Monday, 30 July 2007

and... the cake!

This cake was a Martha Stewart recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. And really surprisingly simple. You just mix the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients separately and then mix them together. Once baked, its nice and moist, and tastes great with chocolate sauce, though the recipe calls for Swiss Meringue Buttercream (without the food colouring). I didn't try it, though the picture sure looked cool because of the contrast, white on black. I made a layer cake, sandwiching the layers with melted chocolate, and then topped it with some nougat.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder*
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt*
2 large eggs, plus one large egg-yolk*
3/4 cup warm water
1 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water

Preheat oven to 350F.
Line two standard 12 cup muffin pans with paper liners.
Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Attach bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add the eggs and yolk, the milk, oil, vanilla, and warm water. Beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides occasionally.
Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Layer Cake Variation
Coat two 8 by 2 inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottoms with parchment paper, spray the parchment as well. Follow the above instructions. These may take longer to bake, about 45 minutes. Though I would recommend checking after 30 minutes.

I don't have dutch process cocoa, so I made do with ordinary cocoa. If you like you can do a Google search for 'dutch-process cocoa substitute' there are a lot of conversions out there, adding and subtracting baking powder and baking soda, I find them all a little confusing.

And if you don't want some egg white lying around, then use three whole eggs. I have tried the  recipe both ways and the difference wasn't perceptible, at least to me.

And I don't like it so salty, so I used just half a teaspoon salt. Also I simply lined the baking tins with parchment paper, not bothering to spray it with nonstick cooking spray.

The chocolate sauce was melted semi-sweet chocolate, some water and confectioner's sugar. I won't mention the amount because of two reasons, one that different people would want different amounts depending upon how rich they like it, secondly I didn't measure how much I used. Just about enough to make the five layers and dabble some on the top. After that I covered it with nougat and put the remaining chocolate in a piping bag and made these funny crisscrossing lines on it!


Tuesday, 24 July 2007

check out my penguins... :)

OK, now for the eclairs. I find eclairs the easiest to bake and therefore the most rewarding! This is a very simple, easy to follow recipe from another one of my mother's books. And thats what I love about it, its so very simple. I hate recipes which call for 'half a cup and 2 tsp' of something, or 'two and a quarter tsp' of something else. You catch my drift? Baking's supposed to be fun, right?

Chocolate Eclairs with Mocha Cream
How to Decorate: Cakes, Desserts & Savouries

Serves 4-6
75gm plain all-purpose flour
A pinch of salt
60gm butter
2 standard eggs, well beaten

Filling and Decoration
250g milk chocolate
250ml double cream
1tbsp sugar
1tbsp strong instant coffee

Sift the flour and salt. Put 155ml water and butter in a saucepan and bring to the boil. When boiling fast remove from the heat and pour in the flour. Using a wooden spoon, beat well until the mixture forms a soft ball, reheating if necessary. Allow to cool a little before beating in the eggs. Put into a piping bag with a plain nozzle and pipe small buns on to a greased baking sheet. Bake at 200C for the first 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 180C for a further 20 minutes.

To decorate, melt the chocolate in a bowl over boiling water. Dip each eclair into the chocolate and allow to cool. Beat the cream, sugar and coffee together and fill a piping bag with a small plain nozzle, push the end through the side of the eclair and fill the centre with mocha cream.

My notes: I didn't add the coffee to the cream, though it tastes good either way. Also if you want balls you will need to flatten the tops with a wet finger. And I used semi-sweet chocolate and added some sugar and water to it. This way you can control the consistency and the sweetness. And also using a small plain nozzle to fill the centres seemingly tastes ages so you migh want to give it a slit in the side and drop a spoonfull of cream in it.

And ya, my penguins! While piping them onto the baking tray, I just pulled the tip away and baked them just like that, without flattening the tops. I found the result very cute indeed! When dipped in chocolate their beaks got enhanced.

Also the texture of the chocolate in the two cases is very different, though the only difference is that for the penguins I used powdered sugar while for the balls, confectioner's. The melted chocolate for the latter was smoother and had a sheen to it. Lesson: You just can't substitute confectioner's sugar for powdered one!

I just hope Maneka Gandhi doesn't find out I have been pushing nozzles into the penguins tender skins and literally stuffing them!


Friday, 20 July 2007

the cupcakes...

I had promised to post the recipes later, so shall do that now. When am not baking some special kind of cupcake then I usually use the Madeira recipe, which I have already posted in the pineapple upside down cake post.

I prefer cupcakes (as they bake more quickly and are easier to store) so I often use a muffin tray for baking my Madeiras. Making little changes such as adding a few semi-sweet chocolate drops/pieces; adding some cinnamon, nutmeg and walnuts; or just leaving them plain; or piping some whipped cream on top. And everyone has their favourites, my father loves nuts, my brother maintains whipped cream or frosting destroy a cake(!) though he likes the other variations and the plain one, I like all of them! I once even tried this technique, but believe me the inside doesn't look like a triangle!

For a birthday I thought the best would be plain cakes with cream on top. Kids love cream anyway, and whoever said you feast with your eyes first, was in my opinion quite right! I put a little food colour in the batter (with the result that my mother, who hates anything artificial, including people, didn't touch them), but I like such little touches. Though am such a stickler (only for certain things), I just had to put the green batter in green paper cups, the yellow in yellow and the red in red.

Aah, these beautiful cracks! Previously I used to be quite upset whenever this would happen, but then my brother told me that whenever my mother baked a cake there would a crack running across it. Though by the time I grew up mom had stopped baking, having passed the reign to my elder sisters, I knew from what I had heard and from old pictures, she was quite a pro! So this piece of information, very wisely dropped by Khaiba, pleased me no end!

And of course after the whipped cream, they had to be topped with confetti matching the colour of their jackets!


Sunday, 15 July 2007

and the next day...

was my brother's anniv, hence... a typical heart shaped one... :P

It was a sponge cake, layered with whipped cream and pineapple slices.

Baked the sponge in two batches and due to a funny mishap one batter got too dry and the other runny... :(

but oh well what the hell... it tasted good... :)



Saturday, 14 July 2007

aaliya's birthday party fare (my contribs :P)

yesterday was my sister's birthday and we had a small get together, and I baked these for the occasion...

some cupcakes...

some eclairs...

and the cake! (a rich choclate cake as desired by the b'day girl)

a five layered one, topped with nougat... phew!

recipes later...


Tuesday, 10 July 2007

pineapple upside down

A google search for madeira cake threw up alot of results like this, this, this and this (all of them more or less alike). Not surprising though, since Madeira is perhaps the oldest and best loved of cakes. My mother says it a base cake for many cakes, i.e. that you can bake them just by altering the madeira recipe a bit.

Our Madeira recipe comes from the McDougalls Better Baking cookbook. Ammi got a quite a few copies of this by collecting a certain number of McDougalls' product wrappers! All but one of which she distributed among my aunts, and that one one is our copy. Its really a pretty good book with all the sorts of recipes and simple, easy to follow instructions.

Here's the Madeira recipe

Madeira Cake
100 g butter or margarine
125 g caster sugar
200 g self-raising flour
pinch of salt
2 eggs
30 ml milk
a few drops of vanilla essence OR a little grated lemon rind
thin strip of citron peel (optional)

Grease and line a 15 cm round cake tin.
Prepare by creaming or one stage method.
Place the mixture into the tin, smooth level and lay the strip of citron peel on top.
Bake at 180C till golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

For this pineapple upisde down I (as must be obvious to you by now) used the plain ol' madeira recipe and just added some drained pineapple and cherries to it. Since this recipe of pineapple cake calls for buttermilk, I used buttermilk and milk in equal proportions, 2tbsp milk and 2tbsp buttermilk, instead of all four tbsp milk as in madiera (I doubled the quanity, it was a good 400gm cake). Though I used fresh butter and didn't use baking soda, adding the pineapple and the cherries at the last stage, after tossing them in some flour.

I used around 450gms of pineapple, and around 350gm of cherries, would have preffered fresh ones, but had to make to with canned. After setting aside a few of the slices for the upside down thing, I cut the remaining slices into slivers and let them drain. The cherries were seeded and halved. Then I proceeded to make the batter.

Then, greasing a bundt pan, layed down the pineapple slices before pouring the batter over them and baked at 180C. Will avoid mentioning for how long since I feel it keeps changing.

The cake turned out moist and rich Though I feel I over baked it a bit, and hence the slightly darker tone. You can always vary the amount of fruit you want to put in your cake depending upon how rich you like it.