Baking | Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte … In season with kumquats {and strawberries too}

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
George Bernard Shaw

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu CharlotteA Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte. Another personal challenge that has been a few years coming, and amazingly enough achieved early in the year. If the Tea Rose Fondant Cake from scratch wasn’t achievement enough, the Charlotte was a daunting milestone to reach. I made this for my SILs birthday earlier this month.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Way back in Feb 2010 Aparna & I co-hosted the Daring Baker challenge, inviting the team to make Tiramisu from scratch  saviordi {lady fingers} zabaglione, mascarpone … the works  What a strange coincidence that I should post this today. I didn’t get a chance to do the DB challenge this month, yet repeated an earlier one!

I really had loved doing that challenge. I did several versions of the tiramisu, made a tiny little charlotte too the flavours were traditional  coffee {my favourite choice of flavour in dessert}. At the time, I was blown away by the creativity of the daring bakers, especially one by Vera @ Baking Obsession.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Vera’s blog is inspirational, amazing, beautiful. Her fondant cakes are masterpieces in themselves; creations that dreams are made of! The Candied Kumquat Tiramisu has remained etched in my memory.

Kumquats KumquatsEvery winter, once the first kumquats {or tangerines as we call them, OR calamondis as Sangeeta rightly figured out} make an appearance on my little shrub, I wonder if I dare to emulate her creation.

Candied kumquatsI made Kumquat Marmalade in early January. This year I have decided to push myself to try and do stuff that I have long thought of doing. Since I had candied kumquats the previous day, the dessert seemed rather doable. It was a tall order, but well worth all the time and effort.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte I went a step further and decided to make a charlotte. Read the number of steps and you’ll get daunted! It certainly was a ‘challenge‘ I placed before myself. So many different components and steps that threatened to confuse.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte The laptop was constantly being referred to, notes being made, substitutions being updated. A TIRING exercise, one that made me look at myself skeptically. Why do I punish myself with such grueling stuff? In the end, pure joy!

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte I did everything on one morning. If you are up for a challenge like this, please be smarter than me. Make the savioardi several days before. Do the zabaglione and pastry cream a day before. To be honest, the thermomix took all the work out of the zabaglione and pastry cream, but still.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Maybe because the daughter was at home with fever, and constantly hungry! Maybe just the process appeared tiring and an uphill one. The good thing is that it’s a great make ahead dessert cake.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Imagine the joy of waking up to unmold a beautifully set cake, everything perfect. All one needs to do is to unmold it, transfer it to the dessert plate, top it with fruits and give it a quick brushing of apricot jam or honey.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte The taste? Unbelievable! I braced myself for even the slightest hint of egginess given all the eggs, yolks that the pastry cream and zabaglione and the savoiardi had. Not the faintest of egginess. Just pure tiramisu luxury in every bite.

Urban Dazzle CeramicsDo you see all these little white ceramic bowls {and the precious little creamer}? They form part of sets of ceramic ware from Urban Dazzle which I received recently. I fell in love with all the white. They hold so much promise, and make for simple props too. Look out for them in the near future!

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Back to the tiramisu … The filling was stable, beautifully set; the cake such a joy to slice. It tasted beautiful, and worth every bit of frenzied hard work. It’s one dessert that gives you so much culinary school basic practice.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte Mascarpone from scratch, piping skills, savioardi, pastry cream, zabaglione, candying, assembling … many basic skills covered to make one Italian classic which is well loved. On hindsight, I could have trimmed the fingers slightly.

Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte 9″ meant a good sized cake, but also meant just one layer of sponge fingers within. Had I made more fingers I could have achieved a more characteristic tiramisu. That’s just notes for next time, but I was very pleased with the overall result. Fab light charlotte, perfectly set, sweetness just right and beautiful fruity flavours.Kumquat & Strawberry Tiramisu Charlotte

Do you have any culinary must-do’s set for the year? I’m already dreaming of a few! Madeleines is one of them; financiers another. Not challenging bakes, but things on my list-to-do! Oh and a sticky toffee pudding too. So much yumminess that it makes the year ahead feel sweet.  Is there something you might like to see on PAB?

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Matcha Macarons with Preserved Brandied Cherries & Mascarpone … tribute to the spirit of Japan

“Food supports a story. Remember, there is a story behind everything you shoot.”
Adam Pearson

Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingMarch 20th is marked as World Macaron Day / Jour de Macaron, a day that celebrates the very elegant and much applauded French cookie that is often referred to as the ‘new cupcake‘. Nothing appears to get close to shaking the macaron off its lofty perch as it continues to mesmerise and charm the world with delightful flavour combinations.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingAt MacTweets nothing gives us as much joy as celebrating this exquisite creation, and we do it every month with a great bunch of passionate macaron bakers.  This March, Jamie & I call for a new beginning. March welcomes the first changes from one season to the next, hinting at warmth and sunshine, the coming of springtime for some of us, the chilly days of winter for others.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingWe ask you to add a bit of spice to our lives with this change of season challenge at MacTweets. To make it even more fun, we call for you to be the harbingers of the coming season with something new, fresh and lively, incorporating both fruit and spice into one magnificent Macaron.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingI had many thoughts when the month began, leaping between the umpteen spices the spice-box offered, making it a difficult choice. I had thoughts of pink peppercorn with strawberries, black pepper & sour orange marmalade, cinnamon and apple. Then tragedy struck Japan and my thought pattern changed completely.My macarons had to be a tribute to the spirit of Japan, a brave and resilient nation which has stood up and faced the horrific natural disaster that hit it over a week ago. As tales of trauma and destruction continue to haunt the world, tales of bravery and rescue offer much needed joy. 9 days after calamity struck, an 80 year old lady and her grandson were rescued today. H O P E …

Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingThe macaron shells are matcha flavoured, the filling some home preserved brandied cherries nestled in home made mascarpone. Matcha, though not a true spice, is sometimes referred to as a tea spice. The jar of brandied cherries in my fridge completed my tribute to Japan, a reference to cherry blossoms or sakura. Cherry blossom is an omen of good fortune and is also an emblem of love, affection and represents spring. Cherry blossoms are an enduring metaphor for the fleeting nature of life, and as such are frequently depicted in art.Matcha Macarons with Mascarpone Cherry FillingThe beginning of the year has hit Japan very hard, but they are a people that have risen above all odds, displaying strength and dignity in the face of unimaginable adversity. Sending good wishes  their way with these  macarons and four little rosebuds from my rambling rose.

Do you want to join us making MACARONS?

If you do, you are most welcome to join us  for this challenge, or the next. You can find all the information at our dedicated macaron blog MacTweets. We generally post the round-up by the end of every month, following which a new challenge is posted!

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India


“Almost all words do have color and nothing is more pleasant than to utter a pink word and see someone’s eyes light up and know it is a pink word for him or her too.”
Gladys Taber

Yes, it’s the PINK month of the year again, PINKTOBER, or October as the calender says it. October is officially known as the Breast Cancer Awareness month, and this pink ribbon flies its colour. I support the cause and do my little bit to chip in towards social awareness every year, October being kicked off pretty early {on the 3rd} by Mr PABs birthday. { I got an early morning groggy picture of him and junior below}.

Year after year, he gets a cake with some, or sometimes a LOT, of PINK! He is a  good sport, and doesn’t mind the PINK at all. There was a time over the past years that the kids would question the pink? “Why is Papas cake pink? That’s a feminine colour. Why don’t we make it blue“… etc, etc! I’m glad to say they learnt the cancer awareness message, and now enjoy the pink with the rest of the PAB bunch, no questions askedPINK rules October in my mind!

October 1st marks the beginning of breast cancer awareness month all over the world. American Cancer Society uses this time to boost their campaign to raise awareness to breast cancer and to inform people that there is now a 98 percent rate of survival if the cancer is detected early. October is the month where you will see pink ribbons everywhere, which has been the national symbol for breast cancer awareness since it was first introduced back in 1991.

I picked some pink off my blog today! I have to admit I was never a pink person by any stretch of imagination, and steered clear of the colour for as long as I remember. White, black, beige, blue are more me, and I almost hated the very sight of pink.  So much so, that my daughter was hardly seen in pink in her toddler years. As time went by, I began to soften my attitude to many things in life, and my first Pinktober experience had me warming to the colour. It’s strange how rigid and stubborn one can be, and then comes along a different perspective, through blogging as in my case, and teaches you how to accept things more easily. Dislike for a colour seems so  trivial, especially when there are so many serious issues around.

Of course I had grand plans, with PINK and frozen strawberry reduction syrup etc for the cake, but my plans went very wrong. A new oven, new baking tins,  and a new recipe are not the perfect combination, and before I knew it I was in a corner, cooling my heels. My baking prowess took a larger than life beating, and I sulked as I looked at the two flat as pancakes strawberry genoise cakes. It was a horror of a day, and even though I thought hmm, trifle pudding, the cakes looked no good, so sadly were binned. I was quite relieved I had made the mascarpone two days ago.

Soon it was late evening, and with the next day being a busy one, I just whipped up my tried and tested old faithful sponge recipe. Things looked more PINK and happy soon, but no time for pictures of the making of course. Old recipe, single baking tin and new oven worked better. But the sink full of dishes, and next days lunch preparation made me over-bake my sponge slightly. Had I taken it out 5 minutes earlier, it would have been the perfect one! Yet nothing that some vanilla mascarpone filling couldn’t fix! Pictures taken in a hurry as we had folk over for lunch … huff puff!

As you can see, it was pink all the way. I had dried strawberries for the top, which I forgot all about and they still lie in my fridge. I barely had time to hurriedly pipe on squiggles on the top, but the strawberry flavours and the vanilla bean mascarpone combined well and saved the day! In the end I was just glad I was able to go PINK!

Strawberry & Vanilla Bean Mascarpone Cake
The sponge recipe is based on the weight of the eggs. Each egg weighs approx 50gms.
6 eggs {300gms}
125gms sugar(little less than half the weight of the eggs)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
150gms flour {half the weight of the eggs}
1tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 tsp strawberry extract/essence
2-3 drops red food colour
600gm mascarpone (homemade recipe here)
200ml cream, chilled (25% fat, that’s all we get here)
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 cup icing sugar for filling { adjust if required}
50gms dark chocolate ganache, optional
For the sponge
Preheat the oven to 190C. {I reduce it to 180C after 10 minutes of putting the cake in} Grease and line a 8″ spring form cake tin.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt thrice. Reserve.
Beat the eggs and sugar well with hand beater till very thick ribbon falls and holds in place for at least 5 seconds {beat for approximately 10minutes}.  Add vanilla extract and strawberry extract and beat for another minute.
Gently fold in the sifted flour; mix lightly so that air doesn’t escape.
Turn gently into tin and bake for 35-45 minutes till done. Don’t over-bake it or the sponge will be dry.
Once done, remove from tin after 5 minutes and leave on rack to cool completely. Cut horizontally into 4 layers.

Whip the mascarpone with almost all the powdered sugar and the scraped vanilla bean until thick and holds peaks. Divide and keep 1/3 for topping.
Sandwich the layers with the remaining 2/3rds of cream.
Whip the chilled cream till it holds peaks, and gently fold into the reserved beaten vanilla mascarpone cream.
Reserve 1-2 tbsp for piping designs on top. Frost the top and sides, pipe some designs on top {see video here} and drizzle some dark chocolate ganache down the edges if desired. Chill well before serving.

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India