Monday, 26 July 2010

Daring Bakers' Challenge - July 2010: Swiss Roll Ice Cream Cake

Blog Checking Lines - The July 2010 Daring  Bakers' challenge was hosted by Sunita of Sunita's world - life and food. Sunita challenged everyone to make an ice-cream filled Swiss roll that's then used to make a bombe with hot fudge. Her recipe is based on an ice cream cake recipe from Taste of Home.

The original concept of this month's challenge was to use the Swiss rolls to line a bowl, making the end product a dome shaped ice cream cake that's encrusted with Swiss rolls. Even though I do love the encrusted Swiss roll look, I just recently made something really similar - Charlotte Royale.

I didn't want to do the same thing in a short period of time, so I gave my own twist to this challenge by just putting the Swiss rolls on top. I wanted to still stay as close as possible to the challenge, so I piped strawberry swirls around the ice cream cake as a tribute to the swirl galore.

I was having a hard time deciding on what flavour profile I'll make for this cake, so I got inspiration from my H. In the end, we both agreed to a banana split theme - chocolate Swiss roll filled with luscious strawberry jam atop layers of vanilla ice cream, chocolate fudge center and banana ice cream.

Everything went very well together. The most interesting part of this challenge was making the ice cream. Sunita gave everyone a recipe for making ice cream without using an ice cream maker. So from that, I made my home made ice cream, which was really really fun to do!

I had a couple of Swiss rolls, ice creams and fudge leftover, so I also made mini swirl ice cream cakes. I'm looking forward for the next DB challenge; hope it will be as interesting as this one.

Bisou bisou,

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Fondant Cake - Lemon Cake with Whipped White Chocolate Ganache and Raspberry Jam Filling

I've always viewed making fondant cakes or three dimensional cakes for that matter as a complete different field from pastry making; same as bread making, the skills required are different. For me people making special celebration cakes are more of an artist than a pastry chef or baker. They make wonderful sculptures out of cakes.

Amazing Wedding Cakes is a show I'm frequently watching nowadays, and it inspired me to give fondant cakes a go. When I was in uni, my friends and I won third place (I think) on a wedding cake competition. Although I have to put that victory into mere luck, I mean we're all completely clueless on what we're doing. An insider told us it was our concept that won us the bronze; so you can imagine our execution... let's say it needed loads of improvement! My second encounter with fondant was in baking school; it was a crash course about fondant cakes wherein most of the learning process was mollycoddled by the teacher. In short, I hardly have any memory on what happened in that particular class...

So it's safe to say this is my first official fondant cake project that I have to do all by myself. I'm really really happy with the outcome. Before having the guts to do this cake, I researched a lot online through reading blogs/websites and watching videos from you tube. My self-study sessions really paid off. I learned a lot of tips and tricks in making my first sculpture, which I'll share a little bit later.

As for the cake flavour, I used to have this impression that wedding cakes are horrible tasting cakes because when I was a kid all the wedding cakes I've ate were fruit cakes. Well, I'm not a fan of fruit cakes at all! While planning our wedding last year, I had an eye opener encounter. Wedding cakes doesn't have to be a mere fruit cake or other dense cakes; it can also have delectable fillings like mousses or buttercream. That being said, our wedding cake was the best wedding cake I've ever had so far - vanilla cake with vanilla cream filling and strawberry jam and chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling.

On second thought, I think the cake I made for this fondant cake project is better than my wedding cake! haha! The cake shop back in England should watch out... kidding! I made lemon cake with whipped white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam filling. It was really really delicious... We shared the cake with my H's colleagues, and they all loved it.

As for my fondant sculpting execution, I know I have loads of polishing to do, but I'm completely satisfied with what I've done. I honestly expected my first attempt to be a bit messed up. So yehey for me!

Ok, so to give my two cents about this subject matter...

A. Cake assembly

Decide on what cake you like and how many tiers. So in my case, lemon cake and 2 tiers (6-inch and 3 1/2-inch). I wanted my cakes to have filling so I sliced my cakes into three layers. For the filling, whipped white chocolate ganache and raspberry jam; oh, and vanilla-peach infused sugar syrup (leftover poaching liquid from peach Melba) to brush on the cakes. You also need a mandatory icing for crumb coating (I'll explain later) and frosting; popular choice is buttercream. I used Swiss buttercream.

Once you have all your components, it's now time to assemble the cakes. Start with the bottom layer of your cake, put it on top of a cardboard that's exactly the same diameter as the cake (purpose: to give the cake a stable bottom, especially when putting one tier after the other).

Brush the cake with sugar syrup. (Sorry for the picture, forgot to take one from the very start. You have to brush all cake layers with syrup anyway.)

Then with a piping bag filled with buttercream, pipe a circle around the perimeter of your cake. This will serve like a dam or a guide on how high your filling would be later and prevent the filling from oozing out the sides of your cake.

Spread the filling. First the whipped white chocolate ganache then raspberry jam. Make sure the fillings are within the buttercream ring guide.

Put the second layer of cake and do steps 3-5. Then finish of with the top layer cake, make sure to brush the top layer cake with syrup. Do steps 2-6 to all tiers of cake.

Had to improvise a cake decorating turntable, so I used random tubs around the house!

Now both cakes are filled properly, it's time to crumb coat. Crumb coat means coating the cakes with a thin layer of icing (buttercream), and letting it chill in the fridge until the buttercream doesn't smudge on your finger when you touch it. The purpose of it is to stop crumbs spreading all over the fondant; keeps the crumbs intact in one place.

Once the buttercream is set, it's time to frost the cake. A second coat of buttercream, this time a bit thicker. As for the purpose, I have to be honest and say I don't know the purpose. Just that most of my research does the second coating... If I had to guess, I think it's too be able to shape your cake properly, in my case to attempt to make a perfect circle. Like some cakes might be a bit wonky so this is the time to make up the imperfections. It's tricky though because you have to be skillful to make the icing follow what you want it to do, and the icing has to be spread smoothly too. Chill the second coated cakes until the buttercream is set. When that's done, your cakes are now ready for to be stacked with a solid foundation!

B. Building foundation time!

Make your fondant. I planned to make a proper rolled-fondant, but unfortunately I couldn't get hold of 2 of the ingredients. So I made marshmallow fondant. Although, I also had trouble finding white marshmallows, so my fondant had a tint of very light green because of the marshmallows.

Colour your fondant to your preference; I chose robin's egg blue a.k.a Tiffany blue. That was the aim anyway. Then roll the fondant into a circle, big enough to cover the tier you are covering. Cover your cake with fondant.

Place four dowels on the bottom tier, make sure the dowels are of the same height as your cake. Imagine them being four legs of a table, and the top of the table is the cardboard underneath the tier your going to put on top of the bottom tier. So situate the dowels strategically. Oh, it was also hard to find dowels here, so I improvised by using chopsticks!

So four legs done, time to put the the top of the table (the next tier). If you are stacking up more tiers, just remember to put your four legs foundation before putting the next tier. Since I'm finishing off with 2 tiers, it's time to put the final support. A long dowel placed right through the center of the cakes.

Et voila! your cake is now stacked up properly with good foundation.

C. Enjoy designing and sculpting your cake! I only used fondant for my design, but you can also use gum paste, royal icing, chocolate, fresh flowers, etc; your choice. Let your creativity flow!

Well I hope my fondant cake 101 makes sense.
I really really enjoyed this whole experience. It is safe to assume that this won't be my last attempt in making a fondant cake!

P.S. I'll post the recipes of all the components I used in this blog post at Recipe Pieces within this week, promise! Oh, except for the chocolate ganache; it's already posted. Use the same ganache recipe then just let the ganache chill then whip it up. It will look like a mousse.

Components used for this dessert treat:
Bisou bisou,

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Peach Melba

Summer's here and peaches are everywhere in this side of the world. Although I'm not a peach lover like my H, I wanted to make something out of those sweet blushes that I always eye on in the fruit isle of the grocery. My library for desserts is kind of scarce when it comes to peaches; all I could think of was peach pie or peach cobbler, but I didn't want to make either. I passed by Baskin Robbins yesterday, and there I saw my inspiration - Peach Melba.

Peach Melba is a classic dessert invented by a French chef, Auguste Escoffier, in honour of an Australian opera singer, Dame Nellie Melba; Escoffier got his inspiration from watching one of Melba's opera, in which there was a swan boat. Originally, peach Melba was poached peaches served with vanilla ice cream in a dish set on top of a swan ice sculpture. He later developed the recipe for the opening of Ritz-Carlton Hotel in London in which he was head chef by adding raspberry sauce and omitting the ice sculpture; and this is now the peach Melba we know - poached peach served with vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce.

I have recently learned a way of making ice cream without having to use an ice cream maker, so I took this opportunity to make homemade vanilla ice cream, using vanilla beans of course! The process is really fun, but I'll save the experience for another post. It was also my first attempt on poaching fruits, in this case peaches. I poached my peaches on a vanilla infused sugar syrup, the poaching part is relatively easy. The hard part is peeling off the skin of the peaches as well as taking the stones out! Note to self: don't peel the skin off while the peaches are newly poached (it's super hot, duh!); allow the peaches to cool down before peeling. The peaches came out really really good (a lot better than tinned peaches!), and the syrup was good too. I actually kept the poaching syrup so I can use it to brush on my future cakes.

This was actually my first time to taste peach Melba; it was surprisingly delicious! As I mentioned, I'm not a fan of peaches, but I think I have to make an exception when it's peach Melba. Who knew peaches and raspberries go well together? Well, Escoffier did; after all, he wasn't called a legend for nothing. As for vanilla ice cream, well I think that goes with anything! For people who are lucky enough to have fresh peaches and raspberries this summer season, I say try to make peach Melba. It's definitely a great delight in this heat of sunshine.

Components used for this dessert treat:
Bisou bisou,

Friday, 9 July 2010

Vanilla Panna Cotta with Orange Undertone

Panna cotta is an Italian classic; it means cooked cream in Italian. It's a really really light dessert. It's made by cooking cream, milk, sugar, and gelatin together and letting it set. It's usually served with nuts, fresh fruits and/or fruit coulis.

It is different from molded gelatin or jelly as they are firm in texture and they have that weird bouncy feel in your mouth. Panna cotta is really soft, delicate, and uber creamy. It glides through your spoon as you scoop a mouthful; it exudes a great deal of lightness and creaminess. It is a great way to end a heavy meal.

I think the key to a great panna cotta is quality cream and just enough amount of gelatin for the cream to set. A lot of people over do the gelatin making the panna cotta a molded gelatin. Since there's not much gelatin used to stabilize a panna cotta, it's not so ideal to make an unmolded panna cotta on a summer heat. I tell you, it will melt! I remember back in uni days, I was studying hospitality management, we had to serve a 3 course meal to 80 people. I was in charge of the desserts, and since it was an Italian theme, I decided to serve panna cotta. Not considering the Manila heat, the panna cottas were melting as it got to the guests. So if your planning to make panna cotta in a warm condition, I suggest letting the panna cottas set in a nice shot glass or ramekin, and serving them as they are.

For this version of panna cotta, I infused the cream with vanilla bean and a hint of orange zest. The flavour is absolutely luscious; you can really never go wrong with a classic vanilla flavoured anything. The addition of the subtle orange kiss is sublime as it pecks through the sweetness of the vanilla; it gives an absolutely nice finish to the palate.

Panna cotta is definitely a dessert I would never mind tucking into.

Components used for this dessert treat:
Bisou bisou,

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


Tuile, French for tiles, is a very thin crisp cookie. When freshly baked, it's really pliable, allowing pastry makers to bend it like Beckham. Traditionally, tuile is a round shaped cookie that has been placed to rest on a rolling pin as soon as it comes out of the oven, to form the distinct arch or curvy tile appearance.

In our modern day society, tuile has been made into different shapes and forms. The tuile batter can be stenciled out into many shapes like teardrop, spoon, maple leaves, butterfly, etc; very ideal for garnishes. It's a very good accompaniment to ice creams or sorbets because of it's crisp wafer like attributes. It also adds pizzazz to a plain looking dessert. 

Not only is it a good garnish, it's good on it's own for munching. After all, it's a cookie. Tuile is normally just plain in flavour, mainly vanilla; but now there's assortments of flavours from chocolate to rose flavour. Nuts can also be sprinkled atop the cookies before baking; there's definitely loads of room for creativity for this delight.

Components used for this dessert treat:
Bisou bisou,


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