Today marks one year from my first post. It is also the first time I’ve taken photos on a different background–it required a roll of paper, a great deal of scotch tape, and slightly convoluted camera angles. For mixed results. I guess I’m still working on this aspect.
This past year has been a fun one. A year sounds longer than it feels and I suppose it is as I’ve spent half of it away from the blog. It still is technically a birthday though, and so I’ll continue my celebration regardless.
As is fitting on these sorts of occasions, I’ll start off with some requisite reflection on the past year. It has been quite a year–I think I’ve made some lovely new friends and followed even more and more lovely bloggers. And to think of all the things I’ve learned…
I learned that I actually like muesli. I learned what the texture of baked mochi is. I learned the Italian meringue method for macaron shells. I learned how to make a rolled cake that doesn’t crack. I learned that quiche is incredibly rich but also adaptable and really quite delicious. I learned that I know nothing about sourdough bread. I learned that I need to remember (i.e. bother) to proofread. I learned how to adjust the focus on my camera, finally! I learned that so many bloggers have so much to share, I learned that comments take time, but are so much fun to give and receive, and, finally, I learned how much I value this interactive aspect of blogging.
I knew this last point for a while, but just how much I value interaction only became apparent to me more recently (let me give you a sudden break in writing style so I can just launch right into an anecdote.) A month or two ago, along with a great deal more rejections, I had a couple photos accepted by foodgawker. I was very happy when the photos were accepted–I considered it, for some reason, very important validation of my blog as an actual food blog. And I watched as I had the greatest number of daily views ever on my blog which was (I think some of you may have to try not to laugh!) 65, a very considerable increase from usual.
And then that was all. After it had actually happened, I didn’t feel particularly happier or all that proud. And I realize now that an interested viewer who might interact, perhaps dropping a comment or an email, is so much more valuable to me than the quantity of page views. Immeasurably more valuable actually.
I realized that I didn’t really care about the breadth or width of the reach of tentimestea. What I really wanted was depth. I got to cohost my first Fiesta Friday and had a ridiculous amount of fun. I was on the cusp of becoming an avid depth-oriented blogger.
And then I went through this exhausting blog fatigue thing. A few weeks later, still forcing myself to oh gosh upload these photos, I’m here. One year later.
I don’t intend to make any commitments for the coming year. Though I’m sure I’ll still be around a year later, posting run on sentences and garbled recipes and an excess of dull photos on teak.
Even though I’m tired, I love having a blog. tentimestea has made me a motivated baker. I take notes, I think about what could be improved, I question why things turned out the way they did. Sometimes I’ll actually do something over if it turns out poorly. I love having a place to document what I make, the exhausting part is putting together the posts and making them even a fraction as good as I want them to be.
I won’t commit to posting more or posting less. I won’t commit to maintaining a certain standard of quality for this blog either. I don’t know what will happen, but regardless I’ll try to enjoy myself, as, even if I’m tired, I still want tentimestea to be something I love. And I wouldn’t love it as much as I do without the occasional reader and all the lovely bloggers (food and otherwise) that I’ve encountered.
Thank you for a marvellous year!
It is a very rhubarb-y cake. The cake itself has a golden hue from the spelt flour, and was meant to be flavoured with dried jasmine, which did not particularly come through. Between the layers is a very thin gloss of caramelized white chocolate ganache, a vanilla and jasmine pastry cream (which I was very fond of, but unfortunately was lacking in quantity) and roasted rhubarb. It’s then slathered with a liberal coating of butter…or rather Italian meringue buttercream beaten with rhubarb curd.
I found the cake, overall, to be too acidic. I think it could have been remedied with additional pastry cream–it was the most mellow and pleasant component of the cake, not overly tart as was the roasted rhubarb, or overly sweet as was the ganache, or both, as was the buttercream.
I did actually enjoy the buttercream though–it was rich and smooth and silky. It was quite sweet so I made an unsweetened rhubarb curd to beat into it, which resulted in an assertively tart flavour and a gentle pink colouring.
The cake was a bit of a struggle. Having only one pan, I made each layer successively and watched, sadly, as each layer became tougher and rose less. The batter ended up sitting for half an hour between each layer due to the time taken to bake the previous layer, wash the pan and prepare it. Next time I would mix together the butter ingredients and the dry ingredients, divide it into three, and mix each layer individually right before baking.
Altogether it was an alright cake, though rather horrible when it was cold as it made the cakes seem even tougher!
Rhubarb, vanilla and jasmine flower layer cake
There are a number of components, but they can certainly all be made ahead of time. I made the rhubarb juice one day, the curd, pastry cream and cakes another day, and finally the buttercream and roasted rhubarb the day I was assembling.
Jasmine and spelt butter cake
Makes 3 13-cm (6″) cakes. Adapted from the all-purpose yellow cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible. It’s not too sweet a cake as I roughly halved the sugar from the original recipe, and I think it’s quite nice this way. The spelt flour gives it a lovely golden hue, but the flavour of the jasmine flower did not particularly come through.
1 stick butter, softened
125 g sugar
22 dried jasmine flowers
85 g egg at room temperature
200 g flour (75 g spelt and 125 g all-purpose)
13 g baking powder (or 2.5 tsp ish)
1/2 tsp salt
150 g milk at room temperature
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter cake pan(s), line the bottom with buttered parchment, and dust the whole thing lightly with flour.
Cream butter until soft, add sugar, and cream until light. Crumble jasmine flowers, or quickly grind in a spice griner, and beat in. Slowly beat in egg, bit by bit.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to the butter, mixing until only just combined. Split batter into thirds for three 13-cm cakes.
Bake around 15-20 minutes per layer.
This rhubarb curd is unsweetened, and so on its own is an extremely tart and slightly bitter creamy thing.
400-500 g rhubarb
dried rose flower
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
pat of butter
Chop rhubarb, place in a saucepan along with a few dried rose petals, and cook gently until rhubarb is soft and falling apart. Pour into a jelly bag set over a sieve and allow the juice to pass through. Obtain approximately 200 mL of juice. Reduce this amount (or a bit more or a bit less) down to around 75 mL by simmering.
Remove from the heat, let cool slightly and whisk in the eggs and a bit of butter. Return to the heat and cook very gently, whisking constantly, until thickened. Press through a sieve with a rubber spatula, cover and chill.
Rhubarb Italian meringue buttercream
Should make 2 cups, sufficient to nicely smear on the outside of the cake. Adapted from the IMB recipe on Bakepedia. I recommend reading through the comments on this recipe as the single thing emphasized most heavily is the importance of temperature. If your buttercream is looking a bit off (a bit grainy or a bit like a puddle) playing with the temperature is apt to restore it…which does make sense as this is pretty much solid butter. There is some additional sugar as I realized that when you make a smaller quantity, you lose a greater fraction of your total sugar to surface of the saucepan (as you do not scrape the bottom or sides for fear of crystallization). I’m not sure whether that was really a necessary concern though…I found the buttercream very very sweet and so perhaps the original amount of 60 g would be sufficient.
The buttercream produced is a very, very pale pink. For a more assertive pink colour one could make hibiscus rhubarb curd and reduce the rhubarb juice.
2 egg whites – 60 g
80 g granulated sugar + a spoonful more
1.25 sticks butter at room temperature
Beat the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer until they are foamy, sprinkle in a spoonful of sugar, and then continue to beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks.
Meanwhile, place the rest of the sugar in a small saucepan, add a bit of water to help it get started, and cook until the sugar reaches 248-250F (firm ball stage).
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, and pour the hot sugar syrup into the egg whites a bit at a time, whisking with the other hand (I poured a bit, set it down, whisked it in and then repeated. If I tried to do both at the same time, I think the bowl would fly off the counter.) Once incorporated, return to the stand mixer and beat until the meringue is completely cooled.
Continue beating, adding a small pat of butter at a time until all the butter is incorporated. Finally, add the rhubarb curd and beat until incorporated and smooth.
Beaten caramelized white chocolate ganache
This makes just enough to thinly spread on 2 cake layers. I would double it for it to be more noticeable. Edit (Aug 2015): I forgot to cite my source… David Lebovitz.
35 g white chocolate
2 tbsp heavy cream
Preheat oven to 250 F.
Chop the white chocolate and spread out over a parchment lined baking pan. Bake, stirring every half hour, until deep golden brown (a couple hours).
Heat the cream until steaming in a glass bowl. Add the white chocolate, whisk until smooth. Continue whisking (and whisking…) until the ganache becomes slightly lighter in colour and thickened. Set it in a bowl of ice water and whisk until the ganache is set and thick.
Vanilla and jasmine flower pastry cream
Adapted from numerous sources and from what I’ve done the past couple times. The main inspiration was the pastry cream recipe from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel.
110 mL milk
40 mL heavy cream
1-cm length of vanilla bean
4 dried jasmine flowers
13 g cornstarch
1.5 tbsp sugar
Heat the milk and cream together in a small saucepan until steaming. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds, pod and jasmine flowers to the milk, cover and let steep for 20 minutes or longer.
Whisk the egg with the cornstarch and sugar until smooth. Start reheating the milk, removing the vanilla bean pod and the jasmine flowers. Whisk in the egg mixture and gently cook while whisking constantly until the pastry cream is well-thickened.
Cover and chill.
4 large stalks rhubarb
a few generous spoonfuls sugar
grated lemon zest
a few black cherries to help with colour
Preheat oven to 375F.
Cut each rhubarb stalk in half, separating the red end and green end. Chop all the red ends and pile them together on one side of the baking tray. Chop all the green ends and pile them together on the other side. Toss both with sugar and lemon zest.
Pit the cherries, quarter, and toss with the red ends of the rhubarb.
Bake for 20-30 minutes or until rhubarb is tender but not quite mush.
Reserve a small bowl of the red ends to top the cake with. The rest can be mixed together to fill the cake layers.
The buttercream and ganache should be at room temperature or not too cold.
Trim the rounded top off each cake layer (except for the top layer if you like) until they are level. Spread a thin layer of caramelized white chocolate ganache on top of the cake, followed by the pastry cream, then a pile of the roasted rhubarb. Repeat. Place the third layer on top and cover the whole cake with icing.
Place in the refrigerator until the icing is firm. Dip an offset spatula in steaming water and dry it. Smooth down the icing. Pile the red roasted rhubarb on top.
It is best served at around room temperature.