Cook.Bake.Eat.Write.

Posts Tagged ‘Cake

Life is really quiet right now. Simple. This is what I wanted—or thought so anyhow.

At the same time, I feel like I am on the brink of something big. Life is about to change, and I wish that I could see how or wish that it would just happen already!

In the meantime, life continues on and I just go with the flow. And wait for this strangeness to pass.

I haven’t really been in the mood to do much cooking or baking. Yesterday, for example, I got home, and didn’t feel like cooking or eating! This NEVER happens.

This is a phase. I’m not even going to try to pretend to be inspired today. So I’ll leave you with a recipe for a cake I’ve made a few times in the past but never got around to blogging about.

For the life of me, I can’t remember where I got this recipe from. I have a feeling it’s another one I adapted from TipTopf, but I could be wrong. (If anyone recognizes the base recipe, please let me know!)

The times I’ve made this, I’ve always halved the recipe and kept the original bake time, which in the end worked out well. This might have to do with the fact that I only have an 8-inch cake pan rather than a 10-inch as the recipe calls for.

The cake is dense, banana-rich and super spongey. You can experiment with nut types—I’ve used almond, walnut and hazelnut, which resulted in a slightly different sponge character each time. Thinking about it, I wonder how banana and salted pistachios would work together.

Chocolate Banana Nut Cake (adapted from a recipe in TipTopf?)

INGREDIENTS

6 oz unsalted butter, diced

6 oz bittersweet chocolate

1 1/2 cups plain flour

1 cup  extra-fine sugar

1/2 cup ground walnuts

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cup lightly mashed bananas

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds or pecans

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350°F/180°C. Grease and line a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler till it is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Sift together flour and baking powder and baking soda. Add sugar, ground hazelnuts, and salt. Blend thoroughly.

3. Stir in buttermilk, vanilla extract and banana just until combined. Set aside.

4. Add the eggs to the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir until well combined and thick. Stir into the banana mixture until well combined.

5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 min. Remove and sprinkle chopped pecan nuts over the top and continue to bake for another 25 to 30 min. until skewer comes out clean.

6. Cool cake on rack. Serve either plain or a dollop of spiked whipped cream.

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Two posts back, I blogged about my day of apple-picking in Sebastopol (Still can’t get over the name (^o^) and about how  I came back with a big brown bag of Gravenstein apples. I was so excited/inspired/motivated to get crazy creative with the little darlings. As it turned out, besides the apple tart, I managed to make nothing—yes, it is a classic case of greedy girl eating with her eyes and not her stomach.

In any case, 2 weeks later, I am stuck with about 10 apples of the worst sort—waxy, soft and sad. And though I’ve been doing the whole “apple-a-day” thing, I can’t keep up. There.are.just.too.many.of.them.

I suppose I haven’t really had too much time to think about baking lately. Love life’s a mess; been drinking too much; been spending way too much. Last night, though, I was alone in the house—both L. and M. are in deeply committed, loving relationships blah, blah—and found myself staring at the apples (and vice versa).

I’ve been wanting to have a go at pound cake for some time now. (What’s with all the quickbreads, cake-loaves and pound cakes—I know; I’m not sure why I’m so into them right now.) And I recently discovered a tub of whole milk ricotta that I had planned on using for an Italian ricotta cheesecake (which I still plan on making).

So what to do with waxy apples and a tub of ricotta. Of course—make apple-ricotta pound cake.

There were recipes for apple pound cake and ricotta pound cake but none which used both. So I adjusted this Gina de Palma recipe (found on the Proud Italian Cook website) for ricotta and added 2 grated Gravensteins to the batter.

Love the recipe and LOVE the richness of the ricotta. As for the apples, I can’t taste them. I don’t really care this time—2 down, 8 more to go—but next time, maybe I’ll rough chop the apples or add less ricotta.

This is one heavy mother of a pound cake—I swear it weighs at least 2 lbs.—which is probably why it took about 70 minutes to bake, instead of the 35 as per the recipe’s instructions. Actually, when I read 15 min. at 350 deg. and then 25 at 325, I already knew this was unrealistic.

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This is a stunner when it comes out of the oven—golden, well-risen, syrupy even and with the signature pound cake crack on top. So I was kind of disappointed when I took it out and came back 15 minutes later to find that it had lost about 1 1/2 in. in height.

I waited until the morning after to slice into the thing and do my little amateur 8am photo shoot. So I’m supposed to be on a diet—it’s driving me crazy—but I went ahead and had a piece. Oh, it’s good. Maybe the best pound cake ever.

Hope you try it! Let me know how it turns out! (Will add the picture soon!)

At last—the recipe:

Ricotta Pound Cake (adapted from a Gina de Palma recipe found on Proud Italian Cook)
INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 c cake flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt

3/4 c unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 c fresh whole-milk ricotta
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 vanilla bean (Didn’t have any, so upped extract amount by 1/2 tsp)
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting (skipped this—it’s sweet enough.)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position rack in center. Grease and flour a 9-inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt, set aside. With your mixer cream together the butter, ricotta, and sugar on medium speed until smooth, about 2 min. Beat eggs in one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Split the vanilla bean, scrape out, and beat into the batter along with the extract. On low speed beat in the dry ingredients. Scrape down and beat for 30 seconds more.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth down with a spatula. Gently tap pan on counter to remove air pockets. Bake just for 15 min., then turn pan 180 degrees to ensure even browning. Lower temp to 325 degrees F and bake till cake springs back lightly, the sides start to pull away, and when it comes out clean in the center, about 25 min. more.

Note: Proud Italian Cook said if the ricotta is too wet, you should drain it. I wish I would have read that far. That’s probably why mine took AGES to finish baking.

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Being on a home baking ban sucks. I realize that hubby can’t eat everything I make without gaining weight. So–I’ve decided to BAN him from eating my creations and have started bringing everything in to work! (Seriously, I understand and hold no hard feelings 🙂 It takes 4x weekly yoga and really small portions  to be able to keep my own waistline in check.)

Anyhow, this cake is another I made for the office. 

All in all, a super simple recipe. Bake time states between 70 and 90 minutes–I needed the entire 90 in my oven. In any case, the finished result was sticky, sweet and and dense. 

Jewish Apple Cake

(recipe from Columbus Foodie – columbusfoodie.com)

3 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 cups white sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 apples, peeled, cored and sliced

1 handful raisins

2 tsp ground cinnamon

5 tsp white sugar

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour one 10 inch tube or bundt pan. Combine the ground cinnamon and 5 tsp. of the sugar together and set aside.

2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, baking powder and 2 cups of the sugar. Stir in the vegetable oil, beaten eggs, orange juice and vanilla. Mix well.

3. Pour half of the batter into the prepared pan. Top with half of the sliced apples and sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar mixture. Pour the remaining batter over the top and layer the remaining sliced apples and cinnamon sugar.

4. Bake at 350 F for 70 to 90 minutes. (I needed the full 90 min.)

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I’ve been baking for the office lately and every time I do, there always one guy who NEVER eats what I bring. Now I know why! I just found out he’s lactose intolerant (but is fine with eggs)! So now I’m determined to make a super delicious dessert, namely a moreish carrot cake with a non-dairy coconut cream frosting (from the blog Elana’s Pantry – elanaspantry.com). Yum! For the recipe, I decided to go with one I know will withstand all tests – Dorie Greenspan’s recipe for carrot cake.

About the frosting–honestly, this cake doesn’t need it. It’s luscious and decadent without it. Next time, I’ll just make the cake.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake with Vegan Coconut Cream Frosting (adapted from a Dorie Greenspan recipe and Elana’s Pantry recipe)

INGREDIENTS

2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

3/4 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrots

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened

1/2 cup moist, plump raisins or cranberries

1 handful dates, finely chopped

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

COCONUT CREAM FROSTING

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup honey (or agave nectar)

a pinch of salt

5 tsp cornstarch

1 tbsp water

1 1/4 cups coconut oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Getting ready: Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9 x 2 inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

2. To make the cake: Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. 

4. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

6. To make the frosting: In a medium saucepan, heat coconut milk, agave and salt, simmer for 10 minutes.

7. In a small bowl, combine arrowroot and water to form a smooth paste. Pour arrowroot mixture into saucepan. 

8. Mix contents of saucepan with a hand blender and bring to a boil, briefly. Remove pot from heat and very gradually blend in coconut oil. Place pot in freezer for 20 to 30 or 30 to 40 minutes, until frosting solidifies and turns white. 

9. Remove from freezer and blend again, until fluffy. 

10. To assemble the cake: Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top and the sides of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft. Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

11. Serving: This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while its good plain, its even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

12. Storing: The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when its firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

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This cake is really easy to put together. I ended up halving the recipe and keeping the original bake time, which in the end worked out very well. This might have to do with the fact that I used an 8 inch cake pan rather than a 10 inch as the recipe called for. Actually, I would recommend making only half if you are just making it for your family. 

The cake is dense, banana-rich and spongey. I also only had ground almonds and whole almonds on hand, so that is what I used in place of the hazelnuts or walnuts.

(I made this cake a few months back and for the life of me, can’t remember where I got the recipe from!!! I did a googlesearch but was unable to find any one similar to this one. I have feeling, however, that I adapted it from a “Hauscake” recipe out of TipTopf, a Swiss cookbook.)

Chocolate Banana Nut Cake

Ingredients

6 oz unsalted butter, diced

6 oz bittersweet chocolate (I used good-quality dark 70%)

1 1/2 cups plain flour

190 g fine sugar

1/2 cup ground walnuts (I used almonds)

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2/3 cup buttermilk

1 tbsp vanilla extract

2 cups (450 g) very ripe bananas, lightly mashed

3 eggs, lightly beaten

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, hazelnuts or pecans (I used almonds)

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 180°C. Greased and lined a 10 inch cake pan. Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler till it is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

2. Sift together flour and baking powder and baking soda. Add sugar, ground hazelnuts, and salt. Blend thoroughly.

3. Stir in buttermilk, vanilla extract and banana just until combined. Set aside.

4. Add the eggs to the cooled chocolate mixture. Stir until well combined and thick. Stir into the banana mixture until well combined.

5. Pour batter into pan and bake for 20 mins. Remove and sprinkle chopped pecan nuts over the top and continue to bake for another 25 to 30 mins until skewer comes out clean. 

6. Cool cake on rack. Serve either plain or a dollop of whipped cream.

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