Monday, February 27, 2012

Daring Bakers February 2012 - Pineapple Loaf Cake

Up until the beginning of this month I had no idea what a quick bread was. So when I saw the title for the challenge I assumed we were going to make some type of bread. Then when I saw the recipe I thought, "hmm, this is a cake recipe..." I was really confused on the whole quick bread thing and hopped on to google to get some answers. So, what I have learnt so far is that a quick bread has a distinctive method of mixing ingredients and does not use any leaveners like yeast to raise the baked goods.

Blog-checking lines: The Daring Bakers’ February 2012 host was – Lis! Lis stepped in last minute and challenged us to create a quick bread we could call our own. She supplied us with a base recipe and shared some recipes she loves from various websites and encouraged us to build upon them and create new flavor profiles.

Though we were asked to make our own flavors I was hesitant to try anything of my own. I tried two recipes from the net and both were good. I thought the pineapple loaf would be a bit of a problem based on the reviews but that was the recipe that got rave reviews from my tasters.

Recipe Source - Slightly adapted from the Coconut - Pineapple Loaf Cake from Martha Stewart

Ingredients - I have reduced the recipe quantity from the original to fit my loaf pan.

2/3 Cup Sweetened Shredded Coconut
2/3 Stick (approx 80 Gms) Unsalted Butter (at room temperature)
1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1/4 Tsp + 1/8 Tsp Baking Soda
1/4 Tsp + 1/8 Tsp Salt
2/3 Cup Sugar
2 Large Eggs
2/3 Cup Thick Yogurt
6 Pineapple Rings (from a can - Drained and Chopped finely)

Note - Make sure the pineapple is really well drained. Place it on multiple sheets of kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 9-by-5-inch (8-cup) loaf pan; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Reduce speed to low, and alternately add flour mixture in three parts and sour cream in two, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until combined (do not overmix).
  6. Using a rubber spatula, fold pineapple and coconut into batter. Spoon into prepared pan, and smooth top.
  7. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, approx 60 minutes. Let cake cool in pan 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Happy Eating!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes with Swiss Strawberry Buttercream

While I was attending my Cake Decorating course , we were required to bring some cupcakes for decorating and filling. I was feeling a bit uninspired as to my flavor choices and decided to check online for some ideas. Surely enough Annie's eats did not fail me and I saw these beauties with lovely swirls of pink buttercream.

The cupcakes are really delicious especially on their own and I ate most of them without any frosting on top. While I did try making the buttercream I was not a fan of it but only because I don't like buttercream in general. I was a bit worried that I would not be able to make it but after 10 minutes in the stand mixer the buttercream beautifully just comes together. One minute its a curdled looking mess and then it just transforms right before your eyes!

I filled my cupcakes with a simple strawberry sauce using a filling tip but they can also be served plain.

Recipe Source - Given as is from Annie's Eats with my notes in red.

Ingredients - Makes 32 Cupcakes

For The Cupcakes
21/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Cake Flour
1 Tbsp Baking powder
1 Tsp Salt
2 Sticks (1 cup) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature
21/4 Cups Sugar
1 1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs Plus 1 Large Egg White
1 Cup Milk
2 1/2 Cups Finely Chopped Fresh Strawberries (I used frozen strawberries for both cake and frosting)
For The Frosting
1 1/2 Cups Fresh Strawberries (8 oz.), Rinsed, Hulled And Coarsely Chopped
4 Large Egg Whites
1 1/4 Cups Sugar
3 Sticks (1½ Cups) Unsalted Butter, At Room Temperature

Make The Cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 175˚ C (350˚ F).  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  
2. In a medium bowl, combine the all-purpose flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt; whisk to blend.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  
4. Beat in the eggs and egg white one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  
5.With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in two additions alternating with the milk, mixing each addition just until incorporated.  Gently fold in the chopped strawberries with a spatula.
6. Divide the batter between the paper liners, filling each about ¾-full.  Bake until light golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 25-28 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking.  Allow to cool in the pans a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make The Frosting
1. Place the strawberries in a food processor or blender.  Puree until completely smooth.  
2. Combine the egg whites and sugar in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.
3. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  (The bowl should be cool to the touch.)
4.Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (it took 10 minutes for me)  Blend in the strawberry puree until smooth and completely incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
5. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a decorative tip with the frosting.  Frost cooled cupcakes as desired.

Happy Eating!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Hazelnut and Chocolate Torte With Nutella Mascarpone

I am really happy to post this recipe as this was one my best desserts so far. The flavor was so reminiscent of a Ferrero Rocher that I have started calling it a Ferrero Rocher Cake. I also got to try a lot of new techniques like baking a daquoise and making my own Mascarpone.

I had missed the November Daring Bakers challenge of the Sans Rival and wanted to give it a go. Sans Rival is a Filipino dessert which means 'without rival'. I decided to give it a try but without making the heavy buttercream filling as I wanted something light. The Nutella mascarpone complements the dacquoise perfectly and is very easy to make.

Recipe Source - Hazelnut Dacquoise Slightly adapted from November Daring Bakers Challenge host Catherine of Munchie Musings; Chocolate Ganache recipe from Joy of Baking.


For The Dacquois
5 Large Egg Whites (At room temperature)
1/2 Cup Granulated Sugar
1/2 Tsp Cream of Tartar
2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
3/4 Cup Chopped Toasted Hazelnuts (Texture of Breadcrumbs)
For The Filling
1 Cup Mascarpone Cheese (You can make your own!!)
1/2 Cup Nutella
2 Tbsp Cadburys Drinking Chocolate
1/4 Cup Chopped Hazelnuts
For The Ganache
100 gms Semisweet Chocolate
60 ml Heavy Cream
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter

Bake the Dacquoise
1. Preheat oven to moderate 325°F/160°C/gas mark 3.
2. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and draw three squares measuring 4x4 inches on each pan. (See Diagram below). Turn over the paper  and lightly grease the squares.

My weird attempt at drawing..baking sheet with three squares.
3. In a large clean, dry  glass or metal mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium until foamy (2 mins.) 
4. Sprinkle with cream of tartar. Gradually add sugar, a couple of tablespoons at time, continuing to beat now at high speed until stiff shiny peaks form. (about 7-10 mins.)
5. Fold in nuts.
6. Divide meringue into 6 equal parts and spread onto square shapes in the baking sheet with each square being 1/2 inch thick. (Alternatively you can bake these in cake pans also).
7. Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the meringue is set. Remove from oven and peel off parchment paper while still hot. Place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Make the Ganache
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Set aside.
2. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. (Can also heat the cream and butter in the microwave.) Bring just to a boil. 
3. Immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand, without stirring, for a few minutes. Stir gently (as you do not want to incorporate air into the ganache) with a spoon or whisk until smooth.
4. Place in fridge to cool completely before using.

Make the Filling
Combine all the ingredients and whisk well. Keep aside.

Assemble The Torte
1.Trim the sides of each dacquoise square.
2. Place one square on a serving plate.
3. Top with 2 Tbsp of the filling.
4. Repeat with one more layer of dacquoise and filling.
5. Add the last layer of dacquoise and pour some of the cooled ganache on top.
6. Garnish with chopped hazelnuts.

Happy Eating!!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

How to make Mascarpone Cheese

How many times have you walked through the cheese aisle and looked at all that lovely cheese staring at you? And how many times have you looked at the prices and decided not to buy it? It has surely happened a lot of times to me as some of the prices are way too much (Ricotta and Mascarpone, I am talking to you!

In Dubai you can find a big variety of cheese in the supermarkets but paying so much for a small tub doesn't make sense. When I made the Tiramisu at home I had purchased a small 200 grams tub, but this combined with the cost of the biscuits, cream and coffee made the dish expensive to make at home. This time when I needed Mascarpone for a dessert I thought why not make it at home? The recipe was very easy to find as The Daring Bakers had this as a challenge some time ago and a lot of bloggers had posted their results.

I have made Paneer and Ricotta at home before and this time again I am amazed at the simplicity of it. And the best thing about it, it is so cheap!!

Recipe Source - Baking Obsession.

500 ml Pasteurized Heavy Cream (I could not find pasteurized cream so I used Ultra pasteurized, It tasted great to me, just use a cream with 33 - 36 % fat).
1 Tbsp Lemon Juice (I used lemon concentrate from a bottle)

Equipment Needed
  1. Medium size Saucepan
  2. Stainless Steel Bowl (It must fit over the saucepan, without touching the bottom).
  3. Cheesecloth (I used a clean tea towel)
  4. Fine Mesh Sieve
  5. Candy Thermometer (Optional, but great if you have it)
1. Fill a medium size saucepan with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low so that the water is barely simmering.
2. Pour the cream into a medium heat-resistant bowl, then place the bowl on the saucepan.

3. Heat the cream, stirring often, to 190 F. It will take about 15 minutes of delicate heating. (If you do not have a thermometer, look for small bubbles on the surface of the cream).
4. Add the lemon juice and continue heating the mixture, stirring gently, until the cream curdles. Do not expect the same action as you see during ricotta cheese making. All that the whipping cream will do is become thicker, like a well-done crème anglaise. It will cover a back of your wooden spoon thickly. You will see just a few clear whey streaks when you stir.
5. Remove the bowl from the water and let cool for about 20 minutes.

6. Meanwhile, line a sieve with four layers of dampened cheesecloth and set it over a bowl. Transfer the mixture into the lined sieve. Do not squeeze the cheese in the cheesecloth or press on its surface (be patient, it will firm up after refrigeration time). Once cooled completely, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate (in the sieve) overnight or up to 24 hours.
You will get around 2 Cups of Mascarpone. I wish I had weighed it, but I will surely make it again and update the weight.

I made a fantastic dessert with my homemade mascarpone. Recipe coming up!!

Happy Cheese Making!!