Sunday, September 25, 2011

Madeira Cake

Little Miss (she's 8) has been talking about baking a cake on her own for a long time and I always have a reason for not letting her do so. While the idea is great and learning how to bake is practically a given past-time with me as her mum, I think of the possibility of batter in my mixer's engine, eggs in crevices on my scales, the mess and clean-up after. My kitchen, utensils and equipments are spotless and in tip-top condition... In short, I'm a tight-ass with anything to do with my kitchen. Anyway, this Sunday felt like one of those I-don't-care-to-be-prissy days and I told Little Miss that she can bake a simple cake. I picked the first recipe in the book -Nigella Lawson's mother-in-law's Madeira Cake. Madeira Cake historically for me was always a dry cake. Made it a couple of times, always using different recipes thinking that it could be me or a missing link in the ingredients but they were all the same. Dry.

Well, Little Miss got to try this version and she aced the whole process from weighing to pouring the batter into the pan. The cake baked beautifully and rised as photographed in the book. She was awfully pleased and so was I! We decided to let it cool through the night and cut it this morning for breakfast. As you can see, we got good cuts which should mean that the cake isn't too dry. Little Miss and Young Master had a slice each. Little Miss said it was ok (quite softly) while Young Master said out loud that it was too dry. The MOTH kindly said that the taste was nice but too crumbly. As for me, I just made a cup of tea and had a slab. I'm with The MOTH. It tastes good with the tinge of lemon but still too crumbly and dry. Now, to assure Little Miss that that's how Madeira Cakes are and it's got nothing to do with her skills!

Boston Cream Pie

What a mix-up last Tuesday was... I was supposed to bake some Red Velvet Cupcakes for an order and there must have been an invisible kitchen gnome shading my eyes because I weighed and creamed ingredients for a Strawberry Shortcake sponge, thinking it was for the Red Velvet until I was looking for the buttermilk volume!! Sigh... I had to go on despite discovering this at 3/4 of the process, and went on the bake the 9" sponge. So, I had this huge sponge cake with no strawberries in stock. I don't really fancy eating plain sponge for the rest of the week so I had to think of some filling for that cake. The book has a section on sponges and Miss Lawson featured a couple of suggestions to fill the basic sponge - jam and cream, butterscotch and the Boston Cream Pie. The fillings are simply chocolate and creme patissiere. I have some good bitter dark chocolate which I love to use to complement sweet cakes and beautiful vanilla beans for the pastry cream. I can't comment on this sponge because it wasn't Nigella's recipe but her pastry cream recipe was spot on. I've never had any problem making creme patisserie, thankfully, but her recipe seems fool-proof even for beginners. So, I say give it a go and don't worry too much about the curdling or scrambling the eggs. Just follow her instructions carefully. The melted chocolate is as with any ganache. Simple and straighforward.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Norwegian Cinnamon Buns

It's been a long time since I last baked something from HTBADG and updated this blog...blame it on the BLTs. They've gone on a strike and all my pants are groaning about them. Instead of spreading the extra 2kg evenly, they've decided to convene at all the wrong places. Sigh, the MOTH was right - straight from the lips, right to the thighs. I have a great suspicion that with age, my metabolic rate's slowing down and all these yummy bakes are taking a longer time to burn! Anyway, I'm back and am choosing to blame the 2kgs on happiness. Even better, as my accupuncturist said, my system's healthier now and am absorbing nutrients better. Hah!

So today, we have the Norwegian Cinnamon Buns. Looking at the recipe, I was a bit worried if there was an error in the type of flour being used. I mean, they're buns=bread, so I expect to use bread flour as is with previous cinnamon buns I've baked. Nigella used plain flour with lots of yeast. In case, it really was an error, I did half a recipe. Well, it turned out great! The texture of the buns were much like brioche- much softer though and just as light. I baked it for tea and right out of the oven, we were in cinnamon bun heaven. Definitely a keeper and I'd add chopped nuts the next time I do this.