Category Archives: In the Kitchen
I finally got back into baking over the long weekend and made windbeutels (cream puffs)! It was an impulsive act – I was lurking around on foodgawker and couldn’t help it – but I’m glad I acted on it. I made my cream puffs using two recipes and a lot of improvisation with the strawberry cream. You could easily switch out the strawberry cream and make your own. For instance, caramel cream, cream cheese, or good old vanilla cream. Enjoy!
This recipe makes 18 small cream puffs.
Adapted from Two Boys One Girl and Crazy Mom
- 140 ml of water
- 60 g of unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 100 g flour
- 2 eggs
In a pot bring water to a boil, add butter and melt. Add a pinch of salt.
Remove from heat and add the flour all at once. Stir briskly using a wooden spoon.
Beat one egg and add to mixture. Stir until incorporated.
Add the second beaten egg and stir until a sleek dough result.
Preheat the oven to 430 F.
Spoon batter onto baking sheets, approximately the size of a small golf ball. You can make them look pretty by piping them out instead.
To make the cream puffs rise and become fluffy sprinkle a little water on the tray and load into oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.
Cool and pierce each cream puff on the side with a knife so that the hot air can exhaust.
Strawberry Cream Filling
Adapted from The Cupcake Project.
- one box of fresh strawberries
- 1/3 cup of sugar
- 1 cup of heavy whipping cream (I replaced this with whipping cream 35%)
- Wash and slice half a box of fresh strawberries and throw into a small pot. Add a tiny bit of water and set to boil. When boiling, adjust the heat to medium. Add a bit of sugar – just enough so it won’t be sour. Remember to stir so your strawberries don’t burn.
- While your strawberries are boiling away, wash and slice the other half of your strawberries. You can use these to add onto the cream when assembling.
- Remove your pot of strawberries from the heat when it starts to look like jam. Put these through the strainer to separate the syrup from the small chunks of strawberries. Let it sit so it is properly strained.
- Once your syrup is cool, add the whipping cream to a medium sized bowl and whip. Add the sugar in and whip until it becomes creamy (about 5 minutes).
- When the cream looks like it could stick to the bowl when you turn it upside down, add your strawberry syrup.
- Lightly beat the syrup in – it takes about 5 seconds – until it becomes a consistent pink cream.
Assemble your cream puffs and serve!
This modified recipe is adapted to fit my mother’s tastes. It was made for her birthday in December and is a recipe I’ve previously posted on this blog before. She loves strawberries and she wanted a layered cake with a strawberry curd. I swapped the original blueberry curd for a strawberry curd (see the recipe below) and made a white chocolate mousse this time.
I had tons of fun changing the recipe around. I think the layered cake recipes are quite flexible in terms of baking since you can play around a little with the different layers. I found the cake came out better the second time I made this recipe. It really helps to make sure you have a solid cake to work with when you’re assembling it. I might make a thicker cake as a base next time. Overall, I had a great time baking again. It’s been too long since I’ve baked something!
I do apologize for the lack of pictures. We ended up cutting the cake before I could take a proper picture of it.
The Strawberry Curd
This recipe was adapted from My Baking Bites
15-oz. (I used 450g) of fresh strawberries, stems removed, chopped
100g sugar (you can probably add less)
4 tbsp fresh lemon juice (this was around 1 lemon)
5 tsp cornstarch
- Wash, chop, and remove the stems from the strawberries. Place them into a medium sized pot and add some water (I used very little just to make sure those strawberries don’t stick). Let the strawberries stew over the stove at medium heat (a rather quick process)
- Add in the caster sugar
- Juice the lemons until you have enough and add in the cornstarch.
- Mix the cornstarch and lemon juice mixture well and add this to the pot.
- Let the curd sit in the pot until you get a nice solid/jam-like consistency (this happens relatively fast as we have added cornstarch)
Note: I made the strawberry curd on the first day of baking to ensure it has time to cool down and set in the refrigerator before assembling the cake.
Over the long weekend, I attempted my first opera cake and was pleasantly surprised and excited with how it turned out. Sitting in front of the television while cheering on your favourite teams during the London Olympics surrounded by family, meringue, almond flour, and smell of coffee buttercream was probably one of the best ways I could have spent the weekend -if not, the best. I’ve always had a fascination for french desserts so when I stumbled upon a stunning picture of the Opera Cake, I knew baking an opera cake would become a top priority during the few summer weeks left.
A little research revealed that the opera cake was created by Louis Clichy who also gave the cake its name. The Opera Cake consists of three layers of joconde (an almond sponge cake and contains whole eggs instead of just the egg yokes), layers of buttercream, chocolate ganache, and the top is a beautiful chocolate glaze. The cake displays it’s layered brilliance after the finishing trimming. Traditionally, the opera cake would have writing on top of the chocolate glaze reading ‘opera’. Unfortunately, my lack of fine penmanship skills detracts from this notion so I refrained from adding this touch.
I debated with myself over the shape of the Opera Cake seeing as I had only a circular baking pan, but no square shaped one. In the end, I picked up a new baking pan when I dropped by the grocer to gather all my ingredients and I couldn’t be happier with my decision! The square shape truly showed off the cake’s multi-layered personality!
Looking back, I really enjoyed putting this cake together. I haven’t been able to bake for a while now with the hectic summer schedule, but I guess this has made me appreciate baking in my kitchen even more. For those of you who might wonder whether this cake is too filling or too sweet, fear not -the cake is definitely less filling than your average cheesecake though not as pure as your angel food cakes. I found it to be less sugary and more about the subtle tastes. It was definitely an interesting blend of taste for such a heavy cake and I would definitely recommend this is to anyone who loves chocolate or is looking for a cake with less sugar content!
Recipe is adapted from A La Cuisine! and the cake serves around 12 people.
Order to make the different components of the cake:
Day 1: Make coffee buttercream, the chocolate ganache, and the coffee syrup. Keep them in the refrigerator.
Day 2: Make the joconde layers and the coffee creme Anglaise. Make sure you cool the joconde layers first! At night, you can assemble the cake after the layers have been chilled and leave the assembled cake to firm up for the big day!
Day 3: About 45 minutes before you want to serve your cake, make the chocolate glaze and pour this generously onto your cake. Serve 30 minutes after chilling the cake in the fridge with the chocolate glaze. Ensure you take out your Coffee Creme Anglaise so it can warm up a bit.
Joconde Cakes (3 thin cakes):
- 2 tbsps (60g) unsalted butter, melted
- 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 2 tbsps (30g) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (225g) almond flour or finely ground almonds
- 2 cups (225g) icing sugar, sifted
- 6 large eggs
- ½ cup (70g) all-purpose flour
- Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Line two 12½ x 15½-inch jelly-roll pans (pans with raised edges) with parchment paper, and coat parchment with 1 tbsp of the melted butter. [Note: You can use smaller pans and change the amount you put into the pan! I ended up using a smaller one and baked three different layers instead of two large layers & splitting them.]
- In a clean, dry mixer bowl whip on low speed until the whites become foamy, then whip on medium-high speed until the whites reach soft peaks. Add granulated sugar, and whip on high speed until the whites are stiff and glossy.
- In a larger mixer bowl: beat almond flour, icing sugar, and eggs on medium speed for 3 minutes or until light and voluminous. Add flour and beat at low speed until it disappears. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold meringue into the almond mixture. [Note: I did not add in the extra butter]
- Bake cake layers for 5 to 7 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from their pans, and let them cool to room temperature.
- ½ cup (125g) water
- 1/3 cup (65g) granulated sugar
- 1½ tbsps (7g) instant coffee powder
- In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar and coffee powder, and bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve ingredients.
- **Make sure the mixture becomes thick before you remove from heat and allow syrup to cool.
- 2 tbsps (10g) instant coffee powder
- 2 tbsps (15g) boiling water
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup (100g) sugar
- ¼ cup (60g) water
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
- 14 tbsps (200g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- In small bowl, combine coffee powder and boiling water and stir until dissolved.
- In a mixer bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg and egg yolk on high speed until pale and foamy.
- In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and vanilla extract, and bring to a boil, while stirring to dissolve sugar. Cook without stirring until it reaches 255F(124C). [Note: I did not have the thermometer with me so I judged based on the consistency of the mixture. Wait until it has firmed up a little so it’s not watery before adding to the egg mixture-almost like syrup]
- With the mixer on low speed, pour the syrup from the saucepan into the bowl with the egg mixture, trying to avoid hitting the whisk. Raise speed to medium-high and beat for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick, satiny, and at room temperature.
- Beat the butter until it is soft and creamy in a separate bowl . Add the butter to egg & syrup mixture in 2 tablespoon chunks. Raise mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is thickened and smooth.
- Add the coffee syrup, and beat until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a container; cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until it is firm enough to be spread.
- 8oz (240g) bittersweet chocolate (70% +), finely chopped
- ½ cup (125g) whole milk
- ¼ cup (60g) heavy cream
- 4 tbsps (60g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. In a saucepan, bring milk and cream to a boil, and pour over the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for 30 seconds, then gently stir the mixture until smooth and fully combined. [Note: I ended up putting everything in one bowl and heating it up]
- Beat the butter until smooth and creamy and stir it into the bowl in two or three additions.
- For extra precaution, pass the mixture though a sieve, and cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally until it is firm enough to spread [I did not do this step. There were no chunks in the mixture so I went ahead and cooled it down]
Coffee Creme Anglaise
- ½ cup milk
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsps granulated sugar
- 2 large egg yolks
- 2 tsps instant coffee powder [Note: I used only 1/2 tsp to tweak it to my family’s taste buds]
Warning: Don’t take your sweet time with these steps!
- In a small saucepan combine milk, cream, vanilla and 1 tbsp sugar. Heat over medium heat while stirring to dissolve sugar. [Note: Make sure not to wait too long!]
- In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and 2 tbsps sugar until mixture turns light/pale yellow.
- Pour half of the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture and whisk, and return the tempered mixture to the saucepan.
- Heat mixture over medium-low heat stirring often, until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon.
- Add coffee powder and stir until dissolved [Note: My family doesn’t like a bold coffee taste so I refrained from adding the full amount. I used half a teaspoon]
- Strain the mixture through a sieve and into a bowl sitting on a cold ice water bath. Let the Strain into a container and refrigerate until cool. The mixture will thicken as it chills.
- 8 tbsps (115g) unsalted butter
- 5oz (150g) bittersweet chocolate (70% +), finely chopped
- In a small saucepan, bring the butter to a boil. Remove from heat and clarify the butter by spooning off and discarding foam and solids. In a double boiler, or in a bowl over a pot of hot water, melt the chocolate, and stir in the clarified butter until combined. [Alterative option to this below]
- Alternatively, you can melt the butter & chocolate together in the microwave (2 minutes in total while stopping to stir every 30 seconds).
- Working quickly, pour the glaze onto the cake and use an offset spatula to smooth the glaze evenly across the top, allowing the glaze to drip off the sides. **If more than one minute has elapsed, do not return to fix any small imperfections, as the buttercream underneath the glaze may have melted, and smoothing the surface may mix the buttercream with the glaze. Refrigerate the cake for about 30 minutes, or until the glaze has hardened.
Assembling Your Cake
If you used the specified dimensions for your pan in the recipe then follow these instructions:
- On a cutting board, use a ruler to trim each joconde sheet to produce one 10-inch square and one 10×5-inch rectangle. Place one 10-inch square on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and moisten with 3 tablespoons of coffee syrup. Use an offset spatula to evenly spread half of the buttercream over the joconde. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes to allow it to firm.
- On top of the buttercream, place the two 10×5-inch rectangular pieces of joconde side by side. Moisten with 3 tablespoons of coffee syrup and use and offset spatula to evenly spread the ganache over the joconde. Place the last 10-inch joconde square on top of the ganache, and moisten with the remaining coffee syrup. Freeze the cake for 10 minutes to allow it to firm.
- Use an offset spatula to evenly spread the remaining buttercream over the joconde. Make sure the surface is very smooth and even. Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour, or up to 6 hours. Alternatively, freeze the cake for 20 minutes.
If you used a different pan dimension (like I ended up doing):
- Before starting, I suggest you remove your chocolate ganache from the refrigerator to allow it to return to room temperature (probably close to an hour before you plan to put your cake together). Carefully ensure your cakes are not stuck to your baking parchments. Make sure you keep them refrigerated if you’re not using them yet. First, you take one joconde layer out along with your buttercream. Using the joconde as your base, brush the coffee syrup onto your base (about 3 tbsp) before you spread half of your buttercream mixture over the joconde. Freeze this for 10 minutes to allow for it to firm up.
- On top of your buttercream, place another layer of joconde. Again, brush 3 tbsp of coffee syrup onto the surface of your second joconde. Now, spread all of your chocolate ganache onto your joconde evenly. Put your last joconde layer on top of the ganache and brush coffee syrup on top of this new layer. Place your cake Spreadthe fridge and freeze for another 10 minutes to let it set.
- Spread the remaining buttercream over your final joconde layer. Make sure the surface is smooth and flat as this will affect the evenness of your chocolate glaze later on. Freeze your cake overnight.
- On the day you plan to serve your cake, plan to make your chocolate glaze 30 minutes prior to that time. When you pour your chocolate ganache make sure to work fast and smooth it out as much as possible. Once your glaze is set, place it into the fridge and let it freeze for around 30 minutes.
- Right before you let your eager friends and family to feast their eyes on this cake, take a warm dry knife and trim the edges so the layers are easily displayed.
Your Opera Cake is ready to be served!
Do you love chocolate? If you do, you’ll fall in love with this cake!!
On the rather complex side, the cake is made of several layers which range from chocolate cake to blackberry curd to a soft chewy vanilla meringue layer. Reading the recipe made my mouth water and looking at the pictures made me dream about making this cake -yes, I’ve wanted to try this cake recipe out for a long time. When I realized this weekend was free of activities, I latched onto the opportunity.
I do wish I planned a little before making this cake because I spent 2 days making it! I went with an insane plan when mapping out the cake -I made every layer and decoration in one day -but it really does pay off. Now, I can dig into this mountain of chocolate goodness without restraint! If you’re thinking about making this cake, I would highly recommend spreading the tasks out. Each individual layer doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day, but a few layers will a whole day gone! If you’re still hesitating about making this cake, I should add: there is a dark orange chocolate gananche with almonds covering the entirety of this delicious cake. Just assembling the cake and pouring the chocolate ganache on made my mouth water and my heart cry at the fact the cake needed to be refrigerated overnight before serving -sad, I know.
As for spacing out your workload, I do suggest you make everything but the merginue and mousse a few days earlier and let them sit in the fridge. If you don’t have the patience -or the time, like me -then you can go with the crazy plan of making the chocolate cake, vanilla meringue, syrup, blackberry curd, and meringue all in one day. If you’re wondering, it took me 10 hours to finish baking and refrigerating all the layers. Furthermore, this recipe was adapted with a blackberry curd when originally I had planned to use a blueberry curd. Alas, my tired mind did not register the fact that there are no blueberries at the supermarket at the time -seasons, I guess. The blackberries just sat on the shelf beckoning me to buy them so I went ahead and bought two boxes. I improvised on the chocolate layers because I didn’t want to overuse one chocolate flavour; I prefer a variety and ended up putting my stack of lindt chocolate to good use.
Personally, I adored the meringue layer. It was light, crunchy on the outside, and chewy on the inside -perfect by itself!
My parents made compliments on the blackberry curd layer. It was a little sour for my brother, but I felt it had the right amount of real fruit flavour in there that went well with the overall sweetness of the cake.
Have fun with the recipe and make sure you compile a list of wonderful ingredients you’ll need to get! They do pile up in number!
The Best Chocolate, Mousse, Meringue, and Blackberry Curd Layered Cake!
Recipe is adapted from FoodIsMyLife
adapted from Hungry Tigress
- 2 lemons
- 250 grams blackberries (2 boxes)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 150 grams sugar
- 85 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 eggs, lightly beaten
- Peel the lemon zest and juice the lemons.
- Place the zest, juice, blackberries, water and sugar in a pot over low heat. Stir the berries constantly until the berries have softened and are releasing juices, about 10 minutes on medium heat (around 3-4 but make sure you’re standing watch! don’t let them burn!)
- If you’re not a fan of fruit or zest, strain the blackberries into a clean pot to remove the lemon zest and blackberry skins. I didn’t strain mine.
- Add in the butter and stir until all the butter has melted.
- Stir in the eggs gradually. Cook the blackberry mixture over low heat, stirring constantly until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, which will take about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Transfer the curd into a clean container, let cool completely, cover and refrigerate to let it set (it sets within 2-3 hours!)
Make the curd up to one week in advance and store it in the refrigerator.
- 40 grams sugar
- 100 ml water
- 15 ml rum (optional)
Place the sugar and water in a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, swirling the pot to dissolve the sugar crystals. Boil for 2 – 3 minutes on high heat then remove the pot from heat. Let cool to room temperature and stir in the rum if using (I didn’t add rum to mine)
Make the syrup ahead and store up to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Recipe adapted from (Everyday Chocolate Cake)
if you want a lighter cake, try a chocolate génoise recipe!
- 90 grams all purpose flour
- 20 grams good quality Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 110 grams good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped
- 200 grams unsalted butter, can be cold or at room temperature
- 150 grams caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease an 8-inch round tin and line the bottom with greaseproof paper.
- Measure the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Use a wire whisk and whisk the dry ingredients together until they are all well-mixed and evenly distributed.
- Measure the dark chocolate and unsalted butter in a large bowl and microwave with 20 second intervals under they have melted.
- Remove the heatproof bowl from the pot. Add in the caster sugar and whisk gently – not all of the sugar will dissolve, it’s ok if the mixture is grainy. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes to cool down slightly (the eggs will scramble if added to a hot mixture).
- Crack in one egg into the chocolate mixture. Whisk the mixture (yes, same wire whisk!) for 30 seconds until it is fully incorporated. Whisk in the second egg, and then whisk in the vanilla extract.
- Sift a third of flour mixture into the chocolate batter and folding gently using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula. until all the dry ingredients have been incorporated
- Transfer the cake batter into the lined cake tin. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
- Cool the cake in the tin for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and let it cool completely.
Make the cake 2 – 3 days in advance and keep in an air-tight container at room temperature.
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- 150 grams icing sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Trace a 7-inch circle onto a greaseproof paper. Place the pencil side down onto a baking sheet. Butter the top of the greaseproof paper lightly. Set aside.
- Place the egg whites in a clean, dry and oil-free bowl. Use an electric mixer and whip the egg whites on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes. Turn up the speed to medium-high and add in the caster sugar, a tablespoon at a time, until the meringue is creamy, about 4-5 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract on medium speed.
- Pipe or spread a 7-inch circle on the greaseproof paper, using the template drawn earlier as a guideline.
- Bake for 55 minutes – 1 hour until the meringue is biege in colour – the meringue will spread out slightly and it will be dry and crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. Open the oven door ajar and let the meringue cool completely.
Make the meringue one day ahead and store it in an air tight container at room temperature.
- 115 grams good quality semi-sweet chocolate
- 125 ml whipping cream
- Melt the chocolate and let it cool to lukewarm. Whip the cream to soft peaks formed and fold in the melted chocolate.
- The mousse should be made just before assembling the cake so that it will be soft and liquid-y enough to pour it into the mould.
- Level the cake so that the top is flat. Slice the cake into two horizontally.
- Moisten both sides of one cake slice
- Pour half of the mousse onto the cake layer. Spread the mousse all over the cake evenly with a spatula or a spoon. Pour in half of the blackberry curd and spread it evenly.
- Place the vanilla meringue onto the blackberry curd and press down gently. Pour the remaining mousse over, followed by the blackberry curd.
- Moisten both sides of the remaining cake slice and place it on top of the blackberry curd, pressing it down gently.
- Refrigerate while creating the ganache & decorations.
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE GLAZE & SECOND ASSEMBLY
- 125 ml heavy cream
- 150 grams dark orange chocolate from Lindt (you can substitute this for another chocolate)
- 2 tablespoons golden syrup (I used Lyle’s golden syrup-you can get it at a local NoFrills)
- Heat the cream in a microwave for 30 seconds on medium high. Add in the chocolate and microwave at 15 seconds interval, checking the mixture and stirring it at each interval until all the chocolate has melted. Stir in the golden syrup and let cool for 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and unmould the cake. Place the cake on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Pour the chocolate ganache all over the cake, spreading it out with a spatula, letting the excess drip onto the baking sheet.
- Refrigerate the cake while you prepare the final assembly.
CHOCOLATE DECORATIONS & FINAL ASSEMBLY
- 100 grams dark / milk / white chocolate
- baking parchment
- Melt the white chocolate in the microwave (in intervals of 20-30 seconds)
- Spoon the white chocolate into your pipe
- Be artistic/creative for this and keep in mind your lines should be thick and not too thin! Just have fun and draw whatever you want to put on that cake!
- Assemble your decorations onto the cake and refrigerate the entire cake overnight.
IN THE MORNING, YOU CAN HAVE DELICIOUS CAKE!
Hope you enjoyed reading about the recipe and the photos! Happy baking to those who are planning to marathon this cake as well!