Tag Archives: baking

Chocolate Layer Cake, filled with Strawberry-Chocolate Ganache and topped with the Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream

Being back in London this time of the year has some happy implications:

1) The Great British Bake Off is back on TV (recent episodes have featured Paul the Octopus shaped bread, the most adorable miniature sized macaroons and custard espionage – what’s not to love?).

2) Last days of London summer! Sunshine, ice cream, lazy weekends and strolling around all my favourite places.

3) I get to be here for the birthday of one of my very best friends! I get to surprise her and turn her favourite cupcakes into a big fat cake! I get to eat a massive slice of said cake! Ah, happy days.

Birthday Girl!

Ever since I made these Chocolate Cupcakes Stuffed with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and Vanilla Buttercream, they are the cupcakes my friends will always demand every time I am back in town: “Oh glad you’re back, Nuara, but when are you making the chocolate strawberry cupcakes?”, “These brownies are nice, but when are you making the chocolate strawberry cupcakes?”, “Your flight back is in a week and you still haven’t made me the chocolate strawberry cupcakes!”.

Handmade birthday card for the birthday girl (with her favourite cupcake on the front!)

So, no surprises as to why I went for this cake!

I adapted a Hummingbird Bakery recipe for the chocolate layers, and searched high and low for the ultimate vanilla buttercream recipe – was convinced by this one, and then tweaked it slightly by using vanilla bean paste instead of extract (vanilla bean paste is my new favourite baking ingredient, more on that later). I kept the original ganache recipe, just tweaking the quantities and the strawberry to ganache ratio (more strawberries, more!). And voila, the cake version is ready to go!

Chocolate Layer Cake, filled with Strawberry-Chocolate Ganache and topped with the Ultimate Vanilla Buttercream

Makes one, 2 layer 8-inch cake

For the cake layers:

200g plain flour
40g cocoa powder
280g caster sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240ml whole milk
2 medium eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

1) Preheat your oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Grease and line two 8-inch cake pans.

2) In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, caster sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside,

3) In a separate bowl or jug, whisk together the milk, vanilla and eggs. Set aside.

4) Add butter to the dry ingredients and beat everything on a medium speed until the ingredients come together and the mixture has a sandy texture (will look like very fine breadcrumbs).

4) Add half of the milk mixture to your sandy concoction. Beat on a low speed to bring the ingredients together, then a medium-high speed for a few minutes to get rid of lumps.

5) Keep your mixer on a low speed and gradually add the rest of the milk. Beat for a few minutes until everything is well mixed and smooth. Do not overmix!

6) Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared tins and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cakes will be done when a skewer poked into the middles comes out clean (“clean”: a few perfectly moist and baked crumbs sticking to the skewer = yes, take me out, gloopy cake batter wrapped around the skewer = I know you’re hungry, but I need a few more minutes).

7) After a few minutes in the tin, pop out the layers and leave to cool on a cooling rack. Make sure to leave the cake layers to cool upside-down – this will help to flatten out the domed tops and will make your life easier when assembling the cake (see below!).

For the strawberry-chocolate ganache

Make this while your cake layers are in the oven, it will need some time to chill in the fridge before you use it to sandwich together your cake layers.

100g chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
150ml double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)
a pinch salt
125g strawberries, diced into small chunks

1) Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in a heatproof bowl.

2) In a saucepan, gently heat up the cream until bubbles form around the edges. Once you see the bubbles, take the cream off the heat and pour it over your bowl of chocolate. Let it stand for one minute, and then mix together until the ganache is smooth and scrumptious looking.

3) Stir in the diced strawberries.

4) Cover with clingfilm and place in the refrigerator to set.

For the ultimate vanilla buttercream

After searching high and low for the ultimate vanilla buttercream recipe, I settled on this recipe from Cooking Classy – and I wasn’t disappointed! The one change I made was to use vanilla bean paste instead of extract – which I would definitely recommend. It has the most fantastic vanilla taste, and you get those beautiful flecks of vanilla seeds in your frosting – yummy!

85g unsalted butter, at room temperature
85g salted butter, at room temperature
280g icing sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste (or extract)

1) In a large bowl, beat the butters together on a medium speed for 7-8 minutes, until pale and fluffy.

2) Sift in the icing sugar, then add the double cream and vanilla bean paste. Mix on a low speed until all the all the ingredients are well blended, then crank your mixer up to a high speed and mix for at least 5-7 minutes. Be patient, and yummy, fluffy frosting shall await you!

Assembling your cake

1) Place a blob of frosting onto your serving dish/cake board. This will act as a “glue” to ensure that your cake stays put. Place one of your cake layers on the dish (place the layer “domed-side” down, so that you can put the filling and the other layer on top of a flat side).

2) Take your ganache filling out of the fridge. Stir it through with a spoon, then spread it over the middle of the cake layer. It will be a thick layer of ganache! People will thank you for it! I find it easier to pipe a circle of buttercream around the edges of the cake – it helps to keep the ganache in and not spread over onto the sides.

Assembly time!

3) Place the other cake layer on top of the ganache filling (domed side up, flat side on top of the ganache).

4) Using a spatula, frost the tops and sides of of your cake with one layer of vanilla buttercream. This will be your crumb coat layer, to seal in the chocolate crumbs and ensure you have a smooth, white finish on top. Once you have completed your crumb coat, place your cake in the fridge and leave it to chill for at least thirty minutes, to allow the crumb coat to firm up before you spread on the finishing layers of buttercream.

5) Take your cake out of the fridge and use the remaining buttercream to cover the tops and sides until you have a smooth, beautiful finish!

6) If you want, put aside a little bit of frosting and tint with food colouring of your choice. Use this to pipe a message onto the cake, or to add other decorative details.

7) Decorate with sprinkles, nuts or fresh strawberries (my preferred choice).

Cake time!

Big slice for me.

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Coconut Layer Cake

After all my stressing and preparation for my viva voce examination (read earlier whining here), results came out on Saturday – and I passed! Yes! Finally, I’m an enrolled Advocate in Bangladesh!

The first thing I do? Bake a celebratory cake, duh!

I can’t go out in all my lawyery awesomeness on an empty stomach now, can I?

Coconut Layer Cake with Coconut Buttercream topped with Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Coconut Layer Cake

Makes one, triple layer 8 inch cake – it wouldn’t be a celebration if it was any less than three layers!

This recipe has been adapted from two Hummingbird Bakery recipes – after a slight accident with the original coconut custard frosting and filling (the less said, the better), options had to be reassessed. I sent out my hungry, cake-anticipating friends to gather ingredients for coconut buttercream frosting instead. Ingredients were acquired, butter was very tentatively and briefly zapped in the microwave to soften (time restraints, I had no choice!), and the show went on!

Ingredients:

For the cakes:

120g unsalted butter, at room temperature

400g caster sugar

360g plain flour

1½ tbsp baking powder

40g dessicated coconut

¼ tsp salt

3 large eggs

260ml coconut milk

100ml whole milk

½ tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)

For the frosting:

160g unsalted butter, at room temperature

500g icing sugar, sifted

50ml coconut milk

For the decoration:

80g dark chocolate, chopped into small pieces

1 tsp unsalted butter

half a dozen strawberries

a handful of toasted flaked almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3, grease and line three round 8-inch cake tins.

2. Put the butter, sugar, flour, baking powder, dessicated coconut and salt in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, mix the ingredients together until you get a sandy consistency.

3. In a separate bowl or jug, mix together the eggs, coconut milk, whole milk and vanilla.

4. Keeping the electric mixer on a slow speed, gradually add the egg mixture to the mixture of dry ingredients. Mix until the two are combined.

5. Divide the batter between the three prepared pans and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the tops of the cakes are a lovely golden brown, bounce back when the tops are pressed lightly with a finger, and a skewer comes out clean in the middle.

6. Leave the cakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes, before turning them out onto a wire rack and leaving them to cool completely.

7. While you are waiting for the cakes to cool, get on with preparing the decorations and frosting. Wash the strawberries and pat them dry to get rid of all excess moisture. Line a flat plate with cling film to have it ready for strawberry landing.

8. Place a heat-proof bowl over a pan of boiling water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl and let the two melt together, stirring occasionally. Once melted, take off the heat.

9. Holding the strawberries by their green stems, dip them into the melted chocolate and twirl around until they are covered in chocolate. Lift up and twirl to get rid of excess chocolate. Place on the cling film lined plate. Once you have covered all the strawberries, place the plate in the fridge and leave to set.

10. Now, onto the frosting! With an electric mixture, beat the butter and icing sugar together until the mixture comes together (this may take some time, be patient).

11. With the mixture on low speed, gradually add the coconut milk. Once the coconut milk has been incorporated into the mixture, turn up the speed to high and mix for 5-10 mins. Make sure to use a rubber spatula to occasionally scrape the bottom and sides, to make sure everything is well mixed. Once the frosting is light and fluffy, it is ready!

12. Fill and frost the cake layers with the frosting, then decorate with the chocolate covered strawberries and flaked almonds.

13. (Optional) Once you have eaten a substantial amount of cake, dance around the room on a sugar high, singing “I’m a real lawyer now!”. Heck yes, baby. I am.

Lawyered!

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Orange and Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake

After a few weeks of indecisive flitting between hot and cold, the weather in Dhaka has taken a turn to the sultry. Back to fans and humidity-enlarged hair. Alongside the sultry heat is a somewhat (read: very) tumultuous feel in the air. Dhaka is not a happy city right now. As to the causes of unhappiness – voicing public opinions seems to be a health hazard these days, so I’ll stick to the neutral subject of cake. Everyone likes cake, let’s all be happy for a moment. Sit down with a cup of tea and a slice of scrumptious sponge cake. Scroll down for the recipe below if my blogging banter is boring you (I won’t be offended, it’s for the cake – I understand).

Enough said.

Hartal season is in full swing, and we are currently in the middle of a three day spate. With my Bar Council Viva Voce Examination around the corner, this is the perfect opportunity for me to utilise this time off work and revise. Today, I had all the intentions of buckling down and losing myself in all the intricacies of criminal and civil procedure (hah!). I sat down with my revision guide and was greeted with the enlightening words of encouragement in its introduction: “Destiny favours the brave. So do not be afraid of the oral test, however don’t show over-smartness before the Viva Board.” Got it. Brave, smart-but-not-too-smart.

But then…my 6-year-old cousin came to visit, with a gift for me. A grand total of three whole strawberries and the expectation that I must bake something wonderful because “stowbewies are my favourite”. As she gingerly transferred the strawberries from her small palms into my own and then looked up at me with an expression that said please-turn-this-into-cake, I realised that my hartal-turned-revision day was inevitably going to turn into a cake day instead.

Enjoy.

Orange and Strawberry Victoria Sponge Cake

I adapted this recipe from Mary Berry, changing the flavour of the sponge slightly to give it an orange kick that I think teams up quite wonderfully with the strawberries.

Slice of Sponge Cake

Ingredients:

225g unsalted butter, at room temperature

225g caster sugar*

4 large eggs, at room temperature

Grated zest of one orange or 1 teaspoon good quality orange extract

225g self-raising flour**

2 teaspoons baking powder

A pinch of salt

To finish:

Double cream, whipped

Strawberry jam

Three fresh strawberries, lovingly given

Icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4, grease and line two round 8-inch cake tins.

2. Cream together butter and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

3. Add eggs and orange zest (or extract) to mixture and beat until well combined.

4. Add flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and gently fold in until incorporated.

5. Divide mixture between prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cakes are golden and the tops bounce back when lightly pressed.

6. Once cakes have cooled, sandwich together with whipped cream and strawberry jam. Decorate with fresh strawberries and sifted icing sugar.

Every day is a cake day

*I have not yet been able to find caster sugar in Dhaka. I make my own by processing granulated sugar until I am happy with the fine-ness of it!

**Self-raising flour is also quite hard to come by. It is ridiculously easy to make your own though: 1 teaspoon of baking powder to 200g plain flour. Whisk together, then sift together. I usually make a whole lot in one go for ease of use later on! It should be noted, the composition of American self-raising flour is slightly different, with the addition of salt too – see Smitten Kitchen entry on how to make it here.

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Return to the Natural Habitat.

After 8 months away from home, the moment when I looked out of the plane window and saw London blinking back at me pressed like relief against my chest.

But still. I don’t think it can quite compare to the feeling of being back in my Natural Habitat. I’m talking about being back in the kitchen (feminists, control the gag instincts). More specifically – the feeling of being reunited with my Oven.

Going 8 months without an oven has been cruel punishment indeed. It has meant no baking cakes and, more importantly, no eating cakes.

Dhaka really does not have Great Cake. It just does not. It has edible cake and ‘okay’ cake and ‘I-could-eat-this-I-guess’ cake. But not Great Cake. The only cake I have deemed worthy of eating, in all my cake-snoberyness, is CFC’s chocolate cake. Yes, only in Dhaka would the best chocolate cake find its home in California Fried Chicken.

Even then – there is a part of me that thinks – is this tasting better than it actually is because I have been deprived of Great Cake for so long? Has the lack of stimulation to my taste buds resulted in edible cake appearing to be Great Cake, like a frenzied mirage in a Desert of Great Cake-less-ness?

The horrors.

Let’s put aside the trauma and deprivation and talk about the happiness of reunion instead. The first bake that resulted from the reunion: chocolate cupcakes stuffed with strawberry chocolate ganache topped off with a chocolate ganache glaze and a fat dollop of vanilla buttercream. With fresh strawberries on top. Naturally.

Chocolate Strawberry Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes Stuffed with Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and frosted with Chocolate Ganache Glaze and Vanilla Buttercream

Makes 8 cupcakes

I got this recipe from the Cupcake Bakeshop by Chockylit. After much drooling over photos and recipes, this is the first recipe I have tried from the blog and I’m really happy with how the cupcakes turned out. My only regret is that I didn’t double the recipe! 8 cupcakes disappeared far too quickly!

This is also the first time I tried using duck eggs in baking! They are supposed to give a richer flavour than regular eggs. I haven’t tried this recipe with regular eggs, so can’t directly compare – but the cakes were definitely incredibly rich!

For the Chocolate Cupcakes:

1/4 cup (57 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons plain flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder (Green & Blacks recommended)
1/4 cup full cream milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar for around 5 minutes, until the mixture is light and fluffy.

3. Add the egg to the mixture and beat well until incorporated.

4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cocoa powder. Use a hand whisk to mix the dry ingredients together.

5. In  a small bowl, mix together the milk and vanilla.

6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar mixture and mix together until incorporated. Then, add half of the milk and vanilla to the mixture and mix together until incorporated.

7. Add the second third of the dry ingredients and mix again. Add the second half of the milk and vanilla and mix yet again! Finally, add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix everything together until the batter is well incorporated.

8. Line a muffin tin with 8 muffin cases and fill each one no more than two thirds full.

9. Bake for 22-25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back after pressing them, and a skewer comes clean out of the middles.

For the Strawberry Chocolate Ganache and Chocolate Ganache Glaze:

128 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3/4 cup double cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/3 cup strawberries, diced

1. Chop the chocolate (as finely as you have patience to do so) and place in a heatproof bowl.

2. Heat up the double cream until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.

3. Pour the cream onto the chocolate and leave to stand for a minute or so, before stirring together until the two combine into gooey chocolatey goodness. Mix in the vanilla and salt.

4. Divide the ganache into two portions. Stir the chopped strawberries into one portion and then place in the fridge to chill and thicken. This will be your  strawberry chocolate ganache.

5. Leave the other half of the ganache on the counter to cool down and thicken. Voila! Chocolate ganache glaze!

For the Vanilla Buttercream frosting:

1/2 cup (113g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

2 cups of icing sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon of full cream milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. With an electric mixer, beat the butter until creamy.

2. Add the icing sugar, milk and vanilla extract and mix together on a low speed until incorporated. Once incorporated, turn up to a high speed and mix until light and fluffy.

To Assemble the Cupcakes:

1. Once the cupcakes have cooled, using an apple corer, plunge through the middle of each cupcake and scoop out. Fill the hole with the strawberry chocolate ganache and then put the ‘scooped’ cake part back in the hole. (I wanted a generous amount of filling, so I plunged twice, creating a fatter hole for the filling).

2. Spread a generous helping of chocolate ganache glaze on top of each cupcake and then pipe or spread the vanilla buttercream on top.

3. Top each cupcake with a fresh strawberry. Not only does this look pretty, but the flavour of the fresh strawberry cuts through the sweetness of the buttercream and the richness of the cake perfectly.

:)

Omnomnom

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Oreo Cupcakes

A kid kicked these cupcakes. They were prettily boxed up (bought these in bulk :P) and in a bag, I was in the queue in Boots and just put down the bag so that I could pay. And then he ran up, peeked at the cupcakes and kicked them. I don’t know whether this meant that a) he disliked the look of the cupcakes or b) he was just a brat. My money is on b), because how could anyone dislike Oreos AND cream cheese frosting? If you do, maybe you need to reassess your views on life. Or maybe just make these cupcakes.

Oreo Cupcakes

Adapted from ‘Love Bakery‘ (for the cakes) and the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook (for the frosting).

 

Makes 12 cupcakes

 

For the cupcakes:

60g unsalted butter, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

1 medium egg, at room temperature

20g cocoa powder, sifted

150g plain flour, sifted

140ml buttermilk

2¼ teaspoons of baking powder

4½ teaspoons white vinegar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

 

For the frosting:

300g icing sugar, sifted

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature

125g cream cheese, cold

3 Oreo biscuits, crushed

 

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

2. With an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. This should take at least 5 minutes. Be patient!

3. Add the egg to the mixture and mix well.

4. Add the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated.

5. Add the flour and buttermilk and mix until incorporated. Do not overmix after this stage, as this will result in the flour releasing too much gluten – resulting in a tough, stodgy cake. Nobody wants that!

6. Add the baking powder, white vinegar and vanilla extract and mix until everything is well incorporated.

7. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin cases and fill each one no more than two thirds full.

8. Bake for 25 minutes. The cupcakes are done when the tops spring back after pressing them, and a skewer comes clean out of the middles.

9. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin, and then transfer the cupcakes to a cooling rack to cool off entirely while you get on with the frosting.

10. To make the frosting, beat together the icing sugar and butter until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. At this stage, the mixture will not be a smooth, uniform mixture – it will be a very crumbly mixture. Do not be alarmed, it will all be fine once you’ve added the cream cheese.

11. Add all of the cream cheese and mix together until the mixture is light and fluffy. This should take around 5 minutes – but be very careful not to over-mix at this stage, otherwise the mixture can turn very runny, very fast. I usually err on the side of slightly under-mixing at this stage – nobody wants runny cream cheese frosting.

12. Crush the Oreo biscuits – put them in a plastic bag and pulverise them with a rolling pin.

13. Fold the crushed Oreos into the cream cheese frosting until evenly dispersed.

14. Top the cupcakes with the frosting. There are a number of ways to get a nice finish – a palette knife (or you can use the back of a spoon if you don’t have one) swirls on the frosting quite nicely. My weapon of choice is always a piping nozzle, the easiest way to get a quick, professional finish.

15. For some extra Oreo-goodness, top the cupcakes with Oreo halves. Voila! Finished! Eat!

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Chocolate Brownies

Chocolate Brownies


Makes 16 brownies

Based on a recipe from allrecipes.com

This is my go-to chocolate brownie recipe. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve made this – it is ridiculously easy, super quick and never disappoints. The key to this recipe: don’t overdo anything – the mixing or the baking. Absolutely do not use an electric mixer for this recipe, stir gently by hand (I prefer using a rubber spatula, but a wooden spoon would do the job just fine).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1/2 cup butter (115g)

1 cup white sugar (200g)

2 medium eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup cocoa powder (35g)

1/2 cup plain flour (75g)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease and line a  20 cm/8 inch square tin.

2. In a large pan, melt the butter. Once melted, take off the heat.

3. Add sugar to the butter and stir gently until incorporated.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla together with a fork (only a light beating, too much will result in the brownie rising too much and then sinking).

5. Add egg mixture to pan and stir until incorporated.

6. Add cocoa powder, flour, salt and baking powder. Stir gently until everything is mixed together.

*this is the point at which you would add any additions, see below.

7. Pour into prepared tin, evening out the top with a spatula. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins. Do not overbake.

8. Help yourself to a delicious, chocolatey, warm slice – perfectly delicious on its own, but also quite scrumptious with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

*Optional Additions: For the brownie purists, you can stick to the above recipe. If, however, you wish to funk things up a bit – here are some suggestions – you can add one or more of the following:

  • Nutty brownies: Add 1/2 to 1 cup of nuts to the mixture, toasting the nuts for 5-10 mins if you want to enhance their flavour even more. I like to stir in half of the nuts with the mixture, and then scatter on the rest once the batter is in the pan and then push them in ever so slightly.
  • For super chocoholics: If the cocoa hit just isn’t enough for you – add 1/2 to 1 cup of chocolate chips or roughly chopped chocolate to the mixture.
  • Chocolate, meet orange: I love chocolate and orange, I think they make such a divine combination. To give your brownies an orangey kick, grate the zest of half an orange over the poured mixture.
  • Oreo brownies: biscuits are a great way of funking up brownies – you can try varieties other than oreos, too! Add 1/2 to 1 pack of oreos – breaking them up into quarters. Stir half of them into the mixture and scatter the rest over the top of the poured mixture, pushing them in slightly.

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French Apple Cake

I’ve gone through a bout of excessive celebration-cake-making. Chocolate, Vanilla, Red Velvet, Nutella cake, a very-indulgent-hits-the-sugar-spot Peanut Butter Chocolate cake…to name a few.

But lately, I’ve been craving more everyday cakes. Loaf cakes to have with my cup of tea, a slice of something simple and comforting for when it’s horrible and rainy outside. Something easy to whip up in the midst of the piles of articles I have to get through.

Yesterday, I had a sudden craving for apple cake. Hummingbird Nutty Apple Loaf popped into my head as a suggestion – but it requires leaving the batter in the fridge overnight – and really, I couldn’t wait that long to satisfy my craving.  I very vaguely recalled an apple cake I had seen on David Lebovitz’s blog…a quick google later – and voila! One recipe for French Apple Cake happily filling my screen.

Oh god. This cake….this cake…is so good. I had to eat a slice warm out of the oven, with a generous dollop of crème fraîche. I had another slice this morning for breakfast…I may have to renege on the promise I made to my friend yesterday – I don’t know if there will be any leftover when she comes over tonight…

Make this cake. Just. Please.

French Apple Cake

Adapted from David Lebovitz (who adapts this from Dorie Greenspan). The original recipe calls for rum, but since I don’t drink alcohol – I tripled up on the vanilla and substituted some of the white sugar for brown instead.

I had peeled and diced 4 apples, but when I was adding them to the batter – I only added about 3 of them because that seemed to be enough. Next time I may try with all 4, but I was quite happy with how the cake turned out with just the 3 apples (they were 3 very big apples though!). Main thing with the apples – make sure you use a variety, it really adds to the flavour of the cake.


110g (3/4 cup) plain flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

3 large apples (eating apples, a mix of varieties – I used Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Golden Delicious)

2 large eggs, at room temperature

120g (1/2 cup) white sugar

30g (1/4 cup) light brown muscovado sugar

1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

115g unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature

1. Melt the butter and leave to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 350ºF/180ºC/gas mark 4. Grease and line a 23cm springform pan.

3.  In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.

4.  Apple time! Peel, core and dice the apples into medium size chunks (2-3cm).

5.  In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs until nice and foamy (no need for an electric mixer – I did this by hand)

6.  Add sugars and vanilla to the egg mixture, whisk in.

7. Whisk in half of the flour mixture, then gently stir in half of the melted butter.

8. Gently stir in the rest of the flour mixture, and then the remaining butter.

9. Add the apple cubes to the mixture and fold in until they are well coated with batter – that is what the batter will look like; a bunch of apple cubes coated in batter! Pour it all into the prepared pan and smooth the top over as best you can.

10. Bake in the middle shelf for 50 minutes – 1 hour, until a skewer comes out of the centre clean. Leave to cool in the pan for 10 minutes or so, then run a knife around the edges before loosening the sides of the cake pan.

11. Cut yourself a big slice because you deserve it. Enjoy with a generous dollop of crème fraîche.


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Adventures in baking continued

Oh dear. There are rules of baking that I have yet to familiarise myself with.

1. Check that you actually have all the adequate equipment before commencing domestic glorification.

2. Check that you have enough quantities of ingredients before all the mixing commences.

Unfortunately, yesterday I failed on both counts. The result? My attempt at the Hummingbird Bakery coffee cake left me with an incredible excess of batter, because my cake tin was not big enough. So I had to pour the excess batter into a smaller tin – and even then, the cake rose so much it almost toppled over the edges of both tins. Oops.

Secondly, having finished the baking process (the results of which still came out perfectly edible, despite the mishaps), I then realised I only had 50g of icing sugar – as opposed to the 250g I needed to frost the entire cake. Late Sunday night, the supermarkets all closed and my stomach grumbling unhappily – well, I had to make do with what I had. So I divided all the ingredient quantities by 5, whisked away – and made a pathetically small amount of frosting. Only enough to frost half of the smaller cake.

Nigella, I am not. But still, I had a slice from the frosted half – and it wasn’t at all bad. The only complaint would be the slightly eggy smell of the cake, the recipe doesn’t put in any vanilla extract, but I think I will add a dash of it next time. Aside from that, the cake was very light and spongy – perfect to eat with a cup of tea or coffee.

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Getting through revision – technique #1 : sugar rush

When the going gets tough, the tough get baking. It is a fabulous form of  stress relief, and has the benefit of having tangible, edible delights at the end of the process.

I tried out my first recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook yesterday – their classic vanilla cupcake, with chocolate frosting. Simple but very yum. My brother gave my efforts a ‘9.5’, saw my expectant gaze and changed his verdict to a ’10’. I guess that means that they didn’t turn out all that bad!

The recipe was easy to follow, and the cupcakes only took 20 minutes in the oven. They came out lovely and light and spongy. So far, the cookbook gets a big thumbs up!

I went with the vanilla one first because I had all the ingredients at hand – but Blackbottom cupcakes are most definitely next on the list! Then again, the hazelnut and chocolate cupcakes do look scrumptious. And then there’s the rather indulgent looking Brooklyn Blackout Cake…

Couldn’t I just be examined on this instead? Much more exciting than the wonders of civil procedure, surely?

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The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

‘Anything is good if it’s made of chocolate.’ – Jo Brand

Something which made my day a lot happier:

I finally purchased it! After I’ve finished drooling at all the yummy photos, I can’t wait to try out the recipes. Which one to try first – red velvet or blackbottom?

www.hummingbirdbakery.com

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