16.7.13

Best ever Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

"Best Ever" Carrot Cupcake with cream cheese frosting

Hey guys! This is probably one of my favourite cupcake recipes and I have made them countless times over the past year or two because they never fail to disappoint.

Now I am passing this awesome recipe on to you. Enjoy baking it!



 Based off thecakemistress.com's recipe.

Ingredients

 The Carrot Cupcake
1 cup Brown Sugar
1 cup Vegetable Oil
3 Large Eggs
A pinch of Salt
1/2 teaspoon Bicarb Soda
2 cups Self Raising Flour
2 cups finely grated Carrot
1/2 cup Walnuts, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Nutmeg

The Cream Cheese Frosting

300g Icing sugar
125g Cream Cheese, cold
50g Unsalted Butter, room temp

Method

 PART ONE (CUPCAKE)

1.) Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2.) Finely grate the carrots until you get around 2 cupfuls of grated carrots.

Fine Grated carrots & leftover carrot sticks. EAT THEM, they're healthy for you.

3.) Beat the sugar and oil together until thick

The cup of brown sugar & and oil well surrounding it.

4.) Add 1 egg at a time and keep beating until smooth

What it should look like BEATEN with 3 eggs & brown sugar with oil.

5.) Add in the Salt, Bicarb Soda, Carrots, Flour and Spices (the nutmeg & cinnamon)

 All the ingredients are now added into my mixing bowl.
I put the carrots on top as they are the hardest to mix and would be stuck at the bottom.


6.) Use an electric mixer to beat all the ingredients together until batter is well mixed and smooth. (you can mix batter together with a spoon, however this will be extremely tedious and difficult because the carrots are heavy to mix through)


7.) Place batter in paper cupcake holders in a cupcake tray.

If you don't have any paper cupcake holders, like me, you must OIL VERY WELL the cupcake baking tray using a brush. (see picture below) This is so you can take out the baked cupcake without breaking it apart.

Very well- oiled cupcake holders.
MUST DO THIS, or else cupcakes will stick to the tray and you will be VERY dissapointed.

Carrot Cupcakes ready for baking.


8.)  Bake for 15- 20 minutes until light golden, or until you poke a small stick into the cupcake (I usually use a chopstick) and no batter sticks to it.


Also, you may use your finger and press the middle of the cupcake to see if it springs back.

Note: Baking time may vary, mine took 5 minutes longer to bake. Just make sure to use the described methods above to test the cupcake. THESE TECHNIQUES APPLY TO ALL CUPCAKE BAKING.

The finished cupcakes.

BUT WAIT! The recipe is not over yet... the best part, cream cheese frosting still needs to be made.

Note: PLEASE WAIT AT LEAST 2 HOURS FOR THE CUPCAKES TO COOL OFF. If you put the frosting on straight away, it will just melt.

8.7.13

Circa, Wentworth Street Parramatta


        Circa has a high reputation as an excellent brunch spot, competing well against its rival cafe's in Surry Hills. Compared to Sydney's CBD, I rarely go to Parramatta so I had to see for myself if the food really matched its reputation.


        The entrance to the cafe didn't surprise me. Like most brunch spots around Sydney, they are situated in old garages or spaces that were once abandoned and now brought back to life. The artwork around the cafe brought out Sydney's cultural side which is good as we rarely get to see that in this city, compared to Melbourne.



        The inside was bustling with customers, waiters and baristas. As you can see above, the place was quite cramped but had amazing interior design all along the walls and ceiling of the cafe. Sets in a good mood and great for photography.

$4.50Iced Coffee: Pure, simple & delicious

        It was a cold day, but nothing will stop me from getting my favourite beverage from cafe's: A traditional iced coffee. When I got the coffee, I got the reaction that you guys are probably getting right now looking at the photo above: WHY IS IT SO DAMN SMALL? Iced coffees that I usually have come in a tall glass with a lot of content inside, but in Circa's case, it is all about quality, NOT quantity.

        The iced coffee was certainly delicious, as it is double ristretto based (hand pressed method of extracting the coffee, a very SHORT shot of espresso. Apparently that makes a more bold, flavoursome and less bitter taste and in this case was pressed twice). Creamy, syrupy, full bodied coffee without bitterness. Would definitely order it again!


$10: Barrosa Valley cured shultz bacon, free range egg, house made tomato & capsicum relish and aioli on shiacciata bread 

        An amazing "bacon & egg"- like sandwich, with a perfect tomato & capsicum relish spread topped by delicious Shultz Bacon (cured, smoked for 2 days SO GOOD) and free range egg.

        Probably the best bacon & egg breakfast I've ever had.


$16: Seared Atlantic salmon on butternut pumpkin & ricotta artisanal mash with a winter salad.

        The salmon was seared to perfection, light crispiness on the outside, slightly pink on the inside just the way I like it. Juicy and tender flakes of salmon.

        Butternut pumpkin & ricotta mash was incredible, an ingenious idea mixing two creamy goods together to have the perfect mash texture. I will DEFINITELY try making this dish at home!

        Salad was disappointing, too sour, not enough leafy veggies which I like in a salad.


 Brownie


        We finished off our brunch meal with a brownie which was so chewy and yummy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. Haven't had a good brownie in a long time as I've been using too many instant- mix brownies from Woolworths which aren't that great.

        Circa certainly matches its reputation as a good brunch spot, especially with its finely made coffee & a large variety of quality dishes. Next time I come, I will order their Baked Eggs- with sujuk, Danish fetta, tomato & hint of chilli w/ toast served in the pan as its one of their most popular dishes. Also, their tea is rumoured to be a speciality.

Check out their cafe & menu guys! They are serious about their coffee and food! Circa's Menu


Verdict (considering atmosphere, price, service and taste): 8.5/10


Circa on Urbanspoon

28.6.13

Sushi Rio, Sussex Street

        Hey guys! It's nearly been a whole month since I have posted! It has been bloody busy with uni exams and work, but now that holidays have started I will be posting at least TWICE a week. :)

        My friends and I decided to venture to the CBD to grab some good food. We desperately needed to heal our souls after weeks of painful confinement in our homes studying and binging on an array of unhealthy snacks.

      It has been a long while since we've had sushi, so we decided to head to Sushi Rio, one of my favourite hotspots for Japanese food.


 Sushi Rio- $3 sushi/ sides everyday @ anytime! Pretty cheap.

30.5.13

Rainbow Layer Cake

RECIPE: Rainbow Layer Cake
(
Based on Betty Crocker's rainbow layer cake recipe)

Strong/ Deep colours that you will get from using GEL food colouring.
Liquid/ powder colouring will give a lighter shade.




         Hey guys! This week was my friend's 20th birthday, so me and another friend decided to pair up and bake this delicious rainbow cake, because rainbow cakes are awesome.
  
        This cake might look hard at first, but it's actually extremely easy but it just takes a lot of patience and time. To spice things up a little, we decided to make it "League of Legends" theme ish, with a Teemo- related fondant figurines on top of the cake and of course the "Happy 20th Birthday" generic sign.

Although it takes a long time to make this cake, it looks awesome and is DEFINITELY worth trying out!


Ingredients

  Cake

  • 2 boxes Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® vanilla cake mix (AVAILABLE @ WOOLIES)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 6 eggs
  • Food Colouring (Gel colouring preferred): 6 colours of rainbow: R O Y G B P.
    (gel colouring works a LOT better than liquid food colouring, stronger colours and no bitter taste)
Note: You can find tubes of gel food colouring in the larger SPOTLIGHT stores across Sydney + individual bakery good stores. Bakery Sugarcraft is a great bakery store: order online or visit them at Wetherill Park.

 Frosting 
  •  2 x tubs Betty Crocker's creamy deluxe Vanilla frosting. (AVAILABLE @ WOOLIES)



Here are a few of the major ingredients for the cake: Supermoist vanilla mix + frosting + food colouring (I used a mix of powder + liquid) + cake decorating items

Method
  

1.) Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Brush oil thoroughly over the insides of 3 cake pans.

2.) In a very large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil and eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then on medium for 2 minutes, scraping the bowl occasionally.


We all know how pre- batter looks. Easy step, just chuck everything in and blend.


3.) Divide batter evenly into 6 small bowls.

 

Another easy step. Make sure you break clumps of flour that you find with a spoon.

4.) Okay, here is where it gets only slightly tricky. Using food colours, add a TINY bit of gel colouring paste into each bowl. You don't need much as gel colouring is strong.
(1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow, 1 green, 1 blue, 1 purple)



Here are my 6 colours. As you can see, the colours are a bit pale because powder/ liquid colouring doesn't produce the deep colours that GEL colouring paste does.

        As you guys can see, my colours aren't too strong because I used a mix of LIQUID & POWDER food colouring, thus the specks in the colours. Also, I didn't have PURPLE food dye unfortunately, so I mixed the RED + BLUE colouring together. Genius right?!  

5.) Refrigerate 3 colours of batter until they are ready to bake. Pour the remaining 3 colours into the oiled cake pans, then bake for 15- 20 minutes or when you poke a skewer/ chopstick into the middle and no batter sticks to it.
 

Cool the 3 cakes on a cooling rack. Wash the cake pans then bake & cool the remaining 3 cakes.


5 cake colours. Couldn't fit the last one in the photo ):
   
Note: If you guys don't have that many baking pans, like me, you will have to bake them ONE/ TWO at a time like I did. It takes an extra half hour to do but still the same process!
   

6.) MAKE SURE YOUR CAKES ARE COMPLETELY COOLED. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! THE FROSTING WILL MELT OTHERWISE!

   

Starting from the bottom colour (Purple), frost the top of the cake layer with Betty Crocker's vanilla frosting. You can decide how much frosting you want in between each layer, but I prefer a thin layer because the frosting is already really sweet.

Repeat with Blue (2nd last), Green (3rd), Yellow, Orange then place the Red layer on top without icing.
 

The layers should look like this with frosting in between each layer.
  

7.) (OPTIONAL STEP) If your cakes are too "puffed up", then there will be a large gap in between each layer on the outside of your cake. This means that you will have to add a TONNE of icing to fill those gaps.
  

Like me, what you can do is cut those edges off to make the outside surface FLAT. (Compare above picture with picture below, the cake's outer layer is trimmed)
  

Note: TAKE EXTREME CARE WITH THIS STEP! It is difficult to trim the edges off without screwing up the perfect circle of the cake. You can get some baking paper, cut out a perfect circle and place it on top of the cake to assist you with the cutting.
 

This is how the cake looks with the edges trimmed off. As you can see, the surface around the cake is FLATTER allowing the frosting to be spread evenly along the sides of the cake.
  

8.) Spread a 1st light coat of frosting on the edge of the cake to seal in crumbs, then spread a 2nd & final layer of thicker frosting on the cake. Smooth it out with a larger, flat knife.

Spread frosting on the Red top layer of the cake, again smoothly.
   



The completed frosted, rainbow cake should look like this!
  

9.) Now, decorate the cake with whatever the hell you want! Add hundreds and thousands on top/ to the sides, mix the food colouring with leftover icing then using a piping bag, make figures/ shapes on the top of the cake.

Be creative.


Teemo, with teemo hat and goggles! Also his mushroom traps. All made with fondant.

        I won't go into details of how I made this, but basically I used FONDANT (Click here for a cooler League cake) to shape these figurines. Then I used the remaining food colouring to colour each part of the figurine, then pieced it together to make this.

        Making figurines with fondant requires a LOT of effort and even then thats an understatement! In the future, I'll make a post about fondant when I have the time.

Anyway, here is the final cake!
I know, the writing is ugly but I blame my friend's shaky hands :D
Yep, happy 20th birthday such a generic message. Could've drawn a cool picture of a dragon or something but nope. Great effort though right?

20.5.13

Ippudo, Westfield Sydney

       
Ippudo Sydney- A glowing & welcoming entrance, with a nicely equipped bar and an amazing interior


             As the family foodie, my dad put me in charge of finding a restaurant to celebrate Mother's day. I chose Ippudo as I knew my parents rarely had the chance to eat Japanese food, especially ramen which they would usually only get in the instant- form. 

        Ippudo, founded by "Ramen King" Shigemi Kawahara in 1985 established its first international outlet in 2008, New York and has been rapidly expanding around the world since then. It is a restaurant that specialises in "Hakata ramen" (also known to most of us as Tonkotsu ramen: A thick broth made from boiling pork bones for many hours to give a hearty & creamy consistency) and creates the most authentic ramen by investing in the highest quality soup, noodles and other ingredients.

        Their menu doesn't offer a vast variety of items compared to normal Japanese restaurants around Sydney because of their specialty in ramen. However, they offer a very customisable range of ramen soup bases/ noodles/ ingredients & extra toppings to add to your dish. Also, they have a few popular entree items and are known for their specialty Japanese craft beers.



$4 (per single bun): Ippudo Pork Bun- Steamed bun with braised pork and IPPUDO original sauce

        My first item was their popular Ippudo pork bun. When you look at it, you may wonder what is so special about it and how it differs from the pork buns you can get from Chinese eateries. The steamed bun pairs extremely well with the soft, deliciously braised pork that melts in your mouth as you chew it and it really opens up your appetite to more food at the restaurant. The pork slice was definitely a unique taste to me and was impressive as the tenderness of the meat and sauce being present through the entirety of the meat meant that it must have been braised for hours.  The only thing that I have to criticise about is that I could eat the whole damn thing in two bites because it was so tasty, but so small.

 
$8: Ippudo Teba- Fried chicken wings glazed with Ippudo special black pepper sauce

        Next up was another entree, the Ippudo Teba. A friend mentioned to me that these wings were particularly good, so I had to try them too. The wings were crispy on the outside, meat tender and juicy on the inside as one would expect deep fried wings to be. However, the important part of this dish was the sauce. The Ippudo special black pepper sauce was a sweet- ish, garlic- y sauce which wasn't as peppery as I had hoped and reminded me of the taste of Black Garlic Ramen (the latest trend in ramen). This dish was great, but did not wow me enough that I would order it again the next time.

 
$16 + $2: Akamari Shinaji Ramen w/ Nitamago (flavoured egg) IPPUDO original tonkotsu broth enhanced with special blended miso paste and fragrant garlic oil. Served with one Nitamago (soy sauce flavoured, molten/ lava egg)

11.5.13