It has been a while since I baked and assembled a nice-looking cake from scratch. It was my mom’s birthday last Friday, birthdays = cakes. I originally thought of just making some kind of dessert but a cake is just much more celebratory. I wanted to make a fresh mango cake but mangoes were not in season (too bad). Strawberry it is. I didn’t really follow a specific recipe for the whole cake except for the basic sponge cake. I used a Génoise cake recipe, the ingredients are very simple but it is not the simplest cake to make. It is basically just eggs, sugar, flour, butter and a little vanilla extract. The layers consist of whipped cream, my own homemade strawberry jam, fresh strawberries, and a honey syrup. I used chopped pistachios as a garnish on top and sides – makes a very good contrast of colours with the strawberries!
Génoise Sponge Cake (7″ cake):
- 3 Large Eggs (approx. 55 grams each)
- 100 grams Granulated Sugar
- 100 grams Cake Flour (soft wheat flour) – sift
- 50 grams Melted Butter
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 450 mL Whipping Cream
- 3 tbsp. Granulated Sugar
- Approx. 6 Large Strawberries – wash, dry, hull and cut into halves + more for garnish
- 2 tbsp. Honey + ¼ cup Hot Water – mixed together (honey syrup)
- ¼ cup Strawberry Jam + 1 tbsp. Hot Water – mixed together (I used homemade – definitely made a difference in taste)
Génoise Sponge Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Prepare a 7″ cake pan – line only the bottom with parchment paper.
- Sift flour and melt butter.
- Break eggs in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk with sugar. Set eggs over a water bath (simmering, NOT boiling) until the the eggs reach about body temperature, stirring occasionally – avoid cooking eggs so be careful not to have the heat too high.
- Mix with an electric mixer or on a stand mixer on high speed until increases in volume and becomes a creamy colour. *Important*: continue beating eggs on medium speed until eggs reach a “ribbon” stage (testing with a whisk, draw the mixture up, away from the bowl and allow it to flow back to the mixing bowl, if it looks like you can almost write letters in the mixture without it being too runny then it has reached the “ribbon” stage). It is difficult to describe in words so I might consider documenting the whole process in another post. 🙂
- Add in sifted flour and FOLD in flour with a rubber spatula until just mixed in. (try to do this in a fast motion and DO NOT over-mix)
- When flour is all mixed in, add butter + vanilla and FOLD until well mixed (DO NOT over-mix).
- Pour batter into cake pan and tap the pan the counter to remove any big air bubbles, bake right away in preheated oven for about 30 minutes. Try not to open the oven door during the baking process. The cake is done when a knife is inserted into the centre and comes out clean.
- Cool cake, remove from pan – slide a paring knife around the pan and cake should come out easily when pan is flipped over (metal knives are not recommended for “non-stick” pans).
- Beat whipping cream with sugar until firm peaks form. Chill in fridge until ready to use.
- Cut cooled cake into three even layers. If the cake is shaped like a “dome” on top, cut off the excess to make a flat layer.
- Brush honey syrup onto the bottom two layers.
- Place strawberries on the bottom layer of cake and spread on whipped cream evenly, place second layer of cake on top.
- Spread strawberry jam on cake and top with a thin layer of whipped cream.
- Coat the top and sides with remaining whipped cream.
- Pipe cream for decoration (if desired – might require more cream). Garnish with strawberries and chopped pistachios.
- Chill until ready to serve.
It is not the best-looking cake but it is not bad. 😛 I didn’t take a picture of the cross-section, I thought that it would be nice to see it in an illustration. I didn’t sweeten the whipped cream too much because my mom is a not a big fan of overly sweet desserts. I also cut back on the cream (trying to be a tiny bit healthier). The end result was VERY yummy, the cake had a rich egg flavour and the layers had a very aromatic strawberry flavour – with fresh berries and the jam. Glad mom enjoyed it, she even had two pieces (she usually stops at one).
I love having soups for lunch – they are light, delicious and most importantly will not put to me to sleep after the meal (especially during work :)). I used to buy canned soup for the convenience of a ready meal after 3 minutes of reheating. As I read the sodium levels on the nutrition label, I decided to make my own. I read some recipes online and came up with this as my freestyle cooking – not following a recipe. The ingredients are very simple: vegetables, chicken broth, chicken, pasta and herbs. I like the using herbs in my soup as they brighten up the flavours. I also used lemon to add a bit of refreshing flavour as well.
Makes 8 – 10 servings.
(I didn’t follow a recipe – adjust portions however you like!)
- 2 pieces of Chicken Breast
- 1 cup Dried Pasta (I used small bow ties), cooked, drained and rinsed
- 5 – 6 Celery Stalks, diced
- 2 medium-sized Carrots, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- herb bouquet – a sprig of rosemary, 2 sprigs of thyme and sage,
tied together with a piece of cotton string
*If you do not like herbs, omit them.
- 2 cans of Chicken Broth (375 mL each)
- 2.5 – 3 L water
- Juice of ¼ of a lemon
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Season chicken with salt and pepper, cook, let cool and dice.
*I seared my chicken to add extra flavour but it is not necessary.
- Cook pasta in lightly salted water, drain and rinse.
- Wash vegetables and dice.
- Bring chicken broth and water to a boil with the herb bouquet, add vegetables and simmer at medium heat for 10 minutes.
- Add cooked pasta and chicken, simmer for another 10-15 minutes.
- Fish out herb bouquet, add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.
- Soup is served!
This soup is super easy to make, yummy and good for you – just requires a bit of vegetable chopping. I am ditching the canned stuff for good. 8)