White layer cake (reverse creaming)

For a few weeks now I have been trying to perfect a white layer cake (with different added flavors) using the reverse creaming method. The base recipe is from The Perfect Cake.

#1 Coconut layer cake

Results

  • Cake was too dense and did not rise much, although flavor was good.

Notes and changes

  • Since the recipe on The Perfect Cake for 2 9inch layers, I scaled the recipe down for 2 8 inch layers, probably a mistake
  • I used AroyD coconut milk instead of the suggested coco lopez. I also added more than the suggested ratio of coconut milk, which probably contributed to the dense texture.
  • I cut down on the sugar, which I think was a good move but I forgot how much I added exactly ):
  • I used all purpose flour instead of cake flour. I think that was ok. However, I realized that 2.25 cups of cake flour =/= 2.25 cups of all purpose flour by weight, so I probably added less than the totally volume of flour required. I converted cups to grams of cake flour and added that amount of all purpose flour.
  • I used a cream cheese and mascarpone butter cream frosting, which is slightly too sweet for my liking

#2 Strawberry dream cake

Changes

  • Did not scale recipe
  • Reduced sugar by ~40g

Results

  • Cake was still too dense and did not rise much
  • Maybe baking powder was expired?

#3 Strawberry dream cake take 2

Changes

  • New baking powder
  • Used 288g of all purpose flour
  • 340g sugar
  • Baked two versions
    • Original recipe in book
    • Same ingredients and proportions but egg whites were whipped to soft peaks with half the sugar and folded in at the end

Results

  • The original version with no whipped whites turned out ok in texture. However, it was domed in the middle and did not rise much at the sides. Batter was slightly curdled.
  • The version with whipped whites rose more evenly. However, it collapsed slightly after cooling, causing it to be denser and more doughy tasting. Initially I thought that this was because the cake was underbaked, but the next attempt (see #4) suggested that it might not be the case.
  • Both cakes were similar in taste and slightly too sweet for my liking.
  • I left portions of the cake in the fridge, or at room temperature. For both cakes, keeping them in the fridge (wrapped in cling film) caused them to be more moist but also more dense.

#4 Lemon layer cake

Changes

  • Wrapped cake tins with kitchen towels soaked in cold water to encourage even rise of cake
  • Baked for a longer time (40mins)
  • Added less sugar (170g + 150g) total
  • Used 2% fat milk only
  • Made 2/3 portion of lemon curd with 240g sugar, 6 egg yolks, 2 eggs. This was just enough for the cake. The curd is a bit sour so I would either add more sugar to the curd or to the cake next time.
  • Made 2/3 portion of honey cream cheese frosting. I added honey to taste. This was just enough for a thin layer of frosting.

Results

  • Original version rose nicely evenly, but sunk a little in the middle. Nice even crumb.
  • Whipped whites version shrunk and collapsed after cooling. Large uneven holes in the cake.

Notes

  • Batter was curdled, probably because the milk/egg mixture was too cold or I added it too quickly. I need to be more careful about this next time
  • I buttered the sides of the cake tin, but I don’t think that caused the whipped whites cake to shrink since I did not butter the sides the previous attempt.
  • Perhaps use whole milk next time
  • I used the lemon curd recipe in the book and a honey cream cheese frosting.
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Tropical mango custard tart

I baked this in a 8-inch tart pan with excess dough and custard, so it will probably fit nicely in a 9-inch pan.

Ingredients

For sweet tart pastry, see this post
1 egg yolk

6 large eggs at room temperature
zest 1 orange
zest of 2 limes
2 mangos
135g sugar
120ml heavy cream

1 mango to decorate

Procedures

  1. Make sweet tart pastry. Brush tart with egg yolk after ~10-15mins of baking and continue baking for 5mins. Leave to cool.
  2. Preheat oven to 140C/275F.
  3. Break eggs into bowl. Add orange and lime zest. Add sugar and mix well.
  4. Cut and puree mango. Sieve puree to remove fibers. Add puree to the egg mixture.
  5. Add cream and mix well.
  6. Set bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Stir constantly until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. The mixture should still be liquid enough to be pourable.
  7. Pour mixture into tart shell.
  8. Baked for 50-55 minutes until custard has set. Leave to cool and decorate with sliced mangoes.
  • Note: I’ve found that letting excess pastry drape over the tart tin and then cutting it off after baking is a good way to ensure that the tart shell has enough and even height.

Adapted and inspired by Luis’ The Tropical Manchester Tart in The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking.

Chocolate log with hazelnut pastry cream

I am keeping the tradition of making a log cake again this christmas! I couldn’t find chestnut puree, so I decided to fill a chocolate log cake with hazel pastry cream instead. Hazelnut goes really well with chocolate.

Ingredients

Chocolate sponge
6 large eggs, separated
150g soft brown sugar
50g cocoa powder
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg

Hazelnut pastry cream
2 cups whole milk
1 cup granulated sugar, divided
1sp vanilla extract
pinch of salt
3 egg yolks
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup toasted ground hazelnuts

Chocolate ganache
250g cream
250g chocolate chip

Procedures

1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a 30x20cm swiss roll tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.

2. Put the egg yolks in a food mixer and whisk for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle over the soft brown sugar, breaking up any lumps, and whisk until you have a thick mixture. Meanwhile, sift together the cooca powder and seasoning, then whisk them into the egg yolk mixture.

3. In a clean bowl, whip up the egg whites to soft peaks, then fold them into the rest of the mixture. Pour this into the tin, spread out evenly, and bake for about 30 minutes until cooked and bouncy. Put a clean tea towel on a cooling rack and top with a similarly sized piece of greaseproof paper.

4. When the roll is cooked, run a knife around the edges, then shake it out on to the greaseproof paper. Peel off the lining paper, and then, using the tea towel to help, roll it up tightly and leave to cool on the rack.

5. Make pastry cream then mix in hazelnut. Leave to cool.  http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2011/08/pastry-cream-recipe-for-cakes-eclairs-pastries.html

6. To make ganache, microwave cream until small bubbles appear, then whisk in chocolate until smooth. Cool before icing cake.

7. When the roll is barely warm, unroll it on a board, remove the paper, and spread with the hazelnut cream. Roll up again, and place on the serving plate. Spread with the ganache. Dust with icing sugar for a snowy effect just before serving.

Notes:

  • Cinnamon and nutmeg doesn’t go with hazelnut
  • Use regular cocoa instead of dark cocoa in the future. The latter was way too bitter.
  • I had too much sugar in my pastry cream so adding hazelnut praline (as in Olga’s recipe) was going to make it too sweet. I will try adding less sugar to the pastry cream and adding hazelnut praline instead of hazelnut next time.

Recipe adapted from http://www.olgasflavorfactory.com/favorites/cream-puffs/ and https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2012/dec/13/how-cook-perfect-yule-log

Blueberry muffins

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 sugar (I will add more next time. 3/4 was not sweet enough for me.)
  • 2 eggs
  • lemon zest of one lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup sour cream or 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups blueberries, tossed with flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar (preferably raw/brown sugar)

Procedures

  • Preheat oven to 375 deg F.
  • Mix flour, baking powder and salt
  • Ensure all wet ingredients are at room temperature to prevent curdling!
  • Cream butter with sugar till white and fluffy, then add eggs, a little at a time.
  • Add lemon zest and vanilla. Then add milk/sour cream slowly, mixing well.
  • Add flour mixture and mix till just combined. Do not overmix!
  • Mix in blueberries and spoon mixture into muffin cups.
  • Top with sugar.
  • Bake for 30 mins or till a toothpick inserted into muffin comes out clean.

Recipe adapted from http://www.onceuponachef.com/recipes/best-ever-blueberry-muffins.html

Honey lavender ice cream

Here’s another attempt at ice cream making! The ice cream texture turned out really well, but was again too sweet for my liking. I would reduce the amount of honey next time. The honey taste was slightly overpowering, and I would use lighter honey will a more subtle taste next time.

I previously tested 2:1 and 1:1 ratios of cream to milk, and found 2:1 too rich and fatty tasting, so I’m sticking to 1:1. I also reduced the amount of eggs to 3, to make it less “eggy”-tasting. Eggs are essential though, and I have not successfully executed an eggless ice cream recipe without it being rock-hard.

Ingredients:

1.5 cups milk
1.5 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tbsp dried lavender
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup honey

Procedures:

Heat milk, cream, sugar and salt till just boiling. Turn off heat and add dried lavender. Let steep for about an hour.

Whisk egg yolks till creamy. Add vanilla extract and continue stirring. Set a fine-mesh strainer over egg yolks and slowly strain and whisk in hot cream mixture. Place the mixture on the stove over a saucepan filled about 1/3 with water*. Heat and continue whisking until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon (or until 175F).

(*Note: you can also heat the mixture directly in a saucepan without the steam bath but I found it easier to prevent over-heating with the steam bath.)

Let the custard cool completely in the fridge.

Churn the cream!