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!

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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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Opening party for Sew Into It

Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking some sweet treats for the opening party of Sew Into It, a one stop sewing workshops and fabric store in Singapore. If you can recall, I sewed my first dress for Faith under the guidance of Amy, my friend whom I have met in Boston and one of the two partners who started this enterprise.

Initially, I wasn’t keen to bake since I wasn’t sure if I could cope with two kids now. But I couldn’t find any other baker friends who could bake for them and in the end, I decided that I should just try. Part of me wanted to play a part too in their opening party. 😉

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Karen, the other partner, requested for 50 cupcakes and a vanilla sponge cake with the party logo on it. Without the kids, I would have been able to bake and manage all these in a day. Now, it took a few days, including the buttons that were made from fondant. Thankfully, the sweet treats were completed by the stipulated timing.

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Welcome to the party!

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This is Amy who taught me how to sew the dress. When she shared with me her vision for Sew Into it, I was happy for her. She has wanted to use her skills to reach out to the less privileged which is really typical of her.

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Blessing others through Sew Into It.

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Sew Into It has courses for the young ones. So if you are thinking of getting your kids to acquire some skills in sewing, you might want to check out their website for relevant workshops?

Erm, Faith was just posing here. She is a bit young for sewing.

All the best for your venture, Amy and Karen!

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.

😉

‘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.

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! 😉

Recent bakes

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Over the weekend, I had the privilege of baking two cakes for a friend whose son turns two. Edible images are called for and buttercream is preferred. I enjoyed making the cakes because they are definitely not as demanding as the fondant ones and I can practise my piping skills!

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Then I had leftover chocolate ganache from recent bakes and decided to use them for chocolate tartlets. I always have pate sucree shells in the freezer and they come to good use this time round. Awesome tartlets I tell you because it’s good chocolate we are using here!

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I can’t help but post Faith’s picture here. The mama finds her real cute here!

WW: Enjoyable class

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Conducted this class for the first time today and thankfully I had very eager and teachable participants who made my day. They were so attentive and followed the instructions well and I must say they sculpted very well and covered the cakes wonderfully neat for first-timers! I’m impressed!

I’m getting so encouraged by them. Well done!

 

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!

Bows and ribbons

We are on bows and ribbons today and I thought I should just let the pictures narrate the steps for this cake.

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What are we going to do today?

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Using a template, prepare the parts of the bow/ ribbons.

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Assembling the parts of the bow.

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W.I.P for the drape.

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Leaving it to dry. Use needles dedicated for cake decorating purposes.

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The outcome for this bow. Loving the turnout of this colour – AmeriColor’s Super Red (120)

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Fabric effects

There you have it.

I’m loving this class with all the quirky coursemates and a very patient instructor.

 

Friday the 13th’s baking: lessons learnt

The thing about baking is that it continues to baffle me no matter how many times I bake a certain item. Each time the result is different, depending on the weather, the temperature of the oven or ingredients or even the temperament of the baker. It humbles me, no doubt, and thus I stay intrigued by this craft.

Yesterday, I was to bake two items. One was a birthday cake in the form of Captain American’s shield likened to the one that I had baked earlier. The other would be 15 lemon meringue tartlets for a lady who requested for them via my FB page.

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I had baked these two items before and thought I could relax as I know the various steps involved. For the cake, I chose to bake a Belgian Chocolate Truffle Cake which was different from the vanilla sponge cake that I used to bake. It was easy to bake but this cake is much more fragile and needed much tender loving care. So, I sliced and soon realised it was not a good idea; it broke into pieces, and thankfully, big ones. The show went on and I didn’t slice the second one and went on to assemble.

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Another problem arose when it comes to icing. I had made Italian Meringue Buttercream and gotten quite comfortable with it. The issue is with the addition of colours. What I needed were red and blue but after adding Wilton’s colours, I couldn’t get the shades that I wanted and panicked. What was worse was my colours ran out and I had to rush down to get more. Only then did I realised that to get the strong red that I wanted, I had to buy Wilton’s red-red and not just red. Ahh… So, in future, I should really consult this chart.

And I thought this guide on Wilton’s colours is helpful too.

In the end, the colours on the cake weren’t what I wanted but I certainly hope the chocolate truffle cake would shine!

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On to the tartlets.

I had baked the lemon meringue tartlets with success (IMHO). I love the crispy crust of the graham crackers and thought I should bake them using the same base too. However, I changed the brand of the honey and then the problem started. The crust no longer gave crispiness but a little chewiness instead. Softer, most definitely but the taste is still the same.

And then, the customer decided to collect the tartlets earlier. Uh-oh! I have wanted to assemble one
hour before the collection but by shifting the time earlier, I would have to rush and when I rush, the results could be rather undesirable.

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The lemon curd was made a day earlier and that’s fine but I had to make the meringue before the assembling and then I panicked. When I made the sugar syrup, I didn’t stir to dissolve the sugar and in the end, I had grainy meringue. Threw one batch away because it didn’t get to stiff peak (something must have gone wrong!) and did the second one and I just didn’t dissolve the sugar in my haste!

Lesson learnt: Dissolve sugar and confirm time for collection!

The kind lady had to wait 30 minutes for the tartlets and I really felt bad about it. On top of that, since it was a rushed work, the designs weren’t fantastic. Sorely disappointed! I hope tarts would still bring smiles though.

* I didn’t get to take a shot of the completed work. Sigh!

So, I realised yesterday was Friday, the 13th. Bad day for baking! Okay, I just want to blame it on something. I’m bad, I know.

Raspberry and blueberry friands

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Since I have quite a fair bit of egg whites left after the baking session, I decided to do something with them. Macarons? Nope. It will involve too much work and I’m too tired to make such an attempt. A good alternative would be friands, small almond cakes with a crisp crust, but exceptionally light and moist on the inside. I do have blueberries on hand and I thought I would bake Rachel Allen’s raspberry and blueberry friands. All I have to do is to get some raspberries from the supermarket.

It’s quite an easy bake. Do try!

Ingredients:
7 egg whites, about 250ml20130901-210242.jpg
150g icing sugar, plus extra for dusting (I used snow powder to replace some amount of icing sugar)
50g plain flour
100g ground almonds
100g butter, melted
24 fresh raspberries
24 fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 190°C and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper cases. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl using the standmixer (whisk)/ handheld mixer and whizz, until the egg whites are foamy but not holding stiff peaks.

Sift in the icing sugar and flour, then add the ground almonds and melted butter and stir just to combine. Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each three-quarters full, then add two raspberries and two blueberries to the centre of each cake, pressing the fruit lightly into the batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a light golden colour and slightly springy to the touch.

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Remove the friands from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove from the tray, place on a wire rack and allow to cool completely. Arrange the cakes on a plate and dust with icing sugar to serve. If not eating immediately, store them in an airtight box, where they will stay wonderfully moist for up to three days. However, for our tropical humid weather, I would suggest finishing them up asap.

A birthday cake for Lester

Our family celebrated the birthday of one of my nephews with a birthday cake, baked by the resident baker, yours truly. It was a simple cake because there is no point making a elaborated one since the family has gotten tired of eating what I bake (sad). The easiest and tastiest cake I can think of is Nigella Lawson’s Devil’s Food Cake. This cake can be baked in the morning and assembled from afternoon onwards.

In baking chocolate cake, there is no greater crime than using poor quality chocolates. For this cake, I used valrhona’s covertures (72%) and cocoa powder. The figurine was made a few days back since it has to be dried. I surrounded the figurine with digestive biscuits, making it look like sandpit since I hope Lester will enjoy his childhood! For the border, I used Wilton grass tip No. 233.

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While it takes not too long to bake the cake, the chocolate ganache takes a long time to reach a desired state for frosting ( I didn’t put it in the fridge to quicken the process). This time round, the whole amount of ganache was used in covering the cake. Decadent indeed.

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The various pieces to be assembled.

I did have fun designing and baking these cakes.
Now, I need more brave souls to allow me to bake for their birthdays.
Anyone?

A custom-made cake : hits and misses

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When a friend asked me if I would take up the challenge to bake a cake for his 5-year-old boy, I agreed rather readily. His request: A cake in the form of Captain America’s shield. No fondant. At least 2kg. To feed about 20 people.

Captain America? Who on earth is that?

And, thanks to google, I got the idea and came up with a draft.

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The actual work started a few days before the birthday celebration. I would be using 2 cake boards – one for the cake, the other as a background. The square board is to be covered with fondant with the wordings in blue. And then, the drying process begins.

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I had originally wanted to do a vanilla sponge cake with various colours (red, blue, white) but the daddy thought that the kids would not appreciate such an effort and so I stuck with the original. I thought the cake slicer and the lifter are of great use. It certainly makes life easier for me!

Another thing that I found out is that my mixer cannot do a good job in making a 10-inch cake batter; it overflows! So, now I know. The cake batter has to be divided to be baked in the oven as it certainly will overflow due to the rising agent.

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So, a fondant cake is NOT welcome and the better choice would be buttercream. I do not want to use royal icing as it will be too sweet for the kids. Of the 3 types of buttercream, I chose to do Italian Meringue Buttercream (IMBC) as it is the most stable and can withstand our tropical humid weather. Thankfully, I had learnt this method during my baking course at CSCA so it wasn’t that foreign. Having said that, I still did it with much trepidation. Thankfully, it was a success and the next step is to moisten the cake with sugar syrup.

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It’s a breeze covering the cake with IMBC. To make things easier for me, I use a special big tip to help me with the sides of the cake. Definitely easier. Reminder to self though: don’t be stingy with the buttercream. I had the tendency to ration the use of it and then in the end, realised that I had so much left. Spread more!

Crumb coat was done!

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Next is the design. So I do not own a compass to draw circles and have to rely on whatever circular stuff that I could get hold of. After that, piping gel was used to trace the design and to transfer it onto the cake. Please don’t ask me why I used a dark colour. I really do not know what had gotten to me to use such a colour. I SHOULDN’T!

After that, it was all about piping – stars and circles. Testing of skills.

If I am to bake another cake again, I’ll make sure that I will make myself free the day before collection. As I had a family outing, I had to place the cake in the refrigerator but when I took it out , there was condensation and it doesn’t really look too good on a cake with IMBC.

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I learnt and hope that you won’t make the same mistake as I.

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😉

Jam-packed July

I assume the role of a SAHM (full-fledged) this month. You would have thought that I would busy myself with Faith. Yes, that’s for sure but I took the opportunity to continue where I have left off in my love for baking by going for some intensive cake decorating course. 4 mornings a week, I rushed off to my parents’, dropped Faith with them and dashed off for lessons. I treasured those mornings because they gave me time to myself and the chance to mingle with like-minded people.

20130728-215231.jpgThe last lesson saw me decorating a cake for Faith. For days, I had been making flowers and figurine with gumpaste, covering the cake with fondant and praying that things would go well on Saturday since we were to assemble everything on that day. I did make a boo boo and had to cover the cake again on that day but thankfully all went well. But Yours truly is as clumsy as ever and the figurine did not survive on its way back home – it got crushed by my bag.

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Dear Faith,
The world may not be perfect and life is filled with its ups and downs. But it can be a colourful one if you trust in the Creator. May you bloom where you are placed, and may you be a blessing to others. I thank God for you.

While my full time job is to bring up Faith, I am also pursuing my other dream – baking. I am thankful to have the privilege to produce sweet treats for friends (and being paid for it!), with my first assignment being cupcakes and a chocolate cake.

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So, there you have it, my rather jam-packed July. If I have been missing in action on this space, you can be assured that I am testing recipes or baking for some folks. 😉

Wordless Wednesday | Pursuing my interest

Never mind that I’ve quit my job to look after the little one. Something interesting is coming my way.

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Linking up with

Mocha cake

After a few sessions of the Parenting with Confidence workshop, I have decided (in my heart) that our family should celebrate the little things in life. They could be achievements (big or small), certain important dates in the calendar and well, birthdays. You see, the hubs and I are not huge about such things. Both of us (or rather I) would talk about them without really doing anything special for that particular occasion. Say, for example, the hubs’ birthday. I asked him how he wanted to celebrate it and he shrugged his shoulders. So, I spent that day doing up my hair. No celebration, no cake. It’s just a normal day. And the trip down to the hairdresser was a desperate call to the ‘shedding’ of my hair rather than making myself look presentable to the hubs (*think I’m a present to the hubs! hah!). Blame it on the hormonal change.

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Then there was the recent Mother’s Day. In jest, I asked the husband what he would give me as my present and he would give me all sorts of answers like ‘all I have is yours‘. So, I didn’t really get anything for that important day, perhaps just a prayer by the church leaders for all mothers. Nah, I’m not sore about it but a {belated} present would be nice. *hint*.

So, May has ended and June is marching in in all its excitement. School holidays! Hurray! And then the hubs told me he wouldn’t be applying for leave. Oh well. See, we are really not excited about anything. But like I have mentioned, I have decided that we should make it a point to celebrate little things in life and I did what I have set my heart to do – I baked a cake to celebrate the birthdays of our May babies in our cell group. Since both of them are male, a manly sorta cake, like a Mocha cake, would be fitting? However, that would mean that the kids could not have a bite. Oh well, can’t please everyone all the time.

I encountered problems with this recipe. The cake needs more time, double the time in fact, to bake in the oven. The best test, definitely, is to insert the satay stick or toothpick into the centre of the cake and when it comes out clean, it is done. My decorating skill, as usual, sucks big time and I didn’t do a crumb coat before covering the cake with the frosting. Not enough time. Boo!

Nonetheless, I did produce the cake, and we did sing birthday songs for the brothers. Yes, the hubs is one of them and hey, he has a cake after all! So, where’s my Mother’s Day present? Hur hur?

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Mocha cake (Adapted from Cakes: Delicious recipes for a happy life by Marina Neri)
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Mom bloggers meetup…

…and a Raspberry & Lemon Gateau recipe.

Recently, our domestic goddess wannabe, Diana, has enticed the mommy community with her mouth-watering food which leaves many of us hungry and the keyboard soiled with our drools. Her power has motivated Mabel of Amazinglystill to rekindle her love for baking and the goddess invited us to her abode for a chill-out session.

So what do mom bloggers do when they meet up?

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IMG_4058Photo-taking session… (we are bloggers after all!) and makan! It’s tea-time!

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I could only manage this photo of the baked goods but Natasha of Quirky Affairs could do a way better job than me. A reminder to self: Improve your photography skills!

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The two little ones who are one day apart could only watch.
So I baked this cake but only brought about 1/2 of it to goddess’ place. It’s better to eat when it’s just baked. Oh, I’ve learnt a new thing today. Snow powder is a better choice than confectioner’s sugar if I want the powder to last longer. But wait, what is snow powder?

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Raspberry & Lemon Gateau
[Source| Cakes: Delicious recipes for a happy life by Marina Neri]

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