Rainbow Cake

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When I was deciding what to bake for dear son's birthday celebration this year, I came across a few youtube videos he was watching, about how to make Rainbow Cake. The Rainbow Cake looks amazing and I knew he'd be very happy if I were to bake one for him, so I went about searching for a suitable recipe.

The shortcut method would be buying those pre-mixed white cake from supermarkets but hey if I can bake, why use pre-mixes right?

The Research

There are many recipes available on the internet and I zoomed into 3 for comparisons.

1. Whisk Kid (http://www.whisk-kid.com/2009/08/say-it-with-cake.html)
2. lululu at home (http://lululuathome.com/2012/10/rainbow-cake-2.html)
  • 8 inch, 7-layer
 3. Makebetterfood (http://www.makebetterfood.com/recipes/rainbow-birthday-cake/)
  • 9 inch, 6-layer


All 3 recipes are quite similar to each other. I took out option 3 as I was unfamiliar with the method used. Between options 1 and 2, I could have chosen 1 since the recipe was featured on Martha Stewart and tested by a fellow Singaporean too. But I was a little tentative because when I converted all the measurements to gram (using free online converters like traditionaloven.com), the figures for flour and sugar didn't tally with the blog (Whisk Kid had stated ingredients in both cups and grams).

Confession, I am totally uncomfortable with recipes that use cups, so I always convert measurements to gram first before proceeding.

In the end, I decided to attempt lululu at home's recipe. Like I said both recipes are very similar to each other, except maybe for the eggs part. Whisk Kid's recipe uses only egg whites, whereas lululu's whole eggs. I believe using egg whites only (pure white cake) helps to accentuate the colours of the rainbow. Yolks (cake has yellowish tinge) might affect the colours.

In addition, I decided to go for 9 inch and 7 layers. Looking at the picture on lululu's blog, I realised that 8 inch base will produce a very very tall cake which makes transportation more challenging. The thing is, 9 inch pan means I have to bake 4 times for 7 layers as my oven can only fit 2 pans at a time! Or how about just settling for 6 layers?Arghhhh! Then I remember dear son used to sing this nursery song "Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink, it's a rainbow, it's a rainbow, beautiful rainbow in the sky". I thought it would be cute to relate to the rainbow song, and so, just do it lah!

First attempt

I started at about 10pm (after settling dear son to sleep and chores). The cake was very easy to make, just that it's very tedious coz I only have 2 baking pans. Meaning I had to grease, bake, cool, wash x 4 times!

As I completed each layer I felt a little unsettled as the layers were too thin for my liking and had brownish crust (temperature too high, over-baked?). They also felt hard and not tender at all (I had reduced the amount of sugar). By the 6th layer, it was already 1am but I simply didn't like how the layers turned out. I knew I had to re-start. So, I stacked the layers, cut a section to see how they turned out, and also tasted the cake. YUCK! They were awful, both taste and looks. I was right, so back to square one!


Second attempt

Luckily I had enough ingredients, except for fresh milk. Dear hubby was very sweet to go out and buy for me! While hubby was out, I took some time to re-calculate the measurements, turned out I miscalculated the amount of milk needed (difference between ml and g - yes I am very anal to get precise measurements). By the time I started again, it was 2am. I also decided to increase the proportion by 20% as the layers were too thin for my liking. Oven temperature was also lowered by a bit. I wanted to cut out the yolks this time so that the colours could be more vibrant, but I forgot! Anyways, by the time all 7 layers were completed and after I washed up, it was 5am! The layers turned out better looking and I just had to cross my fingers that they would be ok. Decided to catch a nap and continue the frosting after (luckily I took full day leave).

Woke up around 7am to prepare dear son for school. After sending off hubby and dear son, I did some chores and went out to buy more eggs for the buttercream frosting. By the time I started the buttercream frosting, it was 9+. So the process went, buttercream for each layer, crumb-coat, chill in fridge and finally frosting for the whole cake. Then I realised that the buttercream prepared was barely enough; should have increased by 20% too along with the cake. Oh well, the frosting didn't smooth enough but I was also too exhausted to bother. Luckily I bought some rainbow sprinkles to camouflage :p By the time I was done, it was like 12noon. So in total I spent 6hrs (not including the abandoned first attempt), this is the most tedious and time consuming cake ever.

Verdict

Dear son was very pleased with the cake, so were the kids at his childcare centre. Actually I think kids just love cake, whatever the design. See the finger in the picture above? That's his finger, he was really excited and kept pointing at the cake.

The texture of the cake was still not as tender as I liked, but tasted ok with the buttercream, not too sweet as well. I thought colours were a little dull and not as vibrant as what I've seen on the internet. It must be the yolks. The layers also had bits of brown crust, so probably got to look into the oven temperature and baking time. Hubby commented that vanilla buttercream was a little heavy on the palate.


Rainbow Cake
(9 inch, 7-layer, close to 3kg)

525g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 tsp Baking Soda
0.5 tsp Salt
340g Unsalted Butter, softened at room temperature
675g Caster Sugar
6 Large Whole Eggs
440g Fresh Milk
2.5 tsp Vanilla Extract
Wilton gel colouring - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink
  1. Preheat oven to 170 degree celsius. Grease all the cake pans available, and line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a large bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Cream softened butter until light and fluffy (using electric mixer fixed with paddle attachment, medium high speed).
  4. Add sugar gradually and beat till well-combined and fluffy.
  5. Reduce mixer speed to medium and add in eggs one at a time until just blended.
  6. Reduce mixer speed to low, slowly add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk, until just blended. Add the vanilla extract. Stop to scrap down sides of the bowl with spatula as necessary.
  7. Total weight of batter is about 2320g. Divide into 7 portions (each about 328g - 330g).
  8. Add food colouring to each portion using toothpick, bit by bit to desired colour tone. Mix thoroughly to ensure all the colouring is well blended with the batter.
  9. Pour batter into cake pans and smooth the surface. Bake for about 13 to 15 mins.
  10. Place the cake pans on a wire rack to cool for 15 mins. Invert the cakes onto rack and let cool completely. If not frosting immediately, wrap each layer individually with clingwrap. Repeat baking process till all 7 layers are completed.
Vanilla Swiss Meringue Buttercream
 * Amount of buttercream is barely enough, suggest to increase quantity by 10-20%

10 Egg Whites
337g Caster Sugar
567g Unsalted Butter, cubed and softened at room temperature
2 tbsp Vanilla Extract
Rainbow sprinkles or any desired decoration
  1. Place egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl over a pot of simmering water. Using a hand whisk, beat continuously until sugar has completely dissolved. The egg whites should feel hot to touch. Remove from heat.
  2. Transfer mixing bowl to electric stand mixer and beat at high speed using whisk attachment till meringue is thick, glossy and cool down to room temperature.
  3. Reduce speed to medium and add softened cubes of butter gradually. Continue mixing until the meringue turns into a silky smooth texture of buttercream. *It may seem like a long time, but the switch in texture can happen quite sudden, be sure to watch closely.
  4. To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a serving plate/tray and spread some buttercream evenly. Repeat this process until all cake layers are stacked.
  5. Crumb-coat the top and sides of the cake, and place the cake into the fridge to chill for 30 mins.
  6. Frost the cake and garnish with rainbow sprinkles.
  7. Chill the cake to set the frosting. Leave in room temperature for at least 1 hour before serving.


I would probably attempt the cake again, this time with Whisk Kid's recipe, just to see how it would turned out. This time, I used vanilla buttercream instead of lemon buttercream (in consideration of the kids), but I would love to use lemon buttercream next time so that the taste will not be so one-dimensional vanilla based.
 I could even coconut-based cake or try substituting butter with oil for a lighter cake?

Meanwhile, I'm really exhausted and need to take a break from the intense baking!

Danish Butter Cookies once more

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This was not my first time baking Danish Butter Cookies. Had baked these scrumptious buttery cookies twice (here and here) using Shirley @ Kokken's recipe 2 years back.

But when I saw Alan of Travelling Foodies's post on Klassiske Vaniljekranse recently, I was convinced to bake these lovelies again for Alan's recipe is even easier than Shirley's. In fact, I attempted his recipe twice too. Well, the first time I ran out of disposable piping bag (no I don't own re-usable piping bag coz I shudder at the thought of washing it) and had to shape the cookies into rounds/discs manually (I tried to improvise using freezer bags/ziplocks, nope they didn't work and my kitchen was like a war zone. I felt so silly coz it was such a simple recipe and yet I was sweating all over). Still turned out nice lah but I was determined to get the pretty little wreaths.

And before I got to my second batch, Alan updated another blog piece on the Vaniljekranse again  with very very specific details of baking the cookies. Was so glad as it provided me with an opportunity to refine the cookies.




I read each and every line of his instructions and tips carefully and the results did not disappoint :) Piping was actually quite manageable, and I managed to yield about 110 pieces based on the recipe.

Oh, for authenticity, I used Lurpak butter! Nah, coz it was on sale - $8.95 for 2. LOL!


Love the little specks of vanilla beans in the cookies. (I use nielsen massey madagascar bourbon pure vanilla bean paste as well since I have a jar in my fridge).

The combination of butter and vanilla smells really heavenly! I brought some to my office and my colleagues who tasted the cookies were all intrigued by the vanilla specks :)
 
Dear son also loves the cookies and has been requesting the cookies every day (I limit his intake of cookies).

If you are keen, hop over to Travellingfoodies for the recipe. Be sure to read through the tips as they are really useful in ensuring the cookies turn out perfect, although this recipe is actually quite forgiving and almost impossible to fail. Have fun!

2012 - Busy and tiring. 2013 - What's in store?

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So another year has gone by? It's 2013?! Happy New Year.

Somehow, as one grows older, the year doesn't matter anymore, festivals don't mean anything... or maybe it's just me, being cynical and grumpy here. Seriously I couldn't really remember what transpired throughout the year, except for the holidays taken. LOL :p I guess my customary post every new year can help me look back and recall.

Back to work

Started working in April coz I need money, couldn't stand being a SAHM anymore, felt that it's time I work else I would lose touch with the corporate world. Found a part-time job on a one-year contract and thought that it would be a perfect way to warm up my rusty engines. Basically my working hours are 8.30am to 4pm daily (I know, not the typical part-time like 9am to 3pm, well it's a long story). Anyways, by the time I reach home, it's close to 5pm and I have less than one hour to cook before dear son reaches home from his childcare by school bus. It's kind of rush, but if I prepare the ingredients the night before, it's still manageable, albeit tiring. Sometimes, if I cook soup, I'll throw all the ingredients into my electric timer cooker in the morning before leaving the house and by the time I get home, soup's done and all I need is to cook rice.

That said, working life is never fun as usual, I have generally nice colleagues, but naturally in any workplace some nasty ones. I don't really bother too much anyway since number 1, it's just a part-time job that pays my bills, number 2, it's a one-year contract only and I'm free to decide what I want to do thereafter, and number 3, actually if I'm unhappy I can resign anytime lah, which I almost did.

I really salute full time working mums (especially those without help) more than ever because seriously it's very tiring to work, then go home to face the cooking, washing, chores and the kiddos. It's like working OT every single day?! Even though I have a part-time helper who comes in 4hrs weekly, the daily chores of cooking, washing, laundry etc. knocks me out literally at the end of each day, and I have only one kid. Enuf said.

My little monster

He's adapting fairly well into full-day childcare since April, luckily I had started him in half-day programme when he was almost 18 months old. Except that he gets sick more often especially the first six months of starting full-time.

2 more weeks and he will be THREE! And definitely getting more articulate each day and learning at an alarming pace, especially when he starts to ask why and what. Why why why... it's driving us nuts. Now we fully understand what other parents have advised, yes kids start to ask why at a certain point of their childhood and it drives adults crazy. He's also using emotions and tantrums to get what he wants and this part of discipline is certainly the tough part.

Once again, I wonder what he will be up to this year and whether I still have energy or patience to manage all the challenges.

Cooking/Baking/Workshops

I cook dinner 4 to 5 times during weekdays (except for weekends where we dine out and dear son dines at his grandma's place) which is important since lunch is mostly hawker food. But I try to pack salads once or twice a week, and cook more for dinners so that I can pack the extras for lunch the next day. Dishes are quick and easy so that I just need less than an hour. Fortunately dear son can eat most of our adult food now (except for spicy stuff) so I don't have to cook separately and it saves a lot of time. That said, I'm getting a little sick of recycling the same dishes and hope to find time to search for new dishes that are not too elaborate and could refresh my menu. Check out my cooking under the labels - Cooking - finger food and snacks/main dishes/salad/soup.

As for baking, unfortunately I couldn't bake as much as I wanted to, probably during the weekends when dear son goes to his grandma's place. But even when I bake, I stick to those tried and tested recipes or quick and easy ones to save time most of the time. Boring! Ok, I did try a few new recipes as well. Check out under Baking - Bread/Cake/Cookies/Cupcakes/Muffin/Kueh Kueh/Pastries

I still have a long list of to-try recipes, waiting for me, I wonder when I'll be able to attempt them all.

As for baking/cooking workshops, I attended even far lesser than previous years, coz there were a lot of errands to run or things to do that I simply couldn't find the time, even though there were some I had wanted to join. Have signed up for 2 workshops upcoming in Jan and Feb and I'm certainly looking foward to them.

Traveling

Hubby and I yearn for getaways even more, but unfortunately we weren't able to travel as much as we wanted to ever since I started working. Trips that we brought dear son along - Genting Highlands, Melaka, Bintan and Phuket. And trips we went on our own - Bangkok, Koh Samui, Tokyo (2 trips - once in March, then December) and Bintan (to celebrate our 10th anniversary). Initially we wanted to go Hokkaido for our 10th anniversary but decided to postpone the trip as if we were going Hokkaido, it has to be more than a week (couldn't take long leave and also tough to let MIL take care of dear son for prolong period). Unfortunately we also didn't manage any diving trip at all!!!

In about 2 weeks' time, hubby and I will be going to Bangkok (yes, it has sort of become our annual ritual apart from Tokyo), and thereafter not too sure about plans as hubby would be very busy with work. Hopefully we could steal short weekend getaways from time to time. I'm now very much into chillout holidays, just chillax instead of shopping or sightseeing.

I still 2 backdated posts to write about - Melaka and our most recent trip to Tokyo in Dec! Stay tuned for these 2 posts soon.

Blogging

With so many things going on in my life, means that blogging has taken a back seat once again and I managed 53 posts, a weekly blog? There were times when I felt like closing the blog altogether because I simply didn't have the energy to blog. Then again, this blog still serves as a good depository and summary of what I love and have done, so it would be a pity to give it up. Well, I'll try my best since this is my personal blog after all, no hard and fast rules.

The year ahead

Seriously I don't know what to expect in this brand new year. Still haven't find our ideal abode, especially when property prices are so crazy these days. Will continue to monitor and possibly do a minor renovation since our house is 10 years old and parts of it are beginning to break apart.

I also have to ponder about my job soon since the one-year contract is expiring in April. Hmmmm...

Been thinking about starting my online baking business for the longest time. Perhaps it's high time I act on it? Well...

And finally, hope that I can have more energy, feel less tired and grouchy this upcoming year. Happy New Year once again!