Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category

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 Kueh Lapis

Friday, February 1st, 2008

              Kueh Lapis

It’s been a little past a week since I got home. Several cakes and many macarons later, I found myself staring at 20 egg yolks in my refrigerator. With no ice cream maker, absolutely no desire to make crème brûlée and the Lunar New Year just round the corner, I settled on the most logical solution: kueh lapis.

Kueh Lapis

Kueh (possible spelling variation: kuih, kway, kue) Lapis, also known as ‘kek lapis’, ‘kueh lapis legit’, ’spek koek’, ’spekkuk’, is a traditional Indonesian layered spice cake, baked with an insanely unhealthful amount of butter and egg yolks.

The heading on my mum’s recipe said “Kway Lapis Spekkoek”. I was intrigued by the term ’spek koek’ and did a little research. It turns out that ’spek koek’ stems from the days of the Dutch East India Company and Dutch colonization of Southeast Asia. In Dutch, ‘koek’ translates to cake and ’spek’ translates to lard or bacon. It is conceivable that the term ’spek’ refers to the cake layers, which resemble the layers in pork belly. But perhaps ’spek’ refers to lard as an ingredient. This leads to another question: Was ’spek koek’ brought by colonists to the Dutch East Indies or was ‘kueh lapis legit’ an indigenous sweet given a fancy Dutch name?

To make things even more interesting, kueh lapis is similar in concept to the German Baumkuchen (literally translated as “tree cake”), so named because the cake was traditionally made on a rotating spit and the cake’s cross section resembled the age-rings in trees. These days, the cake is more commonly made in a ring pan. The last paragraph in this Jarkarta Post article has a really interesting take on the origins of kueh lapis and even manages to link it with Baumkuchen. I’m not entirely sure if there aren’t several leaps of faith in the theory, but it is nonetheless a fascinating read.

              Kueh Lapis

Whether Dutch, Hungarian, German or Indonesian in origin, baking kueh lapis is an extremely time-consuming task - each layer of cake batter is spread thinly onto the previous layers and baked for several minutes. Being a slow worker in the kitchen and it being my first attempt meant that I spent several hours (with my mum) baking this particular cake. I’m relieved the cake turned out well, but I’m not sure if I’ll be baking it again anytime soon!

[Edited to include recipe, Feb 17, 2008]

Prune Lapis

Kueh Lapis Spekkoek

20 egg yolks
4 egg whites
500g salted butter
3 tbsp condensed milk
340g sugar
200g plain flour
2 tsp ground mixed spices
2 tsp vanilla essence
3 tbsp rum or brandy
90g pitted prunes, sliced into thin strips (optional)

1. Butter the base of an 8″ X 8″ X 2.5″ pan and line with baking parchment.
2. Pre-heat your oven, selecting the grill function.
3. Sift the plain flour and mixed spices together.
4. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together until pale yellow, thick and creamy
5. Cream the butter and condensed milk together until soft and fluffy. Add the creamed butter to the egg yolk mixture and mix until combined.
6. Beat the egg whites until medium firm peaks.
7. Fold in the egg whites, followed by the flour mixture into the rest of the batter.
8. Stir in the vanilla essence and rum until well-combined.
9. Spread a thin layer of batter onto the parchment paper.
10. Grill for 7 - 8 mins on the lowest rack in your oven or until lightly golden brown.
11. Remove cake pan from oven and press the baked layer down lightly with a metal fondant smoother. Prick all over the layer of cake with a toothpick.
12. Repeat steps 9 to 11 for each layer. (Optional: Add prunes on every second or third layer).
13. For the last layer, turn the oven down to 180 degrees C and bake on middle rung for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
14. Remove from oven and run a paring knife along the edges of the cake pan.
15. Turn the kueh lapis out of the pan and remove the baking parchment.
16. Flip cake back upright and let cool.

Mad about Strawberries

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Another Birthday Cake

The thing about using fresh strawberries (or any fresh fruit for that matter) in cakes is that one is always at the mercy of the latest shipment that arrives from where ever it is that the local supermarkets or grocers at the wet market get their fruit.

Personalised Birthday Cake

The truth be told, I get just a little nervous whenever I receive orders for strawberry cakes because I never quite know what I’m going to find on the supermarket shelves. This is especially true in the period between the end of the US season and the beginning of the Australian / New Zealand season. There have been days when I almost cried tears of dismay at the awful state of the strawberries that were available - over-ripened ones that were already beginning to turn to mush, under-ripened ones that were 1/3 greenish white, monsterously huge ones and sad tiny ones (both kinds in the same punnet) - I’ve seen them all.

Birthday Cake

These days, I get my strawberies from the fruit stands at the local wet markets and they’ve been great so far. I believe it’s because the grocers are more fastidious when picking produce for their stalls. Now if only the supermarkets could afford the time to sort their produce…

Cheesecake with Strawberries

The cheesecake pictured here is the 1st cheesecake order I’ve received. Many thanks to L for giving me room to experiment with a new recipe!