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Posts Tagged ‘nuts

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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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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One thing D. and I really miss since moving from Switzerland to Singapore is Swiss bread. It doesn’t matter where you bought it or what kind it was, it was always good – the right texture, lightness and flavor. As an American, I never knew plain bread could have so much flavor by itself until I moved to Switzerland. 

The recipe is from TipTopf, a cookbook that every Swiss person seems to own. (I can understand why–it never disappoints.) This bread is excellent – way better than anything you can buy here in Singapore. Crunchy on the outside, thick, airy and aromatic on the inside. Its great plain or slathered with butter and your favorite jam or honey. Enjoy!

Whole Wheat Bread

Ingredients

400 g whole wheat flour

100 g plain flour

2 tsp dry active yeast

350 ml lukewarm water

1 1/2 tsp table salt

1 tbsp olive oil

50-100 g walnuts, roughly chopped

Directions

1. Mix together yeast and water. Allow to stand 15 minutes or until yeast froths.

2. Measure out flours and salt. Combine and mix thoroughly.

3. In a stand mixer, pour in dry ingredients. Create a well with your hand.

4. Into the well, pour in liquids (oil, yeast and water). Mix for 10 minutes or until dough is smooth and no longer sticking to the sides of the bowl. If you want to add nuts, do so about a minute into the mixing process.

5. Put dough in a floured bowl and allow to rise for 1 to 2 hours or until doubled in size.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the dough onto the sheet and place into the bottom half of a COLD oven. Bake at 220 deg. C for 40 to 50 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and allow to cool before serving.

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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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What makes a good brownie? Though everyone seems to have a particular preference when it comes to these little squares, I think all would agree that a fudgy moist base and a flaky top are key. I’ve tried more than a few recipes and have definitely eaten more than my fair share of these little fudgy darlings–so I would say I recognize a good brownie when I see and eat it! The recipe below is everything a brownie should be–rich, dark chocolatey, fudgy in the middle with that wafer-thin layer of flakiness on top. Doesn’t get better than that. 

In my experience, I have found a few elements crucial to brownie baking success.

1) USE GOOD 70% DARK CHOCOLATE.

2) USE BUTTER. People, please be reasonable. If you’re on a diet, don’t eat brownies.

3) Let the brownies cool overnight at room temperature. They’ll cut better that way.

Anyway, I’m not really sure anymore where I got this recipe from (Update: I looked–it’s from Martha). I’ve made them several times now–passing them out at work, giving them to hubby to take to work–and have heard no complaints! As for the nuts and chocolate, I usually play around with different varieties and companies. In terms of nuts, I’ve used pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts (walnuts are still my favorite–though pecans taste mighty fine too!). In terms of chocolate, I’ve tried 70 and even 90% dark from Cadbury, Lindt and Valhrona. My advice is if it tastes good by itself, it’ll taste good baked too.

Enjoy!

Double Chocolate Brownies with Nuts (Martha Stewart)

6 tbsp (113g) unsalted butter

6 0z (170g) good quality 70% dark chocolate

1/4 cup good quality cocoa

3/4-1 cup plain flour (I use 3/4 for a fudgier brownie)

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup-3/4 cup fine sugar (I use 1/2 c.)

2 eggs

2 tsp pure vanilla

1 handful nuts (hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachio, pecans, almond), chopped

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8 inch square pan with butter and parchment, for easy removal.

2) Melt in a bain marie butter, chocolate and cocoa powder. Set aside and allow to cool.

3) Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl combine the sugar, eggs and vanilla and beat until pale and has doubled in volume – roughly 3 to 4 minutes. Quickly, but thoroughly, fold the chocolate mixture into the egg and sugar foam. Once combined, add the flour mixture and stir just until combined.

4) Pour batter into prepared baking pan, making sure to even out the top. Bake for 30 minutes if you want that super fudgy brownie, or otherwise 35 minutes. To test the brownie, insert and remove a toothpick into the brownie. It should have moist crumbs clinging to its sides.

5) Once the brownie is adequately baked, let it cool in the pan overnight before cutting.

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  • Fudgy Brownies for a BBQ « Cook.Bake.Eat.Write.: [...] I had originally planned on using my stand-by recipe from Martha Stewart, I ended up having to try a new one—one that doesn’t requir
  • Mama Leah: Well, my darling, I am extremely impressed and inspired. I, of course, don't have one iota of the culinary skills that you have (except for baking, b
  • saffronandbasil: Thanks for the recipe. By the way, LOVE LOVE your site.