Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A crazy week.. but cakes must go on ^^

It has been a roller-coaster week.. with FIL landing in hospital (while fatty hubby's away!), playing "temp-mom" to chubby pig who's staying over and baking a gazillion chocolate chip cookies for a charity sale..

I'm glad to report things are finally back to normal today! Dad's surgery went well and was discharged yesterday, chubby's back with his parents and I'm so done with cookies!!! ^^

I finally have time for me. ^^ And I want cake.

Orange chocolate chip cake (recipe from kwanster)
~ makes one 7-inch square tin cake / 1 medium loaf cake and 4 mini cakes
1 medium thin-skinned orange
200g unsalted butter
160g sugar
3 eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
200g chocolate chips

1. In a processor, blitz orange (skin and all) till fine. Remove finely processed orange from processor.

2. Place butter and sugar into the same processor and blitz till light and fluffy. Add beaten eggs bit by bit into butter mixture till combined.

3. Add flour and mix well. Mix in processed orange into the batter till well combined. Fold in chocolate chips.

4. Pour cake mixture into a greased/line cake tin/cupcake tins. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 50-55 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean (if using cupcake tin, bake for 25-30 minutes).

I've always wanted to make something with orange and chocolate after the omg-delicious jaffa fudge slice I had last year.. but never got round to ^^||. Well, after the successful spur-of-the-moment fantabulous super-loaded banana chocolate chip minicake I made for chubby pig last monday ^^, this was something I wanted to reward myself after a crazy week! And I like the idea of blitzing a whole orange!

I love how gorgeously bright the cake turned out! Love the aroma, taste and texture too! ^^

As I had no time to post earlier, here's two cakes I baked and enjoyed early last week ^^

Fantabulous super-loaded banana chocolate chip minicake
~ makes 8 small mini cakes
60g unsalted butter
40g muscovado or brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
60g self raising flour
a pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup mashed bananas
2 tbsp fresh milk
60g chocolate chips

1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add beaten egg and mix till well combined.

2. Mix in flour and salt till combined. Add bananas and fresh milk into the batter. Fold in chocolate chips.

3. Pour batter into lined cupcake tins and bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 25-30 minutes.

There's usually never enough bananas at home to make cake.. but last week was such a busy week that we barely had time to sit, much less eat bananas.. hence some over-ripe bananas brought about this spur of the moment banana chocolate chip minicake (partially inspired by the coffee and nuts cake ratios ^^) made just for chubby pig. Over-loaded and too delicious!!! ^^

Coffee and nuts cake (inspired by melspantrykitchen and poiresauchocolat)
~ makes 1 small loaf
60g unsalted butter
50g sugar
1 egg, beaten
60g self raising flour
a pinch of sea salt
1 tsp instant coffee + 1 tsp hot water (mix together)
2 tbsp fresh milk
15g toasted walnuts, chopped
15g hazelnut meal

1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy about 3 minutes. Add beaten egg and mix till well combined.

2. Mix in flour and salt till combined. Add coffee and fresh milk into the batter. Fold in walnuts and hazelnut meal.

3. Pour batter into greased/lined cake tin and bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 40-50 minutes, or till skewer comes out clean.

I made this cake just before the madness started, and it is BEST on the day it is baked ^^. Most cakes almost always taste better after it's cooled or the next day, but the coffee and nuts cake is delish fresh from the oven. I can imagine it tasting luscious with lots of buttercream (I wish I dared, mel ^^), but it's best I eat it plain ^^!

It's crazy how sometimes things just happen all at once.. but there's always time for cake. ^^

Friday, May 17, 2013

Gâteau au yaourt ^^

Doesn't gâteau au yaourt sounds so much more exciting than plain ol' yogurt cake? ^^

Sudden cravings for yogurt-something, anything(!!!).. had me googling for "yogurt cake" on the mobile in the middle of the night! There's really no connection between yogurt and the scorching heat, is there??

Well, this recipe had my attention.. you'll see why ^^..

Gâteau au yaourt ~ Yogurt cake (recipe by chocolateandzucchini)
1 cup (250ml) yogurt, unsweetened (use your favorite ^^ i love farmers union)
2 eggs, beaten (beat till light and fluffy if you like a lighter, fluffier cake ^^)
1/3 cup neutral tasting oil (i like using grapeseed oil over corn/sunflower oil)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp rum (i love rum in cakes!)
1 cup sugar
2 cups flour, sifted (i cheated, used self-raising flour and omitted baking powder/soda)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder, sifted
1/2 tsp baking soda, sifted
a pinch of salt

1. In a bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together ~ sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt ~ till well combined.

2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add yogurt, beaten eggs, oil, vanilla extract and rum. Gently mix all the ingredients together till combined. DO NOT OVER MIX.

3. Pour into a greased or lined 10-inch (?) round baking tin. Bake in a preheated oven of 180C for 30-35 minutes, till the top is golden and the skewer comes out clean. I baked mine in 2 loaf tins at 170C for 45-50 minutes. Baking in loaf tins will usually result in domed, cracked tops.. less likely if using round/square tins.

That's it! This is one of those easy-peasy, dump everything together bake ^^. Just one reading of chocolateandzucchini's yogurt cake post, and you won't even need the recipe! That's what I thought.. and I made the mistake of using 2/3 cup of oil instead of 1/3 cup, because the mind couldn't reconcile with the use of so little oil, haha! No harm done, I think ^^.

Anyway, the ratios are easy to remember ~ 1 cup (250ml) yogurt : 1 cup sugar : 2 cups flour : 2 eggs ~ you can use the same cup (the one your yogurt came in) to measure the ingredients. Since mine came in a 200g tub, I adjusted my measurements accordingly ^^. They say this is the first cake that french kids learn to make. I believe it. ^^

You know I've always been hesitant of bakes that doesn't use butter ^^||.. and past results using vegetable oil like sunflower and corn oil have not exactly endeared me to such bakes. I always feel these supposedly light and neutral tasting oil are "heavy" and strong flavored somehow ^^|| Kitchen feels extra greasy too when I use them for cooking. Maybe it's just me?? But I'm loving the results with grapeseed oil, for baking as well as for cooking ^^.

The result ~ a light textured cake that's extremely soft, moist and fluffy with a slightly crusty top. Flavor and aroma wise ~ it's on the soft and delicate side (though I expect the flavors to develop a little more the next day ^^). As usual, I like my cakes plain. But this cake also pairs quite nicely with homemade fruit jam/sauce, or even whipped cream ^^. It'd make a very good basic cake for trifles, I think ^^. And you can tweak this easily to suit your own preference too, by adding orange or lemon zest or blueberries, almonds etc.

mulberries grown in the tropics are never sweet! organic or not!!!

For some weird reason, this cake makes me think of a doughnut I had in kuromon market, osaka.. crusty exterior, soft fluffy-airy texture inside ^^ The more I think of it, even the smell and taste are alike too! Yums! ^^

This is a seriously delicious cake that uses no butter (!) and stays beautifully soft and moist (even in the fridge). You can bet I'm making this again! ^^

Monday, May 13, 2013

Erratic weather.. and an even-more erratic wifi connection!

That's how life has been these past few weeks! Weird and erratic!

Since coming back from a short holiday in taiwan.. that's all we've been experiencing.. which is so not conducive for baking nor blogging! The aftermath of a certain event over here isn't exactly a mood-lifter either.. ^^|| And all the msg-laden foods that we stuffed ourselves during our holiday, took a toll on our bodies too..

But finally today, the wifi connection seems a little more stable.. and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it'll remain so till I finish this. ^^ Weather's still horridly hot and suffocating though!

Anyway, this is something I made more than a month back but never posted because I was hoping to perfect and compare it with the marinated pork belly in shrimp paste (still!!!) sitting in the freezer!

Since my first taste of moo tod kapi (crispy pork with shrimp paste) in a thai restaurant, I've always wanted to re-create this dish at home. I really dig the flavor of kaffir lime leaves in this dish!

Despite googling high and low for a recipe of moo tod kapi, I just couldn't find one ^^|| So I figured I'd just do my own interpretation of this dish.. without shrimp paste (since I didn't have any at home then!).. but with lots of kaffir lime leaves! ^^

Almost-crispy pork belly with kaffir lime leaves
500g pork belly, skin removed (I'm sure other parts could be used)
1 tsp sea salt (if using shrimp paste, omit salt)
2-3 cloves of garlic, grated (can omit if using shrimp paste)
a big handful of kaffir lime leaves
a handful of curry leaves
2-3 bird's eye chilles, seeds removed
2 cloves of garlic, lightly smashed
sea salt, to season if necessary

1. Marinade pork belly with salt (or shrimp paste) and grated garlic for at least 1 hour or overnight.

2. Heat a bit of oil in a non-stick pan/wok. Place pork belly on the sides and sear till golden brown. Flip to the other side and do the same. Remove pork belly and cut into smaller slices. Looking back, I'm not sure why I did this (??!) and not cut it into smaller slices and just done step 3??? ^^||

3. Remove or wipe off remaining grease/oil from the pan/wok. Put pork belly slices, kaffir lime leaves, curry leaves, chilies and lightly smashed garlic pips in and saute till meat is golden and crispy. If necessary, season with a bit more salt. Do remove the fat/oil/grease when meat starts drowning in it ^^||. 

4. Serve immediately. Tastes even better when cooled or the day after ^^

It's amazing the amount of fat that oozed out from the pork belly! So be warned!

If you can deep fry, please do so to get a crispy texture (slice to smaller pieces after it's cooked).. since I can't, this is it.. an almost-crispy pork dish. ^^

Anyway, this is a wonderfully piquant dish with soft hints of kaffir lime leaves, garlic and curry leaves ^^. And if you can bring yourself to save some for the next day, the flavors get even better! ^^

Piggies were not exactly enthusiastic at first bite.. but by the 2nd/3rd piece, they were smitten!!  It's the kaffir lime leaves, I tell you! ^^

So, shrimp paste or not.. it's still exceptionally DELICIOUS ^^!

And here's a few pictures of the places and food I really liked in taiwan.. sans msg ^^

night harbour view of keelung ~ from our hotel window

picturesque jiufen

huge caramelized peanut slabs ~ turned into shaved peanut candy topped with 2 scoops of ice cream wrapped in popiah skin ~ deliciousssnesss!!! i love this and had two servings.. and i'm not even a fan of peanuts! ^^ i like jiufen ^^

Oops.. that's all the decent food pix I have, haha! Didn't take many food pictures because I just couldn't wait to eat.. and by which time I remembered to, I was already half way through and it looked like a hurricane had struck the dishes.. sorry ^^.

Taiwan's really nice.. cool weather, beautiful scenery, exciting, lots of food/snacks, safe ^^.. but the heavy handed use of msg is not. ^^||