Thursday, June 26, 2014

pancake stacks.

Hello! I'm popping in today to introduce you all to four glorious pancake stacks I've made some time ago; no new recipe today I'm afraid because I'm trying to direct, albeit with great reluctance, all my energy towards exam preparation. It's not that I'm studying to the extent that I don't have time to bake (I highly doubt that I have the capacity to do so anyway), but just the knowledge that they are imminent triggers my sense of guilt if I take time off to fiddle with flour instead of explaining the impact of globalisation on economies, and causes enough stress that my creativity is suppressed - even if I wanted to bake, I wouldn't know what to. It is the most horrible feeling, wanting yet not being able to come up with anything. I've never really had any difficulties conjuring up my next creation except yes, in times of stress; it's not new but it's upsetting all the same. The day my mind truly and permanently draws a blank would be the day my soul is as barren and vacuous. Or something like that.

On to happier things!

Firstly I must profess that all pancakes you see here are made using hotcake mixes that are Japanese brands of course. I have absolute faith and trust in their products as biased as that may seem. I'm fully aware that anything made-from-scratch is seen as superior to something that originated partially from a box but, and I underline, bold and italicise, pancakes that are made using Japanese hotcake mixes can triumph your treasured traditional family pancake recipe that has been passed down for generations and generations if you like 'em thick, fluffy and a little sweet. Please please take special note of the last clause because I wouldn't want to generate any false expectations.

P.S. I think watching the rounds of pancake batter slowly firm up around the edges, looking on as large bubbles emerge from the center before flipping them over to see them rise as if they are balloons that have been gently inflated with air is incredibly therapeutic. Definitely worth having to wash up all the utensils later on. (Of course it would be even better if I didn't have to though.)

And without further ado, in chronological order:

1. Alternately layered with custard cream and cream cheese, topped with a smattering of chocolate chips and adorned with strawberries.


2. Half of the batter had two generous spoonfuls of green tea powder stirred in to make green tea pancakes. The entire ensemble sounds something like, from bottom up: plain pancake, red bean paste, green tea pancake, marmalade, plain pancake, red bean paste, green tea pancake and more marmalade and red bean paste as embellishments.


3. Because I've always secretly desired to drown a tall stack of fluffy pancakes in chocolate sauce, I made a chocolate cinnamon one to douse my pancakes in, but not before propping up layers of pancakes with some black bean brownie squares. I added to my art piece a handful of blueberries and a strawberry for colour (and also because I really really love blueberries).


4. The most recent one which consists of so many components, two of which were leftovers from a cake I made. Sandwiched in between the bottommost and the middle pancakes are slices of banana and some homemade black sesame paste, and between the middle and topmost pancakes Pierre Herme's lemon curd with strawberries and blueberries. The garnishes at the top are a repetition of what that were already included with the addition of tiny clouds of white chocolate cream.


So there you have it! I think it is evident that I have a thing for over-the-top pancake stacks. Believe me, it's really hard to go back to just pancakes and maple syrup. Even with the salted butter.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

matcha cake with black sesame crumble.


Why hello! It's been a while since I've clicked on that orange pencil icon. Judging from my absence from blogging you may think that I've not been baking recently but it's actually quite the opposite, somewhat. I've been digging up old recipes and remaking them in my kitchen so I couldn't post anything since they've already been written about. I've also taken to making pancakes in the past month or so using Japanese hotcake mixes (I know, but they're magical I swear) and technically they're not classified as baking so I reserved the pictures for my Instagram instead of posting them here. I might dedicate a post to all my past pancake adventures though, they're just too pretty not to share!

So yes I've not stopped causing chaos in the kitchen but admittedly less. My life has just been a flurry of activities lately I just can't find time to sit down and enjoy a piece of cake. Not that I'm complaining though, some of them are pretty rewarding like this bake sale I was invited to contribute to! I was just thinking of dabbling in a bit of baking and selling after my major exam this year when the opportunity landed on my doorstep like a Christmas present came early, wrapped in shiny paper of festive colours, ribbon, glitter and all. And thus, I was faced with the task of baking three different (large) cakes in just a few days, one of which includes this cake.


Clockwise from top left: Chocolate chip cookie dough cake, matcha cake with black sesame crumble, lemon, white chocolate and strawberry cake

Over the past three days flour was flying, sugar was spilt, the oven constantly whirring, the dish rack endlessly loaded with dishes dripping in water; the kitchen has probably seen a mess like never before. After each batch of cake batter was sent pass the door of the oven I could do no more than to collapse on my bed and mindlessly browse my Instagram feed while waiting for the aroma of cake to surface - a sure sign that the cake is nearly done - not wanting, not being able, to face the towering stack of dirty plates, mixing bowls and spoons that had to be washed.

These few days have been days of firsts - my first time having to bake so many cakes in such a short period of time, my first time having to wash so many dishes, and the first time my fridge has housed so many cakes. Rewinding a bit further back to my holiday to Japan last week I appeared on TV for the first time as well, and today I attended my first bake sale! It's as if all the excitement my life was lacking at the start of this year is being amassed right now. And I hope there's more to come!


Matcha Cake with Black Sesame Crumble
makes a 9 inch square cake

This cake is an adaptation from Rose Levy Beranbaum's white velvet butter cake, one of my favorite cakes of all time.

For the cake:
4 1/2 large egg whites
1 cup milk, divided
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
2 heaping tbsp matcha powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter

For the crumble:
80g black sesame seeds, toasted
80g sugar
160g flour
pinch of salt
1 stick butter, cold and cubed

Make the crumble: Combine the black sesame seeds, sugar, flour and salt into a food processor and process until homogeneously combined and black sesame seeds are ground into a powder. Add in the cubes of butter and process until the mixture starts to clump together. Refrigerate while you make the cake batter.

Bake the cake: Preheat the oven to 180C. Prepare a 9 inch square cake pan.

Whisk the egg whites and 1/4 cup of milk together.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, matcha powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed until combined. Add the remaining milk and butter and mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes. Add the egg mixture in 3 additions, incorporating each fully before adding the next.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Crumble over the black sesame dough. Bake for about 30 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out mostly clean, with only a few moist crumbs attached.