This is an interesting week as it had both my birthday and ice cream making course right next to each other. Imagine how tired I was. I also have gatherings this weekend :).
This year unlike most years, my family decided to have it as low key as possible so we just went out for a nice cozy chinese dinner. Big surprise here. As for my cake I decided to do a strawberry chiffon cake. So delicious and smooth; the local strawberries nicely compliments the lightness and sweetness of the cake. I first enjoyed this cake at a little Japanese dessert cafe, Cafe Chicco, on Robson St. For those who also enjoy Japanese desserts here is their website, http://www.chiccocafe.com.
Japanese desserts unlike their American counterpart is less dense, less cavity inducing sweetness and less arterial clogging in terms of fat. It is much more lighter in consistency and still flavourful, somewhat like Asian desserts. The only difference is that Japanese desserts, in my opinion, is that they are influenced by french baking most noticeably in the entremets and mousse cakes.
I liked the cake enough that I decided to research cake recipes, especially Japanese and Asian, to develop my own chiffon cake. Well, to say the least, I finally succeeded but I think mine is way better as I have better control over the quality of ingredients I use to make the cake. The results are superb.
Keys to a good chiffon cake or sponge cake:
- temperature-have eggs and egg whites at room temp before making cake
- use cake flour-it creates lighter texture as all purpose or bread flour has too much gluten
- don’t over beat egg whites-if you over beat them there is no turning back, it becomes watery
- when folding egg whites and batter together don’t over mix.
In terms of baking I choose to use a sheet pan and baked the chiffon cake like a jelly roll format. I find it helps the cake bake and raise evenly. In addition, because of a larger surface area, less time is required to bake in comparison to a cake ring. I am not saying cake rings are bad, don’t get me wrong, but I found sometimes the results are inconsistent. I would get a lighter half and then a denser half at the bottom. Once the cake had cooled, I used the 8 inch cake ring and cut out the layers and assemble like any other cakes. Cake layer first, then added cream and sliced strawberries and the placed on the second cake layer and repeat again until the cake is assembled. To ensure that the whipped cream stayed firm, I placed the cream the fridge so that it doesn’t become runny.
As a finishing touch, I decorated the cake with local strawberries and whipped cream. I then piped scallop border decoration to refine the look of the cake and finished of the decoration with toasted almonds on the side of the cake. Voila here is the finished product.
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream
As mentioned before, I attended a ice cream making session today at the Pastry Training Centre. I have always wanted to make ice cream and learn the techniques of it. As a bonus not only were we making ice cream, we were assembly the ice creams into ice cream bombs and cakes.
During the class, the instructor emphasized on the importance of a good sugar to fat ratio. He also stressed the importance of each main ingredient and effects of these ingredients on the finished product such as sugar, cream, liquid and liquor.
Sugar and liquor lowers the freezing point of the ice cream hence the finished product will be softer. An ice cream high in liquid on the other hand, will result in ice crystals forming in the finished product ending in a harder and grainier finish.
Keys to making Ice Cream
- make sure to keep sugar and liquid balance in ratio
- in custard base ice creams-bring the custard to no more than 82 degrees-if it goes higher than 82 the eggs will scramble and you get a grainy finished product
- let the ice cream mixture rest over night in a fridge prior to placing in the ice cream machine-this will allow the mixture to mature and result in a richer and smoother finish
- don’t combine milk with citric juices such as lemon-milk will curdle
Here is a recipe I found on the internet on making Rich Vanilla Ice Cream from David Lebovitz.
1 cup milk
2 cups whipping cream
pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean, split
6 large egg yolks
3/4 tsp vanilla extract (i replaced with vanilla bean)
1. warm the milk, 1 cup cream, sugar & salt in a medium saucepan.
2. scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the warm milk and add the bean as well. cover, remove from heat and let it steep at room temp. for 30 mins.
3. pour the remaining 1 cup cream into a large bowl and set a strainer on top. in a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and slowly pour the warmed milk mixture into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
4. stir the mixture constantly over medium heat, scraping the bottom as you stir, until mixture thickens and coat the back of a spoon.
5. pour custard thru’ the strainer into the cream. put the vanilla bean into the custard, add the extract (or bean paste) and stir until cool over an ice bath.
6. chill the mixture thoroughly then churn in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions then freeze until firm. alternatively, if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can place the mixture in a shallow metal tray and freeze, whisking every couple of hours until frozen and creamy.
Enjoy your ice cream making adventures!!!