Monday, October 28, 2013

Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake

Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
The best thing about the warmer months is the abundance of fresh berries. They are so colourful and delicious and I just want to put them on every single dessert I make. This week I happened to walk past a big batch of fresh mulberries and I had to get them. For me mulberries bring back incredibly strong childhood memories of picking them off my neighbour's mulberry bush in Perth, gathering them in a big white ice cream container and washing them off with the garden hose before eating the whole lot in one go with my brother. I love them.
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
To go with my haul of fresh berries I made this light and fluffy Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake. We've talked about this type of cheesecake before. We like this cheesecake. It's the perfect balance between a cheesecake and a spongecake. It's only downside is that it doesn't have a crust. I do like a good cheesecake crust...but it's still pretty great without it.
Triple Berries
I got a little fancier with it this time by making three separate layers, each flavoured with a different berry. I love how pretty it looks with the separate layers, almost like an ombre cheesecake. But to be honest when you're eating it with all the fresh berries you can't really taste the difference between the layers, so it's mostly just there for the visual effect.
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
I couldn't resist pulling out my heart-shaped tin for this one. The only time I get uneasy about baking heart-shaped things is around Valentines day. Any other time of the year it's all good! Because it was such a fluffy cheesecake it ended up rising a LOT higher than the edges of my tin, so it was a good thing I reinforced the sides higher with lots of baking paper. After topping off the cheesecake with fresh berries, I decided to add a lemon jelly glaze over the top to give it a bit of shine and an added bit of tang. I love how luscious it makes the berries look!
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
The important thing with this cake is to make sure you bake it for long enough and cool it down slowly so the middle doesn't collapse in on itself. You'll always get a tiny bit of shrinkage as it cools but if it's set enough and you are patient then you'll end up with a fairly smooth top. I was pretty pleased with myself this time, I usually tend to rush it and turn the middle into a pancake. This time it stayed tall and so pretty with those three distinct layers. The cheesecake on its own is not very sweet at all so it really benefitted from having all the berries on top. Ooh or you could try covering the top of it in lemon curd, that would be great!
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
Triple Berry Cotton Soft Cheesecake
(adapted from Diana's Desserts)
250g/9oz cream cheese
50g/1.75oz butter
100 ml (1/3 cup + 1 tbsp) fresh milk
60g/2 oz plain/all-purpose flour
40g/1.5 oz cornflour (cornstarch)
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 egg yolks
6 egg whites 
140g/5oz fine granulated sugar (caster sugar)
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
3 cups (about 300g) berries, fresh or frozen (and thawed), I used 1 cup blueberries, 1 cup strawberries, 1 cup blackberries
Optional: Fresh berries to decorate 
Puree (and strain if you prefer not to have seeds) your berries, keeping each type of berry separate if you want different flavoured layers, otherwise blend them together. Preheat oven to 160°C (320°F). Grease base and sides, and line the base and sides of a 20cm (8inch) round (or heart) baking tin with baking paper (it's best to avoid springform tins as it will be placed in a water bath). Melt cream cheese, butter and milk in a heatproof mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water, whisking until smooth. Cool the mixture. Fold in the flour, the cornflour, egg yolks, lemon juice and mix well. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy. Add in the sugar and whisk with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Add cream cheese mixture to egg white mixture and stir until combined. If making separate layers, split mixture between three bowls. Fold in berry puree. 
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake
Pour one layer of cheesecake into the prepared tin and bake in a water bath  for about 10-15 minutes until the surface is just set, then pour the next layer on top carefully and bake for another 10 minutes. Pour on the final layer of cheesecake and bake for a further 50-60 minutes, until the top is turning golden and the middle is set. Gently cool the cheesecake to prevent the centre from collapsing, I did this by turning the heat down by half 10 minutes before it was done, then turning off the heat for another 10 minutes, and leaving it to cool with the oven door crack open for another 10 minutes. If you are baking a single layer cheesecake, bake for about 1hour 10-15 minutes until done. 

If the top starts to brown too quickly, carefully cover with a sheet of foil. Make sure your cheesecake is set before removing from oven, don't worry about it drying out as the berries will stop this. Cool in tin and then carefully transfer to a cake plate to serve. Top with extra berries. (I also glazed the top of the cake and the berries with a lemon jelly by mixing 1 tbsp gelatine powder with 1 tbsp hot water to dissolve, plus 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp icing/powdered sugar). Keep in fridge until ready to serve.
Triple Berry Japanese Cotton Soft Cheesecake

Monday, October 21, 2013

Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
I've been feeling uninspired lately. It just happens sometimes. When you bake as often as I do, you're bound to have phases where you can't come up with a recipe idea that sounds interesting or exciting. It's best not to force it. It's not the time for crazy rainbow cakes or salted caramel brownie oreo-stuffed peanut butter s'mores concoctions. When these moments occur I always go back to the basics. I think about what I enjoy baking and what I feel like eating.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
For anyone who's read my blog for long enough, it should come as no surprise that I ended up using black tea in these cupcakes. I am a big tea fan. I come from a family of tea drinkers and I married into a family of tea drinkers. I've used Earl Grey and Jasmine tea in desserts before, but this time I just wanted to use some good ol' black tea. The milk for these cupcakes was infused with black tea leaves, and I mixed some of tea leaves straight into the cupcake batter to ensure that you get a strong hit of tea flavour when you bite into it. I topped them with a super tangy lemon icing on top, making these cupcakes taste a bit like ice lemon tea.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
I baked half of these in my silicone tea cup cases, I couldn't resist the novelty of it. The rest I baked in plain paper cases but then presented them in my favourite china tea cups. They looked so adorable, I think they would make a great dessert or afternoon tea treat, served with little dessert spoons or forks to eat them straight out of the tea cups.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
The important thing to remember is to make sure you don't over-bake the cakes. Because I based it on a muffin recipe the dry to wet ingredients ratio might be a little high for a cupcake, but I took them out as soon as a skewer inserted into the centre came out clean and they were super soft and fluffy. But if you find they are on the dry side then you might need to reduce the flour amounts a bit. I also added a tiny bit of honey to the batter to temper any bitterness that might come through from the tea leaves. You can't go wrong with honey, lemon and tea.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
(adapted from this Earl Grey Muffin Recipe)
3 black tea bags (or about 3 tsp loose tea leaves)
250ml (1 cup) milk
155g (3/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar
125g (1 stick plus about 1 tbsp) butter, softened
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp honey
350g (about 2 1/2 cups) self-raising flour

Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a 12-hole cupcake tin with cupcake papers (or you can use these silicone tea cupcake moulds). Empty the tea leaves into a small saucepan with the milk and warm until it is nearly boiling, whisking reguarly. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. At this point you can strain out all the leaves, I kept about half the leaves in the mixture to ensure a strong tea flavour in the final cupcake. Place butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high until light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing until well combined. With the mixer on low, add honey, followed by 1/3 of the flour. Then add 1/2 the milk mixture, another 1/3 of the flour, then the remaining milk and flour and gently mix until just smooth. Spoon mixture into the cupcake liners, filling them about 2/3 full and bake for 15-20 minutes or until they start to turn golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of a cupcake comes out clean. Try your best not to over-bake them as it will dry them out. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack completely
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing
For the icing:
250g (about 2 1/4 sticks) butter, softened
500g (about 4 cups) icing/confectioner's sugar, sifted
3-4 tbsp lemon juice (about 1 lemon), adjusted to taste

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until light and fluffy. Gradually add icing sugar and lemon juice, then beat on high until smooth, fluffy and pale. Place in a piping bag with a star tip and pipe over cooled cupcakes. Serve as is or in tea cups with dessert spoons or forks. Can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for several days, serve at room temperature.
Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Icing

Monday, October 14, 2013

Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing

Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
This cake. It pains me a little to look at the photos of this cake. At the same time it makes me a little glad that I took photos of this cake before it met its doom. If you follow me on instagram or facebook then you will already know that about 2 hours after I took these photos this cake was lying upside down IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD. It was quickly followed by my high pitched shriek of horror while having flashbacks to the time I dropped a 7-layer trifle on my carpet. I don't even know how it happened. I'm never trusting cake carrier containers ever again.
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
The funny thing was, I wasn't completely happy with how I decorated the top of the cake anyway. I changed my mind several times while making it and the final result wasn't exactly what I had hoped for. But it was good enough. I guess it just wasn't meant to be? Anyway, with a car rushing towards the doomed cake, we scooped it up (surprisingly intact except for the completely smushed top layer) and dumped it back on the cake carrier and ran. Oh and did I mention this cake was for my Mum's birthday?
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
My family were highly amused when they saw the roadkill cake. Luckily for me the cake seemed to fall straight on its face without touching anywhere else so I was able to do a quick salvage operation and chop off the top, flip the cake over and dust it with loads of icing sugar. It still wasn't the same, I think the fall made the whole cake deflate a little so it was a lot shorter than it looks in these photos.
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
But in the end it tasted pretty amazing (and not at all gravelly as far as I could tell). This is actually the first time I've baked a carrot cake, I usually avoid it since the recipe always contains walnuts and I'm allergic to them. I skipped the walnuts this time but I think the crunch of nuts was definitely missed. Next time I might try using pumpkin seeds or pine nuts to add that extra texture. The cake recipe was adapted from Bourke St Bakery's recipe, it's a really interesting recipe that is almost like a sponge cake. Instead of making one tall cake I split the mixture between my three cake tins (I'm so glad I did that, if I had dropped a 1 layer cake it wouldn't have been salvagable). It meant that there was a nice amount of icing with each mouthful of cake. And since I know my Mum doesn't like her cakes too sweet, I replaced the normal cream cheese icing with a very light and fluffy mascarpone and cream icing flavoured with ginger and lemon. It was zesty and light and definitely not too sweet. I couldn't get a shot of a cake slide since it was a birthday cake but there is a dodgy iphone shot of the innards below. The most important thing is that Mum enjoyed it, though she is making a case for a second birthday cake since her first one ended up on the ground. Happy Birthday Mum!!!
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
Carrot Layer Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
(carrot cake adapted from Lisa's version of the Bourke St Bakery Carrot Cake, icing adapted from Martha Stewart)
For the carrot cake:
70g walnuts (I'm allergic so I skipped this, you could substitute with pine nuts or pumpkin seeds if you still want the crunch)
150g (about 1 cup plus 2 tbsp) self-raising flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking (bi-carb) soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites
60g (about 1/4 cup) caster (superfine) sugar (for eggwhites)
1 egg
1 egg yolk
160g (about 2/3 cup) caster (superfine) sugar (for egg yolks)
170ml (about 3/4 cup) extra light olive oil
125g (4.4 oz, about 2-3 carrots) of peeled and grated carrots

Grease well and line the base and sides of three 18cm (7inch) round cake tins, or two 20cm (8inch) tins.  Preheat oven to 200°C (390°F) (or 180°C (350°F) fan-forced). Place the walnuts on a baking tray and cook for 4-5 minutes or until lightly roasted. Cool and cut into thirds. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt into a bowl. Repeat to ensure they are evenly mixed. Put the egg whites in a large clean bowl. Whisk egg whites on high speed with an electric mixer until soft peaks start to form. Slowly add 60g of sugar while whisking and continue mixing until soft peaks form. Transfer the meringue to another bowl and set aside until needed.

Placethe egg and egg yolk in the large mixing bowl and add the sugar for egg yolks. Mix on high speed with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture doubles in volume and is quite airy. With the mixer still on, slowly pour the oil in a thin stream being careful that it doesn’t split or deflate too much. Remove the bowl from the mixer and with a spatula, gently fold in the flour mixture until combined. Fold in the carrots and walnuts. Working quickly, lightly fold in the meringue, but do not fold in completely. You should still be able to see some white streaks through the mixture. Pour equal amounts of the mixture into the prepared tins and bake for 25-30 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean and the surface of the cake springs back when lightly pressed. If using two or one tin instead of three you should increase your baking time accordingly. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then carefully remove and cool completely on a wire rack.
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing
For the icing:
340g (12oz) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup (about 100g) icing (confectioners') sugar, sifted
1 tbsp powdered ginger, can be adjusted to taste
Zest of 1 lemon + 2 tsp lemon juice
1 1/2 cups (about 360ml) thickened (heavy) cream

Place mascarpone, icing sugar, powdered ginger and lemon zest and juice in a large mixing bowl and whisk together with a hand whisk until smooth. In a separate clean mixing bowl, whisk cream until soft peaks form. Take care not to overwhip. Fold cream into mascarpone mixture until smooth then place in a piping bag with a 1cm round tip. 

To assemble; place one layer of cake on your cake stand or plate. Pipe rounds of icing just inside the edge of the top of the cake if you want to create the scalloped effect, then fill in the rest of the top of the cake. Cover with another layer of cake and repeat. For the top of the cake I spread a thin layer of icing using a spatula and then repeated the piped rounds around the edge of the cake and topped with soft silver cachous and a dusting of icing sugar. Alternatively you can just dust with icing sugar or top with a smooth layer of icing and more toasted walnuts. Keep chilled in the fridge until ready to serve.
Carrot Cake with Lemon Ginger Mascarpone Icing

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats

Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
I'm so grateful for long weekends. I've been acutely aware of the fact that this time last year I was on my honeymoon in Europe and that I haven't been out of Sydney since then. I am long overdue for a holiday! Unfortunately life is getting in the way of holidaying, so I just have to be glad that I got an extra free day yesterday.
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
For some reason I really, really wanted to eat Rice Krispies Treats. I needed any excuse to make them so I could chow down on them. Whatever you call them, Rice Krispies/Bubbles Treats/Squares/LCMs, these things are so easy to make and so darn addictive. It's such an easy thing to make that it almost doesn't qualify as a recipe (unless you want to make your own marshmallows, but this is the one occasion where I think that store bought marshmallows are okay to use).
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
After seeing Y's GORGEOUS green tea & brown butter version, I have wanted to do some sort of rice krispie treat with an interesting flavour addition. And not too long ago my friend mentioned the curious idea of salted honey desserts. I was immediately intrigued because it was something so simple that I hadn't really heard of, but totally made sense. It's like salted caramel but without having to go through the trouble of caramelising sugar. I had to try it for myself. And it totally works.
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
The salt in these offsets the super sweetness of the honey and marshmallows, and the honey adds a great flavour to these squares that makes them even more addictive than the plain version. Imagine a cross between a regular rice krispie treat and a honey joy. Nothing revolutionary but a definite crowd pleaser. Feel free to play around with the amounts of honey and salt to your liking. I made mine quite lightly flavoured but with lots of marshmallow to ensure they were extra gooey.
To my pleasant surprise I am one of the top 3 finalists in the blogger category for Cosmo Australia's Fun Fearless Female Awards! Thanks to everyone who's voted for me so far, and please feel free to keep voting for me for the rest of the month :) You can vote here: (up to three times per person per day if you feel like it).
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats
(makes 16 squares)
40g (3 tbsp) butter
1/3 cup honey (or more adjusted to taste)
1 tsp salt (adjust amounts ot taste if you wish)
275g (about 9oz) marshmallows (or about 4 cups miniature marshmallows)
6 cups (about 180g/6.4oz) Rice Bubbles/Krispies cereal
Melted butter/vegetable oil for greasing

Grease and line a square 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with baking paper. Grease paper. Melt butter over low heat in a large saucepan. Add honey, salt and marshmallows and stir continuously over low heat until marshmallows are completely melted (at this point you can taste the mixture to adjust the salt/honey amounts if you wish). Add cereal and remove from heat, stirring until mixture is evenly combined. Using a greased spatula, spread mixture into prepared tin. Use a piece of well greased baking paper to press down on the surface to ensure it is evenly spread. Set aside to cool completely, then remove from tin on to a greased piece of baking paper and cut with a greased, long sharp knife into 16 squares (or 25 if you prefer them smaller).
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treats-5
Can be stored for up to 2 days in an airtight container at room temperature. You can also freeze them for up to 6 weeks and defrost them before serving.
Salted Honey Rice Krispies Treat