Archive for September, 2008

Mad about Chocolate Cake

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

              Chocolate Cake

So, I wasn’t supposed to bake any more before the next birthday, but the last cake I made (last section of this post) tasted so disappointing (based on feedback from my family) that I just HAD to redeem myself.

What better way to do that than with a chocolate cake? After all, there’s nothing like a generous slice of good chocolate cake to make things right!

Chocolate Cake Before and After

I went with devil’s food cake, sandwiched and frosted with whipped dark chocolate ganache, made with my very last stash of Valrhona 66% Caraibe.

The cake turned out so delightfully moist and soft that I had to stop myself from eating the cake fresh from the oven. Although it turned firm in the fridge, letting it sit for 20 minutes at room temperature before serving brought back that wonderful texture.

              Chocolate Cake Slice

I was also happy to put my recently acquired Wilton decorating tips to use. The drop flowers didn’t turn out too well; ganache probably isn’t the best medium for pretty drop flowers. I absolutely prefer the version without the flowers. Note to self: stick to simple shell borders and lines when working with ganache.

Roses Cream Cake

The rose cream cake pictured above was made with vanilla victoria sponge layers I had leftover from this cake. I was anxious to try piping roses with whipped cream instead of royal icing, since my joints didn’t take too kindly to the latter.

While the roses turned out fine, although extremely tedious to pipe because of the really warm weather on that particular day, I suspect the cake had dried up somewhat from being refrigerated for 2 days (despite my best cling wrap efforts). I believe my brother actually used the term “biscuit” when describing the cake! That’s definitely a word I NEVER want to hear again in association with any cake that I bake.

              Roses Cream Cake

In any case, I’ve never really fancied the texture of victoria sponges, using it only when I need a cake with sufficient structure to hold up heavier decoration. I’m going with a sturdy, but still delicious carrot cake next time!

Mad about a Basket-of-Roses Cake

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

Rose Cake

Whenever September rolls in, I start to get a little panicky. Why? Because there are five birthdays to be celebrated in my family over the next two months and what’s a birthday celebration without a birthday cake?

Five may seem like a paltry number, given that there are 60-odd days. But believe me, when 2 of the said birthdays are less than 10 days apart and the following 2 just 3 days apart, it’s a real challenge, given that I like to have plenty of space between each baking session. Since I haven’t got as much time this year, I’m planning 3 cakes to be shared.

A Basket of Roses

The 1st cake on my birthday cake baking schedule is the topic of this post. The design idea for this basket-of-roses cake comes from the cover of this Wilton Decorating Cakes book.

The cake consists of vanilla Victoria sponges, sandwiched with raspberry preserve, vanilla buttercream and fresh raspberries, covered with vanilla buttercream. A buttercream basket-weave is piped around the cake and royal-icing roses, accompanied by pale green buttercream leaves, grace the top.

              Royal Icing Roses

This cake marks 2 firsts for me: royal icing roses and basket weave piping. Needless to say, my right hand is aching really badly from all that piping. Who knew that stiff royal icing could be such a pain (literally) to pipe?

The 1st batch of royal icing made with fresh eggwhites wasn’t stiff enough and the petals turned out a little droopier than I would have liked. The 2nd batch made with meringue powder was perfect in consistency and I was delighted at how the roses turned out, although I was a little less thrilled when the red ones turned out more fragile than the pink ones. I’ll be sure to pipe a few extra roses in the future!

A Basket of Roses

As for the basket weave, I think I need a little more practice. The overall look would have been better if I’d spaced the vertical lines a little closer. Still, I’m quite pleased with how pretty the cake turned out and I hope my aunts, whom the cake is for, like it too!

              Rose Cake

Mad about Meatballs

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

              Meatballs

Just in case you were wondering, I haven’t disappeared from the surface of this earth. :D

Once again, I apologize for my tardiness in answering emails and posting replies to your comments and questions! It’s just that work hasn’t left me much time for anything else these past few months.

              Meatball Ingredients

The good news is, while I haven’t been able to bake cakes, cookies or macarons, my oven hasn’t been completely neglected. After all, a gal has got to eat some time, not to mention, feed her hungry hubby! :D

These days, our meals of choice have been spaghetti with meatballs and the occasional meatball sandwich. While meatballs are certainly eaten in Italy (and many other parts of the world), I’ve been told that neither of these 2 dishes are traditional Italian fare and are really more part of Italian-American cuisine. Either way, both dishes are, in my opinion, completely scrumptious, although I’m definitely more partial to pasta.

Meatballs

I opted to go with the more “heart-friendly” method of baking the meatballs under the grill / broiler instead of frying. I’ve also used lean meat here, but feel free to substitute with your favourite cuts.

Meatball Recipe (Makes 80 small meatballs, about 2″)

Ingredients
300g pork loin, minced
400g topside beef, minced
1 large egg
1/2 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup fresh coriander, minced (substitute with parsley if you don’t like coriander)
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup dried Italian style breadcrumbs
3 tbsp water
700g bottled marinara sauce (or make your own if you have the time)
2/3 can whole tomatoes, roughly chopped
Parmesan cheese, freshly grated for topping

Method
1. Line baking tray with aluminium foil.
2. Grind meat further in food processor (unless meat is already finely minced).
3. Preheat oven using grill setting.
4. In a large bowl, thoroughly mix minced meat, onion, garlic, coriander, basil, pepper, breadcrumbs and water. Shape meat mixture into 2″ diameter meatballs.
5. Place meatballs on the lined baking tray, spacing them evenly apart.
6. Bake under grill for 12 minutes, turning the meatballs halfway through the baking time to ensure browning on all sides.
7. In a large saucepan, heat marinara sauce, tomatoes and meatballs. Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes.
8. Serve with spaghetti or on a lightly toasted baguette and top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Meatballs