Tuesday, December 21, 2010

2 for 2 - Cakes for Eliyah

Loyalty to a fast food chain is the last thing I want to instil on any of my children. But unless we decide to become hermits there is no way we could get away from the constant bombardment of ads coming from these corporations. So, it came as no surprise to me what Eliyah wanted as her cake design for her birthday.

No, it’s not McDonald’s. It’s also not Burger King. It actually is a Philippine brand that has cleverly infiltrated all areas of mass media. Jollibee, the largest food service company in the Philippines, has gone beyond the more traditional forms of advertising to grab a following.

What hooked Eliyah to Jollibee is not the food (she was barely 1 when we last visited one of their stores). It’s the combination of catchy jingles and a kids TV programme that trumped other more well known kids’ shows. Although it has no presence in Australia (yet!), Jollibee still reaches us through the power of YouTube.

Designing the cake proved to be quite a challenge. For starters, my dear Cake Artiste wasn’t so sure about Jollibee’s colour. Is he red or isn’t he? Then there was the weather. It’s the height of summer downunder. The temperature was a wee bit above what the ganache could handle making it very tricky to work with. It was always on the verge of melting (it eventually did but not before the photos). But, being the Artiste that she is she managed to pull this one from somewhere despite it all.

And then she made cake number 2 for Eliyah’s actual birthday.

Cherry’s inspiration came from a book she was recently given (much appreciated Pael and Ada). This would be her first time to use 3D models she made herself as part of the cake d├ęcor. She made intricate little boxes of gifts. To top it all she created a model of a teddy bear. I’ll let the photos speak for her talent.

To my dearest daughter Eliyah, the fruit of my prime, happy 2nd birthday. Be true to your name and grow up with Yahweh as your God. May He bless your every step.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Buchi/Sesame Balls

The Filipino diet is rice-centric. From entrees to desserts, rice in one form or another can be found. Did I say desserts? Especially in desserts… One classic Asian sweet is the sticky rice ball. The Japanese have their mochi. We Filipinos have our buchi.

Growing up I’ve enjoyed this in its purest form. No sesame seeds. No flavours to choose from. The buchi sold in our barrio was simply deep fried sticky rice with a sweet mung bean filling. The buchi might have started as a ball straight out of the pan. But by the time the vendor gets to our place it’s more like a flattened disc. I did not mind. It was still scrummy.

Buchi’s popularity in the Philippines reached new heights when it formed part of Chowking’s (a well-known Chinese fast-food chain in the Philippines) menu. They serve the more traditional Chinese version of sesame coated balls filled with lotus cream/paste. If memory serves me right I think they also have ube (purple yam) flavoured buchi.

I find making buchi almost effortless. The most difficult part is making perfectly round balls hence my buchis are more rustic looking.

The filling is almost optional. My kids prefer them sans the filling. The recipe below is for sweet mung bean. But if you prefer a quicker version use canned lotus seed paste found in most Asian stores.

This is best eaten hot served with your favourite tea.

Buchi/Sesame Seed Puffs

Sweet Mung Bean Paste Filling

1/2 cup softened mung bean

1/2 cup caster sugar


3 cups glutinous rice powder

2/3 cup caster sugar

1 cup water

Sesame seeds

Oil for deep frying


1. Mix the softened mung bean and the sugar together.


1. Mix all the ingredients together to make the dough.

2. Divide dough into 20 equal pieces. You can go smaller or larger if you prefer.

3. Flatten each piece of dough into a circle.

4. Place a portion of the filling in the centre. Gather the edges of the dough to enclose the filling.

5. Roll into a ball and coat the outside with sesame seeds.

6. Heat oil for deep frying (medium heat). Deep fry the balls for approximately 5 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Serve hot with your favourite tea.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

9 Cakes for Eliana's 8th

My wife has warned me about posting more entries about cakes. She’s afraid I might alienate some of you who regularly read my posts. It’s becoming too cake-centric of late. I can’t help it. August to December is a season of milestones in my household. And there’s no better way to celebrate them than with Cherry’s exquisite creations.

At the risk of sounding too pompous about my family I reckon Cherry does a wonderful job. She’s only been at it for less than a year without any formal training beforehand. Talk about being a natural. I’m so proud of her and her sublime edible works of art.

So, even though this blog’s raison de tre is not cakes here’s another cake entry for you.

Eliana, who we lovingly call Chichay, recently celebrated her 8th birthday.

To mark the occasion Cherry made not one, not two but 9 cakes. The first set of 8, which she affectionately called Eliana’s Storyboard cake, we shared on her actual birthday. Each mini-cake has a story to tell. Each represents a year in her life.

Inspired by one of Eliana’s toys Cherry brilliantly constructed a two-tiered Littlest Petshop cake for Eliana’s party with her friends. The onset of the warm weather has proven to be a challenge in putting this one together but again she managed to pull it off seemingly effortlessly.

Like the meaning of your name you are indeed an “answer from God” Eliana. My prayer is that you will live your life as such. God bless your every step…