Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This ‘cake’ was an experiment that went a little wrong, so the final result turned out more like a ‘cheese cake’. However, it took me hours to make so I wasn’t going to chuck it out!

The original recipe came from Dan Lepard’s ‘Pear Mousse Cake’ in his book ‘Short and Sweet’ but can be found on this website too. I liked the sound of this cake as it uses a genoise sponge cake which is lovely and light.

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

This cake was intended to be a layered cake using the mousse as a frosting in between layers and around the outside of the cake. You get the mental image? Not exactly how mine turned out! 😦

The cake itself didn’t rise half as much I it was supposed to, but that’s because I added heavy ground sesame seeds to it and the cake wasn’t able to rise. So I only had one layer of sponge to work with and decided to make it into a cheese cake base! Waste not, want not! 🙂

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

I took the cake to the office and shared with colleagues but it wasn’t received very well. I guess because the black sesame flavour is new for most people and quite a savoury flavour so the little amount of sugar in the cake batter didn’t balance so well. The other thing was that the ‘mousse’ didn’t taste of pears! How disappointing! 😦

Despite there being 7 pears in this recipe, the mascarpone and cream completely wiped away the flavour of the pears… The mousse also didn’t set enough to spread onto a cake, so I added extra gelatine to make it more ‘cheese cakey’. Hence the results…

All in all, not a success but it wasn’t bad enough that I had to chuck it straight in the compost bin! Won’t be making that again then…

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Mousse Cake

 

 

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Black Sesame and Pear Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Cake: Clandestine Cake Club meet No.3

Black Sesame and Pear Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Cake

This cake club comes around so quickly! But I love it! 😀

My ultimate pastime activity; baking, eating and talking about cake! If this is your first time hearing about the Clandestine Cake Club, you must visit their website and sign up to a local club immediately… This was my third meeting with previous bakes being the Spanish Orange and Almond Cake and the Pistachio, Cardamom and Yoghurt Cake.

Clandestine Cake Club Spread

Clandestine Cake Club Spread

The theme of this club meeting was ‘Think Outside the Box’ due to the lovely people of Selfpackaging.com sponsoring the event. When thinking about the type of cake to take along, I was really stuck with the theme. I’m not a fan of making cakes that taste strange and I’m good with sugar paste either… So I decided to go with my favourite or favourite ingredients: Black Sesame! 😀

Black Sesame isn’t widely used in cooking, unless you are Asian! So I thought that it would be a new flavour for most people. (Any excuse to use black sesame! :))

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf Cake

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf Cake

Luckily for me I came across a recipe for Black Sesame and Pear Cake which makes use of pears in a traditionally western way of baking, so it was a good way of introducing the flavour without being too ‘out there’!

What I learnt from this recipe was that it rises quite a bit (mine bubbled right over the sides of the tin all over the oven) and it is very dense so needs a long bake in a lower temperature. I also had to cover the cake part way through cooking with foil as it was browning very quickly.

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf

Black Sesame and Pear Loaf

Due to the long baking time, the edges became quite crisp so I snapped them off. The texture of the crisp sugary top and the moist cake was quite nice.

Pear and Black Sesame Cake

Pear and Black Sesame Cake

This cake went down quite well at the cake club meeting. Several people asked me where they could buy black sesame seeds from. (A good sign that!) There was also very little left at the end of the evening (Good sign number 2!)

It may not be pretty, but it tasted good! I think my forte is for flavour rather than looks in baking… 😀

I also wanted to share with you a couple of highlights of mine from the evening…

Pistachio, Polenta and Elderflower Cake

Pistachio, Polenta and Elderflower Cake (Looks gorgeous doesn’t it?!)

I may be a little biased as this cake was made by my cousin, but how beautiful is this?

Bento Box Cake

Pandan Cake with Lychee Butter cream

This cake was a work of art as well as being delicious! What amazed me was that the baker (Steven) had just bought some flavours that he’s never used before from a Chinese supermarket and baked a cake with it. He also made these adorable pandas out by making marshmallow from scratch! What a legend!

 

 

“Crispy chicken skin is the new bacon”

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There seems to be a new trend in the UK at the moment for ‘American diner’ style restaurants that make fancy cocktails to go with your over-priced burger. About 6 months ago I decided to try one of these restaurants after seeing rave reviews. I was most looking forward to their ‘Rooster Scratchings’!

As a Chinese person, I’m ashamed to say that I don’t eat red meat. That rules out about 50 percent of delicious Chinese cuisine and causes no end of headaches for my family and friends who invite me for meals. It’s not for any particular reason really. My mum tells me that I never used to eat much red meat when I was growing up, so I must have just developed a general disliking to it and now it is firmly embedded into my subconscious self.  I always say that I’m not a picky eater, but that’s not true really. My stomach turns at the thought of bacon and at the slight whiff of lamb, I’ll be heading off in the opposite direction!

Hence I miss out on the culinary delights of roast belly pork with the extra crunchy crackling and slow roasted ribs where the meat just falls off the bone… So as you can imagine, finding an alternative like ‘Rooster Scratchings’ caused me no end of excitement! However, I must have built up my expectations a little too much, as I found them quite greasy and salty. What a disappointment…

Fast forward half a year and whilst preparing a boring mid-week meal of roasted chicken thighs (with lots of spices to please my partner who insists that my cooking is somewhat ‘tasteless’). I was ripping off the chicken skins and it suddenly occurred to me that I could probably do something with them too… After all in this time of austerity, its a shame to waste anything!

A quick internet search later, I’ve found this: http://homecookinginmontana.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/oven-fried-crispy-chicken-skin.html

As usual, I don’t really stick to recipes so to give extra flavour I’ve added mixed spices.  So the key to ensuring you get it really crispy and none greasy is to bake rather than fry. I reduced the cooking time down to about 25-30 minutes and didnt’ bother to sandwich the skins between two pans, they look nicer all bubbly! It’s a great addition and doesn’t take any extra time if you are making your dinner in the oven anyway. Imagine them crumbled over a lovely salad for extra crunch…

This is what it should look like

©homecookinginmontana.blogspot.co.uk

crispy chicken skin

The simple pineapple bun

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns

During my childhood, my parents bought baked Chinese goods from ‘Ho’s bakery’ in Manchester’s China Town. Ho’s is a long standing institution that has brought Hong Kong bakery to the Chinese migrants who wanted a little taste of what they were missing from home.

‘Chinese’ and ‘English’ oven baked breads are very different. Chinese bread is usually very light and soft in texture, usually on the sweet side and often enveloping finely chopped cooked meat or delicate sweet fillings. Kind of like a ready made sandwich. English breads need to be sturdier so they can be sliced to hold a decent amount of filling or torn to be dipped into a hearty soup without it disintegrating.

Chinese buns are usually eaten warm for breakfast. In Hong Kong, small bakeries can be found everywhere offering quick and tasty breakfasts for people rushing to work in the non-stop crowded city. In England this Chinese bread was a tasty Sunday treat that my dad would pick up on his way home from replenishing stock for the restaurant after a busy Saturday of trading.

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns

I tried baking bread for the first time at the age of 24, in a small village called Ololosokwan in Northern Tanzania. I was on my ‘gap year’ trying, and failing, to save the world with no access to fresh produce for weeks at a time. Luckily I wasn’t alone! In the next house was an Irish man who was working at the local school and had asked his son to email him a basic bread recipe. Before this it had never occurred to me to do anything apart from grab a loaf of bread off the supermarket shelf. We didn’t have that luxury in Ololosokwan! The bread wasn’t amazing as we didn’t actually have the right flour, but it was was bread none the less. And more importantly, it was a reminder of home!

I didn’t try and make bread again for a few years and when I did I always got tired of the whole kneading process so my ‘bread’ was usually disappointing. I have had some successes, but mostly very dense and unappetising results. One day I looked up how to make Chinese style bread and found a recipe online. It was truly inspired and the results have been amazing!

Pineapple buns

Pineapple buns

For my first blog, I am recreating a delicious typical Chinese delight called a ‘pineapple bun’ or ‘菠蘿包’ in Cantonese. They contain no pineapple, but end up looking a little like the outside of one and have a similar texture to brioche. They are divine!  I’ve made these buns by hand before but it is very time consuming and messy as the dough is very wet and difficult to work with, hence the reason I don’t make them very often! This time I have used a bread maker to do the hard work for me.

This recipe shows you how to make the basic Chinese white bread that it used for most recipes, and as you can see it doesn’t only use the traditional ‘fast action’ yeast that is usually found in western bread recipes. The Tangzhong Method, or ‘湯種’, is the secret to the pillowy soft buns sold in bakeries such as Ho’s to this day! Thank you Christine, you are amazing! http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2010/03/japanese-style-bacon-and-cheese-bread.html

For the crunchy topping: http://www.pigpigscorner.com/2011/01/pineapple-bun-bo-luo-bao-by-christines.html

If you’ve never had one, please try it! It’s perfect with a cup of strong English tea!

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns

Hong Kong Pineapple Buns