In Sickness and in Mild-Lactose Intolerance

Despite the fact that I’m more than often (read: every day if possible) willing to eat hugely indulgent cakes/ice cream, that cheese and chocolate are some of the ingredients I use most frequently according to the tag cloud (after chilli and garlic), and that I would do a great many things to spend an afternoon eating a large bowl of clotted cream garnished with raspberries, I do have a slight problem with milk products.

Clearly, I am of the opinion that a slice of really good cake is worth any slight potential inconvenience it causes. But what it does mean is that I get rather grouchy when I eat bad cake, or bad ice cream, or those weird plastic cheeses. Wasting the lactose quota for the day, you know?

Pre-creamy cashews. I wouldn't have believed it worked until I tried See it looks a little like cream..ish

I never used to be this way. If not for this little issue, I’d probably balloon up to the size of a small walrus in a few weeks. Because I do love my cheese and chocolate.

I blame my university in the Netherlands for feeding me cheese sandwiches at breakfast and lunch almost every single day for 3 years. Perhaps my body went on strike after that? I’m still not especially keen on sandwiches. My feelings towards cheese have, however, not been affected in the slightest.

The consequence of all this is that you probably shouldn’t expect to find me extolling the virtues of the “best carbonara sauce I ever made”.

Didn't chop carefully, was tired Getting a little hot and steamy Mushrooms and cashew sand

I understand that prior to providing pictures of a nice, creamy, brown mushroom soup may not be the best moment in time to discuss lactose intolerance.

Mushroom slurry

So, why cream of mushroom soup? Um, I like it. And sometimes I miss Soup Spoon. No, this isn’t even similar to the Soup Spoon recipe at all, I just felt like having cream of mushroom.

And then, the opportune moment arrived – I was staying with BigFoot in Melbourne for the week, and both of us were sick. I was slightly healthier than he was by soup day, having had the worst of my flu a few days prior. Hence, I got to decide what we ate while he spent time accidentally taking very drowsy medication that knocks you out. He was up and about after a few hours, though I don’t think anyone else would have wanted to share the dinner we made. *cough hack sneeze*

Egg salad! Ugh The other side is burnt...that I didn't show you

Is it sad that I need the excuse that both of us were sick before having soup for dinner? I think it is. I don’t know why I have such an attachment to square meals at dinnertime.  It must be the auntie lurking within.

I also think it’s kinda bad that I was excited about being sick because of the excuse to have soup and garlic bread for dinner.

Don't float the bread like this, we burnt our fingers. So much for attempts at fancy plating.

Anyway, vegan soup – because I didn’t need more problems in addition to flu. But I do think I will continue making cashew soup instead of using cream. I always end up with leftover cream in the fridge, and I never know what to do with it because it isn’t advisable for me to whip up the entire packet in one go and spend the afternoon eating whipped cream with a spoon.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup, and Cheesy Garlicky Bread

Inspired by the recipes of Vegan Sparkles and Joy the Baker, though I’m not sure how close their method is to ours – I pretty much just glanced at their recipes for seasoning, before we went off and did our own thing in a congested stupor.

Cashew Cream of Mushroom Soup

2/3 rice cup unsalted cashews – yea, sorry I couldn’t find my usual measuring cup
2/3 rice cup hot water – as above… I don’t think it’s an exact science though
200g pre-sliced white mushrooms – I was sick, don’t judge. I usually don’t buy pre-sliced
200g large brown mushrooms – 3/4 roughly chopped smaller, 1/4 chunked large
1 red onion
3 cloves garlic
2 tablesp soya sauce
A few shakes of italian herb mixture
1 cube of vegetable stock
Black pepper to taste
2-3 more serving size bowls of water – like a cereal bowl size

  1. Dump the cashews in the hot water and leave them to sit for a bit.
  2. Throw the peeled garlic and onion in the chopper, and roughly chop.
  3. Heat up a big pot with a little oil. Add the garlic and onion and let them sizzle until they smell great (if you can smell). If you can’t smell, keep going until they are soft and a little charred on some edges. Heat should be on medium.
  4. Chuck in the white mushrooms and the browm mushrooms that you roughly chopped smaller. Keep the large chunks back.
  5. Pour in the soya sauce and a few shakes of herbs. Don’t worry, you can always add more later. Stir stir until all is cooked. Use medium heat, don’t burn the bottom of the pot.
  6. The cashews should have softened a bit by now. Put everything in the chopper and chop it well. I only chopped until the texture of large sand grains (note that I have a chopper not a blender).
  7. Once the mushrooms are cooked, dump in the cashew water mix. Combine everything in the pot.
  8. Then take everything out of the pot and chop it in the chopper until it goes smooth.  Pour it back in the pot over medium heat.
  9. Now you can add in the extra water. I added 3 cereal bowls full, and it was a little too much. I think 2.5 bowls would have been enough.
  10. Once the water is mixed in with the mushroom paste, crumble in the stock cube and make sure it dissolves. This is when you throw in the large mushroom chunks too.
  11. Add some black pepper. It should be done soonish, as soon as the large mushroom chunks are done. Just keep seasoning until you like it, and you can boil down to make it thicker if you want.

Cheesy Garlicky Bread

6 cloves garlic
4 tablesp butter, softened
Some cheese – it’s up to you what you use, we used the equivalent of about 4 tablesp of maarsdam (that was what was on sale in the supermarket)
2  short, slightly crusty bread rolls

Oven temperature: set it to grill

  1. Chop the garlic roughly in the chopper.
  2. Add the butter to the chopper and then pulse the chopper again.
  3. Dump in the cheese in the chopper and pulse a couple more times. The final mixture looks like egg salad, kinda gross in my opinion but whatever.
  4. Cut the bread rolls into slices.
  5. Spread the buttery, garlicky, cheesy spread on to the slices and reassemble into a  bread-roll shape.
  6. Wrap the rolls in silver foil and stick them in the oven for about 10 – 15 minutes, or when you can smell tasty roasting garlic. After that, check and see if they’re done. Ours were slightly burnt because we didn’t check until 20 minutes (we couldn’t smell the garlic…)
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On a Lack of Chocolate, and Lazy Lemon Cinnamon Rolls

I am a chocolate addict. No house should be without chocolate. Chocolate is good for you, for the health of your mind and the health of your heart (flavenoids, yay!!)

However, I do concede that I eat too much chocolate for it to be considered healthy. Also, I generally binge on milk rather than dark chocolate. Nice dark chocolate isn’t quite as easily available in Malaysia as it is in other places.

Lemons and lemons Make sure you soften your butter first - not like me

Now that I’m in Melbourne visiting Bigfoot for a week, I have made the unfortunate discovery that he has no chocolate in his house. I correct myself, he has 3 chocolate truffle Lindor balls in a box in his room. Now, there are 2 balls left. I have realised that if I eat another Lindor ball I will get caught, as the difference between 1 and 3 Lindor balls is slightly more dramatic than between 2 and 3 Lindor balls. Hence, over the course of this week, I have eaten only one Lindor ball.

It is bad to be caught stealing other people’s chocolate, because that makes you look like an addict. If I thought he wouldn’t realise they were gone, there would probably be zero Lindor balls by now.

Yes I do pretend I like them misshapen like this

But, in the name of healthy diets, I’ve decided that I’m not going to take the easy way out, and buy some chocolate from the supermarket. No, surely I can last a week without eating chocolate at odd hours of the day? Even if barely?

Brown and crispy

In that vein, when deciding what to eat for brunch, I immediately concluded that it would need to be sweet, and include cream cheese. Sweetened cream cheese is *almost* chocolate. It also needed to be do-ahead, because neither of us wake up early to cook.

Chocolateless indulgence

Lemon Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Glaze

Inspired by a recipe by The Kitchn, adapted to include the method of making rolls with puff pastry found in Just Jenn Recipes. Yeasty rolls seem far too difficult for breakfast.

2 sheets of puff pastry
2 lemons, juiced and zested
1 tablesp butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablesp cinnamon powder
1/2 tablesp nutmeg powder

80g cream cheese
2 tablesp milk
3 tablesp brown sugar

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C, for about 20 minutes or so – may take less time depending on your pastry

  1. Defrost the puff pastry, and lay it out flat.
  2. Mix in a food processer:
    1. 2/3 of the lemon zest
    2. 1/2 the lemon juice
    3. 1 tablesp butter, you can add a bit more if you need to. Make sure it is soft! (not like me)
    4. Cinnamon powder
    5. Nutmeg powder
    6. 1/2 cup brown sugar, note that I don’t like my rolls too sweet
  3. Spread half the butter mixture out on to the first sheet of puff pastry. Roll it up and slice into little rounds.
  4. Put the rounds into a greased baking tin, leave a bit of space between them.
  5. Repeat 3 and 4 with the second sheet! Then bake the rounds (or leave it in the fridge overnight until the next day’s brunch)
  6. To make the glaze, just whiz the cream cheese, milk, brown sugar, and 1/3 of the lemon zest in a food processer. This also keeps well overnight.
  7. Drizzle the glaze over the baked rolls, and done!

Vegetable Tirade

I have a belief. I do believe that vegetables should be present at every meal. I believe this very strongly and may proceed to proselytise if provoked.

You can provoke me by trying to feed me a meal in which there are no vegetables. Repeatedly. If you don’t realise you’ve done this then you are probably a prime target.

Obligatory pre-cooking shot

Based on my recipe track record here (which is a pretty accurate indicator of what I eat), I’m clearly not one of those mega health freaks that thinks that you should drink wheatgrass smoothies every morning and go on raw vegetable purges and whatever. I completely admire their dedication, but, seriously, have you tried wheatgrass? It has “grass” in the name you know, for good reason. I don’t like the taste of grass (as I’ve mentioned before in reference to broccoli). Grass is for creatures that are 4-legged and go moo.

Also, I could never pretend to be that health conscious because I like to binge on sugary things. It would be too hypocritical of me. Blah blah, sugar loading, yes yes.

Do you see the old man onion face??!!

Well. I believe there should always be there because I like vegetables. I believe that a lot of people would feel loads better if they decided to eat one (just one!) portion of vegetables with their meals. That’s like, the size of your fist. Not much! Well, I don’t have a big fist. If you don’t eat any vegetables and you eat a portion the size of my fist, I’m sure that’d be good enough?

Also, don’t you feel a bit ill if you eat a meal with only meat and carbs? Like sleepy, and heavy, and a bit like this?

JABBAAAA

Okay you caught me, actually I just wanted to put a picture of Jabba the Hutt in a food related post. Wahahaha.

Not how it's done in Vietnam, I'm sureLook it's modern art!Not burnt not burnt not burnt

But, you know. Vegetables don’t have to party it up all the time. Sometimes they can be demure, supporting cast members to a more dramatic dish.

That’s what I thought this was going to be, up until I realised I was walking to the rice cooker to get extra rice so I could eat more eggplant and plain rice.

Sorry excuse for an attempt at plating

Anyway, I realise I’ve gone off on a bit of a tangent here, but my point was that I made this dish in all of about 15 minutes because there was no vegetable dish when I sat down at the dinner table today (It wasn’t my turn to cook).  I thought it upstaged the chicken curry but perhaps I’m biased?

Note: it was curry from a packet. I don’t think anyone in my house knows how to make curry from scratch.

Jabba hungry

Grilled Eggplant with Vietnamese Dipping Sauce and Scallion / Cà tím nướng mỡ hành 

Adapted from Cooking Practice, I lazied it up and subbed for things I didn’t have (spring onions again).

2 long skinny eggplants
3 spring onions – I didn’t have this, so I subbed for half a small red onion. Spring onions would probably be better but onion was nice too.

1 tablesp fish sauce
1 tablesp water
2/3 tablesp sugar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped – I’ll probably increase this next time
A few drops of lemon juice – optional, or you could use white vinegar, or omit this altogether

  1. Chop the eggplants into sticks and soak in salty water for a bit. (This is the beginning of my cheating method, for the authentic Vietnamese method go back to Cooking Practice 🙂 )
  2. Prepare the sauce – chop up the garlic and chilli, and mix in the fish sauce, water, sugar, and lemon juice.  Taste it and keep adding to it until you like the taste. Leave it to sit.
  3. Oil up your eggplant sticks and toast them in the oven on the grill setting. This is cheating, you’re supposed to char them over a flame but I didn’t feel like working so hard. For the instructions relating to charring over an open flame, head back over to Cooking Practice. It took my eggplants between 5-10 minutes in the oven to cook.
  4. In the meantime, chop up your spring onions. By the time you’re done, the eggplant should be done.
  5. Heat some oil (about 2 tablesp) in a pan until it smokes. Drop in the spring onions and stir a couple of times, then dump everything on the eggplant sticks. Which you’ve now nicely arranged on a plate, right?
  6. You can either keep the sauce aside as dipping sauce, or pour it all over the eggplant. I did the pour-over because…I didn’t want to have to explain to my dinner companions that it was dipping sauce as they were only coming home at 9.30pm.

 

Jammy Fingers and a Custard Face

Many of my cooking adventures seem to begin this way. I found what is probably a very nice recipe for Raspberry Trifle Cupcakes in the Hummingbird Cake Days book. But I thought it was slightly too involved (read: I’m lazy).

I kinda want one of these scales but they're so irritatingly inaccurate

I wanted:

  1. A cupcake that resembles an English dessert. After much thought, I settled on  the Jam Trifle
  2. Not to have to slave away making proper custard for icing (as in the Hummingbird recipe)
  3. For said custard icing to not-melt in the heat
  4. Not to have to spend loads on buying fresh berries
  5. Not to have to layer everything in a very involved manner (as in the Hummingbird recipe…well it seemed involved to me)
  6. To maintain the nice springy cupcakes that the Hummingbird book produces

Dangerously close to my computer..again

My task was not made easier by the fact that I had left my Hummingbird book in Melbourne, apart from the page with the Raspberry Trifle Cupcake recipe which I took a photo of (on my phone). You don’t really want to be my cooking buddy do you? Please?

Though I ate jam and icing, I did not eat cupcake lids. Proud?

After much thought (well not really thought…internet research), I settled on a solution. My solution was to take the normal Hummingbird Vanilla cupcake recipe, flavour the icing with Bird’s custard powder, and fill with jam.

So essentially just a normal vanilla cupcake with normal icing and a jam filling.

Not much less involved I agree, but I at least I didn’t have to stand around over a pan waiting for eggs and milk to clump together.

Better with a raspberry on top? Fresh berries are exp in M'sia

This was the first time I’d ever done filled cupcakes. I think it really made a difference, but I also think I wouldn’t make it a habit to fill cupcakes. Unless there is a good reason (Jam Trifle cupcakes are a good reason).

Why, you might ask? Well firstly, it takes aaages. And secondly, I almost made myself sick with the amount of jam and custard icing I ate.

Bliss..cupcakes and tea

Good afternoon to you.

Jam Trifle Cupcakes

Based on the Vanilla Hummingbird cupcakes, and heavily adapted. I found the original recipe in The Telegraph. I got 9 decent sized cupcakes out of this recipe, though the original states 12. Perhaps I ate too much batter? On a side note, this isn’t the yummiest batter in the world to eat raw.

The icing is taken from Nigella’s Birthday Custard Sponge, and adapted slightly

Cupcakes

120g all purpose flour – I used gluten free with no problems
120g caster sugar – original recipe states 140g. This gave me a slight mental freakout because that meant more sugar than flour. Diabetes hello
40g butter, softened
120ml milk
1 egg
1/2 teasp vanilla essence
1.5 teasp baking powder
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. The recipe says to beat the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter with an electric mixer until everything is combined and the mixture looks sandy.   I ended up with flour on the walls, so I admitted defeat and used my fingers to rub everything into the butter. You can probably do this in a food processor too.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Whisk the rest of the milk, egg, and vanilla essence in another bowl, then pour that into the flour mixture. Keep beating until smooth, but try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. Fill the cases only 1/2 to 2/3 full, it seems to rise quite a lot!

Custard Icing

125g icing sugar
75g butter – I used salted, softened
6 teasp Birds Custard Powder
1.5 teasp boiling water

  1. Zap the icing sugar and custard powder in the blender to get rid of lumps.
  2. Drop in the butter. Mix mix!
  3. Pour in the hot water – this helps make the custard flavour come out, so make sure it’s hot.
  4. Now turn up to high speed and keep whizzing until it gets fluffy. Mine took about 5 minutes. The longer you keep going the fluffier it gets.

Build it!

Cupcakes
Custard icing
Jam – I used blueberry but raspberry would probably be nice. I don’t think I’d like it with marmalade or strawberry, but you can always try

  1. Use a small sharp knife and dig out a little hole in the top of the cupcake. Keep the lid aside and don’t eat it.
  2. Using a teaspoon, drop some jam in the hole. Cover it back up with the cupcake-lid. Don’t lick the spoon you need to use it again.
  3. Ice the top of the cupcake with the custard icing. I used the Hummingbird method because it’s relatively easy and I like it, found here.
  4. In the little indentation left by the swirl, add a little more jam.
  5. Now you can eat.

Boring words like Braised

Braised. Braised. Braaiiisseedd.

I don’t think it’s a very appetising word and would probably never order anything braised in a restaurant. But I wanted to play cooking with claypot again.

   

It makes you feel like you’re doing legitimate cooking when you could be making the same dish in a normal pan. What fun!

It’s about pretending to be cool in the kitchen, when actually you’re nothing more than a greedy food enthusiast who pretends to cook well (but doesn’t actually), and doesn’t like to tell people you cook because they might actually get you to cook something for them and then they would realise that you actually aren’t very good at cooking. They might berate you after that for having a food blog. Phew. Perhaps I won’t turn Publicise on after all.

Warm, dark, and handsome

Before you think I’ve cracked slightly, let’s move quickly on to the recipe.

Braised Tofu with Mushrooms (In a Claypot)

Recipe again adapted from Rasa Malaysia. This is pretty much my go-to website for Chinese-y type recipes. The original recipe is a porky version but mine is vegetarian. Except for the fishcakes I added afterwards, because certain males in my family won’t eat tofu and believe it causes them to grow breasts (it’s a myth everyone!!!)

1 packet of tofu, cut into cubes and drained
1 packet of fishcakes, sliced – totally optional, I added this later
5 Chinese dried mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablesp sweet soya sauce – it’s better to use kicap manis, but I used Chinese dark thick soya sauce because I didn’t have any. If you do this, up the sugar to 1/4 teasp
1/2 tablesp oyster sauce
1 teasp soya sauce
1/8 teasp sugar
1/4 cup water

2 tablesp water + 1 teasp corn starch – to thicken rather than anything else
A single chopped spring onion – I used more..I don’t like wasting half a packet
White pepper to taste

  1. Precook the tofu and fishcakes (if using). You can either deepfry, or stick it in the toaster oven (lightly oiled). If you toast it, flip it after it turns golden brown. Drain off the oil on paper towels.
  2. Heat the claypot (slowly) and dump in garlic and a little oil. Fry the garlic until it’s golden brown.
  3. Chuck in the mushrooms, tofu, and fishcakes (if using).
  4. Pour in all the sauces and the 1/4 cup of water.
  5. Cover the pot, and leave everything to braaiiisseee for 15 minutes over low heat.
  6. Stir in the corn starch mixture.
  7. Throw on the spring onions.
  8. Eat your warm, comforting meal from the claypot with rice.

Rushed Jobs and Eggplants

When you have half an hour’s warning to make dinner, that’s most definitely when you should start getting creative and trying things you’ve never done before.  Not completely my fault, we didn’t have much in the fridge except for eggplant, garlic and onion. As well as the pre-requisite sauces you need for everything.

It’s alright. Happy surprises involving eggplants brighten up my day. It’s one of my favourite vegetables 🙂

Vietnamese Claypot Eggplant

Inspired by The Siracusas. I didn’t follow their recipe that well because I didn’t have most of the ingredients. Great blogger, well done Lea. So here’s a pretty heavily adapted version of their recipe.

2 skinny eggplants
2 tablesp soya sauce
2 teasp sugar
1 teasp paprika powder – I never ever have paprika powder, I guess I don’t really know what it’s for? It’s a bit mild and sweetish but not any defined flavour? Yes I’m a philistine. I used a little dark/caramel soya sauce
1/2 a small onion – I added this… (ok so this wasn’t my fault, the recipe calls for a couple of spring onions, chopped, and I didn’t have any so I subbed)
3 cloves garlic – and this… (this is totally new)
2 red chillies – and this. (this too….See a pattern here? Related to garlic and chilli?)
A few dashes of white pepper

  1. Chop the eggplants into sticks, and soak them in some salty water. Dry and drain.
  2. Cook the eggplants – you can deep fry them, I usually stick these things in the toaster oven for a bit, flipping after 5 minutes. Because I’m lazy and also scared of flying oil.
  3. To get rid of the oil, you can rinse the eggplants in hot water, or pat them with a paper towel.
  4. Break out the clay pot (or just a pot), and marinate the eggplants in there with all the other sauces, for at least 30 minutes. I hit about 15 minutes tops and it was enough.
  5. The recipe says you can cook it on medium heat with the top off for 5 minutes. I chose to dump it on the stove for 15 with the top on. Again, out of laziness. But I found that this made the eggplant get all nice and caramalised on the outside, so go for it 🙂

A Sluggish Feesh

So I don’t have much to say about food this time. It’s tasty and consistent, that’s what you want from food. Nothing to scream about but always works, and is well received. Can I write about something else?

 

What if I write about how I’m fed up with icing sugar and don’t want to eat anything except hard cheese and grilled vegetables? Also, plain rice? This fish goes well with plain rice, in case you were wondering.

I’m sure this is temporary.

In other news, the weather is terrible. The haze is causing my eyes to squish themselves closed all the time (you know I’m scraping the barrel when I talk about the weather). Hence, general grumpiness has ensued.

My big yay of the moment: mooncake festival is coming up = I can get my favourite goldfish biscuits from Bee’s in The Curve. This year they are selling butterfly shaped ones too. I wish they sold these year round. I know they’re intended for little kids, and I don’t care. Boo to you, sensible grownups. I don’t like normal mooncakes very much. Especially not the yolks. Yes yes, come scold me now. I bite my butterfly biscuit at you. Pah.

Yes, I’m using a book as a plate. Your point being?

Fried Fish with Ginger & Soya Sauce

Originally from Rasa Malaysia. I don’t keep Chinese wine around, so I generally substitute for black vinegar (in this case balsamic, but others will do). It doesn’t make a difference to taste in my opinion, just top up the sugar a little to compensate.  This is one of the first (read – right now the only) fish I learnt how to cook properly.

1 decent sized fish – the one I used fed 5, with other dishes
2 inch knob of ginger, cut into strips
1 stalk spring onion, chopped – clearly I used more, not to waste the rest of the packet…

3 tablesp light soya sauce
1/3 tablesp balsamic vinegar – I usually have this on hand, this is instead of the wine
4 tablesp water
1/4 teasp sesame oil
2 1/4 tablesp sugar – I increased this, because I’m using vinegar instead of wine. You can go up to 2 1/2 tablesp
A couple of pinches of white pepper

  1. Fry Mr Fishy until he is brown and crispy. It’s better if you use a “real” fish, but fillet works well enough in a pinch.
  2. Mix up the sauce in a bowl.
  3. Fry the ginger strips in a little oil until golden brown. Remove from the oil.
  4. Using the same oil, add soya sauce mixture and heat until it boils.
  5. Pour the sauce over the fish.
  6. Sprinkle on the ginger and spring onion bits.

Note: don’t pour on the sauce until just before you plan to eat the fish, or the fish will go soggy and weird. Else you can pre-make the sauce and just heat it back up in the microwave for a bit before pouring over the fish and serving.

Fancy Cakes for Feeling Fancy

This is probably the fanciest cake I’ve made, and also the first sponge. So to say I was slightly worried about making sponge is a bit of an understatement.

What this means is that I have taken 50 or so photos. How this helps, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps, if I take a photo of it, the cake will pose and not sink? And there will be no cake fail?

One of the best tasting batters I've had the pleasure of eating

The scariest part was when I whipped the egg whites and they got hard like meringue.

Yea not there yet I ate a bit too much batter, was sick the next day No I did NOT sit outside the oven door. I did NOT make extra cupcakes specifically for tasting purposes.

Close second was when I took the cake out of the oven and poked at it too much and a bit broke off. I guess that was entirely my fault. I used that piece as the bottom layer and covered it with ganache. If you leave your cake to cool long enough it doesn’t break.

Pre-melty ganache And this is smooth

Third was when I put the ganache in the freezer, and it somehow fell over by itself in there, and dripped down the inside of the freezer door. I later found out you aren’t supposed to put cooling ganache in the freezer anyway.

Finished ganache Chunky raspberry..did this at night cos I ran out timeI like raspberries Yes I licked my fingers

One good point: my dog didn’t steal any cake. My dog appears to like orange cake, I made an orange cake on another day and he whipped it off the table and ate it. Sigh, I think I need to be a bit more careful. Or get a higher table.

Look at those bubblessss

Orange Sponge Cake with White Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Filling

This makes an 8 inch double layer cake, in case you were wondering. The recipe is originally for a tube pan.

Cake

Taken from Taste of Home, I was too scared to change anything. I find it hard when there are a few bowls of ingredients running at the same time, so here’s the recipe in the way I write them down for myself – by bowl 🙂

Bowl 1
6 egg whites
3/4 teasp cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar

Bowl 2
6 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup orange juice
orange zest from all the oranges used to make the juice – in this case, I used the zest of 2 oranges

Bowl 3
1 and 1/3 cups cake flour – I used normal flour, and for every cup replace 2 tablesp flour with 2 tablesp corn flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teasp salt

Oven temperature: 160 degrees C

Note that you can do some things concurrently – like for example, while the egg whites are warming to room temperature you can beat the yolks and sift the flour.

  1. Bowl 1:
    1. Drop in the egg whites and let them warm to room temperature.
    2. Add cream of tartar to egg whites, and beat them on medium until you get soft peaks.
    3. Beat in the sugar, one tablesp at a time. Keep going until it gets stiff, in my case I kept going until it looked a bit like meringue.
  2. Bowl 2:
    1. Beat egg yolks on high until they go pale and thick. The recipe says ‘lemon coloured’, but my eggs were the orangey type.
    2. Mix in the sugar.
    3. Mix in the orange juice and zest, beat well, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Bowl 3:
    1. Sift everything in Bowl 3 together, preferably twice.
  4. Add Bowl 3 to Bowl 2 (flour to egg yolks). Do it gradually, and mix well.
  5. Fold Bowl 1 (egg whites) into the rest of the batter, gently.
  6. Pour the batter into ungreased (!!) pans gently. Take the spatula and cut through it to get rid of big bubbles. I was scared and did this very gently.
  7. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Mine took only 45. Keep going until the cake springs back lightly when touched.
  8. Flip the pans upside down and leave them alone for an hour. Else you’ll break one of them, like me.
  9. After an hour, run a knife around the outside of the pan and flip out the cakes. Cool before assembling.

Ganache

I looked at Joe’s Pastry and Savoury Sweet Life. The amount is enough to fill the cake how I did, but if you want to cover everything you’ll need a bit more. I’m never making any other chocolate icing again!

200g white chocolate
200g whipping cream

  1. Chop the white chocolate into little bits
  2. Pour in the cream
  3. Stick it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.
  4. Remove and try to whisk (by hand). Did it go smooth? If not, repeat steps 3 and 4 until it whisks smooth and lump-free.
  5. Put it in the fridge for a bit until the texture becomes more like custard or pudding.
  6. Take your mixer and whisk on high until it starts to look like buttercream icing. It took me about 5 minutes. When it looks like icing, stop. You don’t want to overmix, apparently it gets weird.

Raspberry Filling

3/4 cup of frozen raspberries, or more if you like. I didn’t add sugar because I wanted the tart taste.

  1. Defrost on the countertop, and drain the extra liquid.
  2. Stick your mixer in it and turn it on high for about 20 seconds. It doesn’t even have to be a clean mixer….you can do this after you whip up the ganache.

Build it!

2 layers of cake
White chocolate ganache
Raspberry filling
Raw almond slivers

  1. Toast the almonds over a low flame, and let them cool.
  2. Order as follows:
    1. Cake.
    2. Whack on a layer of ganache, leave a lip on the outside so the raspberry won’t spill out.
    3. Pour on all the raspberry filling.
    4. Sprinkle almond slivers.
    5. Cake no2.
    6. Another layer of ganache.
    7. More sprinkled almond slivers!
  3. Step back and pat yourself on the back. Take a picture while in shock. Hey it’s a sponge!

Note: I also added a quick syrup of 50ml orange juice and 3 tablesp brown sugar, which I zapped in the microwave for 45 seconds and brushed on to the sponge. I didn’t use all of it, and it probably wasn’t necessary. I might also bake it with a tub of water in the oven next time to prevent it drying out.

On the reasons why I bake, in particular Chocolate Biscuits

Today’s biscuits are to say thank you. Also to say, hope you feel better. To separate people, of course. It doesn’t detract from the gesture at all because I did everything at the same time and made everyone the same thing, right?

Learning to bake was a conscious decision that I made because I think it’s a useful skill. I find baking pretty difficult, and I’m not that good at it. It’s not like normal cooking, where you can throw things in and it usually turns out alright because it can be “fixed”. With baking, once it’s gone in the oven, that’s that. You can only stare through the door willing the cake to rise, or the biscuits not to burn. Because if you open the door, bad things happen.

Ready to bake!

But, I realised that it’s a good skill to have. People seem to appreciate home made things 1000x more than anything you can get in the shops, even if they don’t taste as good. Also, it’s an easy way to say hello, thank you, please like me, hope you feel better, or basically any other  sort of relatively friendly sentiment. It’s also a relatively cheap present that people seem to find especially meaningful, because you did it yourself. Never mind that it actually took less time and effort to bake up a tub of cookies or a nice springy cake than go to the shopping centre and pick out a present.

If you leave them out in the humidity they soften

Hah. This is one post I hope too many people don’t read. Or it might not work anymore. See, I’m honest. Hrm.

I plan to reduce the sugar to a total of one cup next time…I felt these were still a bit sweet.

Chocolate Wafers

A Joy of Baking recipe, but I plan to make some changes next time and will update! To get as many biscuits as in the picture, I doubled the recipe.

1 cup / 130g flour
1/2 cup / 50g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teasp baking soda
1/4 teasp salt
3 tablesp / 45g butter – at room remperature
3 tablesp / 45g margarine
2/3 cup / 140g brown sugar
1/2 cup / 100g white sugar
1 teasp vanilla extract
1 large egg white

Oven temperature: 180 degrees C

  1.  Beat butter and margarine until mixed well.
  2. Add sugar and vanilla extract, mix.
  3. Beat in egg white.
  4. Mix up the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.
  5. Dump in the flour mixture  into the butter mixture and beat until just combined.
  6. If you are in a hot climate like me put it in the fridge for a bit to harden….
  7. Either:
    1. Make logs and wrap them in cling wrap, then put them in the fridge for a bit, or in the freezer for storage. When ready to cook, slice about 5mm thick and dump on a lined baking tray.
    2. Take a spoon and plop little biscuitlets on to a lined baking tray.  Try to make them approximately the same size, and flatten the tops a bit.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove and cool. The tops should have puffed up and cracked a little. They harden as they cool.

Note on humidity: these don’ t do too well if you leave them out in the tropical heat, the humidity turns them into brownie-type cookies. Still good, but I like mine a bit crunchy.