Sunday, December 25, 2011

Missing Christmas

A blessed Christmas to all.

It has been very difficult for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. I went through the motion of buying presents for everyone just because.  A couple of weeks ago, I was entering this online competition and had to answer in 25 words or less the question, "What makes Christmas special to you and why?"  I stared at the computer screen for a long time, not knowing what to write.  Ended up with nothing.  How pathetic.

I miss Christmases of my childhood so much.  Sometimes I just cry reminiscing about them.

We always got to wear brand new clothes and shoes for Christmas eve mass.  And the "feast" we had was the only time of the year we got to eat lots of ham, apples, walnuts, special cheese....

We had special, battery-operated toys that my parents only brought out during the Christmas season.  As soon as the season was over, the toys got packed up and stored until the next Christmas.  We never got tired of those toys.  The mere sight of my mom opening a fresh pack of batteries excited us.

We were a big family so there were definitely lots of presents too.  I didn't mind getting clothes instead of toys.

Christmas day lunch was spent at my aunties' house.  They had a huge house and they always cooked the best food and baked the greatest cakes and pastries. After lunch, we always played Black Jack.  We had great fun. Of course, more presents followed from my grandparents and aunties.  They always handed newly printed money, fresh from the bank!

Here is a photo of my big family, taken Christmas day of 1982. (I am 4th from the right, back row.) Since then, 6 of those in the photo have already passed away.  I miss them all very much.

These days, Christmas is totally different.  The anticipation, the excitement, the time spent with our extended family, relatives and friends are just not the same.  The kids today do not seem to have that same spirit that we had. I wish I could give my own children a better Christmas they can look back to and smile about when they're older. I just don't know how.

I am just tired, I guess.  I've been baking nonstop...I've had no time to pause and reflect.  I do long to experience real Christmas joy.

Before I go, here's the cake I made for our celebration today.  I opted for a safe flavour, chocolate.  Made the gumpaste decorations a week ago as I did not want to stress out at the last minute.  Yesterday, my husband accidentally sat on my poinsettia centerpiece and three of the petals broke.  I nearly died.  Repaired them with edible glue and covered up the cracks with petal dust.  Not too happy but it will do.

Again, have a blessed Christmas!  Peace, joy, love, and hope to all.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Coconut (Buko) Pandan Chiffon Cake

I know it's nearly Christmas...

...because I just made my very first Christmas-themed cake and cupcakes for the year!

This gumpaste Nativity centerpiece was inspired by a cake in Karen Davies'  A Cake for Christmas Part 2.   Isn't it lovely?  I just wanted the figures and not the fondant-covered cake.

My sister in-law wanted a big cake and some matching cupcakes, preferably in red and/or green colours. I suggested pandan chiffon for the cake and she decided on red velvet for the cupcakes.

The coconut pandan chiffon cake recipe I use is basically the same old chiffon recipe you see here over and over, only a different flavour.  Here it is, as you might want to try it out for your own Christmas cakes!   Frost it your way - either in buttercream (as in the cake above) or in whipped cream.  Then fill the cake with young coconut strips or with macapuno for added coconut goodness!

PANDAN CHIFFON CAKE  (recipe suitable for two 9" by 2 1/2" round pans, or one 10" by 3" round pan)

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup white sugar

1/2 cup corn/canola oil
7 egg yolks, from large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup water, coconut juice or coconut milk (your choice)
1 teaspoon pandan paste **

7 eggwhites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

3/4 cup white sugar

**You can replace this with 1 teaspoon clear pandan extract plus 1/2 teaspoon green gel paste

1.  Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.  Line bottom of baking pan/s with parchment paper.  Do not grease.
2.  In a large bowl, combine {A} well.  Add in {B}. Beat with electric mixer or by hand until smooth and well blended.
3.  In a separate bowl, beat {C} on high speed until frothy.  Gradually add in the sugar in {D} and beat until stiff peaks are formed.  Gradually and gently fold in egg whites into egg yolk mixture.  Pour batter into baking pan.  If using two 9" pans, divide the batter equally.
4.  Bake for about 55 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched.  Invert pan into wire rack immediately and cool completely.
5. To release cake from, carefully run a think knife around sides of pan, then invert.  For easier handling, wrap your cake very well in cling film, then refrigerate overnight before frosting.

Happy Christmas baking!

PS.  Here's a buko pandan cake I frosted with my usual whipped cream frosting and decorated very similarly to the ube macapuno cake.  Tastes just like the buko pandan salad Filipinos love!