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. : )

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 ; )