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Category Archives: Baking

A Birthday Wrapped up in a Pseudo Red Velvet Cake :)

It was Sammy’s birthday (few weeks ago!)!! She turned a quarter of a century old and it was definitely time to celebrate!

We started off the celebrations in the weekend with her special request of a red velvet birthday cake. All well and good – if only I knew what went into a red velvet cake! Colouring? Dye? Few vegetables mixed together? So here I am a novice, armed with Dr.Google searching for the easist red-velvet cake recipe that I could find.

BUT who knew that a red cake can be so complicated? From research, many bloggers argue about what is and what isn’t a red velvet cake and different people put different things to make the cake red – most people (including the recipe found in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook) use red colouring to make the cake red, which technically would be the easier option, but was told, not the tastiest option.

Which way to go was confirmed when Miss Sammy said that she wanted a red velvet cake au naturale (I know, how picky right?!?!). So I throw away that thought of red dye in my sponge and start the research for red velvet cake from scratch, pressing all the ‘x’s on my tabs for those that had red dyes in their recipe.

From the recipes and some blog posts that we have found, it looks like it depends on the acidity of the cake that produces that red colour. Too little acidity, and the cake will turn to ‘purple satin’ or dark brown (almost chocolatey like) – so the key to create and maintain that red colour is…use the reddest natural vegetable/fruit you can find, and maintain the acidity in the cake. YUP! sounds easy enough…RIGHT?

Because I had no experience baking a red velvet cake, I used the recipe from Sophistimum (thank you! It was an awesome recipe! And yours looked MUCH better!) pretty much word for word, except for the natural cocoa which I didn’t have, but I have read that it is crucial that you use natural instead of dutch-processed cocoa because that maintains the acidity in the cake. Hence the result of my rich, dark PURPLE cake. I have to find this natural cocoa! But the result was so GOOD, so moist and so rich, and for those who don’t like beetroot, you can hardly taste it in the cake. I would definitely try this again, and this time with natural cocoa (because I found where I can buy it – Koko Black!). Next time, it will be called High Class Red Velvet Cake…

Natural Red Velvet Cake - No Colouring

Red Velvet Cake (Adapted from Sophistimum)

2 large beetroots (enough for 1 1/2 cups puree)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon vinegar
230g unsalted butter, softened
250g of cream cheese, softened slightly
2 cups castor sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons natural (not dark or dutch processed) cocoa powder

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to about 180 degrees celcius. Cut up the beetroot into large chunks and then place them on a roasting tray and pour in a cup of water. Then, roast the beetroot for about an hour until cooked through and soft, then take it out to let it cool.
  2. Meanwhile, line the bases and sides of 3 cake pans with baking paper and set aside.
  3. When the beetroot has cooled down, blend and puree the beetroot along with the lemon juice and vinegar in your handy food processor until you have a lovely puree of beetroot (yummm – some members in my family will beg to differ!)
  4. Preheat your oven again to 180 degrees celcius. In your mixer, cream the butter and cream cheese together until smooth, and then add in the sugar until the batter is well combined.
  5. Add the eggs in one at a time into the batter, just incorporating the egg into the batter before adding another one in. Then mix in the vanilla essence.
  6. In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa powder). Then add the dry ingredients in the beetroot batter and fold until well combined.
  7. Then, divide the cake batter equally into the 3 prepared pans. We used measuring cups to help us divide them up equally, but you don’t have to be so OCD like us!
  8. Then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until cooked through (you’d know when you put in a toothpick or skewer through the middle of the cake and it comes out clean). Then invert them onto a rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

2 packets cream cheese, at room temperature
230g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 1/2 cups icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Using a whisk attachment, combine all of the above into the bowl of your mixer and mix until fluffy, smooth and enough to be spreadable.

Decorations

Decorations were simple for Sammy’s cake – all I did was buy boxed marzipan (from one of the shelves off Coles) and red dye. Then I infused the marzipan with the red dye until the desired colour (remember to use gloves when doing this, or you get blood on your hands!! sorry, bad joke). And then I rolled it out and used flower cutters to cut out the outer layer and a nozzle tip to make the round, circular middle. Then decorate it around the cake as desired! My inspiration came from…believe it or not Bakery Story (iphone game!).

 
 

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Making macarons… a series of experiments

Since we started watching Masterchef, we’ve been inspired to make the things they make on the telly. And we especially love watching the masterclass on Friday nights, where the chefs give cooking tips and give techniques. Besides getting cooking tips, we’ve been exposed to a some of Australia’s top chefs, although most of them (probably all) are over east.

So last year, when we went over to Sydney, we made sure we paid a visit to Adriano Zumbo’s pattiserie to try his acclaimed macarons. We were faced with a whole glass cabinet of macarons, and we had a hard time choosing which to try.. and they all looked so pretty and perfect and colourful. So we chose some (can’t remeber what flavours now) and they were awesome! Crunchy shells with soft centres.. nommmms

Adriano Zumbo Patisserie macarons

Since then, we’ve wanted to try our hand at making our own macarons. We knew that these were finicky little bicces, and that lots of things could go wrong. Lots of people have written up lots of tips and do’s and don’ts to successfully make macarons. So, armed with all these information, we set a date to try them out.

Our first macaron making attempt was a failure. The almond meal was too coarse, so it ended up tasting like almond cookies. 😦 It took us a while before we decided to try again. Second time around, it wasn’t great either. Not sure what went wrong, but we suspect an overmixed mixture and under cooking the shells, so we ended up with lemon curd meringue cookies. 😦

Take three – I found this recipe from BraveTart, who had compiled a list of “macaron making mythbusters”, which i thought was interesting to know, it helps in figuring out what I need/need not worry about in making the macarons.

Here’s the link to the recipe – its for a basic macaron recipe. We did a mocha macaron, by taking out 1oz icing sugar and replacing it with cocoa powder and added about 1tbsp of instant coffee powder, ground finely.

Macaron shells
115g blanched almonds or almond meal
200g icing sugar
30g cocoa powder
144g whites
72g sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp instant coffee granules (ground finely)
1/4 tsp salt

Chocolate Ganache filling
220g dark cooking chocolate
1 cup cream

We had Esther’s help in sifting the almond meal – the most laborious task, as almond meal isn’t as fine as flour and takes FOREVER to get through the sieve.

While Esther was painstakingly sifting the almond meal mixture, we whipped the egg white till it forms a stiff meringue. After that, fold the dry ingredients into the meringue. This should be done in about 40 strokes. (Yes, we were so determined to make this round a success, we counted the amount of strokes when folding it!) A mixture that is mixed right should have the consistency of molten lava. I’ve never seen molten lava, but I guessed that it thinner than a brownie mixture but thicker than a pancake mixture, so I thought it should be done.

After that, the mixture is put into a piping bag and piped onto baking paper. My piping skills aren’t that perfect yet, so I drew out circles with the base of a piping nozzle as a guide on baking paper and piped the mixture on the flip side. I started piping the mixture from the centre towards the outside. If the mixture is the right consistency, it will spread itself out slightly, but still hold its shape. After that, we just let them stand for about half an hour, or until the tops are dry to the touch.

Macaron mixture piped

Then, put them in the oven and anxiously wait, crossing your fingers that those macarons will grow their feet (or skirt as some might call it). I snuck a peek while it was baking and did a happy dance when they DID grow feet! YAY! 😀 We filled them with chocolate ganache, and it was YUMMY!

Mocha macarons with chocolate ganache filling

So yea, it took us a few experiments, and a bit of a journey, but we finally managed to make our own macarons. It’s recommended that the macarons be filled and let them sit overnight, as the shells will absorb the filling and create a soft, chewy centre. But we couldn’t help ourselves, we had a few and then left the rest to sit overnight, and I was told they were yummier. (I didn’t get to try them :()

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2011 in Baking, Desserts

 

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Orange & Poppyseed muffins.. because toast for brekky gets boring!

We tend to get bored of eating toast or cereal for breakfast every morning, so sometimes I go looking for something yummy to bake so we can keep it for breakfast the following day(s). Sometimes we get frozen mantous or rice rolls (chee cheong fun) from the oriental shop to create some variety as well.

But last weekend, we visited the Subi Station St markets for our weekly fruit & veg shop, and jie went to pick up some veggie chips (of which she has an upsetting story to tell) as well as some poppyseeds.

I’ve never seen poppyseeds until I came to Australia, and they would typically be paired with lemon in a muffin/cake. It doesn’t add much flavour or smell, but it is visually appealing, and adds a bit of texture -sometimes you might bite into a seed when chowing down the muffin/cake.

So since we had them, I decided to hunt down a recipe to use them in. Off i went to Dr. G again.. oh what would I have done if the internet wasn’t around? (probably not writing this post.. but I digress!) And I found this orange and poppyseed muffin recipe from taste.com.au (they have some great recipes there! I’ve used them a few times for dinner ideas before)

Muffins have got to be the easiest thing ever to bake! No gentle folding, or creaming butter and sugar, or need for fancy-schmancy cake mixers. Just measure out the ingredients, put them in a bowl, give it a good stir with a wooden spoon (or spatula, whichever you fancy!), and put them into lined/greased muffin pans! even Becks (our younger sister) should be able to do it! 😛

So thats basically what I did. Measured the ingredients according to the recipe, and about an hour later (taking into account the prep & baking time) we had fresh, hot and fluffy orange and poppyseed muffins ready to be devoured! *lip-licking smiley* (someone sholud create one!)

Orange and poppyseed muffins

 
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Posted by on April 21, 2011 in Cakes/Muffins, Perth Eateries, Snacks

 

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