Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake with Lemon Glaze – A Fresh Start to the New Year

After the excesses of Christmas and the New Year (ok, mostly Christmas food), I needed a guilt-free way to assuage my baking need. So I pulled out one of my favorites – Dorie Greenspan’s French Lemon Yoghurt Cake.

By the way, Dorie Greenspan is one of my favourite cookbook authors… I do have many favourites and do use recipes by many other famous cooks / chefs, but Dorie holds a special place in my heart. I always find her recipes incredibly well-written, and I love her style, which is homely, French-inspired with a slight American twang. I can honestly say that this is the only book that I have wanted (and tried) to bake through, from cover to cover. I can totally understand why there are blogs dedicated to baking through every recipe in Dorie’s books!

She also leaves lots of room for playing around in her recipes, which are wonderful… did I mention I love her recipe-writing? Ok yes, I do suffer from a (more than) small amount of culinary idolism when it comes to Dorie Greenspan. So I guess this post is a sort-of-rave about Dorie! Plus she just looks like a nice person… like a pixie : )

Ok, enough idolizing and on to the loaf cake. This lemon yoghurt cake is one of the easier recipes in Dorie’s book – you literally just combine the wet and dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. No mixer required at all. It’s healthy too – there’s no butter since I use olive oil as Dorie suggests, so it’s practically guilt-free! What more can one ask for? ; )

I love baking this cake during the weekend for the week ahead. It’s the perfect cake to take to work or school for tea time hunger pangs.

As Dorie’s recipe is pretty perfect, I can bake it straight from the book without any modifications. However I do like to use olive oil as mentioned because I like to believe it’s healthier, and I sometimes change up the flavor combinations with lemon and rosemary, lemon and lavender, or orange and rosemary depending on my mood.

The lemon glaze takes it up a notch, and I’ve topped the cake with preserved lemon slices. But you can just bake the loaf straight up as and it will still be scrumptious.

All in all, it’s a wonderful loaf cake!

20130120-081005.jpgWho says the best things in life can’t be guilt-free?

20130120-081032.jpgLemon preserves – tangy and tantalizing

The recipe is provided below. Enjoy!

Lemon Riviera Loaf Cake
Recipe courtesy of “Dorie Greenspan: Baking from my Home to Yours”

Ingredients
128g / 1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
200g / 1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 cup plain or Greek yogurt
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup lemon marmalade, strained, for glazing the top (optional)
1 teaspoon water, for glazing the top (optional)

Method
1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter an 8 1/2-x-4 1/2-inch loaf pan, place the pan on a lined baking sheet and set aside.
2. Whisk together the flour, ground almonds, if you’re using them, baking powder and salt and keep near by as well.
3. Put the sugar, zest and minced rosemary in a medium bowl and, working with your fingertips, rub the zest and rosemary into the sugar until the sugar is moist and aromatic.
4. Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla to the bowl and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well blended. Still whisking, stir in the dry ingredients, then switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. You’ll have a thick, smooth batter with a slight sheen.
5. Srape the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
6. Slide the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the cake begins to come away from the sides of the pan; it will be golden brown and a knife inserted into the center of the cake will come out clean.
7. Transfer the pan to a rack, cool for 5 minutes, then run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan. Unmold and cool to room temperature right-side up.
8. To make the glaze:

  • Put the marmalade in a small pot or a microwave-safe bowl, stir in the teaspoon of water and heat (on the range or in the microwave oven) until the jelly is hot and liquefied.
  • Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the glaze.
  • Christmas Sweets Back in the Family Hearth

    What triggers the nostalgic feeling of “home” for you? It’s probably something very specific. For me, it’s the smell of rain hitting warm earth, or the slightly dusty, musky smell that permeates the air at sunset in the tropics. It’s the distant sound of prayers from the neighborhood mosque. Or it’s the familiar view of the nearby lake that greets me whenever I sit at the family dining table while I have breakfast.

    Making the trip back to Malaysia for Christmas is usually quite an endeavor as it involves waking up at ungodly hours to beat the Singapore / Malaysia immigration traffic, but it’s worth it when we see Mum’s happiness at having us at back home, even if it’s just for a while.

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    Chocolate orange truffles served on Mum’s beautiful traditional crystal tea platter

    For us, family Christmas is all about the food. And I do mean lots of food… It’s usually a couple of days of cooking, not including the grocery-shopping and preparation time. Mum makes her signature turkey, which she does extremely well without fail every year (maybe there are some failures in her eyes, but she’s reached a level where her failures are still incredibly yummy). There was one year where Mum tried to get out of roasting a turkey but she was bullied into submission by her children and nieces & nephews. ; )

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      Truffles galore!

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      Truffles, XMas M&Ms and wrapped French Nougat with Glazed Cherries & Pistachios

    She also makes (by tradition and popular demand) her rockin’ chicken and beef satay (i.e. Malay-style barbecued meat on skewers), as well as a to-die-for peanut satay sauce. Yes, I know that everyone says that their mom’s cooking is the best, but my mum’s peanut satay sauce is really the best I have ever tasted. It’s spicy, sweet, crunchy from the peanuts and just has this finger-licking good quality that makes you want to eat it with everything. Suddenly everything tastes so much better with satay sauce!

    I haven’t put any of Mum’s recipes here (because I don’t think she would agree to spill her secrets), so the recipes I’m providing will be for the sweets and desserts that we made. Maybe one day I’ll be able to persuade her to let me write down the recipe…

    So, after a very long preamble… on to dessert! I kept mine relatively simple as I was also making a couple of salads for dinner… Thai-style beef salad and French coleslaw, but this is a baking blog so lets focus!

    I made dark chocolate orange truffles for an aperitif or something to munch on. Kit took care of the main dessert dish by making pumpkin pie with crumble topping and whipped maple cream. It was a toss-up between apple crumble (and old favourite) and pumpkin pie, which we had been craving ever since we watched Bobby Flay’s Pumpkin Pie Throwdown on the Food Network. Oh all these festive cooking shows…!! ;D

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    Pumpkin Pie with Crumble Topping in all its Maple-Whipped glory!

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    Serving the Snowman Santa… Even if there’s no snow in Malaysia!

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      Pumpkin pie before it gets demolished! Against the night scenery of our childhood…

    Chocolate Orange Truffles
    Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s Chocolate Hazelnut Truffles
    Yield: 20 truffles

    Ingredients
    1 cup hazelnuts
    100g / 3 1/2 oz good bittersweet chocolate
    100g / 3 1/2 oz good semisweet chocolate
    120g / 1/2 cup heavy cream
    1 1/2 tablespoons orange liqueur such as Grand Marnier or Cointreau

    1 tablespoon prepared coffee
    1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract

    Instructions
    1. Preheat the oven to 325 F / C.
    2. Chop the hazelnuts and place them on a sheet pan. Roast them in the oven for 10 minutes. (If the hazelnuts have skin on them, roast them for 25 minutes.) Set aside to cool.
    3. Chop the chocolates finely and place in a bowl.
    4. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it boils. Immediately pour the hot cream through a fine-meshed sieve into the bowl with the chocolates. With a wire whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolates together until the chocolate is completely melted. (If the chocolate doesn’t melt completely, place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir for a few minutes just until it melts.)
    5. Whisk in the hazelnut liqueur, coffee, and vanilla.
    6. Cover and chill for 45 minutes to 1 hour until pliable but firm enough to scoop.
    7. With 2 teaspoons or a 1 1/4-inch ice cream scoop, make dollops of the chocolate mixture and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
    8. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes, until firm enough to roll into rough spheres.
    8. Roll the chocolate in the chopped hazelnuts and chill again. Truffles are best when they’re allowed to set overnight in the refrigerator.

    Pumpkin Pie with Whipped Maple Cream and Crumble Topping
    Recipe adapted from Bobby Flay’s Throwdown Pumpkin Pie

    Ingredients

    Pie Crust
    1 1/2 cups finely ground digestive biscuit crumbs
    6 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly warm
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

    Pumpkin Filling
    2 whole eggs
    2 egg yolks
    1/4 dark brown sugar
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (canned)
    1 1/2 cups thickened or double cream
    1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
    1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon fine salt
    1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved

    Crumble Topping
    1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    3/4 cup rolled oats
    1/2 cup light brown sugar
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    7 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes, cold

      Maple Whipped Cream

    1 1/4 cups very cold heavy cream
    1/2 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped and reserved
    2 tablespoons maple syrup

    Directions

    For the crust
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
    2. Add all the ingredients for the crust to a food processor and pulse until combined; it should feel like wet sand, and just come together.
    3. Spread the mixture evenly into a 9-inch pie pan, using your finger tips or the flat bottom of a glass. Firmly press the mixture over the bottom and sides of the pan.
    4. Put the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake until the crust is light brown and firm to the touch, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

    For the filling:
    1. Preheat the oven to 135 degrees C / 275 degrees F.
    2. Whisk together the eggs, yolks and sugars in a large bowl. Add the butter, canned pumpkin, cream, spices, salt and vanilla seeds and whisk to combine. Strain the mixture into another bowl.
    3. Pour the strained mixture into the baked pie crust and bake until almost set, about 1.5 hours.
    4. Remove and let come to room temperature. You can refrigerate until chilled, if preferred.

    Cook’s Note: The filling makes more than what is needed to fill the pie shell. You are able to freeze the excess. We made a double batch and it filled 3 pie shells very comfortably.

    For the Crumble Topping:
    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F.
    2. Pulse all the ingredients (except the butter) in a food processor to evenly combine them.
    3. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture just comes together in large granola-like clumps.
    4. Evenly spread out the mixture onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.
    5. Allow to cool completely before topping the pie with the crumble.

    For the Maple Whipped Cream:
    1. Combine the cream, vanilla seeds, syrup and bourbon in a large chilled bowl and whip until soft peaks form.
    2. Using a star tip, pipe borders around the pie (on top of the crumble) and towards the centre.

    Enjoy!

    Christmas… ‘Tis The Season of Giving

    ‘Tis the season to be jolly…

    The build-up to Christmas was upon us again. Naturally we were caught up in the excitement of it all, and were inspired to make baked gifts!

    I made gingerbread cookies for a friend who had kindly agreed to take care of Molly, our little Cavalier King Charles spaniel, as we made the annual pilgrimage back to the family home in Malaysia. I decided to call them the Gingerbread “Super” Men and Ladies, because that’s what they looked like after we piped on little ‘bibs’ to make the letters stand out. Pretty cute : )

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    Hello, I’m just your average Joe gingerbread man

      AdobePhotoshopExpress_2012_12_31_17-17-14
      With my house…

    The gingerbread recipe was based on Sweetapolita’s, although I increased the flour and sugar ratio to give the gingerbread more crunch. I also changed the ratio of molasses as I prefer my gingerbread a little lighter but still retaining the taste of treacle-y goodness.

      “Suped up” and super grateful gingerbread men and ladies!

    For her office’s Secret Santa present swap, Kit made a hamper full of festive goodies – maple pecan granola, spiced mixed nuts, black plum & apricot jam, cranberry, and white chocolate & cranberry cookies.

    Handmade and made to be eaten… can’t think of a better Christmas present to get!

      Purty presents!
      AdobePhotoshopExpress_2012_12_31_17-16-28
      Maple and granola – a great breakfast combination : )

    Recipes are provided below.

    PS. Sorry that this post is a little (or very) late. We have lots more posts to work on post-holiday period… Hope you enjoy!

    Gingerbread “Super” Men (and Ladies)
    Recipe adapted from Sweetapolita’s Jumbo Gingerbread Folk
    Yield: 20 medium-sized cookies

    Ingredients
    4 cups / 512g all-purpose flour
    2 teaspoons / 6g cinnamon
    2 teaspoons / 6g ground ginger
    1/2-3/4 teaspoons / 5g salt
    1/2 teaspoon / 3g baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon / 1.5g ground cloves
    1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
    1/2 cup / 1 sticks / 114g unsalted butter, at room temperature
    3/4 cup / 176g packed dark brown sugar
    1/2 cup / 100g granulated sugar
    1 large egg, cold
    3/4 cup / 125 ml molasses or treacle
    1 teaspoons / 5 ml pure vanilla extract

    Instructions
    1. Sift together the dry ingredients – flour, cinnamon, ginger, salt, baking soda, cloves and nutmeg.
    2. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and beat in the egg (one at a time if multiplying recipe), scraping sides of bowl between additions. Add molasses and vanilla and beat until completely incorporated.
    3. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Dough should be soft (not dry or crumbly) but not sticky. If sticky, add a few tablespoons of flour until desired consistency is achieved.
    4. Remove 1/2 of dough from bowl, make a ball, and place on a large piece of plastic wrap on counter.Wrap the sides of wrap over the ball, then press down with the palm of your hand and make a disc about 2″ thick. Finish wrapping the disc with the plastic wrap. Repeat with 2nd half of dough. Chill both discs of dough for at least 2 hours.
    5. Remove and unwrap one disc. Place on top of a large piece of lightly floured parchment or wax paper, then place two 1/4″ wooden dowels on either side of your dough, then another sheet of parchment paper.
    6. Roll dough (this will require a bit of elbow grease for the first few minutes until it softens up a bit) until it’s flush with dowels. This ensures that your dough is even thickness.
    7. Preheat your oven to 350°F/180°C. Slide your parchment paper and dough onto a board, then place in refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or freezer for 15 minutes (or more).
    8. Remove from fridge, and cut your shapes using the cutters or template of choice, placing them on a baking tray lined with a silicone baking mat (or parchment paper), leaving about 2 inches around each cookie and the edge of the tray. Put the tray & cookies into freezer for 15 minutes before baking.
    9. Bake for 7 minutes, tap tray on counter, and return to oven, rotating the tray. Bake until edges just start to brown, about 6 more minutes. (Be careful not to over-bake, or cookies will be dry.)
    10.Cool cookie sheets on wire racks for 20 minutes, then gently remove cookies and place on wire racks to finish cooling. If cookies are too fragile, you can cool completely on trays.
    11. Decorate the gingerbread men and ladies with royal icing as you please! (Yes, the feminist in me insists on not forgetting the ladies!)

    Royal Icing

    Ingredients
    2 cups / Approx 227g confectioners’ or icing sugar
    1 1/4 tbsp/ 10g meringue powder
    Approx 1/5 cups / 45ml water
    Clear-coloured flavoring / extract, e.g. almond, rosewater, clear vanilla extract

    Instructions
    1. Wipe down electric mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) using a paper towel and a few drops of lemon juice.
    2. Combine all ingredients (except water) into the mixing bowl and mix on low speed for 12 minutes.
    3. Slowly add the water 1 tbsp at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.
    4. Keep royal icing covered at all times with plastic wrap or a damp towel. The icing can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.

    Maple Pecan Granola
    Recipe adapted from Martha Strewart’s Maple Granola
    Yield: 7 cups

    Ingredients
    3 cups rolled oats
    1 cup dried unsweetened coconut chips or shredded coconut
    1 cup pecans, quartered
    1/2 cup pure maple syrup
    1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
    1 teaspoon coarse salt
    3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    1/2 cup cranberries or other dried fruit (optional)
    Dried fruit isn’t normally an “option” for us when it comes to granola, but in this case it was omitted since there was a lot of fruit in other parts of the hamper : )

    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 300°F/150°C.
    2. In a large bowl, combine oats, coconut, nuts, syrup, oil, sugar, salt, and nutmeg.
    3. Spread granola in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet.
    4. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes, for 40 minutes. This granola was made pretty crispy so it was baked a little longer. Granola burns easily and it can be easy to burn the nuts or other components earlier too, so it’s important to keep an eye on it.
    5. If using dried fruit, add it in the last 10 minutes of baking.
    6. Let cool completely. Preferably let the granola cool in a room-temperature baking sheet, as the hot baking sheet will continue to cook the granola.
    7. Granola can be stored at room temperature in airtight containers for up to 2 weeks.

    Spiced Mixed Nuts
    Recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis’ Spiced Cocktail Nuts

    Ingredients
    Vegetable cooking spray or butter for greasing
    2 egg whites
    2 cups roasted and salted almonds
    2 cups roasted and salted cashew nuts
    3/4 cup sugar
    2 1/2 tsp Madras curry powder
    2 1/2 tsp Tom Yum powder (available from most Asian supermarkets)
    1 tbsp ground cumin
    2 tsp garlic salt
    1 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
    1 tsp ground cardamom
    1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

    Instructions
    1. Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 250°F/120°C. Spray or oil a baking sheet liberally.
    2. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add the nuts and stir until coated.
    3. In a small bowl, combine the sugar, curry powder, tom yum powder, cumin, garlic salt, cayenne pepper, cardamom, and cinnamon.
    4. Sprinkle the sugar mixture over the nuts and toss until coated. Arrange the nuts in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet.
    5. Bake for 45 minutes until golden and fragrant. Cool for 1 hour.
    6. Using a metal spatula, remove the nuts from the baking sheet and break into bite-sized pieces. The nuts can be served immediately or stored in an air-tight container for up to 1 week.

    Black Plum & Apricot Jam
    Yield: 2 cups

    Ingredients
    1 green apple, peeled, cored and chopped into 1 inch / 2cm chunks
    4-5 overripe small black plums, pitted
    4-5 overripe medium apricots, pitted
    1 cup sugar
    Approx 1/3 cup water
    1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)

    Instructions
    1. In a small saucepan, cook the apples with 2 tbsp water over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until the apples have softened into a pulp. Apple provides pectin and gives the jam
    2. Add the plums, apricots, sugar, cinnamon (if using) and remaining water to the mixture.
    3. Cook, stirring continuously for approximately 10 minutes or until the jam reaches the desired consistency. Be sure not to overcook jam, and remember that the jam will thicken as it cools.
    4. Store in sterilized jam jar(s). Jam will keep for 2 weeks at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge.
    5. To sterilize the jam jar(s):

  • Carefully fill a tub with hot (boiling water)
  • Put in your jar(s) of choice, ensure that the jar fills up with water so that it doesn’t float to top.
  • Leave the jars in the hot water for 5 minutes.
  • Using a pair of tongs, fish out the hot jar(s).
  • Fill the jar(s) with jam – remember that the jam and jar(s) must be the same temperature, otherwise the glass jar(s) might crack.
  • White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies
    Recipe adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s book, “Baking – From My Home to Yours”
    Yield: Approx 20 cookies

    Ingredients

    Instructions

    A Cake Promise Fulfilled & The First Turkey of the Year

    Ahhh… Chenny made good on her promise! A year ago she promised Kit she would bake a cake for her birthday, and boy did she deliver!

    Kit’s birthday Sunday started off very pleasantly, with family brunch at Cafe Brunetti in Singapore. It was our first time eating there, and we’re so glad that we did! Their gelato ice cream is one of the best we’ve tried in Singapore. Their gelato comes in fantastic flavours, like Cherry Mania and Orange Custard; flavours that make us envious and wish that that we had thought of it ourselves. Of course we ate ‘proper’ food as well, but naturally the gelato was the highlight for us : )

    After brunch, we took a stroll to work off the calories. We ended up in the Tanglin supermarket, where Mum got very excited when she spotted more turkeys for sale.

    Would just like to mention that roasting turkeys is (one of) Mum’s specialities, and even though we were still 3 weeks from Christmas, she decided to heck it and roast a turkey for Kit’s birthday too. It was an underhanded tactic to entice Kit to eat meat (Kit is a pescatarian but makes an exception only on Christmas when she gives in to her carnivorous side and indulges in Mum’s Christmas turkey). Mums have their ways!

    So the dinner menu was roast turkey, lemon chestnut dressing (sounds a bit odd but it actually tastes pretty awesome), seafood gumbo, black organic wild jasmine rice with pistachios and cranberries, and a salad of brussel sprouts, chicory leaves and Parmesan shavings. Yum!! No leftovers at all! : D

    Yumm....Yumm….

    As for the cake, Mum suggested using a prize-winning sponge cake recipe from her beloved Australian Women’s Weekly. We were a little dubious at first as the recipe only uses 2 tablespoons of flour, but then realized how intriguing it was so off we went : )

    We decided to layer the cake with strawberries and blueberries, swathed with whipped cream. Pleased to report that it turned out wonderful, even on the first bake! And not too sinful too, as the cake doesn’t have any butter or oil in it. An even better reason to have multiple slices! : )

    Berries galore!

    More beautiful berries!!

    So here’s the recipe, adapted slightly from Natalie Dick’s Prize-Winning Sponge Cake (published in the Australian Women’s Weekly).

    Victorian Sponge Cake with Whipped Cream & Mixed Berries

    Ingredients

    2 heaped teaspoons of plain flour
    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1 level teaspoon cream of tartar
    Cornflour (to fill above ingredients up to 1 cup)
    4 eggs, at room temperature
    3/4 cup (165g) caster sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

    Filling and Topping

    300ml whipping cream or heavy cream
    1 tablespoon icing sugar
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
    1 punnet (approx 450g) of fresh strawberries
    1 punnet (approx 250g) of fresh blueberries

    Instructions
    1. Preheat oven to 190°C (170°C fan-forced). Grease (use canola oil spray) two 20cm round cake tins, ensuring you grease the sides of tin well so sponge rises neatly.
    2. Put plain flour, bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar in a 1 cup (250ml) measuring cup. Fill the remainder of the cup with cornflour.
    3. Beat eggs and sugar on a high speed for 7 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds to combine.
    4. While eggs are beating, sift flour mixture three times onto greaseproof paper.
    5. Turn mixer to lowest speed and gently add flour mixture and beat for 1 minute until smooth. Divide mixture between two well-greased 20cm round cake tins. Place in oven on centre shelf and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until sponge springs back when touched or sponge is coming away from side of tin.
    6. Take sponges out of oven. Place baking paper on wire cake racks to cover. Turn sponges out from tins onto the wire racks. Allow sponges to cool completely.

    Assembly
    1. Remove the green tops of half of the strawberries and slice them lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. The remaining strawberries (keep the nicer-looking ones) are for decorating the top, and slice those into halves.
    2. Whip the cream, icing sugar and vanilla essence until you have a smooth whipped cream.
    3. Place one sponge cake on a serving plate. This is the base. Spoon half of the whipped cream on to the base sponge cake and smooth to the edges using an offset spatula, leaving about 1.5cm for the cream to spread to the edges once the 2nd layer is on.
    4. Top the whipped cream with the slices strawberries and half of the blueberries.
    5. Place the second sponge on top of the berries, and spoon on the remaining whipped cream to the edges using an offset spatula.
    6. Decorate the top with the remaining strawberries & blueberries, or as desired.

    Hunnybeekitchen’s Jottings
    1. Intensify the strawberry / fruit flavor by spreading a layer of jam on top of the cream & before the fruit. Home made jam made with overripe fruits (e.g. peaches, apricots, plums, etc) would be lovely, but store bought jam is fine too.
    2. It’s better to grease & line the bottom & sides of the cake time with baking paper. Due to the sponge’s lightness, we found that the sides still stuck to the tins.
    3. A light dusting of icing sugar on top of the cake would be a nice finishing touch. : )

    Image

    The Nylon Pink Velvet Cake & 5 Tips for Better Frosting

    “Shall we bake a cake for Lomography’s Anniversary Potluck?

    My boss volunteered to contribute a cake on behalf of Nylon Singapore.”

    Ummm when do we ever say no to cake-baking? Feeling quite honoured, we set off armed with alarmingly pink fantasies… Neon pink block letters spelling “Nylon” made of gum paste or royal icing. Deep, almost crimson pink layers covered with pale petal-pink frosting. Ruffled borders coloured to match the cake layers.

    The idea was to adapt a roux-based frosting by substituting the white chocolate with cream cheese, and simply add pink colouring to the previous whiteout cake recipe. We could have been more ambitious and tried to make a more “authentic” pink velvet cake by putting white chocolate in the cake itself (which would parallel the chocolate goodness of classic red velvet cakes better), but admittedly we were not bothered to go that far because (a) we both have full-time jobs and didn’t have luxury of time to sit down and re-engineer the entire recipe; and (b) we had a feeling that incorporating cream cheese into the frosting would be challenging enough. How true that turned out to be… Anyway, we shall file away “Work on Ultimate Pink Velvet Cake Recipe” at the moment and whip it out when the mood is right again. : )

    Anyway back to the cake story – so we baked the cake, and it turned out well, with the desired deep crimson pink colour even after baking. We then progressed to the frosting … and with some (or perhaps a little more than some) paranoia we added a lot more flour to the roux base, hoping that it would further thicken the frosting before adding cream cheese. That seemed to work, however the taste of flour became too pronounced so we cooked the roux for a longer time and crossed our fingers that the taste of cream cheese would mask the taste of flour later (which doesn’t sound very appealing!) After cooking the roux base for as long as we dared, we added the butter and the cream cheese. (Initial) result – a beautiful, fluffy and seemingly stable cream cheese frosting. Feelings of happiness pervaded the household and we went to sleep content.

    The next day, the frosting still looked fine (ok, well it had been in the fridge for almost 24 hours so actually it was super hard) even after we beat it the first time. Once we began to decorate the cake, however, we watched with dismay as the frosting became gloopier and gloopier, running down the sides of the cake. We knew that it wouldn’t hold up to any additional borders, banners, ruffles or anything else.

    We tried everything to save the frosting – multiple attempts with icing sugar, multiple attempts at chilling and re-chilling, even white chocolate and meringue powder. The wonderfully smooth and fluffy consistency that we caught a glimpse of earlier was gone… but we managed to salvage a sort-of workable consistency, and we ditched our ambitious plans for crimson banners. It was getting late in the night too… but with great determination, the cake was finished. : )

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    Happy Anniversary Lomography!

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      Before dispatching it off…

    The next day, the Nylon cake was dispatched to the Lomo potluck and we hoped that no one noticed the sloppy frosting too much.

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    Looking pretty good!

    In the end it wasn’t a roaring success, but we’re glad that people seemed to like it and the cake was appropriately demolished. That’s the important thing. Yippee! : D

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    Aaaahhh… cake enjoyment!

    Hope that everyone enjoyed the cake! And thanks to the people at Nylon for the cool photos!

    So what did we learn from it? Below are 5 tips for better frosting that we’ve gleaned from this experience. Here’s to more learning in the future (but not to more runny frostings please!)

    5 Tips for Better Frosting

    #1 – Cream cheese can be a tricky ingredient to work with in frostings. When adding cream cheese to frosting, we should only add just enough cream cheese for the frosting to acquire the flavour. No more! Especially not in the humid Singapore weather.

    #2 – Don’t re-beat any frosting with cream cheese too much. We knew that adding too much cream cheese could make the frosting too soft, but we’ve now learned that too much re-beating of any frosting with cream cheese will make the cream cheese even more slimy. Result – too soft frosting again! But we still think there’s possibilities in combining cream cheese with a roux-based frosting. We will not give up! Which leads us to…

    #3 – Keep experiments as experiments, and don’t attempt a new frosting the night before the cake is due. Being experimental is good, but we should have practiced the frosting and perfected it before letting it out for public consumption : P

    #4 – The refridgerator is frosting’s friend. Especially in our hot Singapore weather, chilling a frosting is a must. However chilling a cake too much can lead to dryness, so it’s a fine balance.

    #5 – Sprinkles can save the day with gloopy frostings, especially scattered along the sides of the cake where gloopiness is most pronounced. Ok, this isn’t exactly a tip to improve frosting, more of a tactic to salvage a cake when the situation is already quite desperate ; )

    And A Little Cupcake Follows…

    And a little wee cupcake follows from behind of Chenny’s White Chocolate Promo Cake… Sometimes the little things are the best things, no? (Whether it be extra batter made into the cutest cupcakes, or post-leveling cake crusts shaved off and stuffed into the our mouths!)

    20121114-180118.jpgHello, I’m wee and little : )

    Chenny’s Celebratory “Promo” Cake & White Chocolate Deliciousness

    Congrats Chenny on being promoted! (And yes Chenny you’re right we do look for any reason to bake a cake… hence you’re getting a “Promo” cake ; ))

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    Did someone say “cake”? : )

    Thanks to you, we decided on your favourite white chocolate, and now we have discovered an awesome go-to white chocolate icing (thanks to Sweetapolita)!

    Note: In Singapore, being “promoted” in student lingo means that you’ve performed sufficiently well in year-end exams and are allowed to progress to the next academic year. It seems like a rather adult way of describing things, but then given the amount of stress that Singapore students are under, perhaps it’s quite appropriate!