Saturday, November 28, 2009

Banana Caramel Swiss Roll - Test of Patience

I was a little hesitant to post this up for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I made this sponge a number of times, and each time, it left me with an airy, rough sponge. Secondly, I'm tired of the multiple tries, hence the lack of energy. Thirdly, I'm not sure if I want to see this anymore. Oh well, I've decided against it and share this anyway. The result you see above is from my fifth and final try. I think this experience is enough to put me off from making swiss rolls for a good period of time. As much as I knew making swiss rolls was a tricky task, I never expected it to be this tricky.

The first time I saw the recipe in Okashi, I knew it was the recipe I had to try. I love Japanese-styled swiss rolls and the various flavour combinations that never fail to get me hooked. Plus, after trying the banana caramel tart from Fruit Paradise (which I totally adored), I had to try this combination out myself somehow!

The recipe for the sponge was simple, using just eggs, pastry flour and castor sugar. The key to achieving a soft, fluffy cake was the right mixing of these three ingredients to form a batter with a ribbon consistency, which, till now, I still can't quite grasp. Hence, my first, second, third and fourth tries yielded me an airy, rough sponge.

I liked the taste of the eggy sponge together with the whipped cream, caramel and banana. But somehow, the texture was wrong, at least to me. Made it a couple more times using the same recipe but varied the beating time for the  batter, yet the results were the same. Disappointed but at the same time determined to get a more cake-like sponge, I tweaked the recipe, added more flour and a little oil. This time round, the sponge's texture was much finer and softer than before.

Alas, a cake-like sponge that's soft and fluffy! The rolling was a breeze and I'm glad, that there were no breaks or cracks. When I feel adventurous enough again, I shall try another flavour combination. I wonder when that day will come...

Banana Caramel Swiss Roll

Ingredients for Sponge:
3 eggs
60g castor sugar
80g cake flour (sifted twice)
20g vegetable oil

for Caramel:
50g whipping cream
50g sugar

for Whipped Cream:
100g whipping cream
1 tsp sugar

2 large bananas

1. Whisk together the eggs and the sugar. Warm the mixture over a double boiler, whisking continuously.

2. Beat the mixture with a stand mixer until light and fluffy. This might take some time, about 10 minutes or so, depending on your mixer. Gently fold in the sifted cake flour with a rubber spatula until well incorporated, then mix in the oil.

3. Pour the batter onto a cake pan lined with parchment. Bake at 180 degrees C for 10-13 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the caramel. Heat the sugar in a saucepan until it caramelises. Carefully pour the whipping cream into the saucepan, stirring until well blended. Set aside to cool.

5. Whip the whipped cream in a stand mixer until soft peak form. Add the sugar and whip till stiff peaks.

6. To assemble, peel the cooled sponge from the parchment and place it on a sheet of clean parchment. Spread a layer of whipped cream on the browned side. Place bananas on one end of the sponge and drizzle the cool caramel over it. Roll up the sponge carefully to avoid any cracks.

7. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before slicing to serve.

Yields a 9' by 12' sponge.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Matcha Chiffon Cakes - The Love for Chiffons

Chiffon, yet again, yes! I know this ain't the most appetising looking cake around, even my mum commented on its lack of attractiveness. But trust me, matcha is great for chiffons. After getting the hang of making my favourite everyday cake, it's only natural that I experiment with a couple more flavours right? So many flavours to try, leaving me spoilt for choice. My recent trip to the bookstore yielded me yet another book - Okashi by Keiko Ishida. I've had my eye on this ever since I saw it at Shermay's Cooking School. I have not attended her classes before but this caught my attention as i've been looking for a book on japanese-french pastries that's written in English and this fits the bill perfectly!

I love this book - love the clean look and layout, the simple yet elegant recipes and the useful tips that provides little snippets of baking advice. It's a no-fuss, straightforward book with a unique, quiet charm really. I couldn't wait to try out the recipes and hence chose to start with one of the chiffon cake recipes - Matcha Chiffon Cake. I love matcha on its own, love its sweet fragrance and how it complements simple Japanese food with an understated elegance. This is my first time using matcha in my bakes and the results did not disappoint. 
I was a little worried about overbeaten egg whites as it ended up as medium peaks rather than stiff peaks, but the cake turned out beautifully well - soft, fluffy and moist. The rich matcha flavour was pleasant, complemented by just the right level of sweetness. I do wish the colour was a little darker like Keiko's cake in the book though. Oh well, until I find a darker-coloured green tea powder!

Reading through the rest of the book now...can't wait to try the rest of the recipes!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kueh Bahlu - The Childhood Favourite

When I was a child, I love these lovely lil' cakes called Kueh Bahlu. Everytime I walk past a bakery and caught sight of them, I would squeal in delight and linger a little longer, refusing to go until my mum buys these little cakes for me. Every New Year, grandma would offer these cakes to me without fail, round after round, each time with a sweet, loving smile on her face. She'll always pack some for me and insist I take them home, knowing how much I love them. These cakes brought me many sweet memories...sweet memories of a loving, caring grandmother. Memories that never fail to bring a smile to my face.

Years later, I'm all grown up...grandma has aged significantly too. Yet whenever I see these cakes, the first thing I think of is still my dear grandma...though with a hint of sadness. Visiting her in hospital, she looks a little frail... I really hope she'll get well soon. This New Year, I shall be the one offering these to her. Hopefully it will bring a smile to her face just like how it did to mine.

There's still a couple of months to go before New Year arrives...time to perfect the recipe for these cute little cakes before presenting them to my dear grandma. I can't wait....*smiles*

Monday, November 9, 2009

Marble Chiffon Cake - The Cake That Never Served Its Purpose

I had a purpose in mind when I made this cake. Made for a special day, for a special person. Somehow all that has changed in the past month. I grew up with chiffons. I love chiffons. So much so I can't resist whenever I come across one, yet at the same time, I never dared to make them. This time, I succeeded. My Marble Chiffon Cake turned out beautifully well. And the first person I wanted to share this with was that special someone. Which, unfortunately, didn't happen. Though my love for chiffons waned over the years, it was rekindled again at a special moment, one that I will not forget, one that will be with me for life. You can probably imagine my disappointment, my sadness, when I was unable to share this.

The chiffon turned out light and fluffy, with a nice chocolatey taste. I hesitated at cutting it, pondering for a moment whether I should even try to deliver it...and resisted that thought. Now that the whole cake has been eaten up, I finally had the courage to pen this down. This cake will always go down as the cake that never served its purpose.

Still, I love chiffons. I'm glad this time round it turned out well. Feels bitter...yet sweet...

Marble Chiffon Cake
adapted from Cooking Crave

95g egg yolks
25g caster sugar
pinch of salt
1 tbsp honey

80g vegetable oil
80g water

95g cake flour

10g cocoa powder
10g cake flour

240g egg whites
120g caster sugar
15g corn flour

1. Whisk together A in a medium bowl until the sugar dissolves.

2. Add in (B) in their respective order and mix well at each addition.

3. Fold in (C) and incorporate till the mixture is smooth.

4. Divide the egg yolks mixture into two equal portions in two separate mixing bowls.

5. Mix 10g cake flour into one of the egg yolks mixture and 10g cocoa powder into the other bowl of egg yolks mixture. Whisk the mixture till well incorporated.

6. Beat egg whites in a clean large bowl until foamy. Gradually add in sugar, one tablespoon at a time and finally add in corn flour. Beat till stiff peak form, the mixture should be glossy.

7. Gently fold in half of the egg whites mixture into the cocoa egg yolk mixture and the other half into the plain mixture. Mix till there are no traces of egg whites.

8. Spoon in the plain batter into three or four different corners of the tube pan, then cover with cocoa batter, layer by layer till all the batter has been used. Bake in a preheated oven at 170c for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer is inserted and comes out clean.

9. Invert the cake immediately on a wire rack until it's completely cool before unmoulding the cake.
Yields one 23 cm cake.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Black & White Banana Loaf

I've been thinking about how and why did I start this blog. For one, I've always loved baking, loved food, love making bentos. But lately, my love for the latter has dwindled. Not that it has disappeared, it hasn't. But it has somehow evolved in purpose. Bentos are great for sharing. I always thought it was lovely to make for someone else, cos of the effort that goes into it - the cooking, the layout, the decoration. It's always a joy to put in effort making something that others will enjoy. For months, I haven't made any bentos. Cos there seems to be no reason to make them anymore. My "bento mate", an ex-colleague, has left the company and someone dear to me ceased to be dear. Hence I'm now able to put my energy into this blog, which I've been preparing to start for some time. Now that I'm neglecting my bento interest, I can finally start this blog and spend my time on this hobby of mine :).

Been so busy the past week that I haven't had enough sleep. There seems to be so many things to do, so little time. But nevertheless, making my own breakfast is a must for me. Nothing beats homemade goodies to start off my day. Looking at the various bloggers that've made this loaf before, the batter does look a little tricky to manage - the most common grouse was that it's too runny. I've cut down on the amount of milk as recommended cos I like my bread soft, moist, yet not too oily. This turned out to be lovely combination of my two favourite flavours - banana and chocolate, with a slight whiff of citrusness...delicious...

This loaf bakes beautifully, though it does take a pretty long time - 1 hour and 15 minutes. And since this is my very first marbled loaf, it still left much to be desired...haha...I've gotta work on my marbling skills!

Black & White Banana Loaf
adapted from Baking from my home to yours by Dorie Greenspan

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large bananas, mashed
Squirt of fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of ½ a lemon
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk

1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees C. Butter an 8' by 4' loaf pan, dust the inside with flour. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked on top of the other.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

3. In a small bowl, mixed the mashed banana with the lemon juice and zest.

4. Melt the chocolate and 2 tablespoons of the butter together in a microwave oven or in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water.

5. Working with a stand mixer, beat the remaining stick (8 tablespoons) of butter at medium speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugars and beat for another 2 to 3 minutes, until light and smooth. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. The batter will look curdled, and it will continue to look curdled as you add ingredients. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half the flour mixture, mixing only until it is just incorporated. With the mixer running, pour in the milk, and when it is blended, add the remaining dry ingredients. Scrape down the bowl and mix in the mashed bananas. The batter will look even lumpier.

6. Pour a little less than half the batter into the bowl with the melted chocolate and stir to blend. Drop alternating spoonfuls of both batters into the prepared pan, then, using a table knife, swirl the batters together, taking care not to overdo it.

7. Bake for 1 hour and 15 to 25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Check after 30 minutes and if the cake starts to brown too much, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for about 15 minutes before unmolding, then cool the cake to room temperature right side up on the rack.


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