January 2012

the blues

Friday 27 January 2012 • 2 comments

Blueberries got me thinking about the blues. It was as simple as the name, nothing deeper. For those who don't know, blues is the name given to both a musical form and a music genre that originated in African-American communities of primarily the "Deep South" of the United States at the end of the 19th century from spiritualswork songsfield hollersshouts and chants, and rhymed simple narrative ballads. Spent the evening listening to Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong and Etta James. Jazzrhythm and blues, and rock and roll. I like this genre of music but i've never actually had it in my music library. I was excited to find out my flatmate had a collection beyond what i knew. Discovered an artist i now like called Ella Fitzgerald. Listening to them always teleports me to that time. Sounded so deep and emotional but something about it sounded like they were just having fun on the streets with friends under the moonlight. So easy, fun and upbeat, its beautiful. 

blueberry cake
This recipe was in some ways very familiar but also surprised me in others. First, the quantities were so large. Six eggs, lots of butter and sugar. Sour cream was used instead of milk. Creaming that amount of butter and sugar was very familiar but i wasn't prepared for the amount of batter it made in the end. It filled the bowl.

Blueberries don't actually look that blue and come out purple when cooked. I mixed them in by hand.

The book said i needed a 25cm ring mould but i ignored this and decided to use the 24cm ring mould i used last time. What is 1cm? Can't make that much of a difference right? Well i was wrong. The batter was so much that only half of it could fit in ring mould so i had to pour the rest in a 21cm round pan and even that was almost full. I find it hard to believe that it would have fit in a 25cm ring mould. Once again it didn't come out of the pan clean but it was still fine.

what's in the box?

Thursday 26 January 2012 • 3 comments

I finally went to the humming bakery in Soho!!! I've never been and i was excited to try one of the things i've been making for months. I absolutely love the shop. Its so small and pretty.  Love the box too. Presentation is very important. Loved seeing all the things i'd made and i'll definitely be going back soon to try something else. I decided to buy a red velvet cupcake because i got it wrong the first time i tried to make it so i thought this would be a good time to try again.

red velvet cupcakes...again
The first time i attempted this recipe, it went wrong because i had used Dr. Oetker red food colouring which was suggested by the book. So this time i chose to use one a friend told me about, Silver spoon red food colour. If you take a look at the first time i tried it you'd see there are a few differences. The Dr. Oekter colouring was really thick so it  made a thicker paste. The silver spoon colouring immediately produced a red paste instead of the brown mud-like paste i got the first time. http://sweetartbytemi.blogspot.com/2011/11/thankful.html 

When they got out of the oven they were a nice satisfying pink and i couldn't wait for them to cool so i could put the cream cheese frosting on them and taste.

Opened the box and did a little comparing. 

It definitely tasted better this time around and even if it wasn't exactly like the one i got from the shop i must say i'm satisfied with what i got. Although a few things made me wonder if the recipes in the book are what they really use. My cream cheese frosting was whiter but tasted exactly the same. My cake was a duller red and the texture was softer. They must use a food processor (not hands like i do) for the crumbs because it was so powder-like. 

sunshine please!

Saturday 21 January 2012 • 2 comments

Woke up this morning and it was so dull and gloomy outside. It was cloudy and had just rained. When i eventually got out of bed, as hard as it was i went to the supermarket to buy lemons and poppy seeds. I'd never even seen or heard of poppy seeds till now so i did a little googling. Its an oilseed obtained from a plant called opium poppy. That's really all i was able to find out about it. They are tiny, blueish seeds that gave the cake a crunch. Didn't particularly give a taste as the lemon was quite strong.

lemon and poppy seed cake
Grated lemon zest, poppy seeds and all the regular cake ingredients all mixed together. I must admit i was a bit distracted and skipped a step there. I was meant to mix the milk in first before adding the flour but i had put in a third of it before i realized. I don't think it was a big deal though, i just mixed in the milk and carried on. Then three egg whites whisked till stiff peaks formed folded into the mix with a metal spoon. I'm still trying to find out why its necessary to use a metal spoon to fold egg whites in. 

I got a twenty four inch ring mould this week, and it wasn't very easy to find in the shops.I had to search for it online. I need a twenty five inch one for the next few recipes but i haven't been able to find it so I'm just going to use this one. I greased and dusted it with flour before i poured in the batter in. While it was in the oven i made a lemon syrup which i poured on the cake once it got out of the oven. It looked and smelled really nice. 

with syrup
Getting it out the mould was an issue. Maybe i didn't put enough flour or didn't grease it well but i had to shake it up before the cake fell out a bit cracked. Not much damage done though, it just wasn't as brown on the bottom (now the top )as it should have been. I made the lemon glaze which was basically lemon juice and icing sugar and poured it on when it was cold. This one, i like. Sweet but the lemon gave it a little kick.


Sunday 15 January 2012 • 4 comments

My course mate Brooke was having drinks last night for her birthday so i baked her this cake. When i was done baking and it was time to go, i had a bit of trouble thinking of how to transport it. I would usually make a box but i didn't have what i needed so i wrapped it in foil and put it in a paper bag. That's what i did with the carrot cake too. This is bad presentation and it needs to stop. '30 Rocks' was a nice night out after baking all day. It was also my brothers birthday yesterday so Happy birthday to the best brother in the world.

brooklyn blackout cake
Again i creamed butter and sugar. I need to understand the chemistry of cake-making. What determines quantities? What goes in first, with what and why? How do people create recipes? 

While the cakes baked, i made the chocolate custard i needed to top the cakes. Sugar(lots of it), golden syrup, cocoa powder and water in a sauce pan brought to a boil. I mixed two hundred grams of corn flour with water and it was thick as glue. It was really hard to mix this because i couldn't put too much water and corn flour can be very stiff. Once the cocoa mixture was boiling, i poured in the corn flour whisking constantly. I was scared it would form lumps was i poured all that corn flour in but it turned out okay. A few tiny lumps but over all it was ok. Next i stirred in butter and vanilla extract, turned it into a plastic bowl and put in the fridge to chill. It came out in one jelly-like mould of the pot.

When the cakes were ready, i had to cut a thin slice off one of them to make crumbs. When they were cool they all had a glossy, gooey texture on top and i wasn't sure they would make crumbs easily. i went ahead to cut off the top of all of them then brainstormed how to make the crumbs without a food processor. I decided to put it in the oven to dry out a bit then i passed it through a colander. It worked out okay even though it was crunchier(because i dried it out) than i think it was meant to be.

The layers didn't rise as high as i thought they should have and where thinner than i expected. Spreading the chocolate custard was easy.

make a wish

Wednesday 11 January 2012 • 2 comments

It was my beautiful friend rorys' birthday on sunday and i made her a coconut meringue cake. This is the second time its fallen on a coconut recipe on a friends birthday and for some reason there was malibu too. Of course, i made pina colada. I had been so busy all day and couldn't bake till late at night but i had set my mind to it so i had to do it. I will never start baking without reading though the recipe well first. Never! Was the hardest recipe yet especially since i was tired. The birthday girl and another friend were with me so it wasn't so bad. We ate pizza and drank pina colada as i baked. 

coconut meringue cake
I started by piercing the eye of a fresh coconut to get out the milk which was put in a saucepan with water to make syrup.

The empty coconut was then put in a preheated oven for fifteen minutes and it came out cracked. Thought that was pretty cool. I still had to smash it against the wall a few times to get it opened then went through the task of removing the shell with a knife, peeling the brown skin off the white fruit then grating it. The book said 'scoop out the fruit from the shell' and i don't understand their choice of words. Scooping is for ice cream and that was not scooping. Could have lost a finger.

I creamed the butter and sugar until light and fluffy which was a first in this book. After i had put together all the ingredients(except the eggs) it was really thick, almost like cookie dough. Then i whisked three egg whites till stiff peaks formed and folded it into the mix with a metal spoon. Not sure why i had to use a metal spoon in particular. Even though it wasn't as thick as it was in the beginning, it was still too thick.

On to the meringue frosting. No butter, just sugar, egg whites, vanilla extract and water. All that was whisked in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water for about ten minutes. Talk about task. Wasn't very easy but it was really beautiful when it was done. Was thick, really white and glossy. I was trying to figure out why it had to be whisked over heat. I think it either has something to do with making it stand longer or making the sugar syrupy. Any ideas why?

When the cakes were cool i poured the syrup on each one as i stacked them up, spreading the meringue frosting on each layer and sprinkling a little grated coconut.

I love how white it is and the texture of the grated coconut on top is just lovely. I stuck some candles on it and it looked even more beautiful. She blew out her candles and made a wish but i didn't get a picture of her doing it so i lit them up again and she got another wish. I'm obsessed with photography like that, had to capture every moment even if i cheated.

happy birthday rory...xx