Friday, January 28, 2011

Aunt Helen's Birthday Cake

A week ago, my cousin asked me to make her mom's birthday cake. I didn't know what design to make but I know I want it to look like one of those Chinese birthday cake. I decided to make a vanilla cake with vanilla buttercream and fresh blueberries inside and vanilla whipped cream frosting on the outside.

I also decided to make a baby Winnie the pooh and a bunny for the year of the rabbit.

The cake was great and I drove it all the way to SF with no problem. But when I was unloading it from the car, the handle of the cake box I put it in broke, and the cake just slammed onto box in the back of my car. Luckily, my cake was durable enough to withstand the fall! Other than that, some of the whipped cream got scraped off onto the box.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Chinese Sponge Cake

As much as I think Chinese birthday cakes are plain sometimes, I am always amazed at how fluffy and light they are! I decided to learn to make the cake base...the fluffy sponge cake. I found a recipe for rolled sponge cake with cream filled center from this Chinese cookbook from Hong Kong, so I used the recipe for the cake part.

Sponge cakes are tricky to make because if you don't whip the egg whites right, the cake will not be fluffy. Also, make sure the cake gets into the oven right away after scrapping it into the baking pan because egg whites in the batter will lose their airy texture if let out for too long. Lastly, the trick to not make the cake collapse is to turn it upside down with the pan during cooling.
I forgot to let it cool with the pan, but good thing I turned it upside down, so the cake remained in shape. The fresh out of oven cake smell so good and eggy. It was soft but not as fluffy as I wanted since I didn't put it intto the oven right away.
Afterward, I decided to try frosting it with some homemade whipped cream and fruits like a Chinese cake. Because it was a quick practice cake, I didn't bother to decorate it. I just want to eat it, haha.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Alvin's Ice Cream Birthday Cake

Every year, I would get my little brother a birthday cake for his birthday. He particularly like requesting ice cream cake. This year for his 12th birthday, I'd decided to make him one.

My little brother loves watching basketball and playing NBA basketball games, so I decided to make a cake with a basket ball theme. At first I was just going to make one with a basketball, but that's too plain. So at the end, I decided to make a jersey with a basketball.

The jersey is made with vanilla cake with vanilla ice cream, and the basketball is made with chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream. My little brother only likes vanilla ice cream, so it made my life a bit easier when it comes to picking out flavors. The jersey had the number 12 on it, which represents his age. I had the hardest time getting the basketball color icing to go darker. I gave up after awhile but glad that at least the cake turned out okay...well, minus the fact that I forgot to color the side of the jersey red.

The cake was pretty big. After feeding 14 people, there was still about half of the jersey left. I personally think the vanilla cake and vanilla ice cream combo tasted better. 
I'm glad he likes the cake and the ice cream. He asked to keep the rest at the end of the night. =]

Happy Birthday Bro!! <3

Friday, January 21, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Cupcake with Non-Vegan Bailey Buttercream

Tonight I decided to make chocolate cupcakes. But then I felt lazy and didn't want to work with butter with a handheld mixer, so I went vegan. Most vegan cupcake recipes call for vegetable oil, which to me is easier to work with when I'm not using a stand mixer. The recipe was super fast and easy; I didn't even use a handheld mixer, I just use a spatula and my hand to mix it. The recipe makes super duper moist cupcakes. I mean it's so moist that it feels undercooked even though the toothpick comes out clean.
So making vegan cupcakes have nothing to do with me being vegan, since I do plan to make a buttercream with butter. Finally I met the inevitable...I need to make buttercream with a handheld mixer or a stand mixer. I finally opened my stand mixer from its box. I didn't want to use handheld mixer this time since I injured my wrist a few days ago. Anyhow, I love my stand mixer. It makes buttercream so fast and work-free.

Vegan Chocolate Cake Recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup water


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a 12 cup muffin pan with cupcake liners.
  2. Sift together all dry ingredients. Mix in the oil, vanilla, vinegar and water to the dry ingredients until smooth.
  3. Divide into muffin pan evenly, and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Banana "Cupcakes" or Muffins

Tonight I decided to use what I have in the kitchen and fridge to make cupcakes. I have two ripe bananas lying around and some buttermilk in the fridge. First thought...banana bread? Nah! I'll try making banana cupcakes, which should be less dense and fluffier, and supposedly more moist.

The time took for my the banana "cupcakes" I made took longer than the time it usually takes to bake other cupcakes. First thought! Uh oh! Second thought, it's going to be denser than a normal cupcake. Third thought? It still should be not as dense as banana bread! It better not be! Okay, maybe it'll become muffins!

So at this baking point, I felt like the consistency of the banana "cupcakes" are like muffins. So after my "cupcakes" cooled, I frosted them with some vanilla buttercream. They turned out lighter and comparatively more fluffy than banana bread, but it still could not surpass my is still not as moist and fluffy like cupcakes. Nevertheless, the banana MUFFINS tasted really delicious! I chowed down two of them with and without frosting really fast. I know I know...but I got to taste my own work right?
*Update* January 15, 2011
I took them to work today, and one of my coworkers wouldn't stop telling me how good it tasted! He said he really like the frosting too! Yay! I guess it worked out nicely as a muffin haha.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Elle's Birthday Cake

So for my friend, Elle's, birthday, I decided to make her a cake. Knowing that she has a cat and loves cat, I decided to make a cat cake. My original plan was to make a cat cake like her cat Freiya, which is black. But I changed my mind after awhile because I do not want to give her a black cat on her birthday. I know I know, I sound superstitious right? Maybe.
I drew a sketch of how I want the cake to be during lunch time two days before the cake was due. My sketch included a two tiers cake. I started baking the cakes Friday night after work, which was a day before the cake was due. Unfortunately, my cake for the first tier did not turned out the way I wanted. I gave up around 3am in the morning. The next day, I woke up and baked another cake, but this time it was too dense, so with time restrain, I decided to just make it one tier. I was glad it turned out alright.  
 This was the cake 7 hours before due time at dinner. I was stressing a bit after taking this photo because it resembled a rat as well. Oh no! So I added some extra things later.
And this is the finished cake. I added the paws and the fish 2 hours before dinner. I'm glad it made it look more like a cat.

Here is the birthday girl, Elle, and her cake. She looks so pretty from the orangy red glow. The waiter did an awesome job in putting the cake on a plate and putting candles on it for me. Yay!

It's a dark chocolate cake with raspberry preserve and raspberry buttercream frosting. I added very little buttercream because the cake itself is pretty rich already. I just need that fruity flavor from the raspberry to balance it out.
The party of 7 ended up finishing half of the cake, which comforted me a little about failing on the 2nd tier. I also got some great compliments about the look of the cakes and the taste of it as well. I was also glad that Elle knew it was a cat! Yay! Happy Birthday Elle!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sam's Chowder House

4210 North Cabrillo Hwy
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
 Sam's usually has a truck going around the Peninsula selling chowder and sandwiches for those who doesn't want to travel to Half Moon Bay. I came to Sam's Chowder House on a foggy day, which was perfect for a bowl of warm soup. But for me, who doesn't like tracking the truck down, I decided to go to the restaurant instead.

I ordered a bowl of Sam's special clam chowder.

The clam chowder was creamy and filled with clams. It wasn't overly salty either like most clam chowders I had. Delicious!

This was my first ever lobster roll, so I might sound bias, but I'm not. This thing is delcious! The bread was butter yet light and fluffy. The lobster salad was lightly dressed and it wasn't heavy at all. There was loads of lobsters and generous amounts of veggies like celery with it. It was quite delightful staring at the bay while eating this very refreshing roll. The slaw was also tasty and not drenched in heavy dressing either.

So every time when I'm at a seafood restuarant, I have to order a cioppino by default. It's like ordering a red velvet cupcake at a cupcake shop you never tried before. It is the main dish that I use to compare one seafood restaurant from another. Even though the chowder and the lobster roll were delicious, the cioppino was not as good as I thought. Sam's served the lighter kind of cioppino in which the seafood was cooked in a lighter and not as chunky tomato broth. The flavor was definitely there but I could also taste a mouthful of salt. And for some reasons, the seafood didn't really absorb the flavor of the broth either. I think I'll skip on this next time unless I really want an assortment of seafood in a non-fried dish.

Overall, Sam's was a very nice restuarant to dine in. With its gorgeous view and friendly staff and environment, I can totally see myself come back for a nice brunch or dinner before the sunset (so I can glance at the view).  

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Practice Ice Cream Cake

A few days ago, I told my little brother that I would make his birthday cake this year. For the last four years, I'd been getting him cakes for his birthday, but this year, I'd decide to make one. My brother loves ice cream cake, and so, I decided to make him one with his favorite ice cream flavor--vanilla.

I decided to test one out after spotting ice cream at Target. I looked around and picked out a box of mint chocolate ice cream since my test subject for the night is my boyfriend. Mint chocolate is his favorite. He's picky about his mint chocolate ice cream though, he dislikes the chunky chocolate ones or the chocolate chip ones. He only likes the chocolate shaving ones like the Rite Aid brand. Luckily, Target sells a similar kind.

Anyhow, I made the cake with  white cake mix, since it's easy; and hey, all the ice cream shops use them anyways! The ice cream cake was super easy to make. All I had to do is bake a thin layer of cake and then cool it. After that, I placed saran wrap in a cake pan, and placed the cooled cake ont. I then scooped some ice cream in a bowl and melted it a bit with a spoon. Then I poured it into the cake pan onto the cake, and place the whole pan into the freezer for 2 hours. The saran wrap made it easy for lifting the ice cream cake up as well as easy cleaning later.

Lastly, it is optional to frost the cake with whip cream or cool whip. I didn't do it tonight because I just wanted to test out the method. I would also smooth the side out with a knife if I want a better presentation, but I didn't do that either since it's all going to go down into two people's stomachs in less than a day. Haha.

Yummy in my tummy! Hopefully my brother's cake will turn out nice. We'll see how that goes later!