Lychee Ombre Cake

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I have been baking quite a few rainbow cakes (8 to be exact) in the past few months. I guess it's in popular demand due to the cheery looking layers of colour which kids love to bits (like my son).

Recently, when good friend J asked me to bake a birthday cake similar to the rainbow cake, I jumped at the opportunity to do an ombre cake. Since this is the first attempt, I thought I better do a test bake before the actual one.

The cake itself was straightforward, same process as the rainbow cake, just tint the layers with different shades of colour. The only thing to take note is the tinting part, start with a tiny bit of colour and slowly add more if necessary, otherwise the colours will turn out too dark. Flavouring-wise I went for lychee, as my friend had tried vanilla before. Actually I was a little unwilling to use lychee flavouring as it's an essence and not extract (essence is basically concocted using chemicals, whereas extract is pure). I also didn't know it until I was introduced the Nielsen-Massey suite of extracts ranging from vanilla to lemon, to orange and coffee etc. Nielsen-Massey, why you no make lychee extract? Oh well, just a tiny weeny bit of essence should be ok right? After-all, the colourings are also chemical hor? *sigh* next time when I have more time I will try natural dyes perhaps.

For the frosting, instead of using buttercream, I decided to try fresh cream! Fresh cream frosting is extremely tricky in our hot and humid weather; at least buttercream doesn't melt and collapse as fast as fresh cream. But in terms of flavour, I love fresh cream way more than buttercream coz fresh cream is so creamy and light, whereas buttercream feels so greasy and heavy.

So the challenge is really to find ways to stabilize the whipping cream. I insist on using only dairy whipping cream so it adds to the difficulty. Tried using gelatin, but somehow there were tiny lumps of gelatin in the cream, and I disliked the fishy smell very much. In the end I settled for snow powder and mascarpone cheese. The texture of the whipping cream turned out similar to that of buttercream initially but melted at a faster rate, and set at a slower rate in the fridge.

I can imagine myself dying of panic attacks thinking that my cake is starting to melt the moment I handed it over! Maybe I should get a couple of those ice packs to put inside the cake box? Not sure if it helps.

For the decoration, to echo the flavour of the cake, I used canned lychees, and to add some colour, bits of chopped strawberries, blueberries and kiwi.

And tadah! Proudly presenting my Lychee Ombre Cake. Yes, I was certainly quite pleased with my test bake so much so that I started cake whoring! LOL.


Looks quite pretty on the outside.

Top view.
A glimpse into the layers, awwww so sweet.


I was so pleased with the pastel shades which progressed from pale yellow to pink.

Glad that the layers turned out quite neat and even. I hope I could achieve the same result with the actual cake. And the fresh cream frosting, I gotta stop worrying about the melting part.

The cake tasted quite nice as well, not too sweet and texture was soft and moist (not as light and fluffy as chiffon or shortcake though). Paired very well with fresh cream (better than buttercream!). Hubby the picky one critic gave thumbs up!

Drop me an email (dreamersloft@gmail.com) if you are interested to order this cake!

Lychee Ombre Cake
(makes one 7" 5 layer cake)

Ingredients

Cake
  • 250g cake flour
  • 2.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 135g unsalted butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 3 egg whites
  • 225g fresh milk
  • 1 tsp lychee essence
  • Wilton gel colour - yellow, orange, pink
Fresh Cream Frosting (with excess)
Crumb coat
  • 500g dairy whipping cream
  • 50g snow powder
  • 50g mascarpone cheese
Frosting
  • 500g dairy whipping cream
  • 100g snow powder
  • 100g mascarpone cheese
Steps
  • Preheat oven to 175 degree celsius.
  • Line baking pans with parchment paper. Alternatively, evenly coat pan with butter, dust with flour and tap away excess flour.
  • Sift cake flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
  • Cream unsalted butter and caster sugar till light and fluffy.
  • Add egg whites gradually.
  • Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the fresh milk.
  • Add lychee essence.
  • Divide batter into 5 bowls (total weight of batter about 930g, divided into about 175g per bowl).
  • Tint the batter using toothpick and gel paste.
  • Pour the tinted batter into prepared baking pans.
  • Bake at 175 degree celsius for 12-13 mins.
  • Let the baking pan cool slightly before removing the cake from the pan.
Crumb coat frosting

  • Chill the mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  • Beat the whipping cream, snow powder and mascarpone cheese at medium speed till thick and creamy. 
Assembly
  • Place the first cake layer on a cake board, evenly spread some frosting and place the second layer of cake on top. Continue till the last cake layer.
  • Crumb coat the cake and put it inside fridge to let it set for at least 30 mins
Frosting and decoration
  • Chill the mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the fridge for at least 30 mins.
  • Beat the whipping cream, snow powder and mascarpone cheese at medium speed till thick and creamy.
  • Spread the frosting evenly on top and around the cake.
  • Put the cake back into the fridge for at least 30 mins to let the frosting set.
  • Decorate with piped frosting and fruits.
  • Put the cake back into the fridge to set.
  • Take the cake out from fridge about 10-15 mins before eating.

Phuket Sep 2013 - Part VI, Chadasai Spa Phuket

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Continued from
Part I - Pullman Phuket Arcadia
Part II - Grand Ocean  Room
Part III - Breakfast at Pullman Phuket 
Part IV - Food at Phuket
Part V - Weekend Fresh Market

Finally, the last part of our Phuket getaway about Spa!


Spas can be broadly categorized into three pricing categories. The more expensive spas are usually housed within a resort/hotel and offer more comprehensive services from massages, to facials, scrubs, wraps, pedicure and manicure. Prices are about 2500 baht and up per hour.

Then there are the mid-range ones such as Chadasai Spa, usually independent establishments located in town areas, offering full-fledged or partial spa treatment services. Prices are about 1000 baht and up per hour.

The most value-for-money types are those small massage salons or beach huts which offer limited types of services, usually foot, head and shoulder, thai or aroma massage. Prices are quite competitive, around 300 baht and up.

There are only a handful of massage salons at Naithon Beach and most of them looked a little dodgy. So when we rented our motorbike we decided to venture to Bangtao area since it's a bigger town with more shops. As we were riding around, we came across several spas/massage salons but neither of them appealed to us. And out of the blue, we chanced upon this modern looking spa, Chadasai Spa and decided to give it a try.


Shopfront looked bright and inviting.

Spa reception. We were lucky there were slots available for us immediately.


Simple soft furnishings with a touch of earthy look. We were served iced water with cold towel while selecting the type of treatment.


We decided on a one-hour aroma massage which focused on the back and shoulder area. Five different massage oil to choose from. I selected green tea whereas hubby like rice.


I love the soothing colours which was relaxing and soothing to the eyes.


We were first led to an inner room and given a foot bath by our therapists.


Our spa treatment room. Clean and neat, and the massage beds were quite sturdy. Initially the room was all quiet and I was thinking why no music? The music was only turned on halfway through our massage -_-

The skills of the therapists were satisfactory, although not the best skills we have been experienced.

This was another massage area, we presumed for foot massage.


After the treatment, we were served a nice hot cup of herbal tea.

Overall, we were quite satisfied with the overall service quality and standard, although the skills of the therapists could be further enhanced.

That's all for our Phuket trip. What will our next trip take us? Stay tuned!

Phuket Sep 2013 - Part V, Weekend Fresh Market

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Continued from
Part I - Pullman Phuket Arcadia
Part II - Grand Ocean  Room
Part III - Breakfast at Pullman Phuket 
Part IV - Food at Phuket

On day 2 after our lunch at Naiyang beach, we chanced upon this weekend fresh market located very near to the beach (quite near to Dewa Phuket Resort). When we passed by the piece of land before lunch, it was still empty and within 1.5hrs, all the stores were set up!

Both of us have always been keen in exploring local markets as this is the best way to have a sneak peek at the locals' way-of-life. The market was sort of divided into 3 sections - 1 section selling clothes and sundries, 1 section fresh food and 1 section cooked food. This is somewhat similar to our Singapore wet market, just that this was a "pop-up" market.

Wide variety of greens on sale.

Fresh pork on sale, and we saw coagulated pig's blood! How we missed them!

Different types and sizes of clams.

Fish on sale were very fresh! Which was why we were disappointed that the fish on display at the Naithon beach seafood restaurants were a far cry from these.

Look at the fresh prawns!

Seafood was indeed in abundance and very reasonable price.

Yellow skin chicken. I was so intrigued by these chicken, wondering if the colour was real? They appeared to be fresh chicken, not pre-cooked whatsoever.

Snack cooked using quails eggs.

Once again we were curious with this glass jelly store which is a mobile motorbike store. Saw many locals eating the glass jelly, must be good.

The glass jelly appeared to be steamed in bowls, then cut into cubes before serving.

Then steamed candied sweet potato, atap chee, ice cubes were added, and topped with some shaved gula melaka.

We were charged 20 baht, although I saw on the signage that a bowl was 15 baht. Oh well, special price for tourists I guess. The glass jelly dessert tasted refreshing in this hot and humid weather, albeit a little too sweet.



Some deep fried grasshoppers and silk worms for those who dare!

Heaps of shredded mango and papaya, conveniently packed for salads.

Another mobile motorbike store, selling drinks.

Lots of colourful tropical fruits.

The rambutans screamed red and juicy.

Cutesy looking local snack cooked inside eggshell.

The meat balls/sausages were strung up like necklaces. Such a pretty display.


Looked so succulent and yummy. Unfortunately we were too full to consume any food or snacks apart from the glass jelly. If we were to start with this fresh market first, I would be tempted to try all the different food stuff and skip a proper lunch.

Next and final post, I will share about the spa experience we had at Bangtao area. Stay tuned!

Phuket Sep 2013 - Part IV, Food at Phuket

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Continued from
Part I - Pullman Phuket Arcadia
Part II - Grand Ocean  Room
Part III - Breakfast at Pullman Phuket

In this post, here's sharing where we had our meals apart from breakfast at the hotel.

By the time we checked-in on Fri night, it was already 8+pm. We were famished and couldn't wait to tuck into a good thai dinner. Elements Restaurant was closed for a private event and Vero Italian was also closed somehow. The front office staff recommended us to go to Naithon Beach for thai seafood dinner and we were certainly happy to indulge in some seafood cooked thai style.

The buggy driver took us to Naithon beach which was merely 5 minutes drive. Naithon beach is a very quiet area with around 7-8 seafood restaurants on the beach itself. Business seem quite bad for most restaurants with only 1-2 tables of diners each.

The front office staff had recommended a restaurant called Mr Oody's, whereas the buggy driver suggested Beach House. We decided to go along with the driver's suggestion.

The whole atmosphere was actually quite serene, dining under the stars barefooted, listening to the sounds of the waves with gentle sea breeze while enjoying seafood. Free wiFi is available!


Stir-fried clams with basil and chilli. Not the freshest but still ok.

Stir-fried morning glory in garlic (known as kang kong in Singapore). Can't go wrong with this dish, crunchy and refreshing.

A must-order for every thai meal, Tom Yum seafood. Not the best we had, but still pass hubby's taste test. Spicy and sour, certainly whet our appetite.


Initially we wanted to order fish but after looking at the variety available, hubby told me that the fish weren't very fresh, whereas the squid (sotong) was very fresh. So we had grilled squid, which was really yummy! Tender and juicy with bbq smell, perfect with some sweet thai chilli sauce. Both of us agreed that this was the best dish of the night.


My must-order dish, the breaded prawn cake. This was ok only, still couldn't match the standard of what I had at Sabieng Lae Koh Samui. The breaded smell was a tad too strong and overpower the taste of the prawn cake.

This meal was less than 1000 baht inclusive of drinks, fairly reasonable in terms of price, food quality and service standard.

For lunch the next day, we decided to go to Naiyang Beach as we missed the food there. Rented a semi-automated bike at the shop just outside the hotel, for 300 baht a day.

Gasoline is 50 baht for 1L, easily available at most shops around the island.


Alternatively, self-service pump stations found almost everywhere as well.


Since it was still early for lunch, we drove down south to Bangtao area (found a fairly nice spa for massage, will blog about it in a separate post) and then up north towards Naiyang beach.

We were back to Naiyang beach, our third visit. There were around 6-8 such beach eateries along the beach.

Selling thai food and grilled meals/seafood.

Look at the scrumptious looking grilled chicken! We only saw these thigh meat after finishing the meal.

Diners could dine in one of these beach huts (photo taken from the beach direction).


Or any tables under the sun shade.



We opted for one of the beach huts.



Nice, cool coconut drink to start.

The papaya salad was really good! Sweet, salty, sour, spicy and special umami taste from the dried shrimp.

Grilled fish. Meat was tender and juicy.

Grilled chicken. Very fragrant with charcoal smell, but the meat was a little tough unfortunately. We forgot to request for thigh meat and the staff gave us breast meat instead :(


Tom Yum seafood, fairly yummy.

Stir fried glass noodle, which was surprisingly very good!


As we weren't satisfied with the grilled chicken, decided to order some grilled pork, which was oh-so-good! The meat was juicy, and nicely caramelised with the honey marinate. No regrets ordering this additional dish even though we were too full for words! This shall be the must-order dish next time, if we were to return again!

After the sumptuous lunch, we strolled at a nearby weekend fresh market (will blog about it) and then headed back to the hotel and lazed the whole afternoon :) Bliss!

Soon, it was time for dinner (again). We were deciding between room service, Elements or Vero. Since we couldn't get enough of thai seafood, we proceeded to Naithon beach again and this time, dined at Mr Oody's. It was a Saturday night and we were actually surprised that the restaurant was very quiet with only 1-2 tables of diners (same as the rest of the restaurants).

Was also disappointed that the fish on display weren't fresh at all! Quite surprised as we saw plenty of fresh catch at the Naiyang weekend fresh market. Probably because business was bad, the fish were leftover from previous nights. The menu also didn't look appetizing.

Fried prawns with garlic. Prawns were still ok, quite fresh, taste-wise so-so only.

Stir-fried mussels with basil and chilli. Mussels was fair.

Stir-fried mixed vegetables. So-so.

Phad thai noodles. Oh this was the worst phad thai we ever had. The noodles were clumped and no taste at all.

Well, if we were to compare Beach House and Mr Oody's, we would say the food quality at Beach House was better. I guess this was our last visit at Mr Oody's. In fact, the restaurants at Naiyang Beach are better than that of Naithon Beach. Maybe it's really due to poor business and hence food not so fresh.

We sort of regretted not dining at Elements or Vero's instead. Next time, we will.

In the next post, will blog about the Naiyang Beach weekend fresh market. Stay tuned!