Tuesday 8 April 2014

Fish Raspberry and Vanilla Ogura Cupcakes -- New Batter Separation Technique

While Susanne gets most of her inspiration from dreams,  I get mine from daydreaming while doing mundane housework :p. I suddenly thought that it would be great if someone came up with a separator for separating different flavors of cupcake batters that is flexible, takes on the contour of the mould, yet sturdy enough to stand up in the mould and most importantly, CHEAP and CAN BE EASILY MADE AT HOME! I also wanted to try the very much raved ogura cake that is even softer than regular chiffon and melts in your mouth. I don't have a square pan of the right size so I made my first attempt using my trusty glass bowls and a small disposable aluminum tray that I have at home. Since there's lots of fresh raspberries in my fridge, I decided to make this bake raspberry flavored.  Presenting my raspberry and vanilla ogura fishes! *Bloop bloop*

As this type of cake is new to me, I decided to follow closely a similar recipe. I wasn't able to find a raspberry ogura cake recipe so I adapted from Ann Low's orange ogura cake. The DIY batter separator I used is made from fondant that is hand-shaped until a desired shape is reached and cling wrapped. Very simple idea but it works! You my use your kids' play dough or if your are not comfortable using inedible stuff in close contact with food, you can make your own edible dough. I happened to have fondant sitting in my fridge so I used it. I find the tips offered by Kitchen Tigress very helpful for newbies like me.

Ingredients (makes 6 ogura fishes):
4 egg yolks + 1 whole egg (60g each)
40g vegetable oil (I used canola oil)
30g fresh raspberry puree (press fresh raspberries through a sieve, discard the seeds)
35g + 6g fresh milk
Pinches of salt
55g cake flour (divided into two portions and sifted)
1/2 tsp vanilla essence 
Red gel food coloring (optional)

150g egg white (about 4 eggs)
1/5 tsp cream of tartar
60g caster sugar

1. Line bottom of tray with baking sheet. As mine was a disposable type of tray, I lined the sides as well to extend the height of my shallow 5 x 8" tray. I left my glass bowls unlined and ungreased. Shape your batter separator (fondant/ playdoh/ edible dough) according to the contour of the glass bowl such that it divides the circle into approximately 1:2 ratio. Wrap your separator with cling wrap with as little creases as possible. Wash and dry your glass bowl again as it is most likely stained during the shaping process.
2. Preheat oven to 160 degrees Celsius with boiling water at bottom most rack of the oven.
3. Whisk egg yolks, egg and vegetable oil until frothy. Divide mixture into 2 equal portions. Whisk in raspberry puree and 6g of fresh milk into one portion, and 35g of milk and vanilla essence into the other. Add in sifted flour and a pinch of salt into both portions gradually so as not to get lumps of flour in the mixture. You may wish to add a teeny bit of red coloring to brighten up the raspberry batter but it's optional.
4. Prepare the meringue. Beat egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add cream of tartar (I used a bit less this time as raspberry is acidic) and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and whisk until firm peaks form, i.e. just before stiff peaks and the peak flops over a little.
5. Fold in 1/3 of the meringue into each of the egg yolk batters until no trace of egg whites can be seen. Fold in the remaining meringue in two additions. Tap the mixing bowls a few times to release any trapped air bubbles.
6. Place the separator in a glass bowl such that it divides the circle into approximately 1:2 ratio. Make sure that the separator follows the contour of the bowl to prevent any seepage of batter. Use a tablespoon to spoon the vanilla batter into the smaller segment and the raspberry batter into the larger segment. Fill the bowls until about 1/2-2/3 full. Carefully lift up the separator and wipe clean with paper towels before filling another bowl.

7. Pour the remaining vanilla and raspberry (if any left) batter into the metal tray slowly to allow any trapped air bubbles to be popped.
8. Put the bowls and tray in the oven and reduce the temperature to 150 degrees Celsius. Steam bake for 40 minutes. Remove and invert the bowls and tray onto wire rack to cool.
9. Carefully unmould the cakes from the glass bowls when they have cooled completely using a combination of hand and spatula/ small metal spoon. The cakes are really soft so this can be quite challenging so do it slowly. Remove the baking sheet from the rectangular cake after 10 minutes of cooling on the rack and continue to let it cool.

Here are my freshly unmoulded cakes baked in glass bowls.

Yes I made a mistake when pouring batter into one of the bowls :P. I dented most of the cakes during unmoulding as they are really soft!

And now for the Ogura cake softness test that everyone does....

I think I pass :P.

I used a heart shape cookie cutter for the fish tail, a letter "M" cookie cutter and triangle cookie cutter for the fins and free hand cut for the lips (hubby thinks the lips make the fish very cute and funny). I used store-bought "eye candies" for the fish eyes. Everything is "glued" on using royal icing (the just-add-water type). Here's my fishy prototype...

Many of my creations are unplanned and I come up with the designs as I go along. The fish parts are one example :). Here's a peek at the inside of a fish...

Very fine textured, soft and melts in your mouth! Everyone loved it! Good things must share so I packed away 4 fish to 2 neighbors.

They loved it too although one neighbor did find the raspberry one a little sour but still nice. You may have to increase the amount of sugar in the meringue if you have a sweet tooth but I personally prefer food that is not too sweet.

Overall I am happy with this bake and will definitely bake ogura cake again with other flavors and more exciting designs using the DIY batter separator :).

With love,
Phay Shing

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