cakeforweb

I made this cake for a small dinner party and I think it was quite good, but it wasn’t a huge hit with the other diners. It was a very dense, moist cake with a crumbly texture and it was made with 70% cocoa solids dark chocolate (Lindt brand) so it wasn’t overly sweet. I think it would have gone well with coffee, especially a nice Irish coffee to compliment the Irish whiskey that went into the cake.

I served it with grilled orange slices (which weren’t grilled as much as I’d hoped) and Maggie Beer vanilla bean and elderflower ice-cream. The cake was so rich that the subtle flavours in the ice-cream were completely lost. So if I were to make this cake again, I would serve it with cream or a less gourmet vanilla ice-cream. Or maybe just with fresh strawberries.

The chocolate was definitely the dominant flavour in this cake, with the occasional whiskey hit from the raisins. So it would be easy to adapt this into a milk chocolate cake to make it sweeter. The texture isn’t exactly cakey, because it has no rising agent and is made with roasted almond meal, so maybe it falls under the category of mud cake, or something else.

All in all, a good cake for dark chocolate lovers, but I probably won’t make it again unless someone who adores dark chocolate and coffee has a birthday.

The recipe was a Maggie Beer recipe from a recent issue of ABC’s Delicious magazine.

Howdy all, hoo-eee, do I have some mighty purdy links for you.

First up, there is 31 Awesome Cakes to Celebrate Your Divorce. A lot of these are pretty gruesome, I guess divorce makes people a bit homicidal. Just as long as they’re channelling that feeling into making delicious cake and not into stabbing people, then that’s okay with me.

Then there is Cupcake Day for the RSPCA – baking delicious cakes for a worthy cause. A friend of mine is participating in this, which I think is just grand. I like the creative cupcake ideas, although I’ve always regarded marzipan modelling for decorations as cheating, mainly because I don’t like the taste of marzipan very much and most Aussies I know generally don’t like it much either. Anyway it’s way more challenging to use other stuff. I once saw a Donna Hay sheep cupcake made with popcorn for wool, which was kind of inspired but a bit weird looking.

Finally, we have Cake Wrecks, some kind of online museum of cake horror. It kind of reminds me of two cake horror stories I heard. One was a cake ordered over the phone with a special message on it, and when the cake turned up the message literally said something like “Susan best wishes then underneath something like we will miss you and good luck or something along those lines”. The other horror story was of a bride who showed a photocopied picture of a cake to her cakemaker and so the cakemaker made her a black and white wedding cake (the photocopy was in black and white).

Pandan cake is a popular cake originating in Malaysia. The key ingredient is the juice from the leaves of the pandan plant, otherwise known as screw pine. Most people in Australia know it as “that green cake that you get in Asian supermarkets sometimes”.

The pandan juice makes the cake a light green colour, but green food colouring is added to the pandan paste, which gives the cake that “radioactive” look. I guess some people like that hue because some of the recipes involving the juice also call for green food colouring to be added, just in case you weren’t sure it was really a pandan cake. I reckon this would make a really great halloween cupcake. In fact, I have some black cobweb-shaped laser cut cupcake wrappers and October is coming up so….

anyway…

I’ve found it really hard to get an authentic-tasting pandan cake here in Australia, and I suspect many of the cakes here are just regular chiffon cakes with green food colouring. Also all the ones I’ve bought here have been pretty dry and spongy, like it would bounce if you threw it. So I decided to make my own.

The hardest part about making this cake was finding the damn pandan. It’s really difficult to get the pandan juice, let alone the actual leaf, and even the paste and the essence is pretty hard to find. Your best bet is to hunt down an Indonesian supermarket. I found some pandan paste in Randwick Oriental Supermarket (Randwick, Sydney).

Okay so the next hardest part was finding a chiffon pan. I ended up getting one of those silicon pans shaped in a “cathedral” shape (think “pointy doughnut”) and it wasn’t a great idea. The cake ended up sticking to the bottom of the pan and nothing I could do would unstick it. I just had to rip the pieces off and try and reassemble the cake without anyone noticing. It probably worked, too bad I didn’t have any pandan icing.

Making the cake itself was not hard. I looked up heaps of recipes on the internet and it seems that chiffon cakes have a reputation for being really difficult to make. Well my theory about this is that the people finding it difficult don’t know how to deal with egg whites. Here’s the thing about egg whites – they’re stubborn bastards. Get any little bit of moisture in their way and they will refuse to beat into stiff peaks. The important thing is to keep the bowl and beaters *clean* and *dry* and make sure that no egg yolk ends up in the whites.

Here is the recipe I followed. It had a few errors, so I’m going to remedy those and add my own notes here, but I give all credit for the original recipe to the author of that site. My cake turned out deliciously moist on the inside, with that real pandan flavour throughout, while still being light and fluffy like a chiffon. Because I guess it is a chiffon.

pandan cake whole

Here’s how my cake turned out. Not the most beautiful cake you’ve ever seen, right? But it tasted great.

Ingredients
150g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
150 ml coconut cream
8 egg yolks
10 egg white
200g caster sugar, separated
3 Tbsp corn oil (or vegetable oil)
1 tsp vanilla essence
a pinch of salt
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp pandan paste

Method
1. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).
2. Sift the flour and baking powder three times. This aerates the flour and helps to make a fluffy cake.
3. Using¬† a separate mixer to the one you’ll be using later, cream egg yolks and 140g sugar until it is creamy and thick. If you do not have two electric mixers, use a whisk instead. It is important to keep the other mixer clean and dry.
4. Add in sifted flour and baking powder, vanilla essence, coconut cream, corn oil, and pandan paste into the egg yolk mixture. Mix well.
5. In another clean dry bowl, use your electric mixer to beat egg whites on high speed. When egg whites are whisked to soft peaks, add the remaining 60g sugar, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Continue to whisk until stiff peaks form. The mixture should be stiff, thick and glossy.
6. Fold the egg whites into the flour mixture. Start by adding 1/3 egg whites into flour mixture and using a balloon whisk, fold until just combined. Mix the remaining 2/3 egg whites in until the mixture is just combined, taking care to fold gently to keep volume.
7. Once incorporated, (don’t worry if there are a few streaks of white left) pour into the chiffon cake pan. If you have used a whisk to fold the mixture, you may find a pool of thick green sludgy looking cake mix at the bottom of your bowl. I do not recommend you add this to the cake, just throw it away. Bake 45 mins, or until the cake is brown on top and springs back when prodded.
8. When cake is baked, invert it immediately and cool down for 2-3 hours. Once cooled, use a knife to cut around the sides and bottom before removing.

This is what it looks like when you have eaten half of it:

pandan cake half

Wedding cake

Glorious, no?

This was my wedding cake. It was made by the amazing Welsh Lady (Brisbane). When I started planning my wedding, the cake was the first thing I planned. People kept asking me about the dress and rings and stuff – to hell with that! I knew what was important. The design went through a few incarnations and I worked with a few different bakers, and finally Gwen (aka The Welsh Lady) and I came up with this amazing design. When I saw the finished result, I couldn’t stop looking at it. There’s a picture of me telling my bridal party to rack off because I’m busy looking at the cake.

I wanted a wedding cake made of cupcakes, but I didn’t want it to look like a kid’s birthday party. The cupcake wrappers and the roses really helped to make the cakes elegant. The cupcake wrappers were from Fancy Flours, but I recently found a place in Sydney called Alfresco Emporium that also sells them, which is great because shipping to Australia from the US costs heaps. And for any Aussies cursing all the good stuff being in Sydney, the good news is that you can order the wrappers from Alfresco Emporium online.

Each cake was a delicious chocolate mud cake with chocolate mousse piped into the centre. This was topped with fresh cream and a fresh rose on top. One of the guests was sure that the rose was edible too, and he proved it by eating one. Yes, I guess technically they are edible, but….yeah don’t eat them. When it comes to event cakes, edible flowers made from sugar are beautiful and impressive, but you can save heaps of money by using fresh ones instead.

The top tier of the cake hid a lemon cake covered in fresh cream, with a white chocolate pattern on the outside designed to match the cupcake wrappers.

I knew that the guests would be stuffed after the rest of the meal, so I provided decorated noodle boxes when the cakes were served so that guests could take their cakes home for later if they wanted to. This seemed pretty popular with the guests, although some guests couldn’t wait. One guest even received a cupcake to the face from her fiancee, much to her confusion. Although she did tell me later that it was delicious.

babycakes2

It’s an interesting mathematical fact that when cakes are smaller, more are eaten. I know from baking experience that 2 mini cupcakes = 1 regular cupcake, and 2 regular cupcakes = 1 jumbo cupcake. Yet, when people are presented with mini cupcakes, they tend to eat significantly more than when they are presented with regular or jumbo sized cupcakes. I reckon this is because of the theory of “it’s little, so I can have more of them, and I won’t get as fat”. But then you go and eat twice as many and it’s even worse.

So, BabyCakes – a clever business strategy or a cunning obesity conspiracy?¬† Are the cakes really made from babies? I’m going to go with no, because I’ve eaten quite a lot of these cakes and it would freak me out if they were made from actual babies. I assume there is some kind of artificial baby flavouring involved instead.

Anyway, I should be talking about cake deliciousness. The flavours are pretty typical of most specialist cupcake stores, although they are done well. My favourites are the cherry bomb and the peanut slide, which manage to cram a lot of flavour and texture into a tiny morsel.

The packaging is a bit disappointing, consisting of a cardboard tray in a paper bag. However it serves as an adequate cupcake transportation unit as long as you keep it the right way up. The Summer Hill store has some chairs and coffee available, but isn’t quite a cafe, so you’re best taking the cakes home where you can devour them greedily behind closed doors.

Go here for:

Take-home mini cakes. I reckon these cakes would go great as petit fours for a high tea, or as a cute addition to a chocolate platter dessert at a dinner party. Otherwise, they’re a nice little sugar hit to have while you’re shopping, that you won’t feel so bad about because you’re only eating half a regular sized cupcake.

Oh, OR….you could make a big cake at home, and use these smaller BabyCakes as decorations for your bigger cake. Possibly even make some kind of mini cupcake pyramid to sit atop your big cake. Put some flowers or strawberries in amongst the cupcakes in the tower and how cool would that look? Send me a picture if you try it!

Ricotta cake...I can see you through the misty haze...come to meee....

Ricotta cake...I can see you through the misty haze...come to meee....

I had heard rumours of this cake. Foolishly, I had turned them aside. Then one day, Justine, a contestant of the show Masterchef Australia, said in an interview something along the lines of:

“[The Masterchef chocolate mousse cake] is one of the best cakes I’ve ever had. One of the best, like Haberfield ricotta cake.”*

Ding!

I MUST HAVE THIS HABERFIELD RICOTTA CAKE! A quick search of the internet revealed this cake to be in the famous Pasticceria Papa. You know, that shop on the corner in Haberfield with all the biscuits? You know the one. I’d been in there heaps of times and never tried the ricotta cake. Unthinkable!

So I went to this haven of untold ricotta delights and asked for ricotta cake. I don’t know if I was delighted or disappointed when I was told they sold it by the slice, since it meant I didn’t have an excuse to have to buy a whole cake. Anyway, I took the cake home and ate a slice.

Wow.

It’s a simple cake, with lightly whipped sweet ricotta filling, which has a mousse-like texture. the outside of the cake is soft and moist. Overall it would make for a rather nice cake, but then it is dusted with icing sugar and CINNAMON, which adds an extra dimension to the flavour and makes the cake utterly delectable.

The best thing about this cake is that the flavours are light and balanced, they don’t overpower the palate with sweetness, something I find is hard to achieve without cutting through the sweetness with something tart like fruit. Speaking of which, I wonder if this cake would go well with poached pears or stewed rhubarb?

*I have a terrible memory, so she probably said something entirely different. All I really remember is “something something Masterchef cake is one of the best something something HABERFIELD RICOTTA CAKE”

UPDATE: My good friend and cake connisseur Annie informs me that the cakes are best bought whole, because the slices tend to dry out a bit. So I do have an excuse to buy a whole cake after all! :D

strawberry cakeLink to recipe at Taste.com.au

I’ve made this cake a few times and it always looks and tastes fantastic. The best part is the caramel sauce, which is just made by heating those Pascalls Columbines caramel lollies with some pouring cream – genius! You can make the caramel sauce ahead of time and put it in a container, then when you get to your party, watch everyone’s eyes widen as you pour the caramel over the top of the cake!

My other tip for this cake is – see how all the strawberry slices look perfect on the top of the cake? Do what they probably did, and save all the middle slices for the top. Put all the uglier end slices in the middle part of the cake – nobody looks at them anyway.

giftboxes

I love cupcakes.

For this reason, when it comes to critiquing cupcakes, I set the bar very high. I’ve eaten a lot of them. I’ve made a lot of them. My wedding cake was made almost entirely of cupcakes.

So when I say that Sparkle Cupcakery is one of the best cupcake stores I have been to, you should all be suitably impressed. Go on, give a little gasp or something.

First of all, they use top quality ingredients in their cakes, and it shows. You can see the little black telltale specks of real vanilla beans and you can taste the difference. Secondly, the flavours of the cakes are not limited to the decorations on the top. And what flavours! My favourite has to be the sweet and fragrant Lavender and Honey flavour, but the rest are delicious as well.

Presentation is always a big part of cakes, especially cupcakes, and one may argue that Sparkle cupcakes are a little on the plain side. However, they have their whole minimalist look going on, and I respect that. When you see several cake flavours assembled in one of their signature black boxes with silver writing, you have to admit that they look very classy indeed.

Best of all, Sparkle holds a high tea, featuring champagne, strawberries with melted chocolate, biscuits and of course cupcakes. That’s what I like to see, grown up cupcakes – no kid’s patty cakes here.

My only criticism is that on occasion when I have had the cakes, they have seemed a bit dry. I guess this might be due to a different baker on that day, or a different recipe, or bad luck….who knows? However most of the time they have been fantastic. The staff are always very friendly and the service is excellent.

Go to Sparkle Cupcakery for classy cakes, gourmet cakes or gift cakes.

Here it is, in all its glory.

The chocolate mousse cake from the series Masterchef Australia. If you're associated with channel 10, please don't be mad at me for taking your image. I just want to share the glory of the mousse cake with as many people as possible. But if you insist, I shall of course take the image down.

The chocolate mousse cake from the series Masterchef Australia. If you're associated with channel 10, please don't be mad at me for borrowing your image. I just want to share the glory of the mousse cake with as many people as possible. But if you insist, I shall of course take the image down.

For those who didn’t see it, this was the most awesome cake ever. It has about 6 or 7 layers of cake, apple, caramel, biscuit, blackberry mousse and chocolate mousse. It’s freaking incredible. The recipe is also there if you follow that link, by the way, in case you want to try making it at home. Ha!

Yes, I laugh at this idea because I saw them make that cake on the show. It took them THREE HOURS and they needed a blast freezer (a freezer that freezes things very, very fast) and a giant chocolate spray gun. This spray gun looked like it should be used for spraying cars, not cakes. But I want one.

After I saw this cake on TV, my thoughts were consumed by it….the blackberry mousse layer…the salted caramel…the apple tatin… Then I realised that the cake’s creator “Adriano Zumbo” sounded familiar. Turns out I had a business card for his patisserie on my fridge for over a year now and had been meaning to drop by sometime. Excited, I told my husband. He said “excellent, let’s save it for a special occasion”. I said “WHAT?? I can’t go on like this, knowing that the best cake in the universe is only TWO SUBURBS AWAY FROM ME. We’re going there THIS SATURDAY”.

So we did, but we’re not early risers, so by the time we got to the patisserie at 3pm, all of the cakes were sold out. All of them. I’m not even talking about the famous mousse cake. I mean there were no cakes left in the patisserie *at all*. Luckily he had a cafe a few doors down and as it turned out, they were auctioning off not only the chocolate mousse cake, but also Adriano’s famous croquembouche. The croquembouche was posing for a photo shoot. I could see it through a window. It wore an aura of toffee like a delicate golden halo. It looked delicious.

To be honest, I couldn’t be bothered sticking around for an hour to bid on a cake that I probably couldn’t afford. And I was hungry, dammit. The cafe was full, so we went for whatever was able to be taken away, which was chocolates. There was a dark chocolate pyramid filled with rasberry gel and vanilla creme (that means something creamy that isn’t actually cream, I don’t know what it was, it was delicious). There was a saffron chocolate with a very subtle flavour. There was a “fried egg” chocolate that was white chocolate and toasted coconut with a jam “yolk” on top. It reminded me of that “white christmas” slice that you can get around Christmas time.

This quest isn’t over. Adriano Zumbo, I shall return! Later, when your shops aren’t so busy! Incidentally, my husband did actually see the man himself “walking around like he owned the place” (well, he did, so fair enough). I was too busy looking at cake and chocolate to notice. No offence Mr. Zumbo.

This morning I heard on Nova’s breakfast show that Kate Richie got a chef from a bakery to make the cake from the recipe. This is inspired! I must do this! However, the chef said that the recipe on the website doesn’t match what they did on the show! Ooh those sneaky devils! No matter, it is a means to an end and that end is a cake…

An endless stream of cakes
The French House, Waterloo

The French House, Waterloo







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