I had a session with Dr. A this afternoon and somehow found myself sitting in the clinic promptly at 1pm, only to find out that my appointment was at 2pm. Nice! So I went grocery shopping since my initial intention was to go after my appointment. Did a switcheroo and was back once again at 2pm.

I ended up talking a LOT this afternoon and we managed to unravel quite a few things so next session she wants to do some imagery(?) work because we’ve uncovered the fact that I hold a lot of self-doubt that borders onto self-loathing when I feel as though I’ve failed.

We spoke of work and how I can be quite the perfectionist – how I hold on to discontentment when I feel as though I’ve not created a cake to my level of expectation. And this self-doubt translates sometimes to other aspects of my life. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing striving for perfection in my work, but perhaps it’s not so good when I stay annoyed with myself for days on end for a piece I’m not happy with.

Last week was particularly hectic for me with cafe orders piled on top of private orders. One of the private orders I had involved a Lychee Sponge Cake with Passionfruit Curd and Vanilla Buttercream. This flavour combination seems to be most popular these days, after Earl Grey Lavender.

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I decided to practice a bit more ‘painting’, this time going with what I hoped looked like poppies, or if not, at least red flowers. I wasn’t quite as happy with this compared to the blue floral one I did earlier but the recipient of this cake was thrilled and mentioned that she couldn’t bear to cut into it. Of course, they did in the end.

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I still need to look for food colouring that has a better consistency and more than that, I need more practice in painting. One of my old school friends does watercolour painting and brush calligraphy as a hobby and she’s amazing at it. And in two weeks’ time, I’ll have a lesson with her for basic flower painting. I know I know, painting on paper isn’t quite the same as on buttercream but it’ll be nice to at least know the basic strokes. Super stoked about the lesson!!

I also had an order for a 90th birthday cake – two in fact. The main cake was planned to be consumed by everyone at the birthday bash and another small one was requested to be made gluten free specially for 90-year-old grandpa.

I obliged and made a Gluten Free Banana Cake with no added sweeteners, and frosted it with Dark Chocolate Ganache.

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The main event was yet another Lychee Sponge Cake with Passion Fruit Curd frosted with Vanilla Buttercream. The idea for the tree was to represent the family of this grandpa. The tree trunk, strong and sturdy and symbolic of him, the three branches represented his children, and the each flower stood for each of his seven grandchildren.

To be honest, I wasn’t too happy with the final product and how it looked. And although it’s been a few days, I can’t help but beat myself up over how amateur I think it looks.

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I had feedback after on how everyone enjoyed the cake and many were apparently asking where the cake was ordered from. But still, I can’t help but feel that it’s not quite up to scratch in terms of looks. Upon delivery, I found out that they had a red/gold colour theme and I’ve been finding myself constantly imagining how I could have incorporated those colours into  the decoration of the cake to create a more polished look.

When I’m unable to meet my own expectations, it makes me doubt myself and my ability as a baker. I wonder if I’m really good enough to be doing what I’m doing and the frustrating thing is, I know that the only person being critical of me is me. Even though the feedback was good, I can’t seem to take it in entirely. It doesn’t mean I’m not happy that the guests loved the cake, it just means that I wish I’d done it better.

Anyway, thoughts aside, I had some leftover GF Banana Cake left and did a quick frosting of ganache for it. Finishing’s not perfect but I wanted to try out more ‘painting’, going for white since I wasn’t sure how colours would turn out on ganache. Again, not perfect and definitely room for improvement.

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If you’ve managed to hold on this long reading my post, you’re in for a treat with my New York Cheesecake recipe. I remember earlier in my teens, before ED happened, every year when it was Mum’s birthday, I would stop by Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and buy a slice of NY Cheesecake. We’d all share that slice to celebrate, and because it was so rich and creamy, the one slice was always satisfying to share amongst the four of us without getting overwhelmingly cloying. So in essence, the NY Cheesecake is a cake I hold dear to my heart.

I do have a go-to recipe for cheesecakes that I use for the cafes but this one is quite special and exceptionally delicious. It was requested by one of Dad’s old friends – they go way way way back. He’s a total NY Cheesecake connoisseur so the pressure was big on making this perfect.

You can see that the crust is a little thick but that’s simply my preference. I’m a little weird like that because I love the crust most. Same as with tarts – crisp, buttery tart shells are my preference, fillings are secondary. Also, the original recipe calls for sour cream but I didn’t have any at hand so I substituted with a healthier alternative – Greek Yoghurt.

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New York Cheesecake (Makes 1 6″ Round)

Base:
130g Digestives, finely crushed
30g Sugar
80g Warm Butter

Filling
600g Cream Cheese
150g Sugar
2 Tbsp Plain Flour, Sifted
Zest 1 Lemon
1 tsp Lemon Juice
2 Eggs
1 Egg Yolk
135g Greek Yoghurt (or Sour Cream)

  1. Preheat oven to 180deg C and line a 6″ Round Baking tin.
  2. Mix digestives together with sugar and warm butter until nicely combined. Spread onto base of the tin and using the back of a spoon, level it evenly. Bake for 15min.
  3. Once base is cooked, increase oven temperature to 200deg C.

For filling:

  1. Using a paddle whisk, cream cream cheese until nice and smooth.
  2. Add sugar and combine.
  3. Scrape mixture down before adding flour.
  4. Switch paddle to whisk attachment and whisk in lemon zest and juice.
  5. Whisk in eggs and yolk one at a time. Scraping down after each addition.
  6. Whisk in yoghurt.
  7. Mixture should be thick but light. Pour mixture on top of prepared base and bake for 15min.
  8. Lower temperature to 110deg C and bake for another 25-30min until a shake of the cheesecake produces a light wobble.
  9. Turn off oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar until cheesecake is cool.
  10. Cover with cling wrap and allow to chill in the fridge overnight before removing from tin.

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You can leave out the lemon zest and juice in place of vanilla if you wish but I find that the citrus gives the cheesecake a nice refreshing lift, and cuts the richness of the filling. It’s tempting for sure to add on some blueberry jam on top or a luscious lemon curd, but I’m quite the purist when it comes to cheesecake and especially with a classic NY Cheesecake, I believe it should be left as is. There’s a reason it’s a classic and so loved by people the world over. It’s comfort in a bite and a little goes a long way!

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2 replies on “New York New York.

  1. I think anyone would be proud and happy to receive those painted cakes 🙂 Considering its your first attempt without any classes, I think it’s a really good job! I struggle a lot with harsh expectations of myself when it comes to my own work too. Maybe it will help to detach a tiny bit from the work and think about what you’d say to a good friend if she painted it? 🙂 x

    1. You’re so right. The moment I read your comment it was like BAM! I need to practice more compassion towards myself as I would towards a friend. And I would probably have said that it looks great. 🙂 Thanks for the timely reminder. I hope that it is also something you’ll exercise when judging your own work! ❤ x

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