Sunday, April 24, 2011

Simple is Best

For some reason towards the end of the school year, I always go into a baking frenzy. It may be because I suddenly have more free time on my hands, but I think a lot of it is because I'm bored of the school stuff and need a distraction. This year is not unlike previous years, and these past few weeks I've been baking more than I did in the past few months.

Normally at this time of the year I'd be pretty stressed out from end-of-term projects and the looming final exams, so I tend to go for recipes that are quick and easy to whip up. Bonus points if they yield a huge batch so I have more for snacking! With this  in mind, recently I tried these recipes that turned out to be very simple to make and yet so satisfying, making them perfect for easy snacks.

The first one is Japanese steamed egg buns, or mushi pan. I find that these are more cake-like instead of being a true bread. They are sweetened with condensed milk, and the result is a moist, lightly sweet treat that is great for snacking. Steam-baking is something I had never tried prior to making this recipe, but it's just as easy as popping something in the oven as long as you use a large steamer and not an itty-bitty one like I did (I had to steam the buns two at a time!).

The second recipe I tried is for a simple yogurt cake. This is a very versatile recipe as you can jazz it up with whatever flavouring(s) you desire, or you can leave it plain if you prefer to keep things simple. I had some ripe strawberries, so after I poured half of the batter into the pan, I arranged strawberry slices on top, and poured the remaining batter to hide the strawberries. The hidden fruits provided some colour to an otherwise plain cake. The cake itself is great: moist, light, and not too sweet. It's a good anytime-of-the-day cake that I will be making again (with different variations) in the future.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Happy Anniversary!

 It just occurred to me today that this blog is now 1 year old! Documenting all of my baking endeavours has been an interesting experience, and one that I still need to improve upon - especially my photography & food styling skills. However, it has been a lot of fun, and I plan on continuing indefinitely. :)

It's always nice to have cake for celebrations, so I present to you a chocolate bundt cake I recently made for a dinner party. This cake was super easy to make, i.e. no mixer required, which is something I always appreciate. The result is a very light, moist and chocolatey cake, thanks to the addition of yogurt and lots of chocolate, plus coffee to help bring out the chocolate flavour. Tastewise, it is not very sweet, so the ganache is a welcome addition to help sweeten the cake. However, at the party we served the cake alongside vanilla ice cream sundaes, so for that purpose the ganache could have been omitted. 
Chocolate Bundt Cake
yields 1 10-inch cake
adapted from Food and Wine (via Cookie Madness)

56 grams (2 oz) bittersweet chocolate
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg (at room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk (at room temperature - I used plain yogurt)

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Grease a 10-inch bundt pan and coat evenly with some cocoa powder.

2. Melt the chocolate in the microwave. Let cool. Add the oil and sugar, whisk in until smooth, then whisk in the egg and vanilla extract.

3. In another bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

4. Add half of the dry ingredients from step 3 to the chocolate mixture (step 2) along with 1/2 cup coffee and 1/2 cup buttermilk. Whisk until smooth.

5. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee, and buttermilk to the mixture. Mix again until the batter is smooth.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.

7. Cool on a metal rack for 10 minutes before inverting the cake.

85 grams (3 oz) bittersweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp corn syrup (I used Lyle's Golden Syrup)
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter

1. Bring the heavy cream to a boil in a saucepan.

2. In a bowl, combine the chocolate, syrup, and butter. Pour the hot cream over the mixture and let everything melt together for about 5 minutes. Whisk the mixture until it's smooth.

3. Allow the ganache to cool for about 5 minutes until it is thick, smooth and at a pourable consistency.

4. Pour glaze over cake and let it set for at least 30 minutes.