake with fondant and shape it into a pot. Not the best result but it had to be done this way.

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By the way, the romantic place I was referring to is La Cantina In Venezia @ Changi Village Hotel. It’s a really nice place which overlooks the sea. Maybe I would do a staycation at the hotel one day!

After the wedding cake came a little girl’s first birthday. It was a strawberry cake and I had fun baking this!

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Love making the bunting using washi tapes.

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Strawberries overload


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I have decided to colour the layers in shades of pink with swiss meringue buttercream and strawberries in between. Strawberry paste and vanilla bean paste are added which added taste and colour to the sponge.

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I seriously am not good in cake decorating; there’s so much more room for improvement. I have baked a few strawberry cakes but am not impressed by the end product. Somehow, the looks fail but with the sweetie pie (the birthday girl), everything just seems beautiful. Alrighty, I need a break. Da man has been neglected and I think I need to slow down and spend more time with the family. Weekends’ precious. This hobby of mine has to slow down a little!

Lavender cake (2 6″ cake pans)

1 1/4 Cups unsalted butter, softened
1 Cup caster sugar
4  eggs
2 1/4 Cups all purpose flour, sifted
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp dried culinary lavender, chopped
1/2 tbsp lavender extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk

In a medium-sized bowl, sift together flour and baking powder and set aside. In  mixer bowl with beater attachment, on medium speed, cream butter and sugar thoroughly until light and fluffy.  Stop and scrape the sides of your mixing bowl.  Return to medium speed and add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly between each addition, until mixture becomes thick and glossy. Stop your mixer, scrape the sides as needed and return to medium speed to complete mixing for about 1 minute until throughly mixed.  By hand, fold in the flour, lavender florets, vanilla and milk. Spoon the mixture into pans and bake for 1 hour in a preheated 180C oven or until knife inserted in cake center comes out clean. Let sit for 10 minutes, run a knife along the edge to release the cake from the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.  Let cool completely before frosting.

Heroes in town

How’s your Saturday been thus far?

Mine turned out awesome. You see, I’ve encountered a few heroes today.

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Yesterday, the car could not start and we contacted a mechanic whose name card was given by my sis. I contacted him and he replied that he would try to come as early as possible the next day, thinking that I would need the car for work. Indeed, this morning, he came at the agreed time, examined my car battery and other parts and told me that the fault was with the starter. The problem was solved after he used a rod to give a few knocks on the starter. He told me honestly that it could still last a few months though it would be good to change it.

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He shrugged his shoulder and said it was ok and drove off.

I was filled with thanksgiving. I’m not trying to be cynical but the uncle could have charged me for travelling to my place or even gave me a wrong diagnosis so that he could earn a bit but he didn’t. Such honesty. Such kindness. There are indeed awesome people like them around!

My spirit was lifted and I was in a happy mood to complete the cake that my ex-colleague/ friend has ordered for his son’s 7th birthday. The theme was on Superman and I was thinking of Superman emerging from the ground to save the people. I told my friend that I would rather that we get a toy as the topper as compared to doing one. Thankfully, he was okay with that idea.

The chocolate cakes were baked a day before so that on the actual day, I could fully concentrate on decorating it. For the last few cakes, I had used various types of coating but found it unsuitable for our humid tropical climate.  This time round, I used a 2:1 proportion for the chocolate ganache. And I think it works!

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The cake was well covered by the ganache and after putting a layer of brown fondant on top, I covered it with blue fondant as the sky. I had wanted a darker blue but just couldn’t get it! #notenoughbluefoodcolour
After that, I cut out the top layer of the fondant in the middle of the cake to ‘allow Superman to emerge from the ground’. Before that, I had to wrap the bottom of the topper with some brown fondant before placing it into the cake to ensure food safety. The ‘peeling’ of the ground is made of two rectangles of brown and blue and then cut into triangles before placing it in the middle for it to attach and dry.

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I thought the chocolate balls added some spice to the ‘damaged’ ground. ;p

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Can you guess which city is decorated on the cake? You’ve guessed it right. It is Singapore all right. I was able to have a good and uninterrupted time decorating this cake because the hubs took the little one down for a long walk and took over the duty from me. Grateful. In the afternoon, I was also able to have my first real run because my father-in-law came and played with Faith. Oh, these heroes! I am definitely grateful to these men!

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Hope your Saturday’s been awesome.

Bicycle on my cake

I used to cycle, and quite frequent at one stage. I love the wind that caresses your face as you cruise but dislike the climbing of hills. But it’s all good and I met a whole group of awesome cyclists.

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While training for an event, I met a wonderful lady through a swim class and a few days ago, she asked me if I could bake a cake for her boyfriend who is an avid and really superb cyclist. It is my pleasure of course. Little did I realise that it is rather difficult to make the bicycle figurine since it can be so delicate.

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I got inspired from this blog but I must say I could not use the same technique as hers. For the bike frame, I covered a toothpick with fondant + tylose as I really need the frame to be sturdy. As for the wheels, I used circle cutters and spaghetti for the spokes before painting the spokes with metallic food paint. The different parts of the bike had to be done in stages and in the end, pieced them all up with glue (edible one, of course) and pray very hard that it will stay in one piece.

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Thankfully, the weather was good to make figurine. It was relatively non-humid and the parts could dry by the following day. I had great fun with this but know that there is really much much room for improvement. M asked for a chocolate cake with caramel and walnut and she gets her cake done this way!

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M’s boyfriend likes the bike so much that he asked how to preserve it. I think anything that the girlfriend gives will make him super happy. Moreover this is a bike, modeled very closely to his (can’t do the fine details though). Thankfully, there was also good feedback for the chocolate cake. I’m happy!

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Animals on my cake

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A friend asked me to bake a cake for her son, Matthias’ 5th birthday. Since he likes zoo animals, she requested for the rainbow cake to be decorated around that theme. No specific design given. That’s it.

I was excited and a book that Faith always reads came to mind. I wanted to create a few 20140310-141340.jpgfigurine made of fondant + tylose powder. There are also a lot of resources to tap on in the Internet. But I also respect the works of the cake decorator and thus hope to come up with my own version. That being said, I find it difficult to really come up with a personal design since you can only alter the body and face in just a few ways (That’s the amateur me talking). I could only spare a few hours each day to do the figurines and so, it’s one animal each night after Faith went to bed. The lion was the first to be completed, followed by the zebra, giraffe and the monkey. By the time I did the last animal, I was already losing steam. Hah!

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I guess you would understand if I disclose that this 10″ round rainbow cake took a whole week to complete. 😉

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The day before the delivery, the cake was baked. It’s a nice feeling seeing the layers of colours on top of one another. I wanted the design to be simple, not too complicated, and decided that swiss meringue buttercream without any added colour would suffice.

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So, there you have it. When I passed the box of cake to my friend, I was filled with relief and a sense of accomplishment. Hah. Hope the boy likes the cake.

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Have a blessed birthday, Matthias!

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