Tuesday, 31 May 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons

A warm-hearted lady sent me a recipe yesterday, for a "Luscious Belgian Lemon Teacake".  The recipe was so simple and didn't involve the use of a mixer that immediately I was intrigued at how it would turn out.

The method to this cake involves cooking a custard filling for the centre of the cake, which I suppose is what gives it its 'lusciousness'. ;)

Ingredients for Cake
1 cup self raising flour
1/2 cup castor sugar
60g butter
1 egg, lightly beaten


  1. Line a 17-cm round cake tin. (I used my 8-in round cake tin, which is about 20-cm).
  2. Sift the flour and add the sugar.  Rub in the butter until breadcrumb-like, then add the egg.  You'll get a sticky dough.
  3. Divide the dough into 3 parts, and put 2 parts into the bottom of the tin, and spread it out with your fingers.

Ingredients for Lemon Custard
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
1/3 cup of sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
60g butter


  1. Put all your ingredients except the lemon zest into a saucepan and melt on low heat, stirring constantly.
  2. Once the sugar has melted, slowly bring the mix to boil and it will thicken.  Once that happens, turn off the heat.

Back to Cake Method

  1. Sprinkle half of the lemon zest over the cake batter in the tin.
  2. Pour the lemon custard over the cake batter.
  3. Cut up the remaining cake batter into teaspoon sizes and drop them onto the custard to cover evenly.

  4. Sprinkle the rest of the lemon zest over the cake and pop it into the oven set at 180 deg C for 30 mins. (I lowered the heat after 15 minutes to 175 dec C because the top of the cake looked very brown. :))
  5. Cool in the tin.
  6. Remove from tin, sprinkle icing sugar on top, and then serve with tea.  Yums!

The fragrance of this cake while baking is wow!  The whole house is filled with its scent. :)
The cake is crumbly, sticky and parts of it crunchy... what a mouthful of texture and goodness!

So friends,
When life gives you lemons, don't despair!
Make this luscious lemon cake to share -
Your woes are halved, your blessings doubled,
When friends share your lemons and your trouble.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

I Can Eat A Rainbow!

Why are there so many, songs about Rainbows and what's on the other siiiiiiiiiide?

Perhaps it's because rainbows are one of the most uplifting, joyful images we have. =)

When I was volunteering at no. 3's class to teach the pre-nursery kids to play with their food (;P), I promised the class that I would make them a rainbow cake.  The night before, I made friends with a lovely lady, Selphie, who blogged about making a Rainbow Cake.  Instantly, I was inspired to try my hand at this.  After all, the premise was simple - tinting the cake batter and then assembling it - but the effect! Wow!

In the interim period, some of no. 3's friends would remind me of my promise whenever I go to the school to fetch no. 2 & 3.  Since this was the last week of school, I decided to get this done, otherwise they would probably forget about the whole idea of eating a rainbow! ;)

I would have used a cake mix for this in a pinch, but I didn't quite have the time this week to hit the stores.  Therefore, I googled for a simple cake mix, and this one had good reviews.  In addition, what I like about this recipe is that I needn't separate the eggs.  For me, simplicity is key! ;)

I knew that a 7-layer cake would be quite tall if I doubled the basic cake recipe, so I went for 1.5 times the recipe.  In all, the cake was a good size to share with a class of 10 preschoolers and their teachers.

The Vanilla* Cake Recipe
* I use Vanilla extract here, but I suppose you can substitute it for any essence you like.  No. 1 is already thinking of mango or lemon... ;P

300 g white sugar
170 g butter
3 eggs
15 ml vanilla extract
280 g all-purpose flour (sifted together with the baking powder)
10 g baking powder
180 ml milk
Red, Yellow and Blue Wilton Food Colouring Gel


  1. In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter until the butter lightens.  This would take about 8 minutes.
  2. Add in the eggs one at a time, creaming each one well after cracking it in.  Scrape down, mix, and then crack in the next egg.
  3. Add in the vanilla extract. (Or any other substitute.)
  4. Make 3 batches of the flour mix and 2 batches of the milk.  Add in the flour to the cream mix first, followed by milk, flour, milk and finally flour.  At each addition, make sure to mix it well.
  5. Being one of those needing exact measurement, I weighed out the cake batter - 1073g - and divided it up into 7 portions - about 153g each portion.

  6. Using the 3 primary colours, add enough gel paste to colour the portions Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Violet and Indigo (Dark Purple).
  7. Line and grease 2 or 3 8-inch cake pans and bake them in a 165 degC oven for 15 minutes.  Once the cake is done, turn it out onto a cake rack, and reline the cake pan for the next layer.
  8. Allow all the cake layers to cool before frosting.
Because I baked the night before frosting, I placed each layer of cake on a dinner plate, covered it with a plastic food wrap and put it in the fridge overnight.

Assembling the cake
I used the butter-cream cheese frosting that I've posted before, but used vanilla extract instead of strawberry, in order not to clash with the vanilla cake.
  1. Starting from the indigo layer, use about 1 heaped tablespoon of the frosting to coat the layer before placing the violet layer on.  Do likewise to the violet layer all the way until you get to the red layer.  While frosting the layers, take care to 'fill-in' the sides, especially if your cake layers are like mine, tapering off at the sides.

    Building upwards...

    Frosting, frosting...
    And building upwards...
    until the last layer...
    Of course, frost the final red layer and sides before putting it in the fridge. =)

  2. Once the cake has a frosted coat, return it into the freezer to harden before frosting the cake proper.
I toyed with the idea of making a fluffy looking frosting that is cloud-like, but because of time (I had to tie no. 2 hair for school!!!) I kept the frosting simple.
My cakeboard was sufficiently 'cloud-like' with the scalloped edge. ;P

At the school, I talked to the preschoolers (3-year-olds) about the colours they see in the sky - blue, pinks and black - and the colours of clouds.  We talked about favourite colours and those that can be found in a rainbow... and then I cut a slice out and their eyes literally widened! =)

We didn't do this, but I suppose we could have sung:
Red and yellow and pink and green
Purple and orange and blue
I can EAT a rainbow, 
EAT a rainbow, 
EAT a rainbow too.


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

DIY Pizza Party!

Individual DIY Pizzas made by my guests

DIY Pizza Party is easy to do... and when you've got a perfect recipe for homemade pizza dough, things are so much simpler! =)

Brenda's Pizza Dough:
500g Plain Flour, sifted
1 sachet Instant Yeast
300ml Lukewarm Water
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp dried Oregano
1 tsp Garlic Powder
Olive Oil

  1. Mix the yeast in the water with 3 tablespoons of the sifted flour. Set it aside for 15 minutes for the yeast to activate.
  2. In a bowl add the oregano, garlic powder and salt to the flour. Make a well in the flour and pour the activated yeast mixture in.  The activated yeast mixture should smell yeasty and look foamy.  Use a spoon to mix the flour with the liquid so that it comes together as a dough.
  3. Turn it out onto a floured table, and knead the dough for 10 minutes. This part is an excellent arm workout! ;)
  4. Shape it into a ball and coat it *thinly* with olive oil. I pour out about a teaspoon of the olive oil in my hand, and then lightly cover the dough with it.
  5. Leave the dough in a bowl to double its size. Cover the bowl with a towel and put it aside for about 1 hour.
  6. Punch down the dough, and weigh out about 110g of dough for each serving. Roll out circles (or something like circles ;)) on cut-out baking paper, so that each person can have their own pizza to put their favourite toppings on. =)  Each dough recipe should make about 7 or 8 smaller pieces.

Brenda's Homemade Pizza Sauce:
2 large tomatoes
1 large onion
a handful of fresh basil leaves
3 cloves of garlic
a little pepper

1 small can of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of olive oil for frying

  1. Blend all the ingredients together, except for the tomato paste.
  2. In a saucepan, heat up the olive oil.  Add in the blended ingredients to the oil and fry until some of the fragrance is released.  Add in the tomato paste and heat it up until it bubbles and come together.
  3. Allow the sauce to cool before use.

Pizza Sauce, and other favourite toppings: Ham, pastrami, onions, capsicums, egg, basil...
...baby spinach, olives, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, pineapple slices, mozzarella and cheddar cheese... 

Adding a raw egg on the pizza is Pizza alla Bismark. 

Into a preheated oven set at 220 deg C for 15 minutes
DIY pizza parties tend to get my guests excited because for some of them, it's a fun way for some creative cooking expression.  For others, it's a good way to avoid foods they don't enjoy, but don't have to worry about whether their avoidance of certain items might lessen another person's enjoyment of it.  For kids, they pile on their favourites with no worries about that yucky stray pineapple slice that seems to hide under a mozzarella because they can simply not put that in! :)

Of course, among my guests, many were only too happy to share a slice of their pizza version with another, and it certainly adds to the overall conversation and atmosphere.

Along with the pizzas, I also serve a cream soup; in this case, my cream of mushroom soup.

Have fun at your own pizza party! =)