Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Mi lo Chiffon Cake

I have stopped making macarons - for now. Trying out recipes for brownies and cupcakes have taken up my time these past few weeks. But of late, I had a sudden renewed interest in baking chiffon cakes. I should attribute it to my being at the right time and at the right place to watch a demo through a glass window of a baking school.

I have baked pandan and orange chiffon cakes before and that was like two years ago. The former was more like a sponge cake and the latter, a typical chiffon texture and lightness. Apparently, my family prefers to buy the pandan ones off the shelves at some heartland bakery stores. I reserve my comment and would not want to taste them at all. My own chiffons are not great either.

And so having that urge to bake chiffon, the quest for new flavors kicked in. Blogging brought me to this blogspot - allthatmatters2rei. Check out her site at allthatmatters2rei.blogspot.com/2008/03/milo-chiffon-cake.html

I decided to attempt her Milo chiffon cake after reading her very comprehensive step-by-step approach to making that perfect pandan chiffon. As you can see, my chiffon turned out too low and hence the title of this post is Mi lo chiffon cake - got it??

Definitely not too pleased with the outcome and I shall be posting questions as to why the ideal height was not reached and why the cake was too moist, I think, for a chiffon.

Oh, oh I want to thank Rei for the excellent post.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Father's Day 'Special'

Yes, it is Father's Day (FD) today and I have to just blog about it. As I have mentioned before, blogging allows me to archive my thoughts, inner feelings and my attempts to be a good baker, which otherwise, all will be forgotten in the next months or years to come.

What is so special about FD this year? It seems a long, long time ago that my two boys, Dom and Theo, have expressed their appreciation and love for their dad on a card. When I got up this morning, carefully place on a stool outside my bedroom door was this card. I could not help but smiled and felt a tinkling sensation in my stomach as I read their corny expressions of how great a dad I was. But as to why I felt so touched was because my boys are in their teens! For teens to express their feelings explicitly take great effort. My wife was instrumental to get them to say it all, I reckoned.

And so, with that revelation that aliens-did-not-take my boys away from me, I decided to prepare a Sunday Brunch for the family. Old American breakfast menu of runny scrambled eggs, streaky bacon and bread rolls. No beers for the boys, only the dad gets to drink beer. But this being a baking blogspot, I need to write on something related to it and so I thought.

You may have noticed a cupcake peeking from between the Heineken and card. That was for dessert. Banana Cupcake with Valhorna Chocolate Pearls.

Got the recipe from Sensational Cupcakes, by Alisa Morov. The actual recipe called for dark chocolate ganache to be poured over the cupcakes but I sprinkled them with chocolate pearls instead. Just so as I wanted to whip up something real quick.

Recipe for Banana Cupcakes with Valhorna Chocolate Pearls adapted from Sensational Cupcake:

1) 240g Plain Flour
2) 170g Caster Sugar
3) 1 tsp baking powder 
4) 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
5) 1/4 tsp salt
6) 2 eggs
7) 2 ripe bananas
8) 30g thickened cream (I prefer Bulla)
9) 1 tsp vanilla extract
10) 130g unsalted butter cut into cubes (for easy mixing)

1) Preheat oven to 170 to 180 degrees C.
2) Sift flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda at least twice. Put aside.
3) Mesh the 2 bananas and mix it with the thickened cream till smooth. 
4) Add the 2 eggs and vanilla extract to (3) and mix well.
5) Add (4) to (2) carefully and using a handheld mixer, slowly combin them. In actual fact, I put (2)  over (4) and guess what happened when the mixer was turned on? So it is better to add liquid to dry to prevent powder clouds from forming. Common sense? I was not thinking then. Haha.
6) Add the butter and whisk till well combined. The butter should be at room temperature so it will be easier to combine them.
7) Pour batter into cupcake moulds and sprinkle chocolate pearls over the top. The pearls do not sink during baking as I reckon the batter is heavy enough to hold them at the top.
8) Pop them into the oven for 15-20mins and the inserted skewer should come out clean before turning them out of the oven.

The cupcakes are extremely moist - great for breakfast or for brunch. 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Witches' Brownies

No, I am not into any occult or anything. Titled my post as "Witches' Brownies" because the brownie recipe I am about to share was adapted from a fabulous book, Fat Witch Brownies by Patricia Helding. I had heard of the brownies that come from the lengendary Fat Witch Bakery in New York. I chanced upon the book at the public library and flipping through the colorful and attractive photos, I zoomed into a simple recipe which I thought would produce a high rate of success - Cocoa Brownies.

I decided to bake brownies this time round to break the monotomy of posting my macarons adventure on my blog. In fact, another factor that pushed me to make brownies was my pure guilt of seeing a Nordic Ware Brownie Baking Pan I had purchased sometime ago being stashed away unused in some corner of my pantry. Having attended a class that demonstrated the use of Nordic ware, I was impressed and had wanted to experiment with them. I have tried using aluminium pans with complicated designs for baking before and the fine details do not come out as clean as those from Nordic wares.

As the brownies came out hot from the oven, I could not resist but to remove gingerly a 'triangular' piece from the pan immediately and popped it into my mouth.

Big mistake. I had not let the brownies cool down at all. Common sense did not prevail then. The eagerness to taste what Fat Witch brownies are all about was too great. It is therefore not fair to give my verdict at that point of time. As patience knocked on my head, I decided to leave those brownies alone. A couple of hours later, I tried them and thought them to be a little dry and not too great. It was only the very next day that when I took a piece as dessert that I discovered I had made very moist and chocolaty brownies!

Cocoa Brownies adapted from Fat Witch Brownies
180g unsalted butter
1/2 cup cocoa powder
11/2 cup brown sugar 
4 eggs
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract, not essence or flavor
3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 180 degree celsius. Line a baking tin if you are not using Nordic ware. For me, I greased my pan by spraying as little oil as possible.
Heat butter over low heat. Ensure that butter does not boil or worse, turn brown. As soon as I see the butter melting, I remove it from the heat and stir whatever remaining solids to melt them. Allow the melted butter to cool for 5 minutes.
Sift the cocoa powder and mix in the sugar in a separate bowl. Add cocoa-sugar mixture to cooled butter and using a handheld mixer, whisk until blended.
Add eggs one at a time, scraping down mixture that cling to the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat till batter is smooth.
Add the vanilla extract at this point and give it a quick whisk before adding the sifted flour and salt. I folded in the dry ingredients in 3 batches just to ensure that they are well combined.
Spread batter into tin or pan and bake for 30 to 45 minutes. I suggest you let the brownies cool for more than an hour. Best consumed, in my opinion, the next day.

There are so many other recipes to try out ie from brownies to blondies to bars. I might just want to buy the book and with the prevailing low exchange rate purchase it online.