Monday, 30 August 2010

Delicious Desserts

Who doesn't like desserts?

After a big, satisfying meal, there is no need to put out dessert. No one would really go hungry without it. Although saying that, most of my friends have mastered the trick to leave room for desserts when coming for a meal. There is apparently a separate stomach dedicated just for desserts. And my view is, dessert is not about necessity; it's all about indulgence. That's why desserts have to be something extraordinary. And extraordinary doesn't mean complicated.

However making desserts do require a lot of attention to detail, accuracy, self-control and patience.

You cannot be as laid-back about a cake as you can be about a stew. How many carrots or chunks of meat you put into your casserole will not effectively change the entity you produce. You can alter the flavours -- and that's the joy of it -- but you are not messing with its essential properties. When you bake a cake you cannot suddenly decide you feel like putting in three eggs rather than two, or half a cup of flour instead of the cup and a half the recipe calls for.

But if baking requires obedience, it does not require military-style discipline. Once you understand the component parts of a recipe, you can also play with them.

Chapter 6: Desserts

Classic Victoria sponge with all the trimmings - In case if you're wondering, Victoria sponge cake is named after Queen Victoria. She hosted tea parties, at which later-to-be-known as Victoria sponge cake was served and then the cake became fashionable throughout the Victorian era and until today.

A traditional Victoria sponge consists of jam sandwiched between two sponge cakes and the top of the cake isn't iced or decorated.

Jamie's recipe for the cake is pretty easy with butter, sugar, self-raising flour, eggs and lemon zest. After baked in the oven and cooled completely, the first cake was placed on the cake stand and then smeared with a mixture of strawberry jam and sliced fresh strawberries; before topping it with lemony vanilla whipped cream and the second cake. The last thing to do was to dust the cake with plenty of icing sugar. Delicious.

The same sponge batter can also be made into tea-party fairy cakes.

Jamie's nan's lemon drizzle cake - This old-fashioned tea cake is actually the very first recipe I made from the book when I bought it a couple years ago. The cake is easy to make and also very moist because after baking, it’s drizzled with lemon syrup. When you cut into it you get a beautiful yellow sponge with black dots from poppy seeds inside.

Fifteen chocolate brownies - The trick with brownies is not to overcook them. They should have a nice, chewy centre. They're delicious on their own, but try adding nuts or sour cherries. It's fantastic.

A rather pleasing carrot cake with lime mascarpone icing - This carrot cake is dense, but not at all heavy or dry. In fact so moist... so delicious. Oh, have I mentioned that there's just over a block of butter in this cake? If not, let me tell you there's just over a block of butter in this cake. And the icing is to die for. If you love the sour freshness of limes, this is for you.

The ultimate fruit meringue with vanilla cream, hazelnuts and caramel - you know meringue and cream are delicious together but adding fresh berries and nuts and caramel make it even better!

Coconut, banana and passion fruit pavlova - The flavour combination here is top class!

Floating islands - Floating islands are basically meringues that are poached in hot milk and then served floating on a sea of custard and topped with spun sugar. These can be time-consuming to make but not at all difficult. My favourite bit was making the spun sugar which I thought was a lot of fun.

Bloomin' easy vanilla cheesecake - Cheesecake is definitely in my top 5 desserts hall of fame. I especially love the addition of orange and lemon zests to the vanilla cheesecake.

Ultimate gingerbread - The gingerbread really lives up to its name. It has just the right amount of ginger and packed with flavours from the mixed peel and the crystallised ginger which also give texture to the gingerbread.

Doughnuts with old English spiced sugar - I love doughnuts. I just have a soft spot for them; either the one with holes and covered in sugar or ones that are filled with jam or custard, I'm easy; but one thing, the doughnuts must be warm. The doughnuts here are covered with spiced sugar that's made of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, lemon zest, orange zest and vanilla.

Fifteen chocolate tart - One of the highlights of this project is I learn to make pastry. I failed at the beginning, but with determination, I succeeded. I was so so pleased with this tart and I don't know where to start to describe how delicious this tart is. One of my favourite food combination is chocolate and orange and these flavours really come through in the pastry.

Pear tart tatin - This classic tart is traditionally made with apples, but any fruits that work well with caramel would do, like apricots, bananas and of course, pears.

Mae West once said, "too much of a good thing can be wonderful", and I live by that.


  1. All the desserts look fantastic! Heck, I think I gained weight, just by looking at the photos - but it was worth it :-)

  2. These are all fantastic desserts Michael...funny that is exactly what my kids always told me "There is d dessert spot, and it does not get filled by other foods mom" :)

  3. Have to say, favorite post thus far. The pavlova looks amazing. That is the one I really want to try.

  4. So many great desserts!! They all look awesome!!

  5. Michael!!! Did you bake ALL THESE?? Wow, you are officially my hero because I just love baked desserts and all the above look truly sinful. I so totally agree with Mae West! (in fact we are of one mind on so many of her other thoughts that I'm thinking of dropping the 'y' and adding and 'e' to my name! Thinking, still thinking).

  6. Wow, I wish I could try them all, they look fantastic...such a torture seeing these pictures and not being able to taste them ;-)

  7. OMG...I am getting ready for bed and you are killing me with all of these incredible desserts!!! Now I want chocolate, my wife is going to kill me!

  8. Wow! My sweet tooth is singing! I am going to need to find something sugary asap! I just found your blog today, and I love what you are doing. Thanks for sharing!

  9. Each of the desserts you featured is so beautiful I can't pick which is my favorite. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Yes, I like desert and your's look really delicious...