Mad about Cakes and Baby

February 20th, 2014

              Rachel @ 7 months old

I’ve always marvelled, with great envy, at how other mothers manage to find time just after having a baby to cook/bake and update their blogs with beautifully taken photographs. Clearly, I am not one of them super mothers, as I find myself dusting the virtual dust off my blog and asking H to delete the 280,000 odd unmoderated comments that have accumulated since my last blog entry 8 months ago (I had gone into labour the night of my last post). There was no way I could have gone through all those comments to sieve out the spam from the genuine ones without pulling my hair out in the process. If you had left a comment or enquired about macarons or classes and I’d deleted it, I am truly truly sorry!

              Petal Cake

It’s not that I haven’t been baking between the diapering and night feeds, just not very much and there’s been nothing fun or interesting to write about until now.

The petal cake is something that I had come across previously while looking up rainbow cakes last year for A’s birthday. It looked like a design that would be cool to try out, so when I had leftover layers of devil’s food cake from making H’s birthday cake this year, I did.

              Inside Petal Cake

There weren’t quite enough cake layers left over to make a tall enough cake, so I decided on a blackforest cake filling to make up the remaining height I needed. The recipes for the whipped chocolate cream filling and soaking syrup for the pitted cherries came from PH’s Chocolate Desserts book.

              Rainbow Layers

The rainbow cake pictured here was requested by my sister’s friend, B, for his friend’s birthday. I haven’t taken any cake orders in a long time (read tired and sleep deprived mother) but B was such a nice and considerate guy that I didn’t have the heart to say no. I didn’t have much time for an elaborate cake, so I sent him 2 suggestions. I was glad he picked the rainbow cake; I couldn’t help feeling all happy and cheery just looking at the bright colours.

              Birthday Cake

The 1st batch of whipped chocolate ganache curdled because I was too impatient and didn’t let it thaw long enough. The 2nd batch was better, but was much more difficult to spread and pipe than usual. I think it had to do with my having substituted the corn syrup with honey. :( The end result was a less than smooth finish on the cake and piped shells with jagged instead of sharp edges. Still, I am glad I managed to make the cake for B’s friend and I hope he had a great birthday!

Macaron Madness (Round 2)

June 9th, 2013

            Montebello Macs and Roses

Following the previous week’s macaron making, it was inevitable that after such a long time since I last ate a macaron, my craving for them grew instead of being assuaged, leading to another batch this past week. While browsing the PH Macarons book with A for ideas, she said, “Mama, I want a strawberry macaron.” So that was one flavour decided and going with the theme of pink macarons, I decided on the Montebello macarons (pistachio ganache filling with a raspberry jelly centre) as the second flavour.

            Strawberry macarons

The plan was to make the Montebello shells a much lighter shade of pink than my previous attempt that yielded a very wet batter caused by the large amount of food colouring dictated in the PH recipe. The pastel pink shells didn’t rise as dramatically as the darker coloured batter I had made for the strawberry flavoured macarons. This, I suspect, had to do with insufficient drying time.

Montebello and Strawberry Macarons

On the aesthetic front, the Montebello macarons did look prettier when paired with the darker pink shells, so I used half of the lighter pink shells for the strawberry flavoured ones. I must say, I do like the ombre effect that the two shades of pink gave in the second photograph of this post.

Taste-wise, the Montebello is definitely still my favourite flavour from the PH book. I used two kinds of pistachio fillings, one with italian meringue buttercream and one with ganache, because I had underestimated the amount of ganache I would need to fill all the macarons. I actually preferred the taste of the buttercream filling.

Inside the Montebello macaron

For the strawberry macarons, I cooked a strawberry coulis, whipped it into italian meringue buttercream and brushed some of the sauce on the underside of the shells as well. The strawberry flavour was more developed after a day of maturing in the fridge. And A, as it turns out, doesn’t like strawberry macarons at all and prefers the dark chocolate ones!

Macaron Madness

May 31st, 2013

              Dark Chocolate Macarons

I’ll admit that when I first read the 2-page macaron article in the Straits Times last week, I was appalled by how aesthetically unpleasing some of the featured macarons were and how any pastry shop that takes any pride and care in their work could possibly allow such an unpretty product to pass quality control. I think I actually said (of some of the photographed sweets), “If the ones I made looked like that, I would have trashed them.”

Dark Chocolate Macaron

H gently reminded me that running a business does not always allow one the luxury of pursuing perfection and that the ultimate goal of these pastry shops is to minimize waste and make money. His reminder got me to thinking how I would handle churning out hundreds of macarons on a daily basis and I realized that I had probably been too quick to judge.

              Orange Caramel Macarons

Still, I felt that I wouldn’t pay that sort of money for a not-so-pretty macaron, which meant I would have to make my own to satisfy my macaron craving. Not exactly the wisest of plans really, since I’m under doctor’s orders to take it easy.

But gluttony prevailed over wisdom and I went with the usual dark chocolate and an experimental orange caramel flavour. I was glad that I could still make a decent batch of macarons after such a long break. Now I’m craving other flavours! Hmm… perhaps another batch next week then? I don’t think H nor my doctor would approve though.