Saturday, November 29, 2008

November Daring Bakers Challenge 5

This month's challenge is Caramel Cake with Caramelized Butter Frosting by Shuna Lydon. I had made a caramel cake once, but the cake itself is not Caramel. It was a hot milk cake that I just frosted with some caramel. I told myself back then that I would make a real caramel cake one day, and I just totally forgot about it.

The challenge had 3 components - the cake, the frosting and the caramel syrup.

The caramel syrup was a combination of cooked sugar and water, brought to a boil with amber color, then later on poured with a cup of water to stop the caramelization. It was quite tricky, and scary because of the spatter from the smoking caramel. This caramel syrup once cooled will be a common ingredient that will be used for both the cake and the frosting.

We were free to decide what size of cake to make for the caramel cake and I decided to make it using a 6x2 inch pan. With the full recipe, I was able to make 3 layers of cake. Making the cake was fairly easy, starting with creaming the butter and sugar, then adding the caramel syrup, eggs. Then the flour was added 3 parts with milk added in between. The cakes cooked for 30 minutes.

The frosting is new for me, in that it uses cooked butter. I had to cook the butter until it was brown, then add the confectioner's sugar, heavy cream, caramel syrup, vanilla and kosher salt.

To assemble the cake, I just stacked it one after the other with a thin layer of frosting in between. I crumb coated the cake, and then added rope weaves all over the cake. I then decorated it with a few pieces of leftover gumpaste flowers and butterflies that I had.

I had quite a few expectations about the cake because I made it later on when I had read comments about it being too sweet from fellow DBers. I even made a concious effort in adding a little more salt to the frosting to cut back on the sweetness.

So how was the final cake?

First of all to note, the smell of the final caramel cake was just divine. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I sliced a small piece of it to try and yes, the frosting was really a little sweet to my liking. Or maybe I'm not just used to frostings using confectioner's sugar. The cake, however, was very good. It was moist and the texture was fine. And the caramel flavor was wonderfully infused in the cake. Overall, it was a tasty cake and the challenge had been fun.

Special Thanks to:

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lemon Muffin Cupcakes

It had been a very hectic week at work and some work still spilled over the weekend. I got a very early weekend work call at 7:30am after having stopped working at 2am. It's sick! I was so stressed that all week, I had been looking forward to a weekend of lazing around the house doing nothing, or maybe bake something.

I decided to make few cupcakes today, just to be able to get my oven burning, my creative juices flowing and keep my mind off work. I made some Lemon cupcakes today using Sarah's Lemon Blueberry Muffin recipe. I was actually browsing through my recipes and I found it sitting for the longest time in my to-try list. I did not have blueberries in the fridge, and I planned on substituting it for raspberry, but I got lazy. Hehe. I ended up with just the Lemon cupcakes.

Making the batter and baking was fairly breezy for me, and for some reason, making the frosting is a bigger for me. Not that it's harder to make, I just don't quite enjoy making it like the batter, but it's still fun nevertheless. Oftentimes, I would bake something and we would end up eating the cake bare because I got lazy making the frosting (most recently, the cream cheese pound cake eaten bare!). But this time though, I still have some leftover frozen Italian buttercream that should be good enough for 12 pieces of cupcakes.

The cupcakes were out of the oven after 30 minutes while I sat down by my PC reading about Iphone3G vs Blackberry Storm. Hehe. The cupcakes looked really pretty, they domed nicely and not one cupcake fell out of the liner! This recipe is quite a keeper, I said to myself. The cupcakes also never fell flat once cooled. I immediately tried one of the cupcakes and it was so lemony good! I was expecting the cupcake to be dense and heavy because the recipe was for a muffin, but I was glad that it was fluffy and moist.

I frosted some with a layer of the buttercream and then topped it with a piece of fondant. The others, I swirled with buttercream. My theme for decorating the cupcakes was butterflies, each cupcake with different colors, and I wanted to go over the top with the flowers. However, I ran out of fondant! So, some cupcakes ended up with more flowers than the others. So here are some of the cupcakes, my favorite is the white one (I know it's dull!). Tell me which one is your favorite. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Orange Sponge Cake

I promised myself that I will not bake anything until I clean up my house and with that motivation, I started cleaning up yesterday non-stop. After a few scratches and falling from the chair while cleaning the ceiling, I finished today and as my reward, I baked
Priscilla's Orange Sponge Cake with Neoclassic French Buttercream. The sponge cake is Sarah's recipe passed on to her by her mom.

I have made a sponge cake once, but it's the hot milk sponge cake which is made not with the traditional way of making one. I did not attempt making a sponge cake earlier because I know it would be difficult, like the genoise. I get second thoughts of baking anything that requires beating eggs and carefully folding the flour because it is very easy to ruin the batter, and waste ingredients. However, I do want to try cakes out of my comfort zone once in a while.

I needed 5 eggs for this recipe, and when I went to the supermarket, the chatty old man who works at the dairy area was there arranging new stacks of eggs. He would often chat with me whenever I get eggs or butter. I was looking for large eggs, and he told me that he had a stack of 12 XL eggs sold the same price as the 10 large ones. I told him that I needed large only, but he insisted on me taking the XL ones because he said it's a bargain, and with a hearty laugh, he asked me what difference would it make if I cook with it? Knowing that it would make a deal of difference baking with different sized eggs, but not wanting to disappoint the nice old man, and not wanting to have a lengthy argument (Israelis love to argue by the way :P), I just took the XL eggs. Anyway, no point of arguing because when I looked at the eggs in the carton, the eggs were NOT XL although marked as XL. Hehe.

So anyway, on with baking the sponge cake, I separated the whites and the yolks, beating both separately and aftewhich, I need to fold them together with the flour. Some people have heavy hands, and they often complain that they overfold eggs. As for me, my common mistake is I normally underfold. I'm trying to improve on this folding thingy, lest all my cakes will be sinking. I also used fresh oranges for the cake which I squeezed. I can't help it so I drank some of the juice. Hehe. After folding all the eggs, flour and the juice, I baked the cake for 40 minutes and it smelled wonderful!

The sponge cake was supposed to go with an orange glaze, but I had leftover egg yolks that I wanted to use so I made the Neoclassic French Buttercream. I made the orange variation so that it would go perfectly with the orange sponge cake. Making the French Buttercream was similar, even almost the same to the Italian Buttercream, only that the French uses egg yolks while the Italian uses egg whites. I also used some orange zest and juice for the buttercream.

Once the cake is cooled, I decorated it with simple pipes of the buttercream. After a few photos, I cut the cake and the texture was very fine. This is the fluffiest cake that I've ever made. The texture was so fine and soft, and the color was perfect light yellow. I'm so happy with how the cake turned out, it's so delicious. The recipe itself was a classic, and even if it is just my first time baking a real sponge cake, it was successful.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Allspice Applesauce Spice Cake

For sometime now, Sarah's Allspice Applesauce Cake had been on my to-bake list and I finally tried it over the weekend. I am now officially in love with spice cakes! The cake is very fragrant and wonderfully moist, and the flavors on it were awesome.

The recipe was also very easy to make, and it baked nicely flat and straight. No need to trim or crop the sides or the top.

I frosted the cake with Italian Buttercream, which is not my usual buttercream. I was actually afraid of making the Italian version because it requires boiling the sugar first then pouring it into the egg whites. I think it is very easy to ruin the buttercream, but once I get started, it just went smoothly. I will be making some more of this, with all other flavors, to be able to say that it will be in my repertoire since it is harder to make. However, this first version that I made is fabulous! It is light, smooth, but luxurious.

It is very easy to forget calories while eating this cake because even if the cake is dense, you won't get easily full, or you won't get easily umay. The raisins and the walnuts yet add more flavors to the already delicious cake. I ended up chatting away and not noticing that I already finished a couple of slices!

Friday, November 7, 2008

One Fine Day

Today is a special day and we thought of going out in the beach and have a meal at one of the restaurants downstairs by the beach. The beach was also very inviting, no waves and very few people so we also thought of taking a dip after the meal. However, when I went outside my terrace, the wind was chilly so we just decided to have our meal at my apartment. I will just be cooking with whatever I have at home and we will have a full course meal. Hehe. I'm so not into fancy eating and fine dining but it's OK with me once in a while. So I created today's menu. There's only that much ingredients sitting in my fridge. I was not able to go to the supermarket the entire week because we were busy with all of our test program releases. However, I think we did good with the meals we have and I'm still full right now, after 4 hours.

Hors D'Oeuvres

I bought Beluga Caviar when we went to Istanbul last September and we planned on eating it today. One of my main goals when I went to Istanbul was to hunt for a bargain caviar in the Spice Bazaar. We went to the Spice Bazaar almost closing time and once we got in and started asking for prices, it was ridiculously expensive! Well, for me at least. The prices started at 400 euros for 100grams. I won't be able to buy one, I thought. So much for my dream caviar. However, as we went deep inside the stalls, we stumbled on one stall ran by two nice gentlemen. My friends bought a lot of Turkish Delights and sweets from them. I was still not sold to the caviar. The gentleman started the price at 140 euros and then went to 70 euros for 100grams. I told him that I will come back and he said that if I come back, he will give me more discount. So the next day, I went back and redeemed the promised discount and after 30 minutes of haggling, I have my precious caviar for 40 euros with free 10 grams of Iranian Saffron. I was like scheming Blair Waldorf who got what she wanted. Haha! Manny told me that the smirk on my face that day was priceless!


I'm no wine expert but I do keep a few wines at home for those meals where it's meaty and all. I opened a Chardonnay for the Caviar.


I made a Split Pea and Mushroom Soup. I was already hungry while I was cooking so I decided to prepare a hot soup for the grumbling tummy. The soup is made of peas and button mushrooms sauteed in garlic and shallots on heavy cream, with a dash of garlic salt and thyme. The bread is also homemade, this is my first time to actually make a loaf bread and it was a keeper. The recipe is of course from my mentor, Sarah Phillips. I used Wheat Flour for the bread.


For the starter course, I sauteed some Shrimps and Calamari and dressed it with White Wine Cream Sauce with a little Parsley on top. This in itself could have been a full meal already.

Main Course

As for the main course, we had grilled steaks. My rub for the steak was pretty simple, but the steaks are very tasty. I just rubbed it with Kosher Salt, crushed black pepper and Garlic Salt, then let it rest for a few minutes before grilling. I like my steak medium rare to medium, still a little pink on the inside but not bloody. Manny likes his steak medium to medium well. To go with the steaks were some buttered vegetables, which is basically just peas and carrots. Not being able to go to the supermarket means not having fresh veggies at home. :)


For our dessert, I have previously made an Allspice Applesauce Cake with Mousseline Buttercream. The cake was very fragrant and bursting with flavors from all the spices on the cake, allspice, cinnamon, ground ginger. The buttercream is also a perfect compliment for the cake since it is very light and just yummy. Though it is not a typical dessert, it was what I have at the fridge today and it was very good anyways! After having made a few cakes a few days ago loaded with chocolates, this is a very nice (and yummy!) change.

So there goes our day. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Chewy Cookies

I managed to bake some cookies today to send home. I was planning on making at least 4 cookie flavors but I ended up with 2. The cookie tin that I will be using to put the cookies in was a lot smaller than I thought and after putting in a few pieces of the first batch of cookies, there was very little space left. I made Sarah's Thick-With-A-Chew Chocolate Chip Cookies first, and then make the Peanut Butter Version next. I thought of making some cookies using a new recipe but I thought not to bother since I have very good recipes and my parents have not tried any of my cookies anyway. So I'm sending them the best cookies out of very reliable recipes.

I made the cookies while cooking dinner. It's easy to make but it's so good! During my pre-baking days here in Israel, Manny and I would go to the building next to ours and buy a 6NIS (or 2USD) to buy a piece of cookie, and it was not even that good! Hehe.

So now the cookies are all canned up and sealed ready to bring back home. I'm pretty sure these cookies will make it because it can easily be in the luggage unlike the cupcakes that I sent which the airport security turned upside down. The cookies were so chewy and the flavors are wonderful! I'm pretty sure they would love these, I just hope my mama would not give some of the chocolate chips to Creamy! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Pumpkin Walnut Cream Cheese Roll

I made the Pumpkin Walnut Cream Cheese Roll by Sarah Phillips today. It's my first time making a roulade and first time making a cake with Pumpkin in it. The only vegetable that I have tried putting on a cake is Carrots and I was excited to taste how a Pumpkin would taste together with the entire cake ensemble. The Pumpkin Roulade is a traditional cake served on Thanksgiving and growing up in the Philippines, the only time I get to eat Pumpkin (or is it squash?) is when my father would cook his special Chili Crabs in Coconut Milk (yum!).

It's about time that I make a roulade. I kept putting it off since December last year when I thought of making a Christmas log. So I started with mixing the batter of the Pumpkin Cake. I went on the long route of making this cake because I cannot find canned solid pack pumpkin and crystallized ginger here in Israel. Yes, it's pumpkin and ginger together, with cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, lemon juice, nuts. The recipe required walnuts but I also cannot find any at the supermarket, so I substituted it with Pecans. Mixing the batter is similar to a genoise in that it starts with whipping the egg and sugar then adding the rest of the ingredients. After a few minutes of mixing, I spread the batter onto a floured jelly roll. The cake baked for 15 minutes and it smelled wonderful!

Once removed from the oven, I started to unmold the sides from the pan and then rolled it in a parchment paper over a kitchen towel. I left it to cool completely while wrapped in the towel. While the cake is cooling, I make the cream cheese filling. Once the cake is cooled, I filled the middle with cream cheese filling and rolled it again. I let it cool in the fridge, and while doing so, I made the spike cream. The spike cream is a mixture of heavy cream, vanilla, a little powdered sugar and a little rum extract. I beat it until it's stiff.
After an hour in the fridge, I removed my rolled cake from the parchment paper, frosted it with some more cream cheese frosting and topped with spike cream swirls and walnuts. Here's how the cake looked like. It was not as hard as I thought it would be. And the taste was a real surprise for me. Having no idea how it would taste like, I anticipated not liking the final cake. And I'm glad I was wrong. It was so delicious that we needed second slices of the cake. I'm excited to have it again tomorrow, for breakfast. :)