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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Carrots in a Blender

So, to make this you need a blender large enough to hold a whole tub of cake mix. This isn’t a serious problem for me and Mr Chopper, who has a rather large belly. If your blender isn’t big enough then you can remove everything after a bit and continue with a hand mixer. or you can grate the carrots and chop up the pineapple and crush the walnuts separately, like in a normal recipe. Or you can do your chopping in shifts, and mix everything up in a big bowl with a spoon at the end. I think that’d be how I would do it without my faithful friend.

Obligatory prep photo

I just really liked how everything was originally done in a single bowl. You know that one bowl recipes are my favourite.

Icing prep

Also, this cake is so vege-packed that it’s almost a salad. Coleslaw, to be exact, what with all the shredded carrots. Healthy cake.

My dog likes (to play with) carrots

You would eat a salad as a meal. Hence, if this cake = salad, and salad potentially = lunch or dinner, therefore cake = lunch or dinner.

I haven’t included breakfast because I feel absolutely no guilt about eating cake for breakfast.

Here is my pretty, in her lumpy glory

I do dread the day when the thunderthighs come to claim me. In the mean time, let us, with this cake, toast to the strength of the gates of Tartarus.

Sorry bad photo, will upload a nicer one next time

Healthy-as-Coleslaw Carrot Cake

Adapted, barely, from Quirky Cooking. Awesome idea, I love cakes that you can just mix and pour.

200g carrots – peeled and quartered
300g pineapple chunks – if canned, drain well
2 large eggs
40g oil
1 teasp vanilla essence
90g honey
190g flour
1 teasp cinnamon
2 teasp baking soda
Âľ teasp salt
75g walnuts, whole OR equivalent weight shredded coconut
40g raisins

Oven temperature: 165 degrees C, for an hour to an hour and a half. Cupcakes only take about 30 to 40 minutes.
Yield: 1 bundt cake, or 12 cupcakes.  Or a large loaf. Don’t use a regular cake tin, or the middle of the cake won’t cook properly. Instead, flour a small glass or ramkin and place it in the middle of the tin.

  1. Grease / flour bundt tin.
  2. Dump the following in a blender for about 5 seconds, and chop until it reaches the texture of grated carrot – carrot, pineapple (if using fresh), eggs, oil, honey, vanilla. Remove and set aside if your blender has a small capacity, otherwise just leave it in the blender.
  3. Blend the following on high for about 5 seconds – flour, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, walnuts / coconut, pineapple (if using canned).
  4. If you have set aside your carrot mixture, now is the time to mix in the flour et al, pretty thoroughly. Then mix in the raisins.
  5. Bake! Then set aside until it cools / chill it.

Eating suggestion: wait for the cake to cool fully before eating, or put it in the fridge for a bit. This is a super moist cake, so if you don’t do this it will be a little wobbly on the inside.

Orange Cream Cheese Honey Icing 

Adapted from Janie Turner and Sam Joffe in “Fast and Easy Cooking”.

1 tablesp granulated sugar
Rind of 1 large unwaxed orange, thin peelings of skin only – or any other citrus fruit
300g cream cheese, softened
15 – 30g runny honey

Yield: the top of one 8” cake.

  1. Blend granulated sugar with  the orange peelings to get them to squish together.
  2. Add cream cheese and honey, keep blending for about 20 seconds.
  3. If you like, after this you can whisk at medium speed for about 30 seconds to get a fluffier icing. The blender has taken most of the work out of this so you don’t need to do it for long.

Oddities involving Orange, Cheese, and Raisins

So some people have already told me that this sounds like quite a strange cake. They even went as far as to say something to the effect of: “so if your cake sounds weird, can I always assume in future that the weird bits are things that you added?”

Why yes, you can in fact assume that it was me who created the odd flavour combination. This was originally a plain orange cake, with a chocolate sauce. The recipe’s original creator intended to be one of those wedding cake types that stacks 3 tiers high with white chocolate cigarillos stuck to the outside of it. I just threw whatever was in my fridge into it. Totally not expecting it to taste so good. This is the first cake I’ve ever made that was eaten in its entirety almost immediately. It has a nice crunchy crust and does absolutely not need any icing, being very satisfying all on its own. My favourite kind of cake.

I feel calm just looking at this

Be warned that it’s not mega-sweet, probably because of the orange rind in it. So you feel fresh and happy after eating, rather than sick from overindulgence. This means you can eat more. Again, I like it that way, so there.

It’s the sort of cake you eat in the afternoon, when it’s cold and raining outside, with a mug of steaming tea. You can look out the window in a state of contemplation while watching raindrops falling if you choose, but I think that’s boring and would rather read a book. If you like you can toast a slice and have it with a little butter, but you really don’t need to do that (in fact, I never do that with cake. I feel like it’s a waste of cake. But you could, if you wanted to). I realise that you can eat most cakes in the afternoon with a cup of tea, but you will feel the calmest after eating this one. It’s a soothing, peaceful, unpretentious kind of cake.

Moist crumb and a crunchy crust. What more could you want in cake and life?

It’s also a one bowl recipe, which I made pretty much entirely in a food processor / blender-type creature. Which meant that it took a grand total of about 15 minutes prep time (hence lack of process photos). Serious bonus points awarded.

Whole Orange Cake with Raisins and a Cheese Crust

Yeah so I’m not exactly sure where the original recipe was from, because I only have a photo of the single page in the cookbook showing the original recipe. It’s not my cookbook, and I have no idea who the author is. But….from what I understand, if you change more than 3 major ingredients, the recipe is basically yours. I changed 4 major ingredients and a bunch of proportions, and the method – I suppose that makes it my recipe?

115g butter – softened
115g light brown sugar
2 medium eggs
165g flour
1.5 teasp baking powder
1/2 cup of raisins
1/4 cup of hard cheese like cheddar or parmesan – grated using the small holes on the grater. You can use a bit less if you like, but I enjoy the burnt cheese crust
1 orange
2 cups water
2-3 tablesp milk (if needed)
A pinch of salt

Oven temperature: 170 degrees C

  1. Zest the orange. Take the naked orange and it it in the blender with about 2 cups of water. Whiz it a food processor until it is thick and pulpy, then strain the big bits out with a pasta colander (big holes!). Keep 1 cup of liquid aside for the cake. You can drink the other cup if you want, but I wouldn’t, it’s rather bitter.
  2. Chuck the butter in the food processor and whip it a little until it’s a bit creamy.
  3. Dump in the sugar, keep whipping until the mixture goes pale.
  4. Throw in the eggs and about a tablespoon of the flour to prevent curdling. Keep on mixing. Yes, still in the food processor.
  5. Pour everything into a bowl, and fold in the flour, baking powder, salt, raisins, zest, and the cup of “juice” you kept aside earlier into the batter.
  6. Check: is the batter loose enough that it plops off the side of a spoon easily when you pick it up and turn it upside down? If not, add some milk. Keep adding until you get to a slightly looser consistency. You need the batter to plop off the spoon easily back into the bowl. I added about 3 tablespoons of milk.
  7. Put everything into a baking tin, smooth out the batter and sprinkle the cheese on top. I baked for about 45 minutes, but used a shallow baking tin. If you use a loaf tin it might take a little longer because the cake would be thicker. I actually think it’d be even nicer in a loaf tin, because you get a better crust:slice ratio 🙂

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.

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.