Sicilian Orange Cake


Sicilian Orange Cake-2I found this cake of Sicilian origin from The Guardian, when I was looking for an orange cake recipe. The original recipe was from Rick Stein’s Mediterranean Escapes. This recipe was based on a traditional butter cake proportions, flavored with freshly-squeezed orange juice and its zest. Here, I had gone a little further by adding a splash of Grand Marnier which I believe it deepened the orange flavor in the cake.

Sicilian Orange Cake-3The recipe calls for self-raising flour which I don’t always keep stock for, so I made a substitution by mixing all-purpose flour and baking powder. It works perfect. I also upped the orange juice by a little, which contributed to a nicely moist crumb. When it comes to traditional butter cakes, I always prefer to use salted butter, a tip I learn from my dad, who bakes the best Hainanese butter cake in my world. You could use unsalted but I would recommend adding a touch more salt to the batter. It alleviates the taste of such dense butter cakes.

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Alice Medrich’s Goldies


Goldies-1When it comes to cookies, I like to refer to Alice Medrichs book, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies. The title says it all isn’t it? These beautiful Goldies are addictive. Be warn. If you like Pepperidge Farm’s Milano Cookies, then I am sure you will enjoy these, as they are actually quite similar.

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A Mickey Mouse Birthday


Balloon-2A few weeks ago, my nephew celebrated his 3rd birthday. I didn’t make him the birthday cake. Apparently, he wanted a Mickey Mouse cake and they were looking into fondant, which is something I don’t do (I love desserts seriously but I’ve never like fondant). So instead, I volunteered to provide accompaniment desserts. Dessert Table-1Mickey Mouse is my nephew’s current favorite character, and naturally the character became the party’s theme. The first item I made was this Mickey Red Velvet cupcakes, this time replacing the artificial red gel colorant with natural beet powder. The cakes did not get that vibrant red with the use of beet powder, instead it turned to a dusky rosy color, minus the nasty chemicals. Why not right? Mickey’s face was easily achieved by using a regular Oreo as the face and two mini Oreo representing the ears.

mickeyredvelvet-1 mickeyredvelvet-2 I actually made another batch of yellow cupcakes, which was meant to frost it with a peanut butter frosting and strawberry jam. PB & J that is. But… I can’t figure out what went wrong, the cake turned out to be unsatisfactory. It happens sometimes. Didn’t want to waste, I crushed the cakes into fine crumbs (this was real fun!), mixed in some of the PB frosting, made into rounds the size of ping pong ball, roll them over melted dark chocolate and coat with sprinkles and crushed Oreo. I am glad that these cake truffles attracted quite a lot of attention from curious guests, tempting them to try. Can’t tell you how it tasted because I didn’t get to have a bite but I did taste the cake mix during the making and it was actually not bad.Cake Truffles-1

Cake Truffles-2When I was planning on what desserts to bring for this party, one of the sources I looked to was Donna Hay’s Kid’s issue 2012 (digital edition). And these Mud Pots came from there. It was made with milk, cream and Milo. The Milo pudding representing the soil and the mint stalk, the plant. So simple yet creative and very yummy too! I must mention that it was also extremely easy to make.

mudpot-1 And….. Ta-dah!!!! Here’s my oh-so-adorable nephew! He was really excited and extremely happy when everyone, including himself, sang him the birthday song.

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French Toast with Orange Flower Water


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The  first French toast I ate was made by my mother. She would use stale Gardenia white bread, which is ok because that’s what French toast is all about, utilizing stale bread. And she would add a little milk to thin down the egg mixture, a drizzle of condensed milk to sweeten and pan-fry it in melted salted butter. It tasted fine but I wasn’t a fan.
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I remembered a French toast recipe (known as Pain Perdu) from the book, Desserts by Pierre Herme, written by Dorie Greenspan, that appealed to me because there is a notable ingredient added to the egg mix, that is the orange flower water. Herme’s recipe was meant as a dessert, slightly sweeter than the American breakfast/brunch version, and it is accompanied with a wonderfully sweet and fruity blueberry sauce.

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Sweet Treats for a Birthday


 

 

I recently made a little variety of desserts for my sister-in-law’s birthday party. A Berries and Mascarpone Cream Trifle, a Chocolate Cherry Tart and a Vanilla Cherry Birthday Cake.

When my brother approached me to make the birthday cake for this party, he actually requested for this crepe cake. I didn’t feel that the crepe cake was appropriate for the party for one reason: The slicing. Slicing this cake can be quite horrific, and I really didn’t want to take the risk. So the crepe cake didn’t make it to the party.

To make up for the disappointment, I made them this trifle, using quite the same ingredients as the crepe cake. The bottom of the trifle bowl was filled with Vanilla Cake (unused portion from leveling of the Vanilla Cherry Birthday Cake layers), slattered some strawberry jam, spread a layer of mascarpone cream (the same one as the crepe cake), throw in some fresh strawberries and blueberries and repeat the layering once more. Topped with more berries, it was quite a stunner. Taste wise, this trifle took the stage. REALLY delicious!

berries trifle-5I chose to make the chocolate cherry tart for obvious reasons. It was easy to put together, needs no baking and looks absolutely indulgent! I first saw this tart on Mowelicious’s instagram and fell in love with it immediately. The crust was made using crushed oreos and melted butter pressed into a long tart shell. The ganache has a nice shiny sheen to it which I really like. As my sis-in-law prefers milk chocolate, I used 53.8% callebaut chocolate for the ganache and reduced the golden syrup to 2 tablespoons. I found that it was a little too sweet for me but it seems ok for the guests. Next time I’ll try using 70% chocolate and make them into smaller tarts with wine-soaked cherries. Overall, this was a good tart and it was a hot favorite among the kids. The recipe of this tart can be found here.

choc cherry tart-3 And finally, this birthday cake. This 3-layer vanilla cherry cake was inspired by the cake from the talented Linda Lomelino’s blog. I didn’t use her recipe for the cake as there wasn’t sufficient time for me to test it out first. So I went ahead with my own trusted vanilla cake, added a touch of pink for two of the layers and throw in a few chopped dark cherries to the pink layer.

For the frosting, I had initially planned for a raspberry meringue buttercream which no doubt is my favorite flavor, but sadly, I couldn’t get any raspberries so strawberries was the replacement. The cream was alright, the addition of fresh strawberry puree actually created a candy-like flavor.

I really suck at frosting cake as you can see. It was kinda embarrassing with the unevenness. But I thought the flowers look pretty sweet? Sister-in-law was really pleased with the flowers!

bday cake-8 The party was an intimate one with only close families and their neighbours. I’m also glad to be able to make people happy with the sweet treats. There will be a few more birthday parties of family members coming up in the next couple of months, so you can expect to see more posts like this. Stay tuned!

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