Category Archives: Recipes – Cakes

Anytime Vanilla Cake


Vanilla cake

Vanilla cake

Vanilla cake

Simple is the best. We are in love with the Nordicware Heritage bundt spiral – hypnotising isn’t it? Where does it begin? Where does it end?

This is a simple vanilla cake, with no chocolate (what? Michelle didn’t put any chocolate in her desserts?!) Moist, fluffy and all Vanilla. So good. I especially love the crunchy edges. The secret to this cake is in the combination of butter, neutral oil and buttermilk. It won’t fail on you, and is the best vanilla cake we’ve ever had.

I have been perfecting this Vanilla cake recipe and finally have a good understanding of potential variations. First I started with a naked version which was beautiful on its own but then the next one takes it to a whole new level: a simple, easy raspberry icing made with crumbled Fresh As freeze dried whole raspberry pieces, icing sugar and water. The tasters said it was very delicious with the berry notes coming through.

I’ve also hid freeze dried blackberries inside the large cake and the little surprises of fat berries when slicing through the cake was a lot of fun. Almond flakes are nice sprinkled over too.

J also likes to add lots of colourful sprinkles to the batter to make it a cute subtly colourful cake.

This isn’t a recipe particular to a bundt pan. You can bake this with equal success in a sheet pan – cutting out with cake rings to make stacked cakes (which is in fact, its original design!); or in regular cake pans for an effortless anytime cake.

Cake recipe adapted from All About Cake, Christina Tosi.

Ingredients

  • 250g caster sugar
  • 60g soft brown sugar
  • 120g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs (size 8)
  • 110g buttermilk (or sour cream)
  • 80g neutral oil (rice bran or rapeseed oil)
  • 10g vanilla baking extract (I used Heilala vanilla baking extract)
  • 180g plain flour
  • 25g corn flour
  • 4g baking powder
  • 4g salt

Raspberry icing glaze

  • 10g Fresh As freeze dried raspberry pieces, crushed up
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C on fan bake. Grease a bundt pan well (or line your cake pan with baking paper, if you are not baking in a bundt pan).
  2. Cream the sugars and butter together in a stand mixer, on medium-high for 3 minutes or till light and fluffy.
  3. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and add eggs in one by one, making sure each has been incorporated before adding the next. Beat on high for 3-4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl at the end.
  4. In a jug, mix together buttermilk, oil and vanilla. With the mixer on low-medium, very slowly pour this fatty mixture in. This should take 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat on high speed for 3 minutes. The mixture should have doubled in volume, is quite white and homogenous, with no streaks of fat. This is an essential step. Take your time to do this right.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (flours, baking powder and salt), taking just a minute. Scrape down the bowl and mix on low for a further minute.
  6. Check that the oil in the greased pan has not pooled in the grooves. (if so, brush again). Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes (25 – 30 minutes for sheet pans and smaller cake pans, especially if you are diving the batter up and baking the cakes into smaller cakes). The cake is done when it has pulled away from the sides, and is bouncy to touch.
  8. Leave in the pan for 15 minutes before up ending it onto a wire rack for cooling.
  9. To make Raspberry glaze, mix all the ingredients to form a thick glaze. Drizzle over cake.

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped mini sponge cakes 紙包蛋糕


Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

After having regular checkups at the Orthodontist in the past 2 years, J’s finally ready to be fitted with braces. With that, we need to have a think about our meals with her new requirements in mind.

Soft foods, easy to eat. No super crunchy or hard to chew things that will risk breaking the brackets glued to her teeth. This is especially for the few days straight after each 6-8 weekly checkup where they adjust the individual brackets, and when her gums will be a bit swollen.

We talked about the different things we can have in her lunch box, and this easy sponge cake came up in the conversation. Soft and pillowy, this is perfect for her.

This one is a nod to my childhood, where fancy buttercream or fondant cakes weren’t prevalent, with a good sponge cake being the absolute gold standard for all occasions. Specifically, layered sponge cakes dressed up with whipped cream and seasonal fruits (think about all the mango cream sponges and berries and cream cakes!) They are still popular in Hong Kong, and very much part of the food cultural fabric.

To make those cakes you can easily use this recipe and bake it in a normal cake pan, add whipped cream along with seasonal fruits. Easy. We’ve made after-school-snack-portions here with tall moulds, just like the ones in my childhood days, and you can also use other baking tins, just find something that is quite tall and deep. Perfect lunch box item – sans cream of course!

Ingredients:

Makes 8

  • 55g unsalted butter, melted (Lewis Road Creamery)
  • 60ml milk
  • 100g low gluten flour
  • 5 eggs (size 7)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 80g caster sugar

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180C.
  2. Separate egg yolks and whites into 2 separate bowls.
  3. In a large bowl, place melted butter and milk together, whisk lightly.
  4. Add sifted flour, vanilla extract and egg yolks to the butter mixture. Mix well, ensuring there are no lumps.
  5. Using an electric whisk or stand mixer, whisk egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar. Continue whisking, then slowly rain in the sugar. Whisk until the whites form stiff peaks.
  6. Add 2 tablespoons of the beaten egg whites into the flour batter to loosen up the mixture. Fold in 1/3 of the beaten whites into the batter, then the second third and then the last of the whites.
  7. Pour into lined cake tins, only filling 2/3s of the pan (it will rise quite a lot) and bake for 30 minutes.
  8. Cool on a wire rack and keep in an air tight container.

Hong Kong Paper Wrapped Sponge Cake

No Bake Silky Chocolate Cheesecake


No bake chocolate cheesecake with cream cheese and mascarpone

No bake chocolate cheesecake with cream cheese and mascarpone

No bake chocolate cheesecake with cream cheese and mascarpone

What happens when you mix chocolate ganache into cream cheese?

That’s the question I asked J and she said “let’s pour and find out!” That’s how we roll, forever in search of the (next) perfect dessert.

The result: A buttery crumb base; super silky chocolate cream cheese filling, further topped with more chocolate ganache.

This is made in the same way as my Vanilla cheesecake and can be prepared quickly with some shortcuts – you can use premade crust trays which will save you one step of this dessert.

For the cream cheese filling, I added a third of the prepared chocolate ganache to the cream cheese mixture. This helps set the cream cheese without the need of gelatine.

The result is a silky smooth cheesecake with a deep cocoa flavour. The tanginess is still there but with the addition of chocolate and use of mascarpone, this is more mousse like.

I really like this experimental version – lighter and quite suitable for the summer season we are heading into. Just imagine further adorning the cheesecake with Tatua Chocolate Mousse straight from the can.

Ps J reminded me to pair the cheesecakes with a chocolate glaze aka mirror glaze! I’ve made them in my Chocolate Mousse Dome Entremet recipe but can totally be used on cheesecakes too!

Ingredients

10 servings

Graham Crackers crust

  • 250g Graham Crackers or digestive biscuits
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted
  • Or a premade crust

Cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese, room temperature
  • 250g mascarpone
  • 120g (1 cup) icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate soft ganache

  • 175g dark chocolate (70% or above cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
  • 200g cream (35% fat)

Method

Graham cracker crust

  1. If using a ready made crust shell, you can skip this crust step and move to making the ganache.
  2. Otherwise, crush crackers or biscuits to fine crumbs. You can do this in a food processor, or in a sealed zip lock bag, and crushing them with a heavy rolling pin.
  3. Add melted butter and mix till mixture binds together.
  4. Pour crumbs into a lined springfoam baking pan, pressing the mix down with a tall straight glass. Make sure the layer is even, and press crumbs up against the sides as well.
  5. Chill in the fridge to firm up.

Chocolate soft ganache

  1. Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. Bring cream to a boil in a pan and pour over chocolate. Let it sit for a minute before stiring; stir till homogenize and slightly thick.
  3. Place in the fridge to chill.

Cheesecake layer

  1. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and mascarpone cream together, until smooth and fluffy.
  2. Beat in icing sugar and vanilla till smooth and no lumps.
  3. Using two teaspoons, Place small dollops of cream cheese in crust base. This creates some patches of white in amongst the dark brown cheesecake.
  4. Pour a third of the chocolate ganache into the bowl with the remaining cream cheese mixture. Mix to incorporate.
  5. Pour into crumb base and smooth with an offset spatula. It’s really easy to smooth if you pop the base on a spinning cake stand/wheel. Just hold the spatula with one hand, steadily on top of the cream cheese mixture and spin with your other hand.
  6. Pour remaining chocolate ganache over the chocolate cream cheese mix. Refrigerate for 3 hours or overnight.
  7. Cut with a warm but dry knife.

No bake chocolate cheesecake with cream cheese and mascarpone

No bake chocolate cheesecake with cream cheese and mascarpone

Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake


Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

So pleased to be introducing this delightful cake: Espresso Mascarpone Chocolate Cake, drizzled with a Caramélia chocolate glaze with Cacao nibs.

Made with Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, this is the next cake you are going to fall in love with. Coffee and chocolate is always a perfect match and I’ve been changing up my cake flavours by switching to different Nespresso coffee variations. Each came out with a different flavour profile and I think each had a different personality too (!)

Mascarpone cheese makes this cake moist throughout. I love making cakes using buttermilk, sour cream or mascarpone cheese, it adds a tang to it and balances out all the sweetness. Mascarpone cheese results in a more uniform and smooth texture, whereas sour cream and buttermilk gives a crumbly light result.

The glaze, oh can I tell you about this star-of-the-show glaze! Valrhona Caramélia chocolate simply melted down with warm cream and poured all over. We lovvvved the outpouring of chocolate when we broke the chocolate dam. That added drama and was so much fun.

Oh and if this ever happens, the cake remains moist even after 1 week!! (but chances are you would have devoured it way before.)

Ingredients
Espresso Chocolate cake

  • 300g soft brown sugar
  • 175g unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3g (1 tsp) Heilala vanilla baking extract
  • 2 large eggs (size 7)
  • 110g almond meal
  • 200g plain flour
  • 80g cocoa powder (Valrhona)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 160g mascarpone cream cheese (Tatua Dairy)
  • 190ml hot coffee (2x Nespresso Envivo Lungo extractions, you will have 10ml left over)

Espresso Caramelia Milk Chocolate Glaze

  • 135g Valrhona Caramélia milk chocolate
  • 135ml cream (at least 36% fat)
  • 1 tbsp instant coffee powder

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 175C (fan forced) and lightly grease a bundt pan, careful to go into all the crevices.
  2. In a large mixing bowl beat together the sugar and butter, until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and beat for a few seconds to combine. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each has been fully incorporated before adding the next.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients and then add a third of it to the sugar/butter/eggs mixture. Add in half of the mascarpone cream. Add a third of the dry ingredients, then the second half of the mascarpone cream. Finally add the last third of the dry ingredients (The batter is thickish at this point).
  4. Mix in the hot coffee, until you have a smooth batter. Transfer the batter into the prepared bundt pan, smoothing out the top. Lightly tap the pan on a flat surface to ensure the batter has filled all the crevices.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for about 45-50 minutes or until a long toothpick inserted into the thickest part of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes before upending it to a wire rack to cool completely.
  6. For the glaze heat the cream in a pan and place the chocolate and coffee in a small pot with a pouring spout. When the cream begins to shimmer and before it boils (don’t let it boil as evaporation will reduce the liquid volume) pour it over the chocolate and coffee. Wait a few minutes before stirring, until the glaze becomes homogenous and is smooth and silky. Pour the glaze over the cooled cake, have some fun doing this! Slice and enjoy!

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

Espresso chocolate cake with Caramélia coffee glaze

Raspberry cheesecake brownies


I adore raspberries. I find myself sneaking them into most sweet dishes: from cereals to cakes and desserts.

I love the tang of the fruit and the burst of flavour added to the dish.

It was therefore the first flavour that I reached for when sampling the new range of Spreadable Fruit by Barkers of Geraldine.

These are 99% fruit with no refined sugar added. Sweetened only with pear juice concentrate, it’s a great alternative to fruit purees. In fact, that’s even better than making my own!

I decided to make an easy baked cheesecake brownie, to keep things simple. The brownie batter was done in one bowl while the cheesecake batter was mixed with my trusty Kitchenaid stand mixer.

Just be careful when swirling the fruit – you don’t want to over do it, so that you can keep the pretty red/ white colours.

Who wants a slice?

Brownies

  • 170g unsalted butter, melted (I used Westgold)
  • 300g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
  • 120g (2) eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste (I used Equagold)
  • 3g (1/2 tsp) salt
  • 70g (3/4 cup) dutch cocoa powder (I used Valrhona)
  • 70g (1/2 cup) plain flour
  • 5-6 tbsp Barker’s Raspberry Spreadable Fruit

Cheesecake

  • 250g cream cheese, softened
  • 40g mascarpone cheese (I used Tatua)
  • 60g (1) egg
  • 60g (1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp) caster sugar
  • 2g (1/4 tsp) salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 170°C.
  2. Line a 20cm square baking tin with 2 strips of baking paper. (This makes it easier to lift the brownie out of the tin).
  3. In a large ceramic bowl, melt the butter in the microwave.
  4. Mix in sugar, eggs, vanilla paste and salt.
  5. Once fully combined, fold in cocoa powder and flour. Mix till all combined.
  6. Pour the brownie batter into the baking tin, spreading evenly, careful to push batter all the way to the edges.
  7. Combine all cheesecake ingredients in a stand mixer.
  8. Whisk for 2-3 minutes on medium-high speed.
  9. Pour cheesecake batter over brownie batter, spreading evenly.
  10. Drop spoonfuls of the raspberry spreadable fruit on top of the cheesecake in rows of 3s and 2s and swirl using a palette knife.
  11. Bake for 1 hour, check in the last 10 minutes (so it doesn’t go past the golden point). Test brownie with palette knife – it should be almost clean.
  12. Leave to cool in tin before placing in fridge to cool and firm up for 1-2 hours.
  13. Cut into 16 squares, wiping down the knife after each cut for a cleaner look.
  14. Serve with a nice cup of tea!

*I received a jar of the Spreadable Fruit when I attended the NZ Foodwriters annual May Market. Post not sponsored.