Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Pandan & Persian Chiffon Birthday Cake with Crane Over the Sun

August is a special month this summer.    Very busy with school, family gatherings, volunteer work at the local event, and a wonderful vacation with my grandchildren.   For my mother's birthday this year, I was not too sure what pattern I would like to decorate the cake with.    Or maybe just order it from the bakery.     While I was at the office working, several images came to mind - Turtle, KOI, Dragon and Phoenix, and Crane.    I did some Internet search, and I came upon one of my favorite art on the "hanafuda" Japanese game card - a Crane over a Sun.     I was not sure if I want to make it into a 3D shape or just use a gel to decorate it on the cake's surface, etc.   As I was putting the cakes together, I saw the extra scraps.   I decided to use them just enough to raise the design on top of the cake to make it stand out.  

Prepare - 1 Pandan Coconut Chiffon Cake; 1 Persian Love Cake    Sliced across into halves

Whip 1 Cup Heavy Whip Cream with 1 Tbsp sugar.  
Mix enough apricot preserve with butter knife in a bowl to soften it.  There should be enough to cover one layer of the cake

3 egg whites - Bain Marie
1 stick butter - Soft
1 Cup Sugar - divided into 2/3 Cup for egg whites and 1/3 cup for butter; use 'fine' sugar if you have it

Beat egg whites over bain marie and add sugar gradually while a stick of butter is beaten in a mixer with 1/3 cup of sugar.   Once the egg white has reached meringue consistency - stiff peak but still "shiny" remove from the heat.    Butter should be pale and fluffy.   Place the butter bowl over a bowl of ice with ice water to keep it cool (especially in summer where the kitchen temperature is above 75'F).    Scoop 3rd of the meringue into the butter and mix.  Then, add the next.   Set it aside in a refrigerator while you are assembling the cake, whip cream and apricot preserve into layers.
Frost the cake with butter cream and decorate.


Homemade Fresh Cherry Plum Empanada

Normally, to make this fried empanada, I just open a can of cherry pie fillings and wrap them in flour tortilla.   But this summer, since I found out that I can eat cherries, and there are abundant of dark plums, I decided to make the filling myself.    It is a very simple snack that everyone loves.
1 Cup Cherries, pitted and halved
4 dark plums, pitted and cut into large chunks
12 tsp sugar
2 Tbsp KATAKURIKO - Japanese Potato starch - Take some of fruits' liquid and mix into slurr, then, add
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp Cassia Flour Jam
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 400'F.
In oven proof skillet, over MediumLow heat - add ingredients.  Heat them through.  Cover with Aluminum foil slightly - not sealed.
Transfer the skillet into oven.    Roast for 40 - 45 min till it thickens.
Let it cool just enough to handle.   
Roll it into cigar shape.        Tip:  dab water around the edge of the flour tortilla with pastry brush to stick

 Tip:   To prevent flour torilla from 'opening' up, Hold the empanada with long handle tong or long cooking chop sticks until the flour tortilla has turned a bit crip to hold its shape.
 Cool the fried empanada on a paper towel to catch excess oil.    When it is 'warm' to the touch, transfer to a plastic bag filled with Ceylon Cinnamon and sugar and coat it well.

My Ponchik 2012

I love PONCHIK.  It's a great comfort food.    And you know exactly what's in it.    The one and only bakery that made this wonderful tasty PONCHIK no longer makes them.  I am so disappointed.   They have Pirashiki and other wonderful pastries, but ... no "ponchik".    Very sad.   But, luckily I have this recipe, and this is my 3rd or the 4th try with it.   This is the best one with the beautiful texture and puffiness and softness.   If you have not tried making PONCHIK - recipe in previous posting, I recommend it.   It's fun to watch them puff up in the deep frying oil, and get the satisfaction of home made fried donuts.
Try it!
Tip:  Do not add water, except 1/4 C to dissolve yeast.  Yogurt is enough to moisten the flour and form a nice smooth dough.     In addition to the ingredients listed, add 2 TBsp of Gluten.

Yeast 1pkg
Warm Water 1 cup  1/4 cup
Sugar 1tbs
Salt 1/2 tsp
Oil 3 tbs,
Yogurt 1 cup,
Eggs 2
Flour 2-3 cups       Plus 2 TBsp of Gluten
Combine first 3 ingredients and let rest for 5 minutes.
Then add next 4 and combine them well.
Add the flour 1 cup at the time, and mix well, you might need more or less flour. Knead for few minutes (The dough should be smooth and not sticking to your hand) and let rest for an hour.

Here is my PONCHIK photo journal.

 Roll it out and Round it.  Let it rise in a slightly greased bowl with cover.

 4:30 am!  Wow! almost forgot.  
 Punch down and form into balls.    Rest.
 Time to portion and rest.
 Roll into any shapes you want.
 I decided to use the electric skillet with the temperature control.  This saves me time from controlling the gas stove to remain in the 350'F - 365'F.
Tip:  Don't forget to 'dab' on the dough once it is placed in the frying oil.     Dabbing motion on the dough helps to separate the dough and in rising.   Seeeee!?

 Scraps can be formed into braids.   If you have a extra helper in the kitchen, you could form it into another ball, rest it, portion it, then, roll it out and fry it.     I was running out of time, so I braided them.

 Wow! my co-workers would love this.

 Shake in a plastic bag filled with Ceylon Cinnamon and sugar or Creme Chantilly or Pastry Cream or Creme Chantilly with Fruits Preserve?  or how about chocolate mousse?     I have not found a good ingredient combination to make the cream like the ones that the Deli Bakery made.  

 And use "coffee filter" to filter the cooking oil to remove flour sediments and ready for use the next time.

Fresh Summer Fruits Pies! - Polly's Purse Pies

I love summer.   Abundant of fresh fruits just waiting for you to enjoy.   This is my Purse Pie - basically a crostada - open face free form pie.    I was not able to eat cherries for many years, but I found out that I am okay with it, and here they are in my Cherry and Plum Purse Pie.     Plucot and plums from family garden.

Large (metal) mixing bowl; spatula; measuring cups; pie pan or oven proof pan; rolling pin

Mix the following ingredients into a large mixing bowl. 
1 Cup of Fresh cherries - pitted and cut into halves
4 Fresh large plums, cut into LARGE chunks
1/2 C Sugar or 12+ tsp of sugar
3 TBsp KATAKURIKO - Japanese Potato Starch
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBsp butter - set aside:  add last onto the top of the mixture once they are in the pie dough.   If you prefer, break it into small chunks and mix it into the fruits mixture.

Pie dough:
1 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 Cup Butter
2 TBsp Vegetable Shortening  or just use 2 TBsp of Butter
Ice Cold water

Egg Wash for the pie shell:
1 Egg + 2 TBsp milk

Mix the pie dough - flour and salt.  Work the butter / + shortening (if you are using shortening) into the flour with fingers.    Rub the butter into flour until they are about pea size.      Add Ice Cold water 1/4 C water.    Gently mix and let the flour absorb.   Then, add a  tsp more ice cold water at a time as you form the dough into a ball with the other hand.    The dough should be soft like your ear lobe.   Let it rest for 10 minutes - covered in refrigerator.   Heat oven to 400'F.
Roll it out.  Transfer to your baking pan.
 Large size and smaller individual size.

Tricky part:   Add the fruits mixture to the center of the dough.  Working quickly to prevent fruits liquid from spreading over to the edge of the pie shell  - Gather and fold the pie dough to enclose the fruits mixture.   Dab the top with 2 TBsp butter with fingers.   Brush with egg wash.
Bake till fruits mixture bubbles.  About 45 minutes   If the pie shell is getting browned before the fruits starts to bubble, cover the pie shell with aluminum foil, and remove it 5 to 7 minutes before removing from the oven.    ***All depends on the BTU power of your oven.