Thursday, June 01, 2006

Strawberry Jam

When I visited Cameroon Highlands in Pahang, Malaysia, I got a chance to pick and pluck my own strawberry at one of the strawberry farms along the way to Cameroon Highlands.
This is a great experience for me and my son. Since my son is too small to pluck the strawberry on his own, so he is happy just clinging onto his daddy and watching me picking and plucking the strawberries. The strawberries are big and red. Unfortunately, I am not allowed to eat the strawberry I've plucked at the farm. But after I paid for all the strawberries I picked, I could eat them. The cost to pick and pluck your own strawberry is RM15 per 50 gr.

When I arrived home, I quickly make my own strawberry jam and here is the recipe:

5 cups (1.25 kg) sugar
1.5 kg strawberries
1/2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
  1. Put 2 plates in the freezer. Warm the sugar by spreading in a large baking dish and heating in a very slow 120oC (250oF) oven for 10 minutes, stirring occationally.
  2. Hull the strawberries and put in a large pan with the lemon juice, sugar and 1/2 cup (125 ml) water.
  3. Warm gently without boiling, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon. Try no to break up the fruit too much.
  4. Increase the heat and without boiling, continue stirring for 10 minutes, until the sugar has thoroughly dissolved.
  5. Increase the heat and boil, without stirring for 20 minutes.
  6. Take out the cold plates from the freezer. Start testing for setting point: place a little jam on one of the cold plates, a skin will form on the surface and the jam will wrinkle when pushed with your finger.
  7. It could take up to 40 minutes to reach setting point.
  8. Remove the jam from the heat and leave for 5 minutes before removing any scum that forms on th surface. Pour into hot sterilized jars, seal, and label.

Chocolate Toppings for your cakes

Your cake will look dull without any toppings. So, here are 2 versions of chocolate toppings.

Version 1: Chocolate topping

150 gr butter, chopped
150 gr dark chocolate, chopped

  1. Combine the butter and chocolate in a pan.
  2. Stir over LOW heat until melted. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
  3. Pour the topping over the cake, letting it run down the side to create the 'mud' effect.

Version 2: Chocolate buttercream topping

25 gr butter
3 tsp cream
1/4 cup (30 gr) sifted icing sugar

  1. Combine the chopped chocolate, butter, cream and icing sugar in a small pan.
  2. Stir over LOW heat until the mixture is smooth and glossy.
  3. Spread the chocolate buttercream over the top of the cake with a flat-bladed knife.

Strawberry Jam Chocolate cake

This is the 2nd version of the chocolate cake. This is the one with the strawberry jam.

1 1/4 cups (155 gr) self-raising flour, sifted
1/2 cup (125 gr) caster sugar
1/2 cup (60 gr) cocoa powder
1/3 cup (40 gr) icing sugar, sifted
1/4 cup (80 gr) strawberry jam
125 gr butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 cup (250 ml) milk
  1. Preheat the oven to moderate 180oC (350oF). Grease the base and sides of a deep 20cm square/round cake tin and line with baking paper.
  2. On a big bowl, beat butter, caster sugar, and icing sugar with electric beaters until mixture is light and creamy. Add the eggs gradually, beating throroughly after each addition.
  3. Add vanilla essence and strawberry jam and beat until combined.
  4. Using a metal spoon, fold in the combined sifted flour, cocoa, and bicarbonate soda alternately with the milk.
  5. Stir until the mixture is just combined and almost smooth.
  6. Pour into the tin and smooth the surface.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes or until a skewer (I normally just use a fork) comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
  8. Leave in the tin for 15 minutes and cool on a wire rack.
  9. After the cake is completely cool, turn over and put the cake into a plate.

Chocolate Cake

There are 2 versions of chocolate cake, one is without some strawberry jam and the other one is with some strawberry jam. It's up to you. But this post will only talk about the chocolate cake WITHOUT the strawberry jam.

1 1/2 cups (185 gr) self-raising flour
1/2 cup (60 gr) plain flour
1 1/2 cups (375 gr) caster sugar
250 gr butter, chopped
200 gr dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tbsp instand coffee powder
1 tbsp oil
1 cup (250 ml) water
  1. Preheat the oven to 160oC (315oF). Grease a deep 20 cm round cake tin and line with baking paper.
  2. Sift the flours and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
  3. In a pan, combine the butter, oil, chocolate, sugar and coffee powder with the water. Stir over LOW heat until the chocolate and butter are melted and the sugar has dissolved. It is very important to use low heat so that your mixture will not be burned.
  4. Pour into the well in the mixture of sifted flour and cocoa powder (no. 2).
  5. Whisk until combined. Add eggs and mix well, but do not overbeat.
  6. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 2 hours or until a fork comes out clean when inserted into the center of the cake.
  7. Leave in the tin to cool completely, then turn over the cake out of the tin and put it on the plate.