Monday, July 8, 2013

Pistachio Loaf

Finally!! A moist loaf cake. Baked this delightful loaf for my parents when they had guests staying with them for the week. Mum wanted some "breakfast" cake and I thought this would be good for the senior citizens. It's light and moist-ier (if there is such word,) than the earlier loaves I've tried from Hummingbird Bakery. Still crumbs quite a bit but an improvement. The elderlies enjoyed it because they love nuts in basically everything. So, this was ideal breakfast for them with a cuppa. I didn't do the icing sugar glaze because they didn't want unnecessary sugar in their food. Not too bad, this one.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mocha Cupcakes

These cupcakes were beautiful! Beautiful to touch (spongy) with beautiful flavours (hot chocolate powder + coffee = yum). One problem though. It was too sweet. The children were fine with it but the MOTH and I couldn't have them neat without a cup of green tea. I even recall chatting with the MOTH about these cupcakes (and the Hot Chocolate Cupcakes baked sometime ago,) that I've actually reduced the sugar required by about 50gms. Yet, it was still too sweet. So I put a note on this page to reduce more sugar.....until 2 weeks ago, I noticed something. I took the same organic hot chocolate powder out to sift onto some frosted cupcakes and guess what was left on the sieve? Sugar. That explains it all! There's sugar in it and I didn't sift the hot chocolate powder when I used it for those two cupcakes. I don't even know if there's always been sugar in hot chocolate powder but I will check the labels on a couple of brands to be sure, the next time I'm in the supermarket. My bad.

Coffee And Chocolate Loaf

This. Is. A. Very. Dry. Cake. Not at all "dark, moist and delightfully rich" as the author of Cake Days described. The loaf did bake well and cut well but texture-wise, it didn't cut it for me. The flavour was good with the strong coffee (I used instant espresso) but I'd very much prefer a moist loaf like Nigella Lawson's Quadruple Chocolate Loaf. Now, that was a good one. So, this is the second loaf I've done from this book and it's still dry. Well, the base recipe is same anyway so I was expecting any other results. Their lemon loaf may be different though. I peeked at the recipe earlier and found sour cream in its list of ingredients. Promising...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Pea, Ham And Feta Cheese Muffins

So it was another late school morning of lunch tennis in my head -pasta - pie - pasta- pie- pasta -pie while looking through Dorie Greenspan's French stew recipes for dinner and Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days for cupcakes to bake for breakfast the next day. Yes, that much goes on in my head practically everyday at 9am with my cup of Earl Grey and breakfast. It's food in my head throughout the day! I flipped page after page and found this in Cake Days. Now, this is a lunch idea. Pasta & Pie's game ended abruptly and will seek for rematch soon, I'm sure. But today (that day *eyes rolling* 19th of April to be specific, I date recipes so I know when was the last time I baked/ cooked it) was going to be savoury muffins for lunch. I had the staples required in the freezer and muffins are simply the easiest to whip up. The recipe suggested the use of a mixer but I'm an old girl when it came to muffins. It's all in the hand spatula. Don't over-mix or you'll end up with muffins you can pelt rude-Mr Smith-across-the-road with. The savoury bunch turned out nice texture-wise but tasted under-seasoned. Feta cheese didn't cut it for me. Way too mild (but healthier, I guess). The ham was so-so. Here's what I'll change the next time I bake this for lunch - use half feta and the other half of a sharper cheese, replace the ham with browned chopped bacon and open a can of soup for dipping. Oh, stop being judgemental....what's an occasional can of Campbell's compared to the bags of Lays you've been having in front of the telly the last couple of nights watching Wimbledon?    

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beetroot And Chocolate Cupcakes

Remember the last post when I wrote about using beetroot as natural food colouring to replace red food colouring for Red Velvet Cupcakes? Well, here's how beetroot in a cupcake looks like. Serious! No kidding! In fact, the recipe for this cupcake is quite similar to their (Hummingbird Bakery's) Red Velvet Cupcakes except for the liquid used. No buttermilk and butter here but sunflower oil instead. It's expected because this is a vegetable cupcake. Cakes baked with vegetables are usually better off with oil instead of butter and milk. This is a food processor cake (which I quite like nowadays with my very limited time in between school runs), hence relatively easy when you get to dump all the ingredients in and blitz! Now, prepping the beetroot is a whole other story. Lots of work - boil the beetroots, peel, stained my nails and shirt then liquidise them before you can use it. So, get that part done earlier...a day earlier if that'll help. The cake turned out pretty good. You hardly taste the earthy beetroot. So I say, this is the perfect cupcake to hide good ol' beetroot in it. I didn't tell anyone including the grown MOTH, what this was. They all walloped it like it was any dense chocolate cake....dimwits. They didn't think I'd betray them this way.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

I'm really way behind in updating my blogs... March experiments in July entries, sigh. But like the MOTH encourages - better late than never (he's master procrastinator), as long as he's getting fed. Coincidently, Red Velvet's one of his favourite choice of cakes. Purely because of how I always present the cream cheese for these red cupcakes. I fill the inside of the cakes ;-D The recipe from Hummingbird is pretty much the same as any Red Velvets. The only thing I'd say more for anyone baking these red cakes is on the colour. There's much talk about shunning excessive use of colouring in food and frankly, I couldn't agree more. Rainbow cakes are a rage here and if you see how vibrantly coloured those layers of cakes are, you can't help but cringe. I did one last year at my daughter's request for her birthday and was very careful in the amount of colouring I used. The result was less exuberant (first and last time I did that).

The sliced cake.

The whole cake.

Red Velvet is all about the red. Despite any opinion you have about the use of food colouring or the bad press about it, Red Velvet cakes are all about the red. Period. Any replacements for the red food colouring you plan to use is just not going to cut it. Beetroot is the most popular vegetable used to replace the food colouring and frankly, that little cake will be called the Chocolate Beetroot Cupcake. It honestly is! No two ways (or names) about it. The cake will never be that red whether you're using purple or burgundy beetroots.  Essentially, the Red Velvet is a moist and denser chocolate cake with red colouring. It's simply a variation of the chocolate cake, creatively birthed by the American Southerners. Key point I'm trying to make here is moderation. The occasional use of FDA-approved (US) colouring isn't going to kill you (but the made-in-China cheap red colours will!!!). No one eats a whole Red Velvet cake every week (if you do, you're just asking for it..). So, please buy a FDA-approved, reputable tub of red colouring in Cherry Red or Christmas Red for your Red Velvet Cake. It will cost you but you'd want a piece of mind when you have a piece of that cake because you'll need at least 30-40ml (about 2 tablespoon) of colouring to get that rich hue. Bear in mind that good food colours still stain (especially blue and red) BUT they stay on less than 12 hours. I know this because I use a lot of colours for my work and my fingers get stained all the time. However, after a couple of dishwashing sessions in the day, they're gone. I've had colour stains that lasted days and seen children with tongues coloured for days, too! Have fun baking your REAL Red Velvet! 

Apple And Walnut Cupcakes

Had a request in March for a child's party cakes and the little boy's mum said that he loves fruits and nuts in his cakes. Now, that's a rarity for a boy of 3. Fruits AND nuts? I mean, that combo is usually preferred by senior citizens! Nonetheless, the party had more adults than children anyway so this cake was right. I tried out this new recipe from Hummingbird Bakery's Cake Days a couple of days earlier and unlike most cakes with apples, this version doesn't require pre-cooking the apples. A relief actually, because for cupcakes, I didn't think adding a process of stewing apples will encourage anyone to start baking it. So, I chopped the green apples into 1cm cubes and stirred them into the batter with the chopped walnuts. Standard baking time for cupcakes, no more and the result surprised me. I had expected a wet cake. Nothing like that at all. It was  spongy-fluffy, moist (not wet) and full of flavour. The apples in it weren't soggy either. It's a pleasant tea cake and I didn't need to whip up the cream cheese icing for them. It was fine as it is. When the time came, I baked these cupcakes again and covered in in fondant with the superhero designs the young lad wanted. Guests loved it.