Saturday, September 20, 2014

chewy chocolate nut cake

It is that time of the month when the members of the Cake Slice Bakers unveil their choice of the cake of the month.

For the first time, I was in a quandary because I had a really hard time deciding between this cake and the Banana Nut Cake. My choice was leaning towards the cake with banana because I know that banana and nuts make a fabulous combination.

But one of the main reasons why I joined this baking group was to push myself to bake something that I would not normally bake, so I decided to bake the chocolate cake in the end.
Of course I've baked my share of chocolate cakes, but what made this cake so interesting is that the top of the cake is covered by a layer of chocolate and nuts held together by a syrup (which would harden as the cake cools) and there is also a layer of chocolate and nuts somewhere in the middle of the cake.

Which all sounded really delicious to me!!
Here are the instructions on how to make this cake.

Into the bowl of a food processor, measure and add all the ingredients to make the topping.
Use the pulse function to blitz until the mixture just comes together. You want medium-sized bits.
Sprinkle half of this mixture onto the base of a lined and greased 9-inch Springform pan. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly.
Set this aside.

Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. Into this, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 1.5-2 minutes after each addition.
Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.
 By now you should have a mixture that resembles a curdled soup.
Add the flour and milk in the sequence flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.
The batter will become smooth again.

Pour 2/3 of the batter onto the chocolate-nut mixture in the Springform pan. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture.
Sprinkle the remaining chocolate-nut mixture over the batter.
Pour the remaining batter and spread from the middle outwards, covering the chocolate-nut mixture.
Bake at 175°C for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch.

To unmold, invert the cake onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom disc of the pan as well as the baking paper on the topping.
Admittedly, the cake was delicious - the cake itself was moist (as most of Walter's cakes seem to be) and the chocolate was deep, dark and rich. So much so that I could even bring myself to ignore the taste of the nuts (I detest nuts!).

But I just wish I could make the cake look prettier.

Then it would be near perfect!

RECIPE
Chewy Chocolate Nut Cake (Serves 12-16)
Adapted from "Great Cakes" by Carole Walters

Ingredients:
For the topping:
1 1/2 cups (180g) pecan or walnut pieces - I used walnuts
1/2 cup (59g) unsweetened cocoa, sifted - I used Valrhona
1/3 cup (100g) light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 cup (67g) caster sugar
2 tablespoons (30ml) light corn syrup
1/4 cup (56.7g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the cake:
2 1/4 cups (225g) cake flour, sifted
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cups (151g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (225g) caster sugar - I reduced this by 50%
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract
3/4 cup (180ml) milk - I used whole milk

Method:
1. Into the bowl of a food processor, measure and add all the ingredients to make the topping.
2. Use the pulse function to blitz until the mixture just comes together. You want medium-sized bits.
3. Sprinkle half of this mixture onto the base of a lined and greased 9-inch Springform pan. Use a spatula to spread the mixture evenly. Set this aside.
4. Using the paddle attachment of the mixer, beat the butter and sugar until the mixture turns light and fluffy. Into this, add the eggs, one at a time, and beat for about 1.5-2 minutes after each addition.
5. Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.  By now you should have a mixture that resembles a curdled soup.
6. Add the flour and milk in the sequence flour-milk-flour-milk-flour.
7. The batter will become smooth again.
8. Pour 2/3 of the batter onto the chocolate-nut mixture in the Springform pan. Use a spatula to smooth the mixture.
9. Sprinkle the remaining chocolate-nut mixture over the batter.
10. Pour the remaining batter and spread from the middle outwards, covering the chocolate-nut mixture.
11. Bake at 175°C for 55-60 minutes, or until the cake comes away from the sides of the pan and is springy to the touch.
12. To unmold, invert the cake onto a rack. Carefully remove the bottom disc of the pan as well as the baking paper on the topping.

I am sharing this post with Cook Your Books hosted by Joyce from Kitchen Flavours.
Always a pleasure to be baking with



Friday, September 19, 2014

strawberry cloud cake

I made a cake today.

That, in itself, is not a surprise.

Then I took a bite. And it made my toes curl. And I let out a small, satisfied grunt.
Of pure pleasure.

It was unbelievable!

This is one of the most beautiful cakes I have ever made. And, yet, probably one of the simplest.

Because, you see, it is a cloud cake.

And you don't need an oven to make this cake.
God I love everything about this cake - the process of making the cake, the lovely shades of pink, the marshmallowy texture, the smell of the fresh strawberries, and of course, how beautiful it looks.

And it took me all of 20 minutes to make this lovely, lovely cake.

Here's how.

In a food processor, I blitzed the graham crackers. You can use any type of sweet biscuits. I always have graham crackers in my pantry so that was what I used.
Into this, I added melted butter, desiccated coconut and cinnamon.
I really love this combination. The smell of the coconut. Hmmmm. :)

I transferred this into a lined and greased Spingform pan and using a flat bottom cup, I pressed the crumbs down.
This was placed in the fridge to chill.

I hulled and sliced the strawberries and set them aside.
In a mixing bowl, I whisked together egg whites and sugar.
I added vanilla extract and lemon juice.
Then the strawberries.
And beat on high speed for 5-6 minutes, until the mixture is REALLY fluffy, and all the sugar had dissolved.
I poured the mixture into the pan.
And using a spatula, I smooth the top as best as I could.
I covered the top with a piece of baking paper and this was placed in the freezer to chill for at least 4 hours.

To serve, I simply topped it with berries and sprinkle on some icing sugar.
I love Annabel Langbein's recipes. To date she is one of my favourite cooks because her recipes are down-to-earth, simple and totally easy to follow.

And they work every time.

Don't have an oven? No problem.

Never made a cake before? No worries.
Now you can. :)

The very fantastic folks at Tovolo would like to give away a set each of the Tovolo Star Pop molds and the Groovy Pop Molds with 2 readers of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe! To participate in the giveaway, click on the pictures below!

RECIPE
Strawberry Cloud Cake (Serves 10-12)
Adapted from Annabel Langbein

Ingredients:
For the base:
150g plain sweet biscuits - I used graham crackers
½ cup *46.5g) desiccated coconut
1½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
100g unsalted butter, melted

For the filliing:
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar - I reduced this to 3/4 cup
250g (1 punnet) ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
1 teaspoon (5ml) vanilla extract

To garnish:
fresh raspberries
fresh blueberries
fresh blackberries
icing sugar

For the berry syrup:
3 cups raspberries, fresh or thawed from frozen
½ cup caster sugar
2 tbsp water

Method:
For the base:
Line the base of a 26-28cm spring form cake tin (I used a 10-inch Springform pan) with baking paper or waxed paper. This makes it easy to lift the cake out later.

Make the base by putting the biscuits in a brown paper bag and crushing them into crumbs by beating carefully with a rolling pin. Pour the crumbs into a medium bowl and add the coconut, cinnamon and melted butter. Stir well to combine.

Press firmly into the base of the prepared tin. It doesn’t need to be a thick layer – just enough to cover the bottom of the tin. Refrigerate the base while you prepare the filling.

For the filling:
Place egg whites, sugar, sliced strawberries, lemon juice and vanilla in the clean, dry bowl of an electric mixer. Beat on high speed for about 6-8 minutes until the mixture is very thick and fluffy and the sugar has dissolved. To test whether it is ready, rub a bit of the mixture between your fingers. You should not feel any gritty sugar. If you do, beat a little longer.

Spoon the filling over the chilled base, smooth the top, cover with a sheet of baking paper and freeze for at least 4 hours. The cake will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to a month.

To serve, cut cake into wedges using a knife that has been warmed in hot water. Garnish with fresh raspberries on top and drizzle with Berry Syrup to serve.

For the berry syrup:
Put the berries in a pot and add the sugar and water. Bring to a simmer. Remove the pot from the heat and press the berries through a sieve or mouli to extract the juice and remove the pips. Berry Syrup will keep for up to 10 days covered in the fridge.

Note: I omitted the berry syrup.
Also: I use organic eggs bought from a source I trust. I also use them while they are very fresh. If you are worried about using raw eggs, you can always look for pasturised egg whites, or skip baking this cake altogether - I understand it is not for everyone!

"Raw Egg Whites  Although it is possible for Salmonella to be in both the white and the yolk of the egg, the white does not readily support bacterial growth. Cold souffl├ęs, mousses, and chiffons containing raw beaten whites require refrigeration to maintain their character, and added safety factor. Such dishes might be considered low risk for healthy individuals." Source: here.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

greek yogurt blueberry muffins

This is a great recipe if

1. You are a beginner baker.
2. If you have left over egg yolks and have no idea what to do with them.
3. You love blueberries.
4. You want to make something quick but delicious for breakfast.
All good reasons, no?

I always have some egg yolk lurking around in my fridge so I am always looking out for recipes to use them up. Normally I use the yolks to make carbonara sauce but I can't feed my family this too often so there is always a need for new egg-yolk loving recipes.
I like muffins that contain loads of fruit, and in particular, I really like those that make use of blueberries. I love blueberries!

I have also found that muffins that contain yogurt (or sour cream) tend to be more moist. I mean, who wants to eat a dry muffin, right?

Here are the steps to make these muffins.

In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries, give everything a good stir to combine and set this aside.
In another bowl, add the sugar, yogurt egg and egg yolk. Whisk until everything is combined.
Add the melted butter a little a time, whisking continuously until all the butter has been incorporated.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in two additions and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
The resulting mixture will be very thick.
Dish the mixture into the muffin pans which have been lined.
If you like, sprinkle some sanding sugar (or demerara sugar) on the muffins.
Bake at 215°C for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 175°C and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into a muffin emerges cleanly.
Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.
These muffins are chock full of blueberries!!!

YUMMY!!

The very fantastic folks at Tovolo would like to give away a set each of the Tovolo Star Pop molds and the Groovy Pop Molds with 2 readers of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe! To participate in the giveaway, click on the pictures below!

RECIPE
Greek Yogurt Blueberry Muffins (Makes 18)
Adapted from food-mouth.com

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups (312g) plain flour - I used 1 1/2 cups plain flour, and 1 cup wholemeal flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint (200g) blueberries - I used 250g
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 cup (200g) caster sugar - I used 150g
1 cup (240ml) plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, melted
Sanding sugar (or demerara sugar), for sprinkling (Optional)

Method:
1. In a bowl, add the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the blueberries, give everything a good stir to combine and set this aside.
2. In another bowl, add the sugar, yogurt egg and egg yolk. Whisk until everything is combined.
3. Add the melted butter a little a time, whisking continuously until all the butter has been incorporated.
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in two additions and stir with a wooden spoon until just combined.
5. The resulting mixture will be very thick.
6. Dish the mixture into the muffin pans which have been lined.
7. If you like, sprinkle some sanding sugar (or demerara sugar) on the muffins.
8. Bake at 215°C for 5 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 175°C and bake for another 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into a muffin emerges cleanly.
9. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.