To start this story, we have to go way back to yesterday morning when I was craving raisin bread for breakfast. Sadly we were out of bread, and my mom wasn’t planning on going shopping any time soon. I have a favorite go to bread […]
Okayyyyy…so, I was writing this post and I was almost done when the page was reloaded without being saved…and I lost the WHOLE post…excuse me while I go into a corner and cry. Well, there’s not much I can do…so here goes attempt #2.
I meant to update you all on the cake baking process sooner, but it kind of just slipped my mind until now…so here we go!
I am more than happy to announce that…
I FINALLY FOUND THE PERFECT CAKE RECIPE 😀
If you read my previous post, you’ll know that I wrote about my opinions of from-scratch vanilla cake recipes and how all my previous experiences with these recipes always came up short. They’d either turn out very dry or dense, and in my opinion boxed vanilla cake mix was much faster with better results. HOWEVER, this recipe has restored my faith in from-scratch baking. It’s moist, the texture is light and fluffy, and the flavor is much better.
What’s different about this recipe? It uses sour cream in place of 2% milk (…well I should be baking with whole milk..but I usually don’t have that on hand..bad habit..I know). Sour cream has more fat in it than regular milk which contributes to the moist and tender texture it gives a cake. It’s the same reason why those weird cake recipes that use mayonnaise in them turn out so good.
The role of fat in making your cake texture 100x better has to do with gluten. I know there are some cake recipes that require you to mix the dry ingredients with room temperature butter first to make a sand like mixture before adding in the wet ingredients.
*screenshot credits to @thescranline*
These recipes include these steps to prevent gluten from forming in the cake. Gluten formation is reduced by the butter (aka the fat) coating the different gluten proteins before they come in contact with the liquids. By coating the proteins, it prevents them from bonding together to form gluten when you add the wet ingredients.
To give a little background on gluten, gluten is made up of two classes of proteins: gliadin and glutenin. These two proteins are present in the flour you use to bake. When you add water to these two proteins, they come together to form gluten. Gluten is what makes dough elastic and stretchy and it’s what gives bread it’s structure. But it’s also what makes your cake chewy…and that’s not what you want. The fat in butter is what coats the proteins, and thus the same logic applies to sour cream. The fat content in sour cream helps to prevent gluten formation. In addition, with sour cream, the acidity also influences protein interaction and starch gelation which further improves the texture of the cake.
I didn’t have enough ingredients to make another full on cake (and I decided it wouldn’t be an effective use of time) so I used this cake recipe to test out how I was going to make the cupcakes. I cored the middle and added in fresh strawberries and cream cheese pastry cream. The only problem I had, was that I overfilled the cupcake moulds. For cupcakes, I don’t want the cakes to rise over the edge because it increases the surface area that you need to frost (meaning more use of buttercream…what a waste 🙁 ). That is why all the cupcakes pictured are oddly trimmed at the sides…ah the perfectionist inside me cringes…don’t worry Hannah I won’t do this for your wedding 😉 .
For the buttercream on top, I tried to make a cream cheese Italian meringue buttercream…but it turned out horribly soft and flimsy (definitely not suitable for cake decorating). The taste was great, and it was fine to put on the cupcakes, but it would just slide off the sides if I tried to put it on the cakes…soo we’re sticking with the original Italian buttercream recipe for the wedding.
*do you see how the buttercream just flops like that? 🙁 *
The link to the cream cheese Italian buttercream recipe is here. I’m sure if I spend some time on it, I’d be able to work it out for the cakes but I’m not going to risk experimenting on the cake the day before the wedding. That being said, I’m back at school now and the wedding’s happening this weekend :0!! Wish me luck! LOL
Vanilla Cake Recipe (current favorite):
Italian Meringue Buttercream (solid basic recipe):
Pastry Cream Recipe (I added in the cream cheese on my own in a 1:1 ratio):
Cream Cheese Italian Meringue (I will come back to this someday):
It is currently the middle of finals week and I have one more final to go. Woo! This semester has been a real rollercoaster of new challenges and shifting communities. I really should be studying right now, but I guess I can consider this as […]
As I write this, I am honestly in a moment of frantic panic. I have to say, since I’ve started this journey, there have been many moments of this “oh my gosh what am I doing!!!???” feeling.
There’s so much uncertainty in this process, and the anticipation of it all is a bit overwhelming sometimes. The main thing that I’m struggling to make a decision on is whether or not it’s a good idea to partner with another company and sell my macarons under their name, first, or just start off on my own with a Cottage food license.
Ideally, doing it all on my own seems nice. The problem with that, though, is that I don’t have the resources for a lot of things that working with an established business would give me. Such as wholesale prices on ingredients, a full scale kitchen, and a business license with out applying for ten different certifications. I just feel very small not knowing a thing about what I’m doing and there’s the fear that I’m making a mistake in the paths that I’m choosing.
Dear Jesus take the wheel please XD.
On another note, I sent out a sample batch that the owner of the business I’m working with will use to give to potential customers. The current projection as of now is to start actually baking and testing in mid/late September. I have a feeling it might get pushed back, but I have FAITH, and I believe that I will still be able to push forward.
Something I’ve also been thinking through as I move along with this project is the whole “what makes my macarons special?” question. I’ve thought about this a lot before, but I think it’s a good thing for me to know. Especially when I’m working with something that many other people out there are good at as well. It’s not like I’m the only one out there making macarons, and I certainly won’t be the last either. So what makes what I have to offer so special?
If you thought I was going to answer that…we’ll sorry to disappoint. Maybe I’ll have it figured out by next time, who knows? Or, all of you who are reading this can help me answer that. Till then
Hello Everyone! I have some news to share! Some of you already know this, but I am currently working on producing and selling my macarons professionally by partnering with a wholesale bakery. I’m still in the phase of actually processing that this is really going to […]
Aren’t these Peonies pretty? My dad likes to spontaneously buy flowers for my mom, so occasionally our kitchen will be graced by a few flowers standing tall amidst the mess I make on the counter while baking. Contrary to what my parents think, I do […]
For me, coming home from College has always been a big transition every summer. As much as I miss home whenever I’m away at school, adjusting to being back has always been a process in itself. You spend almost 8-9 months away from home, changing and growing the whole time only to come home to a place that remembers you as you were 8 months ago. You spend your entire time up in College immersed in what is happening there, slowly coming to understand yourself better with the independence you have from being away from home. Then you come back home, and your family doesn’t know how much you have changed as a person. They treat you the same as before, and it’s like fighting an uphill battle through mud trying to convince them and explain to them how you’ve changed.
As if learning to understand yourself isn’t a journey on it’s own. Having family nagging you about this and that and trying to explain to them your current state (as if it’s a final stage you’ve reached when in reality it’s only still in process) is enough to make me reach my limits with patience. And believe me, I like to think I’m a fairly patient person. Which is why I am grateful that I can release all that pent up frustration by smacking a ball of bread dough a good number of times to calm me down. I don’t think I’ve ever fully appreciated the therapeutic aspect of baking until now.
At least my pent up frustration coincides with my current search for the perfect pineapple bun (菠萝包) recipe, so there’s plenty of dough to be punched and smacked to my hearts content (side-not: please know that I am normally not a violent person…I promise).
On the topic of pineapple buns, I made my first attempt a week after I got home. I have to thank ladyandpups.com and her beautiful blog site for the recipe. My own result, however, came out sub-par. The crust was delicious, but the bread (although flavorful) was a bit too tough. I still haven’t nailed the art of bread making, even with the aid of my stand mixer.
The second time around I decided to mix and match recipes. I kept the crust from the first recipe I tried, but I switched the bread dough with one of my favorite cinnamon roll doughs. I found this dough recipe on allrecipes.com. My theory is that this bread dough always turns out really nice and fluffy because I use our bread machine to make it. The bread machine definitely mixes dough better than I do on my own despite the fact that it is indeed as old as I am.
Fun fact: this bread machine was used to make bread by my grandparents back when I was just born.
If I really want to make a story out of it, I would say that baking bread can be used as an illustration of life. It’s important to knead the dough a lot in order to build the gluten structure, the same way it’s important to let out your frustration and not keep it bottled up. So let’s say that kneading dough is symbolic to venting out your frustrations. After you knead dough, though, you can’t just bake the bread. If you do, you’ll end up with a dense chunk of cooked dough. To make good fluffy bread, you have to let the dough rise. In the same sense, it’s important to let out your frustrations but you also have to give yourself time after that to just sit and take a breath. A good loaf of bread needs a lot of kneading but it also needs the rise. Both parts work together to make the bread. In the same way, as much as I wanted to hold on to my frustrations, calming down and taking a breather did a lot of good for me.
I am now internally cringing at that cheesy analogy. But moving on from that, you should definitely try this recipe if you can. It is one of those annoying recipes that’s hard to make if you don’t have all the necessary ingredients/equipments, but it’s a fun adventure to explore if you want. My next goal is to try out custard filled pineapple buns…that should be fun.
Test #1 on my quest for the perfect pineapple bun recipe
- 60 grams unsalted butter softened
- 1 large egg yolk
- 15 grams heavy cream 1 tbsp
- 110 grams cake flour 3/4 cup + 1 tbsp
- 90 grams powdered sugar 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp
- 15 grams custard powder 2 tbsp
- 1 gram baking soda 1/4 tsp
- 1 gram baking powder 1/4 tsp
- 1 cup milk warm (110 degrees F)
- 2 eggs room temperature
- 1/3 cup unsalted butter melted
- 4 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp bread machine yeast
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp heavy cream
- 1 tbsp water
For the "Pineapple" Crust:
With a hand held mixer, cream the unsalted butter until pale and fluffy (3 min). Add in the egg yolk and cream. Whip until thick and velvety (1-2 min). Add in the cake flour, powder sugar, custard powder, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix with a spatula until everything comes together into a dough. Wrap with a plastic sandwich bag or plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (1 hour).
For the dough:
Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order listed above. Select the dough cycle and press start
Once the dough cycle has finished, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let the dough sit for 10 minutes.
Use a scale to measure the weight of the dough, then split it evenly into 12 sections.
Assembling the Pineapple Bun:
take one section of dough and shape it into a spherical ball. Place it on a tray lined with parchment paper, and repeat for the other 11 sections of dough.
Once all the sections are shaped, place the tray in a warm place and let it rise for 30 minutes.
Take the crust out of the fridge and split it evenly into 12 pieces. Then roll each piece into a ball.
Once the dough has risen for 30 min, mix together all the egg wash ingredients in a small cup. Then take a brush and brush on a layer of egg wash on all the buns.
Take a section of crust and roll it out between two pieces of parchment paper until it's a flat disc. Place the crust over a bun and shaping it to mould to the dough. Make sure the crust doesn't cover the roll of dough completely. Repeat for the other 11 sections of crust.
Egg wash the 12 buns twice then place in a warm place and let it rise until doubled in size. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Once the oven has preheated and the dough has doubled in size, bake the bread for 20 minutes until golden brown.
You can make this without a bread machine by mixing everything by hand in a bowl and then kneading the dough by hand...but I would not recommend that bc it take a looooong time and a lotta arm work.
I like to call this the “poor man’s…student’s” smoothie bowl because it only needs two main ingredients: frozen fruit & juice (hipster and aesthetic tendencies excluded…aka: pretty toppings used only for social media purposed not included). It’s so simple that I don’t really bother making […]