Thursday, December 25, 2014
Merry Christmas everyone! I don't know about you guys, but Christmas is definitely my favorite time of the year. The joyful jingles, the trees adorned with baubles and tinsel and pretty lights, the presents... it's such a magical season! Brings tears to my eyes and all (really) (well sometimes).
So in honour of my favorite day, I baked a Christmas-themed cake. Usually log cakes would come to mind but you know, I'm not a very conventional person so I decided to do a christmas tree version of the swiss roll tower. I didn't use the recipe in that post though; frankly I had to bake in the morning and I knew that if I attempted something too complicated in my half-awoken state I might mess it up. Thus I chose a simpler swiss roll recipe that utilizes only four ingredients, which is pretty much idiot proof. Unfortunately it wasn't the best recipe for my christmas tree cake because the bottom of the cake, which would be the side facing outwards, developed a brown skin that was undesirable because I needed the green to be prominent. I tried to brush off as much of the skin as I could but there were patches of it that I could not get rid off without ripping off a considerable chunk of cake as well. I should have stuck to the recipe I used for the swiss roll tower because the bottom doesn't turn brown at all. Oh well.
The swiss roll is filled with a matcha cream cheese filling as I added a bit of matcha powder into the batter to give the cake it's green colour. I attempted to recreate christmas lights by piping royal icing around the cake and sticking M&Ms onto random parts of the icing. The icing isn't really obvious because I made it a tad too thin. For the ornaments I baked sugar cookies decorated with royal icing and sprinkles.
I'm a little bummed that the cake didn't turn out as well as I envisioned it although it was kinda fun trying to piece it all together. I hope that you guys are enjoying your Christmas baking as well!
Sunday, December 21, 2014
Hey all! Just casually popping by to breathe some life back into this dusty space before it turns into a tangle of cobwebs. My creative juices have not really been churning lately so I've been revisiting a couple of old favorites, like these cocoa brownies like Alice Medrich. I blogged about them a few times before but did not quite give them the full attention they deserve so today I shall finally do them justice.
These brownies are probably still one of the best brownies I've ever tasted - intensely chocolaty (although I would cut down on the sugar a bit) and fudgy (try them when they're cold through!). Plus they are a breeze to whip up; this recipe requires really the most basic of brownie ingredients. If the crackly top is a major deal breaker in your book, this recipe does yield brownies of that nature if you whisk the batter a bit longer (I forgot to this time). I imagine it must be air bubbles in the batter that contributes to the crinkly magic.
Aaaand I had to saute some bananas to have with the brownies. Lip-smacking.
Best Cocoa Brownies
recipe by Alice Medrich
makes an 8 x 8 inch pan's worth
10 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, cold
1/2 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 325F. Prepare an 8 x 8 inch baking pan.
Combine the butter, sugar, unsweetened cocoa powder and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over a pot of simmering water. Stir from time to time until the butter has melted and mixture is smooth.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Beat in eggs one at a time, incorporating the first fully before adding the second, until the batter looks thick, shiny and well blended. Add the flour and stir until all traces of it disappear.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool completely before slicing. Placing them in the fridge until they're completely cold would make slicing easier.
Thursday, December 11, 2014
Why hello there! It's been a while. Somehow I feel that's the tone I've been adopting for all recent blog entries. It pains me to admit it but my interest in baking has been waning somewhat. But I'm sure I'll get my motivation back when I get to sample some of the finest pastries ever created during my upcoming holiday trip (Japan I'm coming for you!).
The inspiration for this cake stems from pictures of flower-adorned cakes I found on Instagram. I'm actually not really a fan of using non-edible decorations because I feel that there are many other options that can both make a cake look good and complement the flavours of the cake. Flowers and figurines are eye-catching of course but using them feels like cheating (although I make an exception for the miniature reindeers and santa clauses on log cakes). Out of curiosity though, I felt like trying to embellish a cake with flowers just for once.
I decided to get fake flowers so that I could reuse them if I thought them to be acceptable decorations for cake after all. My original plan was to bake a regular round cake (i.e. not using a tube pan) and have the flowers, with their stems removed and all, arranged on the surface and sides in some artsy fartsy manner but I had a change of heart in the midst of brutally twist-snapping the stems off and decided to make use of the cavity of a cake baked in a tube pan. I would position the flowers in the cavity like I would flowers in a vase. To finish I would pipe a basket weave pattern on the sides of the cake because y'know, flowers, basket. Yeah. (I swear that sometimes even I can't keep up with myself.) I'm pleased with the way the cake turned out to be honest. I quite like the combination of colours of the flowers. But when you slice the cake you have to remove the flowers in the centre and poof just like that the magic noticeably disappears.
Well, I wasn't planning to bake a cake solely for experimenting with flower decoration; I wanted an excuse to bake my favorite banana bread again as well. This is my go-to recipe for banana bread - it practically screams banana and is extremely extremely moist. Even if you eat it straight from the fridge when it's supposed to be so cold flavours can't come through very prominently you can definitely tell that it's banana bread with your eyes closed. And I love how the top of the cake gets a little gummy when I wrap it while it's still warm and leave it like that to cool.
Even if you have no interest in adorning your next cake with flowers I sincerely urge you to try this recipe. Peanut butter frosting mandatory.
Banana Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting
cake recipe adapted from Flour Bakery
I scaled down the recipe by half and baked it in a 6 inch tube pan but the quantities reflected below are the original recipe's. You will need a loaf pan about the size of a 9 x 5 inch.
For the cake:
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup oil
3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
2 tbsp creme fraiche or sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
For the frosting:
refer to this post
Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat the sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in the oil. Add the mashed bananas, creme fraiche and vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients and nuts.
Pour into the lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Cool cake completely before frosting.