Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Make a Successful Sponge Cake?

This is a follow up to my previous post about baking sponges and the landmines that are associated with it.  Ok, maybe "landmines" is too strong a word but a lot of things can go wrong.  I have since learned 2 other ways to bake sponge cakes from my Wilton instructor (see my other blog on My Cake Decorating Journal here) Korean style.  I found this article that attempts to dispel the myths for successfully baking a light and airy sponge cake every time particularly useful.

Source: Pamela Clark and Fran Abdallaoui, Australian Women's Weekly

There seems to be a myth surrounding the sponge cake - little wonder so many of us are daunted by the thought of baking one.  Yet a bit of practice, know-how and a few basic rules will help you master the art in no time.

Sponge cakes rely on eggs for their lightness and structure, so very fresh, good eggs on low speed and, as they thicken, increase the speed to moderately high.  Add the caster sugar one tablespoon at a time, scraping down the sides occasionally to avoid any undissolved sugar.  This ste requires patience as it may take about 10 minutes to incorporate all the sugar.

Although only experience will teach you the best way to fold the dry ingredients into the egg mixture, there are a few tricks to it.  Start by sifting the dry ingredients three times to ensure the mixture is evenly combines.  Using a large metal spoon, rubber spatula, balloon whisk or even your hands, apply a light, deft stroke to lift the egg mixture from the bottom of the bowl and drag the dry ingredients thought hte egg mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl.

Deep cake pans give the best results as the depth of the pan protects the delicate sponge mixture, preventing a crisp crust from developing.  Aluminium pans conduct heat better than other types of pans.  Give your pan a light, even greasing with a pastry brush dipped in melted butter to keep the cake from sticking and achieve even browning.  When you are dividing the mixture between the pans, gently spread it to the edge as the mixture will not spread in the oven.  As a general rule, sponges cook best when the tops of the pans are in the centre of the oven.  If you are baking two sponges on different shelves, you will need to swap their positions halfway through the cooking time to ensure even cooking.  As long as you move quickly and handle the pans carefully, you should still achieve good results.

Opening the oven door does decrease the temperature, but will only affect the cake's rising if you do this during the early stages of cooking.  The sponge is cooked when it begins to shrink away from the side of the pan and feels slightly springy to the touch.  Sponges are best made ont he day of serving.  Unfilles sponges can be frozen for up to one month. 

Follow these tips and soon you'll be whiskcing up light and airy sponges that are 10 centimetres high.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flower Birthday Cake

I made this 2 weeks ago for a good friend of mine, W.  She likes flowers and I thought a flower cake might be appropriate especially since I have been itching to try my silicon flower cake mold.   This was my attempt for the 2nd time at a sponge cake.  Chocolate sponge cake to be exact.  I wouldn't say I failed dismally as it looked the part but I overcooked it.  There were 3 layers so I put the 2 round cake pans at the back and the flower pan in the front.  

As the flower pan was deeper, it cooked slower and it didn't occur to me at the time that the 2 round cake pans which wasn't as deep was happily baking ahead.  In the end, I should have taken the round cakes out about 3 minutes earlier.  They turned out a little dry and not moist and spongey as it ought to have been.

The Birthday Girl and friends were happy with the cake, but I know it could have been better.  

The decorations were... pretty but took sooooo long to frost in the star method.  With 2 kids, it is almost impossible to get any decorating done when they are awake.  Especially if my daughter who is 20 months old is around.  She likes cakes and if she sees it, she has to have it.  So that means the night shift.  I started the top at about 12am.  Got to the end of the flower by 1am.  It took awhile as I had to remix the colours after every 2 lines or so to get that gradient effect.

By 2am I was on to the yellow stars and at this point I was thinking, "Damn, I should have used a larger tip!".  Well too late then.  My hand was getting tired from squeezing minutely and moving fractionally to the right after every star.  I had to stop more than a few times to flex the muscles a bit.   Sometimes the stars would be perfect and sometimes they would be go a bit wonky.  Concentration started to get a bit difficult at 3am and I started to run out of buttercream!  Great.   I had to squeeze every bit of buttercream out of that piping bag and this includes pushing the bag right into the tip.   Even then, I still had to sneak some from the white buttercream I had saved for the border.  It worked out in the end though.

I am going to try the sponge cake again to make sure I get it right.  It normally takes me about 3 attempts before I get the result I want.  It has to be a combination of tweaks to the recipe and adjustments based on my oven.  All the same, having spoken to other friends sponges aren't easy to make so I will post some advice I found on Australian Women's Weekly.

'Foiled' for Choice: Foil Cupcake Liners

There's just something about foil cupcake liners that adds a little bit of class and pizazz.  Even without the frosting it looks really enticing and they look amazing in a tower arrangement.  I guess bling is bling is all shapes and sizes.  These are great for adult themed parties and corporate events.  Let me know if you would like to use foil liners for your cupcakes.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

*New Flavour* Mocha Bye Baby

I love chocolate. Have you noticed? I love coffee too. I average 1 cup a day of this black gold liquid joy. So chocolate + expresso was always going to be a no-brainer for me. So when I discovered Mocha at Starbucks (that's where I used to frequent as a young coffee drinker). I was hooked. I like it hot, I like it cold and most of all I like it as a frappe.

On days when you don't feel like something too chocolaty nor something too strong in flavour as coffee, mocha is a good option to turn to. So it's only natural that I include this in my list of cupcake flavours. I make mine with espresso by Illy coffee. It goes really well with espresso Fluffy Frosting (aka seven-minute frosting) seen here in the picture below or paired with the creaminess of espresso Italian Meringue Buttercream. This will go into the 18+ section along with some other spiked goodies I will come up with later.

Ingredients: Flour, Eggs, Brown Sugar, Sugar, Butter, Cocoa, Sour Cream, Illy Espresso

Friday, August 20, 2010

Taking it a Little Further

Some months back, I had been toying with the idea to improve my technical skills in cake decorating. I felt that there was only so much I was learning from reading and pictures I was seeing on the internet. There was only so much I can glean from looking at a picture and deconstructing how a particular decoration was done especially when I wasn't sure what tip was being used.

That began my research on cake decorating classes in Seoul. My first stop was Wilton - quelle suprise! This was where I went to to get ideas on how to use decorating tips and get an idea on what each tip will do. They also have lots of products that are available here. I also found out about another pasty school, but it involved going to France for 2+ months for further training which wasn't going to be possible for me.

So I did a bit more research about Crystal Kim's Wilton Deco School who I was directed to when I contacted Wilton HQ here in Seoul and I was pleased with what I heard. I started my lessons 3 weeks ago and I am LOVING IT!

I've started a new blog about my cake decorating journey, the Wilton way so if you are interested to find out more about their classes, here's the link: My Cake Decorating Journal

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Found: Cupcake Recipe Box on G-market

Since seriously exploring all things cupcakes, I have found more and more things that have really jumped on the fixation on cupcakes. Yes they are adorable and they are normally designed quite cute and yummy looking colours. From the practical to totally frivolous stuff, I have found a Recipe Box with Cupcakes printed on it on G-market by a rather popular Australian stationery and knick knacs (can't think of another word for it) Christopher Vine Design:

Image Source: Gmarket

Click here to see it on Gmarket.

I remember someone was asking me where she could find an old fashioned recipe box and now that I have found it, I don't remember who was asking!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Chocolate Buttermilk Layer Cake with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

This cake is perfect for any occassion especially if it's for someone who loves chocolate. The buttermilk added to the batter yields a cake that is tender and moist. A combination of dark chocolate and cocoa gives you an inviting flavour of chocolate with every bite. The highlight of this cake, however is the chocolate cream cheese frosting. I have 3 words for it: "To Die For"!

The combination of the buttermilk and the cream cheese gives the cake a lightly sour edge that cuts the sweetness of the chocolate. With the frosting sandwiching each layer, you get a bit of frosting with every bite and makes for a cake that you just want more and more of.

Ingredients: Flour, Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Dark Chocolate, Cocoa, Cream Cheese, Icing Sugar, Vanilla
The cake pictured here is about 2kg, 5" in height and 8" in diameter and will serve 24 as you only need a small slice for each person. You can order the smaller version with only 2 layers and this will yield a serving of 12.

To order or for more details please email me at orders@buttersugarcream.com

Monday, August 16, 2010

*New Flavour* Raspberry Ripple

Some people like cupcakes for sentimental reasons and this one just hits the mark with me. Even before I bite into it, the sweet smell of Raspberries combined with the sugary smell of the buttercream starts bringing me back through the years. This Buttermilk cupcake with Raspberries stirred through it just reminds me of the Raspberry Ripple ice cream by Walls that I used to eat as a kid. It's not quite as sweet as the ice cream version as the tartness of the fruit really comes through beautifully in the buttermilk cake.

A lot of people are perfectly happy with Chocolate or Vanilla cupcakes but you can always put a spin on things. Add fresh whole fruit or fruit puree to the Vanilla cupcakes and voila! A zing of flavour in every bite!

Ingredients: Butter, Sugar, Flour, Buttermilk, Raspberries
Pictured above with Raspberry Buttercream and piped in a rose swirl pattern. I think the next time I am going to puree the fruit first then mix it in with the buttercream. It looks great like this when you can see the sprinkling of fruit throughout the buttercream but when piping, it clogs up the tip and creates little gaps in the pattern. I'm a bit pedantic like that. ^_*

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Finding Inspiration in... Modern House!

It's almost 2am and I should be asleep like the my son who is in dreamland next to me. However, I have to tell you about the kick I got today browsing through a homeware store and just getting inspiration and ideas from all the cool stuff I saw... and bought (Oh dear! Hope my husband is not reading this).

I love looking at dinnerware, bakeware, cookware... are we starting to see a trend here? Oh and furniture too. Stores like Bed, Bath and Beyond, Habitat and The Conran Shop are like art galleries for me. Art that I can afford too! So when I found Modern House (think Ikea but much less mass produced with more variety of styles) in Times Square, there was a little current running from my toes to the top of my head and I just gravitated to towards the entrance.

I am sure there are more stores like this but this was conveniently located (they have opened a new store in New Core Shopping Centre, Gangnam) like a 'high street' store... I know, I know but in a mall. They have all kinds of home furnishings for the home from furniture to soft furnishings and things to beautify your garden. In fact a lot of their garden equipment/furniture can be used in the home!

I especially like their version of a storm lantern that you can hang which is made in a widely spaced wire mesh. They also have a lovely collection of aromatherapy oils with scented sticks (KRW25,000) per box, very cute kids bedding collection (rather expensive though in my opinion), storage options, furniture for every room in the house and lots of lots of dinnerware. Their collection ranges from retro to modern with a bit of shabby chic thrown in. Some things are 'dare I say' cheap and others overpriced.

There were many cupcake related things you could get from a plate with a cupcake print on it, to mugs and boxes. I didn't succumb to all but one. It's a little cupcake cup (get it? clever ain't it?!) with a straw. I could resist and happily parted with KRW5,900.

I find lots of inspirations in stores like these and found a set of colourful tumblers and I got a fabulous idea on how to use them. Keep your eye on my blog and they'll appear soon!

Look at the shocked look on Mei's face (Mei is one of the characters in Totoro) when she see's the 'giant' cupcake! Medium Totoro and Small Totoro is just along for the ride.

Click on the links above to find out more about their store. You won't be disappointed.

* I wrote this post 2 nights ago and only managed to post it today. Had to sort out the pics. : )

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Lemon Meringue Cupcakes - Order now for Summer

This all time classic pie has been reinvented in cake form some years back and it's popularity has grown everywhere! I can't say that I'm a fan of the pie version but I'm definitely a fan of the cake version. You can order them from me with the meringue freshly browned from the oven.

Here they are prepped with the snowy white meringue and waiting to go into the oven for a bit of browning

The cupcake is a lemon cupcake made with lemon zest and then filled with tart lemon curd to give you that extra burst of fresh flavour once you've sunk your teeth through that marshmallowy meringue. This will hold up for outdoor do's in this warm weather that we're having.

Made with: Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Lemon, Flour, Milk (Best eaten the same day)
Cost: KRW3,500
Minimum order: 1 dozen
Pick up location: Itaewon (from 12pm)

Cupcakes Aren't Just Meant to be Eaten, They are Meant to be Admired - Knitted Cupcakes

I have a friend and boy is this friend talented with the needles! Sarah knits and crochets the most delicate and beautiful things and this time her new project really takes the cake (pardon the pun). Now I have knitted and crocheted once upon a time and if you are anything like me, then you too have a small drawer dedicated to half finished projects. The same goes for cross stitch. I think I just don't have the patience to see it through! But Sarah has patience and heaps of talent. Always a good combination.

Aren't these knitted cupcakes the most adorable things? They are so pretty I just want to bite into them! Myself and some friends have been encouraging her to make more and put them up for sale on Etsy or something like that. So maybe in the near future you can get some of Sarah's beautiful creations in your home.

Bangsan Market – For All Your Baking Needs in Seoul

I’ve been meaning to post about Bangsan Market for awhile now. It’s made baking much easier and more enjoyable. No more relying on the meager selection at the supermarkets, now I have the option to buy in bulk!

Right... Bangsan Shijang (방산시장) is in the Dongdaemun area but about one and a half blocks from the Dongdaemun station. The closest station is actually Jongno 5-ga. Get out of the station via Exit and then head towards a brick bridge that crosses over the Cheonggyecheon river. There will be a sign that says “방산종 한시장”,

follow the sign for another 2 minutes and there will be a sign that reads “박스” at the entrance to an alley. You're there! I need to manage your expectations here. It's not a massive area with pretty shopfronts. The area that is dedicated to baking supplies is not that large but it is sufficient as there is a repetition of products between the stores. The main ‘strip’ is actually a narrow covered lane that is lined by baking supply and packaging stores.

There are about half a dozen stores that just focus on the packaging for the finished goods. From tiny boxes for chocolates to cake boxes in every shape. You may be overwhelmed by the choices. I would say go around to a few stores and see your options before settling. My favourite store is Saero which has a good selection of cake boxes with handles and most importantly cupcake boxes with handles and windows to view the delightful desserts. They also stock ribbons to go with the packaging but I find the selection in Namdaemun to be more extensive.

There are a few shops along that strip that I will make special mention.

D&B – is a good source for tools and bakeware. They carry some Wilton products but they also have alternative brands for similar products like fondant flower cutters, decorating tips and pastry bags. I have bought a few pans from them and they have been very good ie. Non-stick. They have knick knacks like digital scales, spatulas of all sizes, measuring cups, measuring spoons, spatulas (flat and off set), digital alarms, kitchen mixers (including Kitchen Aid), cookie cutters (big range) and much much more.

One thing about their tips, on the odd occasion if you are lucky you will find a Wilton tip but mainly they are brandless or you may find an Ateco one here and there. The irony is that the Wilton tips are all made in Korea but I guess they are all for export. You can buy them only from certified Wilton Method Instructors (technically, although there are people who have bent the rules a bit) and the easiest way is eBay. If you are interested in purchasing Wilton tips here in Korea, you can find them at the Wilton Deco School run by Crystal Kim (more on this later).

(L-R) Plain Wheat Flour, Sugar Powder (Icing Sugar), Wilton No-Colour Vanilla Extract
However, I have bought many of their tips and they have worked just fine for me. They are all numbered, though not always corresponding with the Wilton tip numbers, they are close.

Opposite D&B (I will use them as a location marker) and 2 shops down is a store that carries a lot of Wilton products. That one is worth checking out as you can get the No Colour Vanilla Essence by Wilton there. This is a good ingredient to have on hand when attempting to make white buttercream.

Diagonally opposite D&B (about 2 o'clock if you are standing outside D&B) is a small corner shop that stocks many types of sprinkles in small quantities or in large 1kg bags. I like their selection of bake ingredients. They stock everything from baking chocolate to paper cups. I buy my raisins from there, as opposed to the Home Bake (I think) brand that I used to get from E-Mart or Lotte Mart, the ones at this store are nice and fat! The supermarket ones are like tiny shriveled rabbit poo.

Chubby raisins. It was hard to get a good picture as my camera was trying to enhance the raisins as they are so dark but the outer packaging kept reflecting light at it and got it all confused. This was the best I could do. Doesn't really do them justice.
If you walk down lane that branches off from that store, you will find another 2 stores that carry a wide variety of bakeware. That lane opens out onto another inside street that has more packaging stores on the opposite side of the street. If you stay on the side that you just came out from, there will be more baking supply stores.

Bake King is a little gem of a store that I found. There’s a guy who runs the guy called Kang who speaks decent English. Well enough to explain to me the different types of chocolate that they carry. I picked one pack of what to me was small chocolate chips for baking and he told me that that is compound chocolate for coating (like candy coating) and directed me to another packet which were Belgium chocolate. “Compound chocolate”, how cool is that?!

They also have Cream of Tartar which is essential for making a good chiffon cake. So far, they are the only store that caries it that I have found. They are pre-packed in small sachets and it is by McCormick. The only other place I managed to find Pure Vanilla Extract (the concentrated sort) and little jars of Cream of Tartar was at the Seoul International Baking Fair (SIBA).

I found out today that they carry imported little bottles of liquer from France! So besides your ordinary Rum liquor, you can now get choice like Aniseed, Raspberry, Strawberry, Lemon liquor and many more. They also stock Vanilla Oil which is good for flavouring fondant. Makes it taste heaps better.

Along that road which is where the Bangsan Market A Block (방산종합시장 A동), there is another store that I quite enjoy browsing through. It’s called I Love Chocolate. They have all sorts of ingredients for making chocolate and lovely packaging and good choice of stickers for sealing those bags.

There’s a tiny little store somewhere on that street as well that just sells nuts. That’s where found Hazelnut which I needed to make a Hazelnut Marble Mocha Cake. I prefer to get my nuts from there as they are slightly cheaper.

Another store that I want to mention for packaging is called Envelope & Total Package. They could possibly have more choice than Saero (if that's possible!) and they are in the road opposite the little alley where D&B is. They have a black signboard with green words. I love their stickers, packaging options for cookies, chocolates and cakes. They have a variety of ribbons, rafia and strings for tying up your little packages to make them extra pretty.

Hope this little guide helps you bakers find the right stuff for your baking needs. I know since my friend W introduced me to Bangsan, I stopped complaining about the pathetic food colouring I found at the supermarkets and started getting the right results from the Wilton Gel paste colours that I found at the market. They cost KRW4,000 each if you are interested. If you have any questions, do add it in the comments section.

Bake King
T. 02-2272 3056

D&B (경훈공업)
63 Bangsan-dong, Jung-gu
T. 02 2267 4000

#62-3 Bangsan-dong, Jung-gu
T. 02 2272 1120

Envelope & Total Package
02 2279 1950

P/S: I took some pictures when I was there before but I can't for the life of me find those photos now. Don't know which SD card I left them in and they probably got wiped. Next time I will try to remember to bring the camera. Easier to show directions with pictures to help. I have been told I am pretty crap at giving directions. Hee hee.