HOUSING WANTED: next to Bourke Street Bakery. Surry Hills, Sydney

I rarely feel compelled to blog about my baking after I finish something. I do a lot of prep work: research other bloggers, go through all my cookbooks looking for other variations, measurement conversions, mise en place, baking...and finally, it takes about 15 minutes for me to polish off every last crumb. By that time, I'm already so over it and back on foodgawker searching for my next sugar high. I don't need an intervention.
But this gem I need to share! A few things about carrot cake: most
carrot cakes are made with cooking oil rather than butter, that's what helps it stay really moist. There are a million variations that you can play around with: walnuts, coconut, pineapple, raisins, dried cranberry, apple sauce, almond meal, etc. Roughly grate the carrots - a lot of the carrot cakes that you can buy use finely ground carrots, personally I prefer the rough and rustic style. Appearance wise, it leaves beautiful strips of bright orange in the cake.

Oh and did I mention I hate carrots? I think they stink. As a vegetarian I try not to discriminate. I can take cooked carrots, but raw is just gross guys. I remember being jealous of my roommates because they'd be able to eat raw baby carrots with hummus as a snack without throwing up. Fortunately carrot cake tastes nothing like raw carrots, especially if it's topped with cream cheese frosting.
What's special about this particular recipe is the crispy meringue top that forms while baking. Similar to the thin crunchy shell that forms over the ever elusive souffle, this recipe incorporates whipped egg whites for an extra lift. It's important not to over mix (frightening flashbacks of my war with macarons) or the egg whites will deflate and won't get a proper rise. Do a good mise en place here, you'll need to work fast for this recipe. See? baking is intense.

Preheat to 200C
Use cooking spray to coat the inside of a 7 inch/18 cm round cake tin. Drop in 2 tablespoons of APFlour and shake it around to coat the bottom and sides of the pan. This is so you aren't left weeping over a perfectly beautiful cake that ends up clinging to the pan.

70g walnuts (I didn't use any)
150 g/1c self-raising flour; I'm not sure if they sell this in Taiwan, but I just measure out 1c of APF, then scoop out two tsp on the flour and add 1.5 tsp of baking powder and .5tsp salt. It's supposed to be the same
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon - I added more
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
*I also added 1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt

2 egg whites
60g sugar for egg whites

1 egg
1 egg yolk
160g sugar for egg yolks

2/3c light olive oil or other light flavored cooking oil
125g peeled and roughly grated carrots
*I added 1/2c shredded coconut as well

  1. Sift the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt
  2. Put egg whites in a very clean DRY bowl otherwise they won't make it to soft peaks
  3. Use an electric mixer with a whisk attachment and beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks start forming. If you want, you can add a pinch of cream of tartar which helps to stabilize meringue. Slooowly pour in the sugar for the egg whites while the motor is still running. Stop mixing when you get to a soft peak stage.
  4. Transfer meringue to another bowl and set aside.
  5. Using the same bowl, add the whole egg, egg yolk and sugar for the yolks. Mix on high speed for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture doubles in volume and is quite airy.
  6. While the mixer is still going, slowly stream in the oil. If the oil is poured in too quickly, the mixture might split or deflate too much.
  7. Remove the bowl from the standing mixer and gently fold in the flour mixture until combined.
  8. Fold in carrots (and any other ingredients you might want to add, like coconut or walnuts)
  9. Quickly and lightly fold in the meringue - don't fold it through completely! You should still be able to see streaks of white meringue through the mix.
  10. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hr 10 minutes. You can check for doneness by sticking a wooden toothpick through the center of the cake - if it comes out clean or with a few crumbs, then it's done. I don't like over-cooked cake because they end up getting really dry in the center, so as long as the toothpick comes out without wet dough on it, it's pretty safe.
  11. Don't open the oven for the first 40 minutes. The meringue needs time to rise and bake into shape - if you open the oven, it will deflate and you'll have a crumb that is much too dense.
  12. IF after the first 40 minutes, the top of the cake is browning too quickly, you can drop the temperature to 180C and place a piece of foil over the cake.
  13. When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the tin for about 30 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool.
This cake smells like an autumn day (yes, I am aware it is 35 degrees in Taiwan now) and has the perfect texture - a pillowy, moist crumb surrounded by a thin meringue crust!
Next time I'll add cream cheese frosting.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 101 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 53%Vitamin C 2%
Calcium 2%Iron 7%
Nutrition Grade C
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet



When Life Gives You Lemons...

you make Blueberry Lemon Zest Crumble Bars!

I've been baking quite regularly recently, I can't say the same for my blog updates - but talking about that won't get us anywhere! Along with my baking/cooking, the big boys I mingle with have been mastering the art of starting a fire (their first attempt created a char crusted stove-top and me dizzily gasping for fresh air away from the kitchen/potential carbon-monoxide suicide scene). To their credit, it only took another get-together for them to put a boy scout to shame - what an accomplishment!

So, to accompany their perfectly charred cuts of meat, I tried out my first-ever Lemon Meringue Pie (www.joyofbaking.com). Two days later, I tested my hand again with a new recipe. Unfortunately, this entry is not about those pillowy pies - I kind of just wanted to prove that I had been practicing and not slacking off.

After work this week I've made Blueberry Crumble Bars with a Lemon Zest Twist and a Mango Olive Oil Cake.

The Blue Berry Crumble Bars were made because, well...we had some frozen blueberries (not ideal, I know), a bag of left-over lemons, some empty-bellied guests coming over - and I needed something fast after work.

I had a request from a dear friend Wei for something healthier - a word of warning - this is defiantly not it. A crumble is basically made of a bit of flour and pea-sized pieces of butter mixed with sugar. That's right - it's simple, crazy tasty, and slightly dangerous. Here's the recipe:

I halved the recipe below because Asians tend to eat desserts like fairies(ugh).

Preheat oven to 190C/375F

Grease and flour a 9x13 inch pan

1 c white sugar
1 tspn baking powder
3 c all-purpose flour
1 c unsalted butter
1 egg
1 tspn pure vanilla extract
1/2 tspn kosher salt
zest of two lemons

4 c fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 c white sugar
3 tspn cornstarch

*As with all crumbles or puff pastries, the butter needs to be really cold. I've watched a French youtube clip about making puff pastry and the poor chef took several hours to fold and refrigerate the dough over and over in order achieve the ideal puff and flakiness. Basically, when the butter in the dough is placed in the oven, the butter releases steam and makes the surrounding dough puff up. I'm not too sure why the butter in crumbles need to be ice cold as well - I mostly just follow instructions!! The best way to do it if you don't have hours to spend tri-folding your dough and refrigerating, you can freeze your butter ahead of time (make sure it's the correct amount for your recipe first) and then use a cheese grater to grate the butter into smaller pieces - this ensures that you can get a good dough mixture without having to use your fingers to break down the butter!

  1. In a medium bowl, stir together sugar, flour, salt, lemon zest and baking powder.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla together until combined.
  3. Use pastry cutter or your food processor to blend the flour mixture with the butter and egg/vanilla mixture. Dough will be crumbly. Pat half of dough into the prepared pan. (If you don't have a pastry cutter or food processor, grate the frozen butter over the flour mixture. Gently cut together with two cold forks. When butter is pretty well coated with the flour, pour over the egg and vanilla mixture - continue to lightly bring together to a loose dough. Press half of dough into the prepared pan as mentioned above)
  4. In another bowl, stir together the sugar and cornstarch. Gently mix in the blueberries. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture evenly over the crust. Crumble remaining dough over the berry layer.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until top is slightly brown. Cool completely before cutting into squares.