Friday, 20 January 2012

1 2 3 4 White Buttermilk Cake

I had baked this cake around two weeks ago and was planning to write about it, but as you can see, its a bit involved recipe, and  what with my younger one been just  a year old and the elder one, although only 8 but acts like a pre-teen, I didn't find time to actually sit down and do it.
Now about this cake, culinary evidence confirms the practice of naming cakes, such as this one, for their measurements, dates (at least) to the 18th century. In the days when many people couldn't read, this simple convention made it simple to remember recipes. Pound cake and cupcakes are foods of this genre. In fact, they were composed of the same basic ingredients of this 1 2 3 4 cake. There are several variations on the recipe for 1 2 3 4 cake but "yr basic list" goes like this: 1 cup butter, 2 cups sugar, 3 cups flour and 4 eggs. This combination, in its purest form, produces a chewy dense cookie-type treat or sugar cookies.
The recipe's basic 1 2 3 4 main ingredients have been added to and this cake is made by Two Step Mixing method, which gives us a very moist and tender cake.

INGREDIENTS:
1 cup unsalted butter (cold);
3 cups cake flour (not self-rising); spoon into measuring cup and level to rim ( if you do not have cake flour, then take 2 cups all purpose flour and 1 cup cornflour)
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon (3 teaspoons) baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk; well shaken;
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs;
4 large egg whites

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 177 degree Celsius and grease and line with parchment paper, two 9" springform cake pans or normal cake tins.

Remove the butter from the refrigerator, and cut into evenly-sliced pieces . Set aside, and let soften slightly, but for best results, they must remain cool. Add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into the mixing bowl, and mix on low, about 10 to 15 seconds to combine. Make sure you get all of the ingredients mixed in from the bottom of the bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the butter 1 tablespoon or piece at a time into the flour mixture. Keep adding each butter-piece about 10 seconds apart, until all has been incorporated. Half-way through mixing, the flour mixture should begin to look like breadcrumbs and will clump together a little; if the butter is warm, the mixture will become sticky. You should not see any large butter pieces in the mixture. It may take awhile for this to happen depending on how warm the butter is.
When the butter has been incorporated into the flour, sugar and dry ingredients, the mixture will look like fine breadcrumbs. If the butter is warm, the mixture will clump together. I used butter cold from the refrigerator, so the mixture did not clump.
In a 2 cup measuring cup or a bowl with a pouring spout, add the buttermilk, water and vanilla extract, and stir. Quickly add the baking soda, stir until well incorporated. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the buttermilk mixture at the side of the bowl into the flour / butter mixture, and mix until just combined. Increase the mixer speed to medium and mix until the batter is smooth, taking about 4 to 6 minutes. Stop the mixer. 
 Lightly whisk together the eggs and egg whites in a medium size bowl. Turn on the mixer to low, and slowly add the egg mixture at the side of the bowl.
When the egg mixture has been added, scrape the side and bottom of the bowl with a large rubber spatula because you want to make sure you get all of the ingredients before the last mixing step. Turn the mixer speed to medium and beat the batter for one minute or until smooth and creamy. Scrape the side and bottom of the mixing bowl with a large rubber spatula. Fold the batter one or two times to incorporate all of the ingredients. Then, STOP!
Divide the batter evenly between the pans and gently smooth the tops. The batter will fill the baking pans about half-full.
Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes for two, 9 x 2 -inch layers; 35 to 40 minutes for one 9 X 13 x 2-inch cake, or until the top feels firm and gives slightly when touched and will shrink slightly from the side of the pan. The cake will be slightly browned on top.If you insert a toothpick in the middle and remove, there should be a few moist crumbs attached, but not batter. The cake, when done baking, should not look dry.
Remove the cakes to cool on wire racks for 10 to 15 minutes and then unmold onto wire cake racks, turning right-side-up to cool thoroughly. Be careful, the cakes are delicate when warm.

HOW TO ASSEMBLE:
Cut each cake horizontally into two (you will get four layers). I lost one layer mysteriously, no one came forward to claim the mischief. I assembled the cakes on top of each other with a Strawberry Whipped Cream filling (recipe follows), and then covered it with a basic butter cream crumb coat as I was going to cover my cake with fondant, as my daughter Saee wanted a "flowery" cake.

 

 STRAWBERRY CREAM RECIPE:
Ingredients
200 grams fresh strawberries
125 ml low fat cream
1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4th cup sugar

Place strawberries, sugar, vinegar and and vanilla in a saucepan over low heat and simmer till it becomes thick and jam like. Remove from the heat and let it cool completely.
Whip the cream and add the cooled strawberry mixture to it. Fold gently. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour before using.

STORAGE
The cake layers store nicely. They can be stored at room temperature for about 3 or more days. The cake layers freeze well for about a month or more. Keep well wrapped.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Chocolate Mousse Cake with Strawberries

I have always been fascinated and intrigued by mousse cake recipes. They look perfect in pictures and oh sooo adorable. I have a good collection of cook books at my home but always a bit hesitant to try out a mousse cake. But when I came across this recipe from Deeba I knew right away that this is the one recipe that I have to make, and it turned out so beautifully gorgeous. Full of rich chocolate flavour that just melts in your mouth and wonderfully light mousse.....totally decadent but pure bliss.

Chocolate Cake
Ingredients:
20 gms unsalted butter, melted
4 eggs
125 gms caster sugar
90 gms all purpose flour, sifted
30 gms cocoa powder

Whipped Cream Filling
Ingredients:
150 ml low fat cream, chilled
2 tbsp icing sugar

Chocolate Mousse
Ingredients:
150 gms dark chocolate, chopped (preferably semi sweet dark chocolate)
3 tsp gelatin
70 ml milk (50 ml + 20 ml)
400 ml low fat cream (200 ml at room temperature and 200 ml chilled)
30 gms caster sugar (15 gms+15 gms)
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Glaze
Ingredients:
150 gms dark chocolate, finely chopped
25 gms light corn syrup (in the original recipe Deeba has used honey)

Strawberry halves for decorating

Method:
Chocolate cake:
Preheat the oven to 165 degree Celsius and grease and line a 9" springform cake tin or a cake pan.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder and set aside. Whisk the egg and sugar together, and then beat over a saucepan of simmering water for 8-10 minutes until it doubles in volume and becomes mousse like ( I used electronic beater). Regularly check the temperature of the mixture. It should not be too hot. If it gets hot then simply remove from the pan for a few seconds. Once doubled, remove from the saucepan of water, and continue beating till it becomes cool, and the batter falls in ribbons.
Gently fold in the sifted flour and cocoa in 2-3 batches. Quickly add melted butter and fold. Pour the mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cake is firm and springs back when touched. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes and then invert and place on a wire rack to cool completely. You can also bake the cake a day in advance and cover it in a cling foil and keep in fridge until required.

Whipped Cream Filling:
Beat the cream with sugar until stiff peaks form and refrigerate until required.

Chocolate Mousse:
Soften the gelatin in 50 ml of cold milk. Place the chocolate in a large bowl. Heat 200 ml cream, milk (20 ml) and half the sugar (15 gms) until simmering. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar and add 1/3rd of the cream mixture to it, whisking continuously until combined. Pour this back into the hot cream and milk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the cream is thickened and coats the back of the spoon. Don't allow it to boil.
Remove from heat and immediately stir in the gelatin mixture into the hot cream mixture and then strain it over the chocolate. Stir until smooth. Cool over a bowl of crushed ice, stirring frequently.
Once cooled, beat the chilled cream to soft peaks, and gently fold into the mousse.

Chocolate Glaze (to be made while assembling):
Place chocolate in a bowl. Heat cream and corn syrup in a saucepan until simmering. Pour over the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.

How to assemble:
Cut the chocolate cake horizontally into two layers. Place in a desert ring (I use the ring of springform pan) on a serving platter. Place one layer of cake, cover it with the whipped cream and then place the other layer on top of it. Place in the refrigerator to chill (about 1/2 hour). Line the side of dessert ring with strawberry halves, pour the chocolate mousse into the ring and gently level it. Cover and refrigerate overnight (preferably). Next morning, prepare the glaze and pour half of it over the mousse. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to let the glaze set.
Unmold from the dessert ring, slather the bottom half of the cake with the remaining glaze. Dust the top with cocoa powder and serve.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Sunday Chicken Roast

I love the sort of lunch or dinner which takes minimum effort but guarantees ultimate gratification. As Nigella Lawson puts it " Cooking is simple; you can choose to complicate it, but there is no need to". A pot roast is a manageable lunch or supper on a lazy Sunday, and the good thing is, whatever prep it needs could be done well in advance during the week ,and all you need to do on Sunday is to just slide the dish in oven. If you make this roast once, you are hooked. You will make it again and again. Its gloriously simple to make, you just have to add the ingredients and then sit back, enjoy a glass of red, watch tv, read book or spend quality time with your family and let the ingredients do their wonderful job.


Chicken Roast
Everyone has their own roast or tandoor recipe. I have developed mine, over the years, by trying out different recipes and methods, and this is the one which is now fairly staple in our household.
Ingredients:
1 full chicken (around 1.5 kgs)
1/2 kgs potatoes
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1/2 cup thick curd (whisked)
8 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp red chilli powder (you can use less chilli)
1 tsp turmeric powder
1/4th tsp black pepper powder
1/2 tsp garam masala powder (any garam masala will do; I use Everest Garam Masala powder)
 1 tbsp mango pickle masala (I use Bedekar's masala)
1/2 cup melted butter, or olive oil, or vegetable oil

salt to taste

Mix all the ingredients, except for chicken and potatoes, in a bowl and marinate the chicken for 2-3 hrs (preferably overnight). Cover it, and keep in the refrigerator. If you are marinating your chicken 2-3 days ahead, then keep the chicken in your freezer, and allow to thaw overnight in your fridge.

Take the chicken out of the fridge and allow it to come to room temperature. You can truss the chicken, many prefer to sew it. Meanwhile bring water to boil in a big saucepan and then put your potatoes (with their skin on) in it, for about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and immediately remove the potatoes from the boiling water and pour cold water on them. Let them dry on a colander.
Meanwhile preheat your oven to 190 degree Celsius. Take one potato, cut a central triangle-shaped piece out of the middle,which gives you 1 piece with two slanted edges, and 2 pieces each with 1 slanted edge. Cut all your potatoes in same fashion.
Take a large baking pan and grease it. Put your chicken in it and place the potatoes around the chicken. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 50-60 minutes. Halfway through, remove the foil. Do not forget to baste the chicken time to time with the liquids running out of the chicken. You should check, when the chicken comes out of the oven, that it is properly cooked through, by cutting into the flesh between the body and the thigh.

You can serve the chicken with stir fried veggies like french beans, carrots, mushrooms etc.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes

Last week was my niece, Avani's, 8th birthday and she wanted a very "chocolaty" cake. As we all know how kids love their chocolate we decided to serve them individual cupcakes,, for the birthday party, which they don't have to share with anyone. This lovely Chocolate Cupcake is all about having your own little cake that you do not have to share. It has a moist texture with mild chocolate flavour, which the kids absolutely loved. It was a smash hit with kids and adults at the party.The Chocolate Cupcake recipe is adapted from Stephanie Jaworski of joyofbaking.com. The original recipe called for Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, which we don't get in India. Instead I used regular cocoa powder and introduced baking soda in my recipe.

Chocolate Cupcake
Ingredients:
1/2 cup (50 grams) cCocoa powder
1 cup (240ml) boiling hot water
1 1/3rd cup (175 grams) all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4th teaspoon baking soda
1/4th teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) castor sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 190 degree Celsius. Lightly butter, or line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
In a small bowl, stir smooth the boiling water and cocoa powder with baking soda. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
In another bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat only until incorporated. Then add the cooled cocoa mixture and stir until smooth.
Fill each muffin cup 2/3 rd full with batter and bake for about 16-20 minutes or until risen, springy to the touch and a toothpick inserted into a cupcake comes out clean. Do not overbake  or the cupcakes will turn out dry. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

Storage:
 These Cupcakes are best the day they are made, but can be covered and kept in an airtight container for a week.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Orange Sponge Cake

Yay I got my first Daring Bakers challenge. I'm so excited and really looking forward to experiment with some new recipes and hone my baking skills. I'll post my completed challenge with the complete recipe at the month end. In the mean time I have baked a really good Orange Sponge Cake to satisfy my sweet tooth. This cake is very special to me as I made this on our wedding anniversary. The texture and flavour of this sponge cake is delightful,l with fluffy inside and tender crumb on the outside. I have adopted this recipe from baking911 where Sarah Phillips walks you through step by step in making this sponge cake. I decorated the cake with a French Butter Cream, also by Sarah Phillips.

Orange Sponge Cake
Ingredients:
1 cup cake flour (take 1 cup all purpose flour and then remove 1 1/2 tbsp from it and add 1 1/2 tbsp cornflour to it )
1/2 tsp salt
5 large eggs, separated (separate the eggs when cold and then set aside for half hour before using)
1 cup castor sugar, separated (1/2 + 1/2)
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp orange juice (preferably fresh)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 165 degree Celsius. Grease only the bottom of a 9" spring-form pan or a cake pan and line it with butter or parchment paper and grease the paper. Do not grease the sides of the cake pan.
Sift the flour with salt three times. Set aside.
Whisk the egg yolks to break them up and add the 1/2 cup sugar, orange juice, vanilla and orange extract.Beat on low speed and gradually increase it to high. Stop when the egg yolk mixture is light in colour (about 5 minutes). When the whisk is lifted from the mixing bowl, the mixture will fall back in ribbons.

Sprinkle half of the flour over the ribboned egg yolks and gently whisk it in, to make a smooth batter (don't beat in a mixer). Repeat with the other half of the flour. Cover it and set aside.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy on medium-low speed. add the lemon juice. Continue whipping until the foam is white and opaque. Increase the mixer speed to high and add the remaining1/2 cup of sugar. Beat until soft peaks form. Do not beat it till the stiff peaks stage.

Add a small amount of egg whites to the egg yolks and flour mixture and stir with whisk to lighten it. Place the rest of the egg whites on the surface of the batter and with a large rubber spatula, fold very carefully. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is well risen, firm and sounds hollow when tapped on the pan with a wooden spatula. It should be golden brown on top. The cake will not shrink from the side of the pan and will form a slight dome. Remove from the oven and let it rest in the pan for 10 minutes. To remove the cake, if using a spring-form pan, slip a flexible metal spatula carefully down the side of the pan, slowly trace around the perimeter, unlatch the clamp and slip off the pan side. When the side is free, turn it over on a plate, slip a flexible metal spatula between the cake and the pan's bottom to loosen, and remove.
Gently peel off the parchment paper. Set the cake on a wire cake rack to cool.


 Storage
If you want to keep your unfrosted cake, freeze it wrapped first in plastic wrap, then in foil, and finally in an airtight container. It will keep for 2 to 3 months.

Orange French Butter Cream
Makes 4 cups or enough to frost two, 9 x 2-inch layers or three, 9- x 1-inch layers
Ingredients:
6 egg yolks
3/4th cup (150 gms) powdered sugar (not icing sugar)
1/2 cup corn syrup (you can get corn syrup in specialty shops, if you can't get it then use 1/4th cup water and 1/4th cup honey)
2 cups (454 gms) unsalted butter
2 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
 Grease a 1 cup heatproof glass measure and place near the stove. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, and beat the yolks with the whisk attachment, until light in color and fluffy. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and corn syrup in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and heat, stirring constantly, until the sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a rolling boil and its entire surface is covered in tiny bubbles. (The syrup must come to a rolling boil or the resulting buttercream will be too thin.). Remove the pot from the heat and immediately transfer the syrup to the glass measure to stop the cooking. Do not scrape the bottom of the pan to get the remaining sugar syrup from it into the glass measuring cup. Pour a small amount of syrup over the yolks, and immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the mixer and add a larger amount of syrup. Beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Continue with the remaining syrup. For the last addition, use a rubber scraper to remove the syrup clinging to the glass measure. Continue beating until completely cool. Gradually beat in the butter, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. The egg/syrup mixture must be completely cool before adding the butter. The buttercream will begin to thicken once all of the butter has been added.Add the vanilla and orange extract and beat to combine.

Storage
Place in an airtight bowl and keep refrigerated. Keeps 1 week refrigerated; 8 months frozen. Bring to room temperature before using and/or rebeating to restore texture, if necessary, to prevent curdling.

How to assemble:

When the cake has cooled and been unmolded, place a dab of buttercream in the center of a round cardboard cake round and gently press the cake into position, top side up. Apply a thin crumb coat of buttercream. Chill for 10 minutes to let the buttercream set. Proceed to decorate by adding a final touch of cream and spreading it evenly or you can use a pastry bag with a leaf-tip to pipe decorations. I decorated mine with chocolate swirls.

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