Friday, May 31, 2013

AB #31 - Purple Sweet Potato Rose Bao (紫薯玫瑰包)

Ok, this was supposed to be part 2 of my purple sweet potato bao-making adventure. If you remember in my previous post, I said that by a stroke of luck, I got some purple sweet potatoes from a friend who lives nearby, and I made some steamed porcupine and rabbit buns. I also made some steamed rose buns using the same recipe, but I didn't follow the rose-shaping method by Wendy. I referred to another method which was easier. Still, it took me quite some time, and I had to take just one portion of the dough for shaping and leave the remaining dough in the fridge to chill, so as to delay further proofing. Otherwise it would have taken too long and the dough would have over-proofed.

Below are some pictures of my precious purple sweet potatoes. My friend said it cost 3 euro per kg in Chinatown, I thought that was pretty cheap, since the orange ones were selling for 2,20 euro per kg in Colruyt. The colour of the bao dough was a nice shade of pastel purple. The dough weighed nearly 1 kg in total, 975g to be exact! :D

This is how I shaped the rose buns. I hope the step-by-step pictures are self-explanatory. You can refer to the dough recipe from my purple sweet potato bao with kaya fillings recipe. Just divide the dough into 20 equal portions of 50g each, and divide the red bean paste fillings into portions of 25g each (from 1 can of 510g of red bean paste). And while you are shaping the dough, leave the remaining dough covered with clingwrap in the fridge to prevent over-proofing. Proof the shaped rose buns covered for 30-40 min in a warm place, then finally steam them in a preheated steamer on HIGH heat for 12 min.

I think my rose buns were not tightly wrapped together and I should have rolled the edges of the petals thinner, that was why the roses were kind of out of shape. But still, it was a good lesson learnt in pleating rose buns! 

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) organized by none other than myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

I am also submitting this post to YeastSpotting.

AB #31 - Purple Sweet Potato Bao with Kaya Fillings (紫薯加椰包)

If you notice, I have been busy making many steamed buns lately thanks to Aspiring Bakers #31, hehe. On Tuesday, I was supposed to go to a chinese friend's house to learn how to make zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) but she called to say it was postponed since her mother-in-law couldn't make it. I said it was ok, since I planned to make some steamed buns but I must first go to Colruyt to get some regular sweet potatoes, those orange ones. Then she said, oh, I have got some purple sweet potatoes, why don't you drop by and get them? 

I was so lucky, purple sweet potatoes, yeah!!! If you know how difficult it is to get them in Belgium! 

Using cinemascope, not the actual colour of the porcupine-shaped buns!

Since I was making coloured buns, I made use of this opportunity to shape the buns into porcupines, rabbits and roses (I know purple porcupines and purple rabbits seemed a bit far-fetched!) and I filled most of them with canned red bean paste filling. The canned red bean paste filling was not that great, it was far too sweet and I didn't really like it, and my son refused to eat the bun after just taking one bite. I took out my 15-min homemade kaya jam which I specially made for this occasion, and I filled 5 of the buns with the kaya, and my son liked it so much, he kept asking for "that purple cake with yellow thing".  :)

Actual colour of the purple sweet potato bun and kaya fillings. Yes, the kaya was bright yellow!

Here is the recipe I adapted from WendyinKK (makes 20 buns)

250g steamed purple sweet potatoes
250g lukewarm water
500g cake flour (original recipe used pau flour)
1 tsp baking powder
100g sugar
50g corn oil (original recipe used shortening)
1/4 tsp salt
11g instant yeast (I used Bruggeman, 1 packet is 11g)

1. Steam the sweet potatoes over high heat for 15 min and mash them using a fork. Set aside to cool. (Since these were purple sweet potatoes which were harder than the orange ones, they were still pretty firm after steaming. So I blend them for a few seconds in a food blender with part of the 250g water.)

2. Mix the balance of the 250g lukewarm water with the instant yeast and set aside.

3. In a large mixing bowl, combine everything except the oil or shortening, and mix to form a dough. 

4. Once a rough dough is formed, add in the oil or shortening and knead until you get a smooth, non-stick dough. (I used the dough mode of my breadmachine to mix for approximately 12 minutes. You could use hand-kneading also. See pictures of the bao dough here.)

5. Cover the dough with clingwrap or kitchen towel and let it proof in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (The weight of the dough was about 1 kg or 975g to be exact. )

6. After 1 hour, punch down the dough and knead for 1-2 min.

7. Divide dough into 50g portions and shape them into small dough balls. (The dough was nearly 1 kg so you would get about 19-20 portions). 

8. If you are making buns with fillings, flatten the dough into a small circle, add in 1 heaped tsp of the desired filling, seal the dough and shape it round, then place each bun with the sealed side down on a paper cupcake liner or square piece of baking paper. If you are making decorative buns such as porcupines or rabbits, cover the dough balls and let them proof for 10 min before knipping the dough with a pair of sharp scissors. 

9. Cover the buns with clingwrap or kitchen towel and let them proof in a warm place for another 30-40 min until doubled in size. Do not overproof.

10. Steam in a pre-heated steamer on HIGH heat for 12 min. After 12 min, open the steamer lid so that there is just a small gap, to allow the steam to escape, and let the buns adjust to room temp. This will prevent the surface of the buns to become wrinkly.

For the kaya filling, pls refer to my 15 min homemade kaya recipe. I have made it 7 to 8 times already, but this time the kaya was yellow instead of brown due to a new brand of palm sugar that I used, but the taste was still fantastic! 

For the red bean paste filling, if you would like to make your own, you can refer to my tau sar red bean paste recipe

These rabbit buns look very LOMOish, don't they? :)

What was the verdict for these purple sweet potato steamed baos? The dough was very easy to handle, it was not sticky and required minimal or no flouring at all. In terms of the taste, they were very good, you could taste a sweet subtle tinge of the sweet potatoes. And due to the addition of the sweet potatoes, the baos were still very soft and fluffy on the 2nd day. I tried eating one without heating, the bao dough was still soft and moist especially with the kaya fillings. For the ones which I ate on the 2nd day, I warmed them up in microwave for 40 seconds and they were piping hot! Even on the 3rd day, the buns were still ok, but I would advise you to keep them covered in clingwrap and chill them in the fridge, and heat them up just before eating.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) organized by none other than myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

I am also submitting this post to YeastSpotting.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

AB #31 - Baked Siew Bao/Pau (烧包)

These were the baked siew baos  (烧包) I did last Sunday. Some call it the "Seremban Siew Bao". As you can see, they were not very successful, as I failed to seal the pleats tightly, and they all bursted out during baking, became "smiling" siew baos (开口笑烧包). Pls don't laugh at me! 请大家不要见笑! Honestly, I think I should enroll myself in a bao-pleating course the next time I return to Singapore. :)

Btw, if you don't already know, I just announced here that the AB#31 buns event has been extended by 2 more days, so, the last day of submission will be 2 June 2013 (Sun) and the Roundup will be held on 3 June 2013 (Mon). Yippee, more buns, as if I haven't had enough! :p

Recipe adapted from Lydia Teh of mykitch3n

Char Siew Fillings

Ingredients A
250g char siew, diced
1/2 tbsp cooking oil
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp sugar*
1 tbsp oyster sauce*
1 tbsp light soya sauce*
1 tsp sesame oil

Ingredients B
150 ml water
1.5 tbsp corn flour
salt to taste

Method for Char Siew Fillings
1. For the char siew fillings, if you would like to make your own char siew, you can refer to my 2 homemade char siew recipes. Retain as much sauce as possible, then instead of using 150ml water, weigh the amount of sauce you have, and top up the rest with water to 150ml. You may avoid the sugar, oyster sauce and soya sauce if you are using the sauce that comes with the char siew, be it home-made or store-bought. For the case of my homemade char siew, I had 75ml of sauce, so I added another 75ml of water and I only used 1/2 tbsp oil, 1 tsp sesame oil plus 1 small diced onion.

2. To make the char siew fillings, heat up the oil in a non-stick pan, saute the diced onions for 1-2 min, add in other ingredients and stir-fry for 1 min. Then mix water with corn flour and add the corn flour solution into the pan to thicken. Stir well and simmer until the gravy is thickened. Dish out the char siew fillings and set aside to cool. Divide it into 12 portions.

(Makes 12 buns)

Ingredients for Inner Dough 
120g plain flour
60g shortening 

Ingredients for Outer Dough 
120g plain flour, sifted
30g icing sugar, sifted
30g shortening 
60ml water

Ingredients for Egg Wash
1 egg yolk + 1/2 tbsp milk

1. Inner Dough :  Place the plain flour and shortening into a big mixing bowl, mix well and knead to form a dough. Cover with clingwrap and let it rest for 30 min, then divide into 12 equal balls of dough. (I first used spatula to mix together the ingredients, then I used my hands to knead a little until it came together to form a ball of dough. Do not over-knead. The inner dough was not sticky at all. Total weight of inner dough was 170g, I got 14g each after divided by 12.)

2. Outer Dough :  Place the sifted plain flour, sifted icing sugar, water and shortening into a big mixing bowl, mix well and knead to form a dough. Cover with clingwrap and let it rest for 30 min, then divide into 12 equal balls of dough. (The outer dough was very sticky, so I used the dough mode of my bread machine to knead for 4 to 5 minutes until it formed a smooth non-stick dough. You may use hand-kneading if you like, but I personally don't like to hand-knead sticky dough. Total weight of outer dough was 240g, I got 20g each after divided by 12.)

3. Pls refer to my step-by-step picture collage above for the method of rolling.

  • Step 1 - On a slightly floured work surface, flatten the outer dough into a circle and put the inner dough on top. 
  • Step 2 - Wrap the outer dough around the inner dough, pinch and seal the edges, forming a smooth ball.
  • Step 3 - Using a slightly floured rolling pin, roll out the ball of dough into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 4 - Roll it up like a swiss roll.
  • Step 5 - Turn it 90 degrees.
  • Step 6 - Again, using the rolling pin, flatten and roll it out into a rectangular shape.
  • Step 7 - Roll it up like a swiss roll again.
  • Step 8 - Turn the rolled dough so that it is now standing with the rolled side facing up.
  • Step 9 - Flatten it with your palm so that it now looks like the shell of a snail. Do the same for all 12 portions.

4. Roll out the dough into a 12 cm diameter, and place the char siew fillings in the centre. Pleat and pinch just like a char siew bao. Place each bao with pleated side up on a tray lined with baking paper. Apply egg wash with a pastry brush and sprinkle some white sesame seeds.

5. Bake in a preheated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 20 min till golden brown. (Do not over-bake! I baked an extra 5 min in the hope of achieving a nicer golden-brown colour, but my siew baos all erupted like volcanos, with the char siew fillings oozing out like lava!)

- I made 12 baked siew baos and I gave 2 to a chinese friend who runs a chinese restaurant nearby, her husband (the chef) said he felt that the taste was better than what he got from 美食城, the dim sum restaurant in Antwerp Chinatown. That really made my day!

- These baked buns are best eaten fresh on the same day. I ate 3 on the 2nd day, and I felt that the skin has turned soft and not as crispy.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) hosted by none other than myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders.

Announcement: AB #31 Roundup extended to 3 June (Mon)

Just a small announcement to make, I have been overwhelmed by last minute entries for my AB#31 buns event, so after consultation with SSB, I decided to extend this event by 2 more days, so that fellow bloggers can have more time to try out more buns over the weekend. So, the last day of submission will be 2 June 2013 (Sun) and the Roundup will be held on 3 June 2013 (Mon).

I also want to take this opportunity to announce the Little Thumbs Up curry event which will be held starting from 4 June 2013. You are encouraged to submit any recipe posts (must be submitted in the month of June 2013) which involve the usage of ready-made or home-made curry powder or curry paste. It is not just limited to curries, but you can make curry rice, curry noodles, laksa, curry buns, curry puffs, samosa, murtabak, otak-otak, basically anything under the sun that uses curry powder/paste. The submission guidelines will be announced on 4 June 2013. Watch this space for more news. :)



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Stir-Fried Oyster Mushrooms with Snow Peas

In case you think that our family live on steamed buns, fried buns or fondant cakes, here is a post to show you otherwise! Lovely oyster mushrooms stir-fried with snow peas, the thai way! By the way, I don't usually take pictures and post what we eat for dinner even if it is something new, bcos dinner time is always such a mad rush that it is nearly impossible for me to cook and take pictures at the same time. The kids are always crying either bcos they are hungry or bcos they are fighting over toys, so I am usually not in a very pleasant mood while making dinner. :)

Now back to this dish, the original recipe used green asperagus, but green asperagus is apparently quite rare in Belgium, the supermarts here usually sell the white ones. Even if I manage to find green asperagus, it is so horrendously expensive that I sometimes wonder if it is considered a delicacy here. Anyway, I swopped asperagus with snow peas which was also quite expensive, 250g cost 2,50 euro which meant that 1 kg cost 10 euro? Even imported chinese pak choy at 3,30 euro per kg costs cheaper than snow peas!

Anyway, this is really quite an easy and delicious dish. Even though snow peas are expensive, I don't mind buying them regularly to stir-fry with oyster mushrooms. 

Can you see the smoke from the dish? No time to take foto, just point and shoot, and off it went on the dining table!

Recipe adapted from ThaiFood&Travel

250g oyster mushrooms, shredded into small pieces
250g snow peas (replacing green asperagus)
15 big prawns, shelled and deveined

2-3 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp chinese cooking wine (or sherry)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp thai fish sauce
pinch of pepper to taste
pinch of sugar to taste

1. Heat up a wok over high heat until it is smoking. Add 2-3 tbsp cooking oil, and swirl the wok with oil to coat the surface. 

2. Add in garlic followed by prawns and stir-fry for 30 sec until the prawns start to turn pink.

3. Add in the snow peas and oyster mushrooms and continue to stir-fry.

4. Add in the seasonings (chinese cooking wine, oyster sauce, thai fish sauce) and stir well, make sure that veggies are well-coated.

5. Sprinkle with a dash of pepper and sugar to taste. When the veggies are cooked, remove from heat and serve warm with rice.

I am submitting this dish to the Little Thumbs Up event (Mushrooms) hosted by Joyce of Kitchen Flavours at this link, organized by Zoe of Bake for Happy Kids and Doreen of my little favourite DIY.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

AB #31 - Pan-Fried Buns (生煎包/水煎包)

One more week left for AB #31 and I still have several bookmarked bao recipes which are not tested. Come on, what have I been doing all this while? Baking too many cakes such as this and this? Like my mum always say, dun wait until last minute then go and "chueh jiam ban" (look for toilet) ? Hahaha.

Anyway, I made these buns on Thurs, they are called "生煎包" or "水煎包" in chinese. It is called "生煎包" (raw fried bun) because the meat filling is uncooked, whereas the other name 水煎包 (water fried bun) refers to the fact that these buns are steam-cooked in water and not deep-fried, in fact only a tiny bit of oil is used. Basically they are just buns with raw meat fillings pan-fried in some water and a little oil.

I have never attempted these buns before, although I have tried pan-frying potstickers/gyozas last year, so actually I am not unfamiliar with the concept of pan-frying buns in steam. :) 

This recipe is very easy and the main ingredients are also very simple, i.e. plain flour and bread flour, some minced meat with chopped spring onions and the usual chinese seasonings. The good thing is, it doesn't require pleating, yippee! Just have to wrap in the meat filling, pinch and seal the dough together and flour the pinched side generously. Isn't it easy? 

Recipe will be updated soon...give me some time...too many backlogs... :S
Recipe is adapted from Sunflower Food Galore's Beef Fried Buns.

- I used my palm to flatten each ball of dough into a flat disc of 8 to 9 cm diameter instead of 6 to 7 cm. Makes about 14 to 15 pieces, about 33 to 34 grams per piece, exactly as what the recipe stated.

- To seal the dough, just gather the edges together, pinch and seal them, and flour the sealed side with lots of flour, then place the sealed side down on a tray lined with baking paper. Remember to flatten the dough otherwise the buns will not be thoroughly cooked if they are too fat!

- I found 2 to 3 tbsp of water not enough to fry the buns, I did 5 buns in a pan, yet the water evaporated too fast and the buns were not yet cooked. So after first pan-frying for 2 min till the underside became golden brown, I flipped over the buns and drizzled 1/4 cup of water, then covered the lid and continued to steam-fry for another 3 to 4 min, until all the water was gone. Then I flipped again and fried for another 1 min or so, and finally dished out the bun onto a plate lined with baking paper to soak up the excess water. You may add more water if the water evaporates too fast and the buns are not yet cooked.

I am submitting this post to Aspiring Bakers #31 - Bao Ho-Chiak (May 2013) organized by none other than myself, Miss B of Everybody Eats Well in Flanders. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Birthday Cake #2 - 2 Tier Fondant Train Cake (Part 2 Tutorial)


I always have headache in May. Not because of Aspiring Bakers (but the AB event in May this year did add to my stress level), but because my son's birthday falls in May, and I have to bake him a nice cake for celebrating in school. Not just any cake, it has to be a nice train cake. You dunno him, he has very high expectations of everything, including his birthday cake. Last year I made him 2 cakes. I invited his best friend (just one boy, luckily not the whole class!) over for a small party at home and I made him an aeroplane cake, which somehow for one reason or another, he didn't like it at all, in fact he didn't take a single bite. I dunno why, I thought it was pretty nice, I was rather proud of it! Then for the celebration at school, it was a cake with fondant choo-choo-train which he went completely gaga over it. 

This year I asked him few weeks ago what he wanted. At first, he said he wanted a tractor cake. Then few days ago, he changed his mind and said he now wants the same train cake as last year, a very long one, and must have cargo trains filled with chocolates and sweets. He said "Ik wil een heel lange train cake, met aanhangwagen en snoepjes". 

*face palm*

Do I have to make exactly the same cake as last year? Very sian (boring) you know? And also a lot of effort you know? He doesn't know and he doesn't care, of course. 

So I spent many days poring over the internet for ideas. I first saw this nice train cake from Kristin, which I was very impressed with. It was a multi-tiered fondant-covered train cake with a winding slope around the cake. Very very beautiful but technically very challenging. I did a simple fondant train topper with train head and cargo trains last year, but I have not attempted covering a whole cake with fondant, so I asked Kristin a few questions about making the train cake, and she kindly answered all my questions, even providing me recipes of her marshmallow fondant and buttercream. I promised her I will try my best to attempt the cake.....but time was not on my side and I was really not confident enough to make the winding slope. Making the house cake with farm and garden on Sat and holding the birthday party on Sun had already flattened me out, and I had only Sun night and Mon (a public holiday) left for the train cake for school. Luckily I had already made the cakes beforehand on Thurs, but still there was a lot of work to be done. So I had to settle for something simpler. It was originally a simple cake which grew beyond proportions to become a very complicated cake, hahaha!

Anyway, as promised, here is the part 2 of the 2 tier fondant train cake which I finished on Monday 20 May 2013, part 1 has already been posted here.

I tried to take photos along the way to illustrate, but it was difficult when my hands were sticky, in addition I was already running late in schedule. Nevertheless, I still managed to take some step-by-step snapshots of how I made the cake. Hopefully this will be useful to bakers who would like to have a try at making a fondant-covered cake. This is my first time doing a fondant cake, so I am not an expert either, I am just sharing what little that I know. :)

1) First make 4 cakes in advance and chill them in the fridge. I made two 7-inch cakes (steamed chocolate cake recipe) and two 8-inch cakes (baked chocolate cake recipe) on Thursday night, 3 days in advance. The reason why I used steaming and baking at the same time was to save time, as I had to make 4 cakes on one night. The cakes were sealed first in 2 layers of plastic clingwrap and then individually in ziploc bags, so as to keep them fresh and moist. Chilling in the fridge also serves to harden the cakes, making it easier for cutting and crumbcoating.

2) Prepare your favourite frosting for crumbcoating the cakes. (I used ready-made buttercream bought from a cake-supplies shop, that required only the addition of butter and liquid and whisking for 10 minutes till light and fluffy. 250g of ready-made buttercream + 250g butter + 100ml liquid yielded 1 portion (1/2 kg) of buttercream. I prepared 2 portions, which was 1 kg in total, but it was way too much. In the end, I only used up 1 portion or 1/2 kg of buttercream.)

3) Use a sharp serrated knife to level the top of the cake.

4) Then turn the 2 cakes with the top facing each other so that the flat base of the cake is either facing downwards on the cakeboard or facing upwards. Apply a layer of frosting between the 2 cakes. 

5) Then crumbcoat the cake and let it chill in the fridge to harden. (I forgot to chill the cake after crumbcoating so the buttercream frosting was kind of melting when it was time to apply the fondant.)

6) Now the 2 crumbcoated tiers are ready for fondant to be applied.

7) Now it's time to prepare and color the fondant. Use a toothpick to dip a little of the food colouring and prick all over the fondant. Then sprinkle some icing sugar (or cornstarch or mixture of both) on a clean dry work surface and knead the fondant to a smooth pliable consistency. Add more colouring if the colour is not deep enough and knead further. If the fondant gets too dry, you can smear some baking spray or crisco shortening and knead it further. If it gets too sticky, sprinkle some icing sugar or cornstarch and knead it further. (You can prepare your own marshmallow fondant but I am using 1 kg of ready-made white marshmallow fondant bought from a cake-supplies shop, and I used wilton royal blue colour.)

8) Now I get a nice baby-blue ball of fondant. I kept it sealed in clingwrap to avoid drying out. Then I divided the fondant into 2 portions, one of 600g for the lower tier and one of 400g for the upper tier. I referred to the wilton fondant sizing website for calculating how much I needed for each cake tier. Based on my calculation, a 7-inch diameter, 3-inch thick cake would require 16 oz (450g) of fondant, whereas a 8-inch diameter, 3.5 inch thick cake would require 21 oz (600g) of fondant. Because I didn't want to open the other 1 kg pack of fondant, I just stuck to 1 kg, when in fact I needed about 1050g!

9) On a clean dry worksurface, dusted with icing sugar and/or cornstarch, roll the fondant using a rolling pin until the required diameter is reached. To calculate the diameter of the fondant you need, use the cake diameter + 2 times the height + some buffer. For eg for the smaller cake, it was (7" + 3"x2 + 2" extra buffer) = 15" total, and for the bigger cake, it was (7.5" + 3.5"x2 + 2" extra buffer) = 17" total. I only realised on hindsight that the 2 inch buffer was barely enough, but even with a 2 inch buffer, my rolled fondant was already paper-thin and it eventually tore at the seams, which means I actually needed more than 1 kg of fondant! So the moral of the story is always to provide more buffer and make sure your fondant is not thinner than 1/4 inch, otherwise it will break easily.

10) Drape your fondant onto the rolling pin, and carefully transfer it onto the cake. A useful tip is to ensure that the side which touches the work surface (i.e. coated with icing sugar) is facing up, so that when you drape it over the cake, you can simply roll the fondant over. You should place your cake on a turntable or lazy susan, so that you can turn the cake as you smooth out the fondant. I only have one lazy susan, so one of them had to be placed on a plate on top of a big bowl as shown in the picture below. 

11) Smooth the fondant using a fondant smoother both on the top of the cake and on the sides. 

12) As you can see, I am not an expert. My fondant was rolled too thin and it broke at a few places near the seams. Luckily I could hide the blemishes later using some candy strips and cookies.

13) Cut away the excess using a pizza-cutter or a sharp knife, I didn't cut everything off straight away, I left some margins to conceal the cake board which I was going to place below the smaller cake (upper tier).

14) Prepare a round cake board for supporting the upper cake tier. My upper cake tier was 7-inch, so I needed something smaller, a 6-inch round cake board. This was made using cardboard, with both sides wrapped in aluminium foil and a hole was pricked in the centre. Smear the cake board with buttercream or any other frosting on both sides and stick it to the bottom of the upper cake tier.  

15) Then for the lower (bigger) cake tier, you can either use wooden dowels or plastic lollipop sticks or even hard sturdy straws as support pillars. I used Wilton cake pop sticks as support pillars. I pricked a few holes near the centre of the cake (you don't want the holes to appear outside the diameter of the upper cake tier) and cut the support pillars to the desired height of the lower cake tier. I also cut a hole right in the middle of the lower cake tier, and cut a stick that was long enough to go through the upper cake tier but not pierce through its fondant surface. 

16) Finally I assembled both cakes together. My 2-tier cake was pretty high, about 17.5 cm and very heavy too! 

17) Next, I covered up the blemishes and imperfections of the fondant by sticking candy strips and cookies onto the fondant with buttercream, and I continued to decorate further with fondant train toppers on top. To save time, you can prepare the fondant train toppers days in advance and keep them wrapped in plastic clingwrap.

18) After many days of hard work, this was how my 2-tier fondant train cake looked like! 

I hope you have enjoyed the tutorial. For more pictures of the cake, pls refer to part one

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Birthday Cake #2 - 2 Tier Fondant Train Cake (Part 1)

This is what I have been busy with for the past 1 week. My biggest project for this year, a 2-tier fondant train cake. It was very tall and heavy, I never expected it to turn out so big. In terms of technical difficulty, this was much more difficult than the house cake I did earlier. This cake was actually made up of 4 cakes (two 7-inch and two 8-inch) stacked together, the height of the cake without the fondant train toppers was about 17.5 cm whereas the weight...I suspect it was between 5 to 6 kg. I couldn't weigh it on my kitchen scale which can only withstand a maximum weight of 4 kg. I consider this as a big step forward from the 1-tier train cake which I made last year for my son's birthday.

Do you know why I decorated the seams of the cake with candy strips and cookies? To cover the cracks and imperfections of my fondant, hahaha! The animal cookies were really useful, I had used them earlier for my house cake, and now I used them again for this train cake. The icing-coated biscuits reminds me of my childhood in Singapore, I used to munch on those biscuits while I was in primary school. :)

Look at how I transported this gigantic cake to school. It was very very heavy with a high centre of gravity. I had to improvise something to stabilise it so that it would not topple over while we drove to school. Although it was a very short distance of about 3 km, there were many road humps along the way, and I can tell you it was really a challenge to keep the cake from toppling! My hubby did the driving while I shouldered the task of holding the laundry basket on my lap. And it was raining that morning, so my aluminium foil came in handy!

This was what remained of the cake when I brought my boy back from school. The teacher told me a few kids didn't really like the fondant because it was something strange that they had never eaten before, so she had to peel the fondant away from the pieces of cakes that were handed out. But they were all excited upon seeing the train cake!

Coming up, a part 2 tutorial on how exactly this train cake was made...

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