Dan turns 3

So this boy turns 3 today!

His third year had been a joy to me because we understood each other more and he has the language to tell us how he feels and what he wants. He’s really quite adorable and made me laugh a lot. It’s a far cry from his first and second year in which I found myself wanting to be away from him; he drove me mad. 😫 #beingreal

He’s a simple boy. Give him Duplo and books and they could occupy him for a good number of hours. He’s not into puzzles, unlike his sister. Loves animals, all sorts, but only those that are found on print. If he meets any creatures, he would be the first to hide behind a closed one and cry murder. 🤷🏻‍♀️

Of all the slices of cakes I bought, he chose this piece. It’s hardly a surprise since he adores chocolate, just like the mom.

We didn’t have anything special for his celebration, just a gathering of family members over a meal, for this is how we celebrate birthdays. It’s our family tradition.

I’m thankful for this family (in-laws). Each one of them has helped in their own capacity and they have made parenting a tad easier for the hubs and me.

Thank you, God, for his growth. Our prayer is that the boy would grow up to know and love You, to be a man after Your heart.

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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. 😉

Charcoal Chiffon Cake

The boy is turning 9 months old and is becoming more independent. Of course he’s been rather active with all the crawling around and pulling out of stuff from the shelves. Still, it’s manageable. The girl is back to school and we have our routines rather established. These days, when I’m in the kitchen, I would deploy the help of the girl to look after her brother and more often than not, she would gladly do so.

So the mind began to wander and I started to wonder if I should go back to baking, to do some freelance work or to start a small online business. I’m not saying that I have a lot of pockets of free time. In fact, I have often been stretched. But I do need to do something else apart from the mundane of household chores and teaching the kids. I need to continue to hone my skills, to be current and to continue to use the language in both spoken and written form to communicate with adults. Being a SAHM for the past four years has reduced my vocabulary by quite a fair bit and I can’t let this go on.

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And I started baking. A chocolate cake. But when I was about to dress it up, the chocolate ganache melted terribly in the heat. That day, the boy suddenly developed fever, a low grade one of 38C and then hit 38.8C in the afternoon. Must be the effect of teething. Throughout the night, his temperature soared and we kept sponging him and resorted to giving him paracetamol in the end.

The girl? She developed a cough and did so through the night.

All my wandering thoughts came to a halt that day. Is this a sign? Is Someone telling me to stay focussed on what I’m doing? 

I have no answer.

Nevertheless, I went on to bake a charcoal chiffon cake because I had promised to bring a cake to a gathering. At least, this turned out awesome, all thanks to the wonderful recipe by Chef Yamashita.

So I’m reminded that in life, there are often no easy answers. However, we can always pray and wait for His directions for us.

That being said, this black beauty is truly worth your time baking. I gave some to my mom and she called the following day and asked me if I had bought or baked it. This is coming from a food critic, mind you.

So, if you need some firm answers in life, bake this cake. This recipe is taken from Chef Yamashita’s cookbook – Tanoshii Ke-Ki.

Charcoal Chffon cake (with slight adaptations from original recipe)

(A)
90g cake flour
3g baking powder
10g charcoal powder

(B)
4 egg yolks
30g castor sugar
40g virgin coconut oil
70g Hokkaido milk

(C) Meringue
5 egg whites
50g castor sugar

:: I used eggs that weigh 55g each
:: I placed the chiffon tin on the lower third of the oven.
:: Charcoal powder can be purchased from Alin Bakery House.

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  1. Preheat the oven to 170C. Prepare a 17-cm chiffon cake tin.
  2. Sift together (A) cake flour, baking powder and charcoal powder. Set aside.
  3. Prepare (B) egg yolk batter. In a large bowl ,beat egg yolks and sugar until mixture is thick and creamy. Add coconut oil gradually while mixing util mixture is smooth. Add milk and mix well. Set aside.
  4. Prepare (C) 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.img_1982
  5. Spoon one-third of meringue into 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.Slice to serve.

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!

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

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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credits]

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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!

Linking up with:

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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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Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Cake for a 2YO

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My goal for this year is to bake a cake for sale at least once a month so that I could continue to hone my skills in cake decorating and make improvement to cake recipes. Just about a week ago, I got a message from a friend who asked if I could bake a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse cake for her friend since the latter was not able to find bakers to do so. I gamely took it up because I really do want to challenge myself in making the two-tier cake and that MM figurine.

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The customer, T, sent me a few pictures to give me some idea of what she wanted for her cake. In the end, this will be the final product.

The first thing that I set down to do are the toppers – the number ‘two’ and MM figurine. It is entirely hand-molded and the figurine proved to be rather challenging. It was on the third attempt that I finally was able to make one that is close to the original. The trick is to get the various parts ready, dry them for a short while before attaching the various parts together. I used fondant and added tylose powder to it. After it was made, it was then left to dry for a few days. All other decorations were also made a day or two before the actual collection.

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As usual, whenever I have a cake order, the dining table transforms into my workspace and it becomes really messy. Thank God the hubs didn’t really mind.

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The 9″ and 6″ vanilla sponge cakes were baked a day before the actual collection, sliced into layers, cling-wrapped and stored in airtight container to prevent it from drying. The sugar syrup was also made that day. The border of the cake drum was pasted with ribbon and all other equipment was laid out the night before so that it would facilitate my work the next day, which was the collection day too.

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On the day itself, I woke up early to make the frosting and chocolate ganache which is to be the coating for the cake. The layers of cakes were sandwiched with vanilla buttercream and strawberries since this was requested.

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The last stage was to cover the cake with fondant and then add the embellishment. My apartment was not equipped with air-conditioner and it proved to be a tad challenging since the fondant will sweat. I almost thought I couldn’t make it because the fondant was really ‘sweating’ after I have covered the cakes with the sugar. As a last straw, I placed both cakes in the fridge fully covered in cake caddies for about 30 minutes. The cakes were then transported to the site, assembled and the toppers attached. Phew! Job done!

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Making this cake is quite an experience. Initially, T asked for a 2kg cake but in the end, the cake weighs about 5kg. I remember I was shaking as I put on 6-inch cake and the toppers because there isn’t any additional cake or toppers and if I happened to make a mistake in attaching them, I’m screwed.

Thankfully, all went well.

Time to move on to the next cake. =)

Sugar art disaster on a rainy day

As if working in a humid area is not bad enough, it just had to rain when I was working on some  Christmas figurines.

It all started rather well as I worked on a reindeer…

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It was a rainy day that day…

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And the reindeer perspired, and then went through a process of melting…

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A second reindeer has to be made and this time round, I placed it quickly into a container, complete with a desiccating agent.

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These two are preserved, and I made another Santa.

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The collection of Christmas cake/cupcake toppers.

Japanese Strawberry cake (again!)

This is a continuation from the previous post.

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After looking through various sources, I adapted Ochikeron’s recipe and baked an 8″ strawberry cake for a birthday girl. The recipe would have been great for a 6″ cake but since an 8″ is being called for, I have to bake sponge base twice which is not too much of a problem since the recipe is rather straight forward.  I would see if I could double the portion the next time I bake an 8″ strawberry cake.

For now…

Cake base (I made twice for 8″ cake)
2 eggs ( I used 55g egg) @ room temperature
60g caster sugar
60g top flour, sifted
20g unsalted butter (melted and cooled)

Syrup
1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
20ml very hot water
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream
300ml non-dairy whipping cream (I used Phoon Huat’s; this amount is more than enough and I have left over)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Fresh strawberries (depending on how you decorate the cake)
– for the sandwich layer, slice off the tops and cut into 0.5cm thickness
– for decorations on top, all up to you!

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Beat eggs and sugar over a bain-marie (hot water bath) until the mixture warms up. I used my finger to test. A little warmth is good enough. This is to dissolve the sugar and by adding heat to the egg mixture, more air can be incorporated easily when the mixture is whipped. Remove the mixture from the bain-marie and continue beating the egg mixture till it triples in volume and turns very pale (almost white). I use my standmixer which saves a lot of time and effort!

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2. Towards the last 2 to 3 minutes, beat on the lowest speed. By reducing the speed of the mixer, a stable egg mixture with fine foam is obtained and less volume is lost when the flour is folded in. When the egg mixture has reached the “ribbon stage”, sift in the flour a little at a time in 3 stages. Cut through the mixture with a wire whisk after each addition.

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3. Sprinkle the cooled melted butter over the batter and fold in using a spatula. Take care not to over-mix the batter.

4. Pour the batter from a height of 30cm into a lined tin. Towards the end, pour the remaining batter to one side of the tin.

5. Lift the tin and drop it gently onto the table top twice to eliminate air bubbles.

IMG_91956. Bake the cake for 20-25 minutes. While it bakes, make the simple syrup solution. Dissolve 1/2 tbsp sugar in 20ml of very hot water. Then add the vanilla extract. Stir to mix well and set aside.

7. When the cake is done, turn it onto a cooling rack and allow it to cool with the pan covering it. Wrap using clingwrap when it is completely cooled if you do not intend to frost the cake on the same day (the cake keeps for 2 to 3 days, refrigerated). Otherwise, proceed to slice the cake in half, horizontally.

8. To make the cream, whip the cream and vanilla extract (preferably in a metal bowl) sitting over an ice bath. In the video, she whips till soft peaks form. For me, I whip till stiff peaks are formed. But don’t overwhip! Use instantly or keep it chilled in the fridge, covered, at all times.

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9.Now, brush sugar syrup onto the first layer of the cake (sliced side). This keeps the sponge cake nice and moist.

10. Spread a layer of cream and then top with the cut strawberries. Add another layer of cream over the strawberries.

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11. Brush the remaining layer of cake (sliced side) with sugar syrup, then place it on top of the strawberries and cream. Proceed to frost and decorate the entire cake.

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My initial design was this but I find it a tad too plain for an 8″ cake. Then I redesigned and decided that each slice should have a strawberry and since I’m supposed to pipe some birthday message on it, I used two pieces of dark chocolate and pipe the wordings on them. Royal icing will smudge on the cream so I would have to resort to this method. Not the most beautiful but well, this shows that the cake is home-baked! 😉

12. Keep the cake chilled until time of serving. The colder the cake, the easier it is to cut (and the yummier it is to eat!).

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Source: The Little Teochew & Okashi by Keiko Ishida
The video, again.

Japanese-style Strawberry cake | Keiko’s vs Ochikeron’s

I’ve been searching for recipes for light and fluffy sponge cake the past week. Fact is, the sponge cakes I have baked recently were rather firm to the touch and when you sink your teeth into a slice, you feel that you have one lump of stuff in your mouth. I also realised that many, like my mom, prefer their cakes to be light and thus my quest for suitable recipes began.

I had baked the Japanese-style Strawberry Cake using La Fuji Mama’s recipe before and I thought it was good enough. This time round, I used Keiko Ishida’s recipe and I though the result is the same as the previous one. Alas, my mom, my most valued critic, told me that the sponge is not soft enough. Can you imagine my frustration???

IMG_9181Decided on this design after reading this.

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Nearly forgot to take the pic of the interior – the last piece.

The following video is a close representation of Keiko’s genoise sponge recipe. The sponge is soft but I would have wanted it to be softer. I’m not sure if it is supposed to turn out like the above though.
You can find a similar recipe here.

So, I went to do some research again. On my tabs, there is this recipe that I’m supposed to try and I decided to use hers.

And so, I used an 8″ springform pan to bake the cake. It yields one with a height of 1.5cm tall. This won’t do if I want to make a proper cake. So I made another round of batter. The sponge cake turns out soft and fluffy and I think mom would approve of it!

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The recipe can be found here.

Overall, I prefer Ochikeron’s recipe which works wonderfully well for a 6″ cake. It is straightforward and fuss-free. I did use a standmixer to make the egg mixture which is much faster than using a handmixer (my arms hurt!). Her sponge cake is softer and overall, a light and well-aerated sponge cake results.

Disclaimer: I think you have to try the recipes for yourself and determine if my analysis is right. : )

Will post the adapted recipe next!

Happy 1st birthday, Faith

Your birthday was yesterday but Mama was too busy to blog!

Anyway, we didn’t intend to have a birthday bash for you as we want you to spend time with your loved ones, our family who have lent their helping hands throughout this one year. Perhaps next year, we will have a small party for you and you can celebrate and have fun with your friends?

It’s a pity that your cousins are still overseas, otherwise they would be celebrating with you.

20131121-115859.jpgHere you are celebrating with Gong Gong. He has helped Papa and Mama very much when we are both busy and Gong Gong adores you!

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It’s a family affair when it comes to birthday celebration. We also celebrated your Ko Po’s birthday too. She even cooked you Mee Sua as is the family tradition to have this on his/her birthday.

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The older folks really love you!

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Mama baked you a rainbow cake covered with macarons. May your life be filled with vibrancy!

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We had initially wanted to be decked in pink (Mama’s favourite colour) but grey seems fine too! May you grow up with the right values and the wisdom to discern what is right in situations where there are gray areas.

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Here’s a little about the rainbow cake. I had initially designed a two tiered cake since we are celebrating Koko’s birthday too. It would be a fruit cake for the adult and the rainbow cake for the kiddo. However, by the time I finished baking and ready to assemble, my energy level has dropped and decided to forgo the fruit cake.

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A day before, the father-in-law came over as he suspected that I would be baking a cake. How thoughtful! I used the vanilla cake recipe but reduced the sugar to 1 cup. After dividing the batter into 5 portions, I added the various colours.

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Then, they are cling-wrapped and placed in the fridge before the assembling the following day.

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To be honest, I had wanted to bake the macarons but since so many colours are involved, I forgo it and bought them instead. Unless there are folks who can help me finish the shells, I wouldn’t bake them. Too much trouble!

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I made a mistake of placing the finished product in the fridge, thinking that I could preserve the crispiness of the macarons but in so doing, the cake has become hard even though it was brought out of the fridge 3 hours after. The next day, when I consumed the remaining cake, it was softer and tastier. Hmm… lesson learnt. Another thing to improve is to add in more buttercream in each layer.

A dino cake for a 1YO

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Some weeks ago, I received a FB message from a mom asking me if  I could bake her son a cake for his one-year-old 20131110-142901.jpgcelebration. According to her, she would gladly support a SAHM for the effort as compared to purchasing one from a bakery. I was obviously happy that someone (a stranger!) would trust me enough to perform this task. Originally, a simple vanilla cake with buttercream was asked for and since the son loves this dinosaur that he often plays with, I came up with the first design.

Subsequently, the mom asked if it was possible to do a cake covered with fondant + a figurine and gave me a budget. Another draft was then made.

Draft 1 | Buttercream cake

Draft 1 | Buttercream cake

Second draft | Fondant cake

Draft 2 | Fondant cake

Thankfully, the mom was rather easy-going and accepted the proposed design very quickly. Love working with such people!

One week before the actual delivery, the figurine was made since it takes time to dry the material. I used full gumpaste for the dinosaur and tried to sculpt it based on the picture I received.

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To create the desired colour, I combine orange and red. Divide the gumpaste into the various parts of the dinosaur.

IMG_8692This is the first dino that I made which is quite ugly in my opinion due to the cracks.

IMG_8693The second dino. Much smoother and I painted it with the relevant {food} colours.

After the figurine is done, it is left to dry. Since I have no air-con and I do fear that it will not dry in time, I dried it using the fan and it was switched on 24 hours for 2 days! I also wrapped the dino with clingflim as I’m afraid the hands will not stay intact. Thankfully after 2 days, I could safely say it was okay!

Next, a day before the collection, the vanilla cake was baked and sandwiched using IMBC. Since the mom had requested for a less sweet cake, I reduced the amount of sugar and hoped that it would be to her liking. The cake has to be completely cooled before covering with fondant and that’s the reason why I baked it a day before.

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Something went wrong after I’ve covered the cake with fondant the first time. The air pockets expanded and they made the cake rather grotesque. Thankfully, I covered the cake the night before and I could redo the whole act on the day of delivery. A few reasons could contribute to the air bubbles but I believe the main reason is that my place is warm and this results.

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Thankfully, there is still sufficient time and I re-covered the entire cake using another type of buttercream and this time round, I made sure that I covered well so that air bubbles could be minimised.

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Roll out fondant to a thickness of 1/4 inch. Since this is a 8″ by 3″ cake, I rolled to a circle of diameter 14cm.

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Sometimes, when we cover the cake, it may not be a perfect job but no worries, borders can always cover up the imperfection. This is meant to be the grass on the sides of the cake and then I covered another stripe of chocolate fondant over it as the mud/ ground. The fondant is chocolate-flavoured and tastes not bad!

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Once these are done, the rest can be quickly assembled.

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These should be made beforehand so that they are a tad dry during assembling.

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This cake will only be consumed the next day and I certainly hope there will not be any major problem!
Dear cake, please do your part to satisfy the family and the birthday boy.

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Clingwrapped and off to be delivered.

Complimentary cupcakes for the boy to play with. Hah!

Complimentary cupcakes for the boy to play with. Hah!

Lessons learnt and changes to be made in future:

1) Cover the cake with chocolate ganache to ensure smooth covering and prevent air bubbles
http://www.artandappetite.com/2009/11/ganache-instead-of-buttercream/

2) Cake should be covered, assembled, delivered and consumed within the same day, if possible.

3) Press down the layers of cake after sandwiching with buttercream to prevent any trapped air

4) Consider installing air-conditioner?

About air bulging after covering cake fondant

http://cakecentral.com/t/686940/fondant-and-buttercream-bulges-air-bubbles

http://www.deliciouscakedesign.com/blog/?tag=air-bubbles-under-fondant

http://www.artandappetite.com/2009/11/ganache-instead-of-buttercream/

For Vanilla Cake (Yields an 8 x 2″ cake)
I made 2 portions for this cake

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

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. I used 2 8-inch tins. Line the tins with baking paper.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together.

3. In a standmixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter for about 1 minute. Gradually add the castor sugar. Beat until the mixture is light and fluffy and the sugar has almost dissolved.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each addition is incorporated.IMG_8723

5. Add the vanilla extra and beat until combined.

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

6. Spoon mixture into baking tins. Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until a fine skewer inserted comes out clean.

For Italian Meringue Buttercream

You will need:
190g caster sugar
38g water
75g egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, in cubes
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Make sure the sugar is dissolve in the water and cook the mixture until it reaches 120C. This will take from 5 to 10 minutes. After the sugar is dissolved (while continue boiling), I would wet a pastry brush and wet the sides of the pan to prevent sugar from crystalising.

2. While boiling the sugar  syrup, combine the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. As soon as the sugar syrup reaches 115C degrees, start to whisk the egg whites on medium-low speed until soft peaks are formed. The sugar syrup is still being boiled at this time. When it reaches 120C, remove from the heat source. reduce the standmixer speed to low and drizzle in the sugar syrup from the side so that the hot syrup doesn’t splatter.  Raise the speed to high when all the syrup is poured in and continue to whisk until the mixture cools to room temperature (or when you can touch the steel bowl , 5 to 10 minutes.IMG_8786

3. Only when the meringue is cool enough should you begin to add the butter. I gauge using my sense of touch. If I can hold on to the sides of the steel bowl of the standmixer comfortably, it’s at the right temperature. Reduce the speed to medium. With the mixer running, drop in the butter, 1 tbsp or cube at a time, waiting until each is incorporated before adding another. The mixture may deflate and begin to look curdled. Just raise the speed to high and continue to add tbsp-size pieces of butter, making sure each is completely combined before adding more. When all the butter has been added, the frosting should be smooth and thick. Add the vanilla and mix to combine.

Feedback from customer: Thankfully the air bubbles did not show up! They were happy with the workmanship though they find that the cake is firm ( not much of a choice, I’m afraid!) and a bit too sweet. So, that means I still have to reduce the amount of sugar!

[PSC] The Very Hungry Caterpillar cake

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Faith received ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ as her first few books and I have read the story to her since she was about 5 weeks old. I love the beautiful story and the artistic illustrations and went on to purchase the Touch and Feel Playbook for her. She loves the various textures found in the book and especially the mirror!IMG_5406

So, to celebrate her one month more to being a 1-year-old, I decided to make The Very Hungry Caterpillar Cake for her. It is relatively easy but you would need time to do up the fruits and decoration.

I love the colourful ground as shown in the book; they will make nice cake border for my bottom tier. However, I think if the second tier has the same kind of border, it would be rather boring and too colourful and decided on the soil. The tool for making the colourful circles is just the base of a piping tip.

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The good thing about these fruits is that I just use free-hand to cut them out. No template whatsoever. Easy eh? Obviously, you would need a lot of colours for the fondant.

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Ice-cream cone

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This round tip is especially helpful. Both ends are utilised.

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So the fruits are done and left to be dried.

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For the soil, I use different shades of brown to create a more realistic feel. I’m not skillful enough to have it in one stripe and have to piece up different stripes. To make them look seamless at the joints, just dab a little shortening and massage on them.

IMG_8359Next up is the cake topper! Thankfully, the size of the caterpillar on the cover is just about right and I use it to make my version of the caterpillar. Since this needs to be really ‘solid’, I used 50% fondant and 50% gumpaste. However, I think I should just use solely gumpaste.

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Looks like an alien.

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IMG_8363Make space for the feelers

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To create the look on the cover, I combine white and green together.

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This will be about right.

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Pull out bits of them to make the segments and then glue them.

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I wanted to leave the colours as they are but I really prefer them painted and it really is a very therapeutic session.

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fruits

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Halve the circles to cover up any faults at the border.

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I got so excited throughout the process of making this cake design that I want to start a new project called Project StoryCake. Faith has inherited quite a few storybooks from her cousins and they have really cute pictures in them. I hope to make cake designs based on them.

My previous Project ‘While You Were Sleeping‘ has come to a completion since I have achieved my target of baking 20 items when Faith was asleep in the cot during my 4 months of maternity leave. So, let Project StoryCake begin!

Wordless Wednesday | A rest from work

Work, currently, is taking care of the kid and managing household chores. It can get very exhausting at times and when that happens, ill thoughts crowd my finite mind and instead of joy, I’m filled with angst and bitterness.

I seek solace in baking and my cake decorating classes in which we speak the same lingo and share the same passion.

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Linking up with

Cake Topper/ Doll Making Workshop

IMG_2562Hello! How adorable are these wooden dolls which act as cake toppers too!

I first caught sight of these dolls such as this through etsy as I was looking for cake toppers a few months ago. They can be rather expensive and I was looking to doing them on my own. However, due to a lack of time, I couldn’t source for the materials and gave up the idea until Jasmine ran a giveaway on her FB page. Participated but didn’t win. However, that did not deter me from joining the workshop. Da man knew that I love to attend such workshops and gave his blessing while my in-laws and he took over to care of baby Faith. It’s ME time! Woohoo!

So, I made my way down to A for Arbite which is the hosting site for the event. I was the first to arrive for the workshop (eager!) and had a quick bite before the class commenced.

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Liza and her family came shortly and what a joy to have great company!

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The workshop was conducted by Wei Mum of Little Craft Loft and I was so amazed by the ‘barang barang’ that that were needed to do up these dolls. When I say ‘amazed’, I mean I’m captivated because all the stuff are what you will use when you do craftwork = KAWAII! They include cloth, stickers, ribbons, etc.

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So, the steps (in summary) involved in making these dolls:

First, you outline the facial features.

First, you outline the facial features.

Then, you paint it and glaze it.

Then, you paint it and glaze it.

Prepare the clothes!

Prepare the clothes!

The finishing touch.

The finishing touch.

Wei Mun is a very patient instructor and because of that, I enjoyed the session a lot. I’ve got great company – Liza and her hubby, Winston, and little Xander! My lunch was paid for by this generous and funny family too. How blessed I am!

LIza and Winston

LIza and Winston

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So, the cake toppers were done and they will be part of the cake which I will be baking for Faith’s first birthday. What a good way to spend my weekend and a very relaxing one to have my ME time. Love it!

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Do check out Little Craft Loft for more updates and perhaps you might want to make these dolls yourself!

Tiramisu Charlotte Cake | A tutorial

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I made a Tiramisu Charlotte Cake at a request of a friend. It’s meant for her sister-in-law who loves Baileys Irish Cream and because of this order (which was made way in advance), I had my brother purchase a bottle of the liquor when he came back 2 months ago from overseas. Oh, the things you will do to bake a cake.

IMG_7744So, this is not the first time I make a Charlotte Cake. I made a Strawberry Mousse Charlotte Cake when my sister and her family were back and also once for da man for V-day. However, each time, I used the store-bought ladyfingers because well, it’s definitely more convenient to do that. This time round, I thought I should just go the extra mile to bake them as I find it will make a prettier cake. I had also seen how this was made during my advance baking course at CSCA so I thought I should just go through the notes and bake it again, this time without Chef E around!

It takes quite an effort and to me, the piping has to be good. Since they are rather molten, it can be quite a mess if you fumble. I also did a test-run for this cake as I’m not sure if the amount of liquor is sufficient and in the end, have to double the portion of the Irish cream, following this recipe.

My friend wanted to bring the cake in to Malaysia and that means I have to think of keeping this cake in a cold box. I had fun scouting for a 8 by 4 inch box for this 6-by-3-inch cake. As a general guide, you need a cake board 2 inch wider than the one you are baking. So if I am baking a 6-inch cake, I would need an 8-inch cake board and box.

The next thing is to look for ways to keep the cake cold. I was reminded by how my box of Royce chocolates were kept in an aluminium-foil-type of packaging complete with ice packs and thought I should follow suit. Daiso to the rescue. Da man told me that they sell stuff like that and we trooped down one fine day to look for them.

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And in the end, this is the how the cake was wrapped, packed and delivered.

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(Adapted from Miette and CSCA’s class notes)
Enough to make a 6-by-3 inch charlotte cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
5 large eggs, separated, plus 2 large egg whites
3/4 cup caster sugar
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

1. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a pencil, draw two 3 1/2-by-10 inch rectangular templates on the paper, one above the other. Turn the paper over and press against the bottom of the pan so you can see the pencil lines you made.

2. Fit a piping bag with a medium round tip (1/2 inch). Sift the flour into a bowl and set aside.

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3. Using a handheld mixer, whisk the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of caster sugar on medium-high speed until thick and ribbony. Set aside.

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4. Using a standmixer, combine the egg whites and the remaining caster sugar in the bowl and whisk on high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold the whites into the yolks in three additions, just until no streaks remain.

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5. Sift one-third of the flour over the egg mixture and fold in gently. Fold in the remaining flour in two more additions, until just combined. Fill the piping bag with the batter. Pipe each finger using the lines to guide you and leave a little space between each finger so that they will join together when they bake. If there are pointed peaks after you have piped each ladyfinger, simply wet your fingers and press the peaks down lightly with your damp fingers (see above right). Dust the tops of the pipped batter with confectioners sugar. Let the unbaked cookies stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.

IMG_7683* You would need to refill the piping bag. To avoid making a mess, secure the bottom of the piping bagwith a clip while refilling. Release the clip at the bottom once you have refilled and secure the top part so that the batter will not overflow as you pipe.

6. Preheat the oven to 180C.

7. Dust the ladyfingers again with confectioners sugar and bake until just beginning to turn golden. My oven took about 15 to 20 minutes so do use the colours as a guide. Transfer to wire racks to cool. As soon as they are just barely cool, use immediately or wrap in plastic wrap. Be careful not to let the bands break apart. Store in airtight containers for up to 2 days.

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* To assemble using ladyfingers even for the next day, freeze them when they are cool. (Ladyfingers stale quickly unless soaked with a dessert syrup). Place them in a plastic container with waxed paper between the layers and freeze them for no more than 10 days.

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For the remaining batter, I bake it in a 6 inch springform cake tin for about 30 minutes. Once this is baked, let it cool and you are good to assemble.

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You would need to cut the cake into thin slices as the different layers.

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These will be needed as you assemble. For the actual measurement, refer to my previous post on Tiramisu cake.

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Let it chill for at least 4 hours before removing the cake from the tin. I chill it overnight.

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mise en place

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Assemble! I top it with valrhona cocoa powder and chocolate shavings.

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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!

[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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Linking up with

Wordless Wednesday | A flowery beginning

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I’m a SAHM who occasionally stays at home because I’m picking up where I have left off in my baking journey.

So, I’ve been busy learning. Though the workmanship is still amateurish, I’m happy just being able to make them.

Linking up with

Jadelyn’s 1st birthday

Our family was invited by Diana to her daughter, Jadelyn’s first birthday! How exciting! I may not have known the domestic goddess  for long but her friendly disposition won me over. By the way, she cooks and bakes great stuff. You should really explore her blog. A truly unassuming lady!

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Diana and her lovely family.

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Faith is too young to play with the older kids but she had fun with the balloons and treated herself to one!

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Diana prepared all these goodies for the little ones!

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Delish rainbow cake! How inspiring!

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Poor Faith can’t enjoy again. Next time, babe!

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A personalised gift for Faith. How thoughtful of the host! Thank you so much for inviting us!