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.)

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cake (Happy Chinese New Year!)

Happy Chinese New Year! I am taking a brief (v brief) break from my nian gao eating ways to share this mandarin orange upside down cake recipe with y'all. Do you celebrate Chinese New Year? Do you have any Chinese New Year traditions? Is eating my body weight in nian gao considered a tradition? This is my first time celebrating Chinese New Year with a cake that isn't nian gao, turnip cake, or taro cake. This is also my first time making any sort of upside down cake - but for sure this will not be the last time that I make one. 

Before y'all get riled up and yell at me for not knowing what people actually eat during Chinese New Year, I just wanted to say that your homegirl does know. I will be eating plenty of dumplings, uber long noodles, rice balls, and other spherical carbohydrates. I wanted to make something that was true to me and my blog, but with a Chinese New Year twist. To add some Chinese New Year fun to a traditional pineapple or orange upside down cake, I decided to use mandarin oranges instead. Mandarin oranges are popular during Chinese New Year because the Chinese word for 'mandarin orange' sounds exactly like the word for 'gold.' Gold equals prosperity, and in Chinese culture, we are all about that (haha). Besides mandarin oranges, blood orange makes a tiny appearance just because they are so beautiful in colour. 

While recipe testing for this cake, I toyed around with variations of this cake where I took off the citrus rinds and variations that kept the peel. My initial thought was that the rind would make the cake tart and bitter, but also wanted to keep it on because of aesthetics. After playing around with the citrus fruits and slicing them in different ways, I found that cutting the oranges really thin with the rind on made a very delicious (and equally beautiful) cake. The rinds get really soft and sweet when you bake it underneath the cake batter. Using mandarin oranges also meant that I had thinner rinds, aka less to worry about! Whether you keep the rind on or take the rind off, the cake will be delicious and very fragrant. If you have a citrus fruit with a thicker rind on hand, you may want to consider carefully taking the peel off.

Whether you decide to go the more traditional route and use oranges or pineapple for the cake, the butter cake batter would still complement it very nicely. And no matter what fruit you use, remember to grease your pans really well and use parchment to line the bottom so the sticky, caramelized fruit slices do not get stuck to the cake pan. Happy baking and happy Chinese New Year!

Mandarin Orange Upside Down Cake
Yields one 8-inch cake

Mandarin and Blood Orange Layer
3 - 4 mandarin oranges
1 small blood orange
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Vanilla Butter Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 1/4 all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
200ml whole milk
2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350F.

Prepare an 8-inch cake pan by lining the bottom with parchment and greasing the pan all over. Using parchment (especially for this recipe) makes removing the cake from the pan much easier - it will prevent some oranges slices from sticking to the pan and prevent the oranges from getting too brown. Sprinkle granulated sugar where you have greased the pan. This will prevent the cake from sticking and will caramelize the orange slices beautifully.

Thoroughly wash the oranges. With a sharp knife, slice the mandarin oranges into very thin slices, about 1/2cm in thickness. Remove any seeds in orange slices. Do the same with the blood orange.

Using the larger centre pieces of sliced oranges first, line the bottom cake pan. Alternate between mandarin orange and blood orange slices. You will have smaller oranges slices leftover; do not feel like you have to use up all the slices. Once you have finished lining the cake pan, set cake pan aside.

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

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

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

Transfer batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Let cake cool for 5 minutes before flipping cake over onto a plate to let cool completely.