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Yuen Yeung – Hong Kong Style Milk Tea & Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake and Feuilletine

This stunning Hong Kong-inspired Milk Tea and Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake is a winner – smooth and creamy in every bite as it harmoniously combines the flavours of coffee and milk tea!   

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The inspiration of this dessert comes from the famous, humble Yuen Yeung well beloved by all Hong Kongers. Yuen Yeung (in Cantonese pronunciation), commonly known as Kopi Cham in Malaysia, is a popular beverage in Hong Kong’s cha chaan teng. Mixing strong coffee and Hong Kong style milk tea in the right ratio, you get a sweet and creamy drink that’s perfect served either hot or cold.

I transformed the concept into a two-layer panna cotta with the addition of flourless chocolate cake and some golden feuilletine. I always like the idea of making panna cotta in a wine glass, well, maybe because to me the shine of the glass automatically elevates the look of the final result.  Am I right? 

Yuen Yeung - Milk Tea Coffee Panna Cotta with Flourless Chocolate Cake

Just a little update of my recent life – I’ve been working hard for my placement and my body apparently wasn’t used to the high physical demand from work and it crashed… So here I am, snuggling up in blanket resting, while writing this post after much delay.

 

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My friend mentioned the word “adulting” when we chatted a few days ago, and the word just hits me. I guess “adulting” is something that can only be understood when experienced yourself. After I got my full time job, my life has been so preoccupied that my days seem to be set on repeat. Workplace is so much different from school – at school, when you screw up, it is all expected and there’ll be teachers to correct you and show you the right ways to do things; but in workplace, you got more responsibility on your shoulders and when you screw up, you screw up. It makes me feel the need to pay more attention to details while multitasking in the kitchen. Well.. at the end of the day, one thing that doesn’t change is that pastry fuels me.

P.S And you might have noticed that the styling of this series of pictures is different from the rest. It is all thanks to my newly bought “photography box” with its own LED lights. It is an immense help to me with my busy schedule, in the sense that I no longer have to solely rely on the sunlight as my light source for my photoshoot! But obviously I still need to learn more about how to use it properly. I hope you will enjoy the recipe!

Ingredients:

Milk Tea Jelly

  • 20g caster sugar
  • 250g water
  • 5 black tea bags
  • 250g evaporated milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50g cold water

Coffee Panna Cotta

  • 50g brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp instant coffee powder
  • 300g cream
  • 100g full-cream milk
  • 2 tsp gelatin
  • 50 g cold water

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 60g brown sugar
  • 80g egg yolks
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 120g egg white
  • 140g almond meal

Notes:

  1. I created the layer effect by positioning the glass on a circular cutter in a way that the glass tilts. Therefore, before you start doing anything, make sure you have the right glass and a cutter that serves the purpose.
  2. The bottom layer has to set completely (which takes about 4 hours) before the second layer is poured in. So you need to plan ahead.

Directions:

Milk Tea Jelly

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water.
  2. Put caster sugar and water in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Put the tea bag into the water-gelatin mixture, and let the tea infuse for 20-30 mins. After the infusion, squeeze out all the liquid inside the tea bag before throwing them away.
  4. Add evaporated milk and mix gently.
  5. Pour the mixture into the glasses, and put the glass onto a circular cutter, and tilt it to an angle that you want. Keep in fridge to set for around 4 hours. (you can prepare the flourless chocolate cake meanwhile)

Coffee Panna Cotta

  1. Bloom the gelatin with cold water
  2. Put brown sugar, coffee powder, cream in a saucepan and bring it to a light boil. Turn the heat off. Put in the bloomed gelatin and mix with a whisk until completely dissolved.
  3. Add in the milk and mix gently. 
  4. When the milk tea jelly is set. Remove the cutter and pour the mixture into the glass. Keep in fridge to set for another 4 hours.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Note: as we are just using pieces of this chocolate cake as the topping, you can use whatever cake mould you want to suit your purposes. I used a 23cm square cake tin.

  1. Grease and line your cake tin. Set aisde. Preheat oven to 160C.
  2. Using a double boiler, melt butter. Add dark chocolate and whisk until completely melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add in brown sugar and egg yolks. Whisk until incorporated. Set aside.
  4. Make meringue (soft peak) with egg whites and caster sugar.
  5. Fold ⅓ of the meringue into the chocolate mixture and combine well.
  6. Fold in the almond meal.
  7. Fold in the remaining ⅔ meringue into the mixture and combine well.
  8. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Bake at 160C for 45-50mins, or until a skewered inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Assembly:

  1. Take out some pieces from the flourless chocolate cakes with your hand and carefully put on top of the panna cotta. If desired, put some Feuilletine coated with gold lustre powder like I did.
  2. Enjoy the dessert cold.

 

2 comments
Because Why Not – Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jam Cake with Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting




This joyful looking cake came into existence for two reasons. First, apparently I loved making chocolate desserts too much and I must stay away from it (right?). Second, it doesn’t hurt to go for some classic sometimes. By classic, I mean the marriage of salty and sweet – Peanut Butter & Jelly – made famous by Americans. Of course, this combination shouldn’t be limited to a breakfast/snack sandwich; think about it, if it works brilliantly between two slices of bread, it surely can make a great cake too.

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I originally designed this layer cake for my friend’s birthday, and this is a new recipe modified mainly to improve the cake’s texture. My first PB&J cake was bit on the dry and tough side. Therefore, in my second attempt, I put in more eggs and oil, and I also decided to fold meringue into the cake batter at last instead of incorporating whole eggs. Such changes increased the volume of the cake with richer taste and finer structure.

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One indispensable component of this cake is the jam. The slightly tart strawberry jam with a citrus touch perfectly undercuts the richness of the buttercream. People who have been in my baking life would know that I always prefer making things from scratch, for I want to have great control of my baked goods (here comes the even greater satisfaction afterwards!). I couldn’t resist making my own strawberry jam for the cake (see note for instructions), but again, you can by all means purchase your favourite jam :). Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

(make one 6-inch cake)

For the Cake:

  • 1 ½ cup (188g) cake flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup (58g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) crunchy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup (75g) granulated sugar
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites + 25g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Peanut Butter Swiss Buttercream Frosting:

  • ¾ cup (150g) white granulated sugar
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tar tar
  • 1 ½ ( (345g) cups unsalted butter, softened  
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) creamy peanut butter

For the homemade strawberry jam (or ½ cup store bought jam)

  • 250g  strawberries
  • 4 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice and zest of

Toppings:

  • Fresh strawberry slices
  • Extra peanut butter swiss buttercream

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F (175C)
  2. Line one 6 inch cake with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, thoroughly sift in and combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In another mixing bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites, icing sugar and cream of tar tar. Using an electric beater, beat on high speed until soft peak forms. Transfer the meringue into another bowl; set aside.  
  5. Using the same mixing bowl you used to make the meringue, 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.
  6. Add eggs yolks, one at a time, peanut butter and vanilla. Continue to beat at medium speed until well combined.
  7. Add the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture in three batches. Mix on low speed until no flour can be seen.
  8. Finally, gently fold the prepared meringue into the cake batter with a spatula. Mix gently with folding motion until just incorporated.
  9. Pour the mixture evenly into the prepared cake tin. Tap the pans several times to break any air bubbles. Bake for 50 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 peanut butter swiss buttercream.

For the Peanut butter Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add vanilla and peanut butter, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with a round tip for later use.

Assembly:

  1. Level the cake layers by slicing the top curve of the cakes with a sharp knife to achieve a flat surface.
  2. Cut the cake into three even layers.
  3. 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).
  4. Now we do the crumb coat first.
  5. Pipe a generous amount of frosting evenly on the cake layer. Using an offset spatula, spread the frosting carefully and top it a thin layer of strawberry jam.
  6. Top it with the second cake layer and repeat step 5, and top it with the third cake layer.
  7. Frosting the top and sides of the cakes. Get a nice, smooth coat of icing with a bench scraper or a spatula.
  8. 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.
  9. Pipe dollops of cream onto the cake, put thin strawberry slices and spinkle cocoa powder as garnish if desired.
  10. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour.

Note:
Instructions for the homemade strawberry jam: 

  1. Prepare the strawberries by washing them and drying them with a kitchen towel. Remove their stems. Crush strawberries in batches or cut them into small cubes.
  2. In a heavy bottomed saucepan, mix together the strawberries, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase heat to high, and bring the mixture to a full rolling boil. Boil for 5-10 mins until the jam has reached 105C, then turn off the heat.
  3. Let the jam cool to room temperature. Put the jam into jars and refrigerate until ready for use.

Yum




8 comments
Golden Haze – Ferrero Rocher Cupcake with Nutella Swiss Buttercream Frosting

Today let’s forget about going on (or thinking of going on – got you) diet, and just indulge ourselves in these golden goodness. These ferrero hazelnut cupcakes are simply perfect for celebratory occasions, because they’re

  • visually appealing
  • Sophisticated
  • indulgent

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There’s a story behind this creation – my mum’s colleague tried my baked goods at work and asked me to prepare cupcakes for her wedding. As nervous as I usually am, I low-key panicked a little (okay actually A LOT) and have been wracking my brain to think about what I should make in order not to disappoint. Red Velvet? Carrot Cake? Oreo & Cream? As I started to get frustrated this idea suddenly popped up in my mind – thank God – and I decided to go along with it.

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Instead of conventional American buttercream, I opted for Swiss Buttercream for the cupcake frosting. Basically, making swiss buttercream requires an extra step of heating up egg whites and sugar in a double boiler, before you turn the egg white mixture into fluffy, glossy meringue. This method is highly sought-after, because 

1) it in general yields a more delicate & refined texture and taste
2) it does seem that the butter ratio in the frosting is significantly lowered

I followed the instructions given by Tessa on https://www.handletheheat.com/how-to-make-perfect-swiss-meringue-buttercream/with some minor adjustment. If you happen to encounter problems while making your swiss buttercream (it happens), do check this link out http://www.thebrewerandthebaker.com/archives/7640. It was a great help for me.

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For the cupcakes themselves, I tried to incorporate some hazelnut elements into the cake batter, namely hazelnut meals and roasted hazelnut chocolate. And I’d be condemned if I dared to miss using the mighty hazelnut spread, Nutella, for my swiss buttercream, right? To complement the rich nutty flavours and to yield a refreshing and balanced final taste, I added a little bit tangy orange zest as well. I have to say, they brought so much more character and vibrancy to the cupcakes! Psss, If your greedy self wants to bring the cupcake’s luxuriousness to whole new level, edible gold paint is the way to go. Spread joy and love with these beautiful treats, people 😉

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Ingredients:

(make 15-16 cupcakes)

Cupcake: 

  • 1 ½  cup (188g) all purpose flour
  • 100g hazelnut meal
  • ¼  cup (25g) cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup (115g) butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) vegetable oil ( I used canola oil)
  • ½ cup (113g) caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ cup (60ml) coffee, room temperature (2 tsp instant coffee powder melted in 1/4 cup (60ml) of water)
  • ½ cup (120ml) whole milk
  • 1 tsp (5ml) vanilla
  • 50g roasted hazelnut chocolate, melted (or you can use dark chocolate instead)
  • 1/2 orange, zest of

Nutella swiss buttercream:

  • 5 egg whites
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 280g chopped unsalted butter, soft
  • 50g Nutella
  • pinch of salt

Topping:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Ferrero
  • toasted hazelnut, chopped

Instructions:

For the cupcake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175C) . Line pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a mixing bowl, sift and combine flour, hazelnut meal, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt. Set aside.  
  3. In another mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, oil, and sugar on medium high speed until creamy and smooth. This will take around 4-5 mins.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, and continue beating for 1 min. Add coffee, milk and melted chocolate, vanilla, and cointreau. Continue beating for 30 secs.
  5. In 3 batches, pour the prepared dry ingredients into the mixture, and gently stir with a spatula until incorporated. Don’t overmix.
  6. Fill cupcake liners to nearly full and bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the cupcake’s centre comes out clean.

For the Nutella Swiss Buttercream:

  1. Add  egg whites and sugar to an oil-free bowl. Using a double boiling method, gently heat the egg whites mixture up, while whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 140F (60C).  The sugar should have completely dissolved at this stage.
  2. Add the hot egg white-sugar mixture to your electric mixer mixing bowl (oil-free). Whip on high speed until the meringue is thick and glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels cool. This will take about 7-10 mins.
  3. Turn to medium-low speed, gradually add the softened butter cubes, one at a time, until incorporated. Continue beating until a silky smooth texture is reached. Add Nutella and salt, and beat until well combined.
  4. Pipe the buttercream onto the cupcakes with your favourite piping tip, and put a Ferrero Rocher, some chopped hazelnuts, and sprinkle sifted cocoa powder on top as decoration if desired.

Yum




5 comments
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
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.

 

 

15 comments
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!
4 comments
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! 




6 comments
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!
7 comments
Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache
I’m not gonna lie; a fluffy chiffon cake had been on my to-make list for ages, so I’m so thrilled that I finally made it happen! I think some of you might be able to relate – when you’re truly into something, you simply want to do it however you feel that day. Take myself as an example, I think about food almost every waking moment and would use baking as an excuse for EVERYTHING. Like today, feeling beaten up physically after a rough night, I decided to bake off some of the tiredness with this superb recipe👌🏻. Side view of Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey GanacheSo, for this chiffon cake, I went against the normally lighter approach to chiffon cake, and used a combination of Hojicha (aka roasted green tea), dark chocolate and whiskey. They’re three flavours that are equally bitter and complex, instantly invoking a feeling of maturity. What’s more, I only realised later that they’re all elements deeply ingrained in Japanese culture. From the cold tip of Hokkaido down to the summery bays of Okinawa, the core of such tastes is tied to the purity of nature. Doesn’t that sound amazing? 😉

Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

As this is my first attempt of making a chiffon cake, I adapted the recipe of Green Tea Chiffon Cake by Just One CookBook. I am a big fan of the author, as she explains everything slowly and clearly, and I LOVE authentic home-style Japanese food. Feel free to pair the cake with fresh cream or fruits; but I wouldn’t mind having it on its own. Make this delicious treat for yourself and let me know how it goes!!

Close detail of Hojicha Chiffon Cake with Hazelnut Dark Chocolate Whiskey Ganache

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 3 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 30 g caster sugar
  • 3 tbsp (40ml) canola oil
  • 4 tbsp (60ml) milk
  • 75 g (⅔ cup) cake flour
  • 1 tbsp (10g) hojicha powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla

For the meringue:

  • 3 egg whites, room temperature
  • 60g caster sugar
  • pinch of salt

For the ganache:

  • 100g 70% dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100g heavy cream
  • 20g butter
  • 2 tbsp whiskey

For the toppings:

  • 1/4 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Instructions:

For the cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 340F (170C).
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks and caster sugar (30g) until light and pale. Add canola oil, milk and vanilla, and whisk until well combined.
  3. Sift in cake flour, hojicha powder, and baking powder to the egg yolk mixture. Mix until totally incorporated.
  4. In another bowl (make sure it’s oil free), add egg whites and salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at high speed until foamy. Gradually add the caster sugar (60g) using a tablespoon, and beat until all sugar dissolves and soft peak forms. This will take about 5 mins. Gently fold the meringue into the cake mixture in 3 additions.
  5. Pour the mixture into the ungreased 17cm chiffon cake pan (please do NOT grease your pan or otherwise your chiffon cake won’t stick to the pan and therefore collapse while baking). Tap the pan a few times to release air bubbles.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  7. The cake must be cooled upside down; balance the chiffon pan on a tall heavy bottle using the pan indent. Leave until the cake is completely cool before removing it.
  8. To remove cleanly, keeping the pan upside down and use a thin sharp knife or thin offset spatula, running it gently around the cake.
  9. Place the serving plate on top of the cake (which will now become the base of the cake) and flip over. The cake should pop out easily.

For the ganache:

  1. Add the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  2. In a saucepan, add cream, butter, and salt. Bring it just to boil over medium-high heat. Turn off the heat.
  3. Pour the cream mixture over chocolate. Let stand for 10 mins and don’t stir to prevent it from going grainy.
  4. Stir the mixture with a whisk until smooth and shiny. Add whiskey and mix well.
  5. Pour over the chiffon cake and top it with chopped hazelnuts.
6 comments