Matcha Chocolate Cake with Buttercream Roses

A few weeks ago, I saw a post on Twitter by food blogger, Molly Yeh, about her Rose Rose Cake. The cake looked beautiful and I knew I wanted to try to make it. I had been wanting to make something that was challenging and that I could experiment with color.

It took a full day to make the cake. That was shorter than I expected because originally I thought it would take two days. First, I made the Matcha Chocolate Cake. I needed to make it ahead of time to allow enough time for it to cool. Then, I made the buttercream. In order to make the pink and orange frostings, I referred to this chart. The chart was helpful because I don’t have enough experience mixing colors, and I hate when frostings have too much food coloring. I think it tastes bad. After making the frostings, I turned the air conditioner on in my living room in order to keep the frosting from melting while I worked with it.

In Molly Yeh’s post, she mentions that she used a Wilton Flower Nail Decorating tool. I didn’t have that and I wasn’t going to go look for one, so, instead, I used a pizza saver with two of the legs cut off. I still went through the process of attaching a small square of parchment paper to the top of the pizza saver and creating the roses that way. Honestly, the roses weren’t that hard to make using the pizza saver. You just have to be patient and practice. My first couple of flowers looked a little rough, but by the fifth one, I had gotten the hang of it. Also, if you mess up, you can take the frosting off of the parchment paper and place it back in the bowl.

Overall making the cake was fun and I was able to catch up on my shows. I’ll be making a similar cake soon, and I hope to post the recipe for cake and the frosting. Good luck!

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How to Roast Chicken

Recently, I learned how to roast a chicken. Roasting a chicken sounds pretty difficult but it’s really not! I was so surprised that I, Maia, could roast a chicken.

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How do I roast the chicken?

Before you roast a chicken you should consider two things : the size of your oven and how much time you have to commit to the process. I did a good bit of research on how to properly roast it without using a conventional oven. The oven I have is a large toaster oven. I knew it was big enough to make a pizza, but I was unsure about whether or not I could roast a whole chicken in it. My main concerns were  the chicken getting fully cooked, how long it would take to bake and the taste of the chicken. One of my biggest cooking fears is dry chicken; no one wants to eat dried chicken. What I found out was that the size of the chicken and the oven does matter. For  a small chicken, it takes an hour and a half to fully roast in a toaster oven, not including prep time.

 

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My work area for cleaning the chicken.

I suggest that before you begin prepping your chicken you make a prep area in your kitchen. Above is a picture of my work area. The chicken will have some kind of fluids and you don’t want that all over your countertop. For easy clean up, I lined my work area with plastic bags and paper towels. Lastly, place your seasonings in bowls ahead of time so you can avoid cross-contamination.

Okay, but what about flavoring the chicken?

Flavoring the chicken is pretty important. You don’t want to roast it, taste it and discover that it has no flavor. Here are some simple ingredients you can use to flavor your chicken:

  • Olive oil or butter
  • Herbs ( oregano,parsley,thyme)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Onion

That’s it! It’s really not complicated. As you get better at roasting  chicken, you can test out different flavors. Recently, I made a herbed butter and stuffed it with chopped garlic and onions. The butter seasoned both the chicken and the vegetables.

 

Any other tips?

Have fun! I know that cleaning a chicken and potentially beheading it doesn’t sound fun, but the outcome is what makes it special. You’ll feel more accomplished as a cook when you pull a roasted chicken out of the oven. The smells fill your kitchen and knowing that you created a good meal will warm your heart. My deep feelings for cooking were intensified when I heard butter sizzle on top of the chicken.

If you would like an in-depth guide on how to roast a chicken, check out the guide on The Kitchn‘s website. They go through each step from start to finish.

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A Cook and a Baker

If you’ve read my blog, you know that I enjoy cooking but I don’t really bake. I’ve always enjoyed cooking more than baking. When you bake, measurements are important. Of course when you cook they are important, but if you alter the ingredients, they may not have a severe impact on the dish.  Also, I’m not the best baker. During my time in the U.S, I was able to learn how to decorate a cake from my friend’s mom, Patty. She is a proud mom and owner of Patty Bakes Cakes. She has been baking for years and specializes in creating shaped cakes. Although we did not bake a cake from scratch, she gave me a lot of tips on how to decorate a cake.

Tips on how to decorate a cake

  • 1. Before adding food coloring to the white icing, stir it with a toothpick. Then, add the food coloring to the icing.
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  • 2. To keep the icing creamy, add a little bit of milk and stir.
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  • 3. Brushing the cake with a silicone brush helps remove excess flakes.
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  • 4. Always try to evenly spread your icing when coating the cake.
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  • 5. When decorating the cake, don’t squeeze the icing bag too hard and don’t squeeze the middle of the bag. If you do, the icing will rise come out of the top of the bag.
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  • 6. Relax and have fun because it’s just a cake!
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We made a chocolate cake topped with cinnamon sugar dip. It’s a fun take on chips and dip! I was happy with the results, but I don’t think I’ll be baking a cake anytime soon.

Follow Patty on Facebook @Patty Bakes Cakes.

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Making Xiaolongbao with my Favorite Chinese Auntie

For those of who I’ve talked to on the regular basis, you know that I frequent a breakfast spot right outside of my apartment complex. Although I don’t know the official name of the place, there is a man and a woman who own and run the restaurant. I call her ” Breakfast Lady”. She is really nice and she makes really good food, well it’s more like her husband makes the food and she sells it with a smile. Well, their restaurant serves some of the best baozi, mantou and, most importantly, xiaolongbao.

 

 

Xiaolongbao is a small steamed bun usually filled with seasoned pork. They are very delicious and it’s impossible to eat just one. “Breakfast Lady” makes some of the best xiaolongbao in town, and some of my friends who have visited have said that she makes the best xiaolongbao that they have had.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the opportunity to make xiaolongbao with her. The process was kind of difficult. I guess it doesn’t help that I don’t speak Chinese very well and that was how she was telling me how to make them. Regardless, I was able to kind of understand how to make them.

 

 

This was my first attempt at making xiaolongbao. It didn’t turn out so well. Rolling them is a lot more difficult than it looks.

After three more tries, I finally made one that was almost similar to the ones that she makes.

I was so proud of my little xiaolongbao.

Have you ever made xiaolongbao?

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