15 June 2019

Flamingo Pink Velvet Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

I actually made this cake last summer, when last year’s rhubarb was in season and strawberries were in abundance at the farmers markets. I made the cake toward the end of rhubarb season and was not quick enough to get my act together and write a full blog post for the cake. So here we are, 11 months later. This cake consists of layers of vanilla cake with freeze-dried strawberry powder folded in the batter for its pink colour, the best strawberry rhubarb compote (and I mean THE best), and vanilla swiss meringue buttercream. Because I made you wait a whole year for this, I am going to skip all the chit chat and get right to the recipe. Even if you do not make the cake, make the compote. I always have a big batch handy of it in my fridge. The compote is just as amazing on top of plain yogurt, on toast, or on oatmeal. I recently put a generous dollop of it inside homemade pop tarts and it was the perfect picnic treat.
If you need any other cute-birds-on-the-side-of-a-cake inspo, this swan cake is for youuuuuu!

Flamingo Pink Velvet Cake with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
Yields one three-layer 6-inch cake

Pink Velvet Cake
1 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar 
1 tablespoon clear imitation vanilla extract 
2 eggs 
3 egg yolks
3 cups minus 2 tablespoon all-purpose flour 
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon salt 
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoon sour cream 
1 cup whole milk
3 tablespoons freeze-dried strawberry powder 

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Grease three 6-inch round cake pans.

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients together. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine milk and sour cream. Set aside.

With a stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. On medium speed, beat butter with sugar and vanilla until the mixture is fluffy and pale in colour.

Add eggs and eggs yolks, one at a time, making sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.

Add in half of the flour mixture and half of the milk mixture.  Mix on low until just incorporated.

Add the remainder of the ingredients and mix until just combined.

Gently fold in freeze-dried strawberry powder. Do not mix fully to achieve pink marbling effect.

Pour batter into prepared cake pans. Bake for 34 - 36 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Cool cakes on a wire rack for about 15 minutes before remove cakes from pans to cool completely.

Strawberry Rhubarb Compote
1 cup (100g) rhubarb, trimmed and chopped
1 cup (145g) strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

In a heavy medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.

When the butter has melted, add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Allow to cook, undisturbed, for 2 minutes.

Gently stir and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the rhubarb is tender and juices become thick (10 to 15 minutes).

Remove from heat and let compote cool.

Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
4 egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
1 tablespoom vanilla extract

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg whites and granulated sugar and gently whisk by hand.

Fill a sauce pan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the mixer bowl with the egg white mixture on top to create a double-boiler. The water should be kept at a simmer but should not touch the bottom of the bowl. 

While stirring the mixture, heat the egg white mixture the sugar has dissolved.

Once all the sugar gas dissolved, return the bowl to the stand mixer.  

With the whisk attachment on the mixer, beat the mixture on high speed for about 7 - 8 minutes.  This will form a shiny, medium-stiff meringue. At this point, the meringue should be close to room temperature.

With the paddle attachment on the mixer and the speed of the mixer set to low, begin adding in the butter a couple cubes at a time.  When the previous addition of butter has been incorporated, add a few more cubes. Repeat until all the butter has been incorporated.

Once the butter has been mixed in, the vanilla extract.

Turn the mixer up to medium speed and mix until silky smooth. 

Happy baking!

9 June 2019

Roasted Fig and Aniseed Financiers

I think the humble little financier is one of the most underrated and under-appreciated pastries. I am often guilty of not giving this little gâteau more love — it is never at the top of my mind whenever I am thinking what to bake or what I should order at the bakeshop. I think I started eating financiers without knowing I was eating a financier — it often came unexpectedly with my mid-day café allongé and part of a petit fours plate at the end of the meal. The unexpected treat was always a delightful treat despite not fully knowing what it was. All I knew when tasting these little cakes was that how they are not just any other cake. Enriched with nuts, leavened with egg whites, and moistened with brown butter, they are a bit denser and richer than what we would normally associate with 'cake.' They come in different sizes, shapes, and even flavours but the classic almond financier in a rectangular shape remains the most popular. I would totally geek out over the history of the financier if I could (you can read more about them here in this NYT article!)  but I will not do so today because this post's purpose is not just to celebrate the financier but also to celebrate something even more exciting.

Today's financier recipe is brought to you by Marie Asselin's new book French Appetizers! Marie's beautiful cookbook is a collection of recipes that are perfect to serve when you are hosting a cute little soirée and to be honest, I would not even think twice about hosting a financier party. Imagine if every guest was ask to bring one type of financier (which would make this a financier potluck!) and what you do all evening is taste and discuss all the variants of this little cake! Marie's financier recipe, which yields the most heavenly fig-studded almond cakes, is not the only recipe I dogeared when I first flipped through it. I cannot wait to make the gruyère and hazelnut sablés, the savory palmiers, and the tapenade and parmesan madeleines. My plan is to tackle all the savoury baking recipes first before I make my way over to the drinks and small bites. I cannot wait. Congratulations on another wonderful book, Marie!

PS. I shared the recipe for Marie's dairy-free lemon bars a year ago. Find the recipe here!

Brown Butter Fig Financiers
From French Appetizers by Marie Asselin
Yields 24 financiers

Roasted Figs
6 plump figs
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup almond flour
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1.2 cup firmly-packed brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon crushed aniseed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
4 large egg whites

Roasted Figs
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Quarter the figs and place into a bowl. Sprinkle with sugar and gently mix to combine.

Spread the figs over the prepared baking sheet, making sure to brush any leftover sugar over the figs. 

Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the figs are soft. Set aside to cool while you prepare the financiers.

Reduce the heat to 350F. Line the cups of 2 muffin pans with parchment paper cups or heavily grease assorted mini tart tins.

In a medium saucepan, heat the butter until completely melted and bubbly. Reduce the heart to medium and keeping simmering, swirling the pot from time to time. If the butter bubbles up, preventing you from seeing the colour changing, lift the pot from the heat for a few seconds until the bubbles recede; return pot to the heat. The butter is ready when the milk solids at the bottom of the pot turn brown and the butter gives off a nutty aroma. Pour the brown butter into a bowl, making sure to scrape all the caramelized bits, and let cool while you prepare the batter.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the flours, sugars, aniseeds, and baking powder together. Add the egg whites and whisk until they are fully incorporated. The mixture will be thick and sticky. Whisk in the brown butter.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter into each prepared muffin cup. Set 1 piece of fig onto each financier. Bake for 12 minutes, until the financiers are golden brown on the edges. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Happy baking!

20 April 2019

White Rabbit Candy Cupcakes

If you asked me what sweets I grew up eating, I would tell you that white rabbit candy (大白兔奶糖) was my candy of choice. Tucked inside the iconic blue, red, and black wrapper, white rabbit candy is a creamy, vanilla-scented candy similar to nougat or taffy in texture. Each candy is wrapped in a printed wax paper wrapper, but within this, the sticky candies are again wrapped in a thin edible paper-like wrapping made from sticky rice, which is meant to be eaten with the candy. The candy has always been quite affordable, being no more than two or three dollars for a large bag, and could be found at most if not all Chinese grocery stores.

As I grew up, my consumption of white rabbit candy decreased (I probably have not had one in years!) and it was not until recently that white rabbit candy came back to my (and apparently everyone's) radar. I first noticed the return of white rabbit candy when I saw Wanderlust Creamy in Los Angeles collaborated with Foodbeast to launch a white rabbit candy ice cream in celebration of Chinese New Year. That ice cream flavour went quite viral. Since those ice cream cones first surfaced the internet, so many iterations of white rabbit candy have popped up including white rabbit cookies (hi Andrew!!), bubble tea, cakes, and more forms of ice cream. I love all these homages to the the original milky candy and would never give up an opportunity to try them.

So here is my homage to my favourite candy — a light vanilla cupcakes topped with the fluffiest white rabbit candy buttercream. White rabbit candies are cooked down in milk to create a white rabbit syrup, which is then whipped into the buttercream. Each cupcake gets its own little candy to make sure you get an extra treat with your treat.

White Rabbit Candy Cupcakes
Yields 6 - 7 cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes

2 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature

3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4  teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoon full-fat sour cream
2 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cupcake pan.

In a bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar until smooth. Add egg and mix until incorporated.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk to combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a measuring cup, combine sour cream, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, and milk.

Add the dry ingredients the butter mixture and while the mixer is running on low, slowly add the milk mixture. Mix until combined.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 way full and bake for 14 - 16 minutes. They are done when they are lightly golden brown and when a toothpick comes out without wet batter stuck to it. 

Let cupcakes cool completely before frosting.

White Rabbit Candy Buttercream
8 pieces white rabbit candy
2 tablespoon milk
2/3 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a small pot over medium heat, combine white rabbit candy and milk. The candy will slowly melt and turn the mixture syrupy. Keep on stirring with a rubber spatula until all the candy has fully melted. Once the candy has all melted, set mixture aside and let cool.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar, one cup at a time, and mix until fully incorporated. Add vanilla and cooled white rabbit candy syrup.

Continue beating buttercream on high speed until fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes.

Transfer buttercream to a piping bag fitted with a piping tip and decorate away.

Happy baking!

14 April 2019

Mermaid Oreo Funfetti Birthday Cake

Every year I make myself a birthday cake (cue last year's peanut butter and jelly cake and 2017's chocolate cake) and despite some big projects that I have been working on, I still managed to make an over-the-top cake for this year's celebration. I ordered these mermaid tail and sea shell chocolate molds quite a while ago, with the intention of making the cake last summer. I then got caught up with making all the other seasonal cakes and cookies and this summery ocean-themed cake got pushed aside. I am glad I 'forgot' about this cake and inadvertently saved it for my birthday. This cake is everything I love — mermaids, pastels, gold accents, overly ornamental cake decorations.

Despite being only a couple months in to 2019, I think 2019 has already been and will continue to be one of the most exciting years for this blog. In the last three months, I accomplished many things that were a first for me: recording simple videos for Instagram to give you different types of content (shaker cookies! buttercream piping!), making conchas despite my fear of working with yeast, and working on my first product collaboration with my favourite chocolate and pastry shop in the city. I also started working on a much larger project which I will be sharing with all of you very soon. At times, this workload gets quite overwhelming — I still work a full-time job and collectively it feels like I am working three jobs at once. On some days, I would have all the room temperature butter on the counter, icing sugar spilled on the floor, and sprinkles rolling across my apartment floor, as I question myself what I am actually doing. It takes some time until I reach some sort of rational conclusion but I eventually get there. It is because nothing beats the feeling of creating the perfect layer cake and the seeing you love and recreate that cake. I then clean up all the spilled sugar and I finish icing my cake so I can share it with you here.

This cake is my birthday cake but I also want it to be a celebration of what 2019 has been and what has yet to come. To me, nothing feels as festive as white cake layers studded with rainbow coloured sprinkles. Funfetti cake will always be my celebratory cake. To add more fun to these layers, I added chopped Oreo cookies to the batter, making this cake a hybrid between funfetti and cookies and cream. This way, I do not have to choose between two of my favourite cake flavours and the multicoloured add-ins represent all the different opportunities this year has to offer. I hope you find many reasons to celebrate this year as well.

Funfetti Oreo Birthday Cake
Yields one three layer 6-inch cake

Funfetti Oreo Cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoon cornstarch 
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 and 1/2 cup granulated sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whole milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Oreo cookies (about 6 - 7 cookies)
1/2 cup sprinkles, preferably jimmies 

Classic Vanilla Buttercream
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 - 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 - 4 tablespoons milk

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

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together sour cream, milk, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter and sugar at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Add egg whites to the butter mixture, in a few increments, making sure the previous addition has been fully mixed in before adding the next.

With the mixer on low, add in half of the dry ingredients followed by the wet ingredients.  Add the second half of the dry ingredients and mix until combined.

With a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chopped Oreo cookies and sprinkles.

Divide the batter between the three pans and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean.

Cool on a wire rack for 10 to 15 minutes before removing the cakes from their pans.

Classic Vanilla Buttercream
In the bowl of a mixer, beat butter at medium speed until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the powdered sugar cup by cup, adding the next cup after the previous one has been mixed in.

Add vanilla extract and milk with mixer at low speed and mix until blended.

Beat at medium-high speed for 3 - 5 minutes, until buttercream is extremely smooth and fluffy.  

If needed, add additional powered sugar or milk until desired consistency. 

Happy baking!


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