Eat with your Eyes

This post has nothing to do with cakes or baking. I was suggested by a wonderful lady to take pictures of the lunches I pack for my kiddo and blogging about it. Again, I have no intention of shaming anyone with what they’re packing for lunch. I hope my pictures will inspire folks to create simple, but wonderful lunches for their kiddos. 🙂

So here it goes… check out the ‘Lunch Diary’ tab on the top right…

Tea Time Delectables

Is there any better way to enjoy a good cuppa than some freshly made blueberry scones?I’m not talking about the brick hard scones that you get at the chain coffee shops. The perfect scones should be crunchy on the outside; but once you bite into it, it should be buttery and soft inside. Long time ago, I was on a quest to perfecting my scones. After several failed attempts and many taste testings I found the method to the madness. I don’t make them often…but when I do, they disappear very quickly.

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All Cakes are not Created Equal!

This post has been in my draft folder for quite sometime…

Let me start by saying that the purpose of this post is not to offend anyone, but to share about cakes and how they are different based on the way they are made or the ingredients used. Thus, it’s not fair to compare cakes that are not similar in nature. It’s like blindly comparing net worth of Amazon to a retailer such as Macy’s, Walmart, or Target.

Who can blame one when they grew up eating their grand mother’s butter cake and no other butter cake can be compared to it. I’m guilty of this with Christmas cake. Only one person that I know can make a similar cake to my grand mother’s Christmas cake. It’s a different story if one thinks that every sponge, chiffon, vanilla, or yellow looking cake should taste and feel like a butter cake. Let me explain why…

The texture of cake can be different due to two things:
1) Type of Fat. i.e. oil, butter, or eggs
2) The Mixing Method

The Creaming Method (Butter/Pound Cake) – The primary fat in these cakes come from butter. Butter and sugar are ‘creamed’ together to create a ribbon like texture. This ribbon batter is what defines the butter/pound cakes. The fat and sugar molecules snuggle  together in the beating process. Don’t ask me what type of bond they form. Then with the heating process, the sugar melts and creates steam. Which result in the cake to rise. This creaming method creates a more densely (closely) packed crumb.

Foaming Method (Sponge Cake, Yule Logs, Bûche de Noël) – The fat in these cakes comes from the eggs. The eggs are beaten until a frothy. The air gets trapped in the eggs in the beating process. This trapped air helps the cake to rise. Unlike to pound or butter cake, sponge cakes are lighter and dryer in texture.

Muffin Method aka 2-Step Method (Muffins, Yellow Cake) –   The wet ingredients (i.e. eggs, oil/soften butter, vanilla, milk) and dry ingredients (i.e. sugar, flour, salt, leavening) are mixed together separately. Then both of those two mixes are mixed together. The texture is in between a sponge and a pound cake. 20170209_154351

For the purpose of this post, I didn’t even consider vegan or eggless cakes. I happen to like both these types of cakes and encourage people to try them. Again, accept the texture of these cakes and don’t try to compare them to other cakes with animal
products.

So in conclusion “All cakes are not created equal”. Pick your poison, but don’t compare apples to oranges!

Tip(s) of the day:
1. If you’re thinking of putting your cake in the fridge, give ample time for it to thaw. Especially, cakes that are made with butter. Think about sticks of butter that comes out of the fridge. They are hard as bricks. On the other hand, cakes that are made with oils thaw much faster.

If your cake is decorated, pay attention to the temperature inside the fridge and the temperature in the room. If there is a big difference in those two temperatures, your cake will start to sweat. If your cake has decorations that are painted/drawn they will be ruined. So pay attention!

Chocolate…My One Weakness!

Oh Chocolate….my one weakness…
No matter what diet I’m on, chocolate is something I cannot stay away from. So yes, I’m telling myself to eat chocolate in moderation. I love dark chocolate. It was not always like that. I was a huge fan of milk chocolate until my late 20s. Then I acquired a taste for dark chocolate. I guess my palate became more mature and I jumped in the dark chocolate bandwagon. I have been lucky enough to have access to Belgian chocolates. Even though it’s been challenging to keep my stash hidden from  chocolate predators 🙂

So what’s my favorite chocolate…there is no straight answer for this question. It depends on whether I’m eating, drinking, baking with it, or making some other confections such as truffles…

  1. Eating: Cote d’or Noir (dark), Cote d’or Lait (milk), and Cote d’or Lait Eclat Noisettes (hazelnuts).
    Image 1Image 1Image result for cote d'or hazelnut

2. Dinking: Ghirardelli (affordable), Valrhona (premium)
Ghirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa, Unsweetened, 8 Oz 
3. Baking: Hershey’s (affordable), Ghirardelli (affordable), Valrhona (premium)
Hershey's Cocoa, Unsweetened, 8 OzGhirardelli Premium Baking Cocoa, Unsweetened, 8 Oz

4. Confections: Ghirardelli (affordable), Valrhone (premium), Callebaut (premium)

Ghirardelli Chocolate® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Premium Baking Chips 12 oz. Bag          

 

In general, Ghirardelli is quite an affordable brand for baking, confections, drinking, eating, etc.

Fairies and Ruffles

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A Fairy themed cake…The inspiration for this cake came from the little flower fairy cake toppers that I found on Amazon. So I decided to do a fondant ruffle cake; where the ruffles represented petals from a flower. One of the tiers was chocolate and other  was sponge cake. I also incorporated few gumpaste flowers for decorating this cake.  The cake topper was custom made by another local business owner from Ashland, MA. Shop local folks!  Continue reading “Fairies and Ruffles”

Marble Cake with Tiger Stripes

marble-cakeSomeone once asked me how I come up with cake designs. In my previous life, I was a business analyst and then later a product manager. These roles demanded  one to prioritize work and manage timelines. Most importantly, observing and listening to end-users of the product. I use these same skills for my baking projects. First I gather the requirements from my customer. A little MoSCoW analysis goes a long way.  In this case, my little customer wanted a pink and purple cake. She loves chocolate. Then she adores Daniel Tiger. To top it off, she wanted me to surprise her. So instead of going with the traditional route of creating and placing Daniel Tiger as a cake topper, I decided to pay homage to Daniel tiger by creating little tiger stripes inside the cake.

So here’s the end result…
A pink and purple buttercream cake with chocolate ganache drippings…Once you cut the cake you would see the brown stripes. The cake was light and airy…

Moving on to UX…Just kidding…Let’s save that for another day 🙂