Cheesecake Pastry Recipe – With 2 Flavour Variations!

Cheesecake Pastry Recipe – With 2 Flavour Variations!

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Cheesecake Pastry

Cheesecake Pastry was not something I grew up with at all! Come on, we all mostly eat cookie crust cheesecakes – and they truly are fantastic! Who can ever manage to figure out if they like cheesecake’s crust or filling more?? BOTH are super delicious. The slightly crunchy texture of the crust along with the flawlessly smooth cheesecake filling is the highlight of Dessert World.

BUT, did you know that Cheesecake Pastry was actually the original crust used by the clever Greeks and Romans? (Read more about the history of cheesecake). Since they are generally considered as geniuses, I always knew deep down that cheesecake pastry might be something to look into.

Honestly, my decision to start making cheesecake with a cheesecake pastry base was due to the nature of my Home Bakery. I had to figure out how to make a crust sturdy enough to handle being moved over to a disposable cake board.

perfect cheesecake | cheesecake pastry | chocolate swirl cheesecake

Crushed cookie bases are quick to prepare, but super difficult to transfer to a different dish, serving platter, cake board etc. Typically, you leave the cheesecake on the bottom of your springform cake tin and use it as a “cake board”. Problem with this idea is that I can’t exactly expect my clients to return my cake tin’s bottom. Too tedious for them and me. Cheesecake Pastry is much sturdier and still contains gorgeous butter, so you aren’t missing anything!

What Makes Cheesecake Pastry Different?

There are a few differences between cheesecake pastry and regular shortcrust pastry. Cheesecake pastry typically contains more egg, because egg is a great binding agent. It provides extra strength and stability to the pastry. I would even go so far as to say it provides a small amount of elasticity. Shortcrust pastry, in my opinion, needs to pretty much have the texture of shortbread. I did a very thorough post on Shortcrust Pastry earlier this year.

It might be a bit unorthodox, but I like to add vanilla extract to my cheesecake pastry instead of water. It really bumps up the flavour and compliments the cheesecake so beautifully!

cheesecake pastry recipe plain or chocolate

Perks of Using Cheesecake Pastry

  • The biggest perk for me is that it protects the cheesecake during baking. It COMPLETELY eliminates the risk for over-cooked/browned/curdled edges around the cheesecake.
  • It keeps the cheesecake moister during baking since the delicate cheesecake filling never touches the hot and dehydrating aluminium sides of the tin.
  • As I mentioned before, it makes the finished cheesecake a BREEZE to transfer onto a cake board or cake stand without lending out your tin’s bottom.
  • It really is super delicious! Since I’ve switched to cheesecake pastry, I’ve never had the desire to go back to crushed cookie bases.
  • It is really not difficult at all! In a food processor, it really takes like 5 minutes. I’m going to give you step by step instructions so that you can also make your own cheesecake pastry!

cheesecake pastry recipe | pastry recipe | cheesecake chocolate pastry | cheesecake pastry

*SUPER IMPORTANT!!
Before you make this Cheesecake Pastry and proceed with making a Baked Cheesecake, I strongly urge you to read my 6 TOP TIPS FOR PERFECT CHEESECAKE.

Cheesecake Pastry - Plain or Chocolate
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Serves: 9 inch base
Ingredients
  • 210 g All-purpose Flour (sub 40 g cocoa if making chocolate pastry)
  • 60 g Pure Icing Sugar (use 70 g if making chocolate pastry)
  • 130 g Salted Butter, cubed
  • 50 g Free-range Egg Yolks (about 2 ½ egg yolks)
Instructions
  1. Place flour (and cocoa powder if making choc pastry) in a food processor. Cut the butter into a 1 cm dice and add to the food processor. Try to distribute the cubes of butter evenly in the flour so that they don’t stick together.
  2. Process on high speed until resembling even bread crumbs.
  3. Add icing sugar and process for about 10 seconds on high speed.
  4. Add the egg yolks and vanilla. Process on high speed for about 15 seconds. The pastry will not form a ball inside the processor.
  5. cheesecake pastry process
  6. Pour the crumbly mixture onto a work surface – do not add any extra liquid! Press all the crumbs together and press the pastry together till more or less smooth. This should take only about 3 minutes. Form the pastry into a ball and squash it flat to a 2 cm thickness.
  7. Wrap the pastry in cling wrap and refrigerate it for 15 minutes.
  8. Cut a 30 cm x 30 cm square of non-stick parchment paper. Place the chilled pastry on the paper and roll out to a 3mm thickness roughly in a circular shape. The parchment paper makes it super easy to turn the pastry when rolling!
  9. Spray/butter the inside of your 9 inch (22,5 cm) tin. Place the loose bottom face side down onto the pastry. Cut around the sides of the tin’s bottom and also at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock to divide the excess pastry into 4 strips.
  10. Remove the strips one by one and place to one side. Press down on the tin’s bottom so that the pastry squishes out slightly underneath. I find this little lip of pastry helps to combine the pastry on the sides with the pastry on the bottom.
  11. Flip the parchment paper and tin’s bottom. Peel away the paper.
  12. Drop your tin’s bottom back into your tin and fill in the sides of the tin with your pastry strips using your fingers. Do not worry about a smooth finish just yet.
  13. Preheat your oven to 180ᵒC/350ᵒF.
  14. Place your tin in the freezer for 5 minutes. Remove from freezer and smooth the edges and bottom with a metal spoon. Return to freezer for a further 10 minutes or until frozen solid.
  15. Line the entire tin with heavy weight foil (enough to go up over the sides. Leave no pastry exposed) and smooth it onto the pastry). Be sure to press the foil down very snugly into the corners of the cheesecake pastry. Run your finger over the top edge as well to maintain the shape of the pastry during baking.
  16. Fill the cavity with baking beans (I prefer rice).
  17. Bake one notch below the center of your oven for 35 minutes, turning after 15 minutes.
  18. Remove from the oven and leave to stand (with foil and rice still inside) for 10 minutes.
  19. Remove the foil and rice and proceed to fill with cheesecake filling. Bake again for as long as your cheesecake recipe states.

I trust that these simple an thorough steps will enable you to make your own amazing cheesecake pastry! Please let me know how you get on by using #philosophyofyum or even tagging me @philosophyofyum.

In my next post we’ll be making Vanilla Cheesecake with a fresh fruit compote 😀

Chat soon!

Aurelia 😊

Hi! I’m Aurelia 🙂

I help HOME BAKERS to become FOODIE BAKERS & make profit from it! Recipes from my own Foodie Home Bakery, BEST baking tips & food adventures.







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PERFECT Cheesecake Manual! 6 TOP Tips for Perfect Cheesecake!

PERFECT Cheesecake Manual! 6 TOP Tips for Perfect Cheesecake!

Perfect Cheesecake -The Drama and Bliss:

Perfect Cheesecake can suddenly make any bad day seem at least 62% better. If you really, truly, deeply appreciate flavour and creaminess, this stat can even go up to 89%! Powerful stuff, this perfect cheesecake. And I am of course referring to BAKED cheesecake here. Fridge cheesecake is cool and all (quite literally), but BAKED cheesecake is KING of the dessert world to me.

Unfortunately, there’s an intense and unnecessary hype over how difficult it is to bake the perfect cheesecake. I was absolutely petrified of making baked cheesecake for yeeeeears. The ingredients are also very expensive, so if the cheesecake flops then you don’t only feel like a failure, but are also broke as well. Too much risk man.

Cooking and baking shows also just LOVE showing us the drama of cheesecake, don’t they? Drama sells. Do yourself a favour – keep in mind that those contestants are under enormous TIME constraints and pressure to perform. That is an ideal recipe for drama and disaster, which the networks need to make the shows sell.

But I want to encourage you today and put your mind at ease; it is actually very simple and 100% possible to bake a perfect cheesecake. ESPECIALLY at home! There is NO reason to be afraid 😊 So breathe in deeply, muster up some hope and take courage. Now smile! I promise you that I will help you to master this technical dessert and bake the perfect cheesecake on your next attempt.

Before you run off to turn the oven on, just wait a second. This post (part 1/4) is all about the technical aspects of baking the perfect cheesecake. You may know by now that I am a HUGE believer in METHOD, because it gives us perfect bakes. Examples of this; How to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – FULL TroubleshootingHow to Bake Perfect Cupcakes – Advanced Tips, How to Bake Perfectly Level Cake Layers.

I’m laying a foundation here so that you will know exactly what to do when I share my perfect cheesecake recipes in the next 3 posts. So get yourself a cup of tea and absorb all these tips and tricks I’m sharing with you today.

*HINT* THERE IS ALSO A BONUS CHEAT TIP #7 RIGHT AT THE END OF THE POST
THAT WILL MAKE YOUR CHEESECAKE BAKING A WHOLE LOT EASIER 😉

Here are my 6 TOP Tips for Perfect Cheesecake:

perfect cheesecake | baked cheesecake | baked cheesecake tips

1. Take your Time:

I have watched so many seasons of The Great British Bake Off on which the contestants must always bake cheesecake at some point. My favourite baking show cheesecake episode is however from The Great Australian Bake Off S1-E6. So shocking that they only had 2,5 hours to make it though! If you rush yourself to make a perfect cheesecake, I can guarantee that a whole lot of things will go wrong!

Cheesecake is like good American BBQ – LOW AND SLOW.

I actually LOVE the fact that cheesecake takes such a long time to bake.My recipe typically bakes for 1 hour, then I turn it and bake it for another 40 minutes. That gives you two massive brackets of time to do something else while the lazy cheesecake just hangs out in the oven. It might be a tad irresponsible, but I’ve gone grocery shopping so many times while the cheesecake is baking. Who has time to watch a cheesecake bake? It would probably take less time to watch paint dry.

So to clarify; perfect cheesecake takes a long time to make yes, but 75% of it is PASSIVE time in which you can do something else. Don’t let the long baking time put you off making it.

2. Room Temperature Ingredients:

If your ingredients are not at room temperature, they will struggle to combine into a smooth batter. Perfect cheesecake is made with room temperature ingredients.

Cream cheese can be especially difficult to smooth out when it is cold because of its higher fat content. Butter, for example, is solid fat. Have you ever tried creaming ice-cold butter? Impossible.

Also be sure to use room temperature eggs.

If I am being honest, I always use the cream/sour cream straight from the fridge because I don’t want it to go off while standing at room temperature. But room temperature cream cheese and eggs are essential.

Image by nutritionsecrets.com


3. The Bain Marie Situation:

Bain Marie means “water bath”. A water bath is absolutely essential to baking a perfect cheesecake. It ensures a moist cheesecake and helps it to bake gently and evenly.

But the traditional method of bain marie baking is so superlatively tedious. Wrapping 2 layers of foil around the cake tin AND then placing it in a glass dish AND pouring boiling water around it AND burning yourself when trying to turn the cheesecake halfway through baking it AND then it leaks. I mean, there are posts just on managing the leaking. TOO TEDIOUS and hazardous. No thanks. Remember, I am a lazy person who loves to make perfect bakes, so I had to find a simpler way.

Ashlee Marie is the fantastic human who presented an alternative. You seriously get the exact same effect if you just place a separate pan of hot water in the oven with the cheesecake. SO much easier and more practical – thank you Ashlee Marie!

  • I like to use the biggest roasting tray I have.
  • Place it in the lower half of your oven before you bake the cheesecake so that it gets nice and hot during the preheating.
  • Boil at least 2 litres of water in a kettle.
  • Place your cheesecake in the middle of your oven.
  • Pull the empty roasting tray out slightly and fill it up with the just-boiled water. This will create a nice cloud of steam to fill the oven right from the start without burning your arms.

Now that you have this super easy cheat bain marie method for baking perfect cheesecake, don’t let it frighten you off either!

4. How to Avoid the Dreaded Sinking:

Low and Slow applies not only to the baking of the cheesecake, but also the MIXING. Especially if you will be making mini cheesecakes. Mini cheesecakes will completely expose your mixing method. Tip number 3 is ALL about the mixing.

cheesecake | baked cheesecake | cheesecake tips

The KEY thing during the mixing phase is not to whip in ANY air. If you do not have a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, make it by hand – seriously. Do not bring a hand mixer anywhere near your cheesecake batter!

  • Add the soft, room temperature cream cheese to the mixing bowl. Beat it on medium low speed till smooth.
  • Add in the sugar. Beat it on medium low speed for 30 seconds. Let it stand for 5 minutes so that the sugar can melt. Beat it on medium low speed again for 30 seconds till smooth. Don’t rush it and beat it on high speed. Ever. At any point.
  • Scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl thoroughly and mix again on medium low speed.

And now the eggs.

  • I like to crack the eggs in a separate bowl and lightly mix them together so that the yolks break and are easier to incorporate into the cream cheese.
  • FROM HERE ON OUT ONLY MIX ON YOUR MIXER’S LOWEST SPEED.
  • Add the egg in in 4 sessions. Don’t watch it the whole time, you will be SO tempted to increase the speed. It is a great opportunity to spend some time on pinterest or learn a language on the Duo Lingo App (I’ve become 7% more fluent in French, just from cheesecake mixing time! Haha!).
  • Before mixing in the last egg, scrape down the sides and bottom of your bowl thoroughly and mix again on lowest speed.

I like to stir in the cream/sour cream by hand because the mixer takes forever to incorporate the liquid.

If you follow the low and slow mixing method, I guarantee that your cheesecake will come out perfect and not sink a bit!

5. How to Tell when a Cheesecake is Done:

A perfect cheesecake has to be just set. Not under baked and saggy, or overbaked and slightly coarse. So HOW do you know when it’s done?

First of all, bake your cheesecake on the regular bake setting of your oven (solid stripe top and solid stripe bottom). Do NOT use a thermo-fan or convection oven.

Now the testing. Some swear by the jiggle or “wibble-wobble” test. Honestly it is a bit vague to me. I can never really tell if it’s done by how much it wobbles. Monique ended up under baking her cheesecake, and so have I, with the jiggle test.

The easiest way for me to tell is looking at the surface. The edges should have puffed up a bit and be dull, but the centre circle (about 8cm in diameter) should still be shiny. As soon as the outer rim of the cheesecake breaks loose from the side of the tin (or pastry), you’ve gone a bit too far. If the cheesecake browns on top, you have definitely taken it too far.

The jiggle test is a handy second option for me. The cheesecake should have a stiff jiggle and move as one unit. If the centre still keeps moving after the outer edges have stopped, then it’s NOT done yet. Wait another 10 minutes and check again.

There are also some fancy thermometer tests you can use if you like.

6. How to Avoid the Dreaded Cracking:

A cracked cheesecake can happen as a result of your mixing, but more often than not it is because of your baking and/or cooling. A baked cheesecake is like my husband in winter… If you suddenly pull the duvet off him in the freezing morning hours, he WILL crack. Cheesecake has a sensitive soul. Respect that and all will be well. For this reason, it needs to be cooled very gently and gradually.

  • When baking, let the cheesecake bake in peace for at least one hour before opening the door and turning it or checking it.
  • As soon as my cheesecake is perfectly baked, I turn the oven off and leave the door closed for 5 minutes.
  • Then I leave the oven door ajar. Let the cheesecake hang out in the (switched off) oven for another 90 minutes to be safe.
  • Remove it from the oven and let it rest on the kitchen counter for 1 hour.
  • You may now place it in the fridge overnight for the cheesecake to fully set and get a perfect texture.

Cool your cheesecake gradually if you want it to be perfect and crack free. There is no way around this. And besides, it is once again PASSIVE time. You can do other things while it cools 😉

cheesecake | baked cheesecake | cheesecake tips

7. BONUS TIP – Time Saver:

I NEVER remember to take the cream cheese out of the fridge in time. The quickest way to bring it up to room temperature is by defrosting it in the microwave! Yes, I know it’s not “frozen”, but the defrost setting warms up the cream cheese VERY gently and slowly. Yet again – low and slow.

  • Don’t use the quick defrost setting though, which is too intense. Auto defrost for meat is perfect.
  • I let it run for 2 minutes at a time. The cream cheese usually needs 2 sessions of minutes each to reach room temperature.
  • If you can press your finger in to the cream cheese with ease, then it’s ready. Obviously feel the temperature of the cream cheese as well. If you can’t really feel it, it means it should be around body temperature which is perfect.

If your eggs are cold too, simply place them in a bowl of lukewarm water for 10 minutes. Tada!

This is the Part Where I Motivate You:

Put your hands on your heart and repeat after me:

I CAN BAKE A PERFECT CHEESECAKE!

I NOW HAVE NO EXCUSE TO AVOID BAKING CHEESECAKE!

I DESERVE TO BAKE AND EAT A PERFECT CHEESECAKE!

cheesecake | baked cheesecake | cheesecake tips

Okay, consider yourself motivated and fearless! These tips for perfect cheesecake will help you to get a perfect bake on your favourite cheesecake recipes.

In the next 3 posts I’ll be sharing my own Home Bakery’s recipes for perfect cheesecake that I make all the time…
Chocolate Swirl, and Vanilla with a Fruit Compote 😀

These links are from posts that I found useful in my years as a professional home baker. Thank you to these authors and bloggers for your research! Ashlee Marie, Prepared Pantry, The Kitchn, All Recipes, The Spruce, Simply Recipes

Are you having any other cheesecake issues that I didn’t discuss here?
Please comment below so that we can find a solution for you!

And there’s one other thing I’m dying to know! Do you have any tragic cheesecake stories? Like dropping it, or accidentally using salt instead of sugar or having it crack right down the middle? Please tell me your story!

See you in 2 weeks when the perfect cheesecake epic-ness continues!

Aurelia 😊

Hi! I’m Aurelia 🙂

I help HOME BAKERS to become FOODIE BAKERS & make profit from it! Recipes from my own Foodie Home Bakery, BEST baking tips & food adventures.







POPULAR POSTS

Grainy Ganache | Broken Ganache | Split Ganache
shiny brownies | brownies shiny | brownies shiny crust
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POPULAR POSTS

Grainy Ganache | Broken Ganache | Split Ganache
shiny brownies | brownies shiny | brownies shiny crust
cupcakes troubleshooting | perfect cupcakes | cupcakes tips | cupcakes baking tips | pointy cupcakes | cupcakes sink | cupcakes with flat tops | cupcakes overflow

How to Freeze Custard (Creme Patissiere) and Restore It

How to Freeze Custard (Creme Patissiere) and Restore It

Freeze custard and restore it in just 5 minutes – it’s so quick and simple! Normally, freezing custard/creme patissiere is an absolute NO-NO in the baking and pastry world. All info online clearly states that you cannot freeze custard/creme patissiere because it splits into oblivion. And it does. But I’m here to tell you that you can FULLY restore thawed/defrosted watery custard! YAY! 😀

Context

I’ve been developing a recipe for a super exciting brownie (which I will share in the future) which requires creme patissiere. Not knowing how much custard  I would need, I made the whole recipe and ended up with about 2,5 cups of it. After using only half a cup for my experimental brownies, I still had 2 cups left! Of course I wouldn’t let the rest just sit in the fridge and go to waste. Without googling at all (which is quite unlike me) or thinking twice, I just popped the custard in the freezer.

Current Info

According to the whole web (cooking.stackexchange.com, thekitchn.com, nigella.com, chowhound.com, forums.egullet.org just to name 5) homemade custard should never be frozen as is and used again later. Apparently the best method to at least avoid waste is to make “frozen custard” aka ice cream! This requires a bit of effort though. Once in the freezer, you need to whisk the custard every 30 minutes for 3 hours. This aerates the custard and keeps it smooth during the freezing process. The result is beautifully smooth frozen custard.

BUT, they all say you cannot freeze custard, thaw/defrost the custard and then use it again as custard due to the severe separation that cannot be rectified.

Unfortunately I only read all this info after my custard had been in the freezer for 3 weeks already! I left it on the counter to defrost for a few hours. It was a watery MESSSSS. I really did not expect this, but since I hate wasting, I was not going to throw it away.

Although it may not always seem so, I suffer from selective, slightly-above-moderate laziness. I go to extreme and labour intensive measures to achieve a “yum-high” in my cooking and baking, but for some things I just cannot be bothered. I’m definitely not going to make creme patissiere 3 times a week. I’m also definitely not going to divide a single egg yolk in 3 so that I can make 100 ml of creme pat! There had to be a way to freeze custard and restore it.

My dad has this incredible line I’ve been quoting for years: “If you want to be lazy, you have to be clever.” So I put on my thinking cap…

Science

I did a post a while back on how to fix and prevent chocolate ganache that has split. Both ganache and custard split when frozen. The ingredients are still 100% tasty, but the texture has transmuted completely. In one case it is the fat that separates and in the other case it is water. Although ganache and custard are completely different, I firmly believed that their restoration processes would be very similar.

I decided to apply the same process I use on thawed ganache. Step one was to heat it on the lowest possible heat in a saucepan while stirring occasionally with a balloon whisk. It became looser, but was still very much grainy with a watery residue. At that point I realized that custard is typically cooked at a much higher (boiling in fact) temperature. I upped the heat one setting higher. It started looking much better.

Another trick that works to re-emulsify split ganache, is adding warm milk. I heated 1 tablespoon of milk in the microwave and proceeded to whisk it into the warm custard.

After whisking a bit more vigorously (still with a balloon whisk) for about 10-15 seconds it smoothed out TO PERFECTION!!! SO rad! 😀

I got so excited! There was still a big concern that it just looked smooth, but upon tasting it I would end up writing that “the restored custard is 95% smooth!”. Not the case. At all. It is seriously 100% smooth! It tastes, looks and feels freshly made. Can’t believe it!

Method Recap

How to Freeze Custard

Put your left over creme patissiere / custard in a freezable cotainer.

Place in freezer.

Have some coffee, you’ve worked hard.

How to Thaw/Defrost Custard

Remove custard from the freezer and leave out on the counter to defrost for 3-4 hours.

Have some coffee, you’ve worked hard.

I would not recommend defrosting in a microwave for longer than 2 minutes. You may do that to get it going. You can also place the sealed container in some warm water to speed up the process if you are in a hurry.

How to Restore Thawed/Defrosted Custard

Place the split custard in a heavy based saucepan (all of it, including the separated water).

Turn on the stove to the lowest possible setting. Stir the custard with a balloon whisk every 30 seconds so that it heats evenly and doesn’t catch on the bottom.

When the custard is warm to the touch, turn up the heat a bit more. Stir occasionally for about 2 minutes while it keeps heating up.

Heat 1 Tbsp Milk (I used 4,5% fat whole milk) in the microwave for 20 seconds. Use 1 Tbsp Milk for every 200 g of thawed custard.

Add the warm milk to the saucepan. Keep whisking the custard on the stove for another minute till it smooths out and comes together again. Take it off the heat before it starts to simmer/boil. Taste a tiny bit to make sure it is fully smooth.

Now you should have coffee AND a pastry covered in your amazing freshly made (thawed) custard 😉

Please let me know if you give this hack a go. Save yourself a mountain of effort and waste! Freeze custard and restore it because now you CAN!

NEXT TIME I’ll be launching my FREE Baked Cheesecake Course! 😀 The big cheese in the dessert world that no one can resist. I used to be dreadfully intimidated by baked cheesecake, but now it’s the simplest thing in the world. I will be teaching you EVERYTHING there is to know about baking the PERFECT cheesecake. Sign up so you don’t miss it!

Thanks for reading!

See you in 2 weeks

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I’m Aurelia 🙂

I help HOME BAKERS to become FOODIE BAKERS & make profit from it! Recipes from my own Foodie Home Bakery, BEST baking tips & food adventures.




How to Make Chocolate Shavings

How to Make Chocolate Shavings

My Love-Hate Relationship with Cake Decorating

Chocolate shavings were basically the first decorative thing I could associate with. In my first few years of baking the term “cake decorating” always scared me off. It seemed like this super fancy skill which you can only acquire through years of studying and practice. On top of all that I could not reach equilibrium in my mind over fondant and gum paste… I didn’t like them at all because they have NO FLAVOUR whatsoever, but it seemed like those are the only materials to use in cake decorating.

Should I give in? I guess it is okay that gum paste decorations are flavourless… isn’t it?

For me, the main reason I add anything to a cake is because it contributes to the flavour – a very honest and bare approach. And that’s me in a nutshell; I cannot pretend to save my life. This meant I had to find a way to decorate cakes in an honest fashion. The simplest answer was this…

Quality Ingredients

Taking an ingredient that is inside the cake already and presenting it in a beautiful way on top of the cake. To me the final product is incredibly inviting. Beautiful chocolate curls and fresh berries call out to my taste buds, but silver deco balls just don’t get my mouth watering (anyone else feel the same way?).

If gum paste and fondant works for you in your cake decorating, that’s wonderful. We all have to discover what materials work for us and best represent, and express, us as creatives. I am an honest purist at heart so if I approach cake decorating in the same way, I am way more likely to create a stunning product I am proud of and feel comfortable with.

Over the past 5 years I’ve discovered some nifty tricks to make cakes & cupcakes look spectacular in a matter of 5 minutes just by using ingredients to decorate my cakes. It makes so much sense to me and the end result can hold its own next to a fondant cake any day 🙂 I would define my cake decorating style as “Purist Cake Decorating”.

Basics of Purist Cake Decorating

About 40% of my cake menu at Philosophy of Yum is seasonal. I adore working with seasonal ingredients because it adds a whole other dimension to my bakery and ingredients really just taste better in their natural season. I approach summer cakes completely differently than winter cakes. As we are in winter now here in South Africa, I will share with you my favourite purist decorating method for winter cakes.

Chocolate Shavings

My favourite winter ingredient to decorate with is definitely chocolate. Now don’t panic. You don’t need amazing skills to do this. I don’t have any qualifications in working with chocolate, but just figured things out as I went along. This technique is super easy and quick, I promise! And the finish is just so beautiful. It immediately adds a professional edge to your cakes!

The technique for making chocolate shavings is simple in principle. Very simple. It comes down to pressing and dragging a knife over chocolate. First place I saw this technique was on The Naked Chef (I NEVER missed an episode). Jamie was decorating a chocolate tart or something and in seconds he made these stunning chocolate shavings that made his homemade tart look like a centerpiece in a French Bakery! Here’s a video of Kerryann Dunlop demonstrating on Jamie’s Food Tube.

What I love about this technique is that you just use an ordinary bar of dark chocolate to make them. No need to fuss about with baking sheets and vegetable shortening which is the case when making proper chocolate curls. No thanks, too much effort.

Only problem is that these regular chocolate shavings can often seem a bit skimpy.

I’ve discovered a few hacks however that end up giving you fuller chocolate shavings which give you something in between a chocolate shaving and a curl… a shurl! 😀 Officially a thing. Chocolate curls are too “stiff and organized” for me and regular chocolate shavings can look a bit skimpy, so chocolate shurls are absolutely ideal!

How to Make MY Chocolate Shavings/Shurls

You will need:

A bar of Dark Chocolate

A hairdryer

A smooth edged knife

Ceramic plate

Method:

Put on an apron (very important!).

Place the bar of chocolate on your work surface, perpendicular to your tummy. Make sure the smooth side is facing up.

Hold your hairdryer about 20 cm away from the chocolate and turn it on to its lowest speed. Gently move the hairdryer up and down the length of the chocolate, all the while keeping the hairdryer at 20 cm distance.  You only want to soften the chocolate slightly! You don’t want it to melt. The surface of the chocolate should become dull, but not shiny (then you’ve gone too far).

Photo by Alice Swan

Press and drag your knife over the surface of the chocolate, starting at the furthest end and dragging it towards you, bracing the chocolate with your tummy.

The chocolate shavings will cling to the knife. Very gently, starting from the top, loosen, curve and roll the shavings onto your ceramic plate with your fingers. Even after the shaving has been made you can manipulate it to curve a bit more since the chocolate has been softened slightly.

Some chocolate shavings will already be quite curled, so in such cases you can just push them off the knife onto the plate.

Carry on shaving till the soft surface chocolate is used up. Repeat hairdryer process again before making more chocolate shavings.

Photo by Alice Swan

In summer I like to place the plate of chocolate shavings in the fridge for a minute, just to firm up the chocolate a bit. These thicker chocolate shavings are not as fragile as regular chocolate shavings, so you can easily pick them up with your fingers and place them where you want without breaking them 🙂

I use this method DAILY for making chocolate shavings. With them I decorate cakes, cupcakes, tarts… anything really. Minimum effort for maximum results. Nice!

I hope you give this a go and WOW your friends and family with your super snazzy chocolate shurls. And then you can be all like “Oh yes, I spent my whole day doing this incredible chocolate work because you all are just so worth it!” and then take an elaborate bow! 😉

Thanks for reading! See you again in 2 weeks!

Aurelia 🙂

How to Swirl Brownies

How to Swirl Brownies

What are Swirl Brownies?

Swirl brownies have such a stunningly beautiful appearance! Definitive, voluptuous swirls take any dessert (or dancing, lol!) to the next level. Problem is, the swirl part can VERY easily become a cloudy, undefined mess. I’ve been making Cheesecake Swirl Brownies, Red Velvet Brownies and Nutella Swirl Blondies for a few years now. In the process I’ve discovered some wonderful tips and tricks to give you perfect swirl brownies every time!

Since so many folks have been asking me to share my technique, I’ve also made a little video (below) so that you can see exactly what I do 🙂

Essential Basics:

1. Consistency of Cheesecake Batter:

This is the most important point, truly. The cheesecake batter you make an actual cheesecake with can be quite runny. Cheesecake batter used for swirl brownies is an entirely different batter altogether. It HAS to be thicker, but should still drop off a spoon in 2 seconds. If you follow your recipe to the T and it turns out runny, make it thicker. You can do this in 2 different ways:

  1. Make sure your ingredients are ice cold (not room temp) and beat the batter for 30 seconds – 1 minute. This usually works to thicken up the cheesecake batter.
  2. Only try this after you’ve applied option 1 above. Beat some cold cream cheese in a separate bowl to remove any lumps (about 30 seconds). Beat the smooth cream cheese into your cheesecake mixture. This will definitely thicken it up.
  3. If your cheesecake batter gets too thick, you can thin it out by stirring in 1 tablespoon of water at a time.

Another important note – always use NON-aerated cream cheese! I also prefer using only egg white in the batter as it gives you a whiter cheesecake swirl.

2. Consistency of Brownie Batter:

What you are aiming for is to get the brownie batter and cheesecake batter more or less at the same consistency. This is absolutely crucial when making swirl brownies.

Brownie batter can often be quite warm and runny. You will need to firm it up a tad before attempting to swirl in the cheesecake mixture. It’s super easy to do – just pop it in the fridge for 5 minutes. It should still move down slowly if you tilt the brownie tin, but you don’t want it to be completely chilled and stationary either.

If you accidentally chilled the batter too much, pop it in the oven for 1 minute at 350ºF/180ºC. This will soften the brownie batter again.

The Swirling:

For practical purposes I’m just typing out everything I mention in the video.

  1. Place blobs of your cheesecake mixture over your brownie batter. Be sure to place blobs in the corners as corners can often look skimpy.
  2. Flatten out each blob with the back of a metal spoon. Spread the cheesecake onto the sides of the tin – super important! During baking the cheesecake naturally moves a bit to the middle of the tin. Spreading the cheesecake onto the sides of the tin anchors your entire pattern.
  3. Use a chopstick – NOT a butter knife – to swirl the mixture.
  4. Drag the chopstick, in SMALL circular movements, through the cheesecake and into the “blank” brownie spaces.
  5. Once a swirl has been made, leave it be. Going over it again will make it cloudy and messy.
  6. Always keep a little bit of cheesecake batter aside to fill in gaps. Swirl these extra dollops again in separated, once off, swirl motions.

Here is a video I made earlier this week so that you can see the technique for yourself 🙂 A big thanks to my husband for holding the camera!

If you have any questions, please comment below. I’ll be happy to help 🙂

See you in 2 weeks!

Aurelia 🙂

Hi! I’m Aurelia 🙂

I help HOME BAKERS to become FOODIE BAKERS & make profit from it! Recipes from my own Foodie Home Bakery, BEST baking tips & food adventures.




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DIY Cupcake Liners – Quick and easy!

DIY Cupcake Liners – Quick and easy!

DIY Cupcake Liners

DIY cupcake liners are so simple to make! I love using them for muffins as well because they give the muffin a fuller and more homemade appearance. It is also WAY cheaper to make your own cupcake liners. Marie-Anne Duarte asked me how I make my perfect DIY cupcake liners a few weeks ago, so this one is for you!

I can’t tell you how many times I have baked cupcakes and/or muffins and then, as you get to scooping out the last bit of batter, you realise you are 2 liners short! This hack takes about 2 minutes from start to finish. In no time at all you will have your very own perfect DIY cupcake liners 🙂

The Paper

Wax Paper does not work for this. It is too thin and a nightmare to get off the actual baked product. You end up peeling it away in shards. Some of it you can’t even get off at all. Save yourself the hassle and just don’t even attempt to do this with wax paper.

Top quality baking/parchment paper, like GLAD, does not work either. It is TOO non-stick. It is brilliant for lining brownie and cake pans, but not for making DIY cupcake liners. The paper comes right off the cupcake. What we need is a paper that sticks to the baked product just enough so that it only peels off when you actually peel it off.

In grocery stores and baking stores you will find medium quality baking/parchment paper that is typically brown or white in colour. Brands like Unsgaard and Sylko. In baking stores, their baking paper is often not even from a particular brand. They buy it in bulk in giant rolls and make their own smaller rolls from it to sell to their clients. This baking/parchment paper is often non-stick on just one side or not even really non-stick at all. THIS is the paper need.

2 Sides

As I said, some baking/parchment paper has one non-stick side. Make sure that this side does NOT touch the muffin or cupcake. Otherwise it will slip right off. Make sure the dull side ends up on the inside of your DIY cupcake liners.

The Cutting

If you buy your baking/parchment paper in a roll, it makes life super easy. These rolls are generally about 45 cm in width.

  • Place the roll horizontally before you on a counter top. With your ruler placed vertically, measure 13 cm and mark it with a pencil.
  • Fold the paper over. Make sure the sides line up 100%. Look out for your mark.
  • Press down with your one hand, on the mark, and hold it there.
  • Let your other hand slide and press along the paper to create an even fold all the way to the other side. Slide over the fold with your nail again to secure it. You have now folded one long strip that will be turned into 4 DIY cupcake liners.
  • You can fold over the paper again multiple times like an accordion if you need to make lots of liners.
  • Cut the paper along the folds so that you end up with long strips of 13 cm x 45 cm.
  • Place 2 strips precisely on top of each other. Fold them over in half. Press down and secure the fold with your nail. Cut along the closed end so that you have 4 strips of 13 cm x 22,5 cm.

  • Place 4 strips precisely on top of each other. Fold them over in half. Press down and secure the fold with your nail. Cut along the closed end so that you have 8 liners of 13 cm x 11,25 cm.

The Folding

You will need a muffin/cupcake tin and a cup, measuring cup or ANYTHING that fits snugly into the holes of your tin. For me it is a large bottle of Cerebos Salt. Whatever you are going to use, let’s call it a “squeezer”.

  • Place a single piece of paper over a hole – as centralized as possible. Remember at this point to have the one non-stick side facing DOWN (if you are using a paper with one non-stick side). The non-stick side should not be in contact with the cupcake/muffin.
  • Press down with your squeezer over the paper, into the hole.
  • Roll around the squeezer to force the paper into the bottom of the hole.

  • The “ears” of your DIY cupcake liners will be a bit uneven and random. Use your thumb and index finger to grab each one and flatten it out. Especially the base of each ear. Do this with all 4 ears. You can twist you squeezer to access all the ears. You don’t need to turn the pan every time.
  • Press each ear tightly up against your squeezer.

  • Firmly roll around your squeezer again to really imprint that hole’s shape in the paper.

The Spooning

Now you will notice that the ears of the DIY cupcake liners are facing up. This will give you cupcakes that bake with North, South, East and West points, instead of nice and round. Here’s how you fix that.

  • Spoon your batter into your liners. You need the weight of the batter to keep the liner down.
  • Press down and open up the 4 ears (see image above right).
  • Bake as normal!

Additional Notes

If you used the right paper it will not peel away from the cupcake/muffin by itself. You can lift the baked goods out of the tin by holding onto the ears of the liner – don’t be scared, it won’t pull away.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to comment below!

See you in 2 weeks!

Aurelia 🙂

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