Last weekend, we had a little celebration for Z's birthday at home. Upon special request, G made his "famous" Hainanese chicken rice (scroll down to the end to see photo) which we all enjoyed for lunch. For his birthday cake, I made a simple vanilla sponge filled with fresh strawberries and chantilly cream, and covered it with more cream and plenty of white chocolate flakes. Z said he loved the cake, mostly because of the marshmallows, and the strawberries too. The sponge itself turned out fine, thankfully. I actually made a "test" sponge the day before using a slightly different recipe and it turned out really "spongey" and rubbery - it reminded me of loofah! After that experience, I decided to play it safe and stick to a recipe I've used for making Swiss Roll. I simply couldn't afford to get Z's birthday cake wrong, although I was prepared to just buy one from the cake shop if I really needed to.
I adapted the recipe to make a larger cake, using a 9 inch round pan, and used 5 eggs instead of 4, and increased the quantities for the other ingredients proportionately. As it was baking in the oven, I stood by the oven door and peered through the glass, waiting to see if the cake rose. I wanted to be sure it wasn't going to turn out flat, dense and rubbery like the first one. What a relief (and joy!) it was to see it slowly rising and turning golden brown on top. Phew! With that out of the way, I started to think about how to make the chocolate flakes.
I wasn't quite sure what the best way to make chocolate flakes was. Somehow, using a grater didn't really work for me, so I skipped that idea. Instead, I decided to melt the white chocolate (which I did in a microwave in 30 second spurts) and spread it thinly across a large piece of non-stick baking paper (or parchment paper). The weather was quite cool, so I let it sit out on the table for 15 minutes or so until it set. Then, with an offset spatula, I slowly scraped the chocolate off the paper. I found that I could easily do this without a spatula by gently "crumpling" the paper and let the chocolate flakes fall off. I crushed the flakes into smaller pieces before letting them set in the fridge so that they firmed up into crisp little flakes. I was happy with how they turned out, and they tasted wonderful with the cake too, adding a bit of sweetness and texture to it. I also think it made the cake look quite pretty (besides helping to cover up the not-so-professional-looking frosting).
I was so busy cutting the cake on the day that I forgot to take proper pictures of it. The ones I posted above and below happen to be the last slice of cake, which looks like a mangled mess with strawberries barely clinging onto the frosting. Nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised that the cake tasted quite good, although next time, I would probably slice the cake into three layers instead of two, and fill it with more cream and strawberries. And if raspberries are in season, I would definitely add those too!
|Delicious poached chicken, with cucumbers, coriander and spring onions|
|A snapshot of our little chicken rice feast!|