April 20, 2010

Thankful Banana Chiffon Cake

Lots of mishaps today. First, I realized after a new office re-configuration, I am way way way off from the madding crowd. Me alone, far off in a corner. Then I had a not working keyboard tray. Thankfully this was fixed later.

Second, while trying to take a shortcut to a lot by reversing in a multi-storey car park, I scratched the front of a car. As my boy was really hungry, I rushed home first to feed him and decided to leave a note later on the car's windshield. I assumed that to have the car there at that hour meant most probably that it should be there after an hour. Thankfully before I took off with my car after lunch, I left a note for the owner. When I got into my car and was about to drive off, a traffic policewoman came by as a passerby thought I did a hit-and-run and reported me. Since the note was there as a proof that I did not plan for a hit-and-run, she took my particulars. Then the owner somehow turned up with his wife. The wife seemed pretty cool about this incident and requested the husband not to pursue the matter. So sweet! Maybe it helped that my hubby was there as well with me, carrying the baby. Nevertheless, I gave my particulars and hopefully he doesn't call. ;)

The day just drifted after that and I remembered that there were one or two small stuff that upset me but I couldn't recall them now. Reminding myself to be thankful in all circumstances.

So, I reasoned that I had to bake something to de-stress slightly and hopefully the success will end the day nicer for me. I had some overriped bananas which I decided that they were not good for my baby even if I puree them, so I chose to bake a Banana Chiffon Cake (another recipe that requires egg white beating).

Small Small Baker have just the right recipe size that I like. Or rather, recipe size that fits the only cake tin I have i.e. 6 inch round tin. I used it and adapted it slightly.

Have I mentioned before the importance of pre-heating your oven? Yeah, I used to think that this step can be removed as I have tried many times with muffins or simple cakes and they turned out beautiful. However, I've read that this is a no-no for sensitive cakes like chiffon. Please please pre-heat the oven.

The batter this time round came up to 2/3 of the tin. This is worrying as when it rise during the baking process, it went slightly over the brim of my tin. I suspect it's due to the bicarbonate of soda / baking soda. Next time round I might use self-raising flour instead.

From my previous post, I mentioned that I read from a book which states that after the cake has been baked, dropping the cake tin from a height of about 30cm will help the cake hold its structure better as the air bubbles will now change their forms. This time round, I did likewise and dropped it at a height of around 30cm. I think I dropped it too hard as the cake looked kind of squashed in the center.
I only baked it for 25 mins but should have kept it there longer as the base was still slightly dense. 
In the end, the cake did not turned out as ideal as I would like it to be with the slightly dense base and squashed look. Thankfully it tasted nice and not too sweet. Hubby actually preferred it to the coffee chiffon cake and promised to finish it tomorrow.

Yeah, must be thankful.... be thankful.

Banana Chiffon Cake

Ingredients (6-inch round tin with removable base)
2 egg yolks
1/8 tsp salt
15g caster sugar (I used only 10g)
20ml cooking oil
60g banana mash (1 medium banana)
35g plain flour (On hindsight, I should have used self-raising flour and omitted the bicarbonate of soda)
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
30g caster sugar 
3g corn flour

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Whisk egg yolks, salt and sugar till pale and runny.
  3. Add the banana mash and oil into the egg yolk batter. Whisk to combine.
  4. Sift flour into batter and whisk.
  5. Beat egg whites till bubbly. Add cream of tartar and beat till foamy reaching soft peak stage. Gradually add in sugar in 3-4 batches and beat until stiff peaks form. Add cornflour and beat slightly. (Egg whites should not move when bowl is tilted or inverted)
  6. Fold 1/3 beaten egg whites into egg yolk batter until blended i.e. no white streaks. Add the rest of egg whites into batter until blended.
  7. Pour batter into ungreased 6-inch round tin. Have a few quick knocks with the tin against a table to level the batter and break surface bubbles.
  8. Bake in preheated oven at 170 deg C for 30 mins.
  9. Remove from oven and invert cake immediately until it is completely cool.

April 18, 2010

Lemon Meringue Pie

After the previous Coffee Chiffon Cake, I just wanted ride on the success of my egg beating attempt and ensure I practise, practise and practise.... enough to keep the success rates of my cake high.

So scoring through my refrigerator to find leftover ingredients to use, I found a lemon... literally. Lots of ideas flooded through my mind then... lemon pound cake, lemon souffle, lemonade (no kidding), lemon chiffon cake (again!) and then it struck, lemon meringue pie!
Looking through tons of recipes online, I have discovered that it is not as easy a process as I had envisioned. There are three parts involved - the pie crust, the filling and the meringue. I decided that I can do away with one difficult part by "cheating" with a digestive biscuit crust instead of making one from scratch. In the end, taste-wise it passed but it was too crumbly as I used too little butter to "gel" the crumbs together. Would need to increase the butter "glue" next time.

I am also very happy that HHB had a meringue tart/pie in her recipe index too. She's always so detailed in her baking process and from her research links, I usually gain a lot. In this case, I learned about how not to make lemon meringue pie "weep"! Apparently, "weeping" = the meringue sliding off the filling. To ensure it doesn't do that, one of the key ways is to make sure the meringue is topped onto a hot filling so that they will gel together vs having water vapor forming on top of the filling when cooled and causing the meringue to slip off later.

So, I left the filling in the saucepan on the stove top and when I was about done with my meringue, I asked Hubby to heat it slightly and then pour the filling into the "cheat" pie crust. It worked!
 
I couldn't find a recipe that suited my liking (a.k.a. moderately easy and little effort) so in the end I mixed and matched from HHB's and other sites to create my own. I think the meringue should be much sweeter than what I have put here but since Hubby and I don't have a super sweet tooth, so I followed the baking911 site and added about 1 and a half tablespoon of sugar for every egg white.


Lemon Meringue Pie

Ingredients (6-inch round tin with removable base)

"Cheater" Pie Crust:
110g digestive biscuits, crushed into crumbs
60g unsalted butter, melted (I used only 40g this time round, definitely not enough. Would recommend at least 60g)

Filling:
2 egg yolks
40g caster sugar
170ml milk
17g cornstarch
20g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
zest of 1 medium sized lemon
juice of 1 medium sized lemon, approximately 60ml

Meringue:
2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
30g caster sugar (I used an estimate of 3 tablespoons. This is not very sweet as Hubby and I dislike too sweet stuff. Add more if you have a sweeter tooth).

Method

 "Cheater" Pie Crust:
  1. Line the tin with baking paper, if necessary.
  2. Mix biscuit crumbs & melted butter together and press firmly onto the base and sides of tin.
  3. Chill for at least 1-2 hours in the fridge.

Filling:
  1. Whisk egg yolks manually with a little bit of the milk. Add in sugar and corn flour, mix well.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the remaining milk to a simmer. Remove from heat and add the hot milk gradually to the yolk mixture, whisk to combine. 
  3. Pour the mixture over a sieve and return it to the saucepan. 
  4. Bring it to boil on low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon to prevent the mixture from turning lumpy or burnt at the bottom of the pan. When it boils, continue to stir constantly for another 1 minute.
  5. Remove mixture from heat and whisk in the butter, lemon zest and lemon juice. 
  6. Pour the filling into the "cheater" pastry crust and smooth the top. 
Meringue:
  1. Preheat oven to 230 deg C.
  2. Using the electric beater, whisk the egg whites till foamy and add in cream of tartar.
  3. Continue beating till soft peaks are formed, add in sugar in 3 batches and beat till stiff peaks are formed and the mixture is glossy.
  4. Pile onto the filled pastry crust to form a dome shape, pressing down to remove pockets of air trapped in between.
  5. Using the back of a spoon, "poke" the surface slightly to form peaks.
  6. Bake in the oven for 2-3 minutes or until the surface is nicely browned.
  7. Remove from the oven and leave it to cool. Chill in the fridge when pie is cooled.

April 15, 2010

Coffee Chiffon Cake

I did it! I did it!! I did it!!!

Yeah, I finally made it. I have succeeded in making my very own chiffon cake! This, without having to half any recipe and without using a chiffon tin!

God knows how many eggs I have wasted in this little experiment of mine. I was successful once following the instructions found in Wendy's blog but I halved the recipe and used a 8" angel cake tin, so it kind of looked flat and since it was my first successful try then, I am not sure if I did it correctly.

Then I tried it again and failed. I tried another recipe and failed. Then I gave up. I think my egg white beating was to blame. If not, it must be my folding technique as I am not known to be gentle.

I was so disappointed in myself that Hubby borrowed an interesting book called "The Science of Cooking" and got me to read. It was a boring book... very technical and it couldn't tell me when is considered stiff peak form. However, it taught me a few things to note... my oven could be too hot. The air bubbles formed when beating egg whites should be small in order to be stable i.e. do it at low speed. Air bubbles if coated with something e.g flour will strengthen its structure and hold better. Oddly, the book also said that after it has been baked, dropping the cake tin from a height of about 30cm will help the cake hold its structure as the air bubbles will now change their forms. It did not mention about inverting the cake.

So this time round, I searched and found a smaller portion recipe from Small Small Baker which I tried to half once and didn't do so well the previous time. But I remembered the coffee flavor had me hooked and thinking about it for
a long time. And this time round, with the help of science, I did it!!!

As this is the very first time I am un-moulding from the tin and I had no serrated knife, I just used the normal cutlery that we have. Not fantastic and didn't do the cake justice as I kind of flatten it while cutting but good enough for me. Hee... I am so into chiffon cakes now.

Coffee Chiffon Cake

Ingredients (6-inch round tin with removable base)
2 egg yolks
20g caster sugar (I used only 10g)
1 tbsp instant coffee powder
20ml milk
20ml cooking oil
40g self-raising flour

2 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
50g caster sugar (I used only 35g)
3g corn flour *my own addition with tips from Kitchen Corner's blog

Method
  1. Preheat oven to 170 deg C.
  2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar till pale and runny.
  3. Stir instant coffee powder with milk until the coffee powder dissolves.
  4. Add the coffee mixture and oil into the egg yolk batter. 
  5. Sift flour into batter and whisk.
  6. Beat egg whites till bubbly. Add cream of tartar and beat till foamy and soft peak stage.Gradually add in sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Add cornflour and beat slightly. (Egg whites should not move when bowl is tilted or inverted)
  7. Fold 1/3 beaten egg whites into egg yolk batter until blended i.e. no white streaks. Add the rest of egg whites into batter until blended.
  8. Pour batter into ungreased 6-inch round tin. Have a few quick knocks with the tin against a table to level the batter and break surface bubbles.
  9. Bake in preheated oven at 170 deg C for 30 mins. (I baked mine at 170 deg C for the 1st 10 minutes, then 160 deg C for 10 mins and 150 deg C for the next 5 mins as my oven is hotter than normal. The first 20mins I placed an aluminum foil over the cake and only remove it at the last 5 mins to brown it nicely.) 
  10. Remove from oven and invert cake immediately until it is completely cool. (I removed it and dropped it at a height of around 30cm. The top kind of flattened and leveled off but did not shrink. Then I invert it to cool.)