Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Checkerboard Cake with Old Fashioned Chocolate Icing

It's my second son's 17th birthday today.  Given the condition of my hands, I wasn't really in the mood to bake him a cake.

BUT not making him a cake just wouldn't feel right to me.

I thought I should do something very easy.  I have been wanting to try out Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake, a recipe great for beginners.  Would certainly suit me at this time.

Then I remembered my checkerboard cake pans.  I never ever used them after the terrible experience I had buying them.  Maybe it was high time I did.

One thing I can tell you....the checkerboard cake experience wasn't a breeze at all.  Because my fingers are not quite fully functional, I made quite a mess! I found it really difficult filling up the dividers neatly with the two cake batters.  I had to wash a whole lot of bowls and utensils as well. Talk about planning to do something easy!

Was the trouble worth it?

Here's the cake covered in an old fashioned chocolate icing.  Doesn't look impressive at this point.

Ta Da! Beautiful, isn't it? The checkerboard is a little bit wonky but I am forgiving myself given my circumstance! Next time I try this, I'm sure I'll do better.
The cake recipe I used is from the Cake Bible of Rose Levy Beranbaum.  You can find the recipe here.  I'm totally a chiffon cake girl (you know that by now), so this is not the sort of cake I would typically make. Having said that, however, I still enjoyed the cake, it being moist and tender.  The chocolate flavour is very mild. A little to mild for me actually.  Ms. Beranbaum did do this intentionally so as not to overpower the yellow cake's flavour. 

The chocolate icing is my aunt's recipe.  Tasting this icing after so many years just took me right back to my childhood!  The icing is a spreadable one and  remains soft and creamy even when refrigerated, much like the caramel icing. It is, however, not suitable for piping.  What my aunt used to do was cover her chocolate cake with this icing then use buttercream to do the borders and decorations.  

Just one note - I reckon the milk in my aunt's recipe really refers to evaporated milk (because it is what they most often used) but I am not 100% certain about this so I am sticking to whole milk until I am able to verify.  Feel free to experiment. Also, with this icing recipe, I was able to fill (thinly) and frost the three-layered checkerboard cake shown here.

Here is the recipe for you!

(makes about 2 1/2 cups icing)

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 1/2 cup white granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk, divided
2 tablespoons butter

1. In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa powder, cornstarch, sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk.
2. In a medium saucepan and over a low-medium heat, bring the remaining milk to a soft boil.
3. Add the chocolate mixture from step 1 to the boiling milk.  Whisk continuously until mixture is thick and of a spreading consistency. (This will not take very long.)
4. Remove from heat then add the butter.  Mix until butter is fully melted and incorporated.  Set aside to cool. (The icing will thicken a bit more upon cooling.) 

Let me know what you think of the icing if ever you get to try it, ok? Enjoy!

PS. My fingers are healing quite well (but look really disgusting). Thank you for your prayers and well wishes!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


When I was young, people always told me I had beautiful eyelashes.  They were long and curly, just like my mother's.

But now, those eyelashes are gone....(

Well, there's about 1/8" length left.

I burned them last Sunday.

Along with seven of my fingers and some of my hair.

The culprit?

I've done this before with success.  Refilling a gas lighter.  Unfortunately, it went terribly wrong this time.  Entirely my fault though.  The gas refill cannister specifically warned to "keep away from sources of ignition".  I pressed the trigger and there they were...a sudden burst of big flames right in my hands and in front of my face.

At first, I was more worried about my hair rather than my hands.  But after a while, my hands really began to hurt and I became more aware of what had actually happened to me.  I did the necessary first aid on myself, went to the doctor the next morning and got myself a haircut too.  Today, my fingers are quite sore because the blisters are starting to pop (sorry, I don't mean to sound gross!) and they now look really burnt, the skin being greyish and leathery.  But I am ok.  I do have a high threshold for pain. See, I can still type!

Thank God.  It could have really been a lot worst.  I am still alive and my hands are still working.  And yes, I know my hair and eyelashes will grow back soon.

Despite the injuries, I had to go on with my baking.  I had cupcakes to make for this nice, elderly lady from the retirement village.  It's her 76th birthday today.  I would never let her down, even with bandaged fingers.

It was a challenge and I worked slower than usual but I got it done.

I am also thankful this incident happened after the wedding I mentioned in my last post.  If not, it would have been a disaster.  I don't think I could have decorated a cake in my condition.

Three layered 6" red velvet cake with gumpaste bride and groom.

Red velvet cupcakes to match.  I loved how elegant these cupcakes looked!
Here are the cakes and cupcakes in the 5-tiered stand at the wedding reception.  I didn't do the arrangement but as pedantic as I am, I wished I had done it myself.

Please pray my hands will get better soon.  My world doesn't stop just because of this setback, you know.  I know you mothers out there understand what I mean. So many responsibilities and of course, more cakes to bake! 

Enjoy the rest of your week.  Stay safe!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Birthday, Christening, Baby Shower and Wedding

The proper order should be the other way around, don't you think????  Funny.

This was actually the order in which the occasions for my cakes happened within the last 10 days. The cakes were for different people of course!  


This cake was for my son's friend.  It was sort of a rush job but I couldn't say no because the boy seemed so excited about it. I stared at Yoshi pictures for hours and hours, not knowing how to begin.  Then at 11pm, while waiting for my older son to come home from work, I decided to sit down and make an attempt.  I finished it an hour later and was just amazed at how I miraculously managed to do it!

I know it looks quite simple but the pressure point here (at least for me) was the head.  Look at how big that nose is!


I made baby booties at first then trashed it.  And I'm happy that I did because I reckon the whole thing turned out much better.

The angel tutorial can be found here - Part I, Part II and Part III.  It is very easy to do and the resulting angel is very cute, complete with beaded halo.  I used a butterfly cutter for the wings instead of a template.  As for the baby, I totally just winged it.  Simple but adorable, yeah?


I love baby showers and I really enjoy making baby stuff .  Remember this and this?  

Anyway, I was invited to a baby shower today but unfortunately, was not able to make it because of another commitment.  As much as I wanted to sew something, I couldn't as I was also busy throughout the week.  I promised the mom to-be that I'd make a cake for her though, so that I did.

Again, the teddy bear is quite simple to do.  Something anyone can finish in one sitting.


Thank goodness my friend requested for a single-tiered wedding cake for her cousin. Wedding cakes are just not my kind of thing.  They are daunting.

The wedding colour was purple, so naturally, the bride and groom wanted a purple yam (ube) cake.  I was very happy with how this cake turned out.  It is not elaborate as most wedding cakes are, but I really think keeping things simple is the right way to go.

So that's about everything for now.  Next weekend, my husband is a wedding sponsor and you know what? As his present to the bride and groom, he offered to provide the wedding cake/cupcakes. Guess who's going to do all the hard labour? Sigh.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!