Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Daring Bakers Challenge 1

The challenge for this month is Filbert Gateau with Praline Buttercream. It's my first ever Daring Baker's challenge and I was both ecstatic and nervous at the same time. Then I saw the challenge, and I was like - Filbert? Gateau? English please? :) After going over the challenge for the month, I found out that Filbert is Hazelnuts and Gateau is French for cake made with almond flour. After scouting
my kitchen for what I have, the only ones I'm missing were actually the hazelnuts. I had almonds over but I still attempted to find some hazelnuts in the supermarket, to no avail. I just made some Almond Gateau with Almond Praline Buttercream instead.

I was back home in the Philippines when I read about the challenge, and in the middle of vacation, I was actually thinking of the cake and looking forward to actually making it. The recipe requires a lot of work, and it probably is not something that I will make spontaneously on a lazy Saturday afternoon. But of course, I'm up for the challenge (I think. :D).

I needed to prepare the Gateau, 1 recipe of sugar syrup, 1 recipe of Praline Buttercream, Whipped Heavy Cream (which I skipped eventually because the Buttercream was already very rich), 1 recipe of Strawberry Glaze, 1 recipe of Chocolate Ganache and some toasted nuts. I am pretty much familiar with the components of the recipe, except for the Gateau, so I had to re-read the recipe a few times before starting. The Gateau is made of processed almond nuts combined with cake flour. After preparing the batter for the Gateau, I baked it for 30 minutes and when it was almost done, the smell of the baking nutty cake filled the kitchen and I swear it was one of the best scents you'd ever smell! While the cake was in the oven, I started making a plain sugar syrup. Once the cake was cooled, I torted it and brushed the layers with sugar syrup.

Leaving the cake a while, I started to make the Almond Praline Buttercream. To make Almond Paste, I caramelized some sugar and added the Almond on it. This becomes some candied pieces and after it had totally cooled, I broke it down into manageable pieces and processed it until it was first powdery and then like paste. And then I had to make the Swiss Buttercream and once done, I slowly incorporated the Almond Paste. The buttercream turned out to be smooth and delicious!

I then filled the cake layers with Buttercream in between and once stacked, I brushed the top and sides with a pre-made Strawberry Glaze and I let it chill for about an hour.

While the cake was being chilled, I made the Chocolate Ganache (which I very often use for my cupcakes so it was a breeze!) and I had it also cooled afterwards. Once the cake was out of the fridge, I glazed it with the Chocolate Ganache and I made the top with mirror finish but the sides were ugly! I cannot smoothen the sides! But anyway, I still managed to cover the sides with the Ganache. Once the Chocolate had settled on the cake, I started to pipe it on top with the remaining buttercream. It took me half a day to finish the cake!

Cutting the cake was another story. I had never been able to cut any of my cakes perfectly! :P I loved the nutty taste of the cake even if I'm not crazy about nuts! Here's how the first slice looked like.

So there goes my first challenge, on to August!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Ice and Ly's Baby Shower

Two of my bestfriends from college, Lyra and Ice are both expecting and are due to have their babies on September with Ly having baby Sam a few weeks than Ice's Jem. While I was on vacation in the Philippines, Chen, who's also on vacation in the Philippines, planned a baby shower for both of them and I volunteered to prepare some cupcakes for the party. So last July 11, the moms-to-be had their baby shower at Chen and Bondi's place in Greenhills. Wonderful photos are from Ging (visit her awesome photo blog!) and Tin and Buddy.

Here are the girls looking radiant with their baby bumps. They're even wearing coordinated shirts that says "Due in SEPT".

And the cupcakes. I made Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes and Strawberry Butter Cupcakes topped with Vanilla Buttercream. It was a little difficult making the cupcakes using an oven that I never used before and with very limited tools like having to do with a hand mixer. Mama's oven was pretty much unused for the entire year (the last use was Dec last year for some Christmas hams she made) so it was very "cold". It choked up a few times in the middle of my baking and temperature fluctuates so the cakes were not as moist as I wanted it to be. I was also supposed to make Pink and Blue cupcakes because Ly is having a boy and Ice is having a girl. The mint green ones were supposed to be light blue but for some reason, the color that I bought at the supermarket back home won't give me the light blue hue that I wanted. Here's how the cupcakes looked like. Here's Ly and Chen sampling the cupcakes.
Parents-to-be Bryan and Ice also taking a bite. And Manueli! I love this shot!
The Dacios, Manuel and Ly with Baby Sam in mommy's tummy, during Charades.
And the Cabicos, Bryan and Ice with Baby Jem.

Some of the fun games that Chen prepared for everyone. Here's Donald during Charades.
Roy and Buddy during that glug-glug game (I don't know how it's called!).
And it's us girls enjoying some Pancit and Barbecue for dinner.
I had fun at the party, and I bet the everyone had a great time. It was nice seeing old friends again. Thanks Chen for planning out the baby shower party. It was a blast! And here's Chen with her and Bondi's gwapo bundle of joy, Seb.

Back From Vacation

I'm back from my vacation and back from my mini-baking hiatus. Of course seeing Creamy was the highlight of my vacation! (Kidding). Here's Creamy under the table watching me bake cupcakes. He's been waiting for me to give him a piece of cake.

My Mama, Tita Len and I also went on a 4 day vacation to Hongkong and Macau. I'd be back because I don't have nice photos. Hehe. Here's the Hongkong skyline as seen from Kowloon.

And the Venetian in Macau. This is their mini-version of St. Mark's Square.

They should have put Pigeons on it like in Venice and I will have my finger bitten again by those birds to feed them with some bird food that you HAD to buy for 2 euros. Hehe.