Chocolate Passion fruit Cake

I made four different chocolate cakes in last couple of week, using all different recipes. Some for friend’s and family’s birthdays and some for just to eat as my friends who came for tea. A perfect chocolate sponge recipe for a birthday cake is a thing I am searching for many years, and I am still not set on one. (If you have an absolute favourite, please do give me the recipe!)

I made this cake once nearly two years ago for my husband’s birthday, and I remembered that I thought this might be ‘the one’.  So I tried a few times more with different creams and then I forgotten about it.

When I thought about a birthday cake for a friend of mine a few weeks ago, I remembered this cake. It’s a recipe from a BBC bake off winner, Jo Wheatley, and you can get the recipe here.

P1120897-2

This is a chocolate sponge cake with cream cheese + passion fruit frosting. It is quite sweet but the passion fruit give a nice sharpness. A real treat for a birthday party.

P1120900-2

In original recipe linked above, the sponge is baked in a 20cm tin and sliced into three. But I used two of 18cm tin, and slice a cake into two to get four layer. I also pipe the cream with a large round nozzle to decorate.

I thought this is a perfect cake for grown-up party, but in fact, my kids and friend’s grand-children enjoyed it, too. As long as you like a passion fruit, this cake is a wonderful treat for a special occasion.

Dinosaur Cake – cream version

Every year since my first one was born, we did birthday party, inviting friends and their kids, and classmates nowadays.
Last year, we had a cowboy theme party for both boys.
This year, my big one didn’t seem so fussed about party, so we went out and took him for ten pin bowling instead. He really enjoyed it.
My little one wanted to have a Dinosaur Party for his birthday. I wasn’t sure if I am up for it this year but I deiced to give it a go again.

P1100010 (640x481)

He already took a cake for his birthday at his pre-school (dinosaur cake – iced version), so I made different type of cake for the party. It’s genoise sponge with fresh cream, raspberry and white chocolate shaving in the middle.

P1100057 (640x481)

Then topped with pale green colour coconuts and more white chocolate, and dinosaur biscuits.

P1100059 (640x481)
(T-Rex couldn’t stand up on his own feet, so he decided to stay down and spy on those sweet looking herbivorous. )

Big rocks are shop bought chocolate coated Brazil nuts and small ones are chocolate raisins.

Those cookies cutter is from Lake Land.
Very good cutter, sharp cut and cute shape. Four different shape of dinosaur.

I also made a few more things with dinosaur theme, but as I was frantically cooking and serving party food, I didn’t have a chance to take a shot.

Anyhow, my boys enjoyed the party with friends, and some animals!

P1090996 (481x640)
  “ROARRRR! I’m FOUR!!!”

Have a nice weekend!
And happy Fiesta Friday! (Yes, I managed to put a post on Friday, Yay!)

(Nov 2014)

Holiday in Japan – Bakery

It’s been long since I wrote the last post. I had been back in Japan for three weeks to see my family. I really had a wonderful time, despite a few mishaps during our long journey.
(Mishaps or incidents… our family holiday cannot be ours without a few of those: nearly missing a fight taking a wrong turn on the way to Dublin airport, Istanbul airport closing temporary due to bad weather, our suitcases getting lost and not arriving until one week later. Well, we get there safe and well, cannot complain. )

P1090176 (481x640)

We stayed at my parents house in which I grew up. It’s in a small town in Nagano prefecture, very rural, very green place. Our holiday was spent mostly doing thing with our kids, going to the park, swimming pool, and visiting a few summer festival nearby. It’s lovely to do things which I did as a child in summer with my own kids. 

I also managed to visit a few cake shops and bakeries around my hometown. As a keen home baker, I really enjoyed looking and tasting breads and cakes at different shops. Some places were really inspiring, and I admire their taste and attitude to their work. 

This review may not be any use to anyone reading this, as it is in a Nagano prefecture in Japan, far from normal tourist area. And these are not ‘Top something’ or ‘Must see’ type list, just a few places I managed to visit and photos of them. I just hope you might look though and found it somewhat interesting. Most photos are taken by my husband with a permission of shops (or my photo of my purchase.)

わざわざ WAZAWAZA

P1070807 (640x481)
This is a small bakery in a middle of rural town, which I found when I was researching about baguette a year ago or so.
The owner bakes her breads using her own natural yeast (sourdough) in wood fired oven. She also sells products which she found useful and beautiful, some from local pottery, some from other places in Japan or abroad. 
I’d read in her blog that she takes whole August off, and I was so disappointed. But I found out that she was opening her shops for a few days in mid Aug (OBON period), I was so delighted and I am so glad that I visited her shop & cafe. 

P1070790 (640x481)
Cream Caramel, baked in the wood fired oven after baking bread.
P1070761 (640x481)
Inside of her lovely shop
P1070779 (640x481)
Lunch platter, tasty local veg and bread.
P1070769 (640x481)
Breads & cookies sold in old display case

 P1070916 (640x481) P1090002 (640x481)

ルヴァン(信州上田) Levain (SHINSYUU UEDA)
P1070854 (481x640)

This bakery is quite known if you like natural yeast (sour dough) bread. The owner of this bakery is one of pioneer in natural yeast baking in Japan. (I also have his book! My sister also read his article in a magazine she is subscribed, so we went to this bakery together.) This bakery mill their flour which is grown in Japan even if it is known to be difficult to use domestic wheat for bread, and bake with their own starter.

The bakery & cafe is situated in a beautiful old street of UEDA city. The building itself was worth a visit for me. 

P1070817 (640x481)
Breads are sold per gram, so you can buy small bit of a huge pan du campagne.
P1070871 (640x481)
cafe space upstairs

P1070843 (640x481) P1070829 (640x481) P1070820 (640x481)

 

P1070918 (640x481)

まめぱんや MAMEPANYA
After chatting to my old friend about my visit to the bakeries above, she recommended me this little bakery close to my home. 
A lady opens her little bakery just twice a week. She bakes all the breads herself using natural yeast. 

P1090526 (640x481)
You can see her kitchen through wooden window from the shop.

This shop was tiny and very cute, I love the feel of the shop. This bakery sells good variety of sweet and savory bread. I was amazed that the owner baked all this by herself. The selection of bread includes hard lean French style bread but also sweet soft bread which children would love. 
P1090516 (640x481) P1090520 (640x481) P1090525 (481x640) 

P1090534 (640x481)
green tea bun, cream bun, choco bun I bought. soft and tasty. not so sweet.
P1090536 (481x640)
EDAMAME cheese stick. I loved it!

These are bakeries which I managed to visit around my hometown, but I loved all three of them. They are all quite small (Levain UEDA is quite known, I guess) , but somewhat powerful and inspiring. 

P1070890
a fish bowl I saw at shop front in a street of UEDA. this is Summer in Japan. 

 

Raspberry Meringue Drops

What do you do if you had some egg white in the fridge?

Maybe you can bake pavlova or macaroon, or simply some little meringues.

P1070016 (640x481)
Little pink meringue drops with freeze dried raspberry pieces.

I saw a picture of wonderfully colourful meringue drops of Meringue Girls the other day. It was wow! Just bursting with colours (and flavours if I could taste one!), and so cute!

Not sure if meringue drops can be next big thing of baking world after cupcakes and macaroons, but it give me an idea to make those little pink meringue with freeze dried raspberry.

I used simple French meringue method, just whipped egg white with caster sugar, where Meringue Girls seems to use much more interesting method of making meringue.

See their website for their basic recipe; they bake sugar in a tray and spoon into egg white. It’s bit like in between Italian (ie: pour hot sugar syrup into egg white) and French.  Interesting, indeed!

But I just wanted to make quick treat to use up all my egg white, so French way was good enough.

Those little drops are good to eat with coffee just as they are. Very crisp with a little burst of raspberry flavour whenever you hit freeze dried raspberry bits.

Or you can make up a bowl of dessert like this,
P1070023 (640x481)
Raspberry meringue drops with strawberry and creme fraiche.

I just had Spanish strawberry bought from a veg shop, so I used that, but fresh raspberry would be perfect if it was in season.
Fresh cream or Greek yoghurt will be fine instead of creme fraiche. Meringue is so sweet that you don’t need to add sugar to the cream.

Raspberry Meringue Drops

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 1hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Egg white……1 egg
Caster sugar….60g
(I had 3 egg white, so use 180g sugar, that gave me plenty of meringue for family and friends!)
Freeze dried raspberry…. as much as you like, about 2g? (they are very light)
Pink food colouring… a few drops

1. Whisk egg white to soft peak
2. Add caster sugar little by little. Whisk till it is glossy and heavy.
3. Mix raspberry and food colouring in.
4. Pipe into small drops using round nozzle. (I tried star shape nozzle first , but raspberry got stuck and didn’t come out well. Just use big round nozzle if you got any bits in!)
5. Bake in the oven, 100C (212F), for about 1 hours till they are dry and crisp.
6. Once cooled, you can eat them now or keep in a airtight container for later. They keeps crisp really well, as long as you bake it completely dry.

Well? My first insertion with recipe shortcode. Learn new thing everyday!
I’ll probably post only the recipe which is I can happily say it is mine and easy to write. I will give you a link if the recipe is based on someone else’s, or just tips and idea as usual.
If you are new to baking, please check other more detailed recipe site as well before you start on my recipe. I jot down recipe, short cutting basics, like preheating, lining, sieving etc…

P1070013 (640x481)Little hands waiting to get some of his share.

Happy Fiesta Friday!

Pancake Tuesday 3 ways

It’s Pancake Tuesday!
I didn’t know about this tradition until I came to the UK.

It’s Shrove Tuesday, a start of Lent. In the UK, people feast on pancake on this day and keep away from any more sweet stuff like chocolate/syrup/sugar (or rich food like butter or cream) till Easter. (People do lent on anything nowadays, coffee, alcohol, smoking, TV, Facebook, etc… )

I wonder how widely Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as ‘Pancake Tuesday’. I’ve heard about Easter when I was living in Japan, but not about Pancake!

I do like celebrating thing with food, and I like pancake, so we are doing ‘Pancake Tuesday’ at my household, in 3 ways!

My kids like pancakes, and especially love small round chocolate chip pancake.

P1060901 (640x481)Banana and yoghurt pancake with milk chocolate bits for breakfast.

I lost the recipe, but it is mix of 1 mashed banana, a few tbs yoghurt, some  flour, 1 tsp baking powder, a bit of baking soda, some milk, and 1 egg.
It’s pancake, so I just adjust as I go.

Then my husband’s favourite is lemon&sugar, and I think this combination is best on large soft pancake.

P1060899 (640x481)
These were for my husband’s breakfast.

I do not have recipe for this one, egg, milk, flour and baking powder. Slightly runny consistency, but not too runny as crepe batter.

My favourite will be crepe, with cream and fruits or chocolate. But that wasn’t what I made today, two different type of pancake were certainly enough for school day breakfast.

So, I made buckwheat galette for dinner.
(The recipe I used for pancake is from here.  Galette Bretonne Au Sarrasin, I just used galette part.)

P1060902 (640x481)

Then I rolled it up with spinach and cheese mixture and topped with cheese sauce and baked.

P1060903 (640x481)

P1060904 (640x481)

I’ve eaten something like this when I was home-staying with French Canadian family in British Colombia long time ago.
I don’t remember how it was called or if it is known dish or maybe a unique invention of that family?

My 6 years old son who loves anything creamy and cheesy, ate 2 big rolls happily and he was full. He told me that he had pancake at school for snack time as well!

Pancake, pancake, pancake…
I guess you can do lent on pancake easily, after eating so many of them in one day.

(March 2014)

Valentine, Heart Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Cake etc

P1060824 (640x481)
Heart shape cake for my Valentine. (=My husband)

Last Friday, St. Valentine’s Day, I heard BBC radio mentioning that in Japan it is women who give chocolates, and it is for all the men in their life, not just for boyfriends/husbands but also dads, brothers, friends, teachers, co-workers, bosses etc…
Yes, that is kind of true.
BUT they missed the vital information; there is a day called “White day” in Japan, 14th March, men who received the gifts on Valentine’s day need to give some gifts in return (often more expensive one).
There you go,  Japanese girls aren’t that kind to give chocolates for nothing, you know.

In our house, we do Valentine’s day in UK way.
We exchange cards, my husband usually treats me for chocolate and flowers, so I try to cook something nice for dinner, as going out became impossible since we got boys.

This year, I got a cute card, a bunch of UK grown flowers (it smells so lovely), and a big box of chocolate from my husband.
P1060834 (640x481)

The chocolate was from a company called, Artisan du Chocolat, of which he gave me a box some years ago and I really liked and requested this year.

Oh, this chocolate is special.
P1060836 (640x481)
Isn’t it beautiful?
I just went “Uuuuuu” and “Arrrrrrr” by just looking at them. 

I am so easy to be pleased for anything if someone give me a gift. Gift is gift, I do appreciate the fact someone wanted to give me something. I am not fussy.
But really, I am hard to please when it comes to cakes and chocolate.

Thank you so much, my lovely husband!

In return, I baked you a cake.  (Is that fair exchange? I am not sure.)

P1060827 (640x481)
Ta Darrr!!

It’s chocolate mousse and raspberry mousse on flour-less chocolate sponge.

P1060832 (640x481)
I
 like the sharpness of raspberry with sweet chocolate. I might have put slightly too much raspberry mousse, if you wanted real chocolate kick. But I knew we were having chocolate box (I bought a box of dark chocolate for my husband from my volunteer work), so I liked it to be fruity rather than being heavy chocolate.

I think the cake got good shine and texture. The side could be neater, but considering it is first time I did this coating, I’m happy with the results.

Happy St.Valentine, till next year.

(Feb 2014)

 

Kids Valentine Treats- Rice Crispy Hearts

This year, I received a couple of lovely handmade card from my wee men. They both made cards at their school/playgroup for me.

They are bit young for giving cards or gifts for their own love by themselves, but I thought it will be nice to give something small to my big son’s teacher/assistants.
I was working with Chocolate Memories (a local social enterprise providing training and work placement for adults with Autism) selling their chocolate as a volunteer during the week, so I bought small packs of chocolate for teachers.

Then, as me and my boys made cards and wrapped the chocolates for teachers together, boys started to say,

“Which one is mine?”

Oh dear, I forgot to buy anything for them.

So, quickly I made up those heart treats. P1060820 (640x481)

Rice Crispy Hearts; milk chocolate and strawberry chocolate.

It is simply melted chocolate mixed with rice crispy, shaped into heart using heart cookies cutter. Then covered with more melted chocolate.

P1060838 (640x481)

My boys loved it. Quick and cute.

(Feb 2014)