Gong Xi Fatt Cake

Among other things, Chinese New Year means that people come over and there needs to be food around. Lots of food. 

*takes a bow*

At some point, you or whoever else is ordering the the food will forget exactly how much food they ordered – this happens, it’s normal, and you shouldn’t panic. You definitely ordered enough food.

Despite this, you will still end up making an extra dessert. Extra dessert is always welcome. Especially when it’s the first year you have to give out angpau, and you need a little consolation in the form of cream cheese.

Cream cheese heals all wounds

Yes, that’s two pictures of the orange flower. I’m just a little bit proud of myself 🙂 (context: I’m the least artistic person on the planet)

I have omitted the process pictures, in which I dropped the baking tin on the cake. My baking tin is metal = heavy. This resulted in a really really big dent in the middle of the cake. Like I said, there is nothing that cream cheese icing can’t solve.

Vanilla Cake with Orange Cream Cheese Icing and Orange “Flower”

Vanilla Cake

Adapted from Hummingbird Cupcakes’ vanilla cupcake recipe, and quadrupled. 

I like this particular vanilla cake recipe a lot, because it’s one bowl with very few steps, and results in a really light and springy cake (and I don’t even like vanilla cake much, it’s boring!)

480g all purpose flour – I have used gluten free with this recipe before
400g caster sugar
160g butter, softened
480ml milk
4 eggs
3 teasp vanilla essence
6 teasp baking powder
1 teasp of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Yield: a two layer square monster, 9″

  1. In a food processor, pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter until the mixture looks sandy. Or, you can use the rub-in method.
  2. Pour in half the milk, and beat until just combined.
  3. Drop in the milk, egg, and vanilla essence. Mix until just smooth, try not to overmix or it’ll be chewy.
  4. Split into two square tins. Fill only 1/2 to 1/3 full, this cake rises a lot!
  5. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until light golden brown, and sponge bounces back when touched. I’d start checking at 35 minutes for done-ness.

Cream Cheese Orange Icing

Adapted from BraveTart’s SMB though it isn’t really SMB anymore given that I used whole eggs. The yolk / white wastage makes me sad, so I only do SMB or Faux French if I have leftover egg parts.

I know it’s a pain, but weigh everything really well okay? Even the egg. I ended up creating an excel sheet to calculate weights based on the weight of the egg parts…super nerd with bad mental maths. Let me know if you want it.

300g whole eggs – this was 3 eggs for me
300g castor sugar
490g butter, softened + cubed
490g cream cheese, softened + cubed
1/2 teasp salt
Zest of 4 oranges – the ones used below for decor

  1. Beat eggs into sugar and salt, until the egg whips up.
  2. Heat over a water bath until it steams, approx 150 degrees C. I just look for steam, I don’t have a thermometer. Whisk continuously!
  3. Once it steams quite regularly, remove and beat until the mixture doubles in volume. Another test for this is to put some between your fingers, and see whether you can feel sugar crystals.
  4. Keep beating until it gets cool, otherwise stick it in the fridge for some time until it gets back to room temperature.
  5.  Once it hits room temperature, dump in the butter and whisk until smooth.
  6. Now you can add your flavourings – namely cream cheese and orange zest. Beat all of them in until smooth, but don’t over mix or the cream cheese will go runny.

Note: my icing didn’t hold well up in the heat after a while, so I might try adding some white chocolate next time to attempt to stabilise it a bit. Suggestions welcome.

Build the beast

About 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and segmented. Be careful not to break the sacs!

  1. Peel and set aside mandarin oranges, after breaking into segments. Leave them on a sheet of kitchen paper, so that all the juices get soaked up and the segments don’t drip all over your icing.
  2. Slather icing between, and on top of all sides of the two stacked cakes. Cool in the fridge in between coats if like me, your icing is a bit drippy.
  3. Arrange the oranges in a pretty flower pattern, and place this (piece by piece, unfortunately) on top of the cake.

Dirty Old Google, and Cake

Google, you have a problem.

Why? WHY?

Why would you do this to me, google? In the middle of the supermarket where people might see? They will think I’m some really dodgy person who looks up lots of dirty words on my phone in broad daylight, in public.

Before you start calling me a perv or any other slightly more colourful names, note that the reason why I was trying to find out how many inches were in 16 cm was because I was buying new baking tins. Cute, small, cheap Japanese baking tins, just the right size to split one cake recipe into two tiny cakes, one of which can be frozen for a rainy day (like today). They even have little detachable bottoms so they are a bit like mini spring-forms, isn’t that nice?

Cute lil cake tins

No, I do not search for weird stuff on my phone. You try googling “16 cm”, see if you get all these funny links too. I swear it isn’t just me, I tried it on a couple of different computers with similar results.

Anyway. Words don’t do justice to this cake, it tastes awesome. Even people other than me admitted as much. So that means I’m not just tooting my own horn. Snigger. Okay, inappropriate, enough.

All that's missing is a little squirrel Brown butter does not look appealing Hazelnut powder Dry like the desert

But seriously, don’t you think blogging is a little self indulgent sometimes? Who wants to read whatever random drivel I decided to spout, standing on my little soap box in this corner of the web?

I like the spotty batter See the little bit that flaked off? Line your baking tins! I will figure out how to get the hazelnut spread to set soon. I think the oil content was too high Rustically artistic, or messy? Who am I kidding?

It’s okay, don’t feel sad. Eat some cake, you’ll feel better. About yourself and about the world and about everything else, all of which will turn into sunshine and unicorns, after you eat this cake. Seriously. Do iiittttt. And stop thinking about google and dirty words, you’re kinda disgusting.

Sunshine and ponies and butterflies

Hazelnut Brown Butter Cake with Cream Cheese White Chocolate Faux French Buttercream

Bit of a mouthful, isn’t it? The cake is adapted from Smitten Kitchen (who originally got it from Sunday Suppers at Lucques). The faux French buttercream is adapted from Bravetart’s recipe, edited slightly because I ran out of butter and reduced to reflect the number of egg yolks I had left.

Cake

140g hazelnuts – I didn’t bother removing the skins FYI, no big deal
225g butter
135g icing sugar
40g flour
5 extra-large egg whites – I used 6 because my eggs were smallish, save the yolks for the buttercream
3 tablesp caster sugar
1 teasp vanilla essence

Oven temperature: 175 degrees C. I used 2x 6 inch pans, it’s probably a good idea to line them if you use anything larger.

  1. Toast the hazelnuts for about 10-15 minutes, until they turn chocolate brown and smell like nutella. Set aside to cool.
  2. Cook the butter over medium heat until it turns brown and smells like toast. Keep stirring so that it doesn’t burn or bubble over, and cooks evenly. Once you’re done, leave the butter to cool. Let it cool to close to room temperature before adding it to the cake batter!
  3. In a food processor grind the hazelnuts with the icing sugar until fine like breadcrumbs. Add the flour and pulse a couple of times to sift and mix. If you’re so lucky as to have hazelnut powder, just sift everything together instead.
  4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites with the caster sugar until they are stiff and dry. Stiff and proud like a captured knight in armour, who has lost the battle but never his dignity. Yes, I’ve been reading too many fantasy novels, leave me alone. Turn egg whites out into a big mixing bowl.
  5. Fold in the hazelnut flour and (cooled!) brown butter into the egg whites in thirds, alternating between the two. Be gentle! The egg whites look like they deflate a lot, but that’s alright as long as you’ve whipped them good earlier.
  6. Pour out into a the cake tins, and bake for about 40 minutes, checking afterwards.

Buttercream

6 egg yolks – you saved these from the cake batter earlier, about 100g
100g sugar
200g butter – softened
100g philly cheese – softened
150g white chocolate – melted, whisked, and cooled
1 teasp vanilla essence

  1. Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until they go pale.
  2. Put everything over a water bath, and heat until about 65 degrees C, stirring all the while. You need to see some steam coming off the top. Once you see the steam, take the eggs off the water bath.
  3. So now you have two choices. You can either whip the eggs until they cool (takes forever!) or you can bung it in the fridge for a bit, have a cup of tea, then come back when they have cooled down. Then whip them on high until the mixture thickens and approximately doubles in volume.
  4. Drop in the chunks of butter and cheese, and keep mixing on high. It should come together and get shiny after a while. If the buttercream gets too runny, put it in the fridge for a bit and then try again once it cools down.
  5. Add the chocolate and vanilla essence and keep mixing. See how it holds its shape much better? I think (not sure) that that’s because of the chocolate.
  6. You’re ready to go ice cakes now. If the icing is a little soft just stick it in the fridge for a bit, it’ll firm up.

Notes: the buttercream recipe makes enough icing to ice both cakes “sandwich fashion” like I did. But, I only torted + iced one cake, and froze the rest of the icing along with the second cake – the icing keeps for a couple of months in the freezer pretty well apparently. I also had a nutella sauce that I put in the centre of the cake, but that was a bit runny so I’d advise just spreading some nutella on the underside of the top tier if you want to match that effect. If I figure out how to get the nutella sauce to set nicely, I’ll add the recipe for that too.

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!