Sunday, April 19, 2009

Orange cake

I was obsessed with chocolate cake for while. Now it is time for light and fruity dessert. This one is really refreshing. It is also guilt-free as low in fat content.

Sponge cake (I use 7-inch oval-shaped non stick pan)

50 g of cake flour
a pinch of salt
2 eggs
50 g of sugar
3 g of melted butter, warmed at room temperature (you can omit this, but for me it really makes difference)

Sift flour and salt, set aside.

Beat eggs and sugar until creamy/foamy and pale. Add butter, I don't directly pour melted butter as it will end up sinking to the bottom of the bowl. I scooped out 2 tablespoon of batter and whisk in butter, incorporate them well.
Then pour it back into egg mixture, fold in gently about 3-4 times, Don't over work. Sift in flour, in 3 portions, fold from the bottom to the top by moving spatua along the side of bowl. I do this from left side and alternate with the right. Rotate the bowl as you go. Some may suggest to use spatula cut in the middle of bowl and scoop up along the sides which is one of many's most favorite folding method. I found out that it tends to deflate the volume. You may try out a few times which technique suits you most.
Continue on....the batter will deflate a little, don't panic. Continue to fold from edge of bowl, while rotating. Make sure no lumps of flour left. Again, do not over work. Making basic sponge is not as simple as it appears. Believe me, this is just the matter of practice. After countless of disasters in the past i.e. lumps of flour all over the cake, I finally did it right.

Bake at 175 C for 15 min or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Wait until it completely cool. The cake will shrink from the side. Cool on the rack. Cut by half and apply jam of your choice. I used raspberry jam.

Orange glaze

150 g of water
50 g of concentrated orange juice (I used sunquick)
12 g of cornstarch
1 tbsp of sugar
a pinch of salt
10 g of butter

On low heat, put everything in a pot except butter. Stir constantly for 5-8 minutes. When the mixture is heated up, you need to stir more quickly to prevent the curd at the bottom, or remove the pot away from heat. I finished mine in 15 minute, on very low heat. The consistency should be thick, honey-liked. Stir in butter and stir well. Pour on the cake immediately as it will set at room temperature.

If the glaze is thick, you can set over very low heat and stir until it reaches pouring consistency. I actually waited until it was very thick and pour on cake in one go, with one direction. If you pour back and forth, it may leave ribbon trail or bumpy look which is not desirable.

I sliced in pieces, using serrated knife and here it is. For clean cut, clean the knife after each cut with clean towel.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nectarine Strusel Upside Down Cake

What would you do if you cannot sleep at night? watching TV? reading?

Last week, I read a cook book at 10 pm. And as usual, instead of putting me back to sleeping mode, it woke me up. I wanted to strap on apron right after I read through the paragraph how streusel was baked. My CPU inside my head started to revolve at 65536 rounds per second. I bet, if there is 24-7 supermarket opened, I would have run out to buy 4 nectarines and eggs which I used up a few days ago.

The cake, baked with 10-inch pan, is big enough to serve 10 people i.e. one piece for each. But if your guests are sweet-toothers, you may need to sacrifice your portion. The cake is meant to be basin-liked, slope towards the center, which is how nectarines were arranged. The surface was pretty with the nactarin pattern, browned by butter and sugar. It was nice...just nice. I know if this is put for sale it may not look very attractive, but as I made this out of scratch, some how I managed to see it as a a rustic beauty.

The recipe also allows apples or bananas if nectarines are not available in your area or if they are not in the season. I love nectarines though. Their sourness goes really well with the cake. The streusels in the center are chewy and crumble. My only complain to this is that I prefer thicker cake batter layers.

I suggest you to bake streusel first as it needs to be cooled down completely before use.

Below is streusel recipe. I actually “doubled” these up as you can see thick streusel in my photos. You may stick to the original portion and see if you like it.

1/4 cup of almonds, chopped
1/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/4 cup of (packed) dark brown sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon1 tsp of ginger
1/2 stick (2 oz) of unsalted butter , cut into small pieces
1/2 cups of rolled oats (not instant)

Turn oven to 350 F. Toast chopped almond until golden brown. Mix flour and cubed butter with forks until resembles crumbs. Add brown sugar, nuts , cinnamon and ginger, toss a few times to mix in. Spread unbaked streusel onto the largest tray so that it won’t pile up and is cooked through easily.

Bake the streusel for 10-15 min 350 F stirring into piece after it slightly cool down


1/2 stick (2 oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3-4 ripe medium nectarines , each cut into 8 pieces

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Pour melted butter over bottom of 10-inch pan wrapped with foil at the bottom (to prevent leaks). Sprinkle brown sugar evenly and arrange nectarines as shown in the photo. You can arrange clockwise and the other row as counter clockwise. Set this aside and prepare the cake.

The sponge:
1 cup of all-purpose flour
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of baking soda
1/4 tsp of salt (or 1/8 tsp of table salt, don't even think about omitting this tiny portion)
4 egg yolks
6 egg-whites
1 1/2 cup of sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup of fresh lemon juice

Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together

Beat half of sugar, salt and yolks until pale and creamy, then whisk in vegetable oil and lemon juice (I actually replaced with concentrated orange juice and cut down sugar by ¼ cup). Do it gently but quickly until no oil streaks left. Don’t worry if the batter deflates. The recipe actually instruct to mix in 1 cup of flour into the yolk mixture but I think that would dense the batter so I fold in only 1/3 cup of flour then I turned to beat egg whites.

Beat egg white until fluffy, add a 2-3 table spoons of sugar, and continue beating. Gradually add sugar as you whisk. The whites should form light-foamy stiff/ shiny peak when it is ready to use. I whisked by hand and it took around 8 minutes.

Add 1/3 of egg white mixture into yolk mixtures; fold from the bottom of the blow with spatula quickly but gently. Do this in different directions such that you flip the batter up from left and next you fold and flip it up from the right. After adding the whites, batter will be runnier and ready for more flour. Fold in 1/3 cup of flour. Alternate between flour and egg whites in 3 batches until both ingredients are used up. Ensure there are no lumps left.

Pour half of batter onto arranged nectarine. Use spatula to spread out to cover fruit base. Sprinkle streusel evenly to make layers. Pour the rest of batter on top of streusel. Use spatula to spread evenly. I was tempted to cover up all the fruit so I mistakenly over poured the first batch and I almost had too little on the top to cover streusel. Don’t make the same mistake as I did.

Bake at 350 F, for 45-50 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. My cake browned quickly during the first 15 minutes (I wondered !!!), so I covered with waxed paper. It didn't help much and was and burning. Oh my gosh, I was devastated. I put a disc from removable pie pan onto the wax paper. Fortunately, at that time the cake was firm enough to hold the metal disc. And of course it stopped browning. phew...w..w..w.

Once done, be sure not to flip the pan right after or the topping will slide down. Let it set in the pan until warm to touch or until completely cool. The cake will shrink from the sides. I flipped it over when it was still warm. I was excited as I am always nervous when cooking with fresh fruits. What a pretty surface it had, I murmured to myself.

I leave the cake on the counter top for a few hours and it dries out a little. So, I put gelatin glace on it.

1 tsp of gelatin plus 30 g of cold water, let it blooms for 5-10 minutes.
30 g hot water, not boiling.

I let gelatin blooms in cold water then added hot water, stir well. Let it sit over the counter (room temp was around 15 C). When it started to form up as half jelly half liquid, with rubber brush, touch up nectarine surface. Let it cool in the fridge before slice.

The cake is best served the first 2 days it is made. Of course, with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream (imagine me running to the near-by Häagen-Dazs) The streusel filling was scrumptious. I will definitely make this again ! (soon!)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Toffee Nut Cake

This recipe uses emulsifier, SP (Ovalet is interchangeable). If you cannot find these in your location, butter cake should be fine too. I don't recommend low-fat content sponge, like genoise because it tends to dry out before topping is browned.

Most people love chewy/crispy nut topping, and so do I. The cake is coffee-intense. And yes, I am a coffee drinker. I prefer to use instant coffee powder rather than espresso shots as I think it gives outstanding aroma. My favorite brand is the green-label (decaf) Taster's Choice. The best I've discovered so far.

Here is cake recipe.

100 g of all-purpose flour
2 tsp of baking powder
1 tbsp of cocoa powder
4 eggs
1 tsp of S.P.
120 g melted butter
½ tsp of salt
1 1/2 tbps of instant coffee powder, with 1 tbsp of warm water

Preheat oven to 200 C. Grease and line 9-inch round pan or 9x7 inch square pan with wax paper. I use 9x9 square pan and folded up wax paper to get 9x7 mock-up tray.

Sift flour, baking powder and cocoa powder.

Beat eggs, sp, sugar and salt at high speed until fluffy about 5 minute. Reduce speed to medium and beat until pale and creamy. Gradually pour in flour in 3 portions, alternate by coffee solution, whisk well.

Tada , done with the sponge. Bake for 20-25 minute.

Note: Good thing about using SP is that it allows the batter to sit outside oven longer than genoise or chiffon cake. SP also helps cake to rise evenly and yields more delicate texture.


100 g butter
100 g sugar
2 1/2 tbsp of all-purpose flour
45 g unsweetened evaporated milk (or whole milk)
125 g of cashew nuts
1/4 tsp of butter extract (optional)

(Next time, I will double up topping. )

Preheat oven to 220 C.

Put everything except nut and butter extract in double boiler until sugar dissolves. Off the heat, mix in butter extract, stir well. Mix in nuts. The mixture will be thick and pale in color. It will brown out in the oven.

Scoop mixture gently on to baked sponge cake. Return to the top rack of oven and baked for 12-15 minute. The recipe recommends putting heaps of soaked newspaper under the pan to prevent burnt bottom. I didn’t do that though. You will need to keep an eye on it as it tends to burn quickly. Ensure not to bake topping longer than 18 minutes as sponge tends to dry out after during second bake.

Let cool completely in the tray.

To cut - Flip the cake so that toffee nut topping faces down against chopping board. Use serrated knife slice through sponge, (leave out nut topping). Then use normal 8-inch knife cut through the toffee nut , just press it against chopping board.