Monday, July 30, 2012

Based on my experience, troubleshooting macarons

This is my personal experience. My experience may differ to yours because I may not have to same oven as yours, weather at where I am living and where you do may be different and ingredients used may not be the same.

I hardly make macarons at home because it's too sweet for everyone at home. As much as I would love to make them and practice on my macaron skills, they are pretty expensive to make and no one eats them so they sit forever in the fridge. After making macarons for the fourth time,I can say 97% of my macarons have 'feet'. In humidity, I turned on my air conditioner and place the piped macarons under the air conditioner for half hour to help the drying process. It was not wet to touch after 20 minutes. Macarons have temperamental issues.LOL. I dont have the fan force function on my old oven so the first batch of macarons came out slightly coloured (baked macaron shells should have the same colour as pre baked ones). The oven temperature was 180C if baking in fan forced oven but using a 'normal' oven, I had to increase the temperature by 10-20 C (different people say different things on the internet), I ignored that rule because I felt it would be too hot, and also I placed my macarons in the middle shelves (Big mistake!!). And also I had left the oven door slightly ajar after 5 minutes into baking time; continue baking the shells for another 10 minutes.

Although, My macarons looked good besides the fact that it was slightly browned.I wasn't satisfied.

After the first batch, I realised I should reduce the temperature to 150-160 degrees and I placed the macarons on the lowest shelf. Baked it in a closed oven for 5 minutes and then open the oven door slightly ajar,continue baking it for another 10-15 minutes.It was almost perfect but still not to my satisfaction but hey,It was definitely better looking then all the 3 times I made before! :) The bottom was slightly wet but most of them didn't stick to the silicon sheets which was a good thing! Quite an achievement but still not there yet. I would try using the French or Swiss meringue technique the next time instead of the usual Italian meringue technique found in Pierre Herme's Macarons book.

P/s: Make sure you sift the almond meal/almond powder. If you not, you will have a grainy top not shiny one!

Another issue I had was with the buttercream. Original plan was an all ribena macaron thing but when I wanted to flavour my buttercream, I realised that ribena sold now is so diluted!! I thought Malaysia had the pre mixed ribena bottles and I bought the wrong one!That was a huge bummer to me. So since I had raspberry jam in the fridge I used a tablespoon of it to give it a better flavour. 
I used my mastrad macaron sheet.
For the macaron recipe, I used the same recipe found the link below but I halved the original recipe (thank god!). And for the buttercream, I used the recipe given below!

Lemon macarons with boysenberry swiss meringue buttercream

Swiss meringue buttercream :
55g egg whites
100g caster sugar
170g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
2 tablespoon raspberry jam
3 tablespoon ribena cordial

Put the sugar and egg whites in a large heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk constantly, keeping the mixture over the heat, until it feels hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. The sugar should be dissolved, and the mixture will look like marshmallow cream. Pour the mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the meringue on medium speed until it cools and forms a thick shiny meringue, about 5 minutes. Switch to the paddle attachment and add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, beating until smooth. Once all the butter is in, beat in the buttercream on medium-high speed until it is thick and very smooth, 6-10 minutes. Add raspberry jam and ribena and continue to mix until combined.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes with Custard filling

 I think I have fallen all over again!! This is one amazing, well almost prefect cake! I loved everything about this cake! Simple to make, cheap to make and the combination of the custard filling and cotton soft cake is perfect!! But.....It lacked flavouring! It had quite a strong eggy smell to it if you ate it alone. So I would probably add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the cake.  The recipe only gave me 10 cupcakes which is quite sufficient because I have a very small extended family (with cousins' living next door), so 10 cupcakes was enough to feed all of it with no extras for the next day.  I also increased the amount of sugar in both cake and custard filling because I personally prefer my cakes 'sweet' (although most chiffon cakes are not meant to be 'sweet sweet',if you get what I mean). I felt the amount of sugar in the recipe was little.

Filled with custard filling inside.

Adapted from Nasilemaklover
Hokkaido Chiffon Cupcakes
3 large egg yolks
35g caster sugar (original amount-20g)
35g corn oil
60g fresh milk
70g cake flour

3 large egg whites
35g caster sugar (original amount-25g)

Custard Filling:
60g dairy whipping cream,chilled
30g caster sugar (original amount-10g)
2 teaspoon custard powder
Icing sugar for dusting
  1. Preheat oven at 170 C.
  2. Beat yolk and sugar until very pale. (This may take a while. I used my stand mixer and the quantity was quite little for the bowl so it took me about 10 minutes to get to that consistency.)
  3. Add corn oil & milk,mix until combined.
  4. Add cake flour and mix at the lowest speed until combined.
  5. In another bowl, beat egg whites until foamy. Add sugar gradually and continue to beat until soft-medium peak.
  6. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix into the batter to loosen up the mixture.Add the cake batter into the remaining meringue mixture and fold until well combined with a spatula. Divide batter equally (making sure the cupcake liners are fill max 3/4 full) into cupcake liners. ( I got 10 cupcakes from the batter)
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. 
  8. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  9. Prepare filling while baking cupcakes. Place all custard filling ingredients in a bowl and whip until stiff. Place a clingwrap tightly (plastic touching the surface of the custard filling) over the custard filling and chill.
  10. Once cupcakes are cool completely, pipe filling into cupcakes. ( Pierce through the cupcakes with the nozzle and pipe.)
  11. Chill before serving.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Super vanilla Funfetti cupcakes with vanilla frosting

I made my own birthday cake this year because dad was vegetarian and personalised cakes can be very expensive these days. Dad insisted I had a small cake for him ( which he didn't eat at all besides feeding of cake time,he ate only the frosting!). It was more of my dad wanting to celebrate my birthday. I felt old celebrating my birthday party. I would have preferred having a quiet good dinner outside than have a party.

Anyway, the vegetarian orange cake was quite a disappointment to me, I almost gave up on the cake but I had no choice but to have it because it was pretty last minute to get a vegetarian cake somewhere. I learnt my lesson never to try a new recipe I am not sure of for a party or large crowd. I frosted the cake anyway with chocolate cream cheese frosting which was pretty tasty. It would have been great if the cake turned out well too.

I want to share the funfetti cupcake with buttercream frosting recipe and exclude the main cake all together because it was a major flop!

Here's the recipe from sweetapolita
I adapted the recipe slightly. The following is my variation:
I used:
  1. FOR THE CAKE- 1/2 cup egg whites.
  2. Instead of 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter & vegetable shortening each, I used all butter,salted and omitted the salt.
  3. FOR THE FROSTING - I used salted butter and omitted the salt
  4. Milk was not used because the weather in Malaysia was so hot, my frosting was soft already, adding milk might make the frosting softer.
  5. I decorated the cupcakes with fresh blackberries and raspberries instead of coloured sprinkles. 

My 23rd Birthday cake
Fun fetti inspired cupcakes
Frosted with vanilla buttercream and fresh blackberries and raspberries

Chocolate & Raspberry cake

I thought I should finally open up my Callebaut semi sweet chocolate pistols. I have always loved Lindt eating/couverture chocolates for my desserts but after reading so much about 'good quality' couverture chocolates like Callebaut and Valhorna; I decided to look for one of the two brands. Most Malaysians are ignorant to the fact that chocolate's number one enemy is the fridge. I stumbled upon callebaut chocolate in KL selling for RM 128 for a bag of 2.5kgs.Pretty cheap but it was kept in the fridge/chiller. I had a pretty bad experience with my chocolates kept in the chiller which was accidentally switched to freezer mode. My chocolates seized no matter how many times I started a new batch of chocolates to melt. I learnt my lesson.

I am not a fan of chocolates,call me weird but I am more into sponge/chiffon cakes.Not much of a rich cake/desserts/pastry person although I love making anything sweet which involves the oven.Anyway, I tried a new recipe using chocolates and fruits. I always like my chocolate desserts plain. I wanted to try something new and thought it would be a good idea to start off with raspberries (my favourite berry) and chocolate. The recipe turned out pretty well. Because my cake came out of the oven with a dome, I had to cut the top off. I left the crumbles and crust on plate on the table and continued. Dad walks into the kitchen and pinches on the cake 'scraps', smiles and asks my cousin to have a taste of it. My cousin had a pinch of it and next thing I knew the cake 'scraps' were all gone with the help of her brother as well,of course! They ate the cake 'scraps' with generous amounts of leftover ganache spreading on the bits like having bread and jam!  How cute! I took that as a compliment. :-) ( I was,honestly, gonna throw the cake 'scraps' away,LOL!)

Here's the recipe:

Sponge cake:
145g butter
240g caster sugar
150g good quality dark chocolate pistols, I used Callebaut 53% cocoa
6 large eggs,separated
120g cake flour , sift twice
23g cocoa powder, sift twice

450g good quality dark chocolate pistols
360ml whipping cream, 35% fat
110g butter,softened & cubed

Raspberry jam
Fresh raspberries

  1. Make ganache an hour before baking your cake.
  2. Heat cream in a small saucepan until simmering,make sure not boiling.In another bowl,place chocolates.Pour the hot cream into chocolate and stir gently until chocolate is fully melted.
  3. Stir continuously until mixture is slightly cooled, add half of the butter. And continue to stir. Add the remaining butter,mix until you get a smooth ganache. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap ( plastic wrap should touch surface of ganache) and chill in fridge for 2-3 hours.
  4. Line a 9 inch round pan with baking paper.Preheat oven at 175 C.
  5. Melt butter in microwave until hot and pour into bowl with chocolate. Stir the chocolate mixture until smooth. Whisk 165g of the sugar with egg yolks until pale and fluffy; fold in chocolate mixture. 
  6. Fold in flours until fully combined.
  7. In another bowl, make meringue. Whisk egg whites until soft peaks, gradually add sugar and continue to mix until stiff peaks.
  8. Add 1/3 of the meringue into cake batter and mix until combine then fold in the remaining meringue mixture in two batches until combined.
  9. Pour batter into prepared tin. Drop the baking tin on a hard surface to knock the large bubbles out. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
  10. Allow to cool for 1-2 hours.Peel liners off the cake.Cut the cake into three slices using a serrated knife. Level the cake on top if it's uneven on the surface.
  11. Take ganache out of the fridge and remove the plastic wrap. If ganache is still in a runny like,place it back into the fridge until it is a spreadable consistency.
  12. If too stiff, leave it out a few minutes in a warm area until it is a spreadable consistency.
  13. To assemble, Place one slice of cake on a turntable and spread a thin layer of raspberry jam. Then add a moderate layer of ganache and spread to even out. Place fresh raspberries on top and cover with another layer of cake. Do the same with the next layer. Finally frost the layered cake with ganache; on top and on the sides.
It's okay if the top has cracks because we are going to cut the top off
Making the ganache

Raspberry jam,raspberries,chocolate ganache to filling and frost the cake

Raspberries I bought at hefty price in Jason Foodhall and I mean it! RM 27 is no joke. I bought the same ones at Isetan Foodhall in KLCC for only RM 22.

Spread the jam,ganache and topped with raspberries

Frosted cake

Still need to work on my photography skills

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Durian chiffon roll

  It's been ages since I updated my blog because I have been lazy and also busy with uni,moving back and settling down. All is done, now I am free to update. I got my results yesterday and I am proud to announce that I will finally graduate!!!woo hooo. I will definitely miss Sydney though but then again, home is home. I am still trying to adjust myself back here in Malaysia because things have changed since I left 4.5 years ago. Suddenly I feel like a Sydneysider,lol. I miss the winter and actually prefer the cold compared to the heat in Malaysia. It's an absolute nightmare. Safety in Malaysia is getting from bad to worse etc. I have baked quite a lot over the few months/weeks that I have been missing but never had the time to take proper pictures. Lately, I have had this huge obsession over chiffon cakes and sponge cakes so I have been spending time 'collecting' recipes over the internet from Chinese and Indonesian websites. The Chinese, Japanese & Indonesians have their own versions of chiffon and sponge cakes. So far, the Indonesian recipes have worked well for me. Will have to practice on the Chinese and Japanese ones as well. I prefer chiffon cakes over sponge cakes because I feel sponge cakes are little drier compared to chiffon cakes, I may be wrong but from what I have made and eaten, Chiffon cakes are moist,fluffy, light like eating cotton cakes. 

My perfect chiffon roll, 2nd attempt in making it in 24hours.
Yesterday's distorted durian chiffon roll. It  somehow had cracks when I rolled it . So when I sliced it , the slices turned out like the ones in the picture below. I had to chill it for another 2-3 hours to be able to slice perfect slices.

I adapted the cake slightly from here and made my own durian filling

Chiffon roll:
5 egg yolks
60g caster sugar
75ml oil
100ml milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
125g cake flour

5 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon salt
80g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

Durian filling: (make this ahead of time and place in the fridge to chill)
1 teaspoon gelatin powder
5 teaspoon water
125g durian flesh
150ml whipping cream
50g icing sugar

  1. Durian filling - Mix gelatin and water. Warm mixture in the microwave for 1-2 minutes to dissolve the gelatin. It should be just warm not hot.Allow to cool completely (defrost setting) 
  2. Blend the durian flesh until smooth.
  3. Whip the cream, sugar, and gelatin mixture until stiff peaks. Fold in durian puree. Chill
  4. Chiffon roll -Grease and line a 30x30 cm pan. Preheat oven at 180C.
  5. (A) Whisk yolks,vanilla extract and sugar until very thick,pale and fluffy ( Ribbon stage) about 10minutes. Add milk,oil and flour and continue mixing until well combined.
  6. (B) In another bowl, whisk egg whites until frothy then add salt and cream of tartar. Add sugar gradually until stiff peaks.
  7. Take 1/4 of the meringue and mix in (A). Then pour the batter into (B) and fold until well combined.
  8. Pour batter into a prepared tin and level the batter evenly in the tin.
  9. Bake for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from oven,run a sharp knife through the sides of the tin and turn the cake on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool slightly before using a new baking paper to roll the unfilled chiffon sheet, leave it for a few mins (less than 5 mins) before unrolling it back. Let it cool completely before spreading the durian filling evenly on top, because not to over spread the filling on the chiffon sheet, carefully roll it back again and chill for 2-3 hours. Slice the sides off and then slice generous slices for yourself to enjoy! =)