Wednesday, 4 May 2011

of Birthdays and Baking


It is the time of the year again...

when I am 365 days older...but not necessary wiser....

when I just have to make a cake for myself, not because I love baking so much...but it seems like the only right thing to do...

when I always begin the day with the wrong mood, usually with a hint of resentment...but always went to bed all soaked up in a sweet feeling...




Before I share with you my birthday cake for this year, I will like to mark this occasion with a small roundup of the birthday cakes I have made so far...


My maiden birthday cake...a Dorie Greenspan's Devil's Food White-Out Chocolate Cake. Just like the Chinese saying "初生之犊不畏虎" which has the same meaning as 'fools rush in where angels fear to tread'...looking back, I was indeed a fool...trying to do something so challenging with the little baking knowledge and experience I have. It is no where close to the gorgeous cake on the front cover of Dorie Greenspan's 'Baking: From My Home to Yours'...what a disgrace to the author!



The following year, I celebrated my 40th year on earth with a dark, rich (how I wish it was someone tall, dark and handsome!) and very decadent Chocolate Gateau. It was a break through for me as it was the first time I tried piping rosettes with melted chocolate. I remembered trying so many times to produce the best looking rosette I could manage, that the chocolate started to harden and I had to give up when the fat appeared to separate from the cocoa, lolz!


One year later...having gone through enough baking failures, I attempted a Tiramisu Charlotte Cake that looked quite presentable with the clever 'cover ups'. The taste was so good that I wasn't afraid to make the same thing again for my close ones' birthdays.



This strawberry mousse cake seems to mark the beginning of my baking skills going down hill. I cringe whenever I am reminded by how 'coarse' the mouse layer was! The cake has also taught me to be more humble...that is, I have to treat all recipes with respect. I shouldn't play around with ingredients too much especially when dealing with delicate cakes.



pardon the lousy image...click on the picture to view a higher resolution image

This the latest edition to my list of birthday cakes...a no-bake Tofu Cheesecake. This time, I followed the recipe closely, the only deviation was, I used another recipe for the biscuit crust. Making the cake was smooth sailing...except having to run out at the last minute to get gelatine powder after a fruitless attempt rummaging through my cabinets of baking stuff. I popped the cake into the fridge to set before we went out for lunch. I had planned to get some fresh strawberries on our way back to make some berries sauce to go with the cake. Another lesson learned...do not take it for granted that your local supermarket would carry strawberries all year round. I couldn't find any strawberries, not a punnet on the shelf, neither could I find any suitable fruits to use as garnish. We went home empty handed, and I thought I was going to have a plain cake for birthday until I remembered I came across a marshmallow fondant recipe a few days ago. I was happy that the pack of coloured marshmallows sitting in my cabinet came in handy. I melted three pink marshmallows over a pot of simmering water, then added 40g of icing sugar (the sugar amount is double the weight of the marshmallows), and kneaded it into a small dough. I spent the next half an hour making fondant roses with my younger son...while the elder fellow kept stopping by to steal a piece of dough before popping it into his mouth.



pardon the lousy image...click on the picture to view a higher resolution image
Thanks to Bakertan for sharing this video on how to make a rose out of fondant. I saw the video sometime back, and based on what I could recall (I didnt even bother to watch the video again), I made the first rose. Since it was the first attempt, it wasn't that nice to be granted the lime-light spot in front. The second rose, facing right at the camera was pretty well done...at least for a first timer who has zero experience with fondant. Just like the video demo, I didnt use any tools, or roll out the dough evenly. I simply pinched pieces of dough, flatten it (without using any cling wrap since it is not sticky at all) into petals and stick them together into a rosette. The smaller rose on the left was done by my younger child. The petals were not as thin but I would think his motor skills is actually not too bad. Besides he has some 'prior experience' making a small rose with jumping clay, the day before. 

There were only enough marshmallow fondant to make 3 rosettes...and I placed them on top of my cheesecake right after they were made. To my surprise, the roses started to sweat due to condensation. It wasn't something I least expected even though I have read about 'sweating fondant' especially in our humid weather. It was quite heart breaking having to watch the pretty roses sweating away :'(


As usual, before we cut the cake, I was 'showered' with presents from my boys. I saw my little one making this tiny froggy the day before, they should know that they can't hide anything from me ;)  My elder son gave me something 'intangible'. A piece of music...the classic birthday song which he 're-arranged' with some music software...it was a string ensemble with 'violin', 'viola' and a 'cello' (I think?).



I managed to take a clearer picture of a slice of the tofu cheesecake the following morning. The cake was smooth and firm...not velvety soft as silken tofu. The texture wass closer to a firm tofu...probably because of the amount of gelatin used. It is an 'adult cake' actually...because it tasted quite tangy, thanks to the generous amount of lemon juice. My younger son only took a few mouthfuls before he scrapped off the filling and transferred it to his daddy's plate. He told me he liked the crust better, haha. The rest of us fell in love with the tanginess! The cake tasted so refreshing and delicious that we couldn't stop at just one slice...there were no tofu taste though. We had to caution each other of the amount of calories in order to refrain from taking the third piece. The only 'compliment' I got from my better half was...the crust was very professionally made...it didn't fall apart easily like all the previous no-bake cheesecakes I have made. What a great pat on the shoulder! As for the marshmallow fondant...it tasted great when dry...almost like eating a piece of 'crushed and flattened' cotton candy. However, after left to perspired profusely, the fondant rose tasted like...according to my elder son's description...as though eating a piece of '大白兔奶糖' (a kind of milk toffee)!

It was an experience playing with fondant...something which I never thought I will make because of the high sugar content. Although I am likely out of my mind if I were to make a cake covered fully with fondant, I won't dismiss the idea of making tiny edible cake toppers whenever I run out of idea to decorate a birthday cake ;)



Tofu Cheesecake

Ingredients
(makes one 18cm round cake)

crust:
95g digestive biscuits, finely crushed
50g unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon light brown sugar

filling:
6 tablespoons warm water
2 tablespoons gelatin powder
250g cream cheese, soften at room temperature
150g silken tofu
45g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
5 tablespoons caster sugar
4 tablespoons lemon juice


Method:
Crust:
Line the base of a 18cm round pan (with removable base) with parchment paper. Combine crushed digestive biscuits, light brown sugar and melted butter together in a mixing bowl. With the back of a spoon, press the biscuit crumbs firmly onto the base of the prepared pan. Chill in the freezer compartment for at least 1 hour. (To ensure the crust is even, I used the base of a flat-bottom glass to press down the crumbs.)

Filling:
Measure warm water into a small bowl and sprinkle in the gelatin powder (without stirring). Set aside to allow the gelatin grains to bloom.

With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, silken tofu and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stop to scrape down the sides if necessary. Add in sugar and beat till fully incorporated. Add in lemon juice, beat till fully incorporated.

The gelatin should turn spongy by now. Stir the solution with a spoon. (Note: not all the gelatin powder was fully dissolved when I made this, but it was not a problem as the mixture was added to the cheese batter through a sieve). Pour the gelatin solution through a sieve into the cream cheese batter. Beat the batter till fully incorporated.  Stop to scrape down the sides when necessary. (The finished batter is rather thin and runny.)

Pour the batter onto the chilled crust based. Tap the pan lightly on table top or smooth the surface with a spatula.  Refrigerate until set (at least 4 hours).

To unmold, place pan on an inverted glass (or a canned drink or any canned food). Carefully slide the removable pan downwards to release the cake. Transfer cake together with the base to a serving plate.  Serve with fresh berries sauce.

Recipe source: adapted from Food & Travel magazine

88 comments:

  1. Happy Happy Birthday HHB :) I love your Tofu cheesecake very much with those roses on top, so beautiful to look at.

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  2. Happy birthday HHB! Lovely to see the timeline of cakes, here's to many more baking successes! Cheers from all the way here in Perth! :)

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  3. Dearest hhb,

    Happy birthday and may your days be filled with blessings and joy..

    Very beautiful cake!

    love, Cassie

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  4. Happy Birthday, HHB ! :-)

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  5. Happy Birthday to you, I wish you all the best in your new and exciting year, and hope you'll have all your wishes come true!!! The cake looks delicious, and the rose is beautiful, I want to try making one as well, but just one :))) Best wishes from Toronto!

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  6. Happy Birthday, HHB!!

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  7. Hi, can I check how many grams is 4 tablespoon of caster sugar? Thanks in advance.

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  8. HHB, what a wealth of information and so timely. Because of a foolish promise, I am supposed to make 20 cupcakes with fondant this Sunday when I have no idea how ( arrogance and over confidence, that is why ) Will get marshmallow and try out. Hopefully I can pull through this.

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  9. Happy birthday, HHB. Beautiful roses you have! And yes, they sweat like mad in our weather. You can still cover a cake with fondant, just tear it off after photo taking. :)

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  10. Hi Anonymous, 4 tbs of caster sugar is around 56g.

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  11. It's a beautiful cake! Happy birthday to you :)

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  12. Happy Belated Birthday!!!

    How do I handle the silken tofu? Just drain and pat dry?

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  13. I love tofu cheesecake and yours looks good! Happy Birthday HHB :)

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  14. Happy Birthday HHB!! your wide arrays of birthday cakes got me drooling!

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  15. Happy Birthday HHB!
    Wishing you a good year ahead with lots of happiness n good health!

    Fiona

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  16. Tofu cheesecake has become so popular! Yours look delicious and beautiful with the pink roses. Happy Birthday HHB!

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  17. Happy Birthday to you, HHB! This is a gorgeous cake!

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  18. Happy birthday! You have once again produced an art piece... Wonderful.

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  19. Happy birthday HHB! You've definitely grow wiser with age. I must also say, the cakes also gets better! :) At least you attempt fondant rose now!

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  20. From the pictures, I can definitely tell that you've improved by leaps and bounds over the many times you've made the different types of birthday cakes :) And the tofu cheesecake seems simple, and yet delicious! And your sons are both so talented and thoughtful - one gifted you with an artistic frog and the other with a musical gift :D I wish I did that for my parents when I was younger ;p

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  21. Hi HHB,

    Happy Birthday ! You make me wana make my own cake this year !

    Btw, I dont quite understand how you unmould your cake. Cant imagine??? any pics ?

    Ling

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  22. Happy Birthday! The cheesecake so smooth and the fondant roses are lovely too.

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  23. 生日快乐:P
    你的装饰功力.....很有水准:)

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  24. Happy Birthday HHB. The cake look so smooth and good.

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  25. Happy belated birthday!

    The cake looks very elegant with the centre pierce of fondant rose and I can't believe this is your first attempt to fondant, the roses are so pretty.

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  26. I have just stumbled upon your blog - it looks fabulous - I like your style - I want to make everything I see - well done on a fantastic blog - off to read some more - ps, Happy Birthday Sweetie.

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  27. Happy Birthday!

    May you have a blessed birthday filled with lots of wishes came true. Wow! I was looking for some idea for my friend bb full mth on this sat till i glance upon yr marshmallow fondont. The weather was cold these few days so i decided to opt sugar craft out. you really inspired me. HAPPY.......

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  28. Love the clean look from your tofu cheesecake. :) And no, you aren't out of your mind to make a cake covered with fondant. Because it's such fun and I know it. Anyways, Happy Birthday and many blessings to you. :)

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  29. happy birthday HHB, lovely cake and have a lovely year ahead.

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  30. Happy birthday! I found your birthday cakes pretty and tempting (even the first one): what do you see so wrong in them? I tried to leave you a comment in the previous post but blogger wasn't of the same idea. I liked to share my super successful tofu cheesecake (something I didn't try before) but I see I got you already there. :) Mine was cooked though and the base not from biscuit (I don't like the sturdy bottom). These cheesecake should be displayed on a shop window!
    Cheers Martina

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  31. Happy Birthday!!!!!生日快乐

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  32. Hugs from MAD City!
    祝你生日快乐,笑口常开,天天开心!!

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  33. Happy Birthday HHB! God bless!
    Love the cakes - all of them :)

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  34. HHB,

    Happy birthday to you! You're good at making fondant roses. I took quite a bit of time to figure out the video but you based it only on your memory.

    All the birthday cakes are beautifully done. I don't think your Devil's Food White-Out Chocolate Cake is a disgrace to Dorie. Its nice!

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  35. peiszong, you need not pat dry or drain the tofu, just measure the amount and place it in the mixing bowl and beat it together with the cream cheese and butter, of course.

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  36. Ling, I am sorry, I didnt take any picture of how to unmold the cake. Do you have a cake pan that comes with a removable base? It comes in two pieces...the base and the side (like a ring). Just place the cake pan on a glass or any sturdy cylindrical object (like a canned food), then slowly slide the side pf the pan (the ring) downwards to release the cake. The ring will slip off onto the table, and you are left with the cake (with the base) on the glass/can.

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  37. Dear all, thanks for all your well wishes :):)

    The Experimental Cook, have fun playing with fondant!

    KWF, the fondant layer sounds like a gift wrapper ;)

    Swee San, this is the first time I have tasted a tofu cheesecake, not sure whether it is suppose to taste the way I have made, but I do find it delicious :)

    Jane, if I could get strawberries, I won't think I will make these fondant roses. I don't seems to be able to venture too far from baking simple cakes!

    Cook.Bake.Love, yes it is my first attempt, and I was also surprised at how easy it is. You should try it. I will use my jumping clay to make roses for my friends.

    martina, thanks for your kind words! I have yet to try making a baked cheesecake as my old oven was too small to bake a cake in a 'water bath'. Will certainly make a baked cheesecake soon!

    Bakertan, thanks! I made the fondant roses almost in a haphazard manner since it is my own cake...if I were making for someone else, I would probably watch the video again and again ;)

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  38. Happy birthday! The cake is very pretty :)

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  39. Thanks.

    This Sunday is my mom's birthday. Initially I planned to bake the Japanese Strawberry Sponge Cake on your web site. But I was worried because I never baked a sponge cake successfully before.

    Now I see this recipe, I am thinking switching to these recipe instead since my son is allergic to eggs.

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  40. Hi hhb, happy belated b'day! It seemed u had a great day sharing it with yr loved ones ;-) beautiful cake, and yr little one sure has nimble fingers!

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  41. Hi HHB,

    Oh I can imagine now ! Thanks for your detailed explaination.

    Stay cheerful always !
    Ling

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  42. Hi HBB
    just to let you know... I didn't bake the cake in a water bath... if you like to have the recipe I followed, let me know I send it to you
    Martina

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  43. Hi HBB
    May I know whether can I just put in 2 tablespoon of lemon juice instead of 4?

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  44. Happy Birthday, HHB! Thank you for all of the wonderful recipes!

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  45. Hi Anonymous, you may use 2 tablespoon instead, do note that the taste will be less tangy.

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  46. happy late birthday!!
    your blog is going to be my schedule for the summer hehehe :D gonna/wanna make everything on hereee >_<'
    your cakes are all decorated so prettily! what are you talking about when you say its not good?! D: then my skills are like x_x
    you're amazingg !!

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  47. Happy belated birthday ! may all ur birthday wishes come through ! Rgds ,baby girls diary

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  48. Happy belated birthday, HHB! Your birthday cakes throughout the years have looked amazing and this year's was no exception!

    Oh and happy Mothers' Day too- am sure you're in for a great day today given how sweet your boys are! :)

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  49. happy belated birthday & happy mother day HHB =)
    ur tofu cheesecake look great.
    thanks for sharing all ur wonderful recipes and baking technique.
    may god bless u!

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  50. Could I use this by using agar? (洋菜)
    I'm vegetarian so...gelatin=dead animal bones and skin >_<

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  51. Hi,we had the cake last night for my mom's birthday, it was a hit. For the record we finished the cake on the spot which never happened before. :) And my families complained that the cake is too small. :P

    I decorated the cake with strawberries sauce and fresh strawberries. I could not feel the tanginess like you described. The strawberries made the different.

    Everone said this is the best cake that I have ever made. :) Thanks for the recipe. My boy who is allergic to eggs took 3 pieces. :)

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  52. HHB - I made this tofu cheesecake last week end. Very smooth and good. Thanks for sharing.
    http://yummykoh.blogspot.com/2011/05/tofu-cheesecake.html

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  53. peiszong, I am happy to hear that your cake was very well received :):) I find the cheesecake quite tangy...because of the amount of lemon juice used to me, 4 tablespoons is quite a lot especially I didnt have any strawberries sauce to go with it.

    Yummy Bakes, glad to hear that you like this cake too!

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  54. hi hhb, you are not only good in baking, you're also good in working with fondants. Those roses are truly beautiful. If this was the first time doing with fondants, i must say that it's already at professional level! that tofu cheesecake is another winner! so, so smooth!

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  55. Happy Hatch Day! I stumbled upon your blog today and was salivating over those breads you've made in the past! I realized that you used BlueSky bread machine (from Carrefour I believe) in addition to making them with your bare hands.

    I'm tempted to make my own breads too, but I'm a complete bakery novice (never bake one in my entire life). Is Bluesky reliable? Meaning, does it break down after a year? Would you recommend anyone to buy the machine?

    Thanks for any advice!

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  56. Happy belated birthday and the cheesecake looks gorgeous, especially with the pretty pink roses decorating it.

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  57. Happy birthday HHB!

    Your cakes, even those you say you made when starting out, are very impressive. You are really inspiring to me, you make me want to try lots of recipes :)

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  58. lena, yes it is the first time I made fondant. The rose petals could have been thinner...definitely far from professional level.

    Conscious Life, my bluesky breadmachine served me well for almost 3 years. but i dont think it is available anymore. I am looking for a replacement too. For a start, you may want to try make bread by hand. Once you understand the whole process, you can get a good breadmachine to do the work for you...if you have a powderful standing mixer, you can also use it to knead the dough.

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  59. blessed birthday!!! I can't imagine the taste of tofu in cheesecake but I am sure it blends in very well- with the nutty tofu taste and cheese! What a spread of cakes u have made before!

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  60. Brilliant post, so fun to see all your cakes. I have never tried tofu cheesecake but it looks lovely. x

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  61. Happy belated birthday hhb! So busy that I had no time to read others blogs. Your cake was beautifully made, always so neat and clean. I'm sure it's comforting to see your baking skills going up to another level over the years. :)

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  62. Hi HHB! Happy Birthday to you!

    Your rose fondant is elegant and beautifully done. I am in awe of your talent!(the reason being you didn't even bother to look at the video again)

    Simply amazing!

    Regards
    May

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  63. Really love your blog!This might seem a bit silly, but do I need to cook the tofu before I use it?

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  64. Hi Ying, it is not necessary to cook the tofu. Just rinse it will do.

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  65. Happy Belated Birthday!!

    I don't have a chance to make this cake as DH doesn't appreciate cheesecake and for health reason, he doesn't eat much tofu.

    That's a lovely pink you've got there! I've always wanted to venture into fondant making, always ready with all the ingredients but end up procrastinating till the packet of MM expires...

    You've just shared a great idea to make just a few for decorations.

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  66. Hi,
    I have been reading your baking blog and trying your baking recipes. Thanks for all the tips and the recipes are great!
    I am thinking of buying a stand mixer and wonder what are the differences between a stand mixer vs hand mixer other than the fact of the convenience? I.e. does it really help in making the cake taste better and getting a good texture?
    Thanks for your advice in advance! :)

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  67. Hi, I am sorry, as I only have a hand mixer so I am not able to give any comments on the difference between the two.

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  68. Happy belated birthday!
    Thanks for sharing the tofu cheesecake recipe with us... We had continuously taking the same cake in my mother in law and my mum's birthday... Everybody loves it very much and it is very ez to make oso... It is extremely convenient for me especially when need to take care of d 3 kids oso...

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  69. Hi, I'm trying to teach myself how to bake and just came across your blog, your cakes look amazing!

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  70. hi! i LOVE your blog.just a small question.what can i use instead of tofu? thank you.

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  71. Hi, sorry I am not sure what is a good substitute, maybe you can look for other recipes that do not use tofu?

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  72. Hi, im pretty new with this silken tofu, so where can I normally get it? Is it the same as the japanese tofu? If not, is there a brand that you normally use?

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  73. Hi, I used the brand Unicurd. You can get it from the supermarkets.

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  74. Hi HH,

    How to make the surface smooth?

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  75. sllc, just spread it evenly with a rubber spatula before it sets. The batter is not too thick, the surface will be smooth without much effort.

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  76. Does your cake melt easily?? i put outside for two hours in room temp..it melted.

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  77. elynn, are you referring to this chilled cheesecake? It has to be kept refrigerated, it will melt if left at room temperature for long period of time.

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  78. yes.thanks for urs information :)

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  79. Hi, what do you mean by silken tofu?

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  80. Hi Vivi Voon, silken tofu, is a type of tofu which has a very soft texture, you should be able to get it from most supermart, see here:
    http://www.fortunefood.com.sg/news/highlights_details.asp?id=6

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  81. Thanks for sharing, HHB!

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  82. Hi! I'm just learning how to cook and bake and I tried this tofu cheesecake recipe! It turned out great! Thanks for this recipe! :) But the crust doesn't seem to stick together,so when I cut the cake out the crust pieces seem to be falling all over the place. Any idea why is this so?

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  83. Hi Krystal, u need to press the digestive biscuits crumbs really hard onto the base of the pan. did u use a flat bottom glass or cup to press it down? and leave it in the freezer to chill? also when cutting, use a sharp knife, cut it right down, dont 'saw' (hope u know what I mean), it will help to prevent the crusts from falling apart.

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  84. I see! I only used the back of a spoon and left it in the fridge instead of the freezer! Shall go try it again. Thanks alot! :))

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  85. Hi there,

    your cake looks awesome!

    I have a few questions hope you can answer them, did you use and pan spray to prevent sticking? or this was not an issue when you unmold?

    Also you mentioned the cake was rather firm possibly because of the gelatin, would you suggest to reduce the gelatin if you can do it again?

    Thanks, and I will be looking forward to make this this weekend!

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  86. Hi foodmearound, I used a pan with a removable base (loose bottom pan). It is not necessary to grease or line the pan. No problem with unmoulding, the cake can be released easily, no sticking the sides came out clean just as shown in the photos.

    I wont suggest to reduce the gelatin as I do not know whether it will affect the cake...

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