Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Whiskey Eggnog Cake

I thought I would tackle making pandoros this Christmas but I never got around to it and instead, I'm using my mini pandoro moulds for this cake. I've also tried this in the loaf form to give away as presents.

The recipe is originally from The Pastry Queen Christmas. I've adapted it to be less sweet since the icing already contributes to that. The original recipe also called for the whipping cream to be whipped into soft peaks - one of my baking phobias. The first time I tried to do it, I made butter and subsequent attempts have yielded only one successful outcome. So in my
version, I just poured in the whipping cream.

Whiskey Eggnog Cake
makes 24-36 mini cakes or 3 loaves

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
2 1/2 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt
2 tsp grated nutmeg
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whiskey

1/4 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup whiskey
3 cups icing sugar

Preheat oven at 325F.
Cream the butter until pale before adding in the sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in the eggs yolks and vanilla until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg together. Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three additions, alternating with thewhipping cream and mix well. Finally, combine whiskey with the batter. Scoop into loaf pans, mini cake or muffin moulds.

Bake for 40-50 minutes if making loaves or 25-35 minutes for mini cakes. Cover the tops with foil after 30 minutes of baking time to prevent over browning.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the glaze by sifting the icing sugar and mixing in the liquids. Stir well to reduce lumps. Upon cooling, drizzle the glaze over the top of the cakes and let it soak in. Before serving, garnish with a sprinkling of nutmeg if desired.

Verdict: The cakes were fragrant and moist straight out from the oven. After glazing and resting overnight in the fridge, they were slightly more dense like a regular pound cake. The alcohol in the glaze sure makes its presence felt so add whiskey or glaze sparingly.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chocolate Pudding

I made these for a supper party with some girlfriends who teach at the place I use to work at. By the time they finished class and came over to mine, supper started at 10.30 p.m. We hung out and chit-chatted till dawn so I'm partially wasted today.

Chocolate Pudding
makes 12 servings

200g butter
200g chocolate (55% ccoca)
200g hot water
170g sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 eggs, separated
35g flour
a pinch of baking powder

Preheat oven at 350F. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until smooth. Add in the hot water and sugar, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat then mix in the vanilla and egg yolks. Sift in the the flour and baking powder, whisking it until the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Fold the beaten egg whites into the chocolate mixture a third at a time. Scoop the final mixture into ramekins or a large souffle dish and prepare a water bath by boiling a kettle of water.

Bake in a water bath for 25-30 minutes for ramekin portions or 40-50 minutes for souffle dish portion. Serve hot with pouring cream or chill overnight and serve with whipped cream.

Verdict: These puddings are great hot and fresh from the oven, served with pouring cream. It was very moist and the flavour was intense. The chilled versions were a lot denser and more ideal for a dessert that you can prepare ahead. They could have been sweeter for those who prefer less of a bitter chocolate flavour.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Canele 1.0

I had a grand plan for a canele recipe experiment, using recipes from Chocolate and Zucchini, LaTartine Gourmande and Tartlette.

I actually made a batch of each but that's where the experimentation lost control. I brought the whole lot to a girlfriend's place since she had a superduper oven and we were going to
hang out. However, her fancy oven had various functions for regular baking and cake baking and what not so needless to say, it was not a controlled process and the results were varied. The caneles were all good and scoffed down quickly as soon as they came out of the oven, which is why I don't have pictures of them.

I decided to try it on my own but slowly and one batch at a time. When I did this last month, the assignments had started to pile up so even though C&Z's recipe called for the batter to be rested for a couple of days, mine rested a whole week.

I also cheated and used the blender to get everything mixed because when I made the batters
the first time, I got frustrated with the lumpy flour bits which I had to sieve out. My final deviation or what the purists would frown on was to use silicon moujlds because frankly, one copper mould here costs as much as a silicon one that would make 15 at a time.

So here is C&Z's recipe which I adapted.

makes about 20-30

cups milk
3 tbs butter
1 tsp vanilla paste
100g flour
200g sugar
3 eggs

1/3 cup rum

Combine the milk, butter and vanilla in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Watch this carefully as it boils over very quickly and creates a mess. Remove from heat and set aside. In the meantime, mix the flour and sugar in a separate bowl. When the milk mixture has cooled enough, combine it in the blender with the flour mixture, eggs and rum. Refrigerate the batter in a sealed container for at least 24 hours and up to 7 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven at 480F. Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a stir as it might have separated. Pour into the molds, filling them almost to the top. Put into the oven to bake for 20 minutes, then (without opening the oven door) lower the heat to 400F and bake for another 40 to 60 minutes. Remove from oven and unmold onto a cooling rack. Cool completely before eating. Store in an airtight container or in the fridge for up to a week.

Verdict: These are best eaten on the day they are baked or within the next 2 days. If stored in the fridge, they lose their crusty exterior. Great snack and so easy to make!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Got organised

Its not that I haven't been baking, I just haven't been trying any new recipes. I kept having cravings for some of my favourite cakes so I just kept makng them. Hopefully, I have had enough of lemon pound cake and carrot cake.

I spent most of the school holidays re-organising my stuff. Its just cathartic to get rid of stuff I had been hanging on to in a vain hope that I would make use of it someday. It's also a great feeling to clear space for the stuff that I really need. The local Salvation Army has benefitted
greatly from my big clear-out.

I took ages going through my books and deciding which ones to keep or give away. Finally, my bookshelves reflect my current reading interests. With the start of the new school term, perhaps I will find more time to try the recipes that I've rediscovered while going through my books.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Coffee & White Chocolate Chip Muffin

I'm not a fan of coffee because it sometimes works as a laxative on me. However, after working at a cafe, I do like the aroma of a good cuppa and if I do take coffee, its got to be cold and loaded with lots of milk and sugar - basically coffee flavoured sweetened milk on ice.

As the newbie at work, I've been spared from most of the marking of the exam scripts. Since it can be torturous grading a couple of hundred scripts filled with crap, I wanted to treat my new colleagues after coming across a recipe from this book. I've adapted it for a larger batch and used white chocolate chips instead.

Coffee & White Chocolate Muffin

makes 36 muffins

2 cups or 4 sticks of butter
1 1/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
3 eggs
5 1/2 cups flour
2 2/3 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
7-8 tbs instant coffee powder
1 1/3 cup milk
2 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven at 350F. Cream the butter until pale before adding in the sugar and beating until fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time until well combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Into the creamed mixture, add the sifted mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions. Finally, stir in the white chocolate chips. Scoop into muffin liners.

Bake for about 25 minutes until the tops of the cupcakes spring back when touched.

Verdict: The coffee aroma is present but not overpowering. It is also not too sweet which went well with the white chocolate chips. I love the crusty top and soft middle the moment they were cool enough to eat. These are definitely best eaten on the day they are baked.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cookbook Collector

That's what I've become in lieu of the fact that I haven't been baking much.

I started at a new teaching position at the beginning of the year. While the work has been fulfilling, the hours are a lot longer so instead of finding time to bake, I've just been lying flat out on the couch most afternoons trying to recover from an exhausting day.

However, my online activity never ceases. Thanks to Amazon, I've steadily acquired more and more cookbooks as I get sucked in by the online reviews. Perhaps I want to feel as if I am baking vicariously through the lovely recipes and pictures. Then again, its also the obsessive compulsive streak in me which has failed to stop me from hitting the 'add to cart' button. I figured since I'm not baking, the next best thing is reading about it.

Its only this week (its exam time) that I've had time to actually make a dent in the reading of my pile of books. Hopefully in June, I will be back to baking in full swing during the holidays.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Apple Sour Cream Muffin

I've gotten into the bad habit of starting an entry, saving it as a draft and then procrastinate about its completion. So although this entry is dated in January, I'm only completing it today, the 10th of February.

Apple Sour Cream Muffins
makes 24 muffins

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
3 apples, diced
1/4 cup milk

Topping (optional)
2 tbs sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
slices of apple

Preheat the oven at 400F. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy before blending in the eggs and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients, mix well before adding in the sour cream and blending. Fold in the diced apple by hand and add in the milk as needed if the batter is too stiff. Scoop into muffin liners. Dust with the cinnamon sugar mix and top each muffin with a slice of apple.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops of the muffins spring back when touched.

Verdict: Moist as expected because of the sour cream. Not a cakey texture but very nice for breakfast or tea

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gingerbread Date Cupcake

I received so many compliments for this recipe that I had to share it even though I was going to tweak it some more.

Its very fitting for the festive season or for anyone who likes spicy cupcakes. The cake is super moist and tasty. Eat it plain or topped with a simple frosting of cream cheese or royal icing.

Gingerbread Date Cupcakes
makes 24 cupcakes

2/3 cup dark stout
2/3 cup golden syrup
200g chopped dates
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups flour
1 tbs ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2/3 cup vegetable oil

Preheat the oven at 350F. In a small saucepan over low heat, stir together the stout, golden syrup and dates. Remove from heat once it starts simmering then add in the baking soda. Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, spices and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, sugar and oil. Combine the stout mixture and the egg mixture. Whisk this into the flour mixture until well blended. The batter will be quite liquid.

Bake for about 25 minutes, until the tops spring back when gently pressed. Cool before frosting with royal icing.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Gingerbread Cookie

Gingerbread Cookies
makes about 3 dozen cookies

1 cup or 2 sticks butter
1 cup less 2 tbs dark brown sugar

¾ cup sugar
1 egg
2 tbs hot water
1 tbs treacle or molasses
1 ½ tsp baking soda
4 ½ cups flour
1 tbs ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp salt

Cream the butter with the sugar until fluffy. Scrape down the bowl then beat in the egg and mix well. In a small bowl, combine the hot water, treacle and baking soda. Add that mixture to the butter and blend in. In a separate bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together before adding in small portions to the butter mixture, combining well after each addition.

Divide the dough into portions, roll out each between 2 plastic sheets, till about 5mm thick. Place the rolled out sheets of cookie dough onto a baking tray to be chilled in the fridge, preferably overnight.

Before baking, preheat oven to 350F. Remove cookie dough sheets from the fridge and cut out shapes with cookie cutters. Place cut shapes onto a cookie tray lined with silicone sheet or parchment paper, leaving about an inch between each cookie to allow for expansion. Re-roll the scraps of cookie dough into new sheets and chill it before repeating the whole process.

Bake for 8-15 minutes, depending on the size of the cookies, until the edges start turning brown. Cool the cookies completely before decorating with royal icing.