Monthly Archives: December 2013

Our Year in Review (2013)

It’s only been 8 months since we’ve started blogging, we have enjoyed every minute of it. Even the editing part. As we countdown to say hello to a brand new year and bid adieu to 2013, we recall all the wonderful experiences so far in the blogosphere and developing a platform to share our baking interests with friends, family and fellow bloggers out there.

Matchachoco: I have had the great opportunity to collaborate with my baking & blogging partner throughout this year. We overcame a few challenges this year with finding more time to bake during the busy school year. I am excited to move forward to the next year of learning, baking and blogging!

Ricelessasian: 2013 was full of ups and downs for me. It was a bittersweet year; hence the constant posts about matcha (bitter) and desserts (sweet), lol. I’m looking forward for more food adventures with my baking buddy!

Here’s 2013 in review at the Underground Culinary Lab:

Our first blog post was posted in May 2013!IMG_0521

Ricelessasian broke one of the whisks of her electric hand mixer because the butter she used was not softened enough at room temperature. For months, she dealt with an electric hand mixer with a single whisk.
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A few months after, she broke the other whisk when she was beating meringue. She eventually had to buy a new electric hand mixer. I guess we can rule out that the butter was not softened enough at room temperature.
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Someone was caught red handed pureeing beets for the rainbow cake Underground Culinary Lab made this year.
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The first time we went to Taste of the Danforth!IMG_5965

Ricelessasian’s fan girl moment in New JerseyIMG_6309

Baked a bunch of cupcakes for a special annual event. We have still yet to feature the recipes. Untitled-1

Matchachoco rolling out dough for the pumpkin empanadas at the food lab in our school. The pumpkin empanadas were for a school event.IMG_0331

Matchachoco used the leftover pumpkin filling for pumpkin tarts!
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What we were up this year’s ThanksgivingIMG_0236

The result of our impromptu baking after our volunteer shift!img_0285

The last major baking post on Underground Culinary Lab for the year of 2013
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Christmas Yule Log Cake (Buche de Noel)

It ain’t Christmas season without some serious baking!

The idea of a Yule log cake has fascinated me since I got into baking as a hobby, and after watching Gretchen’s tutorial from Woodland Bakery, I was finally inspired to make it. After all, roll cakes are easier to make than layered cakes, and what fun is it to dress it up like a log!

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To make the Yule log stand out, I added edible cake toppers using Santa strawberries and meringue mushrooms. I also added some raspberries. The “Merry Xmas” sign was made with chocolate and white chocolate with freeze-dried strawberries. I like to have all the decorations in my Yule log edible, and what I like about them is that they don’t require artificial food dyes.

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Until now, I’m still so amused with the meringue mushrooms. The ‘dirt’ is actually cocoa powder. You can probably trick people into thinking they’re real mushrooms ūüėõ

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For the roll cake, I used Cooking with Dog’s roll cake recipe as a reference, and substituted the matcha powder with cocoa powder. The cake turned out to be light and not too sweet, similar to those cakes sold in Asian bakeries. Did I mention that Matchachoco and I are huge fans of light Asian style cakes?

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This was my first Yule log attempt, and although it was quite time consuming to make, I really enjoyed making it. I honestly had a difficult time photographing the Yule log as it seems like I can’t find the perfect Christmas-themed background for it. I can’t wait to make another Yule log (maybe next year?), and hopefully by that time, I would have improved the Yule log baking and photography.

Happy baking and happy holidays,

-Ricelessasian

IMG_1217Chocolate Roll Cake
Adapted from Cooking with Dog

Ingredients

4 eggs, whites and yolks separated
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tbsp. cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 340 degrees F.¬† Prepare a 17‚ÄĚx 11‚ÄĚ baking sheet with parchment paper.¬† Grease parchment paper with oil.
  2. Combine cake flour and cocoa powder, and sift them together 2-3 times.
  3. In a bowl, beat egg whites with an electric beater until foamy. Continue to beat, gradually adding half the sugar (1/4 cup), until stiff peaks form.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat together egg yolks and the half of the sugar (1/4 cup) until the egg yolks have increased in volume.  Whisk the cake flour mixture to the egg yolks.
  5. Fold 1/3 of the meringue (whipped egg whites) into the egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Do this repeatedly with the rest of the meringue, 1/3 at a time, until fully incorporated.
  6. Carefully spread the batter to the baking sheet with a spatula, making sure the batter does not deflate. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway, or until the cake springs back when it is touched.  Make sure you do not overbake or the roll cake will crack when you roll it out.
  7. After baking, immediately transfer the cake to a flat surface and cover it with another baking tray. This will prevent the cake from drying out and maintain its flexibility. Cover until the cake is cool enough.

Chocolate custard cream (used as the filling for the Yule log)
Adapted from Cooking with Dog

Ingredients

2 egg yolks
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup milk, warm
~50 g chocolate
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Directions

  1. Sift together flour and cocoa powder.
  2. Pour about 1/4 cup of the milk to the egg yolks, and whisk them together. Whisk the flour mixture. Add the remaining milk, and whisk until fully incorporated. Strain the mixture and transfer to a sauce pan.
  3. Heat the mixture in a sauce pan, continually stirring, until you get a thick consistency. While the custard is still hot, add the chocolate and mix it to the custard until the chocolate fully melts.
  4. Transfer the custard to a shallow bowl.¬† Cover with plastic wrap, with the plastic wrap touching the top surface of the custard; this will prevent a ‚Äėskin‚Äô from forming on the top surface of the custard.¬† Refrigerate the custard until chilled.
  5. In a bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form.  Whisk 1/3 of the whipped cream to the chilled custard until fully combined. Fold the remaining whipped cream to the custard. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Chocolate Ermine Frosting (used to frost the Yule log)
Adapted from Yoyomax12

Ingredients

1 cup butter
1 cup milk
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions

  1. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add vanilla extract. Continue beating until most of the sugar has dissolved.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together milk and flour. Heat milk and flour mixture in a saucepan over medium heat.  Stir the mixture continuously until the mixture thickens into a paste.
  3. Transfer milk and flour mixture into a bowl and let cool. Stir it occasionally to make the cooling process faster.
  4. Once cooled, add the milk and flour mixture to the creamed butter and beat them together.Add cocoa powder and continue to beat. The frosting should have a light fluffy consistency.

TIP:  If you end up with a runny frosting, refrigerate or put the frosting in the freezer for a few minutes.  Beat the frosting again after taking it out of the fridge until you get a light fluffy consistency.

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To assemble the roll cake, spread the filling all over the top surface of the cake. Tightly roll the cake. Wrap the roll cake with parchment paper and plastic wrap, so that it remains tight. Freeze the roll cake.

Once frozen, cut the sides of the roll cake to make it shaped like a log. Attach the sliced parts of the cake to the side and top of the roll cake, using frosting as the glue. Frost the cake with the frosting, copying the texture of a log. Attach the edible designs to the cake, and dust with cocoa powder and powdered sugar.

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Instructions for the santa strawberries can be found here. Gretchen from Woodland Bakery has a very informative tutorial on how to make the meringue mushrooms. She used¬†a Swiss¬†meringue method for making the meringue, but if you don’t have a candy thermometer or don’t want to go through all the trouble of heating the sugar and egg whites, you can use the French meringue method, which is what I usually do when I make¬†meringue cookies.

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Strawberries and Cream Santa

Merry Christmas! ūüôā

In continuation with the Christmas themed baking, here are strawberries and cream Santas! I got the idea from seeing these somewhere online, and I thought that they’d make a cute decorative topper for the Yule log I made.

Wishing you a happy holiday,

-Ricelessasian

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Matcha Christmas Shortbread Cookies

It’s so fun to try out a new cookie recipe for the holiday season! To continue our Christmas-themed month, we were inspired to make some simple matcha cookies! It’s no surprise that matcha powder has become our latest ingredient to experiment with!

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We enjoyed this Martha Stewart recipe because the shortbread dough was very smooth and easy to work with. The cookies were rather rich and buttery in aroma and flavour, so the next time we may adjust the amount of butter we use. Also, in the future, we might opt to use premium matcha powder which may give the cookies a more distinct ‘green’ colour, such as the ones here.

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To decorate the cookies, we used chocolate melting wafers which are easy to melt and ideal for piping. If you want to make these cookies extra special, you can use multi-coloured melting wafers for the ‘ornaments’ on the matcha trees.

This is a quick and easy recipe that would be especially fun to make for a Christmas baking party with friends! Ricelessasian and I can attest that baking parties are the best kind of parties ūüėČ

Hope your Christmas is filled with buttery goodness,

-Matchachoco

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Green Tea Shortbread ‘Leaves’
Recipe from Martha Stewart

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2 tablespoons matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, or granulated sugar

Directions

  1. Sift together flour, matcha powder, and salt into a small bowl; set aside.
  2. In a separate bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and continue to beat until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the flour mixture. Combine until the flour is just incorporated and dough is formed.
  4. Place a piece of parchment paper on a flat surface and dust the parchment paper with flour. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to ¬ľ- inch thickness. ¬†Refrigerate or freeze the dough until it is firm, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F during this time.
  5. Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut chilled dough with cookie cutters and transfer them to the baking sheets. Chill until firm.
  6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until the cookies are firm and barely starting to colour. Cool cookies on a wire rack. The cookies can be stored in an airtight contained for up to 3 to 4 weeks.

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Decorative Icing
Full instructions can be found here.

Ingredients

White chocolate melting wafers
Yellow melting wafers

For the double-boiler method:

  1. Fill a large pot with water and place it on the stove. Let the water come to a slow simmer. Place a large glass bowl on top of the pot. The bowl should be large enough that it sits on the rim of the pot and the bottom of it does not touch the simmering water.
  2. Place the chocolate wafers into the glass bowl. Occasionally stir them with a heat-proof spatula as the wafers begin to melt. Stirring the wafers will encourage them to break down and melt completely.
  3.  Cool the melted chocolate for 2-3 minutes. Place the melted chocolate in piping bags and decorate the cookies. When the chocolate cools, it will harden again and must be reheated.

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Matcha Christmas Tree Cupcakes

O’Christmas tree, o’christmas tree…

It’s our favourite time of the year! For UCL’s first Christmas post, Ricelessasian and I decided to make our signature Matcha Chocolate Cupcakes…with a twist of course!

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Besides the natural green colour matcha provides, we love using it because it gives a subtle hint of tea flavour when used in small quantities. It’s a versatile ingredient that goes well with anything really, even mixed in oatmeal! I usually buy my premium matcha powder from Ten Ren Tea shop and it lasts for at least a year, which gives me plenty of time to make them frequently for birthdays or other events.

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To fit the theme of Christmas, we piped the cupcakes frosting into the shape of a tree and everything else fell into place. Honestly, half of the fun was going with Ricelessasian to Bulk-barn to buy all the neat little decorations – the tiny gingerbread men, the miniature snow-flakes and the red glitter! We had a blast shopping for what decorations would be on our ‚ÄėMatcha tree‚Äô so much that we were giddy when we left the store!

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For the chocolate cupcake base, we used the same chocolate cupcake recipe from our Ghostly Halloween cupcakes.

For the matcha frosting,  the frosting has to have a fluffy, stable consistency so it can be piped into a tree. We recommend using an American buttercream, Swiss meringue buttercream, or Ermine frosting recipe. Omit the vanilla flavouring and add matcha powder 1 teaspoon at a time to the frosting recipe according to your liking. The frosting we used for the photos is Swiss meringue buttercream.

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To give the cupcakes a snowy effect, we sprinkled them with powdered sugar.

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We’d love to hear what you’re baking this holiday season! Feel free to leave us a comment ūüôā Keep posted for our upcoming entries this month and the exciting things that are store for us in 2014!

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Happy holidays and as always, happy baking,

-Matchachoco