Meringue Kisses Cake

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Baby A turned 18 months recently and while we know that it isn’t technically a birthday, it is an important milestone for babies and parents, plus we like any excuse to make and eat cake! This one has 4 parts – A basic three tier ombre sponge base , raspberry buttercream, white chocolate ganache drip and meringue kisses to top it off.

Making a cake like this was pretty laborious , but so rewarding and we learn so much every time we make a new type of cake- we thought we’d share the recipe and some tips from our trials. Start early (a day or two ahead even ) when you want to make a meringue kisses cake. The kisses can be made a few days in advance and stored in an airtight container.You can make the sponges a day or two ahead and the buttercream at least a day ahead , that way you space out the work – then just assemble the night before on the big day itself. You could make a simple syrup  (this one’s from cakesbakesandcookies.com) to drench the sponge in to keep it from drying out as well.

The meringue kisses are a bit of work and meringues are technically a little difficult (we’re still learning!), but we used this recipe from Bakerella (it’s a Meringue girls’ recipe) which seems to have turned out quite decently, just follow the instructions carefully. Use gel colour if possible instead of liquid to colour the kisses – liquid might alter the consistency of the meringues. We’re planning to try the Italian meringue method soon and will post the outcome.

You’ll find lots of different chocolate ganache recipes for dripping on cakes- some use more cream , more chocolate etc. We wanted something easy to drip but still rich enough in taste , so 2 parts chocolate to 1 part cream seemed to have worked best. We probably could have done a little better with our dripping technique but it’s not too bad for the first time! If you are unsure about how ‘drippy’ you want the ganache to be, just keep a little extra chocolate and cream on hand so you can adjust the consistency, which is fairly easy to do with ganache.

We find that 41/2 -5 cups of buttercream is generally safe amount for a three tier cake. You may have some leftover, but it’s always better to have more than less when it comes to frosting to account for any errors. We flavoured our buttercream with raspberry jam, to give it a nice sweet sour taste and a lovely rosy colour. It also made the buttercream quite sweet on top of the icing sugar , but the proportion of icing sugar to butter is important to give the frosting the stiffness needed to frost so don’t cut down on the icing sugar unless you are confident your frosting will maintain it’s texture with less icing sugar. We also like to chill the bowl that we use to make the buttercream – just to keep the process as cool as possible.

We’ve learnt that it’s also important to work with feel when it comes to buttercream-  add the sugar, milk, jam or any other flavouring slowly- keep whipping and observe the consistency as you go along. Once you reach the desired consistency, stop. If you find later on that it’s not right, you can still add more of what you need and whip again. But you can’t go back once you’ve added too much.

We picked up this tip at a course at culinary school to prevent icing sugar/cream/milk/eggs etc. from flying and splattering all over the place when whipping – if you are using a hand mixer to whip up the buttercream, cover the bowl you are using with clingwrap leaving just a bit of space to insert the hand mixer. Seems pretty simple, but it’s just one of those things we don’t think of doing!

If you have difficulty frosting the traditional way -with an offset spatula, try using a piping bag to pipe on the frosting first, then even out with your bench scraper or icing smoother. With this method, you can skip the crumb coating part too, which we personally find to be a real pain to do! Check out this video to see how it’s done for an ombre cake. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect-messy , naked cakes all the rage now!

Makes one 3 -tier cake

Ingredients

Meringues Kisses

Basic Meringue Kisses Ingredients & Recipe

100g melted chocolate for dipping the kisses (optional)

Coloured rice / balls/starts etc for decorating the kisses (optional)

Sponge Cake (Recipe from 80 Cakes around the world)

340g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

340g caster sugar

340g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

6 large eggs, lightly beaten

A few drops of gel food colour of your choice

Raspberry buttercream

2 cups unsalted butter , softened at room temperature

4-5 cups icing sugar, finely sifted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk

2-3 tablespoons raspberry jam

White chocolate ganache drip

200g white chocolate

100g heavy cream

Special Equipment

2 piping bags with nozzles of different shapes and a coupler ( 1 bag for piping the kisses and another for the piping the buttercream). The coupler will allow you to use the same piping bag for the kisses and just change the nozzle if you want different designs

Three 18 cm sandwich or sponge tins

Offset Spatula & Bench Scraper for frosting

Cake turntable

Silicone mat for the meringue kisses after dipping in chocolate

Method

Meringue Kisses

Start with the meringue kisses , a few days ahead if possible. Once you have the kisses made as per the linked recipe, dip the bases in the cooled melted chocolate and rotate slightly to get the excess chocolate to drip off. Then you can either dip them in the coloured rice directly or lightly sprinkle the bases with the coloured rice. The  set them down on the silicone mat to let the chocolate harden. Store them in an airtight container and in the fridge if you live in a hot or humid environment. 

The Sponge

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

Grease and line the tins with parchment paper. Then grease again and flour , dusting off any excess.

Sift flour and baking powder together and keep aside

Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer , starting with medium speed and then moving to high, until light and fluffy.Add the eggs, bit by bit, beating well. Fold in the flour and baking powder with a large metal spoon. 

Now the colouring part; add one or two drops of colour into the batter and gently fold in until uniform. Then spoon out a third of the batter into one of the prepared cake tins – set aside. Add another drop or two into the remaining batter and fold again. Then spoon out half of the newly coloured batter into another prepared tin. Do this a third time to get the final sponge. Needless to say, you can add more drops of colour to each batter or do different colours if you like too. Just be careful with the amount you are spooning out into each tin – make them as equal as possible so you get even cakes at the end. 

Level the surfaces of the cake with a spatula and bake for 20-30 minutes until the edges have shrunk away from the sides of the tins and the tops spring back slightly when pressed. Let them cool in the tins , then turn out onto wired racks to cool completely. 

Raspberry Buttercream

Beat the butter on medium speed in a electric mixer or use a hand whisk until creamy.

Add the first 3 cups of sugar gradually, beating on a slower speed. Then beat on medium for another minute or two.

Add the milk and vanilla extract slowly on low speed again and combine well. Now’s the time to check the consistency. If you want it firmer, gradually add the remaining sugar , beating on low speed. Stop when you achieve the desired consistency. 

Then beat in the raspberry jam. Whip everything together until creamy.

Pop the buttercream in the fridge if you don’t plan to frost immediately. Just take it out ahead of time and stir it before using. 

White chocolate ganache drip

Make before using and allow to cool before dripping

Warm the cream in a small pan. Remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate until completely melted. Set aside to cool. 

Assembling the cake

Place a cake base on the turntable and drop a bit of jam in the centre to stick the sponge on.

Place the first sponge layer on top. Then using the offset spatula, place a big dollop of frosting in the centre of the sponge and smooth out with the spatula. Try to make the layer of buttercream as even as possible. It’s ok if some spills out onto the sides as we will be frosting the outside as well. When frosting, just remember that the spatula should stay on top of the frosting and not touch the cake. This will help to prevent cake crumbs getting mixed in with the buttercream. Just repeat ‘don’t touch the cake’ as you frost- so you don’t forget!

Repeat with the other layers.When you have all the layers in place, use the piping bag method to frost the outside of the cake and even out with the bench scraper.

When your cake is completely frosted, you will need to put it in the freezer for 15 minutes, keeping it on the turntable if possible, to cool before dripping the ganache (I’d like to try this without freezing next time, because I find that freezing tends to dry the sponges out a little). 

When the cake is cold, take it out of the freezer. Using a spoon, drip the ganache, a little at a time all along the edges of the top of cake. Go slow so you can control the drip. Then using the spoon again, fill the centre of top of the cake too, so it’s completely covered. Check out this video to see how it’s done. 

Top with the meringue kisses and pop back in the freezer to allow the chocolate to set. 

Whew! Done! 

Don’t forget to bring the cake to room temperature before eating. 

We’d love to hear your experiences with meringue kisses cakes too, so please share your advice with us!

x Anu & Suba

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Choux pastry buns

choux-pastry-with-chocolate-cream

We woke up one grey morning and in an effort to brighten the day, decided to try our hands at making choux pastry. It’s a task that seemed really intimidating at first (think Eclairs) but is actually pretty straightforward to make. The ingredients are really simple and most likely things you would already have in your pantry if you bake often. The inside of choux pastry should be airy and moist, not wet and eggy. The great thing about these little puffs is that you can take one out of the oven (close to the time they are done , not before!) and check that they are just right inside. If not, you can keep them in the oven a little longer so they rise and dry out inside. Then leave them to cool a bit and fill with the cream of your choice- we did a simple chocolate whipped cream this time (whipping cream whipped up with a handwhisk and then stirred together with melted chocolate)

This recipe is taken from James Martin’s Sweet. Here are some of his tips for making choux pastry;

  1. Make sure butter , sugar and salt are brought to a boil slowly. The butter should not melt before the water evaporates. I basically just kept the heat very low over a small flame and stirred gently to help the butter dissolve.
  2. Dice the butter small- again to help it melt quicker
  3. Add half a cup of cold water to a preheated tray in the oven before cooking , this will make the texture crispy.
  4. 20 minutes into cooking , open the oven door to let the steam out.

The flavorbender has some great troubleshooting tips too.

Makes 18 medium choux pastry

Prep time : 20 mins      Bake time :

Ingredients

For the choux :

250ml water

100g cold butter diced small

1 tablespoon caster sugar

Pinch salt

150g strong flour

4 eggs

 

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius

Line a baking sheet with silicone paper or use a silicone mat

Place water , butter , sugar and salt in a pan and slowly bring to a boil over low heat. Once the mixture starts to boil, continue to let it boil for one minute.

Then add all the flour in at one go. Keep beating the mixture until it starts to thicken.Depending on the amount of heat, this could happen relatively quickly. The mixture should thicken , be smooth and come away fro the sides of the pan cleanly. This should take a few minutes. Remove the mixture from the pan and place it on the silicone sheet or mat to cool for 5 minutes.

You can use a kitchen mixture for the next step, but we did it by hand- beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure mixture is smooth after each addition. Then continue beating until smooth and shiny,resembling  a thick , smooth custard. If you pick some of the mixture up between your fingers, it should take 3-4 seconds to drip.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a large nozzle (plain or otherwise) with the mixture and pipe out small buns about 2 cm apart. You can smooth out bumps using a wet fingertip (the mixture should not stick to your finger).

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the buns are golden grown. Allow them to cool on a wire rack when done.

When cooled a bit, use a small knife to make a cut at the base of each bun.Insert a piping bag fitted with a round nozzle and filled with filling of your choice. Just pipe the filling into the bun , easy as that!

x Anu & Suba

 

 

 

Wholewheat Muesli & Coconut Muffins

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Wholewheat Muesli & Coconut Muffins

Our recent smoothie bowl craze has led us to think of ways to make our other breakfast favourites healthier too. These guilt-free muffins are made with wholewheat flour, applesause instead of eggs, olive oil instead of butter and honey instead of sugar. If it wasn’t for the yoghurt, we could have called these Vegan too!

Makes 15 regular muffins

Prep time : 15 mins  Bake time : 25 mins

Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil

2 cups wholewheat flour

200g applesauce (we used babyfood jars)

1/2 cup greek yoghurt

1 cup milk

1 cup muesli

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

2 tsp baking powder

4 tbsp honey

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degree celsius

Butter and flour muffin trays or cups

In a bowl, whisk oil, applesauce, milk , honey and yoghurt until well combined

In another bowl, mix the  flour & baking powder

With a spatula, mix the wet ingredients slowly into the dry and gently stir until just combined. Don’t overmix, it’s ok if you still see a few small lumps of flour. 

Next stir in the muesli & dessicated coconut. 

Spoon the batter into the cups, filling them almost to the top. Bake until toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean about 20 minutes.

Once baked, remove from oven and allow to cool completely on a wire rack. 

x Anu & Suba

 

 

Stone Fruit Season: Plums & Cream Polenta Cake

plum & polenta

This cake was inspired by  two things – 1) needing to use a bag of polenta we bought in Switzerland last month for a family dinner but never used and 2) a recent discovery that the maroon and cream livery of the Great Northern Railway’s dining carriage in the 1940s (random fact of the day) came to be affectionately known  as ‘Plum and Spilt Milk’, which sounded like a divine flavour combination! So obviously, we had to make a cake featuring those ingredients. It turned out a real treat with a cuppa tea so we thought we’d share it with all of you.

Serves 8 (big slices) or 10 (medium slices)

Prep Time: 20 mins Baking time: Approx 50-60 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 cup muscovado sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup polenta (we used fine polenta)

1 cup  sifted self-raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder sifted in)

1/2 cup double cream

3 eggs

a tsp vanilla extract

4 plums

2 tbsps strawberry or current jam

Method

Turn the oven on to 160 degrees c. Ours is an electric fan oven. Grease a round tin and line with baking parchment.

Cut the plums down the middle and twist each half in opposite directions. Slice the half with the stone in half again and twist, same as above – this will help in removing the stone. Cut each quarter into half again so that from each plum, you get 8 slices in total. Set aside.

Next, put both types of sugar together with the butter and beat until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed in. After adding all three eggs, add the double cream and vanilla. Mix well. 

Now add half the flour and half the polenta, fold in. Now, add the other half of both and fold in until well mixed. Careful not to beat the flour and polenta in and don’t mix vigorously either. Just patiently fold it in, we promise that will be worth the effort! 

Pour the batter into your tin and smooth the surface. Now, starting from the edge of the tin, place the plum slices one next to the other, vertically, all around the tin (sneak a quick look at the picture above to see what we mean about the placing – that said, if you place it horizontally, it’ll be fine too!). Keep going till you fill up the whole top of the cake. You may want to choose the plum slices according to how they fit but really, don’t hesitate to squeeze them together or force them into shape! What you want to avoid is pressing the plums in because the cake will rise and you don’t want the plums sinking in when that happens.

Put the tin in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and while that’s happening, zap the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds or put it in a bowl and the bowl in a bath of hot water – basically loosen the jam so you can brush it all over the cake. Brush the cake with the warm jam and leave it to cool completely. 

 

x Anu & Suba

 

Individual Victoria Sponges

vic sponge

Another dessert in honour of our Singaporean national colours – red and white. We packed some of these up for friends, also missing home here in London, as a wee National Day treat. The great thing about individual portions is that you can eat the cake yourself before anyone else does without having to cut out a slice, which you just can’t do if you’re taking the cake to someone’s house for a party or giving it away as a gift.

Makes 12

Prep: 20 minutes + 15 minutes after baking   Cook time: 20-25 mins

Ingredients

200 g softened butter

200 g sugar

3 eggs

250g self raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder)

1 tsp vanilla extract

strawberry or raspberry jam

100ml double cream, cold

icing sugar

Method

Turn the oven on to 150 deg c. Line a cupcake or muffin tin or grease with some butter and set aside.

Beat the butter with some sugar until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they mix in well. Now, add the vanilla extract and mix well. Sieve the flour to introduce more air into it and then fold it into the batter. Fold gently and avoid any hard mixing at this stage. 

Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 full and place in the oven. After 12 minutes, or when you see the cakes starting to turn a more golden colour, turn the tray 180 degrees so the cakes brown evenly. Leave it in for another 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. 

While the cakes are baking, pour the cold cream into a mixer and beat till it forms peaks. Careful not to over-beat or it will start to look lumpy and separate. Fold in 2 tbsps of sifted icing sugar.

Once the cakes are ready, put them on a rack to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, slice the cakes in half horizontally so you can make a sandwich. On one cut half, cut side up, plop a dollop of cream in the middle and spread very lightly (not all the way to the edge as that will happen automatically when you press the top part of the cake down on top of the cream). On the other half of the cake, cut side up, dollop some jam and again, spread very lightly. Now carefully bring both halves together so that the cream and jam are sandwiched in the middle. Make sure the cake is completely cooled so the jam and cream don’t melt in the middle and start dripping out. 

We placed a star-shaped cutter (Singapore’s flag has 5 stars on it) on top of the cake before dusting over icing sugar with a sieve but you can just sieve directly over the cake or use any shaped cutter you like!

We packed them up in some nice red and white tissue and tied it all up with some brown string, but only after we stuffed our own faces with a couple of these delicious little poppers!

x Anu & Suba

 

Berry , Mascarpone & White Chocolate Trifles

Berry , Mascarpone & White chocolate Trifles 3

In celebration of Singapores’ National Day , we made these little glass trifles with alternating layers of sponge cake and berry mascarpone and topped with white chocolate ganache. They were supposed to be just red and white (the colours of Singapores’ national
flag) but we ended up adding some blueberries to the top, for some contrast but mostly because we just felt like blueberries! You can use any cake for this, and if you are short on time you could also just crumble the cake and make the layers out of that instead of cutting out the circle shapes.Trifles made a regular appearance in our family get togethers and making them just somehow made us feel a little closer to home.

Berry , Mascarpone & White chocolate Trifles

Makes 5 glass trifles

Ingredients

Sponge cake :

75 g flour

25g corn flour

100g sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Berry Mascarpone:

150g mascarpone

1/4 cup raspberries , chopped

1/4 cup strawberries, chopped

Splash of milk

1/4 cup icing sugar

White Chocolate Ganache:

100g white chocolate

100g heavy cream

Topping :

2-3 strawberries sliced

15 blueberries

10 raspberries

You will also need:

5 glasses of 5 cm diameter

A circle cookie cutter of 5 cm diameter

(or glasses and cookie cutter with matching diameter)

Method

Sponge :

Preheat your oven at 180c

Sift flours together.Whisk eggs & vanilla essence until fluffy

Add sugar a little at a time and whisk until the batter falls from the spoon in the form of a ribbon. Fold in the flour with a spatula

Pour into a 7 inch cake tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 30-40 mins until the top springs back. 

Cool your cake completely on a wire rack. 

While the cake is baking, make the berry mascarpone.

Berry Mascarpone :

Mix the mascarpone with the milk until you get a smooth paste, thick enough to spread. Add the berries and the icing sugar and stir to combine. 

Keep it in the fridge while the cake bakes and cools.

While the cake cools, make the white chocolate ganache

White chocolate ganache:

Chop up the white chocolate and place it in a bowl. 

Warm the cream in a small saucepan – it doesn’t need to boil or simmer. Just make it warm enough to melt the chocolate. 

Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until combined and creamy. 

Assembling the trifles:

Once the cake has cooled, slice it into half with a serrated knife or a cake slicer. Don’t worry , it doesn’t need to be perfect cause you won’t be able to see the layers perfectly once assembled. 

Place the layers on a flat surface and cut out 5 circles from each layer – so a total of 10. You will have leftover cake, so you could probably get about 2 more circles if you cut them close. Or you could save the remainder and make something else, like cake pops or cake french toast. 

Place a tablespoon of the berry mascarpone in a glass and spread it out evenly, push in one of the cake circles, then top with another 1-1.5 tablespoons of mascarpone, then another layer of cake and another 1-1.5 tablespoons of mascarpone. Top with 1-2 tablespoons of white chocolate and garnish with the berries. Repeat with the other glasses. 

Happy National Day ! 

X Anu & Suba

Persian Love Cake

persianlovecake2

Summer is here and roses are blooming everywhere and so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put the flavour of roses in pretty much everything we are cooking these days. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite rose inspired concoctions, both sweet & savoury, so do drop by if you feel like filling your kitchens with the scent of roses.

The first of our recipes is a Persian Love Cake. The story goes that this magical cake was first made by a Persian woman for a Prince she was in love with. And what’s not to love about this intently moist, sweet, rich almond cake with hints of rosewater, cardamom & lemon. This is hands down my favourite almond cake and a great one  to make for a party because it keeps well, is  yummy and looks impressive but is so easy to make. This recipe is from Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales and I’ve never found the need to change anything  because I love it as it is, but replacing the lemons with oranges , using hazelnuts instead of pistachios or making little Persian love cupcakes (especially for Valentine’s Day) could be nice twists.

persianlovecake1

I’ve made this cake 2 days in advance and it has always tasted better that way. You could take the traditional route and make the lemon icing in this recipe or you could whip up some lemon cream , rose buttercream or even mix store-bought pistachio cream with freshly whipped cream to top this cake. The variations are endless . If you want to make a 2 layer cake like I have here, just remember to double the portions for the lemon icing so you can top each layer.Handle the cake with care when layering, it’s so soft that it cracks easy. 

Serves 8

Ingredients

The Cake

200 g unsalted butter

150 g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

12 cardamom pods

100 g plain flour, sifted

275 g ground almonds

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon baking powder

a generous pinch fine sea salt

The Syrup

2 tablespoon caster sugar

1/2 lemon, Juiced

1/2 tablespoon rose water

The icing

150 g icing sugar

3/4 lemon, Juiced

2 teaspoon cold water

To Decorate

2 teaspoons sliced pistachios or pistachio granules

2 teaspoons dried or fresh rose petals, roses or rosebuds

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 cm cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Grind the whole cardamom pods in a pestle & mortar, discard the green shells and pound the little black seeds until they become a powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until just combined , don’t over-beat. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.

Add the cardamom seeds to the mixture. Then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and rose water.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin , even out the top and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Check the cake close to the end of the baking time by sticking a fork in the middle. It should come out clean. Place the cake on a  wire rack to cool.

While waiting for the cake to bake, make the syrup. Using a small pan over low heat, combine the caster sugar, rose water and lemon juice and stir until the sugar melts completely. While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick or fork to poke holes all over the top and then drizzle the syrup over the cake,making sure you cover the whole top of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely.

To make the icing combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and a 3-4 teaspoons of cold water  and stir well until the icing is smooth and thick. Make the icing just before you want to use it or it will harden. Spoon the icing over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Decorate with the roses and pistachio.

If you want to make a double layer cake, use a serrated knife or cake slicer to slice the cake. Spoon half the icing over the bottom layer, place the top layer over that with the top (rounded part of the cake) facing down ,

=[then spoon the rest of the icing over that. This video from ZoeBakes will explain how to do that better than I can with words.

x Anu & Suba