Best Ever Quinoa Chocolate Cupcakes...Gluten Free!
Monday, 13 February 2012
Saturday, 4 February 2012
Monday, 31 October 2011
White Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Classic Buttercream and Candy Corn!
These are the last cupcakes I’ll ever make in my old kitchen! Whee!
Sunday, 11 September 2011
GF Baby Bundt Carrot Cakes with Cream Cheese Icing
These baby bundts go very well with a shot of espresso. The bitterness of the coffee is a perfect accompaniment to the carrot cake’s sweet flavour profile.
Monday, 15 August 2011
GF Banana Chiffon Cake with Condensed Milk Drizzle and Organic Local Raspberries
Third time’s a charm with my GF Chiffon experimenting! The kids were happy to eat my failures because they were so tasty. However, it was time for a flavour shift. I had 2 spotting bananas on the counter and pureed them for the batter.
The Condensed Milk Drizzle is my preference over an icing sugar drizzle. It was way easier as I always have some in a container in the refrigerator. The berries are a tiny tart and like jewels in the syrupy drizzle.
This chiffon is a winner and doesn’t taste GF. See that crumb? It was soft and moist but not gummy. It hung upside down to cool and did not collapse. It had good structure but was ever so slightly wobbly tender.
Friday, 12 August 2011
My favourite GF flour blend and my favourite chiffon recipe are being combined and undergoing rigorous testing. To see how versatile my blend is, I tried it in my chiffon cake recipe.
Saturday, 16 July 2011
Yeehah! Gluten Free Cake Ecstasy!
Lookit me ma, I CAN bake a really good Gluten Free cake that doesn’t even taste Gluten Free!
Sunday, 10 July 2011
Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Black Sesame Chiffon Cake with Condensed Milk Whipped Cream and Raspberries
Love Black Sesame!
I transformed my favourite Chiffon recipe into a Black Sesame Chiffon recipe that is so tasty that it ought to be illegal. The chiffon can be eaten straight out of hand or you can gild the lily with Whipped Cream sweetened with Condensed Milk. Add ruby-red raspberries and you have a dessert that your guests will rave about.
Black sesame has long been touted in Chinese ancient medicine as a perfect food for child-bearing women (for ease of childbirth), for a healthy scalp, to prevent premature white hair and to clarify the complexion. It is purported to even help with constipation, lactation, chronic rhinitis and eyesight.
I don’t really care about all these things health attributes my momma told me about as much as the fact that black sesame rocks for flavour. It is nutty and fragrant and makes all your desserts look Goth.
You need to grind your black sesame seeds very finely and perhaps sift it to ensure the particles are fine enough. Otherwise, you will encounter big chunks of sesame that will sink to the bottom of your tube pan like mine did. The effect was kind of streusel-like, which wasn’t all so bad. However, it wasn’t what I was gunning for. I think that a food processor would not grind the sesame fine enough. I used my high-speed Bullet. You might use a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. Just ensure you grind in small batches and stop before you create sesame paste.
I insist you make this Whipped Cream sweetened with a touch of Condensed Milk. It is to die for. You will find that one dollop is not enough. You will inevitably do what I just did here and pile it on until you can’t see cake anymore. It’s not about how it looks…it’s all about yum-factor!
Wobbly tender, nutty cake topped with cool sweet whipped cream and punctuated with tart ruby berries make for a fine summer dessert!
CAKEBRAIN’S BLACK SESAME CHIFFON
(adapted and extremely modified from Cooks Illustrated)
(I insist you weigh your dry ingredients as I won’t be responsible for overly dry or wet chiffons if you don’t!)
- 300 g white granulated sugar
- 151 g cake flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup black sesame seeds [please check freshness by sniffing]
- 7 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup water
- Using a Bullet, a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder, finely grind the black sesame in small batches. Sift out large chunks. You can re-grind those large chunks again until everything is powdery fine. Caution: do not overwork into sesame paste.
- Adjust rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Whisk sugar, flour, baking powder, salt and ground black sesame into a large bowl. Whisk in two whole eggs, five egg yolks (reserve the whites), the water, oil, extract and sesame oil until batter is smooth.
- Pour reserved 5 egg whites into a standing mixer bowl; beat at low speed with the whisk attachment until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar, gradually increase speed to medium-high, then beat whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry approximately 7-8 minutes. With a large balloon whisk, fold whites into the batter, gently incorporating blobs of white that resist blending.
- Pour batter into ungreased large tube pan (9-inch diameter, 16 cup capacity).
- Bake cake until wire cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Immediately turn cake upside down to cool. Invert pan over bottle of funnel if you don’t have prongs for elevating cake. Let completely cool, about 2 hours.
- Run frosting spatula or thin knife around pan’s circumference between cake and pan wall, pressing against the pan.
- Accompany large slices of the Sesame Chiffon by gilding each just before serving with a large dollop of Condensed Milk Whipped Cream (recipe below) and fresh raspberries.
- Chiffon can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temp 2 days or refrigerated 4 days.
- 11/2 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
- 1 tablespoon condensed milk
- Pour whipping cream into stand mixer bowl and whisk until soft peaks form.
- Drizzle in the condensed milk and whip further until the whipping cream holds medium peaks.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
Sunday, 6 March 2011
Remember these? I'm waxing nostalgic these days.
In the good ol’ days when I visited my grandma, I would get to eat these caramel-like candies. The White Rabbit Candies that I remembered in the 70’s are exactly the same today. The rice paper wrapper used to bother me and I’d pick it off before popping them in my mouth. Now, I don’t care. It doesn’t taste like anything really. It dissolves into nothingness.
I recently rediscovered these iconic Chinese candies. As I remembered, they taste exactly like Condensed Milk! I love the flavour of condensed milk. The texture of the candy is not unlike a caramel. However it’s not a caramel…it’s sweet and milky. Surprisingly, the nutritional information at the back indicates that eating one or two isn’t going to damage your waistline too much. However, I can see eating a whole bag as a problem.
This is a perfect fix when I get my condensed milk cravings and when I don’t have time to make my favourite Condensed Milk Pound Cake. Do try the Pound Cake recipe if you have time though…it’s a winner!
Just in case you have time on your hands, here’s the recipe for Condensed Milk Pound Cake.
If you don't have time to make the Condensed Milk Pound Cake recipe, see my post on Condensed Milk Toast!
Sunday, 27 February 2011
The Mini rendition of the Best Chocolate Cupcakes Ever
When you go mini, timing is critical. I decided to use my favourite Best Chocolate Cupcake Ever recipe in mini cupcake liners. I was able to get about 36 mini cupcakes and used a tiny ice cream scoop to fill the liners half-full. I watched the cupcakes bake…like a hawk (a distracted hawk).
Monday, 14 February 2011
Chocolate Cupcake decorated with Pink Vanilla Buttercream and a Marshmallow Heart
There’s nothing like my daughter’s class Valentine’s day party to get me inspired to bake cupcakes again. Yes, it’s been a long time. I’ve made so many other things other than cupcakes. This isn’t to say cake hasn’t been on my brain! Let’s get real now!
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
‘Tis the season to overindulge.
However, I have your waistlines in mind dear readers, with this fabulously decadent Chocolate Mousse Layer Cake recipe. You can have your cake and eat it too as you’ll see. It's all about portion control. Instead of relying on sheer will power for portion control, the recipe has been downsized to a Mini version so that there isn't any more cake to eat even if you want it. That is, unless you don't share like you're supposed to and end up eating the whole darned cake.
I have a small family of four and it’s a painful waste when I make a delicious regular-sized cake (9 or 10 inches) because there are always a few slices left over which become stale. We get a tad sick of eating so much of the same cake. I’ve been working hard to develop a recipe for a Mini Chocolate Mousse Layer cake that is simple to make, relatively quick and super chocolatey. It also looks fancy enough to bring as a gift to a small dinner party (for 4 people...6 if they're not big eaters).
I think this recipe meets my needs and is my best so far. Its sponge layers are moist but not too tender. You need some structure (like a genoise) so that it can hold up the mousse filling and not dissolve into a soggy mess. The cake layers do not need the finicky genoise technique and just require a stand mixer. This cake is chocolatey but not overly rich or cloyingly sweet. It employs quality dark chocolate and tastes somewhat like a soft truffle. It doesn’t need frosting and comes out looking pretty smooth if you remember to use a spatula to smooth the top before allowing it to set in the refrigerator. If you don’t do this, you can always cover the cake with chocolate shavings. You can save a not-so-smooth cake by heating a metal spatula in really hot water, wiping it bone-dry and pressing it across the finished cake to smooth the surface a bit. It works. I did it. Big gouges this technique won’t fix, but some little divots and bumps it will.
What is the most important thing to me about this cake is its size. It’s Mini. I used two 6-inch round pans to bake the cake layers. Then I used a ring mold that is adjustable for the mousse component of the cake. I adjusted the ring mold to about 7 inches…just enough to accommodate the cake layers with about a centimetre all around it for the mousse filling (that’s a little less than a half inch to my American friends). When the whole sponge cake recipe is made, it yields two 6-inch layers. However, I chose to only use one of the layers…split in two…to make this particular cake. I saved the other layer for a Chestnut Cream Cake using the same mousse technique. That’ll be a later post. That explains how you can have your cake…and eat it too.
Click the jump to read the full recipe.
Wednesday, 18 August 2010
Pound cake can be a misnomer.
I recall in a previous life as a newly married woman without children, I had a desire for my husband to bake for me. He is no baker. He has no experience baking. However, in this day and age, there are no dragons to slay nor villains to be saved from and so I felt the need for him to meet some sort of a challenge that would push his comfort level.
These were the days when we still bothered with a “date night”. With kids now, there really doesn’t seem to be a point anymore!
Well, along with the new-wife trick questions like: “Do you like my hair cut short or long?” and “Would you marry again if I were to die before you?” and “Do I look fat in this?” early on in our marriage, my husband had to manoeuvre his way around a couple of other challenges in order to reaffirm his love to me. One of these things was baking a cake. I told him I thought it appropriate for him to bake me something because I always baked for him. Heck, I did stuff like washing the cars, installing carpet and grouting and re-siliconing all the bathrooms and kitchen. Wasn’t it fair that he should try at least once?
Since Stomach enjoyed pound cakes and chiffon cakes—about the only cakes he ever ate…I suggested he make a pound cake. It was easier and didn’t necessarily require operation of heavy machinery (my KitchenAid! don’t touch it!)
I left him with a suitable cookbook opened to the appropriate page and left him to his own devices as I kicked back and watched t.v. with a pile of cooking magazines on my lap.
How hard could baking a pound cake be after all? Mine always turned out pretty good.
After taking the golden cake out of the oven, I nodded and sniffed and thought it quite impressive. We allowed the cake to cool and cut a few slices to try. It looked good, it smelled good…it tasted pretty good fresh out of the oven! wow.
Unfortunately this did not last. The next day it wouldn’t cut easily. It was hard as a rock.
Man was it heavy. We dubbed it a "kilogram cake" because it was a tad heftier than a pound cake. I don’t really know what he did. He could have gone wrong anywhere: inaccurate measuring of ingredients, overbeating/underbeating or forgetting something? I never asked him to bake again.
Rose Levy Beranbaum's book, Rose's Heavenly Cakes has been speaking to me recently. Though I have been thinking about fully frosted, multi-layered towering rich cakes primarily, I haven't mustered the caloric deficit to allow myself to bake one of the beauties. Instead, I have been opting for frosting-less cakes that the family can share for snacks, breakfast and for eating out of hand. And no, these weren’t like his. These pound cakes were actually very good and in fact keep well and taste better the next day after wrapping in plastic wrap and storing in a sealed container. I had even brushed both little cakes with a syrup to ensure moistness because I can’t stand a pound cake that is so dry that it makes you gag for a glass of water.
Because this vanilla pound cake calls for TWO WHOLE PODS worth of vanilla bean seeds and vanilla extract to boot, I think you can safely say there is a definite Vanilla flavour. I found that the vanilla seeds, which are almost like small grains of pepper flecking the cake, added a bit of unexpected crunch. The recipe is good and I’d probably make it again but it isn’t as moist as I would have liked it. I think perhaps next time I would double the syrup recipe and add some bourbon to the syrup too. I didn’t do the bourbon this time because I thought my kids wouldn’t like it.
If you were wondering, I have long gotten over trying to get anyone to prove anything to me. Eventually early on, he along with his buddy, compared notes and came up with some sort of a cheat-sheet for newly married husbands of appropriate answers ("great haircut...you're so fortunate to carry off long AND short hair", "no, that doesn't make you look fat, but I really liked the red dress because it makes you looks sexy" etc.) for all those new-wife questions...the kind of answers that don't get you in the dog house! The funny thing is that the "right" answers don't get you in the doghouse, but they're no fun either. Besides, that's what girlfriends are for. They tell you the truth and husbands are supposed to tell you that they love you no matter what.
Girlfriends are also great companions for chick flicks. I saw "Eat, Pray, Love" on opening day with my girlfriends and liked all the food porn. Did anyone else like it? That spaghetti in Italy looked amazing. I'm not surprised Roberts gained 10 pounds while filming! I was primarily into the "Eat" part of the movie. I have decided I want to visit Bali someday too.
In the meantime, baking and eating in Vancouver is about all I can do.
You'll find the recipe in Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes.
Friday, 6 August 2010
Apologies for such a long absence—but I have been enjoying my holidays in Disneyland!
Fortunately, Bebe surprised us with her resilience. She vehemently retorted that she didn’t need a stroller at all and she walked everywhere and anywhere we went. We were up early for the Magic Mornings (7am entry!) and stayed up really late to catch all the shows and fireworks at night. Bib was short about 2 hours of sleep everyday but fortunately she napped a bit in the early afternoon before we headed out again at dinner and in the evening. We stayed at the Grand Californian and Bebe received a birthday button/pin the day we checked in. Reception told her to wear it everyday. Boy was that a good thing! Everywhere we went, people wished her a happy birthday. She received freebies like a birthday beignet with candle and singing at the Cafe Orleans and she had a free brownie and candle at Ariel’s Grotto. She was getting birthday cupcakes and happy bday songs left right and centre.
I also purchased a few bags of Mickey shaped pasta and some other Mickey shaped foods. Those were eaten pretty much immediately so I don’t have pics for you of those. Imagine goldfish crackers and pretzels in the shape of Mickey’s head.
We were missing Japanese food pretty badly at Disneyland. There wasn’t any sushi to be had. How sad. They need to rectify that. I was surprised they didn’t have any sushi there at all. Instead, you could get pizza, chicken strips and mac ‘n cheese pretty much everywhere. My kids aren’t really into those foods so Bebe was eating Caesar salad and roast chicken and more adult fare from our plates. We had the forethought to bring along some instant cup noodles in our luggage for those lunches when you just wanted something salty soupy in your hotel room and grabbed fresh fruit cups and milk around the site.
When we got home, we went to Japanese restaurants in Vancouver 2 days in a row because we were in sushi withdrawal. Funny how you don’t realize how good it is when you can have pretty much any ethnic cuisine you want in Vancouver. I was hankering for some Greek food too--roast lamb and Greek salad! Stomach of course wanted dim sum.
Eeyore did finally get to plunge his muzzle into the Vanilla Bean chiffon cake I baked today. He got crumbs all over but that’s okay.
VANILLA BEAN CHIFFON CAKE
(adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Master Recipe for Chiffon Cake)
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 1 1/3 cups plain cake flour (measure unsifted)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 7 large eggs, 2 left whole, 5 separated (at room temperature)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract (I added the seeds of a whole vanilla bean pod in there too)
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 3/4 cup water
2. Pour reserved egg whites into large bowl; beat at low speed with electric mixer until foamy, about 1 minute. Add cream of tartar, gradually increase speed to medium-high, then beat whites until very thick and stiff, just short of dry, 9 to 10 minutes with handheld mixer or 5 to 7 minutes in standing mixer. With large whisk, fold whites into batter, smearing any blobs of white that resist blending.
3. Pour batter into ungreased large tube pan ( 9 inch diameter, 16-cup capacity).
4. Bake cake on lower middle rack in oven until wire cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, 55-65 minutes. Immediately turn cake upside down to cool. If pan does not have prongs around rim for elevating cake, invert pan over bottle or funnel, inserted through tube. Let cake hang until completely cook, about 2 hours.
5. To unmold, turn pan upright. Run frosting spatula or thin knife around pan’s circumference between cake and pan wall, always pressing against the pan. Use cake tester to loosen cake from tube. For one-piece pan, bang it on counter several times, then invert over serving plate. For two-piece pan, grasp tube and lift cake out of pan. If glazing the cake, use a fork or a paring knife to gently scrap all the crust off the cake. Loosen cake from pan bottom with spatula or knife, then invert cake onto plate. (Can be wrapped in plastic and stored at room temperature 2 days or refrigerated 4 days.)
Sunday, 4 July 2010
I don’t generally like angel food cake. Often, I find it tooth-achingly sweet and the angel food cakes I’ve had in the past are often cottony and dry in texture. Instead, I am a huge fan of chiffon cakes and have many favourite recipes I repeatedly make when I want to make a cake that doesn’t require frosting and can be eaten out of hand to satisfy my cake-tooth.
So why am I making an angel food cake if I profess to not even like them? What is so appealing to me about angel food is its lack of added fat and the seemingly saintly virtue of having less of all the bad things like refined sugar and white cake flour (look ma, fewer calories and saturated fat!) There is no leavening agent either. Wouldn’t it be great if an angel food cake were so virtuous and tasted good too? and was not dry but moist? and not cottony? or overly sweet?
Today I am embarking on an angel food cake recipe quest. Just like my chiffon quest, my macaron quest, my chocolate cupcake quest and my epic journey with the Wilton Castle Cake (aka Ariel’s Underwater Castle), I’ll be following recipe instructions to the letter and researching my subject matter to ensure proper technique and ingredients are employed to yield best results. I’ll be testing a bunch of recipes from my vast collection of cookbooks and my favourite food blogs in order to find a foolproof recipe that yields angel food characteristics that I deem important:
- a tender crumb; not a cottony texture
- not overly sweet
- flavourful and tasty!
Hit the link for the verdict and scroll to bottom to see the recipe.
Friday, 4 June 2010
I love the smooth texture of the Swiss Meringue whipped silly until it’s silky smooth on the tongue. This buttercream recipe is from my Martha Stewart Baking Handbook. It was doubled to frost 24 large cupcakes. I recommend my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe. However, if you’re in a crunch, just use a chocolate cake mix.
The buttercream has a caramel flavour and is quite lovely against the chocolate cupcake. Swiss Meringue buttercreams pipe beautifully and hold up well in warm weather.
The kids seemed to love it and I thought it a shame that many kids today have never had a REAL fresh cupcake made from scratch—ever. What kind of society are we creating when the youth have only experienced mass-produced dry crumbly cupcakes swirled with achingly sweet shortening-based frostings made from confectioners’ sugar and studded with multi-coloured crunchy sprinkles?
The top view…achieved by swirling from the outside in…of a Wilton 1M icing tip.
****WARNING: the buttercream will curdle. You will then swear a deadly streak and think of sending me a wicked comment for this post. However, you shall persevere and then commence to take a deep breath. Switch from the paddle attachment back to the whisk and whisk at med-high speed until it all comes together again. It’ll deflate considerably from its glorious fluffy mass and become rich and buttery looking. Then, change back to the paddle attachment to eliminate any air bubbles. The buttercream should be smooth.
I’ll repost the recipe here for my favourite chocolate cupcake recipe (so far!) and the Caramelly Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream recipe is below it. If you’re not up to making the cupcake part—as it requires you to make two separate batches, (according to the recipe, which doesn’t guarantee results if you simply double it) then one chocolate cake box mix will yield you a convenient 24 large cupcakes.
I have had many comments on how successful this cupcake recipe is, so you ought to try it. Tell me how you like this Caramel version over the original Vanilla Swiss Meringue version. Hit the link below to see the recipe.