Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye Cakes of 2010, Hello Cakes of 2011

So yet another year has passed. We all get a bit older, and hopefully a bit wiser. It's at this time of year that people like to reminisce and examine the year that has passed and what they have done. For me, I thought I'd write about all the cakes I've baked this year as I associate many memories with each cake. Actually, it's not even all the cakes I've baked this year, as I forgot to photograph many of them and some cakes I make over and over again. I had all the good intentions to write out the recipe for each cake throughout the year, but as is the common excuse "I just didn't have enough time" will be used in my case as well. I find it strange that as we get older, our lives seem to go by faster and time is a precious commodity that we just never have enough of. I wonder why this is? Is time actually accelerating faster than Einstein predicted? Are our minds hard wired to perceive time going faster for a reason? Do we over complicate things as we get older and hence we use up our time dealing with our numerous issues? Do we waste time being polite to preserve face rather than just saying no when we were children?

Too many questions that I'll never get the answers to, so enough of my philosophical musings, below are the cakes that I have managed to photograph for this year. I'll write some brief descriptions about them and I'm sure that with the power of Google, you can use these cakes as inspiration and either find the recipe yourself or develop your own cakes.

I hope that this year has been a good eating year, and that you managed to achieve some of your dreams. If not, it's still not too late. The new year brings yet more hope, and disappointment, which just adds another stitch to the tapestry of life. I'm wishing everyone a Happy New Year and lots of good eating in 2011. I hope to blog about more delicious things in 2011, and as always welcome your comments and recommendations.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Salted Peanut Caramel
Let me start off the cake review with one of my most used cakes all year, the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake. This chocolate cake is super easy to make, light but sturdy enough to support a generous frosting. In this instance, I decided to pair the cake with this year's latest trend, salted peanut caramel for my friend's morning tea. The cake actually tasted really good, and the salted peanuts were super amazing. I'd reduce the quantity of caramel next time as it was too sweet.

Chocolate Marsala Cake by Nigella Lawson
Hot on the heels of the Chocolate Buttermilk Cake, the next cake that I adore is Nigella's Chocolate Marsala Cake. It is divine in taste and again super easy to make. It's a bit more fragile so harder to work with when trying to frost, so usually I just put a chocolate ganache. Occasionally I will mix it up and frost it a bit and make it more special. On the left, you can see the classic cake with just ganache. On the right, I made three layers of it and filled with with alternating layers of chocolate fudge, whipped cream and dressed it with roasted hazelnuts for a friend's birthday.

Chocolate Cakes by Bill Granger
I was introduced to Bill Granger's cakes when we did the Cooking the Books meet ups. I've yet to blog the Bill meet up, but on the left is the cake I made for it. It's Bill's Flourless Chocolate and Hazelnut Cake. It's a super sweet and decadent cake. This is the type of cake that restaurants serve a tiny wedge of and give you a massive dollop of cream. I do like it but it's so sweet that I wouldn't eat more than a tiny tiny slice each time. On the right, we have Bill's Never Fail Birthday Chocolate Cake. It's one of the easiest chocolate cakes to make as you literally just mix everything. I paired the cake with a passionfruit buttercream and fresh strawberries. If in a rush, I might make this cake but otherwise I found the flavour and texture quite boring and would make the many other chocolate cake recipes I've tried.

And Even More Chocolate Cakes
So by now you may have noticed that I, and my friends, like chocolate cake. I have two never ending quests in baking, to find the best chocolate cake and choc chip cookie. On the left, I made a dense chocolate mud cake that I first read from Ellie's blog. It's my staple dense chocolate mud cake recipe. I tricked it up by adding dollops of peanut butter in it, then frosted it with whipped cream, but here is where the genius comes in. I put a second layer of frosting over the whipped cream, a butterscotch sauce. Ooooh this cake was delicious. Equally delicious is Stephanie Alexander's Whiskey and Raisin Chocolate Cake. This is so so so good that I'm thinking of replacing Ellie's mud cake with this one as my third favourite chocolate cake. This cake is moist while still holding its form so you can easily frost it. I love rum and raisin but whiskey and raisin work a treat too.

Sponge Type Cakes Covered in Chocolate
On the left, I made Nigella's Victoria Sponge Cake, and filled three layers with passionfruit curd. Then the whole cake was covered in a chocolate ganache. I love the passionfruit curd and used that in many other cakes since. On the right, we have Poh's Orange Chiffon with Vanilla Cream, Chocolate Ganache and Roast Hazelnuts. The chiffon and vanilla cream by itself was perfect and light, but the chocolate ganache and roasted hazelnut actually ruined the cake. They overpower the subtle flavours of the orange and vanilla. I would make this again without the need for the chocolate and roasted hazelnuts, which is a blessing since taking the skin off roasted hazelnuts is really hard.

Coffee and Caramel Cakes by Belinda Jeffery
My favourite baker Belinda Jeffery never fails to delight me. Some of her cakes from Mix and Bake are my staples and I make them again and again. Her banana cake, chocolate brownies and orange cakes get used for every occasion and just for eating in general. Below, her Mocha Cake with Caramel Shards is a definite winner. The mocha cake is dense and had a great mocha flavour. The shards are a bit of work and working with burning sugar is never fun, but the results are stunning, both in looks and flavour. If you leave the cake overnight in the fridge, the thinner shards melt into the cream and give the most amazing flavour. The fatter shards hold their form and still look amazing the next day. A definite fantastic cake. Belinda's bundt tin cakes are also very good. On the left, the Chocolate and Coffee Crumble Cake tastes good, although you can't really taste the coffee crumble. On the right, the near identical looking Caramel Crunch Cake works better, as you can really get the caramel crunch in the centre.

Green Tea
For a while, I was making green tea everything, from cakes to biscuits to slices and cupcakes. It was probably due to the 1kg pack of green tea powder that I bought. I've captured the Green Tea Slice and Green Tea Cupcakes below. The Green Tea Slice is super delicious and so easy. It's just the Women's Weekly Vanilla Slice with one teaspoon of green tea powder added for each portion of the recipe. I know this slice uses store bought pastry and custard powder and food snobs would turn their nose at it, but give it a try. I find that it's really tasty and better than 90% of slices you buy at bakeries. The Green Tea Cupcakes are just simple Vanilla Cupcakes, I prefer the Magnolia Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes, with a green tea buttercream. I like them but my work mates didn't really like the green tea and vanilla combo.

Fruit Cakes
On the left, we have a Women's Weekly Blueberry and Cinnamon Crumble Cake. I like the cake without loving it. The texture was ok and the flavours of the blueberry and cinnamon didn't come through as much as I would have liked. Instead on the right, we have Magnolia Bakery's Aunt Daisy's Fresh Fruit Torte. I love the texture of this cake, soft and smooth. However, instead of using pears which I don't like very much, I used peaches which I love. Baked peach just has the most amazing flavour. I sprinkled a few bluerries and strawberries for good measure as I had them around.

Cheesecake and Mousse Cake
I love my baked cheesecakes and have gone through so many recipes. A favourite of mine is the baked cherry cheesecake, and now I can also add this simple Baked Vanilla Cheesecake that I first read about on Agnes' blog. It's so easy and what really makes the cheesecake different to all the rest and taste really good is the sour cream frosting. Who would have thought that sour cream can be used for a frosting, genius. On the right, I made this cake for a friend's birthday. I decided to make a Jaconde, then layer it with vanilla mousses, sandwiching raspberries and finally finishing it off with a chocolate cream. The texture was beautiful and it tasted really good. I would put a thinner layer of chocolate cream next time and it slightly overpowered the delicate flavours of the vanilla mousse.

Old Skool Cakes by Women's Weekly
Seeing as they've been around forever, there's a lot of old skool recipes in the Women's Weekly books. But just because they are old, doesn't mean they aren't good. The Lemon Meringue is one of those old skool recipes and I made this for a friend's birthday. He loves lemon merinuge and thought it was fantastic. I'm neither a fan of lemon cakes or meringue, so wasn't a big fan of this cake. The Sticky Date Cake with Butterscotch Sauce was totally to my liking. I thought I would be sickened by the sweetness of the cake, but since I only made one quarter of the butterscotch sauce recommended, it was actually really nice and you could taste the dates. The texture of the cake was also quite light and moist surprisingly. I really liked this cake and have made it quite a few times.

Non Cakes
So these aren't technically cakes that I baked in 2010, but the title would have been rather lengthy if I had written "Goodbye Cakes, Cupcakes, Slices, Mousses, Biscuits and Pancakes of 2010, Hello Cakes, Cupcakes, Slices, Mousses, Biscuits and Pancakes of 2011".

On the left, you have the most amazing sweet breakfast ever. It's Bill Granger's Ricotta Hotcakes. Bill normally just serves it with a Honeycomb Butter, which I also add. But, to make it the best ever sweet breakfast, you need to also add caramelised banana, roasted walnuts, two scoops of good vanilla ice cream and then drizzle it all with proper Canadian maple syrup. Heaven. On the right, we have Magnolia Bakery's Chocolate Cupcakes, which are the most divine cupcakes with their super smooth frosting. You must follow the instructions for making the frosting to the letter in order to achieve the beautiful velvety consistency. Finally, below is my third attempt at Kourabiedes, or Greek Almond Cookies. They were good, but just nowhere near as nice as the ones that our company secretary's mum made. Unfortunately, before I could get the recipe, the secretary had moved onto another workplace. So now I shall forever be left in search of the perfect kourabiedes. So please, please dear blog readers, if you know of a delicious kourabiedes recipe, email it to me so I can try it out.

And that, was the year that was. Hopefully I'll get round to blogging future cake recipes in more detail and finally finish updating the recipes index on this site. Again, I hope you all have a Happy New Year and may your eating dreams come true.


  1. Oh my.. you have baked quite a wonderful array of cakes this year! Happy New Year!!

  2. They all look YUMMY. Well done !!! I want Green Tea slices. hahaha --- Krystal

  3. auntie nelly12/31/2010 1:29 PM

    wow!!!!!!!!! you seriously need to go on masterchef hahahahha

    does this mean you'll bake a cake for my bday party ?!?! hehehee can't wait !!!!!!

  4. You must be a lover of chocolate cakes, like my dad! Hmm, can't wait to see what you will bake for next year. :D

    Happy New Year

  5. OMG! That is a lot of cakes and chocolate...

    Happy New Year dude! Catch up soon :)

  6. I definitely bake quite a bit.

    I'll definitely make your cake Auntie Nelly.

    Lots more baking to come this year I hope.

  7. Wow that is certainly a lot of cakes! :D And I still make the baked vanilla cheesecake a lot as well, it's fab!

  8. Right, I need to dig through your archives now. You really are quite the cake baker!
    Have been dreaming of Granger's choc hazelnut cake since the lunch. And I'm trialling Ellie's mud cake for a baby shower today actually. Looking forward to it!

  9. Agnes, I really like that cheesecake too and use it a lot as well. So easy and tasty.

    Emma, I shall endeavour to actually get the archives links up by the week hopefully. That Granger cake is insanely rich and good. I was thinking of what things I can pair with it to make it super special? Any ideas?

    How did you find the mud cake? It actually tastes a lot better after you leave it in the fridge for 1-2 days.

  10. I really need to make that Chocolate Buttermilk Cake with Salted Peanut Caramel cake.

  11. Go for it Michele, you'll love the salted peanut caramel.

  12. Whoahhh! I see you really do love chocs a lot, hey? Good job Thanh!

  13. That is an impressive range of cakes! I'd like to volunteer to be the official cake taste tester!!

  14. Michelle, I do love chocolate and am on a constant quest to bake the best chocolate cake.

    Deb, you'll have to join the queue for official cake tester haha.