Thursday, May 24, 2007

Lemon Sour Cream Cake

I've been so busy fufilling various orders for cupcakes and more Snickerdoodle muffins that I had to take a break and bake something lemony.

I went back to the first lemon recipe that I had ever adapted and baked just to see if it was as good as I vaguely remembered.

Part of the batter was baked in mini loaf tins and part of it in my new silicone mini rose moulds. The loaves turned out well but the roses looked as if caterpillars had bored holes into them.

Lemon Sour Cream Cake
makes 4 mini loaves or 24 cupcake size cakes

250g or 2 sticks butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
200g sour cream
1 lemon's zest

Preheat oven at 325F. Cream the butter and sugar until almost white. Beat in the eggs before adding in the sifted flour and baking soda together with the sour cream. Combine well and finally mix in the zest. Separate batter into 4 mini loaves
Bake mini loaves for 60 minutes, loosely covering with foil after 40 minutes to prevent burning the top of the loaves. If making mini cakes, bake for 40 minutes.

The original recipe instructed for the cake to be baked in a 10-inch round cake pan for 90 minutes.

Verdict: The cake is moist with a mild lemony flavour. It keeps well and is great served with a light dusting of icing sugar. However, after having had the Ultimate Lemon Pound Cake, this pales in comparison and I will only probably make this again if I wanted a cake with a lighter lemon flavour.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Apple & Raisin Spice Cake

Since the initial attempt at Snickerdoodle Muffins, I've made it three more times at the request of my colleagues. Time to move on to something new and the latest Weekend Cookbook Challenge was just it.

With the theme of Something New, I wanted to use my new acquired ice cream maker and submit an entry. However, I would have had to clear freezer space in order to fit in the quick-freezing bowl and that was not going to happen anytime soon. A bigger fridge would be nice too.

So I turned to Gale Gand's Just A Bite, another new acquisition I had yet to use. The first recipe I had flagged was her Stellar Apple Spice Cakes.

One reason was because I had never baked with apples before, not sure why. Perhape there were so many other fruits I was fixated with. Another reason was the lovely anecdote that accompanied the recipe. The author's mother Myrna and her best friend Stella reminded the author of Betty Rubble and Wilma Flintstone, not just in looks but also the closeness with each others' families. The recipe was in tribute to what the author's family considered to be Stella's best recipe.

This is my adaptation of it, without the nuts and with more apple.

Apple & Raisin Spice Cake
makes 24 cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup raisins
2 1/2 cups apple chunks (2-3 apples)

Preheat the oven at 350F. In a bowl, dredge the raisins with 2 tbs of the flour and lightly coat them to prevent them from sinking in the cake batter when baking. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until fluffy before adding in the oil and vanilla. In a separate bowl, sift the dry ingredients then combine into the egg mixture. Finally, stir in the chopped apples, evenly distributing them in the batter. Scoop into cupcake liners.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes.

Verdict: Its very easy cooking with apples. The taste of the spices really came through and I loved the crusty chewy top of the cakes. The original recipe came with a maple syrup frosting but the cake was sweet enough on its own and very yummy with a cold glass of milk.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Hummingbird Cupcake

What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

I couldn't help but wonder about the origin of the name for this cake. I found some answers here but truly, it can be called anything else and it would still be a great cake.

This is usually made with pecans but I substituted it with walnuts. These cupcakes were made with frosting but if I make these without the frosting, I increase the sugar by 1/3 cup.

Hummingbird Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

3 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup canned pineapple, chopped (100 ml liquid, the rest pineapple)
2 bananas, mashed
1 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat the oven at 350F. Sift all the dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs then stir in the oil and vanilla. Add this to the dry ingredients and combine before mixing in the pineapple, banana and walnuts. Scoop into cupcake liners.
Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes. Cool before frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick butter
4 cups icing sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter to combine before adding in the sifted icing sugar. Pipe frosting over the cooled cupcakes and decorate as desired.

Friday, May 4, 2007

My Mother's Roast Chicken

I can safely say that chicken is the meat of choice in my family, maybe because its my mother's favourite and she cooked it so regularly that we all grew to love it too.

Fortunately, we all love different parts of the chicken as well or there would be no peace at the table. My sister goes for the white meat, I prefer the dark meat, my mother likes the bony parts of the back and neck while my father is easygoing and eats everything else. World peace!

My mother has used this recipe over the years since she entertains regularly. This has become the most popular and requested of her repertoire. I've never tried to make it because I always got to eat it at home but now that I'm living on my own, this is the first time that I'm attempting it.

The recipe uses preserved red bean curd which is the one on the left side of the picture. The sichuan bean curd on the bottom right can also be used as replacement. The latter is great with plain rice porridge.

My Mother's Roast Chicken
marinates 8 drumsticks or 1 whole chicken

1 tsp grated ginger
1 tbs oyster sauce
1 tbs Chinese cooking wine
1 block or 1 1/2 tbsp preserved red bean curd
1 tbs dark soya sauce
1 tbs honey

Mash the bean curd then mix all the ingredients and marinate the chicken, preferably overnight.
Roast in a 400F oven for 20-30 minutes, turning over the meat halfway.

My family doesn't celebrate Mothers' Day (or Fathers' Day) but I hope my version of my mother's favourite dish is up to par for Eating Out Loud's Food Fight #2.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Banana Walnut Cake

Still on the theme of A Taste of Yellow, I made this cake for my father's birthday on Saturday. We got a bit of a scare last year when he tested for some cancer markers during his annual check-up. Fortunately, an operation took care of that and we're praying that he continues to enjoy good health so he can keep playing his beloved golf.

My father is the quiet type and I take after him more so than my sister. We're both happy to let the other more vocal members of our small family air their views. We both enjoy strong tasting food and game meat. He's a simple man with simple needs so I didn't need to dress the cake up. I know he'll enjoy it with his coffee and he'll toast the leftovers for later in the week.

One of the first recipes I flagged when I got Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours was her Lots-of-Ways Banana Cake (except that the English teacher in me mentally corrected it to Many-Ways Banana Cake).

I was taken by how many permutations there could be given the allowances made in the recipe for the variety of milk (whole milk, buttermilk, coconut milk, sour cream, yogurt) and dried fruit (shredded coconut, apricots, prunes, cranberries, blueberries, cherries) plus the option of adding alcohol.

I adapted the recipe and made mine in loaf pans because they're easier to store in the fridge. The recipe instructs that the dry and wet ingredients be added in an alternating manner, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. I'm not shy to admit that I'm lazy and I haven't been able to detect a discernible difference when doing it my way.

I also take shortcuts like when I sift the dry ingredients directly into the bowl or lining only the the loaf pan only on the long side because its just easier to cut the paper. So far it works and the cake came out beautifully.

Banana Walnut Cake
makes 2 loaves (8 x 4.5 in)

3/4 cup or 1 1/2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 bananas, mashed
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven at 350F. Cream the butter before adding the sugar. Mix in all the wet ingredients and bananas then sift in the dry ingredients and mix. Separate batter into 2 lined loaf tins.
Bake for 60-70 minutes, loosely covering with foil after 40 minutes to prevent burning the top of the loaves.

Verdict: A moist cake, not airy light but not dense either. I love the crusty top and the tasty middle. The next time I will probably make these in muffins so that I get more of the crusty surfaces.