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.
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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.

Protected: Snowdrop Bakery Mega Vanilla Butter Icing

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Sunny Orange Cake

As you may have gathered from my last post, I’m not exactly right on top of the world right now. Flu-ey, and just a bit overworked, and just a bit jetlagged, so overall I’ve been pretty grouchy for the past few days. Also whiny, evidently. But after writing yesterday’s Raita post, I decided I wanted cake.

I’m pretty stubborn, when I decide to do something I generally steamroll right ahead, knocking any other plans (or people, or ideas) to the wayside.  Kinder people call it determined, but let’s be honest here, I’m just plain stubborn. Like a small, female, bull.

I haven’t made cake for what feels like ages.

Also, what could be a more cheerful cake than Sicilian orange cake with vanilla icing? It was one of those spontaneous things I just decided that I wanted when I typed the words “A slice of cake and a cup of tea”.

I made a plan: go into work, work like a crazy hamster on a spinning wheel, finish a whole day’s work by 3pm, and then leave to bake my cake. Yay for plans!

It almost worked, I got out by 4, and managed to bake the cakes but not ice them by dinnertime. I left them sitting in the fridge until the next day. It’s ok, apparently that makes them easier to ice, I read somewhere. And I got to eat orange cake crumbs. And the house smelled pretty strongly of orange (so I’m told, I can’t smell anything at the moment. Don’t worry I washed my hands before baking).

On an unrelated note, I had a very nice conversation with a shorthaired jack russel terrier outside the local corner shop after buying oranges and eggs. She was walking around in circles outside the shop by herself, so I leant over to talk to her. “Hello doggy, what’re you doing here by yourself?” I said. “You shouldn’t be out here by yourself. How did you manage to get here? What are you doing?” Quite loudly and in a normal speaking voice, I should add.

I was about to ask her whether she came to buy groceries, and how she was going to carry the bags home, when I realised the owner was right behind me. He probably thought I was a nutter. I kinda am. I scuttled away after that to make cake.

This is the most orangey and moist orange cake I’ve found so far. It’s perfectly nice without the icing, I just happened to want icing too. But, I can’t give you the icing recipe because it was given to me by the very nice person who runs Snowdrop Cupcakes in Manchester – sorry!*

Caking notes: I did a gluten free version, the normal version is more spongey and lighter in texture. It’s the same recipe, I just swapped out the flour for GF flour.

More caking notes: this time I thought it was a bit sweet, and I’ll be reducing the sugar to 200g next time. Also, make sure to use sunkist oranges, the cake tastes better with a sour orange. I might also try making an orange syrup next time to add before icing, to try and sour it up even more. I’ll let you know how that goes 🙂

Sicilian Orange Cake with Vanilla Icing

Taken from Gourmand, a site which sadly doesn’t seem to be on the internet anymore. I traced the recipe back from there to Almost Bourdain, which has also stopped publishing. Luckily Google had a cached copy, I thought I’d lost a yummy recipe. You can live here now Mr Cake! All credits to the Almost Bourdain blogger, but I can’t seem to link them because the website is offline. Though I did change up the recipe a bit.

250g salted butter – bring it to room temperature so you can cream easily
220g caster sugar
4 medium eggs
1.5 tablesp finely grated orange zest – I measure the juice first, then take the entire orange’s worth of zest that produced that juice. So, if I used half an orange for the juice, I take the whole orange’s worth of zest. Not very scientific clearly.
250g self raising flour- I used gluten free all purpose flour and 1 teasp of baking soda, sifted
85ml freshly squeezed orange juice

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C
Makes an 8 inch cake. I made 1.5x, so had 2 smaller bar cakes. Line your tin with baking paper if using a round tin.

  1. Cream butter and sugar until very pale (4 to 5 minutes).
  2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add a spoonful of flour with the last egg to prevent curdling.
  3. Mix in the orange zest.
  4. Throw in the rest of the flour at once, and mix well.
  5. Slowly mix in the orange juice.
  6. Bake 45-55 minutes in the oven, or until a skewer comes out clean. If it browns too fast, cover it with a bit of foil.

Edit: tried this with 200g raw sugar, still too sweet! I’ll reduce further and let you know how it goes. 

* If I know you, ask me.