Its a Blog-a-versary!



    The Vanilla Bean turns 1 today! 

    I couldn’t be happier! This year has taught me so much that its hard to cram it all into one post. Its been a roller coaster ride but thankfully, more ups than downs. I want to extend a BIG thank you to each and every person who took some time to check out this space, each and every person who wrote me an email to say hello, thank you or ask me about this, that and the other – thank you. Without your emails, I wouldn’t be here, celebrating this day! I also want a big shout out to my incredible blogger friends (some of whom I was lucky enough to meet in person) for helping me, guiding me, hearing me out – it kept me going, thank you.

    Finally, on to the recipe – I had over 10 options but I finally settled on this incredibly fragrant cake. I added a little something of my own too but used the base from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. They use a different method of making the cake and I’ll admit I was slightly apprehensive of it – they mix butter, flour and sugar together (like in any shortcrust pastry) and then add the wet ingredients. But oh.my.god, the result was every bit worth it. This kind of mixing results in an incredibly moist cake with so much flavor! Its perfect for any celebratory cake. I borrowed the recipe from the cupcake section so it made me one perfect layer but I would double the recipe (i.e. make it twice) for two tall layers if I were making it for any celebration. Oh and this makes 12 cupcakes.

    A cautionary note about white chocolate ganache – for some reason you cant make this in the same proportion as you would a regular chocolate ganache. After many tries, I finally chanced on this white chocolate ganache recipe which ensures my ganache remains soft. If you plan to refrigerate the cake, then ensure you take it out at least 30 – 40 minutes prior to eating. White chocolate ganache tends to harden in the refrigerator.

    Coconut Cherry Cake
    Yields: One 8″ layer cake or 12 cupcakes
    Slightly adapted from: The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

    120g plain flour
    140g caster sugar
    1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    A pinch of salt (if using unsalted butter)
    40g butter
    120ml coconut milk
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract
    1 egg
    100g pitted cherries, coated in 1 tsp flour

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 1700c. Grease and line an 8″ cake tin.
  2. In a medium sized mixing bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder together (and salt if using unsalted butter).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (hand held mixer works just fine) fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour and baking powder, sugar and butter. Beat on medium speed till everything is combined. It should be a sandy consistency and the flour will be tinged a slight shade of yellow.
  4. Mix the coconut milk and vanilla extract in a measuring jug and pour into the flour mixture. Beat on medium speed till combined. Add the egg, making sure to scrape down batter from the sides of the bowl.
  5. In a small bowl, add the pitted cherries and sprinkle 1 tsp flour. Mix together to evenly coat the cherries and fold into the batter.
  6. Pour into waiting tin and bake for 20 – 25 minutes till cake tests done. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before transferring to a cooling rack or cake stand.

  7. White Chocolate Ganache
    Yields: Enough to cover one layer of an 8″ cake

    100g finest possible white chocolate
    60ml fresh cream
    Icing color (optional, incase you want to write a message on the cake)

  8. Chop the white chocolate finely and set aside in a heat-proof bowl.
  9. In a thick bottomed saucepan, heat cream on medium flame till its hot. Add to chopped chocolate and whisk together till combined. If you find that there are un-melted bits of white  chocolate, you can heat the ganache in the microwave in 10 second spurts and keep whisking in between.
  10. You could either pour this over the cake and smoothen over with a spatula or using a large spoon, add some onto the cake and smoothen in sections. Don’t be afraid to do a little trial and error here. In case you want to do a bit of lettering, remove 1 – 2 tablespoons of icing and set aside before you cover the cake.
  11. For the lettering, add a drop or two of the desired color and whisk to combine into the ganache. Pour this into a piping bag fitted with a narrow tip and write away!



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