Monday, 20 August 2012

Black Forest Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 10:06 pm

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Birthday cake number 3! Three cakes in two weeks! This time it's for my brothers’ (twins) and sister-in-law’s birthdays. Requests came in for something chocolaty. I’ve made black forest cake once before. When I made it in the past, I searched high and low for the ideal cake. I settled on this one from SBS food as a guide. My previous attempt was good, but this was definitely better. What changed? The chocolate sponge cake recipe. I adapted a “family chocolate cake” recipe from the Women’s Weekly Home Baked recipe book (page 161). The cake was moist, tasty and not too sweet.

Black forest cake is not that difficult to make but can be very fiddly, considering you have to split the cake into three layers (or bake in 3 separate and equal size tins), plus assembling it, then decorating it. With decorating, you can be as elaborate or as simple as you want. The essential bit is covering it with chocolate cream. How much topping and chocolate curls or flakes you put is up to you. I also learnt there is no easy, mess-free way of putting chocolate flakes on the side of the cake but to just grab handfuls of chocolate flakes in some relatively cold hands and just make a mess. Check out the video link for some decorating ideas. 

I used the last bit of cream in a can to try make little floral blobs on top... but it melted - fail! Oh well! You can skip over that part.

Ingredients
Chocolate cake
500ml of water
2 cups of white sugar
250g butter, chopped
1/3 cup, cocoa powder
1 tspn bicarb of soda
3 cups self-rasing flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten

Assembling cake
680g jar of Morello cherries
80ml water
same volume of caster sugar as water
30ml kirsch (1 shot)
500ml thickened cream
6 to 10 Tblspn icing sugar (to taste)
25g cocoa powder
1 tspn vanilla essence
6 Tblspn jam (strawberry, raspberry or cherry)

Decorating cake
~ 100g chocolate flakes
Sifted icing sugar for dusting
Fresh cherries to garnish,


Method
Chocolate cake
1. Grease and line a 22cm round cake tin (preferably not a springform cake tin as it may leak with the mixture fairly runny)

2. In a medium saucepan combine water, sugar, butter, combined cocoa and bicarb soda. Stir over medium heat, without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Then bring mixture to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to a mixing bowl and allows to cool to room temperature.

3. Add flour and eggs to cooled mixture. Beat with electric mixer until smooth and changed colour to a paler colour.

4. Pour mixture into prepared dish. Bake cake in moderate oven (170C) for about 50 minutes or until cooked. Using a skewer prick the middle and it should come out clean. If you see the cake starting to crack, reduce the heat. When cooked, remove from oven and stand cake in pan for 5 minutes before turning on to wire rack. Turn cake top-side up to cool.

Assembling cake
1. Drain cherries from jar. Cut cherries in half. Set aside.

2. In a small saucepan, bring water and sugar to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in kirsch. Set aside to cool.

3. Beat cream, icing sugar and cocoa until firm peaks. The volumes I've stated above is approximate. You'll need to keep tasting to suit your liking. Cocoa will add the colour and flavour but also the bitterness, so balance this with the icing sugar. Be sure as you add to the sugar, you sift it in to avoid lumps.

4. Split cake into 3 even layers. Refer to my tips and tricks article on how to slice layers with with dental floss or fishing line.

5. Place the first layer on your serving plate. lightly brush with kirsch syrup, spread with half the jam, spread a layer of cream, scatter half the cherries evenly over. Carefully place the next layer on top. Gently press down.

6. Again lightly brush with kirsch syrup, spread jam, spread a layer of cream and scatter the rest of the Morello cherries. Carefully place the last layer on top and gently press down.

7. Brush kirsch on top layer. Spread cream all around the cake smoothly with the remaining cream.

Decorating cake
1. Pat chocolate flakes on sides and top of cake.

2. top cake with chocolate curls.

3. Garnish with piped cream, fresh cherries and sifted icing sugar.

Happy birthday and enjoy!


View album


Melted cream - the can ran out of air :p


View album
Still tastes good :)

Friday, 17 August 2012

Tiramisu

Posted by Kim Fong On 4:55 pm

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August is a busy month for me. Four of my siblings' birthdays, plus friends' birthdays too.

Following the success of the rainbow cake, it was time for a "grown-up's" birthday cake. How much more grown-up can you get but with a Tiramisu! Booze, caffeine and sugar - what a combo! This cake was for my sister - who loves her coffee. And is also for me - to experiment - as I've never made Tiramisu before.

The recipe I adapted is from SBS's Italian food safari and followed the decorating method set out my Much-a-Munch. Because this was a first, I followed the recipe to the letter. However, next time around, I'm definitely cutting down the sugar.

This recipe is very velvety and soft! Just lush! I had people coming back for seconds. I also made a fruity kiddy version with no coffee or chocolate. And added passionfruit pulp, raspberries and diluted mango juice. That didn't turn out so great, so no blog post on that one.

The recipe below will make a fairly large tiramisu or two 22cm round ones.

Ingredients
3 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
500g mascarpone
30ml booze (I used a hazelnut liqueur. You could use Tia Maria, Sambuca, white rum… a light liqueur is generally used)
1 packet savoiardi biscuits (500g)
500ml warm coffee
1/4 cup of cocoa (approximately)


Italian meringue
100ml water (if you cut down the sugar, you’ll probably cut down the water to 75ml)
250g caster sugar (I recommend cutting this down to 200g)
3 egg whites


Method
1. Prepare tin by greasing and lining sides and base of a spring form cake tin(s) with a bit of oil and baking paper. If you want to serve the tiramisu in a large trifle bowl, you can skip this step.

2. Place egg yolks and caster sugar in a mixing bowl, and whisk on high until pale and fluffy. Add the mascarpone and, on a medium speed, whisk until it starts to thicken. Be sure not to over-mix as you may split the mascarpone. Add the liqueur(s) and mix until just combined. (Adjust the quantity of liqueur according to personal taste.)  Set aside and make the Italian meringue.

Making the Italian Meringue
3. Add the water to a clean, grease-free saucepan, then slowly add the sugar, making sure that all the grains get wet. Place over a medium heat and bring to soft ball stage. This is about 112 to 114C. The best way to test this is to drop a bit of the sugar syrup into cold water and it will form a soft, flexible ball. If its not hot enough, it will form thread, too far the ball won’t flatten when you squeeze it. Be sure to swirl the pan (not stir with spoon) to avoid crystallising the sugar.


4. Making sure that your mixing bowl is completely grease-free, add egg whites and whisk on high speed until white and fluffy. As your egg whites reaches medium peak, start to slowly add your hot sugar syrup in a steady stream. Once all the sugar has been added, continue to whisk until the Italian meringue has completely cooled.

5. Take your Italian meringue, and carefully fold into the mascarpone mix. Taste and adjust the amount of liqueur if necessary.

6. Take your sponge finger biscuits, and quickly dip them in the coffee. Give the biscuits a light squeeze to remove any excess coffee. Try not to soak your biscuits all the way through.  There should still be a little portion in the middle that has not been soaked in the coffee.

7. Line your tin/bowl with the biscuits. Once the bowl has been completely covered with the biscuits, sprinkle with a some cocoa to lightly coat.

8. Add a little of the mascarpone mix, to cover the biscuit and form a layer above the biscuits. Cover with more coffee-soaked biscuits, and sprinkle again with the cocoa. Place some more mix on top of the biscuits, coming up about another one-third of the way up the bowl. Repeat this process once more, levelling out the mix with the top edge of the bowl.

9. Place in the fridge, and allow the tiramisu to become firm enough to cut, minimum 2 hours.

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10. Just before serving, sift cocoa to coat the top. Garnish with some strawberries. Carefully release the tin and remove the paper around the side. Serve immediately.

Note: checkout the links above for the video (SBS food) and for more decorating ideas (much a munch).

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Sunday, 12 August 2012

Rainbow (White Chocolate Mud) Cake

Posted by Kim Fong On 12:10 am


Its been a little while since I’ve baked and built a kid’s birthday cake. My last one was December last year. Strangely enough I still get a few hits for the double rainbow unicorn cake. I guess with a name like that, google search goes a little crazy! This time, I got another request for a rainbow theme. However, I decided to have a double rainbow of a different nature. A M&Ms rainbow on the outside, but a fun little surprise on the inside!!! Yes indeed, the kiddies did go a bit wild! Not sure if it's from the sugar, the vibrant cake or the fact they’re getting cake. I think it's the latter. Whatever the reason – this cake proved very popular and was “Fongolicious” as they ate it.

On the technical side, as the title suggests, I adapted a white chocolate mud cake recipe (from Donna Hay Modern Classics book 2), divided the mixture into 6, coloured them, then in order of the spectrum, I poured the mixture into the middle of the pan. As you pour each colour in it pushes the previous colour out to the edge. There are a few sites that give you some advice on how to do this in more detail. They used packet mix sponge cake. Any sort of neutral coloured mixture will work.

White Chocolate Mud Cake
Ingredients
185g butter, chopped
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (I used 1 cup)
150g white chocolate, chopped
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tspn vanilla essence
2 eggs
Yellow, red, pillar red and blue liquid food colouring

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 150 to 160C. Grease and line, with baking paper, a round cake tin (22cm).

2. Place butter, milk and sugar in a medium saucepan over low heat and stir until the butter melted and the sugar is dissolved. Take this off the heat, add chopped chocolate while butter mixture is still hot. Stir until chocolate melts and is smooth.

3. Sift flour and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Add vanilla and eggs. Add chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth.

4. Divide mixture into 6 portions, try to be as evenly distributed as possible. With each portion, add food colouring to create different colours for each portion. I chose orange yellow, red, blue, green and purple. Use separate teaspoons to mix each portion.




5. In order of the spectrum, add each portion into the middle of the cake tin. As you pour each colour, the colours pushes out to the edge.




6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool in tin, then remove from tin and decorate.




Tip: To keep the cake moist, I’ve got into a habit of putting a baking tray of water on the bottom shelf of the oven so the steam will help avoid the cake from drying out. You can also blind bake this cake (carefully place baking paper on the top of the cake mixture before placing it in the oven).


Decorating
  • Decorating this cake I used a cream cheese frosting (see my red velvet cupcake recipe) and added 2 tspn of lemon juice to give a little zing.
  • Then using M&Ms to form the rainbow.
  • And hundreds-and-thousands for the sides of the cake. I found it tricky to add the 100s and 1000s to the side of the cake, I worked out using the back of a teaspoon most effective.











 
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