Category Archives: Cakes and Muffins

Lemon Lavender Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

I haven’t had much luck with growing any living things lately. I planted some herbs and lavender seeds couple months ago, the herbs sprouted but didn’t survive, the lavender is growing but very slow. Then my daughter’s last little neon tetra died (we started with six fishes)……What am I doing wrong ??? Feeling kind of frustrated, I went and purchased a whole bunch of plants…..herbs, tomato, kale and lavender, hoping for better luck with some already-grown plants. Out of all of them, I like lavender the best ! It is in my favourite colour (purple, of course) and I love its smell, so soothing and relaxing. I have always wanted to bake with dried lavender too. Since Mother’s Day is coming up, I thought it would be a perfect time to try. It has a strong flavour, so use very sparingly. (I added a little too much the first time and my cake tasted almost medicinal ! So I had to cut it down and remake the cake.) Make sure you get dried lavender that is for culinary use only. I wouldn’t recommend making your own, as some plants may have been treated with pesticides. I decided to make a naked Lemon Lavender Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. Naked cakes are very popular these days, but my primary reason was my terrible decorating skill ! With a naked cake, I can get away with the imperfection ! Secondly, I prefer cakes with less frosting (though my daughter would disagree), I can enjoy more of the cake itself rather than just butter and sugar. So, here it is, my Mother’s Day celebration ! A cake with bright lemon flavour and a subtle touch of lavender. Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, myself and all the wonderfull moms in the world ! 

Oh, you probably were wondering about my daughter’s fishes. Well, I told her we will get some more later, but she may want to pick something other than the tetras, cause they just don’t live very long and I really don’t enjoy scooping out dead fishes…..Lol
Makes one 6 inch cake

For the lavender sugar

  • 0.75 g (about 1 teaspoon) dried lavender flowers, food grade only 
  • 150 g granulated sugar 
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)

Scrape vanilla bean and pulse all ingredients together in a food processor until blended

For the cake

  • 4 eggs (separated)
  • 150 g lavender sugar (use 30 g for the meringue)
  • 75 g all-purpose flour
  • 75 g cake and pastry flour 
  • 3 g baking powder 
  • 2 g salt 
  • 30 mL lemon juice (use 5 mL for the meringue)
  • Zest of one lemon 
  • 30 mL vegetable oil 
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F 
  2. Lightly grease two 6″ round cake pans and line bottom with parchment paper
  3. Sift together flours, baking powder and salt, set aside
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks and 120 g of lavender sugar until pale
  5. Add 25 mL of lemon juice, lemon zest, oil and vanilla, mix until blended
  6. Gently fold in flour mixture
  7. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and 5 mL of lemon juice until frothy
  8. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 30 g of lavender sugar
  9. Whisk until medium peak is formed
  10. Gently fold meringue into cake batter, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix
  11. Pour into baking tray and bake for about 20-22 minutes
  12. Cool completely before frosting 

For the cream cheese frosting

  • 250 g cream cheese
  • 60 g unsalted butter (softened)
  • 120 g icing sugar (sifted)
  • 30 mL lemon juice
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 5 mL pure vanilla extract 
  1. Beat together cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy
  2. Gradually add in icing sugar
  3. Add lemon juice,lemon zest and vanilla, mix until blended and smooth
  4. Keep in refrigerator until use

To Assemble

  1. Spread frosting between two layers of cake and on top (If the frosting is too firm to spread, you can put it in a bowl, then a hot water bath for a minute or two, just enough to soften) 
  2. Lightly frost the sides, smooth with a spatula 
  3. Keep in refrigerator 


 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

I wish Spring is here soon ! Our winter here in the west coast has been pretty cold and snowy. Well, I guess I shouldn’t complain, the kids did have a lot of fun playing in the snow and compare to many other places in Canada, this is very mild. To welcome Spring and St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I should make something green. And of course matcha is the first thing that comes to mind. This recipe is what I call a 2-in-1. The mousse cake has two parts, but each of them can be a dessert on its own ! You can use the cake batter to make cupcakes or mini loaves.  And for the mousse, you can pour it into nice little bowls and refrigerate, which is exactly what I did with the leftover !

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse

For the mousse cake itself, I made one layer of each, but you can definitely stack them in multiple layers if you like. I also added some chopped dark chocolate on top but it’s optional, cause I believe everything (almost everything) tastes better with chocolate ! And hopefully this Spring dessert can bring some warm weather soon ! 

Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

Makes one 6-inch cake

For the cake

  • 4 large eggs (separated)
  • 120 g granulated sugar (20 g for meringue)
  • 75 g cake and pastry flour
  • 5 g matcha (green tea) powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice 
  1. To make the cake, preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Lightly grease an 8″ x 10″ x 1″ baking tray and line bottom with parchment paper
  3. Sift together flour and matcha powder, set aside
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat together egg yolks and 100 g of sugar until pale
  5. Add vanilla and the flour mixture, mix until blended
  6. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer with whisk attachment, whisk egg whites and lemon juice until frothy
  7. Increase speed to high and slowly add in 20 g of sugar
  8. Whisk until medium peak is formed
  9. Gently fold meringue into cake batter, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix
  10. Pour into baking tray and bake for about 15 minutes
  11. Let cool completely, then cut into a round disc to fit cake mould (I used a cake ring, so I just cut it with the ring)Matcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake

For the mousse

  • 500 mL whipping cream (cold)
  • 250 mL milk (preferably whole milk)
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 15 g matcha powder
  • 10 g gelatin powder
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Chill the mixing bowl in the fridge for at least 30 minutes
  2. Sprinkle gelatin over about 1/4 cup of milk and let sit for a few minutes to bloom
  3. Heat and stir remaining milk, sugar and matcha powder in a pot over medium heat until sugar melted and just starting to bubble
  4. Add gelatin mixture, stir until all dissolved
  5. Turn heat off, add vanilla 
  6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh and let cool to room temperature
  7. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment and the chilled mixing bowl, beat cold whipping cream until medium peak is formed
  8. Gently fold the whipped cream into milk mixture, 1/3 at a time, do not over mix

To assemble

  1. Place a lightly greased cake ring on a tray lined with parchment paper
  2. Place cake disc (smooth side down) at the bottom
  3. Pour mousse on top of cake and smooth top with a spatula 
  4. Refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours to set
  5. Sprinkle top with finely chopped dark chocolate (optional)

NotesIf you have trouble removing the ring, you can freeze the cake for about 1-2 hours, put a knife or an angled spatula in hot water, wipe dry, then run it around the cakeMatcha (Green Tea) Mousse Cake


 

 

Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

I guess by now everyone knows I love to bake.  Not only do I like to eat sweets, but I also get intrigued by how different ingredients work or not work together and the Science behind it. Yes, baking is an edible Science experiment ! And I have so much fun with these “Science projects” !  Vegan baking is even more interesting ! You don’t have your eggs to bind things together, you don’t have your dairy nor butter for nice creamy texture and rich flavours.  But there are actually many great alternatives and I realize I have a lot more to learn. This is the first time I bake with spelt flour. It can be used instead of whole wheat flour. It has a finer texture and a milder taste which I like.  For the roasted pecans, you won’t need the whole batch for the muffins, save the rest for a healthy snack !

Makes about 12 muffins

For the roasted pecans 

  • 100 g pecans
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup 
  • 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Pinch of salt 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Coat pecans with rest of ingredients 
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, stirring once in between Maple Roasted Pecans

For the muffins

  • 225 g spelt flour
  • 1+1/2 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 60 g demerara or brown sugar 
  • 150 g unsweetened apple sauce 
  • 120 mL vegetable oil 
  • 60 mL unsweetened almond milk 
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 200 g grated carrots 
  • 30 g maple roasted pecans, crushed 
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon 
  3. Mix in sugar 
  4. Stir in other wet ingredients
  5. Stir in grated carrots 
  6. Spoon into lightly greased paper or silicone muffin cups (you can fill them up a little fuller, as they don’t rise as much)
  7. Sprinkle crushed maple pecans on top 
  8. Bake in muffin tins for 25-30 minutes Carrot Spelt Muffins with Maple Roasted Pecans (Vegan)

Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake for Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year was my favourite celebration when I was a kid in Hong Kong. I could visit and play with my cousins, get red envelopes and of course, eat lots and lots of good food ! My mom used to make all kinds of dishes and rice cakes, sweet and savoury. To be honest, I have never made them, because hers are always the best! But this year I thought…..hey, I am a baker, I should at least bake something to celebrate. Then, I remembered a recipe from my mom’s friend….Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake! I have modified her recipe to make it less greasy and added some shredded coconut on top. The glutinous rice flour and coconut milk should be available in any Asian market. Use the brands in the picture if you can find them, as according to the expert, aka my mom, they are better. (I am not sponsored by them, just personal preference) The cake will rise inside the oven, but then concave in a little when cooled and that’s ok. It doesn’t change the taste nor the texture of the cake. I used a round cake pan because but in Chinese, the word “round” has a meaning of being together. You can use a square pan, which probably will be easier to cut. 

Wishing everyone good health and a prosperous Year of the Rooster! Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake


Makes one 8 inch round cake 

  • 400 g glutinous rice flour, sifted  (1 package)
  • 200 g granulated sugar 
  • 5 eggs (lightly beaten) 
  • 400 mL canned coconut milk (1 can)
  • 60 mL coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 45 g unsweetened shredded coconut Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F 
  2. Line bottom of baking pan with parchment paper and lightly grease bottom and sides 
  3. In a large bowl, mix together flour and sugar
  4. Stir in eggs, coconut milk, oil and vanilla until smooth using a hand whisk 
  5. Strain batter through a mesh and pour into baking pan 
  6. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes, then reduce heat to 325ºF and bake for another 30 minutes (toothpick should come out clean when inserted into middle)
  8. Turn heat off, leave cake in oven with door ajar for about 20 minutes 
  9. Take it out, cool slightly and serve warm 
  10. You can store the cake in the fridge for up to 1 week. Reheat in oven before serving. Baked Coconut Sticky Rice Cake

Marzipan Cake

I never knew marzipan can be so tasty and so useful in baking ! My first encounter with it was eating some marzipan-filled chocolate. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it. Perhaps it was too sweet or perhaps I always prefer eating pure chocolate. But after I learned to make the Eisenbahner (Railroad) Cookies, I absolutely fell in love with it ! With high hopes for myself, I decided to make a cake this time…..but sadly…..I failed twice ! How frustrating ! The “failures” actually tasted pretty good. I realized the problem was the pans I used. For the first time, I used a 9 inch spring-form pan and the cake turned out too flat (It is a denser cake and it won’t rise very much). So I switched to a 9 inch x 5 inch loaf pan. But it took too long to bake through and the outside of the cake was dry and brown. So for the third time, I used an 8 inch cake ring and baked it in a hot water bath and…..Success finally ! I thought I would never make it !  Phew ! Now I get to sit down, relax and enjoy my cake after all that hard work !

Makes one 8 inch round cake 

  • 180 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200 g marzipan, cut into small pieces and softened
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 60 ml milk
  • 60 g honey
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  • 180 g all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Icing sugar and almond slices for toppings
  1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake ring  
  2. Wrap bottom with parchment paper, then 2 layers of aluminium foil and place on a rimmed baking trayCake RingCake Ring
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F
  4. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt, set aside
  5. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together butter, marzipan and sugar 
  6. Add eggs, one at a time
  7. Mix in vanilla and almond extract, milk, honey and orange zest 
  8. Add flour mixture in two parts, mix until blended
  9. Pour batter into cake ring (it’s ok if batter is slightly gritty) 
  10. Pour about one inch of hot water in baking tray and bake cake in hot water bath for about 60 minutes  
  11. Cool and remove cake ring
  12. Top with icing sugar and almond slicesMarzipan CakeMarzipan Cake

Honey Cornmeal Muffins 

My kids are growing up too fast, especially my son ! He turned 12 two months ago.  He is almost as tall and as heavy as I am, he eats twice as much and he beats me easily on arm wrestling ! I am happy but a little sad at the same time…..My baby is no longer a baby ! He is turning into a man ! I told him I have to kiss and hug him as much as I can because soon he won’t let me ! Looking after 2 active growing kids can be very busy, and often, I tend to forget about myself !  I made these little corn muffins the other day so I can just grab and eat quickly when I am in a rush.  You can have them for breakfast or serve them with a soup or a salad for lunch.   

  • 100 g cornmeal 
  • 180 g all-purpose flour, sifted 
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • Pinch of salt 
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice 
  • 120 mL milk 
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten 
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 4 tablespoons honey 

Makes about 12 muffins 

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Put lemon juice into milk and let sit for a few minutes 
  3. Mix together all dry ingredients 
  4. Add eggs, milk with lemon juice, coconut oil and honey, mix until blended 
  5. Pour batter into slightly greased silicon or paper muffin cups and bake for about 20 minutes 
  6. Serve warm with butter 

Honey Cornmeal Muffins

 

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Maple Caramel Sauce 

Fall

October is a busy baking month for me. Thanksgiving, my daughter’s birthday, bake sale, Halloween…. all of them are happening this month. I am not complaining, in fact, I am enjoying it . Apples, pumpkins, corn, the spices, the Halloween decorations ….the aroma, the colours, the fun, I love them all ! For this Thanksgiving, I made a pumpkin cheesecake topped with maple caramel sauce. It is crunchy, creamy, sweet and a little spicy…..just delicious ! And it’s fairly easy to make ! It’s a great alternative to pumpkin pie.

Makes one 6-inch cake

For the crust

  • 120 g ginger snaps
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the fillings

  • 250 g soft cream cheese
  • 120 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 120 g pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the maple caramel

  • 120 ml maple syrup
  • 15 g unsalted butter
  • 60 mL heavy or whipping cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake

To prepare the crust

  1. Crush ginger cookies into fine crumbs
  2. Mix crumbs with melted butter, press firmly into bottom of a spring-form pan or a cake ring (if you use a cake ring like I did, you have to wrap the bottom with parchment paper as it is bottomless)
  3. Bake for about 10 minutes, let cool

To prepare the cheesecake

  1. When crust is cooled, wrap bottom of cake pan with 2 layers of aluminium foil and place on a rimmed baking tray
  2. Turn oven down to 325ºF
  3. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth
  4. Add flour, spices, salt,pumpkin puree and vanilla
  5. Add eggs, one at a time, mix until just blended, do not overmix
  6. Pour batter on top of crust and place the baking tray into the oven
  7. Pour about one inch of hot water into baking tray and bake for about 40-45 minutes (the top should be a little jiggly, do not overbake)
  8. Turn oven off, leave cheesecake inside oven with door ajar for another hour to cool gradually
  9. Take cake out, let cool at room temperature completely, then refrigerate for at least 3-4 hours

To prepare maple caramel

  1. Melt butter in a non-stick pan over medium heat
  2. Add maple syrup, when boil, turn heat down and simmer for about 3 minutes until thicken
  3. Add cream, stirring occasionally and continue to simmer until thick

When cheesecake is set, serve with maple caramel and whipped cream

Pumpkin Cheesecake