Monday, May 25, 2009

Caramel Custard Cake

If custard cake to be displayed among other moussy creamy chocolaty cakes, it may not get our attention. Little had we known that one little fine jewel is sitting…. shining right there. The caramel cake, whether or not it glows out of display, it deserves our bites. As I recall, I never bought home this goodie. But once I tried, I was hooked. Believe me, it make you sing in the shower.

I lost the recipes a while back. So, this time I looked up custard recipe from the Internet, scaled down sugar and paired it with my favorite chiffon cake recipe. Here is how.

Caramelized sugar

½ C of sugar

Pour sugar in 9” cake pan set over medium-low heat. Sugar crystals should start to dissolve slowly. Keep close eyes on, as it tends to burn easily. Remove from heat, when it turns yellow. Tilt the pan back and forth to ensure it was browned evenly. The goal is to obtain dark mahogany color. I personally like it dark brown because it will be a bit paler when baked and melted later on. Stir with tooth pick occasionally if you see any spots darker than others. Remove from heat immediately if it starts to bubbling and turn light brown. Swirl the pan to level out caramel. Set aside.

Do: Pyrex glass pan is a good use, make sure the type you use is direct-heat resistant. The pan should be at least 2-inch high.

Don’t: use bottom-removable pan as the batter will leak in the oven. Non stick or Teflon is not a good idea, as dark color pan wont' allow you to see the color of caramel if it is ready or not.

Turn on the oven 330 F. Position the rack at the lower third. Put in a 12x12x1.5 inch tray half-filled with hot water.


2 cups unsweetened condense milk (or fresh milk)
1 tsp vanilla
2 yolks
2 eggs
1/3 cups of sugar
1/8 tsp of salt or a pinch

Beat yolks and eggs in the bowl, set aside. In a medium sauce pan , put milk sugar and salt over low heat, stir until sugar dissolves. Through sieve, pour milk ingredient over eggs mixture, whisk constantly for a few minutes. Stir in vanilla. Set aside.

Chiffon cake
(A) – sift together these ingredients.
1 cups (scoop out 1 tbsp) of all-purpose flour
½ tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt

(B) –In a big bowl, beat yolks and sugar until pale and creamy. Most chiffon recipe allows you to beat flour, yolks, oil and milk together, I never tried that. It gives me peace of mind if I cream the yolk first so that I ensure that sugar crystal dissolves and the yolks are airy.

4 yolks
¼ cups of sugar

(C) – mix together the following liquid ingredient. Gently stir liquid in yolk ingredients, mix well. Set aside.
½ tsp vanilla
¼ cups of vegetable oil
½ cups of milk

(D) Beat egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar , 1 tbsp at a time, beat well each addition. Add crème of tartar. Whisk well unit it reaches soft peaks. Oh again, I forgot to take photo of my soft peaked whities..! And while you are whisking the whites you will hear cracking noise from the pan as caramel hardens.

4 egg whites
¼ cups of sugar
¼ tsp of lemon juice or vinegar (I used 1/8 tsp crème of tartar)

Add flour into egg-milk mixture into 4-5 batches, alternate with whipped whites. I used whisked to 'cut-thru' the flour first, ensure all the lumps break up and well-mixed into runny liquid ingredients. When the batter gets thicker (thick enough to fold), switched to spatula and added 1/3 whites. “Fold in” remaining flour and whites gently while rotating the bowl. It’s a good idea to fold from bottom to make sure no lump ingredients left unmixed. Set aside.

Through sieve, pour custard ingredients on hardened caramel. Then, pour batter over custard gently and evenly. Don’t worry if it seems to sink into milk mixture. It will spring back up in the oven. Now the 9" cake pan is filled with all the liquid and batter. Be very careful when place it on tray with half water. The water in tray should be hot and steamy.

Bake for 45-60 minute. This cake is better slightly over-baked than under-baked. Be warned, if custard layer is not fully cooked …… everything goes to the bin.

Check point: at 45 minutes, jiggle the top of cake with you hand. if it seems to be wobbly inside, continue to bake for 10 minutes. Cover the top with foil or baking paper if it is browning on the top. Repeat the test after ten minutes.

Once done, remove from oven and wait until it completely cools. Do not flip when it is hot as custard needs to be set in its container.

Tips: Once remove from oven, don’t cut across the edge otherwise melted caramel will leak to the side which will discolor custard and over-soak chiffon layer.

I rest the pan in the fridge for 2-3 hours until it completely set before I invert to serve. Before invert, dip the pan in a bowl of very hot water for 30 seconds. If you notice the cake does not shrink from the side, run the knife around to loosen it from the pan. Keep in mind you just want to free up the cake, don't run it all the way through custard layer or it won' t have a nice clean cut.

Left over melted caramel that dripping off is good as sauce, dont' wasted it. This cake is best eaten cold.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Variation of Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is one of variations you can play around with Flourless Chocolate Cake. The cake actually looks handsome when naked, without topping, with cracky crusty look. However, this would give more creamy texture. And , if you happen to misshape the cake during the process, cover it up with whipped creme would be a quick fix.

See how gooey it is inside?

The one is my all time favorite, you can find cake recipe over here. For the whipping cream, you can use Cool Whip or the following.

1 teaspoon gelatin bloomed in 2 tbsp cold whipping creme for 10 minutes
2 cups of whipping creme
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Once gelatin is bloomed, melt over low heat, until completely dissolved, don't bring to a boil. Let cool at room temperature. Set aside.

Pour cream into the chilled bowl and whip it vigorously until it just begins to hold its shape. Add about 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon icing sugar, and continue to whip until it holds very soft, peaks. Drizzle cooled gelatin all at once to cream during whipping. Stop whipping when it forms soft peaks. Use immediately.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Butter cookies-sables à la poche-sand in your pocket

I always call them butter cookies. Apologies for the love of convenience. I recall a few years back I received a big bag of these for New Year gift. It was so rich and was really really and really hard-to-put-down. The whole family loved it and we finished a 2-pound bag in only a few days.

I used to have the recipe with egg yolks but again…. I lost it. The problem back then when making this cookies was that the dough tended to melt very fast while piping. The hot/humid weather in Bangkok was to blame.

I found a recipe using egg white and strong bread flour that caught my interest. I doubted how bread flour would help with piping. Here is what Apple Pie Patis Pate quoted in this web site “…..The sandy texture reminiscent of shortbread is achieved through the use of small amounts of liquid and sugar to minimize gluten development. The spread is also limited through the use of strong bread flour, allowing the piped cookies to hold the star tip pattern during baking….”. Genius huh !!!

The recipe below is from Apple Pie Patis Pate who adapted it from Michel Suas’ Advanced Bread and Pastry. What I did differently was adding a few drops of vanilla extract and decorated with chopped dried cranberries.

For the wet ingredients:

12 ounces / 340 grams butter, at room temperature
4 + 1/2 ounces / 128 grams powdered sugar
1 +3/4 ounces / 50 grams egg whites
a few drops of vanilla extract

For the dry ingredients:

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I omitted this)
13+ 3/8 ounces / 380 grams bread flour
2/3 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
For decoration
Dry cranberries , chopped

Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter until pale and cramy then mix in the powdered sugar. Add the egg whites and vanilla extract slowly and mix until thoroughly incorporated.

Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix just until thoroughly incorporated, taking care to prevent over-mixing. Using a pastry bag with a large star tip, pipe into 1 1/2 inch wide mounds.

I decorated each cookies with dried cranberries.

Bake the piped cookies at 325ºF for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden and well-browned on the edges.