April 21, 2013

boba cake

My sister Jenny came up from Southern California for spring break. It was a drop-in visit, so I scrambled to make a cake since I wouldn't be seeing her for her birthday.

Since she loves pearl milk tea (known as boba in SoCal), I decided to make her a cake that looked like the drink.

First I started with Betty Crocker boxed yellow cake mix. Yes, it was given to me, and no, don't judge.

So despite it being boxed cake mix, I applied learned techniques to make it. First, have the eggs at room temperature and whip them in the kitchenaid mixer. Eggs will beat fluffier if at room temperature (you can cheat by microwaving them for about ten seconds). While it's mixing I sift the dry mixture so it is airy and lump-free. Then I alternate pouring the dry mix and the wet mix (water and oil) into the mixer until everything is just incorporated. Then it goes into lightly-oiled round pans and straight into the oven.

Once the cake rounds were baked I allowed the pan to cool, then took the rounds out by running a knife around the edge. Since I don't have a cooling rack, I just inverted the rounds onto an upside-down muffin tin.

cake rounds

When the cake rounds cooled to room temperature, I leveled them and punched different sizes rounds out of them using metal cutters.

cake rounds stacked

These were stacked one on top of the other, from smallest to largest. The bottom round was anchored to the plate with the help of some melted chocolate (chocolate chips in the microwave in 15 second intervals, stirred in between). Then the other rounds were anchored with the help of a boba straw.

cake frosted

Two 8" cake rounds were enough to make two boba cake "towers". I frosted them with apricot whipped cream. Usually I put fruit between cake layers, but it would have compromised stability in this case, so I put it in the whipped cream instead (basically canned apricot pureed and mixed into whipped cream). The only unfortunate part was that it made the whipped cream less smooth and spreadable.

cake decorated

The last-minute addition was of boba pearls. You can cook your own, which I tried, but it took more time than I had so the pearls were too hard. So I ended up using pearls plucked out of a boba drink. Unfortunately they were really slippery and wouldn't stay "glued" to the towers. If I had more time, I would have cut the pearls in half - think that would have made them stick a lot better.

The good thing is, we were able to surprise Jenny with the cake, so that allowed the cake's flaws to be overlooked a bit. When in doubt about your creation, surprise the recipient with it! I'm only half-kidding. She liked it a lot though.

spiced potato wedges

These are kind of similar to the semi-homemade garlic parmesan parsley fries from awhile back, except these are entirely homemade and cheaper.

First, start with 2 or 3 potatoes. Scrub them well and cut them in half lengthwise, then into wedges.

Then, toss them with oil and spices - I used my standard italian herbs, garlic powder, cayenne, salt & pepper. In terms of quantity, it's just enough so that every wedge gets some on both sides. You can put all the ingredients into a bowl and just toss.

Then I laid them on a oiled sheet tray and into the 350F oven for maybe 10 minutes on each side.

potato wedges

After they're nicely golden and almost brown, I slide them onto a plate and sprinkle parmesan cheese, then put the plate back into the turned-off-but-still-warm oven for a minute so the cheese melts.

On top I sprinkled scallions, which is what I had at the time, but you can use any herb garnish. And then for dipping I had my favorite ranch and sriracha-spiked ketchup. Addicting.