spiced date gateau basque

spiced date & cream gateau basque

I think we are possibly still in the peri-New Year period where 2021 listicles are tolerated and somewhat relevant. For instance: last year I started an annual favourite album list which, given the constant content deficit this blog is under, is obviously being continued again this year.

As always, I never keep very up to date with music so these aren’t specifically my favourite albums of 2021, so much as my favourite albums new to me in 2021. Compared to my usual indecision, it’s usually strangely obvious to me what this list would entail as the albums that I listened to most over the past year spring to mind easily. The harder part is articulating what I love about them (and if I sound like I don’t know a thing about music, it’s probably because I don’t know a thing about music). But in my struggling lay terms trying grasp genre, emotion or theme, here goes a list.

spiced date & cream gateau basque
spiced date & cream gateau basque

1. i need to start a garden (2018) – hayley heynderickx

I Need to Start a Garden is three parts soft-spoken ballad, one part anthem of millennial angst. It wasn’t quite first love for all of these songs for me, but they grew on me tremendously, something which only makes me adore them even more. (Even the near-shout refrain of “Oom Sha La La” – not to mention, I have never encountered so relatable a rumination as “I’ve barely been to college/And I’ve been out full/Of all that I have dreamed of/The brink of my existence essentially is a comedy.”) My favourite album that I listened to this year.

favourite tracks: the bug collector, untitled god song

2. shelter as we go… (2017) – quantum tangle

This album effortlessly traverses the territories of haunting to sweet to righteously angry and determined, and stories of family, love, and colonialism linking ancestral and contemporary. The way that joy and pride and frustration coexist hints at the complexity of positive identity and community in an oppressive country. I also love an album where each song has its own distinct feel – and each of them is just lovely too.

favourite tracks: tiny hands, igluvut, ikersuaq (but really, all of them are my favourite)

3. i’ve felt all these things (2021) – anna leone

I first listened to Anna Leone’s debut EP which came out a couple of years ago and was immediately charmed by her music. I was so excited to see her first very album come out; it’s the most soothing set of songs I’ve listened over the past year, with delicate folky melodies and intimate vocals carrying the album.

favourite tracks: love you now, in the morning, still i wait

4. take the corners gently (2021) – steady holiday

Steady Holiday reminds me of melodic singer-songwriter albums from Emmy the Great and Zee Av. The tracks are about half slow, half fast, and lean wistful and nostalgic. It’s the heartfelt songs which I listen this album for: “Love me When I Go to Sleep” and “Living Life.”

favourite tracks: love me when i go to sleep, living life

5. foreigner (2020) – jordan mackampa

This is also Jordan Mackampa’s first full length album. It sounds as though his style has veered more pop-y recently, but still amazing vocals (and charming melodrama) regardless. This album is has plenty of flashy catchy tracks but it’s the more sincerely sentimental songs which are my favourite – the title track “Foreigner” particularly.

favourite tracks: foreigner, eventide, tight (a little cringy but so sweet!)

6. europhories (2021) – videoclub

This French electro-pop album is definitely a bit different from what I usually tend to enjoy but it’s only mildly electronic and also just very, very catchy?! The songs are sung in the most charismatic deadpan (I mean this as a compliment) and I’ve found myself listening to it many more times than I expected. The duo actually broke up (romantically) and disbanded (professionally) before I even discovered the album so sadly I think it’s the one and last from Videoclub.

favourite tracks: amour plastique (by far)

spiced date & cream gateau basque
spiced date & cream gateau basque
spiced date & cream gateau basque

I’ve been sporadically trying to make a gateau basque, a buttery filled cake from Basque, for a few years now and I’ve made some rather terrible ones. Generally, the recipes I’ve seen fall into two types – some use a softer dough which you pipe into layers both below and overtop the filling, while others use a stiffer dough which is rolled out like a tart crust. My first try was based on a piped version, but I didn’t like how thick the layers of pastry ended up too being: predominantly pastry without much filling. The cake was also too dry by the time it cooked through, though that was on me… After that I mostly switched to rolled pastry methods which more easily facilitated thinner layers for a higher filling:pastry ratio. I tried a stiffer dough that was very easy to work with, but which baked up too dry, crisp and cookie-like (at this point I also realized from this one that I should maintain a certain amount of sugar in the dough for tenderness.) Finally, I found I preferred a softer rolled dough formula – harder to work with, but which ended up more tender and cake-like than its dryer counterparts.

That being said, this dough is really soft. It becomes super delicate and prone to tearing as soon as it starts to warm up. It helps to be patient and roll out the dough onto parchment so you can slide it back into the fridge or freezer for when its cold-forged will begins to fade.

Gateau basque is usually filled with either a cherry jam or a pastry cream. I generally prefer the pastry cream filling, but I wanted to add an extra layer to this one, one which I felt wouldn’t detract from the sense of butter on cream on richness on butter: and that meant a layer of warmly spiced date paste. The date paste, an idea inspired by date ma’amoul, has a deep flavour, much like caramel (I now understand why date caramel is such a thing in vegan baking). As the paste is very thick, especially when chilled, I found the best way to get it into an even layer was to roll it out between two pieces of plastic into a circle just big enough to fit into the bottom of the cake. Together with the pastry cream and pastry, it’s a mellow and rich combination.

spiced date & cream gateau basque

spiced date gateau basque

  • Servings: one 7.5-inch diameter cake
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Pastry adapted from Mon Petit Four. Date paste adapted from Sohla El-Waylly. This is a fairly sweet recipe due to the sweetness of the dates and the sugar in the pastry (which I haven’t quite decimated as it has a bit of a tenderizing role), so I’ve kept the sugar in the pastry cream to a minimum.

special equipment: 7.5″ fluted tart ring (1″ tall)

pastry cream

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 14g cornstarch
  • 2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 240g whole milk
  • 1 tbsp butter

date paste

  • 150g whole dried dates
  • 1 1/2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • pinch kosher salt

pastry

  • 85g butter, softened
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 40g brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • finely grated zest from half an orange
  • 140g all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

assembly

  • beaten egg for egg wash

pastry cream

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, sugar and vanilla bean paste. Place the milk in a small saucepan and heat until steaming. Slowly pour the milk into the eggs, while whisking constantly to combine.

Return to the saucepan and cook over medium-high heat while whisking constantly. Watch for slow bubbles to rise to surface (you’ll need to briefly pause whisking to see this) and once the cream is bubbling, continue to cook for 1 minute more, whisking vigorously, to ensure the starch is cooked. Immediately transfer the cream to a new bowl and whisk in the butter. Cover and let cool, then place in the fridge to chill completely.

date paste

Cover the dates with boiling water and let sit 20 minutes to hydrate. Drain and pit the dates, and place the dates in the bowl of the food processor. Process until chopped, add the oil and spices, and continue to process until the dates form a smooth puree. Chill until ready to use.

pastry

Cream the butter and sugars together, then beat in the egg and orange zest until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and mix until a soft dough is formed. Divide the dough into two pieces, one about 2/3 of the dough, and the other, the remaining 1/3 of the dough. Wrap each in plastic and chill completely in the fridge.

assembly

Lightly butter the tart ring. On a piece of parchment paper dusted with flour, roll out the larger piece of dough into a circle wide large enough to line the bottom of the tart tin. Aim for a dough thickness of about 0.5cm. This dough is very soft and delicate when it warms up, so if it has started to warm, slide the parchment paper onto a tray or cutting board and place in the fridge to chill again. Then use the dough to line the bottom of the tart pan. Tears are okay – just patch them up with a bit of extra dough. Trim any overhang.

The next layer is the date paste. Rather than spreading it, I found the best way to get a nice even layer is to roll out the date paste just like a piece of dough. The chilled paste will be quite firm, so use your hands to form it into a disc. Roll out the disc between two pieces of plastic wrap until to a round that fits in the bottom of the tart tin. Pull off the top piece of plastic, and place the round of date paste upside down into the bottom of the tart tin so that the bottom piece of plastic is on top. Peel off the plastic.

Next, dollop the chilled pastry cream overtop and spread into a smooth layer.

Now, place the final piece of dough on a piece of parchment paper lightly dusted with flour (you can add any extra dough from the first piece) and roll into a circle large enough to cover the tart, aiming for a dough thickness of about 0.5cm. If the dough warms up too much, slide it onto a tray or board and chill it again. Otherwise, drape the dough over top of the tart and trim any excess. Now place the whole cake into the fridge to chill while you preheat the oven.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Remove the cake from the fridge and place on a tray. Brush with beaten egg and use the tip of a paring knife to score lines over the top, being careful not to cut all the way through the dough. Bake for about 40 minutes or until browned. Let cool completely before slicing and serving.

blueberry brunsviger

blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger

Brunsviger, a Danish yeasted cake baked with a cinnamon-spiced brown sugar glaze, is what you get from crossing a sticky bun with coffee cake. Thanks to a focaccia-like dimpling, a freshly baked brunsviger is a study in texture: the topping crisps on the top of the bread, and leaves behind cavernous dimples laden with molten brown sugar – and burst blueberries, an addition I adore.

It is hefty with sugar and in this case I wouldn’t have it any other way.

blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger
blueberry brunsviger

When I first came across a recipe for brunsviger, I skimmed past it. In part because I am always overwhelmed with the array of different Scandinavian desserts and end up quickly flipping through every page, and in part because I thought I had this recipe pegged as a brown sugar topped yeasted cake. Which it is – but I had completely missed the point of the rugged topography of the cake and the textural contrast that ensues. As is a lot of Nordic recipes, the basic ingredients are the same: the flour and butter and sugar and eggs and maybe cinnamon or cardamom, but then how they’re put together is what makes each dessert such standouts.

This version is not quite a faithful brunsviger. I love adding fruit to dessert and thought that the dimples of brunsviger would be a fitting receptacle for small blueberries – and it is. They bake cradled in sugar and cinnamon until syrupy, a fittingly cozy tribute to the end of summer and entering fall (or anytime! I’ve done it with both fresh and frozen blueberries). I’ve also modified the dough to be partially whole grain and flecked with orange peel. It bakes up soft and fluffy regardless. Cut it into squares and be sure to have with coffee.

blueberry brunsviger

blueberry brunsviger

  • Servings: 8x8 inch cake which can be cut into 9 or 16 pieces
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Adapted from Magnus Nilsson’s The Nordic Baking Book.

dough

  • 120g warm milk
  • 1 tsp (4g) instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • grated zest of 1 orange
  • 60g soft butter
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 100g whole grain spelt flour or whole wheat flour
  • 130g all-purpose flour

topping

  • 75g butter
  • 120g brown sugar
  • scant tbsp ground cinnamon
  • a couple pinches kosher salt
  • 100g fresh or frozen blueberries (if frozen, do not thaw beforehand) 

Line an 8×8″ or 9×9″ square pan with a parchment paper sling and butter the remaining exposed sides. 

To make the dough, combine the warm milk, yeast and sugar in the bowl of a standmixer. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until a dough is formed. Knead with the dough hook for about 8-10 minutes or until a very soft, smooth and elastic dough is formed. 

Stretch and pat the dough out evenly into the prepared pan. Cover and let rise until about doubled in height, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. 

Near the end of the rise, preheat the oven to 400F.

Prepare the topping once the dough is risen. Combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small saucepan and heat gently until the mixture is melted. 

Dampen your fingers to prevent them from sticking to the dough, the press evenly spaced deep dimples into the dough, rather like dimpling focaccia. Scatter the blueberries over top, mostly aiming for the dimples. Dampen your fingers once again, and then press the blueberries into the dimples to ensure that they are blueberry-filled dimples.

Finally, spoon the warm sugar mixture evenly overtop. 

Place in the oven and bake around 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 190F. 

Let cool a bit on a wire rack. Run a knife around the two edges without parchment paper and use the parchment paper sling to lift the bread from the tin. Slice into 9 or 16 squares and eat while still warm. If you have leftovers, be sure to warm them up before eating!

earl grey roll cake with strawberry rhubarb jam

strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake
strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake
strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake

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strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake
strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake
strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake

The nonsense I make up in order to avoid writing a blog post…

This is another quick and simple roll cake, made with an earl grey chiffon, strawberry rhubarb jam, and earl-grey infused cream. This cake is light, tart, creamy, and moist. It is no surprise that jam and cream is wonderful together!

The part I am most excited about is the earl grey-infused cream. In the past I’ve attempted tea-infused whipped cream, but would find that it did not whip up very smoothly, something which I attributed to heating the cream and the tannic content of tea. Lately I’ve been doing more cold overnight infusions, the key benefit being that you can infuse the cream without heating it up. When applied here, it also it means that the infused cream whips smoothly!

strawberry rhubarb earl grey roll cake

earl grey roll cake with strawberry rhubarb jam

  • Servings: 1 roll cake which can be sliced into 6-8 pieces
  • Print

Sponge cake recipe adapted from Rice ‘n Flour.

earl grey cream

  • 150g heavy cream
  • 5g earl grey tea

strawberry rhubarb vanilla jam

  • 140g chopped rhubarb
  • 90g chopped strawberries
  • 30g granulated sugar
  • 2cm length of vanilla bean
  • optional: a few chopped cherries, for boosting the colour

earl grey roll cake

  • 1 tsp loose leaf earl grey tea
  • 3 eggs, split
  • 45g sugar
  • 30g whole milk
  • 30g oil
  • 1 tsp houjicha powder or cocoa powder whisked with 1 1/2 tsp boiling water, optional (see note at end)
  • 22g corn starch
  • 23g a.p. flour
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cream of tartar

filling & assembly

  • about 2 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar to sweeten the filling, or to taste
  • 60g whipped cream whipped with 1/2 tsp sugar for piping on top
  • sliced strawberries for garnish (alternatively, try poached rhubarb like here)

For the earl grey-infused cream, combine the cream and loose leaf tea in a container. Place in the fridge to infuse overnight. The next day press through a sieve – you should get around 120g of infused cream out. It will be a bit bitter now, but we’ll add sugar later when we whip the cream for the cake.

To make the strawberry rhubarb jam, toss the rhubarb, strawberries and sugar together in a small saucepan. (If you’re adding cherries for colour, add them now as well – especially if your rhubarb is more on the green side.) Split the length of vanilla bean, scrape the seeds from the middle and add to the mixture. Add the pod as well.

Warm the mixture over gentle heat until juices are released from the fruit. Then bring the mixture up a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the fruit breaks apart and the mixture thickens and resembles a jam, about 20 minutes. Look for a dollop of jam dropped from the spoon to roughly hold its shape.

Transfer to a container and chill completely.

To make the roll cake, preheat the oven to 350F. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment paper (I recommend the method in the original source recipe video for ease and nice sharp edges on the cake).

Grind the loose leaf earl grey in a small spice grinder until ground as fine as it can get – pass through a sieve and discard any larger pieces of leaves. Set aside.

To make the cake, whisk together the egg yolks with the oil and milk. Optionally, for colour, whisk 1 tsp of houjicha or cocoa powder with 1 1/2 tsp boiling water until smooth, then add it to the egg yolks and whisk in. Sift the flour and cornstarch over top and whisk in until completely combined. Whisk in the ground earl grey tea leaves.

In a stand mixer, whisk the egg whites with the salt and cream of tartar until frothy, then sprinkle in the sugar and whip until stiff peaks are formed. Fold one dollop of the egg whites into the batter completely before adding the remainder and folding in lightly. Scrape into the prepared pan, level with an offset spatula and tap to release any large air bubbles.

Bake around 15 minutes or until lightly browned, springy, and an inserted wooden skewer/toothpick is removed clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

To fill and assemble, begin by whipping the earl-grey infused cream. Whisk in about 2 1/2 tsp of granulated sugar, or sweeten to taste.

To assemble, place the cake right side up (i.e. with the bottom of the cake facing down to become the outside of the roll) on a piece of parchment paper. Spread with a thin layer of jam aside from one strip along a short side. You may not use all the jam. Dollop the whipped earl grey cream overtop of the jam and spread into an even layer.

Use the parchment paper to help you roll up the cake into round log. Roll tightly, but not so tightly such that the filling is squeezed out. Wrap and chill for at least an hour to allow everything a chance to firm up.

When ready to serve, whip the remaining 60g of whipped cream and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe 6-8 dollops of cream on top of the roll cake, depending on how thick you want the slices to be. Top each dollop of cream with a slice of strawberry.

Note on houjicha/cocoa powder: I like to have a greater contrast in colour between the cake and filling so I like to add a tsp of either houjicha or cocoa powder. It makes the cake a light brown tone, which is reminiscent of the colour of tea. It will affect the flavour a bit though, so to avoid any distractions, leave it out!

lemon verbena & rhubarb fraisier (& tentimestea turns 7!)

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

Today, somehow, tentimestea turns seven!? Is it time for me and my blog’s seven year itch? (I’m not feeling it yet – but…)

Over these seven years, definitely a number of things of have changed (like the fonts – what a reversal from serif to sans) – and a few other things have stayed the same. For instance, I’ve had the same rather prescient blog tagline since I started my blog: tentimestea is indeed primarily about food, my cautious instinct was correct that there really ended up being no books, and the pretentious writing is right on point. Likewise, I’ve kept the same totally irrelevant about page mostly intact.

In this manner my blog has come to be a mish-mash of nostalgia and sentimentality folded in with the newer fonts and occasionally properly exposed photographs – SEO and proper blog form be darned! Because after working on something for seven years, I suppose you do start to get attached to all the idiosyncrasies and random html widgets that were added into the sidebar which now, years later, I don’t have the heart to delete. It’s legacy! For posterity! or so I tell myself.

And so? One more year? Shall we?

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

I’ve been thinking about making a fraisier for a while (i.e. about three years). I’m so glad I finally did – it’s not nearly as scary as I thought it would be! Perhaps my biggest fear was the ring of strawberries along the edge not staying in place, or even worse, not being able to pull off the cake ring at the very end. Neither of those events came to pass as you can see (and on the ring removal side, it just takes a bit of warming up via blow dryer.)

Fraisier is a cake named for it’s fruit (la fraise) usually made of two layers of sponge enclosing cream and strawberries, and then topped with a layer of marzipan. It’s most recognizable for the ring of exposed strawberry halves.

This fraisier is a bit of a riff off of the original. Starting with the cake, I went with joconde, an almond sponge, instead of genoise. It’s one of my favourite base cakes – it’s stronger, moister and has a wonderfully rich taste, and in lieu of the marzipan, it provides a gentle almond flavour. For the filling, I infused the creme diplomat with lemon verbena and thyme for a fresh herbal taste, and packed the centre with tart roasted rhubarb. And as hinted, I skipped the marzipan – I love marzipan, but I do think the more-cream-on-top approach, one which I’ve seen a number of times (like here!) is a lovely balance of flavours.

For the ambitious, Tamal Ray recently shared a frasier recipe in the Guardian with a double strawberry ring, while the blog Freddy’s Harajuku has a full on double-decker frasier.

As for me, I can’t wait to try this again in different flavour variations!

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier
lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

past tentimestea birthday rhubarb cakes:

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

lemon verbena, thyme & rhubarb fraisier

  • Servings: one 6-inch cake
  • Print

Creme diplomat and general assembly features from A Baking Journey, joconde from Mary Berry via BBC, and the finishing step of spreading more creme diplomat on top from Ruth Tam via Instagram.

special equipment: cake ring 6″ in diametre and 3″ tall

joconde

  • 3 egg whites
  • pinch cream of tartar
  • 15g sugar
  • 100g ground almond
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 30g flour
  • 30g butter, melted and cooled

roasted fruit

  • 120g chopped rhubarb (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
  • 80g chopped strawberries (chop into about 1.5cm dice)
  • about 2 tsp sugar (or more to taste)

creme diplomat

  • 320g whole milk
  • 3 large sprigs lemon verbena
  • 3 large sprigs thyme
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 20g granulated sugar
  • 20g cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp gelatin, bloomed in 1 tbsp water
  • 180g heavy cream, whipped

assembly

  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp grand marnier (or kirsch)
  • strawberries
  • whipped cream

joconde

Preheat the oven to 425F. Butter two 9-inch cake tins and line the bottom of two 9-inch cake tins with parchment paper. Flour the sides.

Place the 3 egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and whip until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and sugar and beat until firm peaks are formed. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

Place the almond, icing sugar and 3 whole eggs in the stand mixer and beat with the whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Sift the flour overtop and fold in. Fold in the melted butter. Dollop a large scoop of egg whites over top and fold in to lighten. Then add the remaining egg whites and fold until incorporated.

Evenly distribute the batter between the two tins and spread into an even layer.

Bake for around 5-10 minutes or until golden and springy. Let cool, then store, covered, until ready to use.

roasted fruit

Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the strawberries, rhubarb and sugar together on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once at the 10 minute mark, or until the fruit is tender and has released juices. Let cool and chill completely.

creme diplomat

Heat the milk until steaming. Coarsely chop the lemon verbena and thyme, and add to the milk. Cover and let cool, then transfer the milk to the fridge to continue infusing overnight. The next day strain the milk, pressing to extract the milk from the herbs. Weigh the strained milk and top up to reach 320g.

Transfer the milk to a medium-small saucepan. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and salt. Heat the milk until steaming, then slowly pour into the egg yolks while whisking constantly to temper them. Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and continue to cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble. Cook for at least 1 minute (whisking vigorously) then immediately remove from the heat. Pass through a sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps and whisk in the butter and bloomed gelatin until both are melted. Cover and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Once cooled, whisk the pastry cream until smooth. Whisk in a dollop of the whipped cream to lighten, then fold in the remainder. Use soon.

assembly

Mix together the milk and grand marnier.

Use the 6″ cake ring to cut a 6″ round from each joconde. Place the cake ring onto a plate (it is convenient to place it on your intended serving plate). Put one circle of joconde down and brush with the milk/grand marnier mixture. Line the ring with halved strawberries, cut side against the ring. I needed about 13 strawberry halves, but it will depend on the size of your strawberries (mine varied from 4-6cm tall; try not to exceed 6 or so cm to ensure that the cake doesn’t get too tall!).

Transfer the creme diplomat to a piping bag fitted with a round tip (I used Wilton 2A, about 1cm in diameter). Pipe the creme between each strawberry and then pipe in a spiral to cover the bottom of the cake. Spoon the roasted fruit into the cavity created by the cream and strawberries, and then pipe more cream overtop to cover it. Spread flat and top with the second circle of joconde. Brush with the grand marnier/milk mixture. Finally, spread a final layer of creme diplomat over top and smooth out with an offset spatula.

Cover with plastic and chill overnight to allow the cream to set. The next day, if the cake is not already on your designed serving platter, move it – you can likely lift it up via the ring, but use a wide flat spatula on the bottom for additional support.. Then run a blowdryer (or even a blowtorch, if you have access to one!) along the outside of the ring for several seconds to slightly melt the cream and loosen the ring. Lift up the ring. I garnished with some piped whipped cream, strawberries, lemon verbena and thyme (as well as a single white begonia – they are edible! – the sole output from our struggling balcony plants).

lemon verbena and rhubarb frasier

spumoni cake (& guest post by the writographer)

spumoni cake
spumoni cake
spumoni cake

I am a lazy person, writing is hard and I love to outsource the labour. So today I bring you a wonderful guest post from The Cousin (who also goes by The Writographer)!

Hi ten.times.tea readers, 

It is I, the Cousin (also known as The Writographer), and I have returned to this blog after a very long day. I just did the calculations, and I have not written a guest post in 1236 days (it will probably be more when you are reading this, but that is how long it has been when I write my original draft. Despite being given an open invitation to write for this blog whenever I feel like it, I have not taken up ten.times.tea’s offer. But now that it is summer, and my schedule is less busy than usual, I have decided to finally write a blog post. It took me a while to decide what to blog about; this blog’s author told me that I could write about anything, but I did not think she would appreciate another nerdy blog post about Star Wars (and to be fair, I have no yet watched episode IV). I did consider writing a blog post about Downton Abbey, specifically talking about the new movie coming up. I concluded that the readers of ten.times.tea come to this blog for baking and photography; not the nerdy cousin’s rants. 

One of the hardest parts about writing this guest post is that I have no idea what the recipe is, so whatever I say will have nothing to do with the baking. I can guess that the baking is probably with very little sugar, whole wheat flour, no chocolate and most likely will include rhubarb and some interesting spice combination. I am excited to see how accurate my prediction is. 

After much deliberation, I concluded that my post should have something to do with ten.times.tea, so either revolving around baking or photography. Since I am not much of a baker (the closest I get to baking cool creations is when I wash the dishes for ten.times.tea), I am sticking with photography topics. So this blog post is going to be about what I think are ideal photography conditions. Disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer. These are my opinions that I find lead to good photographs. 

  1. Good weather – While I say good weather, this depends on what you find is “good weather.” I enjoy it when the weather is slightly warm since I go for long walks when I take photos. If it is too warm then it’s annoying to stand in place for a long time to get the right shot. Also, since I normally take cityscapes and various street photography, I enjoy cloudy days since the sky looks more interesting, and then light/shadows are more interesting. 
  2. A fellow photographer/friend – Some people might prefer to take photos on their own, but I enjoy having someone with me. Whether it is someone also taking photos or just someone whose company you enjoy. This way you have someone to talk to and they might be able to point out good photo opportunities you missed.  
  3. Food/drinks – Since I normally go on long photography walks, it’s nice to get sustenance by stopping to get something to eat/drink. Or depending on the weather, it’s fun to get takeout drinks and walk around with them while you take photos. I’ve done both and I am not entirely sure which one is better. It probably depends on the area that you are in. 
  4. Extra batteries/enough memory – I realize that a lot of people now use smartphones to take photos, but I am thinking of actual cameras. I have had the misfortune to have forgotten to pack batteries and to run out of room on my memory card while on a photo walk. So before leaving to take photos, check if you have charged/extra batteries, enough room on the memory card, and take a test photo to make sure your camera is working. 
  5. A route/destination – Sometimes you are just out and suddenly see an opportunity to take a good photo. However, I find some of my best photographs have come from knowing where I want to go. While I always bring my camera (or at least my phone) when I go out, it is nice to have an idea of what you want to photograph. 

Bonus: natural lighting – this is more for ten.times.tea’s benefit since she can only bake when there is natural lighting. Since I usually photograph outside this does not apply to most of my photographs.

Okay, that is all I have for you today. Ten.times.tea, I hope your baking turned out well; I am sure that it did. I am looking forward to seeing what you have created. Goodbye!

spumoni cake
spumoni cake
spumoni cake
spumoni cake
spumoni cake

Thank you again The Cousin! I gave you a pretty difficult request by asking for a guest post without any idea of what recipe I would be posting – what a great idea to talk about photography! (If, reader of this blog post, you were not already aware, she is a brilliant photographer!). Oh and by the way, I am totally for it if you want to write about Star Wars again someday too…

If you want to see more of The Cousin’s hijinks, she has her own tag on tentimestea. You can also check out her blog, The Writographer, which features her photography and writing, or find her on Instagram!

My cousin has me pegged in terms of baking tendencies, but I decided to be unpredictable (ooh so wild!!) – this recipe has no whole wheat flour and quite a bit of chocolate. I was inspired by the flavour combination of spumoni, an Italian frozen dessert typically featuring pistachio, chocolate, and cherry: this is a fragrant pistachio cake, spotted with fresh cherries, marbled with cocoa powder and finished with a dark chocolate ganache. Due to the nuts nuts, the cake itself is very tender and moist. It also chills and eats very well from the fridge (likely as it’s an oil cake instead of butter) which is helpful in making it keep for a few days.

spumoni cake

spumoni cake

Cake adapted from The Milk Street Cookbook‘s pistachio cardamom cake (book edited by Christopher Kimball). Ganache from Ottolenghi Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.

cake

  • 85g pistachios
  • 100g almond flour
  • 130g all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 150g granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 120g greek yoghurt
  • 50g olive oil (if you like the taste – otherwise use a neutral vegetable oil)
  • 50g whole milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 150g cherries, pitted and halved

ganache

  • 53g very dark chocolate (90% cocoa), chopped
  • 25g granulated sugar
  • 23g corn syrup
  • 55g water

cake

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a loaf tin and line with a parchment paper sling.

Place the pistachios in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add the almond flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Process until the pistachios are finely ground.

In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, yoghurt, oil, milk and vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.

Divide the batter in two, transferring half to a second bowl. Beat the cocoa powder into one half of the batter. Add half the cherries to each half of the batter and mix. Put the chocolate batter into the prepared loaf tin, then top with the remaining half of the batter. Use an offset spatula, butter knife or spoon to dip down to the bottom of the pan and draw back up. Repeat a few times in the loaf tin to create some swirls.

Bake the cake for about 45 minutes or until an inserted skewer is removed with a few moist crumbs clinging, or clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

ganache

To make the ganache, put the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. In a very small saucepan, put the sugar and corn syrup. Stir together until mixed. Heat over medium-low until the sugar, then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a bubble. Cook until the sugars caramelize and turn amber (about 7 minutes).

Remove from the heat and add the water carefully – it will splatter a bit. The sugar will seize and harden so return the saucepan to the heat to allow the sugar to redissolve and bring back to a boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat again and let cool one minute before pouring over the chocolate.

Let the chocolate sit for 5 minutes to begin to melt, then whisk until smooth. Pour over the cake while still warm.

Let the ganache set slightly, then top with cherries and chopped pistachios as desired.

Due to the moisture content of the cake, I recommend storing in the fridge. I find this cake eats very well cold from the fridge – and I slightly prefer eating it cold too!

spumoni cake

tiramisu tres leches cake

tiramisu tres leches
tiramisu tres leches
tiramisu tres leches

This cake is, in essence, a sheetpan version of tiramisu with superabundant soak. It’s also a travesty and is neither really a tiramisu or a tres leches cake.

For the uninitiated, tres leches cake, or pastel de tres leches, is a sponge cake soaked in a mixture of canned and fresh milk. I love it – it is the dream remedy to all dry cake nightmares! Origins of this cake can be linked to multiple Latin American countries, European influence, expansion of dairy farming and sales of canned milk. It’s perhaps a familiar story of food emerging from resilient local ingenuity under colonialism (with a touch of capitalism and wartime food preservation).

Continue reading “tiramisu tres leches cake”

(utterly straightforwards) lemon cream cake

lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake

There is a trifecta of celebration cakes that are my go-to’s for occasions with family: black forest cake, glazed lemon loaf, and this lemon cream cake. They are all cakes that we used to buy from bakeries, but if I’m around, I’ll now usually make it. The lemon cake, filled with lemon curd and covered with whipped cream is what we used to get for my sister’s birthday. I’ve made it many times and it’s finally now on the blog!

It is, as the recipe title suggests, a very straightforwards cake – and just as with the other two. When it comes to family celebrations, it’s better not to be too stressed with a pretentious bake. And somehow my family seems to not want for novelty despite having these cakes year on and year out (…maybe because my more creative bakes always need some trial and error!).

lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake
lemon cream cake

This cake is all about bright tartness with plenty of minimally sweetened lemon curd between the layers and light fluffy textures with a lemon chiffon cake and piles of whipped cream. The thing I love about chiffon cake with whipped cream is that chiffon cake stays soft and moist even when cold from the fridge, so it better handles the refrigeration required by whipped cream than a butter-based cake.

lemon cream cake

(utterly straightforwards) lemon cream cake

  • Servings: 7-inch round cake
  • Print

lemon chiffon cake

Adapted from Make Fabulous Cakes. It was a fabulous cake, which fit very well in two 7″ round springform pans.

  • 140g flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (6g)
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • finely grated zest of 2 lemons
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar, divided
  • 90mL milk
  • 90mL neutral oil
  • 4 eggs, divided

Preheat the oven to 325F. Butter two 7-inch springform cake tins. Line the bottom with a round of parchment paper and flour the sides of the tins.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. In a small dish, rub together 50g of the sugar with the lemon zest until fragrant. Measure out the milk and oil in a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, then add the yolks and whisk to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and begin to beat with the whisk attachment until the egg whites are foamy. Slowly add in the remaining sugar and whip until stiff peaks form.

Make a well in the dry ingredients, add in the egg yolk mixture, and whisk until fully combined. Whisk one scoop of egg whites until fully incorporated to lighten the batter. Follow this with the rest of the egg whites, folding with a rubber spatula until just fully incorporated.

Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and spread into an even layer. Tap the pans on the counter in order to pop any large air bubbles. Bake for around 25-30 minutes or until an inserted skewer into the centre of each cake is removed clean. Let cool on a wire rack.

lemon curd

Adapted from All Recipes. This makes a very tart lemon curd so I note in the recipe a good time to taste it and add additional sugar as per your liking. You’ll have some extra lemon curd leftover, but that’s not exactly a bad thing!

  • 180g (3/4 cup) lemon juice
  • 75g granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 113g (1 stick) butter

In a small saucepan (or, if you’d like to be very careful use a bain marie by placing a glass bowl over a pot of simmering water), whisk together the lemon juice, sugar and eggs. Whisking constantly, place over medium heat and add the butter a bit at a time, allowing it to melt in. Continue to whisk constantly and gently cook until thickened; you’ll know it’s thick enough when the whisk begins to leave lines in the curd. For those that like temperature, look for 165C or higher to ensure the eggs are cooked. Immediately remove from the heat and pass through a sieve (in case there are any eggy bits) into a container or bowl.

While still warm, taste the curd – if you would like it to be sweeter (this makes a rather tart curd as per my tastes), whisk in some more sugar while the curd is still warm and the sugar will easily dissolve. Cover and chill the curd completely.

assembly

  • 280g whipping cream, divided
  • 2 lemon slices, optional

Whip 200g of the cream until just stiff. You can leave it unsweetened (as I tend to ) or sweeten the cream to taste to your own liking!

Slice the two cakes in half. Stack the cake layers with lemon curd layered between them. Finish by covering the cake in the whipped cream.

Whip the remaining 70mL of whipped cream with 1 tsp of sugar (I find this helps keep the cream smoother for piping purposes) and transfer to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip, such as Wilton 2D, and pipe eight rosettes on top of the cake.

Take two lemon slices and cut into quarters, arranging the slices on top of the cake. Chill the cake completely so the cream has time to firm up before serving and slicing.

grapefruit, rose & cardamom loaf cakes

grapefruit rose cardamom loaf cakes

I don’t know whether there is a grapefruit rose soap, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the flavour combination subconsciously entered my head via a soap. I mean, it sounds pretty soapy – in a good way. (I always find myself wishing that displays of fancy handcrafted soaps were edible. Oatmeal, honey and goat’s milk soap? I’d eat that for breakfast any day. Especially if it wasn’t actually soap.)

These soap bars cakes are also actually grapefruit cakes. I’ve tried making “grapefruit” cakes a couple times before following a similar approach as I would with a lemon cake – throw in some zest – and always ended up with a very plain cake. Because I am very susceptible to the power of suggestion and have an active imagination, I could taste grapefruit if I waved my hands and thought hard enough about it… but that doesn’t help others taste the flavour.

Continue reading “grapefruit, rose & cardamom loaf cakes”

fruitcake (2020)

fruitcake 2020
fruitcake 2020

Happy winter holidays! Every year around this time we pull out the fruitcakes: dark, sticky, dense, eighty percent dried fruit, full of tradition and less so, elegance.

While the exciting time, when we can taste the cake, is now, the process usually starts in late summer or fall. Brushed with rum and wrapped up in paper and a double layer of plastic, the cakes age in the dark whilst pondering their existence for at least a few months – or a few years. By far, the best fruitcakes are old and existential.

Continue reading “fruitcake (2020)”