cancer sucks

Dear Lyndsay,

“Cancer sucks” doesn’t even begin to describe it. You have been incredible, brave, and strong and so many of us have followed your journey as you posted about your difficult experience. I think so many of us can relate because no one can avoid it nowadays. I’m pretty sure that everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, so to give it the big old middle finger is just about all we can usually do to show our anger and frustration.

I personally know a handful of people dear to me who have gone through the horrible experience or have managed to exhaust all types of treatments according to the doctors. A handful is way too many!

I just want to thank you for initiating the #fuckcancercake project. It’s amazing how we have never met, yet you can create such a magnetic pull all across the country to me. I remember writing to you after your blog post back in February 2015. It’s funny how the online baking community can feel so attached to each other. I love seeing you post on instagram and reading your blog. I often think of you and Teddy whenever I see a ghost book or a new kids book he might like. Most of all, I love how you’re another cool person who’s into dessert and resides in the same country as me. Plus, you have a “y” where most people put an “i” – just like my name!

Without further ado, I hope I made you proud with my #fuckcancercake. I tried to draw as many inspirations from you as possible. Pink. Star piping. Sprinkles.

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I tend to pipe the frosting between cake layers instead of spreading it around with a spatula. I find this so much easier and faster to fill a cake. Do you have any special techniques?

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Same goes for that second level. And the small gaps don’t really matter. The cake layers help squish and fill in the frosting.

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Practicing my star tip. I’m still no where as good as you, Lyndsay!

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Really practicing my piping. Thought this would be fun even though I’m going with a smooth edge.

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And when I say smooth edge, you must really take it with a grain of salt. I think I need a bench scraper! My poor little cake is wonky. But I decided to put some chocolate ganache on the top to help the writing really pop.

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Here goes nothing. No such thing as an icing eraser.

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Got to have some sprinkles for that extra “f-ck you cancer!”

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Yeah! You take that! (Err, the more I look at it, the more my “c” looks like an “l” – sorry for anyone named Lancer out there.)

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That’s right, there’s more colours of the rainbow in the cake. You’re going down cancer.

Sincerely,
Syl

PS: This cake also goes out to those of you I love who want to give cancer the big middle finger. You know who you are.

thanksgiving apple flan

Dear Dad,

Welcome home! It’s good to have you back, I hope you’re not going through a tough bout of jet lag. But I’m glad you’re back safe and sound and in time for Thanksgiving. We kept hearing about typhoons in Taiwan and was glad to know you could still reach us online. But in true dad fashion, you went out in the rain anyways.

The good thing is your brother started to get better and things weren’t as worrisome as they were last month. I feel that I’m grateful every week, but it’s nice to have a day dedicated to really looking back and evaluating how blessed and lucky we are. So many things have to happen for us to get to where we are today. I’m so grateful you and mom came to Canada, gave my brother and I numerous opportunities and paths to choose from, and continue to take care of us even though it should be the other way around by now.

I used to think that our family wasn’t of the norm, we went to school and classmates would point out that they get grounded, that their parents were never around, and that they don’t always eat dinner together at the dining table. Well first, thanks for never grounding me – I also understand that it’s not a typical punishment in our culture. Thank you for always being around. And I look forward to our family dinners even though technology has slowly crept in with phones and tablets in the kitchen.

I think flan will always be associated with you. It was the first time I found out that there was a dessert out in this world that you liked. That it gave you childhood memories. That it’s one thing I’ll serve that you won’t share with others and will give me the plate back with no flan crumbs on it.

I’ve made classic flan and then a coffee flavoured one in your request, but for this Thanksgiving, I’m adding an autumn touch with apples.

Apple Flan
(Fits one loaf pan)

1 apple
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
½ teaspoon cinnamon powder
1½ cup whole milk
1 (300mL) can condensed milk
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C). Use a roasting pan that is large enough to fit your loaf pan in it. Put in the loaf pan and then fill the roasting pan with water. Make sure the water doesn’t spill into the loaf pan, you want it about half an inch from the top. Remove the loaf pan. Put the roasting pan with water into the oven.
  2. In a small pot, add in the sugar and water over medium-high heat. Let the sugar dissolve, you don’t need to stir or move it.
  3. While the caramel is forming, slice up the apple into thin slices. I only needed about half the apple, but you can use the entire one if you want more apple in your flan.
  4. Take out a skillet or frying pan and heat if over medium-high heat. Add in the butter, apple, and cinnamon. Cook until the apples are tender, which should take around 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and set it aside to cool.
  5. Check on that caramel! When you see it turn brown, you know it’s ready. Mine went to a deep golden colour because I took my eyes off of it to set up the next photo. Oops! Luckily it didn’t burn and I quickly poured it into the loaf pan to keep it from cooking any more. Make sure the caramel coats the entire bottom of the loaf pan.
  6. In a mixing bowl or using your stand mixer, pour in the milk, condensed milk, eggs, and vanilla extra. Whisk until combined.
  7. Arrange the apple slices over the caramel in the loaf pan. As much as I wanted them to stay in the pretty layers on the caramel, they will get loose and float to the top of the flan.
  8. Using a sieve or strainer, pour in the flan batter over the caramel and apple slices.
  9. Carefully place the loaf plan in the roasting pan with hot water and bake for 50 minutes. The custard should be set when you take it out – it’ll be a little jiggly, but will firm up after some chill time. Let it get to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
  10. When it’s time to serve, fill the roasting pan with hot water. Place the loaf pan in it to help loosen up the caramel. This will make it easier to unmold. Then, run a knife around the edge of the pan to help separate the flan from the loaf pan. Find a platter or pan with edges to serve the flan in. Carefully turn the flan upside down and give it a slight shimmy if needed. The edges of the serving dish will help catch any extra caramel sauce.
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I remove the skin on my apples – mainly because Howard seems to get an allergic reaction to apple skin (maybe from the pesticides? – but you can choose to keep them if you want.
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Slide those apples up really nice.
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The cinnamon apples smelled sooooo good.
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Ai! Hot, hot, hot. Look at that steam from the caramel.
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There really isn’t a point to arranging the apple slices nicely, but . . . doesn’t it look nice?
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Straining the batter will help you get a smoother flan texture.

Apple Flan
Use the same pan from the water bath to help loosen the bottom of the flan. Sometimes you get to hear a very satisfying “crack” from the caramel.
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Plop! A clean removal.Apple FlanLook at all that caramel sauce. Soak your loaf pan in hot water to help remove the hardened caramel.Apple Flan
Don’t forget the extra caramel sauce when you serve!

Sincerely,
Syl