Getting older…

It’s been all too long since I last posted something here, so here we go 😀
My birthday is coming up and I figured I’d make a cake, more precisely a Prinsesstårta.
Now, it didn’t end up looking like that, as I didn’t have any food coloring for one and I can’t make the roses…
None the less, with several restrictions as you have when you live in Asia when it comes to what products are available, you have to go back to basics here, in other words, make it yourself.

Certain things are quite easy to get, like flour, sugar, cream, eggs etc, but marzipan isn’t one of them and vanilla sugar can be hard as well.
I got some raspberry jam in Costco along with whipping cream (as it’s cheaper there), but I wasn’t willing to pay the prices they wanted for marzipan in CitySuper, so I decided to make some myself. It’s actually not very hard here in Taiwan, as almond powder is available in almost every supermarket, as they mix it with hot water and drink it here.
Although the stuff they drink is generally mixed with some other stuff and pre-sweetened, but that works quite well anyhow.

So, first you start by making the basic almond paste, mix almond powder, powder sugar (unless the almond powder is already sweetened) and an egg white. Blend with a hand blender until you get a solid mass, you might have to add more almond powder or powder sugar to get the right texture and flavor. To turn the almond paste in to marzipan you need some more powder sugar and some liquid glucose or fructose, as the marzipan is much more pliable than the almond paste and it’s also generally sweeter. You want to try to keep it quite dry, so don’t add to much glucose/fructose into the mixture. That’s it, you’re done. If you happen to have food colouring, you can add that now.

I didn’t, so the cake ended up yellow, but I can live with that. I’ve found that there’s some very cheap Japanese synthetic vanilla powder you can buy here, it’s unsweetened and tastes really nasty on its own, but it works for home made custard/vanilla sauce/pudding etc. Just one thing though, add it to the cold mixture just as you would with vanilla sugar and make sure you double up on the sugar amount, as otherwise the end result won’t be sweet enough. You can always add some powder sugar to the cold sauce if it’s not sweet enough. Vanilla essence works as well, or bourbon vanilla, just keep in mind that the latter adds a brownish colour to whatever it is you’re doing.

It’s starting to get warm here again after a couple of very cold months with temperatures at night going down to 7-8 degrees C, which isn’t normal even in the northern parts of Taiwan for such a long period of time. We’ve gotten a new kitten, which Brenda found under a car when we were out driving, she has this special super hearing when it comes to cat’s miauing, beats me how she could hear that kitten in the middle of all the traffic and noise that was going on. Anyhow, she was a dirty little thing full of fleas and with an eye infection when we found here and she was just over 100g. Now, 4 weeks later, she’s a healthy 700g and is getting bigger by the day.

I’ve also planted some potatoes on the balcony and they’re growing super fast, the biggest plant is already starting to sprout flower buds, after only three weeks which must be a record. Yes, it’s indeed possible to grown your own spuds here, just get a big flower pot or a bucket with some holes in the bottom, sprout some potatoes (which isn’t hard here due to the humid climate), get some plant soil and plant them. I’ve been watering them every two days and they’re growing like crazy. Time will tell what the end result will be…

Well, that’s it for now, I just need to try and take some time away from what I do and update this site a bit more regularly. Until then…

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