Delicious Chestnut Loaf Cake

Cake is topped with chestnuts and small gold pieces
I decided that I needed to learn how to cook chestnuts since finding good cooked ones can be difficult
not to mention expensive.

As with many cooking techniques, there is more than one way to achieve the same result. I will explain my process but please feel free to check out options as well such as this one.

Preparing the chestnuts

I used about 30 whole chestnuts. First I peeled the outer shell using a pantry knife to knick the skin lightly then peeled it off. Usually the skin comes off fairly easily.
Outside shell has been removed

Put 6 cups of water plus 15 grams of baking soda into a large pot and bring to a boil. Add the chestnuts and reduce the heat so that it is not boiling. Cook for 15 minutes. Strain the chestnuts from the water and dump the water. Add another 6 cups water plus 10 grams baking soda to the pot and bring to a boil. Add the chestnuts  and reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes. Repeat one more time. The water that the chestnuts is cooked in becomes very dark so be sure not to wear white.

After the last batch of heating the chestnuts, strain the water again. Use the rough side of a sponge to brush off the rough skin pieces from the chestnuts. Don't scratch too hard since knicks in the chestnut do not look as nice for presentation.

Last step is to lightly cook the chestnuts in 5 cups water, 100 grams sugar and about half cup of dark rum. Bring all of these ingredients to a boil and after you removed the rough skin pieces add the chestnuts to this. Again, reduce the heat to a very low temperature and cook for about 45 minutes. Chestnuts should be able to be kept up to 2 weeks in this liquid if kept in the refrigerator.
Chestnuts in hot water

This cake fits a long rectangle pan (23 cm long x 6 cm high x 4 cm deep)

80 grams butter (slightly softened)
175 grams chestnut paste
80 grams powdered sugar (sifted)
65 grams eggs
45 grams almond powder (sifted)
dash of vanilla essence
20 grams flour (sifted together with baking powder)
2 grams baking powder

1. First, prepare the baking pan by lightly buttering and dusting with flour.

2. Use a hand mixer, and mix the chestnut paste then add the butter in a couple of portions and mix together. Add the almond power and mix - then add the powdered sugar & mix. Mix just enough to incorporate the ingredients, do not over mix.

3. Add in the eggs in portions and mix. Add the vanilla. Lastly, add in the flour and baking powder.

Add pieces of chestnut then add
 remaining dough
4. The easiest way to fill the baking pan is to put the dough in a pastry bag and squirt it in evenly in rows. Fill about 1/3 of the pan then add small pieces of chestnuts in a row in the dough then fill the rest of the pan with the remaining dough.

5. Bake at 160 degrees Celsius for 50 minutes. Check doness before removing from the oven.

100 grams powdered sugar (sifted)
15 grams water
10 grams dark rum

1. Mix powdered sugar and water & rum with a small whisk. Brush on the cake.

2. Place in a hot oven (about 190 degrees Celsius) for about 4 minutes just to lightly melt the icing.


Halloween Decorated Roll Cake

Chocolate cake with pumpkin cream filling
Time for Halloween decoration.
This roll cake is filled with pumpkin cream and a few pumpkin seeds. I added cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg to the pumpkin puree so it has a tasty pumpkin pie taste to it.

This recipe is fairly quick to put together but if another person is available to help it will go even that much quicker.

This decoration will be piped on top of parchment paper and then the cake itself will be poured over the decoration before baking.  For decorations, either draw on your own or use cookie cutters to make shapes and trace.

Decorations are ready

10 grams soft butter
10 grams powdered sugar sifted
10 grams egg white
10 grams flour sifted
1. Whisk the butter and add the powdered sugar. Add the egg white then add the flour. Divide into different bowls then add coloring.
2. Draw your design on a sheet of paper and place under the parchment paper.
3. Put each color into a separate bag for piping. Your lines should be thin but not too thin, otherwise, they will not show up well after baking.
4. Put this in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so that the figures becomes firm.

I use a shallow square baking pan (27 cm x 27 cm - height is 2 cm) covered with parchment paper to pipe the decoration on. The recipe below is enough for 2 pans.

6 egg yolks
70 grams sugar
100 grams water
6 egg whites
120 grams sugar
100 grams cornstarch
75 grams salad oil (any light oil without a strong taste)
35 grams cocoa powder

1. In a bowl mix the oil and cocoa powder. 
2. In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks and 70 grams sugar and water. Whip together with a large whisk until the mixture if light yellow and fluffy. This may take 10 minutes or so to get the correct consistency. Don't cheat on this step since the cake will not be light in texture.
3. In another bowl, mix the egg whites and 120 grams sugar. Mix in the sugar in portions and mix until the meringue forms soft peaks.

4. Add the oil mixture (#1) to the egg yolks (#2) and mix with a spatula. Add in the meringue and mix with a spatula - add meringue in portions and mix gently so that the air remains in the batter.  Sift the cornstarch into the mixture and continue to mix with a spatula. 
5. Pour over top of the decoration and bake at 200 degrees Celsius. Do NOT tap the pan on the table to remove air. The cake will not rise well and become fluffy if you do this. 

200 grams milk
4 egg yolks
60 grams sugar
20 grams flour
10 grams cornstarch
20 grams butter
120 grams pumpkin puree
12 grams softened gelatin
130 grams fresh cream (36%)
Pumpkin seeds

1. Mix the egg yolks, sugar, flour and cornstarch in a bowl with a small whisk. 
2. Heat the milk until just boiling. Pour the warm milk into the egg mixture then add back to the sauce pan and heat on a low heat until it thickens. Use a small whisk to mix while heating. When it becomes thickened like pudding, turn off the heat and add the pumpkin puree and mix with a whisk. Continue to mix and add the gelatin then add the butter. 
3. Pour int a bowl and let it cool. Whip the fresh cream until it is just starts to become firm. 
4. After the pumpkin cream starts to become cool, add the fresh whipped cream.

Putting Together:
1. Remove the cake from the cooking pan and slowly remove the parchment paper. Use a clean sheet of parchment paper and put the cake on it.
2. Spread the cream on the sponge cake evenly with a palette knife. Sprinkle some pumpkins seeds on top as you like.
3. Start from one end & roll the cake carefully to keep a good shape. Put in plastic wrap and refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving.

My Style Tarte Tatin

Not your traditional tarte tatin recipe
Well, this may not look like a traditional tarte tatin, but it sure tastes good. I was making this for a group of 8 friends and I didn't want to be stingy with the servings so I used all of the apples that I purchased. Which I think was about 7 :)

One of the secrets to this recipe is making a deep dark caramel to cook the apples in. Making caramel can be daunting since the temperature of the sugar becomes very hot so it is quite dangerous if you get it on you.

I used a 20 cm round dish (5cm deep). Served 8 people.
Many layered tarte tatin
150 grams sifted flour
75 grams cold butter
30 grams sugar
pinch of salt
1 egg

1. Mix the flour and butter together using a pastry cutter or with your fingers. Mix so that the mixture is like fine crumbs.
2. Add in the sugar and egg and continue to mix with the pastry cutter. Put on a pastry board and lightly knead so that it is well mixed.
3. Wrap in plastic and let rest for 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.

Preparing the Apples:
1. Please reduce the number of apples if you need to make less.  I used 7 apples for this recipe.
2. Peel the apples and remove the inner core. Cut in 8 pieces.
3. Make the caramel. Put 80 grams of sugar into a flat frying pan and heat until it turns dark & liquid. Remove from the heat and add 80 grams of butter to the caramel. Put back on a low heat while the butter melts.
4. Add pieces of apple until you fill the pan. Do not overlap the apples too much. Cook the apples on each side in the caramel until they become lightly softened.

Cooking the apples in the caramel

5. Remove apples  as they finish cooking and add new ones.
6. Continue cooking like this until all of the apples are cooked.
7. Pour the leftover caramel into the bottom of the baking ban. Let it cool and remove the butter if you want the dessert to be less rich.

Put the apples on a grill to remove the excess caramel
8. As the apples cooks, place them on a grill so the excess caramel drips into a pan.

9. Prepare the baking pan. As mentioned above, pour the remaining caramel into the bottom of the baking pan. Line the pan with layers of apple - fit the apples together so that the shape is nice.
10. After you finish one or two layers, use a spoon to push down the apples so that they space between them is removed. Keep doing this until the baking pan is filled.
11. Roll out the dough to fit just the top of the baking dish. Add to the top of the apples.
12. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 - 30 minutes.

13. Take the baking pan out of the oven when finished and let cool for about 10 minutes.
14. Please the baking pan upside down on top of a grill so that the juice can flow out naturally. After about 10 minutes, remove the baking pan.
15. If all goes well, the baking pan will lift off without any apples sticking to it :)
16. Serve with vanilla ice cream if you like.