Saturday, December 21, 2013

A perfectly baked "steamed" fruit cake ^^

happy birthday, mel ^^ this baked-steamed fruit cake is dedicated to you

This was written a year ago, but never gottten round to posting it...

I never quite got over the yummy steamed fruit cake that burnt and left scars on my hands..

The need to "slay" this bake has been playing in my head for the longest time! But there was no way I was going anywhere near the electric steamer! Certainly not for 4 hours!

So I did some research and decided to bake the same recipe using a slow oven and bain-marie method (water bath).. ^^ for a 4-hour bake! ^^

Baked "steamed" fruit cake (recipe adapted from mel@melspantrykitchen)

250g butter, softened (tip from bisouatoi ~ use SALTED butter ie. golden churn! I did ^^)
80g fine sugar (I used 50g)
1 tsp ground nutmeg (I prefer to use only 3/4 tsp)
1/4 tsp orange essence (I used 3 tbsp marmalade jam ^^ ~ it's very good!)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

B (combined & sifted)
250g plain flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar

C (combined)
300g dried mixed fruits, raisins, etc (macerate in lots and lots of rum ^^, optional)
50g walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)
20g plain flour

D (caramel)
200g sugar

1. Prepare water bath and place in oven of 140C. Tip: use a medium/big square baking tray, filled with water and place in lower most oven shelf. Heat water in the oven (at 180C, turn down to 140C when ready to bake) or use hot water if you like. There's NO NEED to place cake tin "into" the water bath ^^  

2. Combine A, except eggs. Mix with a wooden spoon.

3. Add eggs, one at a time till well combined. Do not overmix.

4. Add B and mix well.

5. Fold in C.

6. Prepare D (caramel) by placing sugar into a heavy saucepan over medium heat. As sugar melts from the sides, fold it to the center. DO NOT STIR. When sugar is completely melted and turned dark brown, remove from heat and VERY CAREFULLY and SLOWLY add to the fruit cake mixture. Caramelized sugar will harden almost immediately when folding into cake mixture.. the hardened bits can still be mixed into the cake batter. Be super-careful of burning hot liquid caramel!

7. Pour mixture into a lined 8" square/round baking tin. Cover baking tin with grease paper and aluminium foil. Tie with a string to keep lid in place. I did this step anyways, even though I wasn't planning to steam the cake.. I wasn't sure what to do and was worried the top might get burnt! Still, I recommend doing this anyways..         

8. Place cake tin on the second lowest shelf (or whichever shelf one usually use for baking ^^) and bake at 140C for 4 hours. After baking for 3 hours, remove lid and continue baking for another hour. Remove the tray of water as well ~ which probably would have been depleted of water by now.

* Best served after resting cake for a day or two ^^

Same recipe, different baking methods.. almost-different cakes! While the steamed fruit cake was deliciously light and airy in taste and texture, the baked version's a little different.. it's a tad bit more rich (maybe due to the use of salted butter!), perfectly moist (maybe due to the addition of marmalade and more rum soaked dried fruits!) and the crumbs a wee bit more packed than the steamed one.

dec 2012
dec 2012

I really enjoyed this baked "steamed" fruit cake (and it's not just me btw.. papa pig and aunt loves it too ^^!).. it's unusually addictive! I think the use of salted butter and addition of marmalade jam brought this cake to another level of wonderful too! This cake meets all expectations of the perfect fruit cake of my dreams ^^ dark, rich yet light and moist. ^^

Oh, yes.. I'm not sure why, but I really didn't feel that this was a 4-hour bake.. unlike the anxiety filled 4-hour steaming the last time. I totally forgot all about the cake in the oven till unbelievably wonderful smells came out from the kitchen ^^! And good news, I didn't get burnt at all this time! ^^

Well, just in case this is all a fluke, I'm planning to make this again soonest! ^^

Fast forward one year later.....

Well, "soonest" didn't quite make it till a year later, haha! But here I am, finally! ^^

And it's no fluke! It works and it's DELICIOUS! And it's not even been "rested" yet! Somebody had it the morning after the midnight bake-out. ^^

So how would I know it's delicious??? Well, if fatty hubby can finish a big chunk of cake by himself.. without leaving any for me.. you just know!!! ^^

Merry Christmas and happy holidays! ^^

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Cranberry n pistachio biscotti ^^

" No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth ~ Robert Southey "

Cranberry and pistachio biscotti (adapted from susan
~ makes about 22pcs (or 2 containers for 2 good friends ^^)
2 scant tsps baking powder
2 cups flour
3/4 scant cup sugar
1 cup pistachio, toasted
1 cup dried cranberries
3 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
* extra beaten egg, for brushing

1. Sift baking powder and flour together. Mix in sugar, toasted pistachio and dried cranberries.

2. In another bowl, whisk eggs till well mixed. Add vanilla and orange zest, and mix till blended.

3. Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Fold till well combined. 

4. Place batter on a lined baking tray. TIP: use a spoon to scoop batter onto tray and shape it like a log. Doesn't matter how long it is (or how many logs you make), just remember that it should be just 2 inches WIDE and 3/4-1 inch high! And remember to space the logs out as the batter will spread! Brush the logs all over with lightly beaten eggs.

5. Bake in a preheated oven of 170C for 35 - 40 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and cool for about 20 minutes before slicing into 3/4-inch thick slices, with a serrated kinfe.

7. Place slices back on baking tray and bake for 12 minutes. Turn biscotti over and bake for 8 minutes. Remove to cool.

** Biscotti tastes best after 2 days ~ it's true! ^^

It's wonderful to meet good friends again ^^. So what if we've been separated for a decade (and more! ^^).. chums will always be chums! 

Happiness is.. knowing nothing has changed.. ok, maybe the odd wrinkle or 2, haha! I missed you, friend! ^^