Lemon-Strawberry Roll

Friend C gave us these big, fat, juicy strawberries last week.  We wanted to eat them as is but I gave specific instructions to leave some because I wanted to make this cake!

Truth be told though, I bought some more strawberries because I wanted strawberry curd for the filling and real strawberry buttercream for the frosting!

For the cake, I used a different recipe.  I found this book in a second-hand bookstore –

with the recipe for Lemon Jelly Roll on page 234.

While I already have a lemon sponge cake recipe (which I believe to be the best), I am always ready and willing to try other recipes!

Anyway, I got the recipe for the cake from the book.  My adapted version –

Prepare the jelly roll pan first of all! I usually just line line with greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Sift together then set aside –

1-1/4 cups AP flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine and beat (on low-medium speed), for 2 minutes*, –

3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon, plus soya oil to make a total of 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until frothy. Add 1/2 cup sugar by tablespoonfuls and beat until stiff peaks (but not dry).

Fold half of the whites into the yolk mixture. Gradually add the flour mixture to the yolk batter (I used an 1/8 cup per addition), folding gently after each addition. Fold the remaining egg whites into the yolk batter.

Place the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a tea towel** slightly larger than the size of the pan. (The recipe specifies that it be dusted with powdered sugar but I don’t do it.) Immediately after baking (make sure that the cake is really done but not overdone), invert the cake on the cloth and remove the paper. Gently roll the cake on the shorter end. Leave the cake until it cools.

Fill the cake with strawberry curd and re-roll. Frost with strawberry buttercream and garnish with strawberries and strawberry syrup.

Notes –
* the original recipe specified that the lemon and orange juices be heated but I did not follow that instruction.
** I used the material from a flour sack, sewing 2 layers together to make a sheet that was 1 inch larger than my pan on all sides. So far none of my cakes have gotten stuck. I was told that the material is muslin but honestly I don’t know!

For the rest I wanted STRAWBERRYYYYYYYYY!!!!!  Strawberry curd for the filling, strawberry buttercream for the frosting… I wanted more strawberry so I decided the cake would have strawberries for garnish.  And to make things even more strawberry, I thought of making a strawberry syrup or glaze, ALL from REAL STRAWBERRIES!!!

All in all, I used about 1 kilogram of strawberries!!!!

For the filling, I got the recipe for strawberry curd from bakedbyrachel – that was 450 grams of strawberries right there…

For the buttercream and syrup, I followed the advise of a friend – Macerate about 350 grams of strawberries with some brown sugar for a couple of hours.  Lightly mash the strawberries to draw out more of its juice.  Drain well. Heat the strawberry juice liquid until reduced.  Add sugar as desired to obtain the sweetness level that you like.  This is the strawberry syrup (it’s actually loose and not thick at all).  For the rest of the mashed strawberries, place in a heavy pot and add the juice of 1 lemon.  Heat over low heat and blend using a hand blender.  Heat gently and cook until thick.  Cool completely.  Chill.

I like my buttercream to be looser and less sweet so I generally use (considerably) less powdered sugar.  But basically, it’s softened butter, powdered sugar, and the cooled strawberry puree!  That’s it!

Having said and done all that, it does not have to be THAT complicated – instead of using homemade strawberry curd for the filling, use your favorite strawberry jam.  For the frosting, there are many ready-to-use frosting available off the shelf; same with the strawberry syrup!  The cake will still be good!  Promise!

Anyway, we served a slice of the cake to the kid’s piano teacher.  And he raved about it!!!!

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Pineapple Tarts for CNY

Yes, yes, I know.  I need to practice more to make the tart shells even and nice…

But I am happy to say that after several attempts, I finally found a tart shell/crust recipe that hubby (and the kid) likes!  The only problem?  It is a fragile one, and does not keep well!

More than that, I found a recipe for the pineapple filling that used weight!  Most of the recipes I found specified the number of pineapples to use and my problem with that is the varying sizes of pineapples!!!!

The recipe is from Bake for Happy Kids.  I scaled down the recipe because I was intending to make only a dozen or two at most.  Also, I grated the pineapple instead of using the food processor (the filling was very chunky, but as it turns out, hubby preferred it!).

Happy Chinese New Year (of the Earth Piggy)!

Sunshine Peaches & Cream Cake

I made peach danish last weekend… and had some pastry cream and peach halves left over. Not wanting more peach danish, I decided to make cake!

While I already have a “perfect” vanilla cake recipe, decided to try a different recipe. Guess where I found it?

My friends know that I collect recipes and cookbooks. I like new, off the bookstore shelf books, as well as ebooks. But i also keep a lookout for nice pre-owned ones… this particular recipe for “vanilla cake” is a recipe written on paper that was stuck in between pages of a second-hand cookbook that I bought in a bazaar!

(recipe copied as written)

I thought this could be the perfect time to try it out! I wanted only a small cake, so I halved the recipe…

and then I discovered that I DID NOT have buttermilk! I thought of making the substitute of milk and vinegar, but realized that I had used up all my milk to make the pastry cream!!!!!! I was contemplating using plain water when my eyes chanced upon the syrup that was drained from the canned peaches! So I thought of using it (and maybe infusing the cake with a bit of peach flavor???) and reducing the sugar a bit (because the syrup is very sweet already).

My adapted, halved recipe –

1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tbsp vanilla (mine is homemade)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line and butter a 5×3-inch round pan.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix well, until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, rotate midway. Cool completely.

After the cake cooled completely, spread the pastry cream all over the top.

Slice 4 peach halves into quarters to make 8 pieces. Arrange the peach quarters around the edge of the pan (to look like petals or rays) then place a peach half in the center. Lightly brush the top with peach glaze (heat the peach syrup until reduced and thick).  (Someone suggested that it would be better to pour clear gelatin over the top in the style of Crema de Fruita…)

Chill and enjoy!!!

Peach Danish

I dream of food (truly!) and it is not unusual for me to wake up in the middle of the night and scribble on my trusty cellphone the food ideas that I had dreamed of.  This peach danish was one such instance.

We had planned to serve cake for the kid’s piano teacher’s snack.  But having dreamed of a lovely peach danish, the cake idea had been shelved and I set about making the peach danish.  Up front, I have to say that we in a tropical country where peaches do not grow.  This is not to say that fresh peaches were not available, but when they were available, their prices were sky-high and so I simply got a can of peach halves from the supermarket and drained them.

For the recipes, I turned to Michel Roux’s 1994 book “Desserts:  A Lifelong Passion”

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Of course the first thing to do is to make the puff pastry, which is the base of the danish.  I am not an expert by any means and this was my first attempt.  It was not quite what I had envisioned.  In short, I needed more practice.

BUT Teacher F was scheduled to arrive in about 4 hours so I abandoned the homemade puff pastry idea and rushed to the baking supply store and bought puff pastry.  And to make things even easier for me, I got the one that was already cut into 4-inch squares!

Problem?  Lunch with hubby extended 30 minutes past my schedule and Teacher F arrived thirty minutes early!  This meant I had about 45 minutes to finish my peach danish otherwise Teacher F would have no snack at all!!!!!

The first thing I did was make the pastry cream.  I halved the recipe since I was planning to make just 4 pieces of peach danish. And I used vanilla extract instead of a vanilla bean, as well as vanilla sugar.

3 egg yolks
60 grams vanilla sugar
20 grams flour
250 ml full fat milk

Mix a third of the sugar with the egg yolks until “light ribbon consistency” as specified in Roux’s recipe.  Stir in the flour and mix well; set aside.  Heat the milk and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan until almost boiling.  Pour about one third of the heated milk into the egg yolk mixture, mix well and add the egg yolk mixture back to the milk mixture.  Continue heating over low heat and stir constantly for about 2 minutes.

Roux’s recipe had instructions how to cool the pastry cream faster but I did not have a marble work surface so I just poured the pastry cream into a glass baking pan (13×9-in) and stirred it lightly with a spatula.

Meanwhile, I cut the puff pastry into rounds and folded the edge to form a “wall”.  I pricked the inner circle and placed about 2 tablespoons of pastry cream in the middle.  I topped the whole thing with a peach half with the dome facing out.  It went into a (preheated) 400*F oven for about 12 to 15 minutes.  Midway through, I brushed the top with peach glaze and back into the oven it went.  After the edges are slightly browned, I took the danish out of the oven and brushed it again with peach glaze.

I made it just in the nick of time!  The kid was running down the stairs (and yelling “I’m done, I’m done!) as I snapped a picture of the danish in its serving plate!  I hurriedly brought the peach danish up!

(Somehow, the peach danish in my dream looked waaayyy better than what came out from my oven.  In my dream the puff pastry “hugged” the peach half and no pastry cream was visible.  My finished product was not bad, neither was it ugly, but I think next time I will put a bit less of pastry cream and I would fold the puff pastry right up of the edge of the peach!)

Maruya

Maruya is our local term for banana fritters.  It was a favorite snack all throughout my childhood… my late father also loved it, so we had it pretty often.

The problem?  The recipe is unwritten and largely by estimation.  And while I’ve made maruya before, it was not exactly what we had as kids.

As luck would have it, I found a recipe for banana fritters in my mom’s files.  And I tried it the first opportunity I had.

And it was… PERFECT!

It was soft in the middle and crunchy/crispy on the edges!

PERFECT!  EXACTLY LIKE THE MARUYA OF MY CHILDHOOD!!!

(If there’s any change that I made, it was to use turbinado sugar flavored with real vanilla, instead of white granulated sugar.)

(Sigh…)

Another Fruitcake

This is the last one, I promise!!!

The recipe for this one looked easy – it mixed in one bowl, with no pre-soaking required.  Best of all, it was ready to eat after baking (and cooling)!

The secret? Condensed milk!

I followed this recipe from Eagle Brand.  But not knowing where to find mincemeat I just used mixed dried fruit, about 2 cups worth.  I also added about half a tablespoon of apple pie spice…

Fast.  Easy.  Delicious.

Yuummmmmm!

 

Fruitcake 2018, Finally!

I say “finally” because I have found what I was looking for – a great tasting fruitcake whose recipe is fast (truly fast with no need even for a mixer!), simple, easy, and even when it’s last minute!

After much experimentation that began in July, here it is!!!

It is so fast and easy that even if it’s mid-December already, I can still bake it and give it the day after.  The texture is great – moist but not breaking apart… it is not too heavy but it is not light at all… it is chockfull of fruits (which admittedly is the most time consuming of all – with dicing big fruits and soaking it in brandy for more than 3 months), and IT IS DELICIOUS!!!

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(a peek of the inside, from the first trial of the recipe, baked in a glass pan)

I bake it right in the “pan”, brush it with more brandy, cool it in the same container then just cover it with the see-through lid that is part of the package (or in one case where I broke the lid, cover it with clingfilm).  Then I just stick a label on it and send it – DONE!

(will post the recipe later after I’ve organized everything.)

For now, I will enjoy baking this last minute fruitcake and then sit back while the recipients compliment me!

hahahahaha!

 

Orange-Blueberry Baby Bundt Cake with Blueberry-Vanilla Rum Sauce

I recently found a “baby” bundt cake pan. It was perfect for my little electric oven. By ‘little’ I mean my oven is only slightly bigger than a toaster oven, and this means I have some difficulty finding pans that fit!

Anyway, the pan was about 6 inches across and could fit a recipe for a medium (8×4) loaf pan. I thought of using the orange loaf recipe and spiking it with rum instead of triple sec. Then, because I had some leftover blueberry filling, I decided to ‘make’ a tunnel of blueberry in the ‘baby’ bundt cake.

It baked up quite beautifully!

Then I thought it looked a bit plain.  It was fine by itself already but I wanted to gussy it up even more… so…

Since I still had some blueberry filling left over, I decided to make Blueberry-Vanilla Sauce that was spiked with rum to pour over the cake.  Of course to make the slice ever prettier for the picture so I laid the vanilla pod I used on top!

The recipe for the Blueberry-Vanilla-Rum Sauce –

Place about 1/3 cup of blueberry filling, 3 tablespoons water, 3 tablespoons butter, and a vanilla pod (split and scrape the “caviar”) in a small, thick saucepan. Heat over a low flame until butter is melted and the mixture is barely simmering; remove from flame and add 1 to 2 tablespoons of rum.

 

Stuffed Dates

The local baking supply store always has dates for sale.  They are already pitted but they are often on the small side… good enough for baking and not bad for snacking.  But for a real treat, Medjool dates are the best.

Last weekend, hubby went to the nearby membership-only grocery store (without me!!!!) and found some organic (!) Medjool dates, at a very reasonable price!!!!  So of course he bought some!

He is perfectly happy to enjoy the dates as is but I had to interfere and try something else!

I’d seen stuffed dates before and usually the ones I’ve seen are stuffed with cheese and/or nuts.  I decided to stick with the cheese but use some of the fruit that I had macerating in the fridge (the ones for my fruitcake projects!).

The cast of characters –

It is very easy to make, except maybe for the pitting part… then again I had to slice the dates halfway anyway so…

1/2 cup cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup finely minced mixed dried fruit (macerated in brandy for at least 12 hours)
about 12 to 16 pieces of Medjool dates, pitted and sliced but not all the way through

Stir the cream cheese and macerated fruit together.  Place the filling inside a pastry bag with a large open star tip.  Pipe the filling in the dates.  Then enjoy!!!