Sunday, October 18, 2009

lemon tart

Hubby & I went to Tartine bakery in SF last week. After that first visit, I had officially became a Tartine's fan. The place was packed, parking was horrible, the price was quite high, and we didn't get a place to sit so had to bring our goodies home. BUT, after one bite of the buttery goodness of their croissant, I'm hooked! It was worth all the wait, the cost, and the effort to get there! It was one of the best croissants I've ever had. In addition to the croissant, we also got a lemon tart. I am not a big lemon fan. I mean, I'm okay with lemon, but never am so crazy about any lemon desserts. After having that tart, I was smitten. The crust perfectly compliments the smooth lemon cream, and the whipped cream soften the sweetness and tartness of the cream.

I kept thinking about the lemon tart the next day... and the day after.

So I looked for a recipe online and found Pierre Herme's recipe on foodbeam's blog. Bertha used this recipe before and confirmed that it's a good one. So I decided to make it for this weekend's dinner with hubby's family.

The recipe is very similar with standard lemon curd recipes, except that it contains oh-so-much-more butter. And it also uses a method of blending the butter into the lemon mixture. The recipe says to use a hand blender. That is optional as you can also use a regular blender. But... I've been wanting to get a hand blender, so there couldn't be a better time! hahaha! It's so interesting how the texture of the cream changed as it was mixed with the blender. Instead of clear and shiny, it turned into this silky, buttery, smooth mixture.

I wasn't sure if I should topped the lemon tart with the Italian meringue since I worry that it'll be to sweet. But in the end, I decided to make the meringue anyway. I just love how silky smooth the meringue was.... so pretty! I love it~! ^_^

I thought overall the tart was pretty good. For some reason, it felt a bit too sweet for me. Altho hubby thought it was perfectly fine. I think the next time I make this, I might reduce the sugar or skip the meringue altogether and substitute with whipped cream instead.

Oh! I also got my first photography lesson from hubby. Usually he took most of the pics that are on this blog. I tried to take at stab at it this time. Definitely need LOTS of work! hahaha...

Monday, October 12, 2009

accidentally lactose free cake

I made this cake for hubby’s bday. It’s a Raspberry Rose Vanilla Bavarian Cream cake from Tartelette. This was the first time I made an entremet at home. I wasn’t sure at first if I would be able to make this cake or not. It sounded like there’s a lot of components to make and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make them all successfully. But it’s one of the items on the list of things I want to make, so I figured might as well give it a try ^_^.

I think raspberry and rose go really well together. I like how the almond dacqoise has a really subtle hint of rose water. I was also experimenting on this cake. My hubby is lactose intolerant so I was going to use Lactaid instead of milk for the vanilla Bavarian cream. When I was at the store, I thought I still have heavy cream at home, but it turned out that the one I have in my fridge has already expired. But I still have some leftover non-dairy whipped topping that I bought for my niece’s bday. So I ended up using that instead. I wasn’t sure if the recipe would work since I’ve substitute so many things, but luckily it did! So in the end, this cake was accidentally lactose free!

I haven’t made Bavarian cream or mousse or cream anglaise for a while. So I made a boo-boo on my first attempt. I over cooked the custard base, and when that happened, I had a scene playing in my head. It was from back at school when Chef she-who-must-not-be-named took over our class for a while. We were in the plated dessert section. My friend and I had never made cream anglaise before. Chef she-who-must-not-be-named had warned the class to not over cooked the cream anglaise. So when we were about to make ours, we asked her to come and watch us to make sure that we don’t over cooked it. She was standing right in front of us. Right in front of the stove and the pot. I noticed that the mixture had started to thicken, so I asked her "is this done, chef?", she said "no". I asked, "should we turn off the heat now, chef?", she said "not yet". Until finally... "oh! It's too late! Now you have scramble egg!" WTH. We asked her to watch so we can prevent the "scramble egg" from happening... *sigh* Well, needless to say, I was glad that she ditched our class (or maybe she ran away cuz we scared her?)...

Anyway... moving on... everybody seemed to enjoy the cake. I liked it too, but I think the raspberry jelly was a tad too thick (2Tbsp gelatin? Yeah...that sounded like a lot. But I stick to the recipe). It’s so thick that the texture doesn’t seem to get along with the dacqoise or the Bavarian cream. My layers were very uneven too. I’ll work on that next time. Next week is hubby’s actual bday, so maybe I’ll make this again since I have lots of raspberry from the farmers market. Yum!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


There have been times when I've written quite a long blog post only to decide that, in the end, it is a bit too personal to share on the blogosphere. I tend to contemplate on how much of my personal life that I’m willing to share with whoever is out there reading this blog of mine.

I’ve been tempted to change this blog to a dedicated food blog, so that all I will be posting here are just cakes, desserts, pastries, and sweets. I’d renamed it, revamped the look, removed some old posts tag as “personals”, and that’ll be it. But I realized that I haven’t truly found what I’m looking for. So for the time being, this blog is going to stay as it is. It’ll still be “life – one step at a time”, so occasionally, like now, you will see something that doesn’t have anything to do with food.

Summer time has finally come to an end here at the bay area. And it has been a little over a year since I left Satura Cakes. It has been a little over a year that I have not set foot in a bake kitchen. And to tell you the truth, it saddens me a bit.

At the beginning of my class at PCI, we had a section on career service workshop. At that workshop, we talked about dreams, goals, and knowing who you are. I was one of the first to raise my hand when asked about our dreams. Back then, it seemed so vividly clear: “I want to have a custom wedding/specialty cake store at an affordable price for everybody.” I have even made a comment that I don’t want to become a pastry chef; I am a cake decorator. I don’t really know what happened. That was still the dream until a few months ago. It almost like there’s a switch in my head that somebody just happened to push. That dream that was so vividly clear all of a sudden became hazy.

Making cakes just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Not that I’ve stopped liking it. It’s just that I know that there are so much more to learn and I don’t want to settle just yet. I want to know and be able to do more, to make more. I love to see people enjoy or admire my creations. And to tell you the truth, that’s what got me started at the beginning. But now, I’m baking because I LOVE doing it. I am not a pastry chef. I’m far from becoming one. One does not get that title just by graduating from a culinary school. Or by baking regularly or religiously. Or by wearing the white chef coat. One has to work to become one. And I’m beginning to want that. Not the title. But the knowledge and skill of a pastry chef.

But it’s not that simple. Of course it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple in life, isn’t it? ^_^ there are other factors to consider. There are things I would have to let go if I choose to do this. And at this point, I’m not sure if I should or could or willing to let go. I can continue my life the way it is right now, but will it ever be enough? On the other hand, even if I let everything go, will I be satisfied then?

What do you think? Anybody? ^_^

Saturday, October 3, 2009

madeline's fairy carousel cake

This cake is the cutest cake I've ever made!!

I think I developed some attachment issues with these three little fairies. I like them so much, even though I've only completed them on Friday, one day before the day I'm scheduled to deliver the cake *yaiks!*

Anyway, this cake is for a cute little baby named Madeline. I was originally planning on making the carousel with pastillage. But... alas... I cheated. No pastillage this time. I was in a huge time constraint with this one. I wasn't feeling very well at the beginning of this week, so really I only had less than a week to figure out how to even start in making the carousel. I tried making the supporting pieces with pastillage, but it was so difficult to get the pastillage into shape without having it dried and cracked on the surface. I was very worried about its stability. Pastillage is very sturdy, but when it breaks, it will snaps into pieces... mm.. the thought of having to deliver that all the way to Dublin... I don't think my heart will be able to take it. So, no pastillage... besides, it's not like anybody is gonna grade/judge me based on how edible the whole thing is... ^_^.

I spent the first half of the week figuring out how to build this carousel. I started making the fairies on Wednesday night. I think this was the fastest I've ever built sugar characters... and I know with this one, there would be no time to re-do. Luckily, all three figures came out beautifully.

I especially like the purple one. But I like them all! ^_^

I think the cake came out pretty nice. The only real cake is the bottom tier. The second tier is a dummy to add height. For some reason, I was having more difficulties covering the dummy with fondant than the real cake.... I wonder why...

I just came back a few hours ago from delivering this cake. I hope they like it!