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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Short Crust Pastry with a Pumpkin filling

                   For the past 5 years, I noticed that I love mixing & matching my baking escapades!!!  I pick up something lovely that I learnt from one Chef & another from another Chef & most times they do jell well together although the portions will not be apportionate; most times one may be more than the other!!! Well that is something that can't be helped. 

                    Yesterday was the result of one of my mix & match & very happy that the Pumpkin pie turned up lovely & smooth & as stated above, there weren't enuf pastry. When I posted these pictures on my FB, one of my friends commented that if a recipe calls for Pumpkin filling, she will just take it from a can.  Well, I can understand her as being a young & working mother, sometimes you need to try to make yr work lighter due to time constraint but for me as I retired almost a decade ago, I have all the time to do it from scratch but mainly because I always believe that making it from scratch gives you an edge & doing from scratch also allows you to make a few changes to the recipe that I have learnt ie making it less sweet, etc.  Recipe will be followed shortly :)

                                             Short crust pastry with a very smooth pumpkin filling!!! 

                                         Steaming the pumpkin & then making my own filling

                                     Final touch is to strain the pumpkin filling to get a smooth finish!!!

                                          Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Orange & ground Almond cake with cream cheese frosting [butterless cake]

                     An ex-client & very close friend wanted me to bake this cake, which he saw in my cake portfolio, for his wife's birthday.  He in fact commissioned me to, if possible bake a bigger cake, which was originally 10", for his family & friends.  

                     To be frank, I was a little apprehensive!!! To do R&D & enlarge any cake involved alot of detailed calculations & a few rounds of experimenting but to enlarge an oil free/butterless cake, well I think that, that literally takes the cake.  It was hard enuf to bake an oil free cake & to enlarge it, leaves me quaking a little bit.  But I didn't want to disappoint him & he told me that if I couldn't do it, then to just bake the original size of 10".  Okay so I had Plan B up my sleeves & I wasn't one to shy away from a challenge cos if I was successful, I would have raised my own bar a notch & have another cake in my portfolio.

                    It was a good thing that he booked me 3 weeks in advance that gave me plenty of time to fiddle around.  First experiment I did, I wasn't totally satisfied, I felt that it was a "little bit rough round the edges" so to speak. Tried it again a few days later & this time, I felt good as it turned out perfect; the texture of the cake was as good as the original size.  The cake had no butter but had 450 gm of ground almonds, which I fried lightly, without oil of course, so that the aroma of the fried ground almonds was simply perfect.

                    My friend also invited both the Hubs & me to celebrate the birthday celebration. I was very happy when everyone at the club, thanked me profusely for the cake. They liked the fact that I adjusted the sugar content to a perfect level & the Cream Cheese frosting brought the cake to another  level. He knew the price of my original 10" cake and at the end of the party, he just pressed a big stack of money in my hand & when I came back, I saw that he gave me $300.00 which also covered the costs of ingredients of my two R&D. 

                             Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia                               

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Individual Apple Pie crumbles

                    When I was preparing to do the Apple Pie with crumble, I was debating whether I should do a large one in my flan tin or individual ones & since I have not used the flan tin which a good friend bought for me when she was in Europe, I decide to use same; hence my earlier post was the Apple Pie in the flan tin.  

                     I was very fortunate as there was balance of the pastry, kept it in the fridge & the next day, after thawing same I made individual apple pies & decided to also use my Leaf veiner to add a bit more decor.  Very happy as the texture of this short crust pastry is as its name implies, short!!! It melted in the mouth with a slight crunch & did tend to break easily.  


                                  As I didn't have enuf apple pie filling [which I made myself] I decided
                          to fill it with Red Bean paste, which I made much earlier.

For this pastry, no need to grease the tin, when it has cooled slightly; just give the tin
a gentle squeeze & it comes down easily!!! Pastry is lovely.

                                           Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Apple Crumble

                 Wow I laid back baking for almost 3 weeks & decided to bake this Apple Crumble as the Hubs bought way too many apples & I preferred making my own apple filling as I love eating an Apple Pie which is not soggy at the bottom & at one of my Apple Pie/Crumble class [I learnt 3 diff versions from 3 diff Chefs], the Chef gave us a rough idea on how to make our own filling with 2 Green & 2 Red Apples & cooking it with a Tablesp of Brown Sugar & a teasp of ground Cinnamon but I wanted to experiment & try, if possible, to jazz it more to suit my palate. I soaked some Raisins in hot water for 2 minutes then strained it; plumping the Raisins this way was so awesome as when you bite into them; they are moist & of course, Raisins goes well with Apples!!! Wanted to also to try to flambe the cooked filling too!!!

                 So taking his idea & incorporating some of my own ideas, I decided instead of following his method of cooking same, to heat a Tablesp of Butter, & as I had a Lemon tree at the back [the leaves were so fragrant & I wanted to see whether there would be any transference of the Lemony smell!!!], I plucked a leaf & crushed it up before throwing it in the butter & then added the brown sugar, the diced apples, the Raisins & a teaspoon of this awesome Ginger bread spice [which I bought from a cake ingredient shop which supplied cake ingredients to some 5 Star Hotels in town & as it was imported, they would only bring in this special spice in October] then my impish self decided to try to raise the bar so when the apples were soft, I got the Hubs ready with my torch & simultaneously threw in a Tablesp of Brandy & the Hubs flambeed it with my blow torch!!! It was fun & quite scaring too, haha playing with fire thus I got the Hubs to deal with the fire from the blow torch as I didn't want to scotch my hair!!!

              Made the Apple filling yesterday & today I went on ahead to bake the Apple Crumble which I learnt & this is what I made.

                                        Flambeing the cooked filling

                           I was very happy, not only with the apple filling, but with the Apple Pie as the texture of the pastry, sorts of, crumbles in your mouth!!! Eat it when it was still warm & you get a soft crunch on top of it!!!

                           Till my next post, xoxo, Ophelia