Dotty Dot Cake

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In my office, we have a nice little tradition to gather once a month to celebrate the birthdays of team members in that month. This is April’s team cake – Dotty Dot Cake. In the mood for colours.

It’s a six layer chocolate cake with white chocolate whipped cream and lemon curd buttercream.

Recipe adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours
Makes 2 x 9 inch round cake

Ingredients:
For cocoa buttermilk cake:
(I increased this by 1.5 times to get 3 cakes/6layers, and used 8inch pans instead. You will get a taller cake)
250g all purpose flour
60g unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
226g unsalted butter, softened
150g sugar
2 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
110g bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled.

For white chocolate whipped cream:
170g premium quality white chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

For lemon curd cream:
Refer to my earlier post

5 cups italian meringue buttercream via Whisk Kid.

Method:
For the cake:
1. Preheat oven at 175C. Butter and flour 2 8inch cake pans. Line bottom with parchment paper.
2. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. Beat the butter until soft and creamy. Add sugar and beat till throughly blended into the butter.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, then the yolks one by one. Beating well after each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.
5. Add the dry ingredients alternatively with the buttermilk; Add dry ingredient in 3 portions and buttermilk in 2; mix only until each new batch is blended into the batter.
6. Fold the melted chocolate into the batter with a spatula.
7. Divide the batter between the cake pans and bake for 26-30 mins.
8. When done, let the pans cooled for 5 mins on the rack before turning cakes out to cool completely.

For white chocolate whipped cream:
1. Melt white chocolate in a bowl over simmering water.
2. Boil 1/2 cup of heavy cream.
3. When the chocolate is melted, remove from simmering water. Pour the hot cream into the chocolate and let it sit for a min. Stir chocolate gently until it is smooth. Let mixture cool till room temperature.
4. Whip 1 cup of cream till soft peaks. Add cooled chocolate all at once and whip till firm peaks.
5. Turn cream into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 6 hours.

For lemon curd cream:
Refer to my previous post

Assemble the cake:
1. Tint the buttercream in any colour you fancy
2. Divide each layer into half.
3. Fill each layer with white chocolate whipped cream and lemon curd cream alternatively.
4. Crumb-coat the cake with a layer of plain buttercream. Refrigerate till firm.
5. Frost the cake with more buttercream. It doesn’t have to be very smooth as most part will be cover with the buttercream dots
6. Fill piping bag with coloured buttercream and pipe away. I have used a Wilton 233 tip.

Shared at Lady Behind the Curtain on 03 May 2012.

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Shortbread, Sablé, Butter Cookie

Why are there so many names for a cookie? Probably because people in different parts of the world love it so much to give it names. What would I call it? Maybe “it’s good but watch your waistline” cookie or “I’m pretending to be a plain Jane but I kick-ass” cookie.

You get the idea. I love them as much as I hate them. Such a dilemma in a cookie. So, I do try to workout 3-4 times a week. Hit the gym, run on the treadmill or do a spinning class (Seriously tough class, I mainly just hate it). With every cookie I want to eat, I would envisage myself running for another 10mins …. yes, yes, I know it doesn’t equate, you have to run a lot longer than that, but everyone needs a little motivation to run, right? Motivation in the form of dream-up image of a cookie dangleing in front of your treadmill.

I made some cookies over the weekend and I did gym 4 times this week.

Lemon Sablé is adapted from one of my favourite cookbook, Baking: From My Home to Yours. It is a great recipe but I messed up a bit here. The cookies did not manage to hold their shape. My butter was too soft, i reasoned.

Ingredients:
226g unslated butter, softened at room temperature
50g sugar
15g icing sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 large egg yolks
250g all-purpose flour
Zest from one lemon
Granulated sugar for dusting

Method:
1. Rub the zest into the sugar until the sugar is moist. Beat the butter until smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars, lemon zest and salt, and beat until well blended. Aim for smooth and velvety, NOT fluffy and airy
2. Blend in the yolks.
3. Fold in the flour using spatula (which is what I did) or mix in the flour with the mixer at lowest speed until the flour just disappear.
4. Divide the mixture into 2-3 portions and shape each portion into a log.
5. Wrap the logs with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours. They can keep in the fridge for up to 3 days or frozen for 2 months.
6. Preheat the oven to 175C. Line baking sheet with parchment.
7. Remove the logs from fridge and sprinkle the surface with sugar. You can brush egg yolk on the surface to act as glue for the sugar, but I think the sugars can stick on without the yolks.
8. Cut and place the rounds onto the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between them.
9. Bake for 17-20mins. When done, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Chocolate almond cookies is adapted from another favourite book, Okashi Treats. I have been baking a lot with her recipes actually. Clean layout, clear instructions and pretty pictures. She also seems to have a preference towards top/pastry flour which produce lighter baked goods, which I like.

Ingredients:
40g sliced and blanched almonds
150g top flour
20g cocoa powder
120g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
70g icing sugar
A pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
Granulated sugar for dusting

Method:
1. Sift flour and cocoa powder together
2. Beat butter, icing sugar and salt until smooth and velvety.
3. Blend in egg yolk
4. Fold in the flour mixture using spatula. Add the almond silvers and fold through
5. Divide the mixture into 2 portions and shape each portion into a log.
6. Wrap the logs with plastic wrap and chill for at least 15 mins.
7. Preheat the oven to 160C. Line baking sheet with parchment.
8. Remove the logs from fridge, slice the dough and then roll the sides of the cookies in sugar. (This is different from the instructions above. This method works better for me)
9. Place the rounds onto the baking sheet.
10. Bake for 17-20mins. Remove from oven and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Some say the best butter in the world

From here and here, some say it’s Echire.

One of the first few things I learnt to bake is the classic butter pound cake. Since I started out baking roughly near end of 2011, this is something I’m still trying to make better, like almost all the other stuff I have made so far.

I have been on a mission to get the highly aclaimed butter, hopefully better butter = awesome cake. Well, of course I have to improve on my technique as well and better control my oven. So many, many considersations on the road to baking enlightenment, but I diverge…

Back to the topic of butter, according to Dorie Greenspan in her book Baking: From My Home to Yours, which I own, amazing book I must say, the butter she recommended was Echire and Vermont. Ha, the staff at the gorment store must thought I’m a crazy lady. I was staring really intensely at the butter for a good minute, shocked to find the Echire within my reach.

And yes, I made a pound cake with Echire, but not before I bake a trial cake using the lesser, un-named, common variety butter. Have to be careful not to ruin my precious.

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Like any serious blogger who plan and construct their posts properly, they probably would have shot a decent picture of the butter since it’s the main topic. Yours truly did this shot as an afterthought, just in case there are any sceptics “did she really use that butter?” out there. Ok, I really DID use the butter.

Onto the baking process now that we get the doubts out of the way. First up, during the beating of butter and sugar phase, Echire is a lot more stable and I say, whippable, than the common butter, even though it has indeed been softened at room-temperate. It can hold much more air, and the mixture seemed to be fluffier when beating completed. Followed by the usual addition of eggs and more beating. Usual, yeah… My heart almost seized when I saw some curdling happening in the bowl. The eggs must be too big! Or could it be overbeating of eggs that cause the separation? Someone enlighten me, please!? Anyhow, I stopped immediately, and started to fold the flour in manually. It looked a lot better and smoothed out with the flour mixed in. Nonetheless, my heart was still pounding wildly, and I started feeling increasingly depressed. Anyhow, time to get the cake baked.

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Tastewise, the cake is marvelous! It is wonderfully light and has an almost delicate crumb (I use top flour). The frangance… woh… the buttery fragance is intoxicating. It is so different from all the greasy butter cakes I had before. Oh, I used a glass dish-pan thing to bake the cake. Look at how beautiful the colour is, and the sides of the cakes are not dry and hard at all. I love it!