Thursday, 2 March 2017

Matcha Cake with Red Bean and Whipped Cream

It is not a naked cake, I know. It is not excessively decorated with flowers, I also know. We are just taking a small break from your regularly scheduled programming. Do not worry. We are still in a place where butter usage is highly encouraged and cake is extremely delicious. I emphasize the word delicious because matcha is used. AIYA Matcha is used and there is a sweetened red bean paste. There are also matcha Pocky sticks you can munch on while you are decorating the cake. Not too terrible of a disruption from regularly scheduled programming, right?

Matcha has always been one of my favourite flavours. I feel like everyone has a flavour they always gravitate towards - whether it is vanilla or chocolate or salted caramel, mine has always been matcha. It is the complex flavour of matcha that keeps me going back for more. It is vegetal, it is clean, it is bitter, but it also has the most unique sweetness that balances the aforementioned flavours out. Previously I have combined the flavours of matcha and black sesame but this time I am using the classic combination of matcha and red bean. There are two layers of buttery matcha cake. Just matcha, because we want to let it shine. The two cake layers sandwich a smooth and lightly sweetened red bean paste. It is the covered with a simple whipped cream to lighten it up. And matcha Pocky...because Pocky is always fun. If you are not a big Pocky fan, you can always skip it, but you might just get some slight judgement from me for not liking these coated biscuit sticks.

Matcha Cake with Red Bean and Whipped Cream
Yields one two layer 6-inch cake

3/4 cup 2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoon AIYA cooking grade matcha
200 ml milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sweetened red bean paste, store-bought or homemade
1 cup whipping cream
3 packets of Matcha Pocky or any matcha biscuit sticks

Matcha Cake with Red Bean and Whipped Cream
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare two cake pans.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, matcha, and salt.

With the mixer on low, add half of the dry ingredients while gradually pouring in half of the milk. 

Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and milk. Mix until just combined. 

Divide the batter into the two prepared cake pans and bake for 35 - 37 minute, or until skewer comes out clean when inserted. 

Let cakes cool before assembling. Prepare whipping cream while cakes are cooling.

Level cooled cake layers if necessary. Place first cake layer down.

With a spoon, spread an even layer of the red bean paste from the centre of the cake outwards. Leave the edges of the cake clean.

Fill a pastry bag with whipped cream and pipe a border around the red bean filling.

Place second cake layer on top. 

Using an offset spatula, spread a thin layer of whipped cream on the sides of the cake. You can be more generous with the whipped cream for the top. The thin layer of whipped cream will serve as "glue" for the biscuit sticks. You don't want too much whipped cream on the sides of the cake or it might show ooze out in between the biscuit sticks.

Place pocky sticks, dipped side down, around the cake until cake has been covered. Tie a ribbon around the cake.

Place strawberries or any berries on top to create a dome of fruit. Decorate with small flowers.

Thank you AIYA Matcha for collaborating with me on this post and supporting Constellation Inspiration!

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Rosé Cake with Strawberry & Vanilla Buttercream

Happy Valentine's Day! Remember how I posted a sneak peek of this cake on my Instagram sometime around New Year? Yes. I intended this festive rosé cake to make it to the blog in time for New Year celebrations. I had the best intentions. But since I am incompetent in the realm of time management, it did not make it to the blog. But I am presenting it to you now (recipe perfected and the works) in time for Valentine's Day. Or Galentine's Day, whichever one you rather celebrate. This cake would be the perfect pièce de résistence at a Galentine's Day brunch in my opinion.

The real reason why I did not post this sooner is because I kept playing around with the recipe. The first few times I made the cake I did not love it. I liked it but did not love it. One version of the cake tasted too boozy while another version tasted quite bland. After a few more tries playing around with the amount of rosé to other wet ingredients, I got it down. I would love to say that you can use any type of rosé or sparkling wine but I cannot say that for certain. If it is any help, I used something affordable and of an alcoholic content of 5%. I tried the recipe using a sparkling rosé that was 12% and it tasted very boozy. A bit too boozy for my liking. If you want it to have a stronger rosé flavour, feel free to sub the one-third cup of milk for rosé as well. If you are using anything stronger, I would recommend keeping the rosé and milk ratio as is. 

This rosé cake is much like a classic vanilla cake, a perfect canvas for adding other flavours. I paired my cake with strawberries - in the form of jam, buttercream, and the actual fruit. The cake layers sandwich a strawberry jam, is frosted with a vanilla and strawberry swiss meringue buttercream, and is topped with fresh strawberries and blackberries. I would love to make a mimosa version of this cake with champagne and have it sandwiching a vibrant and dreamy orange curd. I would then demand for it to become a requirement for weekend brunches from then on. Why drink a mimosa when you can eat it?

Baking with alcohol is interesting. It is definitely teaching me lots. I have been (partially) subbing different types of alcohol in cake recipes I trust and love and seeing what happens and how the flavours change. I am currently on a mission to make the perfect red wine chocolate cake. I have seen red wine chocolate cake recipes online and in cookbooks but I want to adapt my favourite chocolate cake recipe into a red wine chocolate cake recipe. I currently use coffee in my chocolate cake recipe to strengthen the chocolate flavours but apparently you cannot just sub wine for coffee in a cake recipe. So far I am not having too much luck with the wine. My first red wine chocolate cake tasted so bad I almost promised myself I would give up on the idea of it. Seriously though, it was one of the worst cakes to come out of any kitchen. Hopefully one day you will see a red wine chocolate cake recipe on this blog - you can be proud of me then because that will be a complete accomplishment for me.

Rosé Cake with Strawberry Vanilla Buttercream
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Rosé Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup rosé or sparkling wine
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Strawberry jam or jam of choice

Vanilla & Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter, cubed, at room temperature
2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon freeze-dried strawberry powder (optional)

Rosé Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and grease three cake pans.

In a standing mixer with a paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar together. Gradually add in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk to combine flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a large measuring cup, combine the rosé and the milk.

Add half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on slow to combine. Gradually pour in the wet ingredients and add in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.

Divide the mixture evenly among the prepared cake pans and bake for 30-32 minutes. Check for doneness a few minutes before the 30 minute mark by using a toothpick - if the toothpick comes out clean, you're good to go. You can also test for doneness by gently pressing your finger on the cake - it should spring back up.

Vanilla & Strawberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Place egg whites and sugar into a stainless steel or glass bowl, and place the bowl over a sauce pan of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not be touching the water. Continuously whisk the egg whites and sugar together until sugar has melted.

Remove bowl from heat and beat mixture on high until the egg white and sugar mixture is white and fluffy.

Once the mixture has cooled a bit, start adding butter gradually. Add vanilla. This is the part where you have to trust that the buttercream will turn out. It might look kind of lumpy and not buttercream-esque, but just keep on mixing.

For the strawberry buttercream: take a bit of the vanilla swiss meringue buttercream (roughly 1/3 cup) and fold in the freeze-dried strawberry powder with a rubber spatula. Fold until powder is evenly distributed and does not leave streaks.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Coconut Cake with Coconut White Miso Buttercream

I love the internet! I love it because I have been having v good luck regarding meeting v cool people on the internet. Sorry mom, I have indeed been talking to strangers. But I promise they are all nice people. They also all make great looking cakes and take equally amazing photos. I am being responsible, I swear.

2016 was real good to me in terms of meeting other people who are passionate about the whole baking and blogging situation. I got to do my first blog collaboration (with Kelsey!) and it was more than just not that bad. Actually it went really well. So well that we collaborated a few more times. Despite a slight cake catastrophe that had us in tears at 2am in my small apartment, we pulled through and we are always dreaming about what we can do next. I also made a pie with Tessa! Well she deserves most of the credit because I was too distracted by a cartoon that was playing in the background to really contribute that much. And then I also met (virtually met) my bb Thalia, Butter and Brioche. We talk everyday and try to keep our Snapchat streak lit. We became such good friends that I only wept one tear (instead of the Nile River) when the lady at the post office told me the shipping for her Christmas gift was $48.

I just word vomited trying to prove to y'all that I kinda have people who are willing to put up with me friends. 

PS. PS. PS. Kelsey and I are celebrating our friendiversary today! We met and did our first collab a year ago! Read her blog post on our cake date here.

Back to the cake. Cakes. Kelsey came to hang out with me and brought cakes. I also made cakes. We thought making one cake was not enough. So we made four. Kelsey brought her cakes un-decorated so we could decorate (and photograph the decorating process) together. I quickly layered and iced mine quickly so we would not lose too much daylight to photograph everything. 

Kelsey made the most amazing chocolate cake with dark chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. Everything about it was complete perfection - the cake was incredibly moist and the chocolate swiss meringue buttercream she made? It was extremely silky smooth. Kelsey also brought over a delightful angel food cake studded with gold confetti and covered with a crispy meringue frosting. I could not stop eating it. 

As for me, I made two cakes as well. A four-layer chamomile cake with bumbleberry jam and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream and a three-layer coconut cake with coconut white miso buttercream. I have been loving miso (or just savoury components in general) in baked goods. I made A Cozy Kitchen's miso white chocolate chip cookies not too long ago and I have been seeing pops of miso here and there in all sorts of baked goods. The addition of miso does not necessarily make the buttercream a savoury frosting. It adds a little richness and balance to a otherwise simple buttercream. It is like how some people prefer adding a generous sprinkle of sea salt on cookies or dark chocolate desserts. I actually carry around a tiny tin of maldon salt with me in my purse regularly, just in case I wanted to add a small sprinkle to a rich chocolate brownie or dark chocolate sorbet. The savoury miso in the buttercream makes the overall flavour more complex and interesting. I would suggest that you add miso in small increments and taste as you go along. Different brands and kinds (red versus white vs others) can vary greatly in terms of the amount of sodium. Add a teaspoon of miso at a time to make sure you do not end up with a overly salty buttercream. Not a fan of miso? Feel free to simply omit it from your buttercream. 

Coconut Cake with Coconut White Miso Buttercream
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Coconut Cake
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
200 ml full-fat coconut milk
100 ml milk

Coconut White Miso Buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups icing sugar
3 tablespoon full-fat coconut milk
2 - 3 teaspoon white miso, according to taste

Coconut Cake
Preheat oven to 350F and prepare three 6-inch cake pans.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream together butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time and mix well.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and shredded coconut.

Combine coconut milk and milk in a separate cup.

Alternating between the milk and dry ingredients, gradually incorporate the two to the butter-sugar mixture. Careful not to overmix.

Transfer batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 28 - 30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Coconut White Miso Buttercream
With a mixer, beat the butter and icing sugar until pale and fluffy. 

Add the coconut milk and mix well.

Add the white miso, one teaspoon at a time. Taste the buttercream as you go along. You can add more or less miso depending on how much of a subtle savoury note you would like. 

I know what y'all thinking right now. What did we do with all the cake after we finished shooting? We ate a generous portion of the cakes Kelsey made that evening on my couch while browsing Pinterest and reading baking books together. The rest? We saved it for our family. In my case, the cakes are probably still in the freezer. My parents always tell me to stop saving them so many baked goods because they are concerned about their health. Sorry mom and dad but thank you for letting me fill our freezer with cakes and pies that we do not end up finishing in timely manner - love you. (They are currently munching on an apple custard tart that will be making an appearance on the blog soon.)