Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

Mad about Cakes and Baby

Thursday, 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!

Mad about a 3rd Birthday Cake

Saturday, March 30th, 2013

            Completed Cake

I hadn’t actually planned on making a cake for Ashley’s 3rd birthday this year. H was vehemently against the idea, wanting me to get as much rest as possible, given my far from stellar state of health in the last months.

But as her birthday drew closer, I knew that I really wanted to do it. Mostly for myself, if I were being truthful. I had been feeling really down as the month of March approached and needed to do something that would bring all of us some joy.

            Close up of cake

It wasn’t difficult to settle on a theme for the cake; I picked one of Ashley’s favourite TV shows. If you had asked me 2 years ago if I knew what “Team Umizoomi” was, I would have gone, “Huh? Team what?”

I’m glad to say that I’m now better informed (about children’s TV programs, that is) and can tell you confidently that Team Umizoomi is a mathematics themed cartoon series, created by the Nickelodeon channel, featuring concepts like counting, shapes and patterns. You know, the kind of things that typical Asian parents want their progenies to excel in. :D

Gumpaste Team Umizoomi

Coincidentally, there are 3 main characters (Milli, Geo and Bot) in the show, which I thought was pretty appropriate for a 3rd birthday, no?

I started off with a tentative sketch of the cake and then searched for images of Milli, Geo and Bot. I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any images of the characters in a suitable pose, so I drew all 3 by hand. Each character took about 3 hours to make since every piece of gumpaste had to be drawn and cut by hand.

            Pastel Rainbow Cake - Top tier

For the cake I wanted to try a something different from the dark chocolate cake I normally use for fondant cakes. I had been particularly drawn to the idea of a rainbow cake in pastels after seeing WL and C’s gorgeously vibrant version, even though baking each layer individually would obviously take more time and effort than a single cake. I also hesitated, knowing how certain family members would balk at consuming cake with food colouring, no matter how tiny an amount, but I figured since I had already spent all that time just on the external decorations, I might as well go all out on the inside as well. Besides, this cake was about making Ashley (and me) happy, so who cares what anyone else thinks about food colouring!

The look of sheer delight on Ashley’s face (her eyes literally widened in surprise) when she came home from school and saw the stack of freshly baked cake layers arranged on the cake rack was worth every minute (and every bit of food colouring) I had spent.

9" bottom tier

I had initially considered going with the obvious numbers and shapes theme on the cake itself, but I couldn’t shake the feeling of how utterly boring and un-girly that would make the cake.

Ashley enjoys her trips to the aquarium (as well as Bubble Guppies, another Nick Jr. channel program and Finding Nemo), so for the bottom tier, I went with an underwater theme with waves in various shades of blue and bright orange fishes, complete with bubbles.

            Rainbow cross-section

The theme for the top tier was more or less random, I have to admit. I chose it for the contrast that shades of green and purple would give against the pretty canary yellow background and to bring in colour that would match Milli’s dress.

            Slice

I’m utterly pleased with how delightfully pretty and colourful the cake turned out and how the entire process, while time consuming (because I had cut every single piece of gumpaste and fondant on the cake by hand without the use of cutters), gave me a sense of accomplishment. I can’t wait for the next occasion to make another fondant cake!

Mad about Kueh Lapis Spekkoek

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

           Kueh Lapis

With way too many egg yolks left from baking macarons and teaching macaron classes, I had 4 options on what to do with them:

A. Make ice cream
B. Make creme brulee
C. Make kueh lapis
D. Trash the egg yolks

Option D seemed terribly wasteful, so that was the 1st option to go. Option A and B meant I had to go to the store to get more whipping cream and I really didn’t want to go anywhere in this horribly hot weather we’ve been having this past week.

This meant I was left with Option C and finding a 3 hour window to make the kueh lapis, not an easy task on the weekend when I’d much rather be spending my free time with H and A than slaving away in the kitchen. I was also somewhat reluctant, given how fattening and unhealthful the cake is, what with 20 egg yolks, half a kilogram of butter and lots of sugar.

              Kueh Lapis Sliced

BUT, it’s also been 4 years since I last made this cake, so I went ahead anyway and planned to do it while A was taking her afternoon nap. This would, of course, turn out to be the day that she would nap only a little over an hour. Fortunately, H was around and very obligingly kept her occupied while I baked the lapis cake. Fortunately, I was done at the 3 hour mark.

Straight out of the oven, the cake tasted a little drier than I would have liked. I had placed the baking pan on the oven floor as instructed in my mother’s recipe. It was only later when I was going through my own notes and my previous post on the same cake that I realised I should have placed the pan on the lowest rung in my oven. I was disappointed, but H suggested that I leave the cake overnight. He felt that it would taste better the next day and he was absolutely right! It wasn’t as dry the next day, although I have no idea why being kept in the fridge didn’t dry it out further.

I divided the calorific cake into 4 portions and distributed them among my family. Shared calories don’t count, right?