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Drunk in Style – White Wine Poached Pear Almond Tart




It’s been a while, everyone. I am really glad that I’m finally sharing a recipe I learnt from school with you all. This week, our teacher demonstrated how to make this French-style white wine poached pear almond tart (Pear Bourdaloue); I absolutely loved it and I knew I had to recreate it for myself.

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Making tarts hasn’t been my strong suit, because up until now I haven’t fully grasped the techniques of handling and rolling pastry. Thanks to school, I had to squarely deal with all my weaknesses and practice. Cope with the huge difference between last year’s baking experience and that of this year isn’t easy either. In LCB, I am constantly introduced all sorts of pastry items that never existed in my world due to my limited exposure to the culinary world. Honestly, the feelings of inadequacy could be overpowering at times, but so is the sense of excitement burning in my heart that I know I just have to keep learning and getting better. For those who are curious about what I’ve made at school for the past few weeks, I’ve attached couple photos at the end of this post as promised. 

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About the tart itself, I know in many sense it matches with autumn theme more, but when you want to eat tarts who cares about the time? Sweet and soft pears shall be the star of this tart – they are beautifully spiced by cinnamon and cloves, with the addition of tangy, sweet flavour thanks to the white wine, as well as lemon and orange peel. Poaching pears requires correct time, temperature and patience. You want soft, sweet, flavoured pears that are not cooked to become mushy in the end. Having the pears together wIth the nutty almond cream at the bottom is simply delicious. I like having this tart when freshly baked (preferably with vanilla ice-cream on top, yummmm), but it’s purely my own preferences. I hope you will enjoy this recipe! 

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White Wine Poached Pear (Can be made the night before)

Ingredients:

  • 6 fresh pears
  • 500ml water
  • 500ml white wine
  • 250g sugar
  • peel of 1 lemon
  • peel of 1 orange
  • 1 cinnamon stick (or  1 tsp ground cinnamon)
  • 1 clove (or ⅛ tsp ground cloves)

Instructions:

  1. Put all ingredients (except the pears) in a pan.
  2. Peel and core pears, gently poach (NOT boil) pears in syrup.
  3. Cook the pears for about 1 hour until they are soft. Use a stick to test every once in a while to see if the pears are done.
  4. When done, take out the pears from the pan to stop the cooking process. Reserve the liquid. When both the pears and liquid have cooled, let the pears continue soaking in the liquid. Keep in fridge until ready to use.

Sweet Pastry Dough (this recipe makes two tart shells):

Ingredients:

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 142g sugar
  • 90g eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 375g bakers flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 45g almond meal

Instructions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar by hand or with a mixer until well combined.
  2. Adds eggs (one at a time) and vanilla. Mix.
  3. Mix in sifted flour and almond meal to form a dough.
  4. Wrap it with plastic and keep in refrigerator to set and rest for at least 30 mins. (the gluten in the dough needs to rest or the pastry will shrink when baked)
  5. Preheat your oven to 180C.
  6. Lightly flour your working surface. Roll out the pastry to 2.5-3mm thickness. Line a 8 inch tart pan with sweet pastry. Poke littles holes with a folk on the pastry’s base to avoid air bubbles from forming when the pastry is baked. Refrigerate to rest the pastry for 20 mins.
  7. Bake the pastry for 12-15 mins until golden brown.
  8. Let cool and set aside.

Almond cream

Ingredients:

  • 120g caster sugar
  • 120g butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs (room temperature)
  • 20g baker flour
  • 120g almond meal
  • 20ml rum (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Cream butter and sugar by hand of a mixer until well combined.
  2. Add vanilla, and eggs (one at a time). Mix well.
  3. Add flour, almond meal, and rum (if used). Mix well to form a paste.
  4. Set aside until ready to use.

Assembly

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Fill the tart with the almond cream generously.
  3. Put the poached pears on top according to the design you want.
  4. Bake for approximately 25-35 mins until golden brown.
  5. Sprinkled toasted almond on top if desired.

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Yum




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C for Celebrate – Flourless Mocha Pistachio Cookies




Christmas is just around the corner, and it means BAKERS GOTTA BAKE. Therefore, the upcoming posts are going to be Christmas-themed. These flourless Pistachio Chocolate Cookies are possibly the easiest baked goods that you can give to bribe your friends and family *smirk* . They cannot be simpler to make. Also, there’s something about pistachio that makes these cookies look extra festive. The pistachio crumbs are like sparkles; just a small amount of them already gives the cookies a vibrant character and another layer of luxury.

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I made these cookies for a party with a newly met friend who’s also crazy about baking (we literally forgot to have lunch that entire afternoon). She’s very passionate about vegan baking and feel free to check her works out here . I am not sure if you can relate, but It felt amazing to me to work with another baker in my kitchen; when we baked, we understood each other’s mind pretty well and fast that things were finished in no time. Looking back, I realise how many precious friendships have developed and been improved due to my fervour for baking and food in general. How funny things work huh?

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Back to the star of this post. This recipe is adapted from the chocolate crinkle cookies by Anna Olson.  As always, I decreased the cookies’ sweetness to suit the taste of my friends and family. And I also added coffee and coffee liqueur as the favour booster. In my opinion, these cookies taste best when freshly taken out from the oven, as the chocolate would literally melt in your mouth. However, if you intend to pack them nicely for others, it’s alright, because when they’re cooled, they’d simply turn to some fudge-like cookies that are equally addictive. Make these cookies. Make people around you happy.

: )

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Ingredients:

Make 24 cookies (around 25g per cookie)

  • 270 g 70% dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 whole eggs + one egg yolk at room temperature
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee liqueur (or vanilla extract)  
  • 2 tbsp instant coffee powder, ground, melted in 2 tbsp hot water
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 1 cup (130 g) icing sugar, plus extra for rolling cookies
  • ½ cup (60 g) cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp (7 g) cornstarch
  • ½ tsp (2.5 g) salt
  • 50g pistachio, chopped

Instructions:

(adapted from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJmewcEnlJY):

Baking directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 375 ºF (190 ºC). Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.

2. Melt the chocolate in a metal bowl placed over a saucepan filled with an inch of barely simmering water, stirring gently until melted. Set aside.

3. With electric beaters or in a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, whip the eggs with the granulated sugar, coffee liqueur, coffee mixture and milk  until frothy and light, about 3 minutes (it doesn’t have to hold a “ribbon”). Whisk in the melted chocolate.

4. Sift in the icing sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch and salt and stir in by hand until well combined. The batter may seem very soft at first, but just give it a minute – it will tighten up.

5. Place some icing sugar in a shallow dish. Use a small ice cream scoop to scoop the batter and drop it directly into the icing sugar (I measured each cookie as 25g and it’s a good size), rolling to coat each scoop fully. Arrange these on the prepared baking trays, leaving 1 ½-inches (4 cm) between them. Gently press each cookie flat with the palm of your hand. Press pistachio crumbs onto the cookies. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes (do not overbake) and cool the cookies on the tray just until they can be lifted off (1-2 minutes) then cool on a rack.

Yum




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Sunflower Love – Japanese Mini Cheese Tart with Milo Crust




Good news – there are finally some good tarts made in Charlotte’s kitchen!! I haven’t updated the blog for nearly two weeks, because 1) life outside was so eventful that my kitchen lost its allure to me temporarily (trust me it’s really big thing for someone like me who always prefers to stay home) and 2) I had been trying to figure out the best method of making these little japanese cheese tarts so that I can share this recipe with you guys.

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If you are a fan of Japanese desserts, cheese tart shouldn’t sound unfamiliar to you. People are crazy about it, but who can blame them? Taste wise, the tart marries sweet and salty brilliantly. Texture wise, the contrast between the buttery crispy crust and the lava-like cheesy filling probably creates the most unforgettable tart eating experience. I once tried it in Japan, and I simply couldn’t get over it ever since.

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My take on this tart overall is pretty straightforward, except that I added some milo powder into the crust for a little malty, chocolate twist. If you follow the instructions carefully, making the tart filling shouldn’t be hard either – it basically resembles making custard with the use of a double boiler, so that things can be cooked evenly and gently without cooking the egg. The cornflour and egg will thicken the mixture considerably so that you can easily brush egg yolk on it before baking.

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One thing I must remind you here is, that no matter how eager you want to see the result, please be patient to let tart crusts cool and dry up before filling them up. I was impatient before and the tart ended up tragically soggy (yeah you don’t want that). Thanks for reading and I hope you will make them soon!

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Make 10-12 mini tart

For the Crust:

  • 1 1/2 cup (188g) all purpose flour (+ 2 tbsp for kneading)
  • 25g milo powder
  • 1/2 cup (115g) cold butter, cut into small cubes  
  • 1/4 cup (50g) caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • salt

For the filling:

  • 110g cream cheese
  • 110g mascarpone cheese
  • 2 tbsp (28g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk or heavy cream
  • 50g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 egg
  • 12g cornstarch (corn flour) (sifted)
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Extra egg yolk for brushing

Instructions:

For the filling:

  1. Using a double boiler, heat and melt cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, butter until smooth.
  2. Add sifted cornflour and icing sugar, and mix well.
  3. Add egg, and mix well.
  4. Stir in milk, lemon juice, and vanilla, and mix well.
  5. Let the custard cool for at least 15 mins before putting them into a piping bag tipped with a round nozzle. Chill it in the refrigerator for later use.

For the crust:

  1. Blend together flour, milo powder, sugar, salt, butter with a pastry cutter or a food processor, until the mixture becomes coarse meal with spea-size butter lumps.
  2. Add egg and vanilla, and stir until incorporated.  
  3. Put the mixture onto a lightly floured surface. Add the extra 2 tbsp flour onto the dough surface. Knead the dough for a few times until the dough is brought together and no longer sticky. Press it into a ball, then flatten into a disk. Wrap it with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 mins until firm.
  4. Roll out dough into 3-4mm thick with a rolling pin on a lightly floured surface and fit into tart pans. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Now, Preheat your oven to 375F/190C.
  6. Bake tart shell for 15-18 mins . Let them cool in the pan until they’re cool enough to handle. Take the shells out of the pan and let them cool completely on a wrack.
  7. Now turn up the heat of your oven to 446F/230C.

Assemble:

  1. Pipe custard into the cooled tart shells, brush egg yolk on the surface.
  2. Bake for 6 mins on the top shelf (to facilitate browning). If you prefer a runnier texture, try 4 or 5 mins. Enjoy!

Yum

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Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Present to you my beloved recipe of coconut rum pecan banana bread – a sneaky twist on a classic banana bread. This recipe results in a super moist, delicious banana bread that’s packed with coconut flavours, enhanced with a touch of rum aroma and a nutty crunch.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Do you guys have a favourite thing to make? People around me asked me that many times before and I usually couldn’t provide a definite answer. Yet, I guess there’s been an answer inside my heart all along – quick bread. Quick bread is any bread that can be made in a matter of minutes without necessarily using yeast in the process. In other words, they’re my kind of comfort food; quick and easy. It might be a bit embarrassing to say – at the earliest stage of my baking life, I didn’t have any baking tools except a loaf pan in my student dorm kitchen. To satisfy my hungry soul, what I did was keep exploring and trying out as many loaf recipes found online as possible. This crazy experiment resulted in many delicious loaves coming out of my oven (and inevitably some weight gain as well, but who cares? jk lol).

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

As you may already know, the key to amouth-watering banana bread is using OVERRIPE bananas. Yeap, if you don’t have them ready at home, you have to wait until all the banana skins have almost turned black and rotten. This is when the bananas have become mushy enough and, of course, the sweetest as most of the starch content is broken down into sugar. Trust me, it is totally worth the patience. Why wait? Provide your friends and family with the best banana experience by serving big slices of this banana bread as their breakfast or afternoon snack.

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Coconut Rum Pecan Banana Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (240g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½  tsp salt
  • ½  tsp cinnamon
  • ½  cup (100g) dark brown sugar
  • ½  cup (115g) butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 4 bananas, mashed
  • ¼  cup (60ml) coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) rum
  • 50g & 1 extra tbsp (for sprinkling) shredded coconut  
  • 80g pecan, roughly chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F (175C). Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, or grease it with butter or oil; set aside.
  2. In a bowl, sift in and combine well the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In another bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar for 3 mins until fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min.
  5. Add mashed bananas, coconut milk and rum, and continue beating until incorporated.
  6. Pour in the dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches, stirring continuously.
  7. Add in shredded coconut and pecans. Stir the batter gently with a spatula until everything is just incorporated.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle some shredded coconut on top. Tap the pan several times to break any air bubbles. Bake the cake for 50-55 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  9. Remove the cake from the oven and let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes. When the cake is cool enough to handle, remove it from the pan and let it continue to cool on the wire rack before making the glaze; this will take about 30 mins.
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Hopeless Romantic – Red Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting




Red Velvet Cake – always alluring by how romantic and gorgeous it looks. This is a recipe adapted from Sally’s Baking Addiction; her method of separating the eggs into yorks and whites in the process rendered the cake extra light and fluffy. Also, given that it’s my second time making it, I’m proud to say that I’ve adjusted the recipe to get the texture, flavour, and sweetness just right to my taste. My apologies, but how can I miss this chance to declare, that it’s indeed a BLOODY good cake :p?

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You are the one who’s in control of how red the cake should appear: rose, crimson, or even blood red. Start with a few drops of coloring and eyeball it as you go. Just be extra careful when handling with food coloring; otherwise, you may create a domestic crime scene and end up spending a day trying to clean your kitchen (which i may or may not have done it myself).

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In fact , I had difficulties trying to pinpoint what a red velvet cake tasted like. In the most basic terms, its sponge cake’s flavour profile contains three major components, namely vanilla, chocolate, and buttermilk, working with and complementing one another. Essentially, together with the rich cream cheese frosting, a red velvet cake is a light chocolate cake with a little citrus kick. Still a bit confused? Well, I guess the only way to find that out is to try it out yourself, and win the heart of your special someone.

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Ingredients:

Cake

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups (360g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3 tbsp (22g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature2
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 4 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 4 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2  tbsp (30ml) vanilla extract
  • liquid or gel red food coloring
  • 1 cup (240ml) buttermilk, room temperature/ or 1 cup (240ml) whole milk + 1 tsp fresh lemon juice

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 500g full-fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature5
  • 1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 3 cups (360g) icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp (45ml) whole milk
  • 1 tbsp (15ml) vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt (i.e. everything listed under dry ingredients).
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat butter and sugar at medium-high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and fluffy. Add oil and continue beating for 2 min until incorporated.
  5. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, and beat at medium speed until well combined. Meanwhile, use a hand whisk to vigorous beat egg whites until floamy and thick; set aside.
  6. Add buttermilk (or milk + lemon juice) and vanilla extract to thin out the mixture.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared egg whites into the cake batter with a spatula.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 45 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  11. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter (at room temperature) at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour to get firm so as to hold its shape while you work on it later.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface (reserve and crumble the unwanted cake parts into small pieces for decoration).
  2. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  3. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  4. Put a generous amount of frosting on the middle of the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it with the second cake layer. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  5. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled, frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  6. Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a tip that you prefer. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, sprinkle cake crumbles, stick thin strawberry slices to the side as garnish if desired.
  7. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Enjoy!




8 comments
Back to Basics – Bakery-Style Almond Butter Coconut Soft Chewy Cookies

It feels SUPERB to be back in my baking mood after surviving an emotionally intense week. Lots of things happened recently; probably too many. People always say baking helps elevate our mood, but I realise I can only bake well when feeling fully energised – does it make sense? Anyhow, let’s just focus on something fairly simple to make, yet truly satisfying to enjoy today, shall we?

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In fact, I’ve had this cookie recipe – success-guaranteed – in store for a while, but I just didn’t have the right opportunity to share it with you until now. It’s my all-time comfort recipe as it simply turns out perfect every. single. time. I used peanut butter the first time I made it (which was marvellous), and I substituted almond butter this time as I still got a whole jar of waiting to be gulped down at home.

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Similar to the brookies I previously shared in August, these cookies are soft, chewy, and sweet, yet their slightly crispy outer layer can now better withstand the passage of time. Yeap, we’re talking about one of those insanely tempting over-sized cookies seducing you through those timeless, nostalgic bakery windows. What’s the secret? A right amount of brown sugar and don’t overbake them. Pssss, If you want them to be extra evil (and make all your friends jealous of your little kitchen triumph), don’t hesitate to add in dark chocolate chips so that the cookies would literally melt in your mouth.

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Ingredients:

Make 18 largecookies 

  • 1 1/2 cup (188g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup (115g) butter
  • 1/3 cup (75g) white sugar
  • 1/2 cup (100g) brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 60g almond butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup (100g) almond, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup dessicated coconut

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking soda, and salt. These are your dry ingredients.
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat white sugar, brown sugar, and butter on medium high speed for 4-5 mins until pale and creamy.
  4. Add egg, vanilla and almond butter to the mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed until well mixed. 
  5. Slowly add the prepared dry ingredients. Beat for another 1-2 mins until well incorporated.
  6. Finally, with a spatula, gently stir in and mix well chopped almonds and desiccated coconut.
  7. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Roll the dough into balls, and space each one about 2-inches apart on the sheet to allow space for spreading. Flatten the dough a bit with a spoon or your palm.
  9. Bake for 12 mins (don’t overbake). Remove from the oven and let cool.
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Close up of frosting on Almond Butter Carrot Cake

So yeah, I finally decided to jump on the fall bandwagon, and re-made one of my fav cakes of all time – CARROT CAKE! This cake was dearly loved by many friends of mine when I made it for the first time a while back. Why? Well, flavour aside, maybe they were all fooled by how healthy it sounds. 😉

Close up of frosting on Almond Butter Carrot Cake

I used almonds in three different ways in my version – raw almond, almond milk and most important the mighty almond butter – giving a naughty twist to the classic carrot cake recipe. This particularly nutty take gives the whole cake a richer flavour and accentuates how moist a mouth-watering carrot cake should be. In other words, this is where my nut obsession and the essential carrot cake meet. 

Almond Butter Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Nevertheless, the key elements of an authentic carrot cake are still present and very potent. You get all the fresh shredded carrots making the cake unbelievably moist, not to mention that the spice blend, especially cinnamon, will warm up your palette right away. While the lower sugar take on the iconic cream cheese frosting will round everything out with just the right amount of added sweetness. As you can see, I tried to keep the frosting as light and thin as possible to create a “naked” style. 

Slice of Almond Butter Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

P.S. If you want to save the fuss, feel feel to buy store-bought almond butter if they’re readily available in your country. But I think nothing beats a homemade one 🙂

Nuts and frosting on Almond Butter Carrot Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (240ml) vegetable oil, I used canola oil
  • 1/3 cup (80ml) homemade almond butter *see notes 
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) almond milk
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla extract
  • 2 ½  cups (325g) finely grated carrots
  • 3/4 cup (105g) almond, chopped

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 115g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 330g cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • 270g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp almond milk
  • pinch of salt

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line two 8 inch cake pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt (i.e. everything listed under dry ingredients).
  4. In another mixing bowl, using an electric beater, beat sugar, oil, and almond butter at  medium speed until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, to the mixture, and continue to beat at medium speed until well incorporated. Add almond milk and vanilla extract to thin out the mixture. Finally, gently stir in grated carrots and almonds.
  5. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Stir gently with a spatula to combine everything until no flour can be seen. Avoid over-mixing.
  6. Pour the mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 30-35 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in the cake’s centre comes out clean.
  7. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in their pans, then take them out and put them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
  8. While the cakes are cooling, prepare the cream cheese frosting.

For the cream cheese frosting:

  1. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter (at room temperature) at medium-high speed until smooth.
  2. Slowly add in the sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until smooth.
  3. Add almond milk, vanilla, and salt, and beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting for at least 1 hour to get firm so as to hold its shape while you work on it later.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Peel the parchment paper from the base of the cake layers and place one layer onto a plate or a cake board placed on a revolving cake stand (if you have it).
  3. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  4. Put a generous amount of frosting on the middle of the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it with the second cake layer. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  5. Put the crumb-coated cake in the refrigerator for an hour to get the frosting nice and firm. Once the cake is chilled (the frosting should be dry upon touching), frost your cake evenly with another layer of frosting using the same method. Get rid of all the peaks and blemishes in the process.
  6. Transfer the remaining cream cheese frosting into a pastry bag tipped with a simple round tip. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, sprinkle ground cinnamon and a few almond pieces as garnish if desired.
  7. Refrigerate to let the cake set for at least 1 hour or overnight. Enjoy!

 

Notes (Instructions for home-made almond butter):

  • 200g almond
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Roast 200g raw almond in an oven at 350F (175C) for 10 mins. Blend or process the roasted almond until completely smooth and creamy. Add honey, cinnamon and salt, and process until well combined.

 

 

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Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake decorated with fresh figs

Confession: I have a long love affair with earl grey-infused desserts. This cake is the result of my attempt to give into this love, while also going against the grain by NOT creating one of the obvious fall season treats that are already flooding the food world at the moment (let’s see when I will fail) :p. As with anything tea based, the key to making the flavour work is a reverence for the brewing process. Your focus should be on drawing out the full-bodied flavour that lies within. And being a British tea, this choice of flavour can make for the perfect afternoon drink, as well as the ideal naughty snack.

Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake decorated with fresh figs

As for the cake itself – with its own inherent citrus undertones, the Earl Grey in this cake is ideally accentuated with the addition of fresh lemon juice and zest. On the other hand, throwing in cream cheese is a new idea, as the taste of the first version of this cake was lacking vibrancy, something which I reckon a great cheesecake should possess. When this is then mixed with mascarpone cheese, you get a superbly rounded flavour packing creamy sweetness and multiple layers of sourness. But that’s not all. Did I forget to mention the finishing touch of fresh figs and drizzles of extra honey on top? All this together, well, it’s a rich, vibrant kick of elegant floral flavour in every bite.

Fresh figs atop an Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

In terms of process, just like other cheesecakes, this cake requires a water bath while baking to prevent the cake’s surface from cracking from the heat. Also, it has to be baked at a lower temperature to allow for even heat distribution. This is not a short bake and, I know, I hate to wait just as much as every baker does. But again, patience is the key to everything. How about watching your favourite show on Netflix as you wait? Hope you will enjoy this recipe :)!

A fresh baked Earl Grey Honey Lemon Mascarpone Cheesecake

Ingredients:

For the filling:

  • 500g mascarpone cheese
  • 125g cream cheese
  • 120g good quality honey
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest of
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 5 large eggs, room temperature
  • 450ml whole milk
  • 5 earl grey bag loose leaves
  • 4tbsp cake flour (sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the base:

  • 220g graham biscuit
  • 80g melted butter

Toppings:

  • 2-3 medium sized figs
  • honey

Instructions:

For the base:

  1. Line an 8-inch cake pan with parchment paper.
  2. Ground the graham biscuit into a semi-fine texture with some crunch left using a food processor or blender. Add the melted butter and mix well.
  3. Evenly distribute the mixture across the bottom of the pan, before pressing it with a spoon until a firm and even based is formed.

For the filling:

  1. Preheat the oven at 320F (160C)
  2. Add milk and earl grey tea leaves into a saucepan, bring the mixture to boil and mix well. Turn off the heat and let the flavours develop as it cools and then set aside.
  3. Add mascarpone cheese, cream cheese and honey to a large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix the ingredients on a medium speed until evenly blended and smooth.
  4. One at a time, add eggs to the cheese mixture, mixing at a medium speed until all five are well incorporated.
  5. Add salt, vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and the cooled earl grey milk to the mixture and incorporate gently using a spatula.
  6. Finally, sift in cake flour and mix well. Take care not to over mix – the texture should be smooth.
  7. Pour the completed batter over the base in the pre-prepared cake tin.
  8. Bake the cake in a water bath (e.g. a larger pan with hot water inside) at 320F (160C) for 20 mins. Then lower the temperature to 240F (120C) and bake for 90 mins more. When time is up, open the door slightly to let the cake gradually cool down in the oven.
  9. Once cooled, refrigerate for at least 3 hours.
  10. Lastly, decorate the cake with fresh figs and honey. Enjoy!
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Tiramisu Crepe Cake cross section
Presenting, a romantic twist on a classic dessert –  tiramisu crepe cake. It’s a work of patience, patience, and more patience. Making this cake was a huge pleasure for me though; by flipping over layer after layer of crepes, I had lots of alone time in the kitchen to ponder on life (lol, jk, or not).  Take this as a chance to think about all the little things and perhaps your own dessert dreams. Maybe you won’t believe it, but I wasn’t always a big fan of desserts. Yet, Tiramisu gets me nostalgic in the best ways, because it was one of my fav childhood treats when dining out with family. Slice of Tiramisu Crepe CakeThis recipe is inspired by a recipe from Tatyana’s Everyday Food, but a lot of changes have been made to ensure the crepe cake fits my own baking style. Tatyana, again, is a beloved Youtuber whose desserts never fail to amaze me. I’m so thankful that she actually was the one who pushed me to try making multi-layer cake in the first place. Tiramisu Crepe Cake cross section

Instead of ladyfingers soaked in coffee in the traditional Italian Tiramisu, there are now coffee-flavoured crepes wonderfully layered with a rich, sweet mascarpone cheese cream filling. If you don’t readily have coffee liqueur at home, feel free to substitute another liquor, such as dark rum, amaretto or the most conventionally used Marsala. Honestly, whatever alcohol you use, it’s going to elevate the flavours and bring your crepe cake to another level. What can I say, it’s the two most iconically romantic western cultures working together to melt hearts. 😉

close up of Tiramisu Crepe Cake

flat lay of Tiramisu Crepe Cake

Ingredients:

For the crepes:

  • 150g (1 1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 5 large eggs
  • 25g white granulated sugar
  • 480ml whole milk
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder melted in 60ml water
  • 60ml melted butter
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur
  • 1 tsp  vanilla

For the filling:

  • 400ml heavy cream, chilled
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 120g icing sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coffee liqueur

Instructions:

Components

  1. Prepare the filling before creating any crepes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, add mascarpone cheese and icing sugar. Using an electric mixer, beat them on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add heavy cream, salt, vanilla, and coffee liqueur. Continue mixing on medium speed until light and fluffy. Don’t overmix, otherwise the over-whipped cream will be grainy and stiff. Refrigerate for later use.
  3. In a second large mixing bowl prepare the crepe batter. Whisk eggs, sugar, and flour until smooth. Add coffee mixture (make sure it has already cooled down to room temperature), milk, butter, sugar, coffee liqueur, and vanilla. Combine well until no lumps can be seen.
  4. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into center of the pan; swirl pan to evenly coat the entire base with batter. Cook for about 1 minute or until the edge can be easily lifted with a spatula. Flip crepe; cook for another 20 seconds. Transfer to a large plate to cool. Repeat with remaining batter. The batter should be enough to make 18-20 crepes. Remember to cool the crepes completely before assembling the cake.

When both the filling and crepes are completely cooled, prepare components for assembly.

Assembly

  1. Place a crepe onto a flat surface as your crepe cake base. Drop 1/4 cup filling onto this base and spread the filling evenly to almost the edges. Continue this process with remaining crepes and filling, leaving the last crepe with no filling.
  2. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top of the cake. Cover the crepe cake with plastic wrap or put it in an airtight container. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight to let the cake set nicely. Enjoy! 




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Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll side view
There are zillions (emphasis on the z) of desserts that I haven’t tried making yet. But I am proud to say I unlocked another achievement today – a soft, fluffy cake roll. And this is a special one. The old saying goes there is light without dark, this dessert embraces this very notion – with its dark outer layers contrasted by its sweet, white whipped cream centre.Charcoal Black Sesame Cake RollHow is it so black though? A blend of two intriguing Asian staples – charcoal and sesame powder. Each of them adds a level of shade to the colour, while the sesame acts as a major source of that nutty, roasted flavour. Also, as I want my cake to be delicately sweet, I simply used whipped cream as my filling. Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll side viewNote that a cake roll can be a bit tricky to handle for the first time; but once you got the techniques right, it’s not that hard at all to make. Anna Olson’s tutorial of Jelly Roll Cakes on Youtube was a big help for this. Although I didn’t exactly follow her instructions in preparing the cake batter, I highly recommend that you closely watch how she handles the cake roll when out of the oven, creates the cake roll memories, and then roll it back with fillings. However, please mind that instead of dusting icing sugar onto the towel, I used charcoal powder as I wanted to retain the black exterior of the cake roll. Slice of Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll If you want to learn all the basic techniques of baking, do check out her channel. Trust me, Anna is no doubt the best baking teacher. She clearly explains how and why she does what she does in each video. Every time I learn so much from her.Charcoal Black Sesame Cake Roll slice top view Hope you’ll have a great weekend ahead!

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 40ml milk
  • 40ml vegetable oil (I used canola)
  • 50g cake flour 
  • 8g charcoal powder
  • 8g sesame powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • 50g icing sugar, sifted

Filling:

  • 180ml (¾ cup) heavy cream

For dusting:

  • 2-3 tbsp extra charcoal powder

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C).
  2. Line a rectangular cake tin (25cm x 30cm x 1.5cm) with parchment paper. Slight grease the parchment paper with oil to avoid sticking.
  3. In a mixing bowl, add egg yolks, milk and oil. Mix well – this is your wet ingredients.
  4. In a second mixing bowl, sift in and combine well flour, charcoal powder, sesame powder, baking powder and salt. This mix is your dry ingredients.
  5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients in 3 in three stages while mixing. Combine well but don’t overmix.
  6. In a third bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add sifted icing sugar using a tablespoon, and beat until soft peak forms. This will take about 5 mins. Gently fold the meringue into the cake batter in 3 additions.
    (For the parts below, instructions are copied from the Food Network’s Classic Raspberry Jelly Roll recipe with some changes.) 
  7. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake tin.
  8. Bake the cake for 11-12 minutes, until the cake springs back when gently pressed in the centre. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 2 minutes on a cooling rack before loosening sides with a spatula.
  9. Sift a layer of charcoal powder over the surface of the cake and cover with a clean tea towel. Place a second cake pan over the towel and quickly invert the cake, removing the pan it was baked in. Peel off the parchment paper and dust this surface with icing sugar. Roll the cake up from the 10-inch side with the towel and let it cool completely for about 45 mins (cooling it rolled sets its “memory” so the cake won’t crack once filled). 
  10. 5 mins before the cake is completely cool, prepare the whipped cream. Pour chilled heavy whipping cream into a mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat the cream on slow speed for about 2 mins, then increase the speed gradually until it reaches a soft, creamy texture.
  11. Unroll the cake carefully and spread an even layer of cream over the cake. Gently roll the cake back up again before dusting the top with charcoal powder. Refrigerate for 30 mins to let the cream set. Enjoy!
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