Category Archives: Vanilla

Deconstructed Lime Meringue Pie Cake

Confused by the title?

Lemme break it down for you.

What we have here is:

Vanilla Cake.

Lime Curd.

Graham Crumb.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

Essentially, what we have is pie… but in cake form. 

Let’s forget the resolutions for a day and eat this cake shall we?

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Ingredients

Vanilla Cake

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (1 cup self-rising flour = 1 cup sifted all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder + 1/2 teaspoon salt)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated/castor sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

Lime Curd

2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 eggs
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Graham Crumb (totally just played around with proportions until I liked it. I encourage you to experiment too!)

1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup milk powder
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (used separately from 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs)
4 ounces white chocolate, melted

Swiss Meringue Buttercream

5 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
2 cups unsalted butter
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

How To

Vanilla Cake:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease cake pan of choice.

2. In a small bowl, combine the flours and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

4. Add the dry ingredients in parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla extract, end with adding flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, taking care not to overbeat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the mixing bowl to make sure all the ingredients are well blended.

5. Carefully pour the batter into greased cake pan. Slap the bottom of the pan against a counter/floor to get rid of air bubbles. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan completely before handling.

Lime Curd:

1. Whisk sugar, lime juice, lime zest, and eggs together in a metal pot.

2. Place pot on medium low heat and gently whisk until mixture thickens.

3. Remove pot from heat and pour the curd through a sieve into a bowl to remove zest/chunks of egg.

4. Cover with saran wrap, making sure saran wrap touches surface of curd, and place in fridge until needed for cake assembly.

Graham Crumb:

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F

2. Combine 1/2 graham crumbs, milk powder, cornstarch, sugar and salt in a bowl. Whisk to combine. 

3. Pour melted butter into bowl and use spatula to toss until evenly coated.

4. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment. Bake for 20 mins. Now you have clusters of crumbs.

5. Put the crumbs back into the bowl and toss with another 1/4 of graham cracker crumbs.

6. Pour melted white chocolate over the clusters and toss until evenly coated.

7. Place bowl in fridge, but toss the crumbs every 5 minutes. You are done when the white chocolate is hardened and no longer sticky.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

1. Combine egg whites, sugar and salt in a metal bowl of a standmixer over a pot of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until the liquid looks frothy and all the granulated sugar is dissolved.

2. Place bowl on standmixer and use wire whisk to whip the mixture on medium speed until you reach soft peaks. Then increase to high speed to reach stiff peaks. Mixture should be glossssssy.

3. Add butter in small chunks and continue whipping until all butter is dispersed and melded into the mixture. At some point your buttercream will look like it’s curdling – DON’T PANIC. It’s totally normal.

4. Switch over to paddle attachment and beat the buttercream to remove air bubbles.

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Macarons, not Macaroons

vanilla bean macarons

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One of my biggest pet peeves after slow walkers (old people exempted) is when people make the mistake of calling macarons “macaroons”. Seriously, if you can’t get the name right, you don’t deserve to eat them. Either of them. OH, what’s even worse is when they try to correct me: “What are macarons? Did you mean macaroons?” AUGHHH. Sometimes, people annoy me to no end.

Anyway, rant aside, check out the FIRST macarons I have ever made!!!!! For years, I couldn’t muster up the courage to make these bad boys. Why? Well, they’re just super high maintenance and touchy. Everything, from heating the sugar syrup to folding the egg whites, has to be done JUST right. Last Saturday, I decided to get over my silly fear of egg whites and ground almonds and move on with my life.

Since it was my first time making macarons, I expected disaster. I expected cracked, hollow, and thin meringue shells. You see, I’m what you call a lazy baker. I don’t measure exactly. I hate taking the extra time to level off, sift, and pack. I just guesstimate. So even though I knew that macarons needed to be done with exact measurements, I didn’t bother because I expected everything to go wrong.

Annnd, a lot of things did go wrong. First, I couldn’t get the egg whites to form stiff peaks and after half an hour of trying I realized that idiot-me used a spoon that touched egg yolks to stir the egg whites. Then I spilt about 2 tbsps of ground almond, so that threw everything off balance. And to top it all off, I made the crappiest buttercream (I spilt about 1/2 a bag of icing sugar into the mixer, whoops) to sandwich everything together. 

Despite all of that, the macarons weren’t that bad! My mom and dad, for the first time ever, actually liked what I made!!! (They’re my biggest critics).

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Macarons, Bouchon Style

Ingredients

212 grams Almond Flour/Meal
212 grams Powdered Sugar
82 and 90 grams Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
236 grams and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
158 grams Water

OR

1 3/4 cups + 2 1/2 Tbsp  Almond Flour/Meal
1 3/4 cups + 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp Powdered Sugar
1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp and 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp  Egg Whites
1 Tbsp Vanilla Paste
1 cup + 3 Tbsp and 1 pinch Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup Water

How To

1. On parchment paper, make a template for piping out your macarons by tracing circles. You want your shells to be as close as possible in diameter because uneven macarons are ugly. 

2. Preheat your oven. If you have a convection 350 degrees F, or to 400 degrees F if you have a standard oven. 

3. If your almond flour has chunks of almond, grind in the food processor using the “pulse” function to get reallly find almond flour.

4. Sift almond flour and icing sugar into a large bowl and whisk it together.

5. Make a well in the center, then pour in 82 grams or 1/4 cup + 1 1/2 Tbsp of egg whites and stir to combine. Add vanilla and stir.

6. Place the rest of the egg whites, 92 grams or 1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp, in the bowl of a standmixer or a bowl where you can use your handmixer on.

7. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Over medium heat, cook the mixture until it reaches 203F/110C to make a syrup.

8. While the syrup is cooking, add one pinch of sugar into the bowl of egg whites. On medium speed, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. If you reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248F/120C, then reduce speed to low just to keep the egg whites moving.

9. When the syrup reaches 248F/120C, take the saucepan off the heat! 

10. Keeping your mixer on medium-low speed, slowing drizzle in the syrup while it is still hot. The egg whites will deflate, don’t worry it’s normal!

11. After all the syrup is added in, crank mixer up to medium speed and whip the egg whites for about 5 mins to get stiff and glossy peaks. The bowl should be cool, but if not, just keep on whipping. This syrup and egg white mixture is called a MERINGUE. 

12. Fold 1/3 of your meringue into the almond mixture. Continue folding in small portions of meringue until you can fold the batter over itself like a ribbon. The mixture should hold its shape – not too stiff but not too loose that it dissolves into itself

13. Transfer mixture into a piping bag and fill the circles on your template. 

14. Bake for 8-10mins in a convection oven. For standard oven, reduce heat to 325F and bake for 9-12 mins (make sure to reheat back up to 350F before putting in the next batch). You want to look for these indicators: shiny surface and crispness

Recipe from Bouchon Bakery

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Rainbows For A Baby Shower

Breaking news: Turns out Connie did not fall off the face of the earth, though her lack of blogging activity in the past month has shown otherwise. She was found buried under a sea of textbooks and saved by a hunky Joseph Gordon-Levitt look-a-like. Luckily, she had a bar of chocolate with her which has been proven by specialists to be the reason for her survival today. 

Hi everyone!!!!! Did you miss me? Actually, you don’t have to respond to that, I already know that your answer is “YES!” 😛

First, I want to make a shout-out to Elephant! Thanks for checking my blog at least once everyday even though I’ve been MIA. It always makes my day when I see that I got 1 view from Ireland 🙂 Also, belated happy birthday!! I know I said that to you on your actual birthday already, but I wanted to say it again to make you crave cake. Cake is good, and you deserve good things in life.

Since the PB cupcakes that I posted over a month ago, I haven’t baked anything at all. (I should probably re-prioritize my life. Academics over baking just isn’t right.) So when my friend asked me to make a cake for her friend’s baby shower, I just had to say yes! It still shocks me when people ask me instead of trained pastry chefs to make their cakes! Needless to say, I was super excited. I was beyond ecstatic. 

My friend, was super flexible with her order and I loved working with her! She only asked for 2 things:

1. Vibrant rainbow colours for the interior
2. Not too much sugar (because the mom-to-be is diabetic)

The rest was up to me! To go with the rainbow theme, I decided to make the exterior of the cake look like the sky with white clouds and another rainbow. 

Even though I hated working with fondant for the beauty and the beast cake, I gave it another try. I used homemade fondant to make the clouds and the rainbow, it was much much easier than the first time around. 

Decorating the cake wasn’t the hard part and THAT was new to me. This time, baking the cake was the tricky part because I had to watch how much sugar I was using. Initially, I wanted to try using splenda to replace all the sugar called for in the cake. But I read some reviews and discovered that splenda imparts a chemical taste to baked goods. So to be on the safe side, I eliminated splenda from my plans. Next, I made a test batch of cupcakes where I cut out half of the sugar that was called for in the recipe. The result was a moist and fluffy cupcake that was still sweet enough to be enjoyed for dessert. I was so happy with the results that I did the same for the actual cake layers. 

Here’s where it got frustrating. I baked the cake layers with only half the sugar and the end result had a dense and sticky texture. What happened?!??!?!?! When I first took out the cakes from the oven, they were fluffy, then after cooling, they became almost rubbery. I felt like breaking and crumbling down. Maybe I’m just a very harsh judge of my own work, but I was not happy with how the cakes were. Unfortunately, I had no time and no more ingredients to start over, so I had to make due with what I had and hope for the best. 

When I received a text from my friend saying that everybody loved the cake and wanted to see more of my work, I felt SO relieved. That was the best news I heard all week. Lesson learned: never cut out half the sugar from a recipe because sugar is there for a reason. 

Here’s what the cake looked like on the inside!

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