Tag Archives: cake

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I remember my first encounter with the stately coconut cake. It was my first christmas in the usa. My husband was still alive and well at that time. We sat around the bar in front of my mother in law’s magnificent rockefella center – esque tree. It was brilliant. It towered over me. It must have been at least 15 feet tall. It sparkled and glowed with all its grandiose. It was no humble tree. Despite the blinding lights from the corner of my eye i spotted s simple white cake. It was elegant and luxurious in its simplicity. A true beauty. I soon found out that it was a coconut cake. Sometimes when something looks so perfect on the outside, the inside can sometimes disappoint. Nothing ruins greatness more than the anticipation if greatness. It was good cake. Tender, moist and had an examplary crumb structure. The frosting wasn’t overwhelming, it was just right. My only issue was that it did not explode with the flavour of coconut. Apart from the superficial beauty of the coconut on the frosting it tasted like the almond extract in dr pepper that i loathe so vehemently. I was unimpressed.

I remember being in awe that night and I continue to be in awe by the beauty of grand christmas trees and coconut cakes. Since that day I have always fantasized about perhaps one day making my own stately coconut cake.

I recently found myself in brazil. I bought some goiabada. Guava paste. I became obsessed with the idea if making a coconut lime guava cake. I did some online trolling and i came up with a white coconut lime cake, sandwiched in between guava jam and frosted with a lime swiss meringue buttercream.

It was a tropical fiesta masquerading as a stately coconut cake.

Coconut-lime guava cake

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Should I glaze or should I drizzle?

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I haven’t made an entry to my very sad food blog for a while. And the first sentence of my first entry after a really long time is as unimaginative and unoriginal as it gets. I bore myself typing sometimes.

Although it has been a while since I made a personal contribution it does not mean I haven’t been baking. I’ve made more cinnamon rolls since. A nasty wheat crust French Silk Pie that took forever to thicken over the double boiler. My right arm was all sore after that episode. Totally not worth it. And on that same day Joe made his croissants and I made Povitica ( a croation/ slovenian nut bread roll).  I was trying to make Joe’s grandma like me a little more and so I bravely or should I say stupidly attempted to make this nutty bread roll which in theory seemed easy enough. Tragically things did not quite go my way. It is always about finding the right recipe. And if you think a recipe from a Croation Ladies church fund rising cook book would do the trick, you are wrong and so was I. The filling was simply to thin to spread over the bread dough. I was left with a nutty gooey mess.

As always i digress.

Focus.

I bought a really lovely bundt pan many months ago. Bundt pans are really cool looking. I am attracted to not only the hole in the middle but also the height that one gets from making a bundt cake. It simply looks so grand without having to layer the cake. I have been procrastinating for the longest time to use the bundt pan as it seems like a bundt cake would require way too many eggs and we would be left with way too much cake to eat. Fortunately I came across a recipe that merely requires 3 eggs and vegetable oil. Plus, I have a bag of butterscotch chips just laying around waiting to be used.

Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake!

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The cake turned out pretty nicely. I must say my discounted Home Goods bundt pan did not disappoint. It produced a cake that was evenly browned on the outside, beautifully cooked on the inside and the best part….it just glided out of the pan effortlessly. I was impressed.

The cake was moist and tender. The perfect combination of pumpkin, butterscotch, cinnamon and nutmeg was so comforting and warm on a cold, wet fall evening. The aroma of pumpkin and cinnamon wafted through out the apartment 10 minutes before the bundt cake was ready. It felt like getting a big hug.

When the cake was ready I was torn between a Spiked Butterscotch Rum Glaze or a Butterscotch and Dark Chocolate Drizzle. I was afraid of ruining the bundt cake’s perfection with the wrong adornment. I picked something familiar and safe. The drizzle. Coward! Oh well. I just did not want to fuck it up! Sorry if that is so wrong. I am older now. 32 this coming October. I don’t take as many risks and leaps of faith as I used to. I am more afraid to make mistakes. It sucks but i guess that’s what happens when you are forced to grow up. I miss those care free, frivolous days. Perhaps one day.

In the meantime I have a Butterscotch Pumpkin Bundt Cake. And so I eat and stare in awe at its magnificent beauty. Cake will have to do for now.

Almond Praline Cheesecake

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Every once in a while I have a hankering for cheesecake.

My idea of a perfect cheesecake is one that is rich, creamy and luscious in flavour but has a contrasting light and fluffy almost pillow like texture.

The perfect cheesecake does not have deep seismic cracks on it. It is smooth and bump free. Whenever my cheesecake have gaping holes on its surface, my heart cracks the same way. I feel like I have failed in my mission. I feel a little disheartened. With a tinge of guilt and shame I try to cover up the botched job. It looks attractive again but no matter how great tasting the cheesecake is, deep down I know the truth and it hurts.

Joe loves Key Lime Cheesecake and I have made it several times. There was this one night that I decided to make some for a neighbour’s party. It must have been past 11pm when I started to embark on my cake making. In my dimly lit kitchen I followed the directions on my hand written recipe note-card.

Joe's Favourite Key Lime Cheesecake

The next night after sending the cake down and missing the party because of work, I realised that I had put twice as much key lime juice as what the recipe had called for. I shuddered in horror. Our neighbours were nice and polite and never mentioned anything about how sour it was. Shit happens.

So on a dull Sunday morning where I sit on reserve awaiting the dreaded call from the crew desk, I figured I would have enough time to amuse myself by baking a cheesecake.

I began scouring for cheesecake recipes. I then found a recipe that I thought Joe might enjoy. Joe likes cheesecake and he likes peanut brittle. So it was decided then an Almond Praline Cheesecake. I had a bag of slivered almonds that needed to be used from the days of my obsession with all things Macaron.

So I spent the morning toasting almonds in a pan, beating cream cheese and eggs and later on making the praline. I was excited as I watched the cheesecake bake in the oven.

There is an unexplainable joy in watching your cake rise in the oven and not have it form a volcanic mound in the middle or crack open.

I have learnt from my numerous mistakes.

(1) Let the cream cheese get to room temperature.

(2) Do not over beat the mixture.

(3) No matter how anxious one gets, DO NOT open the oven door till the timer beeps.

(4) Let the damn cheesecake cool in the oven for 30 – 60 minutes.

The Almond Praline Cheesecake turned out crack free. It was perfection in its looks. I was almost a little sad to have to cover the top of the cake with the Almond Praline. It was like plastering make-up on a flawless natural beauty. Sadly it had to be done for the greater good.

The cheesecake was truly decadent. Luscious and creamy yet when you sink your teeth and tongue into it, you hear and feel the soft collapse of air with every bite. The Almond praline added a little crunch. It made the already rich cheesecake even more decadent. An after thought was that perhaps I should have added a pinch of salt for an added contrast to the praline.

Irregardless, one slice is all you need. Bliss.

The tragedy of the Kuih Lapis Kacang that was not meant to be

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So I woke up really early today so that I could catch a ride from Joe to go to the Asian store. The newly found enthusiasm that I have to explore Malay cooking has led to serious trolling of several Malay food blogs.

Lo and behold, I spotted a reliable looking Kuih Koleh-Koleh recipe. Kuih Koleh-Koleh is a complex, elaborate Malay dessert. Well, at least in my mind. Koleh-Koleh consists of a brown sticky custard that has a caramel, nutty, creamy flavour. And is topped with Tahi Minyak which literally means Oil Shit. What it really is, is coconut milk reduced till the point it curdles and turn a dark chocolate colour and releases coconut oil. The curdled crumbly goodness that remains is known as Tahi Minyak and is sprinkled on top of the steamed brown sticky custard. Tahi Minyak is like the icing on a Malay cake. It adds a new dimension to this humble looking steamed cake. Yum! Just thinking about it makes me salivate. Not quite sure what it is doing to fellow readers who have never had these little bits of brown goodness. Oily shit might not stimulate your salivary glands like it does for me.

You might notice that I swing from calling it a custard then a cake. “Make up your mind already,” you say. Which is it? It really isn’t a cake or a custard. More like a cross between the two. It is complicated like that.

Anyway, it was not Kuih Koleh-Koleh that led me to the Asian store this morning. Kuih Koleh-Koleh just seemed a little intimidating to me. I am merely an amateur with very little experience in making Malay kuih despite being Malay. I only know how to eat them. I later came across a seemingly less complicated recipe from a Kuih Lapis Kacang Hijau (Layered Green Bean Cake). It looked delicious and manageable. And I don’t have to deal with making the extra component of making the Tahi Minyak which require laborious stirring of the coconut milk for an extended period of time.

So Kuih Lapis Kacang Hijau it is.

When I got to the Asian store, the Malaysian/Indonesian section was bare! I don’t see the green bean flour that I thought I saw a month ago. All that was left was hoon kwee flour that is split mung bean flour. I was disappointed and panicked for a second. I scurried to the Thai/Vietnamese flour section. No Green Bean Flour!!!!

As I wandered around the different aisles I spotted Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour. I pondered for a minute. Maybe this might work. For some reason I thought it looked like green bean flour although I don’t even quite know what green bean flour is suppose to look like. I took comfort in the fact that the packaging looked Filipino-ish. Most Filipinos are Malay by race and there are little overlaps in our language, food and physical appearance.

So Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour it is.

As I stood at the check-out line I asked the Vietnamese cashier? “Do you know what kind of Bean this Bean flour is made of?” ” I think it is Mung bean (a.ka. green bean). It usually is.” She sounded confident in her guess. I got the semi-confirmation that I so badly wanted.

I googled Moi-Moi Akara bean flour when I got home.

Apparently Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour is used in Nigerian cuisine. NOT Filipino as I had guessed. I am still not a 100% sure what bean it is made of but there is a mention of black eye peas. So I figured how bad can it turn out.So I chance it.

The first funky feeling I got was when I added the coconut milk mixture to the flour. Earthy, raw soya bean smell started to emit from the mixture. I thought it just needs to be cooked. It will smell better. And as I steamed it layer by layer, it smelled and looked like it was coming together.

I was optimistic but cautious.

I let it cool. I unmoulded it. Took a deep breath and cut into it.

Hmm..pretty gross. Not quite what I had in mind. Gummy. Muddy. Brought me back to that one time I added a wheat grass shot into my orange-carrot juice at Jamba. Overall, YUCK!

I know now that Moi-Moi Akara bean flour is not the same as green bean flour.

Upon closer inspection of the packaging of the Moi-Moi Akara Bean flour. Smack in the middle was a map of Africa. There was also a picture of a mud hut with a lady in a Gomesi pounding some beans.

I feel stupid. I am also disappointed. This sucks. I failed. Into the bin it goes.

I blame BING BONG BANG!!

I won’t give up. Will get it right the next time round. And the next time it will be Kuih Koleh-Koleh, Oily Shit and all!