Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Spring-Inspired Birthday Cake for Two!


Yes, I am still on a Spring fever just in case you're wondering :). It was only natural when two people had their birthday on the same exact day, one is my brother, and the other one is one of my friends, S, I immediately thought of a Spring cake! The gorgeous weather we've had for 2 weeks (it's back to rain and cold now) is also worth a celebration in a form of a cake.

The birthday fell on last Wednesday, and yes they both were born at the same day, which is an advantage for me really so that I don't have to make two cakes :). Well honestly, the Spring theme wasn't the first that came in my mind at first. It was so hard finding a design that fits both guy and girl, I wanted something natural and since I was so in the mood of the warm weather, I decided to once again go for the Spring theme! It is a bit weird that I used to dislike green color, one of the least favorite color, but now it is definitely one of my favorites. Same thing with polkadot, I used to hate it so much (yes, hate) but now I think they're really cute and I'm loving them! It's interesting how preference change by age :).


Anyways, I probably didn't do a really good job covering the cake with fondant, especially the top tier. My excuse? well, it was on weekday, it was late at night and I was super tired, bla bla bla.... but bottom line is, I didn't do a good job with the covering :(. The butterfly was made from royal icing that I've already had (make my life a lot easier) and so was the bee. It is a very very simple design, but I love it! The finished cake looks somewhat girly still, probably it's because of the pink flowers, but I don't mind (and I hope the birthday boy didn't either :D)



We brought the cake to the restaurant and it is so sad to think that the cake was destroyed (read:cut) in a matter of minutes after 6-8 hours of work, but I guess that's the way it works, unless I want to preserve it forever :). This is gonna be a short post since I'm exhausted with too many events at the moment. It is exciting and exhausting at the same time.

You know what, come to think of it, I made a similar birthday cake for them last year here. It was a cherry blossom theme which was so much inspired by the Spring weather. I guess I'm that predictable, huh? and they will just have to live with Spring cake every year then :). I mean who would not be excited to finally wear sandals and shorts outside? Certainly not me :). I will post the picture of them both later here, they looked almost like a twin :)
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning Part I: Tiramisu and Chocolate Mousse Cake


If you read my previous post, you will know that I like to store things in the freezer, leftover sponge cake, tiramisu cream, mousse, glaze, puree, fruits, buttercream, cheesecake, you name it and it's there. It does save time here and there when I need to whip up something quick, especially the sponge cakes, but it also makes the freezer full. Besides, storing stuff in the freezer doesn't mean that it will last forever, it can only last for a limited amount of time before it goes bad (freezer burn, freezer taste/smell, etc.). So, now that it's Spring, it's time for Spring cleaning! or more like freezer Spring cleaning.

You could probably guess that I had some chocolate sponge, some tiramisu cream that has been mold to 6" round, and in an attempt to clean the refrigerator, I decided to remake this cake. It was created out of an accident, but it turned out so good and was a big hit that I knew I had to make it again, so it was automatic and instant that whenever I had tiramisu and choc. sponge leftover, I would think of this cake. It doesn't mean that you should make it only when you have leftovers though, trust me, this cake is good!


But as the title says "Spring Cleaning", I wouldn't have the exact recipe for it, so I will just tell you what the components are. This cake has two layers of thin chocolate sponge cake moistened with coffee solution (add rum to make it better :D), with a layer of tiramisu cream in the bottom layer, and dark chocolate mousse on the second layer. On top of that, I made milk chocolate cream as well over the dark chocolate mousse (it's very hard to see the line of dark chocolate mousse and the milk chocolate cream from the picture), and a heavy dust of cocoa powder finish it all. I didn't make the dark chocolate mousse from scratch either, I have a pouch of Alaska Express chocolate mousse mix given as a sample a few months ago and I've been wanting to give it a try, plus it's quick and easy! I didn't want to make an over-the-top decoration for this cake either, so I simply melt some dark chocolate, spread it on an acetate sheet, and broke it randomly, it looks rustic, but it's okay. I didn't even bother to decorate the mini ones, that's why the sides look kinda ugly, but it doesn't matter when "leftovers" taste this good :).


This is only part I, stay tuned for the next part, hopefully I can get to it as soon as possible :)
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Monday, March 22, 2010

Fromage Fraise


It is officially Spring!!! The weather has been gorgeous the whole entire week last week, too bad I'm stuck in an office on weekday, but I did manage to get a few sunlight on my skin when I had lunch outside for a few times last week. I wish the weather could stay this way and never change :D. Other than that, I was super busy too, you can probably tell that I didn't update this blog for two weeks now. Work has been busy, there are a few gatherings and also I got to watch "Wicked", the broadway show! It was my first time for me watching that kind of show and I was so excited! The show we chose was on Thursday night, there were so much things happening that day that I didn't think we're gonna make it to San Francisco on time for the show. But thank God, we arrived exactly at 8:02, while the show is supposed to start at 8pm. It was warm too at night at SF, very rare occasion if you know the weather in SF.

For the whole week, I couldn't wait for the weekend to arrive so that I could catch up on my sleep, which I proved on Saturday when I woke up at 10am! This was the first time in so long that I woke up this late, especially on Saturday. It was a lazy Saturday, I did not make any plans on going out, I was planning to catch up on my errands too. It seems like a few months is too long to postpone stuff :D. I was determined to do a Spring cleaning for my freezer and my fridge. The refrigerator at our house has always been so full that it would be a challenge to organize the groceries almost everytime. So there I was making a cake as a result of the freezer Spring cleaning process. More on this on the next post.


For today, I'm just going to talk about this simple cake. The name might sound complicated for you but it's only a fancy name for cheese mousse with red berry gelee, topped with a bunch of fresh strawberries and cream. It was Saturday afternoon when my friend, D, called me up and asked if I would be able to make a cake for her coworker's birthday on Monday, and it needs to be ready on Sunday morning, because that's the only time I would get to see her to give her the cake. Hmm... as much as I don't like last minute thing, and as much as I advised her to get a cake from a bakery, I couldn't stand firm due to her sweet talk :D, I guess I don't have much ground to begin with :). So I agreed, and that I couldn't make the particular cake she asked for and I suggested her this cake instead. The reason? well, because I think it's simpler and I think I could manage it in a day, because I have frozen berries from last summer, and because I have been wanting to try this (the last reason might weigh more than the others :P), but she did say that it has to be some berry-type cake. So, I did grant her wish.

I used cotton sponge that I have on hand because I didn't want to or I didn't have time to make a sponge cake. In the future though, I don't think I would use cotton cake as it it too light for this kind of cake. And since I was on a Spring-cleaning madness, I was happy that a few more things are gone from my fridge :). I had some frozen raspberries and strawberries as well, a quick trip to Trader Joe's and Lucky for heavy cream, cream cheese, and a few other things, and I was ready to go to make the cake. I couldn't help to squeeze in an afternoon nap in between as it seemed to be a perfect quiet afternoon.


This cake has an 8" round cake as a base (moistened with Grand Marnier), pate-a-bombe base cheese mousse, a mixture of raspberry and strawberry gelee in the middle of the mousse, 6" sponge cake, covered in Grand Marnier whipped cream, and strawberries. It smelled so good when I pureed the raspberries and strawberries, they are really sweet, frozen when they were at their peak last summer, oh the smell of Spring. I got excited just by inhaling the fragrance of it. There were no mishaps in making the cake other than that I wasn't really satisfied about the overall look of the cake, it might be the white chocolate, I don't know. The pictures are poor, but I guess I'm lucky to still have a picture at all as I was rushing this morning. I think this cake is a perfect Spring/Summer cake as berries are plenty and succulent and not to mention the lightness of it, nothing close of being too sweet. Too bad I don't get to see the inside of it as this wasn't for me.

Speaking of berries, I saw the first harvest of strawberries today at the farmers' market. Usually, the first pick doesn't taste as sweet as I'd like it to be, but surprisingly, the one that I sampled today was very sweet. The color was vibrant (no orange, green, or white tip), tastes very sweet, and the texture is firm. Too bad I bought a case of strawberries the day before at the supermarket already for this cake, which left me feeling heart-broken seeing not-so-ripe strawberries being sold. It was a relaxing Sunday, I was torn between spending the day outside in this gorgeous weather, up and awake in the kitchen, or just take an afternoon nap. Yup, you guess right, I chose the last option. It was a very quite, warm Sunday and I was just too weak to resist.

Happy Spring everyone! Cannot wait to see what everybody makes to welcome the warm weather :)
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Hachiko Turns 2!!!


Who's Hachiko? It's the name of my brother's dog. Yes, a dog. Remember this post? She turns two last Tuesday!! which is 14 years old in human years. You might wonder, what's the huss and fuss about a dog's birthday? well, truth be told, so do I :D. They said last year (my brother and my SIL) that this is ONLY for her first birthday and that's it, no more celebration after that, but guess what? I guess they can't help it :). It's probably another excuse for us to have a fun gathering in a weekday, and a cake of course!!! Hachiko is a really sweet dog, she's really cute, smart, curious, and she likes to pretend to be brave :), no wonder we love him so much.


Can't you tell that I'm in a spring mood lately? The lemon tart, the pink cake, and this yellow-green cake! I am definitely excited for Spring to come! Although we still haven't had the perfect spring weather yet, but we're starting to see more sunshine, the day is noticeably longer, daylight saving time begin next week . I picked the yellow and green theme on purpose too, for spring theme! I also thought it would make the cake looks brighter and more cute :). I think this design would be great for little kids' birthday too with probably a little kid figurine as well.


I was planning on making a simple cake, nothing complicated since again, this is for a dog, it falls on Tuesday, I only have Monday early morning and night after work to make it. At first, fondant seems to be impossible considering the time, but last weekend, a bunch of us girls were trying our hands on making Hachi figurine, while the guys are watching a movie in the living room (what a bunch of slackers :D). So, after all the time spent making the figurine, it was only appropriate to make a fondant cake, a 6" round probably, but then I thought it won't be enough to feed about 15 people. So, change of plan, I made 8" sponge base and the buttercream on Monday morning and trying to get off work as early as I can in the evening and start assembling, fill and frost, fondant, etc until it finished at midnight. It is a big cake, and probably too much for a dog (size and decoration-wise), but why not as well make it better if we can do it with a little extra effort, right?


We had lots of fun enjoying Hachi's cake, and a really yummy meal made by our beloved friends. Special thanks to Nana, Marlene, and Annette, Della, and Irene for helping out with the hachi figurine, alf-looking and bear-looking dog figurines. And no, the sheep and the mummy figurines don't belong in this cake guys, that would be for some other cake in the future :). We also watched movie "Hachiko-a dog story", a very sad story about a faithful dog, that's where my brother's dog's name came from. The DVD came out yesterday, the same exact day on Hachi's birthday! What a nice coincidence! Most of the girls were tearing up watching the movie, the guys were probably just pretending to be strong and make excuses to go to the restroom and go upstairs :D.


Hachiko and the proud parents

Surprise!!!
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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Pink Stripy Cake


My friend, D, had just undergone lasik procedure and I couldn't have possibly imagined if I were her. Fortunately, my eyes have always been good. I can see pretty normally in the day, I just need to wear my glasses at night, when driving, or when I'm outside, basically my vision at night is not as good as in the daytime. While she is okay now, I decided to make her a get-well-soon cake on last Saturday to make her fell better since it wasn't so busy that Saturday afternoon either. Other than that, I was also planning on make a mini or individual cake for my friend L whose birthday falls today on Monday. Just for fun, or maybe because I have been craving some cake for a while, I was also planning on making Indonesian cheese roll cake, so much planning in one day, eh? I always try to make my Saturday really productive and try to make as many baking done as possible as this is the only day I can do this. But little did I know that something unexpected or unplanned could be happening.


When I was preheating my oven to bake my roll cake, I smell something funny coming from the oven. It turned out that there is an acetate sheet in the corner of my oven and it has been transformed to a gooey liquidy mess. Since the temperature of the oven is ready, and the batter was also ready, I had no choice other than just sticking the pan inside the oven and hope that the melted acetate doesn't get worse. I worried so much and I became impatient of the baking time. I guess the cake wasn't completely done when I took it out because when I attempted to roll it, it breaks. Frustrated, I just cut the broken sheet of roll cake using 3" cake ring to make two individual cakes for D and L, killing two birds with one shot :). Plus, I think they will love it more if it's Indonesian cheese layer cake instead of some sort of French/American cake (trust me, it never gets old in my circle of friends :D)


So, after cleaning up the oven by removing the base of it and trying to get the melted acetate off completely, I began to decorate the individual cakes. Ever since I owned Peggy Porschen's book a while ago, I immediately fell in love with her design for her stripy cake. It was so beautiful and neatly done. I've been trying to find the perfect occasion for more than a year to replicate it, but it's either than the occasion was never suited this kind of design, or I that I didn't have the confidence to make it, until last weekend.

What I didn't know is that decorating mini cakes is a lot more difficult than decorating a big cake, at least for me. I think it took me longer to finish these two mini cakes compared to decorating a 6" or 8" cake. The fondant is harder to smooth out on the edges since the surface area is smaller, etc. Peggy uses royal icing to pipe the lines, but I decided to use fondant instead, knowing that I wouldn't be able to pipe that straight of a line. This was also the perfect time for me to try out the clay gun I have been having for a few months now.


In the end, it turned out okay, I was pretty pleased, although the stripe could have been closer, that's my only regret. I put each cake inside a mini white box with window on top and most importantly, D and L were so happy to receive it, and that's the most important thing :). I still want to make probably an 6" version next time and this time, I'll be sure to put the stripe closer together :).
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