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 ūüôā

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.

Peace Offering Cupcakes

These are cupcakes were say: sorry for being a useless communicator, I didn’t RSVP for the party, but here I stand at your door. No I didn’t check the Facebook invite, I haven’t really been using Facebook much, at least not properly. Sorry I’ve been so busy working for the last month that we haven’t met for dinner. Here’s some cupcakes. We cool? Please don’t throw me in the swimming pool.

I suspect it was really about me feeling guilty. Cupcakes aren’t generally the chattiest bunch, on the whole.

   

This was the first time I brought homemade cupcakes to a party. One fell on the floor. Surprisingly, another guest had a much stronger, sadder, reaction than me. I suppose that means they were good? Someone else tried to eat one that had been covered with silly string. Apparently it still tasted nice. I hope he felt okay the next day.

 

The influx of sweet recipes here recently is also a direct consequence of my move back home for 6 months. Since I’ve been at home, I haven’t really had the opportunity to cook much in terms of savoury dishes. But, what I have found is that there is no faster way to grease the wheels of any request than with the promise of something edible that is “just for you”. Case in point,¬†here¬†and here. Other instances have not been documented.

Does this make me a bad person? It’s a win-win situation really, I feel. I do like cake.

Moist Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing

Chocolate cake: I used this one, but only a 2/3 batch. It made 21 decent sized cupcakes. I brought 15 to the party. Bake for 30 minutes at 150 degrees C.

This is quickly becoming my chocolate cake of choice, I think my previous problems with it were due to the uber-rich chocolate ganache. Also, I’ve realised I can make it as a one-bowl recipe, which, given my pre-established laziness, can only work in its favour.

Peanut Butter Icing:

Taken from Food.com, I used a half portion and had a bit left over (quantities below). Note that I don’t ice my cupcakes sky-high..They are domed from baking under the icing.

This is not excessively sweet and the peanut flavour is relatively mild, but everyone I asked said it was good as it was, and that didn’t need to be more peanutty.

1/2 cup butter – room temperature
1/2 cup peanut butter – I used Skippy Superchunk
2 cups icing sugar
1/8 cup milk
1 tablesp vanilla essence

  1. Blend the butter and peanut butter well
  2. Dump in 1 cup of icing sugar, and whisk until combined
  3. Add the milk and vanilla, blend again
  4. Add the last cup of icing sugar, and keep blending until it gets a bit stiff.
  5. If it is a bit soft to work with, stick it in the freezer for a couple of minutes and it’ll harden up. If you ice the cupcakes and put them back in the fridge, it sets to a nice, creamy but not-runny topping which held up well in the tropical heat.

Cheating Milo Dinosaur Cake

Cheating Milo Dinosaur cake is really any chocolate cake, with a vanilla icing. Then pile it high with milo powder on top of the icing.

Don’t pile it up too high before taking a slice though.

The milo powder goes soggy, and that’s just a waste of good milo powder.

That’s better.

Cheating Milo Dinosaur Cake

Chocolate cake recipe: I used the chocolate cake recipe here, unchanged. I’ve also done this with gluten free flour, and it works well.

Icing recipe: I used Fluffy 7 Minute Frosting, from Epicurious. I didn’t like this frosting at all, it looked pretty but tasted like plastic to me. I don’t even know how that happened, using fresh ingredients and all. You live and learn, I guess. I’m not going to bother reproducing the recipe here, because I didn’t like it.

Build the Beast:

Chocolate cake
Vanilla icing
Milo powder

  1. Make the chocolate cake (yes, sounds easy doesn’t it, I’m not belittling you, promise). I got an 8 inch round cake, pictured, and 2 decent sized loaves out of the recipe.
  2. Make the icing. I’m going to use vanilla buttercream next time. Rssssppppptle to you too, fancy frostings.
  3. You can stack the cake, but since you are only putting milo on the top of it, I wouldn’t bother. The chocolate cake is moist enough and doesn’t need a filling to save it. Spread a generous layer of icing on top of the cake. It’s like a cake-float!
  4. Sprinkle some milo on the cake, so that everyone knows it’s a milo dinosaur cake.
  5. Cut a slice, and go on a rampage, throwing milo everywhere. That’s how you transform a little slice of raptor into T-rex material. If you want to pretend to be classy you could serve it with a little bowl of milo powder on the side, and a teaspoon. I don’t really see the point though, you’re better off just giving people the milo tin.
  6. Yum. Roar.

If you really don’t want to allow people access to your milo tin (I, for example, have a tendency to eat the powder straight out of the tin), you can spoon milo powder on top of the cake the last second before serving. Keep spooning it on until you get little mountains of dry milo powder across the cake. ¬†If you do this, you need to make sure your guests (victims?) eat the whole cake in one sitting, because the part of the milo which touches the icing will get soggy after a while, and the effect will be spoilt.

Also, rampaging is an important life lesson. Take note.

The Chocolate Monster, aka Lea’s first multi-layer cake

Let me preface this post by stating that I really, really want cakes to like me. I really do. I enjoy attempting to make cake. The type of post I most enjoy looking at in other food blogs is cake. I do like cake. Most of all, I like to eat cakes. Nice, moist, chocolate, orange, creamy, fruity, coffee-filled, springy cakes. I get so inspired. But, my cakes usually aren’t.

More often than not I’ll have flops, sticky tops, burnt bits, chewy bits, blobs of bicarbonate, and let’s stop here before I embarrass myself too much.

Still, I try. I’m rather unrealistic in my optimism. Hence, any successful cake recipe that you find here on Happy Bellea, baked by me, is generally very forgiving (i.e., idiot proof).

I bravely volunteered to make a cake for my dad’s birthday, an excuse to try to unearth any secret cake-making abilities that might be hidden deep within me. I decided to make a double chocolate cake, the most famous chocolate layer cake on the internet, in fact – Gourmet’s double chocolate layer cake. Double chocolate cake is my favourite cake. Note that there is absolutely no hint of self-interestedness here.

I haven’t made a successful multi-storey cake before. Lets think about that for a moment.

.

Yes perhaps I was being a bit over-ambitious here. I usually just make bar cakes, or at most a single layer cake with a bit of icing slapped on the top. As I may have mentioned, I’m not someone who others consider as one who can cook. I’m a hobbyist and experimenter who likes to eat. Also a serial ingredient substituter, because of course, don’t you think milo would taste better than cocoa powder? Note: it doesn’t, your cake won’t set properly.

The moment depicted in the photo below is the point at which my brain started to say “oh scrambunctious findlewooshers*, Lea, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew here, you’ve never made a cake which was so big it covered the entire whisk head. Are you mad?”

It was a bit too late to halve the recipe and make a nice little small (manageable, not scary sized) cake. I was committed. Rise or fall, dome or sink, burn or neglect-to-set, I had to keep going. I figured that in a worst case scenario, I could mash the thing up and squish it into a bowl, and later pretend it was a special kind of pudding. Heated in the microwave with cream and ice cream. Whipping cream covers a whole host of evils.

It turned out better than I expected in the end, though any icing tips would be appreciated! The whole thing actually came out slightly slanted, but depending on the angle you look at it, you can’t tell. Of course, it tastes really nice (as the recipe promised). Moist and chocolately and deserving of its internet fame. I ate so much ganache that I felt sick afterwards (the recipe produces way more than needed. Or I might have done it wrong?)

Birthday boy’s conclusion: “So rich. Can die oh!”

Lea’s verdict: this is a very nice cake. Super sinful and indulgent. I truly recommend it to chocolate lovers, and I’ll still keep the recipe. But, I think if you eat this cake, you can’t eat anything for the rest of the day. I really like the taste of the cake itself and moistness of the layers. I also really like the richness of the ganache. But, I’m thinking that the two of these together are perhaps a bit too much (gasp! never thought I’d say that). I want to find a way to lighten up this cake so that it can actually be eaten as a dessert, rather than as a meal by itself. Any ideas?

My first thoughts are:

  • Try substituting the cocoa for milo again, and work on the stickiness
  • Use a different icing, perhaps a milk chocolate or vanilla butter cream – I’ve never made this before but the internet says it’s light and fluffy
  • Use butter instead of oil – apparently this makes a lighter cake? I’m not sure, I’ve never tried
  • Add an extra egg and beat harder?

I’m pretty clueless about these things.

The Chocolate Monster, otherwise known as the most famous chocolate cake on the internet, Double Chocolate Layer Cake

First seen on Love and Olive Oil, but originally from Gourmet/Epicurious. I probably made far too many changes, and that’s why my cakes sometimes fail. Oh well.

Cake
100g semi sweet chocolate – increased from 85g, because I like chocolate
1.5 cups strong coffee
2.5 cups white sugar – decreased from 3 cups, I like my cakes less sweet
2.5 cups plain flour
1.5 cups unsweetened cocoa
2 teasp baking soda
3/4 teasp baking powder
1.25 teasp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup oil
1.5 cups shaken buttermilk – I used a cup and a half of milk and a tablespoon of white vinegar, left to sit for a while
3/4 teasp vanilla essence

Oven temperature: 150 degrees C

  1. Grease and line 2x 10 inch cake tins.
  2. Sift together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Make 1 1/2 cups of strong coffee (I used 3 tablespoons of nescafe gold), chop the chocolate, and mix the chocolate into the coffee.
  4. Beat the eggs until they go thick and a pale yellow colour. This takes a few minutes on high with a mixer.
  5. Add the liquids, mix it up – oil, buttermilk, coffee-chocolate mixture, vanilla essence.
  6. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined.
  7. Bake in the tins for 1 to 1 hour 10 minutes (mine took the full 1 hour 10 minutes).
  8. Cool before ganaching!

Chocolate Ganache – This really makes far too much ganache in my opinion, next time I’ll only make about half to 3/4 of the amount. But then again, its possible that I just don’t know how to ice a cake.
450g semi sweet chocolate
1 cup cream
2 tablesp sugar
2 tablesp butter (55g)

  1. Chop up the chocolate. I melted mine a bit too, using the defrost setting on the microwave.
  2. Heat the cream and sugar over low heat until the cream boils and the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat, then mix in the chocolate and butter.
  4. Cool until sticky enough to ice the cake. I chucked the entire bowl in the freezer for a bit. Stir periodically.

* I am a polite person, these are things my brain says.

Eggless Mini Chocolate Cakes

“EGGLESS?”

“Like, no eggs?”

“But, why?!”

Same reaction every time I tell someone “oh, yeah it’s meatless spaghetti”, or it’s “tofu steak”. Or on certain days when I decide to bring in salad, which elicits the usual “she’s eating grass again!” from my precious coworkers.

“I have problems with my body image and I feel compelled to not eat meat – or anything at all – for, like, ever,” I would then reply in my best April Ludgate voice.

Clearly, I don’t have a problem with meat, given the fact that I ate an entire year’s worth in under three days in Vietnam. I also don’t have body dysmorphia. Not an extreme case, anyway. I do, however, have a very unique living situation which compels me to go lacto-vegetarian on certain days.

“Don’t you feel weak after?”

Only if you eat wheatgrass for five days straight.

Contrary to popular belief, I have come to learn through the wise teachings of a sagacious so-and-so that I live with (whom we shall name Mrs Y from here onward) that you can have a balanced vegetarian diet, but you can also put on weight when you’re vegetarian. Mrs Y is mostly vegetarian, but she can cook and bake delicious things that can cause a 10kg spike in weight. Case in point, I sort of forced this fantastic eggless chocolate cake recipe out of her secret cupboard.

“But eggless cakes will never be the same as egg-filled ones”

Sometimes they might taste even better. Boo yah.

Mrs Y’s Eggless Mini Chocolate Cakes

1 cup self-raising flour
¬Ĺ cup cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
¬Ĺ tbsp sodium bicarbonate

1 cup milk
1 cup sugar (or less)
¬Ĺ cup corn oil
2 tbsp white vinegar

1/4 bag of Hershey’s semisweet chocolate chips
Handful of crushed almonds

Before you begin, always grease your cupcake tin or holders with some butter or oil. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

  1. Combine milk, sugar and corn oil in a mixing bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds til the milk gets warm.
  2. Stir in the sugar until it dissolves.
  3. Sift flour, salt, sodium bicarbonate and cocoa powder in a separate mixing bowl.
  4. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. A delicious brown goopy mixture will form. Make sure all the lumps are gone. I recommend using an electric beater.
  5. Fold in the vinegar. A lighter brown mixture will begin to appear, but don’t freak out: it’s just chemistry. Acid + sodium bicarbonate = carbon dioxide, thus releasing air bubbles into your mixture, thus substituting nicely for egg whites.
  6. Spoon the mixture into the tin. Bake at 180 for 20-25 minutes until the insides are done.

Best served with cold milk at midnight.

Chocolate Colgate Cookies

I truly believe mint and chocolate are one of the best pairings in the universe. Naysayers don’t know what they are on about. Mint chocolate is the classy lady of chocolate, the one with the long silk arm gloves and the little cigarette on a stick sitting in the large leather armchair in the lounge. Drinking tea. I like tea.

However, it hurts me deeply to admit that in this instance the mint essence that we had chosen did taste like colgate. But well, who wouldn’t want to brush their teeth with chocolate? Add some¬†fluoride¬†and I can see a market for these at the chemist. Jokes aside, after a day the mint flavour evened out and they tasted like the mint cookies they were born to be. And I recommend that you buy a better quality mint extract than we did. A real proper fancy one (three cheers for Fairprice!)

Chocolate Colgate Cookies

Loosely based on Smitten Kitchen: Crispy Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flour – 2 cups
Cocoa powder – a couple of table spoons
Baking soda – 1/2 teaspoon
Salt Р 1/2 teaspoon

Melted butter – 3/4 cup / 170g
Brown sugar – 1/2 cup / 100g
White sugar – 1/2 cup / 100g
Vanilla extract – 1 teaspoon
Peppermint extract – 1 teaspoon
Whole egg – 1
Egg yolk – 1

Chocolate chips – the more the merrier

Oven temperature – 165¬įC

  1. Preheat your oven. It is not appropriate to use a charcoal oven as one might confuse one’s cookies with the briquettes.
  2. Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. It’s best to use a sieve.
  3. Cream melted butter, and brown and white sugar until well mixed.
  4. Best in the vanilla, peppermint, egg and egg yolk. Mix into the sifted dry ingredients until just blended.
  5. Add the chocolate chips and stir by hand. More chocolate chips will result in more chocolate power.
  6. Plop cookie dough on to oven sheets a tablespoon at a time. They will look rather suspicious. Plops should be about 3 inches apart.
     
  7. Bake for 15 minutes, more or less depending on the size of your cookies. These were about teaspoon sized and  they came out fine.  Cool fully on a wire rack for a crunchy chewy minty fresh chocolate cookie.

A word of warning: when opening the oven to remove the cookies, CLOSE YOUR EYES! Else you will be blinded by the minty freshness that is the mint extract fumes. Unless you have fire-proof eyes, please close them, it’s painful!