Birthday cake, mingling and a giveaway.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Another year, another year older.

If you have really sharp memories, you might be thinking, hang on a minute Shaz, wasn’t your birthday in October? Why yes. Yes it was. Only I’ve been a tad busy of late and even thought I’d managed to make the cake for my actual birthday, typing this post had to wait.

But I’m here now, with little cakes in tow, and I’d also like to give you a present for my birthday :).



I’m sure you’ve seen the various CSN giveaways around the interwebs, but just in case you haven’t, allow me to tell you that CSN  is an online retailer with over 200 stores, selling everything from coffee tables to cameras. (And yes, that link will take you to, wait for it....lots of coffee tables!).

I was contacted by a lovely lady from the CSN Promo team who offered to give my loyal readers a $55 gift code valid at any of their online stores . (Heh, you have to be loyal to put up with my tangents!).

Unfortunately, CSN only ships to the US, Canada, the UK and Germany, so this giveaway is limited to readers  from those countries. Bear in mind that conversion rates apply. Some items may also incur shipping charges (international shipping taxes for Canada).  [Edit - some international shipping charges to Canada cannot be covered by the Promo Code, however domestic shipping costs within the other countries can be covered by the code.I’m sure you’ll be able to choose wisely :)

What do you have to do? Very simple, just leave a comment on this post anytime between today and 12 November, by midnight EST (here’s a timezone converter if it helps).  A winner will be picked at random/ out of a hat.

Now back to the cakes. Don’t they look striking? I’ve been longing to bake these Strawberry Tea squares for years! They’re on the first page of my little Quick and Easy Small Cakes book (Kazuko Kawachi), and every time I open the book, they look at me and tempt me. (I’ve mentioned this book before but if you’re looking for it, I don’t think it’s in print anymore).



 When I was first given the QaESM book by an aunty in Malaysia, I didn’t even know where to start trying to source ingredients like the fresh strawberries, marzipan and green tea required. These items were quite exotic back then, we’re talking very early 90s here.

But I live in a temperate climate now, and recently found myself with copious amounts of strawberries to use, plus matcha powder and marzipan in the pantry! The planets had aligned :)

The cake is basically a sponge cake, split in half, filled with mousseline buttercream and strawberries, then topped with green tea flavoured marzipan.

The resulting cake looked fantastic and tasted great overall, but I have discovered a sad truth about myself. I do not like mousseline buttercream and don’t think I ever will. This is the third time I’ve tried making and eating it (all 3 tries with different recipes), and I always come to the same conclusion. Not sweet enough and tastes too much like eating butter. What is wrong with me? It’s not like I don’t like butter, give me savoury butter and a bread roll and stand back. Actually, forget the bread roll, just stand back. But alas mousseline bc, you and I are irrevocably incompatible.



Ah well, at least I had cake for my birthday, and not just any cake, fruity cake! Which means I get to send this to the Monthly Mingle hosted by one of my favourite bloggers - Deeba from Passionate about Baking this month. I’ve wanted to take part in this event created by Meeta of What’s for lunch, Honey? for ages, but never could find the time. Fortuitously (I do like my big words), after I made this cake, I discovered the theme for the month was “Fruit in Baking”.

I’ll share the sponge cake and assembly instructions with you, but use your favourite buttercream for the filling. I’m going to make this cake again but will use a stabilised whipped cream filling instead and omit the marzipan, maybe try some glaze instead. A word of advice, if making the cake ahead and planning to store in fridge, don’t put the marzipan layer on until the last minute because it sweats when taken out of the fridge.

Basic sponge cake
(adapted from Quick and Easy Small Cakes, by Kazuko Kawachi, translated by  Yukiko Moriyama).

4 egg yolks
3 egg whites
90g caster sugar
40g plain flour
pinch of salt
1tbsp whipping cream (pure cream/pouring cream)
dash of vanilla extract

Buttercream and fresh strawberries to decorate
Marzipan (4oz) and 1 tsp green tea powder (knead together and set aside, covered. I used slightly more than 1 tsp)

Preheat oven to about 180˚C. Grease a baking pan and line with baking paper. The recipe calls for two sheets of baking paper but I used one and it worked fine. I used a lamington tin, which is rectangular and quite small.

Sift the flour and salt together. The recipe says 3 times but seriously? I just did it a couple of times I think. Sift the caster sugar too, separately from the flour though.

Beat egg yolks lightly then add 45g of the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until light and doubled in volume. It should fall from the beaters in a “ribbon”. In a separate bowl (make sure it’s dry and squeaky clean),beat the eggwhites until it holds peaks, then add the sugar a tablespoon at a time until all the sugar has been incorporated and the whites are stiff and glossy.

Add a spoonful of the beaten whites to the beaten yolks to lighten, then fold the yolks into the whites. Add the vanilla extract, then sift the flour over the eggs and fold carefully (I used a plastic spatula), try not to knock any air out. When all the flour has been mixed in, drizzle the whipped cream in and fold to mix.

Scrape into prepared pan, smooth the top and tap pan on countertop to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake until golden (about10 minutes or so). When cooked and cool enough to handle, carefully slide cake out onto a wooden cutting board. Let it sit until warm to touch, then cover the cake with the baking pan and leave until completely cold (I think this step makes sure the sponge is moist).

To assemble, split the cake in half, spread the buttercream on it (reserve 1 tbsp for the top of cake), then arrange the washed, hulled and dried strawberries all over the cream, pushing in as you go.


Carefully layer the other half of cake on top, wrap the whole lot in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm (at least half an hour).

Roll out the marzipan on some plastic wrap until large enough to cover cake. Spread the reserved buttercream over the top of the cake. Use the plastic wrap to pick the marzipan up, drape it over the cake, smooth it down then peel the plastic off. Trim edges then cut the cake into squares. I used a serrated knife which was handy to cut into the strawberries.

Have a great weekend and good luck with the giveaway!

39 comments:

chocolatesuze said...

i love the strawberry cross-section!

Anh said...

happy belated birthday Shaz! I don't like buttercream either :D. Gimme chocolate instead! lol

Heldin des Chaos said...

Somehow Matcha has not yet reached Germany... :-(
I don't like buttercream either, but I guess these would taste great if you just used wipped cream instead...

shaz said...

chocolatesuze - that's my favourite part too.

Anh - thank you! Yeah, bring on the chocolate

Heldin des Chaos - hope it gets there soon, I really like it

Beth said...

What a gorgeous cake! Hope your birthday was great.

Kristin said...

Not only is that cake gorgeous, but it looks soooooooo yummy!

Jeannie said...

Well I am like you who does not like buttercream...but the cake is very pretty, I'll definitely have those strawberries if not the buttercream lol! Oh and I think the idea of using glaze is great because I don't care much for marzipan either:P

Hillary said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. The cake looks so delicous.

hillaryanna at yahoo dot com

Heavenly Housewife said...

Happy belated birthday daaaaahling Shaz! I wish I could have celebrated with you (and eaten a slice of that gorgeous looking cake!).
*kisses* HH

meesh said...

Dessert should not taste like butter! Looks fabulous though!

Jennifurla said...

Oh how pretty, what great pictures.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

Happy belated birthday. And what a way to celebreate with this gorgeously yummy cake!

PlumLeaf 李葉 said...

I'm sure a white chocolate mousse would taste divine as the filling instead of the butter cream. :0)
Happy Belated Birthday!

sarah said...

awww happy belated birthday!

cikmanggis said...

happy belated bday shaz semoga Shaz berbahagia bersama keluarga tersayang....bestnya jika makcik dapat buat kek seperti ini..suka sgt strawberi:)

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

Hapy Birthday Shaz for October! :D That looks wonderful with the sliced strawberries! :o

Barbara said...

Wow, Shaz. What a lovely cake. And what a beautiful presentation it makes. Sounds (and looks) delicious.
Great giveaway!

Jo said...

Beautiful cake, really artful and feeds my eye.

Domestic Diva said...

Yum! Cake! Now I want some.

Thanks for the chance.

Indie.Tea said...

Wow, your 'birthday' cake looks GORGEOUS! I love the combination of flavors you used for it. I bet it was soooo delicious.
And happy belated birthday. :)

meeyeehere said...

Please count me in your giveaway! I would love to win. I would also like to win some of these tasty treats! Please send me some or have a giveaway and then let me win and send me some!
jacksoncrisman@yahoo.com

Tim said...

Please enter me in the giveaway. The cakes look wonderful.

tahearn at roadrunner dot com

Marcellina said...

Shaz, these look amazing! I love the clean cut of each square - so perfect!

Henria O. said...

Happy belated birthday and that cake looks scrumptious! Yum!
sazzyfrazz at gmail dot com

pierre said...

today is my b'day so i take it for me !!pierre de Paris

ICook4Fun said...

Happy Belated Birthday to you Shaz!! I love how the strawberries look when you cut into the cake. Beautiful.

Ellie (Almost Bourdain) said...

What a fantastic looking cake, Shaz! Happy belated to you!

Hungry Dog said...

Impressive as always! Are you sure you don't want to go to pastry school? Or TEACH at a pastry school? Happy belated birthday, shaz!

shaz said...

Thanks for the lovely wishes everyone, and good luck with the giveaway :)

dessert girl said...

Well, at least is looks cool! I love cakes with hidden surprises. :-) I hope you had a fabulous bday, Shaz!

Katrina said...

that looks super yummy....now I want to get in the kitchen and bake!

Lisa said...

Happy belated birthday, shaz, and that makes one heck of a B-Day cake, so beautiful! Love the green marzipan topping!

grace said...

what a gorgeous cross-section! your knife must've been plenty sharp--i'm glad we're not seeing a finger bone cross-section instead... :)

Deeba PAB said...

I am so glad I hosted the Mingle this month and we meet again, this time over fruit in baking. Sweet Sharon, these are MIND BLOWING! I love how neatly you sliced these beauties {to wickedly tempt us with of course}, and can imagine just how awesome good they must have been. WOW!! Happy belated birthday fellow Scorpion {Yay}...and thank you for joining us at the Mingle. Big Hugs!!

Nachiketa said...

Happy Happy Birthday!

The cake is just so WOW!!!!!!

Cheers,
The Variable, Crazy Over Desserts - Nachiketa
Catch me on facebook @ Crazy Over Desserts

Sally - My Custard Pie said...

I love the idea of this cake having buried treasure.... (and your comment 'the planets had aligned'!)

Sasa said...

I don't live in any of those countries but just wanted to say how pretty these are ^_^ I love matcha in sweets and the red and green look so Christmassy even if they were a birthday thing - happy belated!

shaz said...

thanks folks :)

vegetarianirvana said...

These were so eyecatching at the monthly mingle and they sound just as wonderful. I am with you, I don't like extremely buttery moussy icing, a different sturdier filling would by my choice too. These events are so wonderful and now I can visit a blog with Malaysian stories.