strawberry cake with browned butter cream

strawberry chiffon layer cake piled with browned butter whipped cream – the most intensely browned butter-flavoured cake that I’ve made by far

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The transformation of browned butter is a heady aromatic experience: first of melted butter, like popcorn, then as it cooks and the solids break down a bit more, of all the good things fried in butter like eggs and pancakes and toasted bread, finishing on an intense concentration of toast and caramelization.

I find it comes out immensely in butter-heavy financiers and is a fair contributor to other cakes and cookies. Though as intense as brown butter is in its unadulterated form, sometimes I struggle to coax it to step beyond team player (which it is terribly wonderful at) to be a primary flavour.

This cake is the most intensely browned butter cake that I’ve made. It doesn’t appear so at first – a soft elderflower chiffon layered with strawberries and piles of cream. However, it has no problem in demonstrating its browned butter allegiance through the piles of cream being piles of browned butter cream, made using an old Bel cream-maker.

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roasted apricot and spruce tip cakes

handheld cakes filled with roasted apricots and spruce-tip infused cream plus bee stings, the contributions of gardening to bee conservation, and foraging for spruce tips.

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I felt a bit of fluffiness against my cheek, the familiar motor-hum vibrato – and then, unexpectedly, a sharp, fine pain. I broke my rule of allowing all sting-equipped yellow-and-black striped insects to go about their business on my face without harassment and brushed the bee away, a bit late.

It felt rather unfair – all I was doing was crouching beside the voluminous horseradish plant – though after I slipped away from the garden meeting, I tempered my ire with the melancholy realization that the sting would be causing a (bad-tempered, but otherwise) innocent bee’s death. Whatever it was, something had put the bees on edge – another few people had also been stung the same night.

Utterly anticlimactically, the pain faded away on my walk home (and the residual cheek swelling resolved with an anti-histamine). It was not how I recalled bee stings – the last time I was six and nearly convinced it might be the end of the world or, at the very least, the end of my right wrist. This sting ended up a small blip in the day, but a visceral reminder of the presence of bees in the garden.

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roasted rhubarb and strawberry layer cake – 5th blogiversary cake!

tentimestea turns 5: a birthday cake, obligatory autobiographical ramblings (which I enjoy far too much) and tips on making a lower sugar layer cake with moderated sweetness

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As with every most blogiversaries, another year another cake – as well as uber-sentimental musings (replete with pretentious writing as usual) on how much I love baking and some more soul searching to try to figure out how to balance blogging with other priorities.

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ispahan roll cake

ispahan roll cake

Today we have our second installment of Roll Cake Road Show, a traveling roll cake show visiting roll cakes from pan to table. Today’s show takes place somewhere between the region of whipped cream and mousse, but still firmly in the county of sponge cake.

Here is our first roll cake guest that we’ve lured into our trap attracted with our excellent narrative skills and engaging exposition.

ispahan roll cake
ispahan roll cake
ispahan roll cake

Hello there! So happy to see you’ve come out. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Roll Cake (RC): [slowly rolls self into the impromptu studio tent and is lifted up and set in a chair by the host as it begins to talk.] Why hello – [breaks into coughing fit while being lifted] – ah, thank you. As soon as I heard the road show was visiting, I couldn’t help myself and just had to come visit!

We’re so glad that you made it out. But now, tell us more about yourself. How were you made?

RC: The story of my birth begins in the kitchen—

Yes, of course! Where else would you be made?

RC: [grumpily] I’m only trying to answer your question! You’re not very courteous for a TV show host are you?

I’m – I’m sorry. I think I was just struck by a pang of hunger which made me lash out. Please continue.

RC: I was made in the image of Pierre Herme’s classic flavour combination, you know. Ispahan – rose, lychee and raspberry.

Oh my! That sounds delightful!

RC: [now talking more cheerfully] My sponge cake is wrapped around a lychee rosewater mousse dotted with fresh raspberries.

Oh yum. What is your favourite part about yourself?

RC: Hmm…my sponge cake is just so fluffy! [coughs violently as it is poked by the host].

Indeed! So fluffy and springy. And can you tell us about some of your flaws?

RC: Well, while I was being made, it turns out that the scale wasn’t so accurate at small quantities, which greatly impacted the gelatin measurement. I know that this same formula has been used to make other mousse-containing siblings of mine and they turned out fine…but due to inaccuracy, I actually contain excess gelatin. [sighs]

Oh that must be quite a disappointment. It sounds as though you’ve developed a bit of an inferiority complex to other mousses.

RC: Um, how forwards of you! Well, perhaps there is some truth in that. That might be why I’m here on the show – to see how I rank compared to them in monetary value.

We’ll be getting right to that exciting reveal in a moment! Can you tell me more about how this gelatin inaccuracy has affected you?

RC: The excess gelatin takes away a bit from the flavour of the lychee mousse and also has made the texture too firm. Though at least it has made me more resilient for the roll here! However, for any clones of me to be made, just follow the recipe and perhaps use volume measurements instead of weight if your scale is not so good at the small quantities.

Hmm, excellent advice for bakers. You know, you’ve impressed me by seeing positives and negatives regarding the excess gelatin, though in the context of eating, it sounds as though it was simply a detriment.

RC: Hahahaha! What a good joke. Eating a roll cake!

Ahem. Okay, my team of expert appraisers is now ready to reveal your monetary value!

RC: Oh my! Oh my!

You are worth… Five dollars!

RC: Oh! [feigns delight] Not that bad. Not that bad at all… [muttering under breath] but that other mousse was worth more…

Thank you so much for coming ispahan roll cake! Now let me just go grab a fork…

RC: [appears to suddenly look intently at host despite having no eyes] …is your show behind the plague of partially eaten roll cakes?

Hmm – well, this show does make me so curious about how roll cakes taste!

RC: [gasps darkly] I see now! Your show isn’t about learning more about roll cakes – it’s just a front to lure us in. You prey on our desires to have our worth quantified in a pseudo-authoritative manner, which lowers our guard! How could a human even know what a cake is worth? [tips itself off of the chair and rolls away]

[The host attempts to reach for the roll cake, but it bounces neatly out of reach]. Noo – ah! That roll cake! The excess gelatin gives it such bounce!

ispahan roll cake
ispahan roll cake

Bizarre things happen when I’m stuck on coming up with something to write – luckily there was a happy ending for the roll cake this time around (though in reality, it was eaten regardless).

I’ve wanted to try to make something ispahan-flavoured for a while and finally got around to it here. It is a lovely combination! The roll cake you met in the above interview was my first attempt – I’ve since remade the cake with the correct amount of gelatin, and it is very lovely! (I’ve also now firmly shifted to volume measurements for small quantities of powdered gelatin – my scale is far too shifty to measure small weights!)

ispahan roll cake

ispahan roll cake

  • Servings: one small 9-inch roll cake
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sponge cake

Cake recipe adapted from Rice ‘n Flour.

  • 3 eggs, split
  • 45g sugar
  • 30g milk
  • 30g oil
  • 22g corn starch
  • 23g a.p. flour
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cream of tartar

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).

To make the cake, whisk together the egg yolks with the oil and milk. Sift the flour and cornstarch over top and whisk in until completely combined.

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.

lychee rosewater mousse

Because rosewaters can vary considerably, be sure to add to taste. I used canned lychees in syrup which were plenty sweet so this mousse needed no additional sugar. If you were to use fresh lychees or lychees canned in water, sweeten the puree to taste if necessary.

  • 120g drained canned lychees, pureed
  • 1 tsp powdered gelatin
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 120g or 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • about 1 1/4 tsp rosewater, or to taste

Puree the canned lychees until as smooth as you can get them – I always end up with a bit of a chunky puree, but it’s not too noticeable in the final mousse.

Bloom the gelatin over the water. Microwave until the gelatin is melted, around 15 seconds should do it. Add to the lychee puree and mix.

Whip the cream until soft peaks. Whisk a dollop into the lychee puree to lighten, then add the remaining and fold in gently with a rubber spatula. Lastly, gently fold in the rosewater to taste. Cover and refrigerate for at least a couple of hours to allow it to set.


  • 1 small punnet raspberries
  • about 50g whipped cream
  • crushed dried rose petals

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–unless the top looks more presentable) and spread with the set lychee mousse. Make a line of raspberries nestled into each other like cups along one short edge of the cake. Scatter additional halved raspberries over the remainder of the cake. Starting from the end with the line of raspberries (this will be the centre of the roll), 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 a couple of hours to allow everything to firm up.

When ready to serve, pipe dollops of whipped cream on top of the cake and garnish with raspberries and crushed rose petals.

rose, sumac and chocolate battenberg cake

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Battenberg cake has been on my baking bucket list for a while – I’d seen their distinctive checkerboard form before, but it was likely the charm of a GBBO episode which really piqued my interest.

This one is a chocolate and sumac-rose version, the pink colour from sumac bloomed in a bit of hot water. Together with the chocolate, it’s a flavour combination that is quite inclusive of the marzipan, which jives nicely with both the chocolate and rosewater.

It’s not the tidiest or most canonically-proportioned Battenberg, but I’m still pleased with what I ended up with! This cake is the sort of semi-precise finicky thing that I tend to mess up. Given that it has some resemblance, I decided I’m posting it as a matter of record as I may not attempt another Battenberg for a long time…

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tiramisu cake


This cake is tiramisu rendered in a slightly more celebratory form. If the black forest cake is what I make for my family, this tiramisu cake is what I make for my friend who adores tiramisu.

My university cafeteria had two coffee shops – the omnipresent Tim Hortons (obviously) and then the “fancy one.” I’ve completely forgotten the name now but it felt rather out of place at the time – serving belgian waffles, and carrot and tiramisu cake slices, alongside considerably more price-y espresso-based drinks. On occasion, when we had a long break between classes, we would treat ourselves to tea. The food on the other hand was a bit too much a drain on the wallet to try.

This cake is well, superficially, modelled after the tiramisu cake in the shop case – as we never ended up trying it, I’m solely working off of its exterior.

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anise, cardamom and raspberry kvæfjord cake

cakeJust post something. 

So I’ve been telling myself this for the past few weeks and yet nothing much has happened. I think I’ve developed this reticence either in the form of a clinging sloth-like laziness I haven’t managed to shake off, or blog-shyness, just as bad as when I first started blogging. Perhaps it’s both combined

I did have some rather good reasons to not blog: exams and travels. Now it’s back to routine, and hopefully I’ll be able to integrate ten times tea back into the schedule as well. (Say, do you have a blogging schedule? Is it helpful? )

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mont blanc kvæfjord cake

Okay, so I have a question. Is it possible to be able to roast/boil/roast then boil/boil then roast/otherwise cook chestnuts such that the inner skin can actually be peeled off with relative ease? Is it just me who has this problem?

My solution is to use packed pre-cooked and peeled chestnuts from those handy foil packages. Unfortunately, too bad/so long/oh well for freshness and DIY. I’ve completely given up on the chestnut front–I think it’s a lost cause.

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