Monday, 19 August 2013

Angel Food Cake for 1st Blogiversary!

Time has come by faster than what I've imagined it to be. To be honest, I can't imagine that I've reached 1 year of my blog already. I'm a person who's hobbies never tend to last long but baking has seemed to break that curse of mine. Not to mention my lack of posts over the past few weeks (I have been baking...just haven't been blogging *blushes*). So many things have happened during this period and I don't even know where to start talking from.

Simply put:
I've been catching up with friends over the weekends.
I've entered a 3 minute thesis competition at my campus and OMG I got into the finals!
I've been doing more than 9 hours of work every week day recently.
I've been catching up on my dosage of Asian dramas over the weekend which has made my butt glued to the sofa. Well, I guess that's my main reason out of everything to explain my absence, hehe please excuse my selfishness.
My weeks have been super busy where it's constantly filled with work. Even my colleagues who sit in the same office with me are feeling sorry for me as they've noticed that I'm barely around at my desk. One comes up to me and says "It seems like I haven't seen you for a whole week!", although my bag and coat is at my desk. It has gotten to the point where by the end of the day, the last thing I would want to do is to use my brains to do anything. I've literally been too exhausted to even wanna write about something.

Has anyone ever been through a period where you head to work so early in the morning before the sun rises and then by the time you get out of work it's already pitch black? I am going through that period right now. Sigh, it's so depressing.

Leading up to my blog's 1st birthday, I completely had no inspiration of what I want to bake for this special occasion for myself. Neither did I want to force myself to make something that I don't feel like eating just for the sake of it. I channelled through all my favourite flavours: chocolate, green tea, cream cheese, peanut butter, strawberry, raspberry and I still couldn't figure out what I wanted to make. I know I wanted something bright, something fluffy and airy in texture and something not-too-sickening-sweet. Mum's birthday was coming up as well so I thought, why not celebrate for both of these special occasions and make something catered to her preferences.

One of my colleagues brought in some angel food cake the other day and it was so soft, moist and fluffy! I finally knew what I wanted to make for my mum. The exact same thing! The name of the cake also conveys how I feel about my mum. An angel that has brought us into this world and unconditionally loves, cares and protects us.

Angel food cake only uses egg white, sugar and flour. Low calories plus low cholesterol. It's soft like a pillow, beautifully white and fluffy on the inside and hits the right notes for its sweetness. Because it's plain, it can be versatile in combination with many different toppings but I decided to go with the typical cream, strawberries and chocolate shreds. You can never go wrong with that and I like my cakes just like that!
However, what went wrong with this cake was that I overbeat my egg whites and so it didn't rise as high as it should've :(

Angel Food Cake

(adapted from Taste)

6 egg whites
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla essence (I use imitation vanilla)
220g (1 cup) caster sugar
100g (2/3 cup) plain flour, sifted

1. Bake oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Line base of 20cm cake pan with baking paper. (Note: the cake pan should be no non-stick material)

2. In a large bowl, beat egg whites until foamy and then add in salt, cream of tartar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gradually add in the sugar at about 2 tablespoons at a time. Raise speed to high and beat until peaks are stiff and glossy (but not dry), for approx. 2 minutes.

3. Sift the flour over the egg white mixture in 3-4 parts and gently fold in each addition with a spatula.

4. Gently pour batter into the cake pan. Run a knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth the top with spoon or offset spatula. Bake the cake for approx 30 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and springs back gently when touched.

5. Invert the pan on a wire rack and let the cake cool for about 1 hr. Carefully run a knife around the side of the cake to loosen, then unmould onto the wire rack. Serve with whipped cream and strawberries if desired.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Sticky Date Cheesecake with Caramel Fudge Sauce

I've been a bad friend recently. I was caught up in a hype to finish and prepare one year's worth of research and have avoided catch ups with friends that I haven't seen for a long time. Although I'm thankful that my friends have all been very understanding of my situation, guilt is still tripping me over. It really feels like that I've been out of touch with my social life for ages. After weeks of constant stress, worries, lack of sleep and nervous breakdowns, I can finally announce that I'm confirmed and no longer a probationary research candidate! Nothing can describe how relieved I am feeling right now. I can go back to my regular baking sessions on the weekends without any worries; I can hit the shopping malls and have a splurge; I can plan for holidays and vacations; and especially, I can now become a pest and drag all my friends out to come and see me.
Of course, I need a cake to celebrate my confirmation and this sticky date cheesecake surely is more than appropriate. This cake is like a symbolization of sweet victory. If you love cheesecake and sticky date pudding, this is a cake that you must try!

This recipe caught me by the eye the first time when I curiously laid my eyes at the packaging of a cream cheese at my local supermarket. Within my heart, I knew from then on that I would definitely bake it one day. This sticky date cheesecake is super delicious. If you have a sweet tooth, this is definitely the cake for you. However, I tend to see a bipolar response from friends and family with regards to the caramel fudge sauce. Ones who love it can literally drink the sauce by itself ( I do mean it literally!) and ones who don't like their desserts being too sweet will draw back and ascend the white flag. I personally like to have a slice with some drizzles of caramel fudge sauce on top, as illustrated in the photos. If your family is not a big caramel fan to begin with (like mine) then I recommend you to halve the amount as suggested. I made three-quarters of the amount and it was still too much that it had to go to waste in the end. On the contrary, I had wished that if only this recipe was able to give me a bigger cake instead of a loaf-sized one instead. But nonetheless, I know this would not be the last time that I'll be baking it.

Sticky Date Cheesecake

(adapted from Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese)

100g butternut snap biscuits, crushed (I used 150g arrowroot biscuits instead...I like my crust thick)
20g unsalted butter melted (I used 50g instead)
375g Original Philadelphia Cream Cheese, softened
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
2 teaspoons plain flour
5 (125g) fresh dates, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C fan-forced. Grease a 9cm x 20cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.

2. Make the crust first by combining crushed biscuits and melted butter in a bowl. Press into the base of lined cake tin. Chill in refrigerator until the cheesecake mixture is ready.

3. Beat the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in the egg until well incorporated, then stir in the flour and dates with a spatula.

4. Pour the cheesecake mixture on top of the crust and bake for 25 minutes or until just set. Cool in the oven with the door ajar for at least 30 minutes and then transfer into the refrigerator to chill for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Caramel Fudge Sauce
(Make this on the day when serving)

1 cup of brown sugar, firmly packed
80g butter, chopped
1/3 cup cream
Optional: Cream, extra to serve.

In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter and cream and stir over low heat for 5 minutes until mixture has thickened. Serve immediately with a slice of cheesecake.

Disclaimer: This blog post is based on my personal and honest opinion about this recipe published with permission but has no relation to Mondelez Australia.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Coconut Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I like my coconut in chocolate and cakes. Moist, fluffy, soft, tangy and not overbearingly sweet are the words to describe this cake. It's simply delicious. I knew something was missing after I finished frosting the cake as it looked a bit too plain. Luckily I had some flaked almonds and coconut shreds to give me a beautiful mess on top of the cake.
A friend of mine has reminded me that my blog has been a bit quiet recently. Unfortunately it has been a tough month for me. Although I've been baking nearly every week to procrastinate, but I'm struggling to keep up with my posts. The thing that I would kill for more right now, is time. I have a confirmation report to write up that will decide whether I can or not continue my postgraduate studies. So before I'm let off the hook, I'll most likely continue to be absent for a while. For all the undergraduates who's exams are coming up as well, good luck to you all!

Coconut Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

(adapted from Raspberri Cupcakes)
250g butter, softened
1 1/2 cups caster sugar
1 teaspoon coconut essence (I didn't use this)
4 eggs
1 cup (80g) dessicated coconut
3 cups self raising flour
250g sour cream
1 cup milk
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan-forced. Grease and flour two 18cm round cake tins.
2. Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add in coconut essence and beat until incorporated then add in eggs one at a time.
3. Add half of the dry ingredients (flour and coconut) followed by wet ingredients (sour cream and milk) and mix until just combined. Add the remaining dry and wet ingredients. Make sure to not overmix.
4. Separate the batter evenly into the two greased tins and bake for 45-50 minutes or until skewer comes out clean. Cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

250g cream cheese
25g butter, softened
1 cup icing sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 cup thickened cream
Beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth. Add the lemon zest then gradually add in the icing sugar and beat until incorporated. Using clean beaters, beat the cream until stiff peaks form then add to the cream cheese mixture and mix until smooth. Sandwich icing between the two cake layers and crumb coat the cake with icing. Use the remaining icing to cover the cake completely.