Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The fluffiest/lightest vanilla cupcake ever + the fluffiest/lightest buttercream frosting ever!

I baked these on Monday night, and I've never baked anything like it :) Knowing myself and my un-proness at baking, and my over-dependence on recipes, I came across an awesome vanilla cupcake recipe! The food blogger of this website followed a recipe from Christina Marsigliese, who's a food scientist.  Man, I should really follow these legit recipes with a scientific background, I'm now more curious to know what ingredients do what to the stuff I bake, hahaha :) This way I would know what to add and remove to get the perfect batch, instead of feeling guilty and unsure of the

These vanilla cupcakes are light and fluffy, and have a melt-in-the-mouth quality.  I'm not sure if cake mix tends to make the sponge a bit soft, more on the soggy and dense side.  But maybe that's due to the overnight refrigeration...

Anyway, no further ado, this was my result!

So basically I worked with Christina's recipe, but halving each quantity as I only planned to make half her batch (her recipe makes 18 servings, mine made 10).  Her recipe was also in US measurements, so I've converted them to approximations below:

The lightest fluffiest vanilla cupcake everrrr:
Ingredients:
  • 7/8 cup plain/all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda/bicarb soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/8 cup caster/granulated sugar
  • 60g butter, at room temperature (I always forget to leave my butter blocks out of the fridge 1 to 2 hours before baking, so I just microwave it for 20 second increments on low-moderate heat until the block feels soft but not liquid-melted)
  • 1 large egg (I used an egg from a 12-egg carton that weighed 700g altogether, so I reckon that's a normal sized egg, but the recipe still worked)
  • 1/6 cup full fat sour cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup milk

Method:
1. Preheat oven to 180ºC. Line a cupcake tray with 9 or 10 paper liners.
2. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add sugar and mix on low speed until well blended.
3. Add softened butter and beat on medium-low speed until butter is coated with flour and mixture resembles dry crumbs, about 3 minutes. Increase speed to medium and beat 30 seconds longer. If you don’t have a mixer – mix the above dry ingredients together with a fork and then rub in the butter by hand (like making scones or pie crust).
4. In another bowl, whisk together eggs, sour cream and vanilla extract until smooth. Add this to the flour mixture and mix on medium-low speed until moistened, about 45 seconds. With mixer on low speed, gradually add milk and beat until batter is smooth, about 20 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix until batter is light, airy and creamy looking, another 15-20 seconds on medium to medium-low speed. Whether mixing with the mixer or by hand make sure you do not over mix.
5. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups, filling them about two-thirds full. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 14 minutes. Transfer cakes to wire racks to cool completely and ice however you choose.
Original recipe from Christina Marsigliese.

Results:
They didn't rise as much as I've liked them to, but according to the blogger of eatpress.com, the one I found this recipe on, they said mine didn't rise to its full potential because of the baking powder's un-freshness, despite my baking powder being in the fridge .  Well, according to StillTasty, it's meant to be stored in a cool and dry area...well I have no idea how I found baking powder in my fridge, hahah!!!
After trying one, I must say, man it is so fluffy! Moral of the story, you don't have to be pro to follow this recipe, this recipe does it all for you :)

And then after my sister tried one, she decided she should take another, so I ended up giving 6 to the birthday girl.

Also, I wanted to find a fluffy buttercream frosting recipe as well, and I came across a quite nice one:

Fluffy Buttercream Frosting, recipe halved and adapted from this site:

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup icing/confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 tsp flavour extract (I used lemon)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, softened
  • Food colouring if desired (my friend's fave colour is yellow, so I opted for a light yellow shade of frosting with the 2 drops of liquid colouring, but I didn't want to add too much of it, because I heard somewhere that liquid food colour does stuffs up the baking)
Method:
1.   Combine all ingredients in bowl. Beat at low speed to mix. Beat at high speed until smooth and fluffy, approximately 5-10 minutes. If too stiff, beat in a few drops of water.

Results: Ta-da!! 
(Blogpost edited 29/12/12)

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

ADRIANO! I'VE FINALLY OFFICIALLY TASTED YOUR MACARON :)

OMG what great news this is for me :)

I've been raving about Zumbo, from trying to get work experience at The Star to dedicating a tumblr to him.  Now I can officially call myself a real Zumbo fan.  Just less than 15 minutes ago, I have indulged for one entire minute into his Willy Wonka World of Pure Creation and Awesomeness :)

Happy early Easter everyone, or I guess that's what Zumbo's message is also, because his Easter range is now out in stores, yayyyy!

With Easter inspired treats like this hot cross bun cake... (credits to the Adriano Zumbo Patissier facebook page)
... and a few other items, I got the chance to taste one of his seasonal macarons --> The Hot Cross Bun macaron :)
Should've taken an innards shot, but the macaron was so fragile, because my sister saved it until the end of the day to give it to me! :\ Ok so maybe I haven't officially tasted real straight-out-of-the-shop Zumboron yet, but I'll definitely get my hands on one soon!

The filling is rich and got the sickly-sweetness of the raisins, and yum the spices, tastes just like a blended hot cross bun.  The shell was pretty thin and fragile, because the filling softened it heaps, maybe due to the fact my sis kept it all day long :\ But this is defs worth my $2.50 :)

Yeah I tried to apply for work experience at The Star, but my school wouldn't let me, I was planning to go these holidays.  An entire 6-hour-per-day-for-3-whole-days experience inside the kitchen, where all the fun stuff happens :)  Well I could always just dream on...let's just hope it's in the near future! When there's a will, there's a way, right? :)

(Blogpost edited 29/12/12)

Monday, 26 March 2012

Japanese food, friends and festival

I always love to find an excuse to go out to eat these days.  One of my closest friends, Clare, randomly got access to a free ticket to the Franchising and Business Expo at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre, and it was free rego online too, so we decided to go together.  And yep, you guessed it.  PERFECT excuse to go eat somewhere :)
I think at this point we were just hungry for food, hahaha :)  currently @ Ramen Kan
I was opting for Ichiban Boshi on George St (in Galeries Victoria), but due to trackwork problems, I got to Town Hall by 12.15pm, so by then, the line at the restaurant was already pretty long, about 15 people waiting with their number tickets :\  So my other option was Ramen Kan, because Clare recently went and really liked the food.  I've been there twice, and I was craving Japanese food hahah.

Urbanspoon rates Ichiban Boshi quite high, and my previous two experiences with Ramen Kan were pretty normal, just I guess that was because when I went there twice in Year 10, my mindset towards Japanese food was that it was similar to Vietnamese dishes, just cooked with different noodles and seasoned a bit differently.  I always had the thought that rice and noodles aren't really worth going out and eating, because I love my Mum's cooking :)

But cheers to cheap city eats, which include quite a few Japanese restaurants!
Ramen Kan is situated opposite of the Maccas that’s part of the Sydney Entertainment Centre building, and it’s also near Cold Rock Ice Creamery and Oporto.  After the quite dodgy lift ride (with buttons covered in paper and sticky tape), we came to Level 1 that was Ramen Kan, and found it to be full of customers, except for the few single chairs that are facing the windows.  Luckily there were 2 two-seaters left, we thought we wouldn’t be able to find a seat for lunch at 12.30!
The atmosphere of Ramen Kan was quite lively, I didn't really pay attention to the background music to see if it was Asian or not, because a lot of the customers were chatting and looking like they had a good time with their meals.
I like the nice oriental "bamboo" effect of the decor in the shop, maybe not so much authentic Japanese, but it certainly gave the shop an edge and not just some dodgy street food shop kinda thing.  It's kinda sad that those who walk past it on the street won't really know what it looks like unless they know about it from word of mouth or urbanspoon reviews.  The dodgy lift does make one judge...

I love getting the most out of every outing, I mean, who doesn't?! And I have a knack for sharing food :) I get the best of both worlds, catch two birds with one stone haha, and if I don't like one dish, I still got half of another (and hopefully better) one to indulge in.  So we asked for two more bowls from the lovely and helpful waitresses...who work with iPads now :)
Clare ordered the Omelette Chicken Rice (I think this was the name...), which included a small bowl of salad.  ($11.90)
The presentation was nice, with the whole rice being wrapped by the soft omelette, drizzled with a generous amount of tomato sauce, and a white dressing that Clare calls "japanese mayonnaise".  I don't eat Japanese much so I have no idea what this is called either :\
This dish is rice mixed in with a lot of tomato sauce.  The sizzler dish makes it even more similar.  With the whole sticky chewy bits of hardened rice, still maintaining a bit of the glutinous nature but chewy and stick-to-the-innards-of-your-teeth quality, like the rice you find when you dig it up from the bottom of a rice cooker.  Yummmm :)
The salad was so meagre.  From a dish with barely any vegies....WE WANT MORE VEGIES! Hahaha, well maybe that'd take away the Japanese quality of the dish, but then again...Japanese and tomato sauce don't really mix, do they?

To be honest, I’m not a rice person.  Yeah my family’s full Vietnamese, and we eat rice heaps, but if ever I eat rice, it’s only half a rice-spoon full.  But for a person who likes a fried rice alternative , this dish gets a thumbs up from me :) The tomato sauce's tang helps lift the light but still taste-able slighty creamy flavour of the omelette. And  I LOVE THE JAPANESE MAYONNAISE :)  

FLASHBACK:
Here's two of my closest friends, Fiona (as you might have seen from some previous posts) and Liana. (Courtesy editing from Pixlr-o-matic) That middle picture is my dish, the Yaki Soba. 
So I opted for the Yaki Udon this time, stir fried and including miso soup - $10.90
Them pretty noodles :)
Clare's half :)
The savoury flavours were really nice together, they a lot of depth, and I believe the dish was seasoned very well, however, it was a bit too salty for my liking.  The novelty has definitely got to be…the moving onions!!
The Japanese mayo is creamy with a tang at the end, I really like it!! If you know what it’s called, please tell me : ) I’m hoping to be able to request more of it everytime I eat at a Japanese restaurant, hehe.

The strands of noodles aren’t excessively oily, which is preferred by me, and they’re not like hard and glutinous, they’re quite soft.  They didn’t give me a lot of the stringy vegies or the beef though.  Too much noodles.  

My verdict:
Atmosphere (and location): Quite lively with the chatter from the happy customers.  However, the space was a bit small, felt a bit crampy (bumping into the table next to you to try and get out is kinda awkward... :\) and I just have a thing with dodgy hidden lifts... 7/10
Price: Lunch for under $15 is the expected range, they did have some lunch boxes that exceeded this though.  8/10

Food and Taste: Regardless of my predisposition about Japanese dishes being similar to some dishes I eat at home, these dishes are well seasoned and they gave us generous 20x10cm sizzler dishes, so that's quite a big serving.  I liked the mayo, but the Yaki Udon noodles were a bit too salty for me, and I'm not a fan of too much rice.  8/10

Service: Great service, friendly staff, but we waited more than 10 minutes for the food. 7/10.

Overall = 7.5/10
Would I come back? I'd probs opt to try other Japanese restaurants around the city first.
Ramen Kan
1/90 Hay Street, Haymarket NSW 2000 (02) 9211 6677 ‎  
Afterwards, we went to the anticipated expo, and got brief but still pretty good insight into the world of franchising and businesses.  And lucky me, rego-ing to this expo gets me in a draw to win one of 50 Good Food and Wine Show tix!!
Also, we visited a "Taste of Europe" stall, and they were promoting their cute desserts!!
(I took this picture after the event finished)
Mmmm, this was really nice :) Dense layer of dark choc on top, creamy fluffy milk choc mousse for the 2nd layer, and creamy vanilla mousse for the bottom :) 
If any of you know and like any Japanese restaurants, please post a comment down below, I'd really appreciate it! :)
Ramen-Kan on Urbanspoon
(Blogpost edited 29/12/12)

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Macaron Day! :)

C'EST LE JOUR DU MACARON, TOUT LE MONDE!!
Well that would've been effective if I finished this blog post yesterday :\  But other than that, hope everyone had a fun day yesterday, whether or not you celebrated Macaron day :)

Although Australia doesn't really celebrate it like New York City or have Jour du Macaron edition macarons like Pierre Pierre Hermé's, I decided to celebrate it with a friend, Kim from Eat Me Tidbits :)

So, this morning, I went on a 2 hour quest for a few macarons from 3 different shops around Sydney city :)  And exams are all done, but it's all back in the endless cycle of working hard, but I still had heappps of fun yesterday!

My entire trip is in red (excluding trip back to school):

 Getting to Central at 7.50am and arriving at school at 9.50 (thank goodness for a double free!!), my first stop? Cre Asion.  It’s in Alberta Street, it’s in a small alleyway –like street, you can’t see Cre Asion from outside. 
It’s a small and cosy place, but the design is very nice.  The 2 people who served me were very nice, but kinda shy as well.

The atmosphere is quite nice, and corner-shop like, except I reckon it’s a bit hidden from the main streets.  Their macarons are the cheapest out of all the macarons I bought today, but in size, they were also the smallest.  Their prices have now changed from previous blog posts that I’ve seen.  One piece is $2.70, and they do sell boxes of macarons too.  A small box of 8 = $21 (saving you 60c), a medium box of 12 = $31 (saving you $1.40), and a big box of 18 = $45 (saving $3.60)
Their faint logo on the paper bag I got.
Next stop, Lindt! 
Kim’s tried from Lindt: strawberry, vanilla, milk choc, excellence 70%, pistachio, champagne, and hazelnut, and we were wanting to try the apple cinnamon, but Lindt has a rang of what they call their "seaonal delices".  I love it how they call their macarons "delices", haha, determined to be different, I see.  And they ARE different.  Their macaron price trumps Zumbo's awesome ones, being $3 a delice.  However, Lindt does compensate in size, they're slightly bigger than Cre Asion's.
3rd stop, GUYLIAN @ DARLING QUARTER :) Yes! I was determined to go back, the guy there was very nice to us, and gosh those macarons, yummmm :)
I went over to the far left of the counter this time; WOW THEY EVEN MADE CAKES OMG yummm :)
Just look at that amazing decor and perfect roundness of each.  Now if I could just get my hands on one of them...
 Mmmmm, treasure chests of golden eggs!
Fiona enjoyed this pastry so much, she requested I buy her another!
All fresh and ready to serve! I think this is a sample plate :)
Remember this guy? :) He happened to work yesterday as well! I had a short chat to him, and his name is Leo :)  Trust me, if you get a chance to go Guylian @ Darling Quarter, this guy gives you wonderful service!  He remembered me, and asked me how my macarons from last time were. 
 Each macaron is $2.80, and the size is also slightly bigger than Cre Asion's. 
Time to return to school, and call Kim out to take photos, hahahaaa :)
Credits to Kim for these 2 lovely photos!
Just look at the thick servings of ganache, and the blueberry/lavendar one on the bottom left corner even has a little cute blueberry in the centre! 
I ate 3 first, and then the bell rang for class, and I was told that I was getting my Maths paper back :\ but the other 3 half macarons cheered me up afterwards :)

Top left: Tonka Bean from Cre Asion - I've never tasted Tonka Bean before, so I didn't know what to expect.  A quick Wiki afterwards said that it's got flavours of vanilla, almond and a few other spices (cinnamon and cloves).  Hmm, pretty interesting.
Bottom left: Blueberry Lavendar from Cre Asion - Well, they didn't actually have a name for this macaron, so I had to ask for its flavours.  The colours are quite nice though, don't you think? 
Top middle: Blackcurrant Delice from Lindt  - Love that deep purple colour.
Bottom middle: Passion Delice from Lindt - What a lovely vibrant yellow this is!
Top right: Mocha Macaron from Guylian - Simplistically decorated, but still got style :)
Bottom right: Jaffa Macaron for Guylian - My maths teacher was like "Whoa that's a really intense colour, isn't it?" Hahahaha, cheers to eating in maths class :)
I think I'm just obsessed with staring at these lovely things :) We each got half of each macaron to taste, sharing is caring!
Oooh yes, and the brioche :) A normal pastry prettily presented, and tastes awesome as well.
Tasting - in the order I ate it:
 Blackcurrant delice: quite an intense blackcurrant jam-my puree flavour
Lavendar and blueberry: there's a very mild whiff of lavender. The blueberry is sweet, with a tiny kick of sour, which I really like.  And half a blueberry we each got :)
Passion delice:  OMG! Total passionfruit intense flavour sweet but definitely got that fruity punch!
Tonka bean: I thought the taste was a bit strange, I get that people would like it, but I didn't like the flavour.  It smelt of these mild spices, don't think I'm up for it just yet.  
Mocha macaron: The shell was slightly chewier than the rest of the macarons (but maybe that's only because I left it for longer than the others), and the shell isn’t as crunchy, but the mocha flavour definitely shows through, loved the creamy consistency of ganache with that warm bitter coffee smell, and cheers to a generous serving of ganache :)
Jaffa macaron: Like the colour, the orange flavour was really intense.  You know that feeling when you drink Sunkist and you feel gas climbing up your nose? Because eating this was kinda like a degassed version of this, love the taste.

So that was 17 bucks worth of macaron-y awesomeness!  Hopefully I could go on another round soon, hopefully I could taste one of Zumbo's soon :

(Blogpost edited 29/12/12)