Saturday, 23 June 2012

Dragon Boat Festival 端午節

Dragon Boat Festival 端午節 is the 5th Day of the 5th month in the Chinese Calendar.  Usually falling in early June but this year it is today, 23rd June.

It means that there are sticky rice parcels to eat "Joong" in Cantonese 粽 - YUMMY!  Chinese isn't romanised well and you may recognise it as being Chung, Zong-Zi.  Basically it is a bamboo leaf wrapped parcel containing glutinous rice.  They can be savoury and filled with a variety of fillings some dependent on your region (salted duck yolk, mung bean and 5-spice pork belly is a common in Southern China - Guangdong).  You can also have a sweet variety where the rice is soaked in water with added alkali water.  When cooked the rice is yellow and you eat it dipped in sugar, syrup or have red bean paste in them.  Not my thing really.

My mum is a whizz at making Joong - but she makes what I describe a pillow shape.  I have not mastered this technique and I remember when I was younger, my mum going round to one of her friend's house to teach her a few of her friends how to wrap pillow Joong.  Not sure if she is making any this year as she has been busy with work.  I must video her technique so this skills are not lost!

In the meantime, here is a video of Joong wrapping.  This one is of a Pyramid shape which my mum wants to learn >.<   Will have to get her to watch this!  This video is in Cantonese :)

Happy Dumpling Festival!

Triangle Shaped Rice Dumpling

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Chiffon Cake Photos II

These are taken from the digital camera - hopefully better picture quality than the camera phone!

Here is a Gluten-Free Lemon Chiffon. I have a gluten intolerant friend and I made this cake as a treat for her.  She was having a stressful day decorating a 2-tier surprise birthday cake for her mum and I wanted to bring a smile to her.

This is the Mango Chiffon I created for my birthday.  It still stands fairly tall baked in a round springform tin despite not having a central tube to climb up on during baking.  I think this was a 9" cake.  It was also another gluten-free chiffon.

Ideally, I should've used more cream to top cake with but I wanted it to be not as sinful as I had a friend who was on a diet - too much cream and she may not even try it!

My gluten intolerant friend enjoyed the lemon chiffon so much she asked me to make another but fill it with cream, raspberries and strawberries for her partner's birthday.  I would like to have glazed the fruits but sometimes you have to go with what the customer wants!

Chiffon Cake Photos

These are a selection of photos taken from my camera phone (hence not great pictures and lighting).  Most have these have been celebration cakes and dressed with fruit and cream.

I made this as a surprise for a friend's 30th Birthday (July 2011)

This was for my niece's 3rd Birthday in March 2012. A Vanilla Chiffon, split in 3 layers.

Just to show you how tall my chiffon cakes usually rise - 4 egg mix in a 9" springform pan.

Mango Chiffon made for my birthday (April 2012).  Only a skimpy amount of cream as a friend was on a diet!

A Banana Chiffon I made for my mum's work - smells so good my son wants some!

Lovely, tall and airy.  I think I didn't invert this one quick enough as the top has dipped slightly and you can see the bubbles are squashed.  (Cake is inverted to serve so top of cake is actually on the bottom.)

Chiffon cakes can be successfully made using gluten-free flour! A lemon chiffon filled with fresh raspberries and cream as per my friend's request.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

Chiffon cakes is the number one cake I turn to if making a celebration cake with fruit and cream.  Its light airy layers are simply a delight to eat and sandwiched between luxuriant cream and fragrant fruit it gives you a feeling of real indulgence!  Of course you can eat chiffon cakes as they are - plain.  The moist yet light, springy texture slips down easily and you crave for another wedge! ;)

I saw several chiffon cakes posted recently (well, as in within past 3 months :p ) and it re-ignited an urge to bake a chiffon cake.  Since then I have lost count of how many I made.  Let's think now...  There was a vanilla one with cream and fruit for my niece's 3rd birthday... a chocolate one with chocolate cream for my mumma friend's birthday... I had a mango one with mango and cream... I made a plain lemon gluten-free one as a treat for a friend (she in turn asked me to make one for her partner's birthday, another gluten free lemon chiffon but decorated with cream and fruit)... I made a plain banana one for my mum to enjoy at work... and today I hastily whipped a chocolate one for my neighbour's birthday.  They had invited us to a BBQ at theirs and I don't like going to friend's places empty-handed.

It's my trusted chiffon recipe that I now tweak here and there to suit the flavour I'm making.  I think I rushed this one as it did fall out of the tin whilst cooling (which incidentally, NEVER happens).  I could have been upset about it but frankly, it was going to be filled with cream and topped with chocolate - it wasn't going to be a show-stopper but I believed I could patch it with cream and it'd be OK - edible at least. :)
Cream and ganache - a wonderful duo for hiding inconsistencies!

The recipe is originally from Sea Dragon: as I say, I tweak bits, but essentially, it's based on his recipe.  I have tried to take photos along the way to describe the stages as I know some people are daunted by chiffon cakes.  Below is what I used today.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake

4 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
85ml sunflower oil
30g cocoa powder
125ml water
100g plain flour
2 level teaspoons baking powder
4 egg whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Filling and topping:
50ml double cream
100g milk chocolate (broken into squares)
150ml double cream
2 small (37g) bags of Malteasers (chocolate covered honeycomb balls

Preheat oven to 180 deg C.  I used a 10" round springform tin as I was willing to sacrifice depth of size of cake.

Sift flour, cocoa and baking powder 3 times and set aside.

Using a stand-alone mixer, or an electric hand-whisk, whisk egg whites until foamy (think large washing up bubbles).  Add cream of tartar and continue to whisk until thick and white. Add the 120g sugar a quarter at a time while whisking until meringue is glossy and thick. The mixture should be able to hold its shape but not be too stiff or dry, the whites will not fall out of the bowl if inverted either.  If the whites are too stiff and dry, it will take a little more effort to combine them into the cake batter.

Whisk egg yolks and 60g of sugar until pale, thick and creamy.  The mix should leave a trail for a couple of seconds before disappearing into the mix when the whisk is raised.  Slowly add the oil as you continue to whisk - it will still stay lovely and thick.  Mix in the water.  Sift in the flour mix in 3 batches and fold in until combined.

Add 1/4 of the meringue into the cake batter and using a large spoon (I use a serving spoon), mix in the meringue to loosen the batter.  Add another 1/4 of the meringue and fold gently until combined.  Repeat until all meringue is incorporated into the cake batter.

Pour into the cake tin.  (If making a plain chiffon I use a chiffon tube pan, if decorating with cream I tend to use a 9" or 10" round springform tin so I don't get a hole in my cake from the tube.) Lift the cake tin about 2 inches above the counter top and drop tin on counter.  This helps remove any large air bubbles.

Bake for about 40 - 55 minutes until a skewer inserted in middle comes out clean.  Immediately turn the tin upside down with the cake still in it to cool.  You can support the tin on the edge on tin cans to allow air to circulate under the cake.  If using a chiffon tube, I insert the hole of the tube onto a wine bottle (with liquid in it!!!) and allow the cake to balance on the neck of the wine bottle to cool.  Leave to cool completely.

Put 50ml cream in a microwaveable bowl.  Heat in microwave for 30-40 seconds until cream is hot but not boiling.  Add the squares of chocolate and stir.  If there are still lumps of chocolate that won't melt, place in microwave for further 10 seconds.  Stir until smooth, then leave aside.  This is chocolate ganache.

Whisk the remaining cream until firm but not stiff peaks.  Using the side of a large bladed knife or a rolling pin, crush one bag of Malteasers until broken.  Fold Malteaser pieces into the cream and chill.
When cake is completely cold to the touch, split into 2 layers and sandwich with the Malteaser cream.

Give the ganache a stir before pouring ontop of cake and spread to cover.  Decorate with remaining bag of Malteasers.  Chill before serving.

The chiffon is usually higher than this but I think I measured my flour out wrong!
As I mentioned, my cake fell out of the tine during cooling.  I flipped the tin the right way up and tried to put the cake back into the tin.  The cake somehow cracked into 3 wedges!  I ran a thin spatula round the inside of the tin to loosen the edges before removing the springform collar.  I then slid the spatula under the cake to remove it from the base of the tin.  I assembled the wedges the best I could before proceeding to split, fill and decorate the cake.  I was hopingthe cream and ganache would patch and hide the cracks!  It wasn't the best looking chiffon I'd made but resembled a whole cake at least!

I'll do a post with step-by-step pictures and a separate post of chiffon cakes I've made - some decorated - some plain. :)

Looking back through my chiffon pictures on my blog - you can see where I have made a more successful Chocolate Chiffon!

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Chocolate Refrigerator Cake

Can't believe how quickly time passes!  My last Blog Entry was almost 6 months ago?!?!  Naughty me!

I will have to learn to write short posts and I dunno, edit photos so they are a collage of pictures in one post?  I hate waiting for the upload time :p

Chunks of moreish Refrigerator Cake :)

OK, this chocolate confection goes by many names: No-Cook Cake, Chocolate Tiffin, Chocolate Biscuit Cake (Prince William's favourite apparently), Rocky Road and of course, Chocolate Refrigerator Cake.  Needless to say, many names means many recipes.  I was inspired to make this after seeing a Facebook post from this lady, Jo Wheatley, winner of Great British Bake Off 2.  She has a Facebook page which I have been following.  Her picture of these decadent goodies made me want to make this...

When I make something, I now have an annoying habit of googling the name of the item and reading different variations of the recipe before I make my mind up which to follow.  If it's measured in grams opposed to cups, then I'm more likely to try it - just because I put my bowl on the digital scales and throw things in as I need to. 

I used this Annabel Karmel recipe as my base and used Jo's ideas to create my refrigerator cake.  It is delicious with crunchy and gooey textures and quite rich!

The chocolate mix turned out into my swiss-roll tin ready for chilling

Chocolate Refrigerator Cake


150g/5oz milk chocolate
150g/5oz dark chocolate
100g/3½oz unsalted butter
150g/5oz golden syrup
small bag of Malteasers (honeycombe balls covered in chocolate 37g bag)
small bag of Minstrels (chocolate buttons encased in a candy shell 42g)
small bag of White Chocolate Buttons (70g)
8 biscuits (rich tea, ginger snaps, digestives, oat biscuits ~ any would work)
50g rice pop cereal
10 marshmallow lumps - quartered (could use mini-marshmallows too)

I made this cake with one bowl, one spoon.  Minimal washing up!  I put my bowl (microwaveable) on my digital scales and added things as I went along - it saved getting separate bowls messy and having lots to wash up :)

Break chocolate into pieces into a microwaveable bowl.
Add the cubed butter and the golden syrup to the bowl.  
Microwave at 100%  (mine is 800watt) for 30 seconds.  Take out and stir the contents.  If there are any remaining lumps of chocolate, microwave again for 15 seconds.  The mixture does not need to be hot, just warm enough to melt the chocolate.  Stirring continuously will help.
When the mix has all turned to liquid, tip in your Malteasers, Buttons, Minstrels, rice cereal, marshmallows and snap the biscuits up as you add them in too.  You can put these in a bowl and bash lightly with the end of a rolling pin if you like - but do not turn it into crumbs - lumpy is fine.
When everything is thoroughly coated in chocolate, tip out onto a shallow tray (I used 20cm x 30cm) lined with cling film (make sure there is excess cling film off the edges to wrap the cake).
Level out as best you can with the back of a spoon. 
Fold the excess cling film over the cake and place in fridge to set (1-2 hours).  Cut into small pieces.  It is quite rich so you do not need a big piece :)

I decorated the top of my cake with drizzles of white and dark chocolate before cutting it up :)
Melt one bar of white chocolate (100g).
Melt remaining dark chocolate left over from making refrigerator cake (50g) - left over milk chocolate is for stress-related emergencies >.<
Drizzle, squiggle, splodge the melted chocolate over the cake as your creative talents allow :)  Replce in fridge for a few mins to harden before chopping into as large/small pieces as you like :)

The beauty of this cake is you can adjust the ingredients as you like.  Add chopped dried fruit (raisins, apricots, dates, stem ginger, sour cherries, cranberries, list is endless...) and nuts (hazlenut, brazil, pistachio) if you prefer.  Or soak the dried fruit in alcohol for 24 hrs prior to making this if you want it to be an adult-only treat!

See the soft, gooey marshmallow, crisp, crunchy Malteaser?

Bagged and ready as a birthday gift to my neighbour :)