Dad’s Birthday Cake

I love going wild with flavours when it comes to special events in my family. That’s probably the only time my family is willing to try and be adventurous with their palates.
I’ve been hankering after those superb looking pear chips on top of a dessert/ cake / anything. Trust me, these chips are so addictive, it’s not even funny any more. Plus they are so easy to make. All you need is a mandolin (or really amazing knife skills to cut see through slices of pear), a microwave and of course a pear or two. One decent sized pear makes about 30 chips and all I needed to decorate this cake were three slices. The rest, I gladly ate without feeling even the slightest amount of disgrace. Oh c’mon its fruit, if anything, it is only healthy to munch on these. Trust me in a couple of years you would see packets of these healthy dried fruits on supermarket shelves in Mumbai.

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How to make pear chips:
1.Slices the pear into thin slivers using a mandolin (or not).
2.Sprinkle with some brown sugar (Optional : I skipped this step)
3.Let it sit for a while so that the sugar can draw off all the moisture.
4.Place on a sheet pan that fits in your microwave.
5.Microwave on high power for 1 minute.
6.Check the progress. If it still feels quite wet, go for another minute.
7.Turn each slice over (be careful, they may get really hot)
8.Keep doing this and check the progress every minute to make sure the fruit doesn’t burn
9.It took me 4 and a half minutes to get one batch done.

What else have I used to decorate this cake?
Fondant flowers that are a no brainer. You may also use chocolate. I used my flower cutter to get those pretty flowers. Use them in the end to avoid any sticky mess.
Golden pearls that I bought from the very famous Arife.
Some roasted pistachios to add a hint of green and pink, also because my dad and I love pistachios.
A thin long portion of jelly hidden below those delectable pear chips.
Now let’s build the cake.
I’ve roguishly used a handsome amount of pistachios to make the sponge cum cookie. The idea was to attain the texture of a sable Breton and still have some cushion when you eat it without having to use any eggs.
Now, I am all about frowning at cakes without eggs, but considering that my family follows 4 vegetarian days a week, I am left with very little choice. So I took a regular cookie recipe and substituted 80% of the flour with pistachio meal and added 2 table spoons of curd and left out any leavening agents.
The result was a crumbly confection that was slightly crunchy on the outside and crumbly when you cut into it. Be very careful while handling this fragile object d’art, it’ll break in your hands and you won’t be able to do anything about it.
If you are concerned about how long it should be baked in the oven, just go for 5-6 more minutes after the toothpick comes out clean. The outside layer will crunch up as it cools. The insides will still remain moist due to the addition of curd.

Chill this layer well and as far as possible, don’t move it without complete support underneath.

Next was the apricot and grapefruit jelly. The apricot puree was slightly tangy and the grapefruit too. I used the zest and juice of half a grapefruit and sweetened it with a good amount of sugar. To set it, I used agar agar.
These two were enclosed in the softest blanket of pear mousse. Freshly crushed pears that are on the riper side cooked down with a little bit of cream and agar agar. I chilled this concoction and whipped it until it became all moussey.

Assembly
I used the inverse assembly method to set this cake. That means I first cling wrapped the bottom of my ring mould and got rid of any creases that the plastic caused. Then I placed it on a flat tray and filled it with the pear mousse. (I left 1/4th of it in the bowl) Then I placed the jelly layer on it and covered that with the leftover mousse. Lastly came the cakookie. Haha. This was frozen for a couple of hours and unmoulded using a blow torch.

I used the other half of the grapefruit for the glaze. Squeezed and sieved out the juice and cooked it with sugar till it became all sticky. Another way to do this would be making a caramel and de-glazing it with the juice. (YUM)

Glaze the frozen cake carefully and decorate with leisure.

Let me know what you think about the flavour combinations used in this cake. Feel free to ask any questions..

Remember, I started this blog to troubleshoot and not to share recipes. Let’s keep it at that 🙂

 

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Contemplating Serendepity

Hello to the world!

I’m an Indian art graduate with a Singaporean Diploma in Pastry and Bakery who is juggling two jobs at the moment. I own a home-run business called Hot Mama Bakes and help my dad with his chemical business.

I’ve worked in Singapore as an apprentice for a year. Picked up all that I learnt and brought it back to my home town and introduced Hot Mama Bakes to the world on 11th of April 2014. While business was slow I was hunting for a job that would help me to pay my bills.

I was hired by an amazing Chef who I still look up to for her accurate methods and elevated creativity. I learnt a lot more about discipline and following instructions to the T in an arduous way. So many French techniques that are barely being used in the industry are just frittering away. Hence, I make it a point to incorporate the techniques I learnt at school and at this patisserie into whatever I bake.

Unfortunately, within 4 months I became anaemic and had to leave the job. After resting for a couple of months and being disenchanted and sluggish all day,  I joined the pastry section of a restaurant that was to be opened in a short while. It was a very different experience working there. The desserts were Indian inspired but with the technical difficulties of a global dais. I learnt so much there, not only about Indian desserts, but also about people. I’ve never met so many nice people working collectively towards one goal under one roof. The atmosphere was so lively, I’d give anything to go back.

Woefully, my dad needed urgent help at work with a few things and I had to leave. So currently, I’m sitting in my dad’s office (I don’t have much work, just a couple of hours a day) and I have a plan.

A plan that I am unsure about.

I’m not only confused, I’m flustered. I feel completely thrown out of balance right now. I want to concentrate all my energy into my baby (Hot Mama Bakes) but at the same time, I don’t want to abandon my dad when he needs my help.logo

So here I am, trying to squeeze out as much energy as I can to prudently manage all aspects of my life. Oh, did I forget to mention my sister’s wedding?

Yes, my older sister would be getting married soon, and the preparations have commenced in full swing. There is just so much to do at weddings! Fundamentally, SHOPPING (it’s fun and requires full mental attention :P) There are so many things that need to be bought. The right outfit, the right shoes (ones that look like a dream and fit very well and most importantly the ones that do not give you a shoe bite) The right accessories for your ears, neck, hands and WHAT NOT! Psst. Don’t forget the clutch. You never know what the bride would want you to hold, a painstaking process of choosing the right clutch that suits your outfit and is not so tiny that it just stores some money and your keys. I’m gladly leaving out the choreographers, make up and mehendi artists.

Enough about the wedding already!

So the motive of starting this blog is to share what I’ve learnt so far. The little tips and tricks I’ve learnt along the way by reading about them or making silly mistakes (I believe in serendipity).

Not everyone is reckless enough to attempt projects of technical difficulties. I will try to bring to you processes that do not  require any new apparatus, apart from the basic ones available in your kitchen.