September 30, 2013

White Wedding Cake for 6 Years of Having Fun

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White Wedding Cake-1
Klub Berani Baking (KBB) is now 6 years old. We are celebrating it with mini wedding cake using a homemade fondant.

To tell the truth, many of us bakers don't often make our own fondant. We think it's time-consuming and we'd rather pick a ready-made one up on the baking isle or purchase it online from a cake decorating shop. But, truly speaking, it's not that difficult making your own fondant. I found out that I need to work fast and use it as soon as it's made, otherwise, it will go rather hard to knead. Not sure if the measurement I made was correct or it's something else. However, it's done and I'm pretty happy with it.

White Wedding Cake-2

This is my entry for KBB's 36th challenge, this month hosted by Moniza and Emma Isti

Modelling Fondant

It is my first attempt to make modelling fondant from this cook book. I usually make my own marshmallow fondant and chocolate modelling fondant which I use on this barbie cake. This fondant is totally new to me. However, I've taken the challenge, so I must go on.

It's quite simple to make fondant. It's just the matter of dissolving gelatin and glucose warm syrup mixture into pure icing sugar, knead well, and voila! Your fondant is ready.

The tricky thing is that fondant will be hard in just a matter of an hour. You must remember how this fondant is wrapped when you pick it up from a supermarket baking isle, so that is what I need to do. Wrap it in thick plastic food wrap and cover it with aluminium foil, store it in the cool spot of my pantry until ready use. I have found my fondant keep well and smooth when I then used it.


Gathering the ingredients for cupcakes is not a problem, since they are all in my pantry. I use Whittaker's White Raspberry chocolate block because I love the raspberry flakes in it and it is to add more flavour in the cupcakes.

The proses is rather simple and is familiar to me as to be added on my weekly home baking venue. 

The cupcakes are quite delicate to my liking. Perhaps because I substitute the flours to gluten-free ones. But I'm not alone here, as I heard other girls in the club getting the same result.

I always adapt the amount of sugar in many recipes, as I'm finding they are too sugary for me. With 75g WHITE chocolate, 75g dried apricots, and 220g of sugar, plus the cupcakes will be covered in fondant, it is way too much for me. I thought I'm a sweet tooth, but compared to many other people, I am not quite there yet. I don't think I will.

Substitution and modifying recipes to your own needs is allowed in the club, so I reduce the sugar by 50% while keep the amount of white chocolate and dried apricots the same. I also use gluten-free flour and almond meal to replace the self-rising flour and plain flour in the recipe.

Baking time was no hassle. In fact, this is the easiest cake I've ever made in the KBB's challenges history. 

OK. Cupcakes done. And here I am, trying to make a cylinder from two sandwiched cupcakes. The cupcakes were rather crumbly, so when they are completely cooled down, I try to trim the edges with my small Japanese serrated knife, which does the job really well. I was attempted to use bread knife, but the eyes are way too big for the job. 

Now, the fun has begun. With the amount of fondant I have, I need to divide it into four parts: three of them are going to be used for covering the cakes, while the rest of them will be used for making flowers.

Daisies are just simple form of flowers. Even if you are a beginner to cake decorating, you will be able to do it, easily. I still keep my cake decorating tools that I used to use when attending a cake decorator gathering somewhere. Now, I'm considered retired (nah, not really).

This homemade fondant, as I said, will turn quite hard when it is exposed in open air, which is excellent for making flowers for decorations, but it's not so good when you try to cover your cakes. I had to knead and re-knead my fondant to keep it smooth after unwrapping it. The trouble is that when it is sticky with apricot jam, then you won't be able to use it anymore, since the fondant will look dirty.

When covering the fondant over the sandwiched little cakes, I notice that it needs a  bit of a technique to actually include the whole cylinders.

First, I discover that the fondant is too stiff to use it to covering the cakes from the top. When I try to smooth the sides of the cakes, the fondant cracked and hardened. It also makes thick frills on the bottom of the cake as I try to gather it to enclose the whole cake. I was not happy.

Second, I roll out the fondant as thinly as possible to form a rough rectangle. I cover the sides of the cake cylinder first, and then cut a circle to match the size of the cake top. It worked, but I wasn't happy with the visible border it creates between the sides cover and the top one. But it would be able to be disguised with decorations.

Third, I cut a circle to match the top of the cake and then run a rectangle-rolled-out fondant to cover the sides of the cake, smoothing the top while joining it. It was not easy but I thought I prefer this technique.

White Wedding Cake-4

With a little imagination to fill it out even more, I thought I have done a good job. Now, it is time to do the taste test. We are all having a slice each, but none of us eating the fondant. The cake is nice, perfect for our gluten-free treat. The white chocolate raspberry is giving more flavour in it, which is rather like a bonus.

White Wedding Cake-5

Well, we were enjoying our little cakes. Happy Birthday KBB!

Proses pembuatan cupcake tidak ada kendala, begitu pula dengan pembuatan fondant dan royal icing. Sepertinya membuat fondant sendiri dan langsung dipakai itu bikin kecil kemungkinan fondant akan langsung keras ya. 

September 06, 2013

Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Cocoa Nibs Slice

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It was in the beginning of September last year when I took this photo of one of our young hazelnut trees on the back of our hillside property. Its young leaves just started to open up from their sleepiness during dormant weather, and it's likely that Spring had sent them a message to persuade their slender brown twigs to start waking up. The leaves were young, green, fresh and proud. 

A few honey bees and bumble bees were gathering on the almond tree nearby, taking the goodness from its blooms and working on pollinating at the same time. 

Beyond it, a couple of fig trees were just happening to take life cycle the same stage as the hazelnut tree, lazily opening their young leaves. Its fruits were still budding, hard and green. Its branches were still bare-looking, seems shivering from early Spring chilliness. We often get southerlies up here which could allure us to stay indoors and sip hot chocolate. Perhaps, they're looking forward to be growing in the sun later in the year. Like we are, in another humanly dimension.

It is always a joy to witness everything around me growing, blooming, and starting to produce in Spring. It's just like to observe before-and-after photos, one is bleak, the next one is colourful.

Sometimes, I am just amazed of how four seasons work that effects garden and orchard; if Winter can really do magic by putting everything to sleep, letting plants and trees conserve their energy within in order to go through a growth spurt; if Spring then takes control of the next cycle, by blowing kisses of fairy dust over flowers, other plants and trees; if Summer holds the density of growth under its powerful sun, supplying men with generous produce; and if Autumn with its coolness starting to flash its amber button to calm everything down. Every season owns its role and characteristics. I don't feel wise to just like one season only, for each season brings connection to the next one. 

When we decided to plant nut trees on our land, it was because we simply wanted to fill in the gaps that were automatically created as soon as we chucked the whole lot of wild blackberries shrubs down the hill (well, actually my husband did, but I was the one who made the coffee, mind you). We started planting almond trees, then hazelnut, walnut, chestnut, macadamia, and pinenut trees. Just recently, we added around 80 Manuka trees and more native trees and shrubs. We just love the feeling of Kereru and Tui birds coming and eating berries of native trees around our house and down the bank. It's what owning a land for, isn't it, that we're looking after nature as well as making it productive.

pinenut tree
We do understand that these nut trees might not be enjoyed thoroughly as much as we want at their young age, but we make sure they will be devoured by our children in the future.

From season to season, walnut, chestnut and hazelnut have started producing, and we have had a taste of each every year. Nuts are just best enjoyed when they are freshly cracked, don't you think?

When making this hazelnut slice, I used some of our homegrown hazelnuts mixed with bought ones. I am sending this to Sweet NZ, this month is hosted by Carmella of Easy Food Hacks.

Gluten-Free Hazelnut and Cocoa Nibs Slice

175g chilled margarine
1/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup gluten-free flour
1/2 cup hazelnut meal
1/2 cups almond meal
1 tsp vanilla essence

Milky Filling:
50g margarine
3/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs brown sugar

3/4 cup hazelnuts, roasted, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup cocoa nibs

Prepare a 22cm square tin, greased and lined. Put the flour, sugar, hazelnut meal and almond meal in a medium bowl. Rub the chilled margarine in until resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Place two thirds of the mixture on the base of the tin, press firmly. Chill the remaining mixture in the fridge.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160 C. Make the filling by melting margarine, sweetened condensed milk and brown sugar together in a saucepan, until well combined. Remove and let cool. Spread it over the base.

Bring the remaining flour and butter mixture from the fridge. Mix in chopped hazelnut and cocoa nibs. Sprinkle over the filling. Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Leave in the tin to cool a bit and cut into squares or fingers. Makes 15-20 pieces.