Friday, 21 September 2012

Nutty, swirly, chocolatey Banana Bundt Cake

Take one regular banana bread recipe and jazz it up with the addition of a nutty, swirly, chocolatey centre. For my swirl I used raisins, chopped up bittersweet chocolate, dark brown sugar, chopped walnuts and mixed spice. Then I alternated it between the regular banana bread batter. The result was delicious. It just added a extra zing to the taste. A lovely chocolatey surprise! I made this one last night and by midday half of it is gone. That says it all to me.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Road trip sustenance...banana almond bundt cake

This is for a picnic we'll be having tomorrow on a road trip to the Cliffs of Moher in the west of Ireland. How can you NOT make a bundt cake when visiting cliffs? Is this generous delight not a reminder of those wondrous natural features? Anyway, haven't tasted it yet, but it sure smelled delicious coming out of the oven...will update tomorrow...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Mmmmmm...carrot bundt cake

I think carrot cake is one of those cakes that most people like. This one certainly got a quick death. The recipe for this I got from Food Librarians blog. She loves bundts and has made some amazing ones. I'm a big fan of her blog.
It is an incredibly easy recipe, substituting butter with olive oil. Lots of carrots and walnuts. Delicious. You actually feel, with each mouthful, that you are eating a very healthy cake. I like that feeling!
This cake was surprisingly light. Sometimes I find carrot cake quite dense and heavy. This one was soft too. I iced it with a vanilla cream cheese glaze because I prefer it to lemon.
This is so easy that it's definitely worth a try!

Friday, 17 August 2012

White chocolate bundt cake...just so good!

Another day, another request...this time for a white chocolate bundt cake. And believe it or not, this is something quite difficult to find a recipe for...most recipes I did find had white chocolate mixed with milk chocolate. However my request was for a pure white chocolate cake. So I found one recipe and did some tinkering with it. The result was a very delicious moist cake. It tasted like old-fashioned goodness. Reminded me of sara lee type pound cakes. However, I did have a moment of panic when I inserted my cake tester because it seemed like a part of it was hollow. When I eventually for it out of the tin, there was indeed a small section of the cake that had a hollow section at the bottom. I'm not entirely sure why this happened. I must admit that I do find baking with white chocolate quite unpredictable. It's definitely a very different substance to milk or dark chocolate. This is also why I didn't ice it, I was worried that it was a cake disaster and hollow all round. Thankfully though it was incredibly delicious, an I think it might have been the white chocolate chips put in layers in the cake that somehow caused the hollowness. I definitely will try this again and aim to get it right visually. Taste-wise though it was really perfect!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Lovely lemon blueberry buttermilk bundt - now there's a mouthful!

And the baking continues with a fury. I can't contain myself, really, after such a long time of baking in a tin box on top of a gas stove it's just so good to have a proper oven again. I found two packets of fresh blueberries hiding in the back of the fridge and figured they couldn't be left there much longer. So what better way to use them up than in a fabulous bundt cake?
And did this bundt turn out a dream or what? It was so moist and soft. I could really have just sliced piece after piece and devoured it all. It was really light and the lemons and blueberries combined perfectly. The tangy lemon drizzle added a little kick. Rather naughtily, someone suggested topping a piece with some whipped cream...and oh what an added delight! This is a great cake to have at a picnic, barbecue, or tea party. Actually it's a great cake for any occasion. You don't need much space left in your tummies to squeeze in a piece of this lovely light lemony cake!

Blueberry-Lemon Buttermilk Bundt Cake

For the Cake:
2½ cups + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1¾ cup granulated sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup buttermilk
3 cups blueberries

For the Glaze:
2 cups powdered sugar
2 to 3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, very soft

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (reduce temperature to 325 degrees F if your pan is dark/non-stick). Grease and flour a 10-cup Bundt pan; set aside.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together 2½ cups of the all-purpose flour, the baking powder and salt; set aside.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or large mixing bowl), use your fingertips to rub together the sugar and lemon zest until the zest is completely incorporated and the sugar is evenly moistened. Add the butter and cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes.

4. Reduce the speed to low and add the eggs one at a time, mixing for a minute after each and scraping down the bowl before adding the next. Add the vanilla and mix briefly to combine.

5. With the mixer still on low, add 1/3 of the flour mixture, beating until just barely combined, followed by ½ the buttermilk, another 1/3 of the flour mixture, the remaining buttermilk and the remaining flour.

6. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries and the remaining 2 tablespoon of all-purpose flour, tossing together so they are evenly coated. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold the blueberries into the cake batter. Spread the cake batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then turn it out onto a serving platter and let cool completely.

7. Once the cake is cool, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk and butter until smooth. The icing should be quite thick (if you’d like it thinner, you can add more milk, a teaspoon at a time, until you get it to the consistency you want). Use an offset spatula to spread the glaze on top of the cake, giving it a little nudge down every so often. The cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Chocolate and peanut butter bundt - a special request

Ok so I've just moved back to Dublin and my precious bundt pan from Bali is still in transit somewhere between here and there. Well, a baker just ain't a baker unless she has her bundt pan so I headed into the city on a mission to find one. It took awhile, and I did end up with blisters on my feet. I also had to spend the entire search convincing my younger brother that every step we took in this mission was a step closer to obtaining a baking pan that created a piece of heaven. Naturally, I had to live up to this statement. I mentioned some flavours and he jumped at peanut butter and chocolate. So that's what I made. This is a delightful cake. Richly chocolately but yet a nice nutty surprise in the middle. And the verdict from my brother was a big thumbs up followed by a discussion on how the bundt cake does seem to just epitomise the absolute essence of yumminess in its shape, size, form and ultimately taste. I must say that since I first discovered the bundt I have developed a complete and utter love for it. I do find it aesthetically to be such an attractive cake shape that it surprises me that so many shops here had no pans available for sale. I could spend hours salivating over the many shapes and sizes of bundt pans available in America and want to cry that hardly any are available here. How could anyone not fall in love with this charming cake form? As you can see from the photos, I didn't even manage to get the chocolate drizzle on before a piece had gone!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bundt

For the filling :
2/3 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, softened
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

For the cake batter :
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoons salt
12 tablespoons natural cocoa powder
3/4 cup boiling water
3 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
12 tablespoons sour cream
12 tablespoons butter, softened
1 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350

To make the filling :
In a large mixing bowl, beat peanut butter, cream cheese and butter until combined. Add egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until combined. Mix in vanilla. Be sure to scrape down the sides. Pour in sugar and flour, mix until combined. Fit a pastry bag with a large plain tip and scoop the filling into the bag. Place in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the batter :
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a medium metal or glass bowl, add cocoa and whisk in boiling water. Add in chopped chocolate and whisk until smooth. Mix in sour cream.
In large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in eggs, one at a time, and then beat in vanilla. Alternatively mix in the dry ingredients and the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. For example - mix in 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the cocoa mixture, another 1/3 of the flour, the rest of the cocoa mixture and finishing with the final 1/3 of the flour. Mixing just until combined with each addition.

Spray a bundt pan with a nonstick spray that has flour included (like Baker's Joy or Pam with Flour). Spoon a little less than half of the batter into bottom of the bundt pan. Using the pastry bag that has the peanut butter mixture, carefully pipe a ring of the filling over the center of the chocolate batter. Pour the remaining batter on top and gently tap the pan to remove air bubbles.

Bake until top springs back when lightly touched or a toothpick comes out mostly clean with a few crumbs attached - about 50-60 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Place a wire cooling rack on top of the cake and carefully turn over - remove the pan and let cool completely.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Chocolate Stout Bundt cake for a real stout lovers birthday

Ok, so what kind of cake do you make for your total stout loving husband? A Guinness chocolate bundt cake, of course! And what is it about Guinness that when you add it to chocolate it just makes the chocolate taste 100 times richer and more delicious? I don't know, but it really does. This is a fabulously rich and moist cake. The chocolate flavour is divine. I got the recipe from Nigella Lawson's website and it was a great decision to use this recipe. I topped it with the cream cheese icing. Normally for bundt cakes I would use a more drizzly icing but in this case I wanted the cake to actually look like a pint of Guinness with the frothy head on top. So, I went with the cream cheese icing. It looked great contrasted against the dark chocolate. This cake was devoured by all and went down easily. It wasn't as heavy as some chocolate cakes can be. The flavour was fantastic.
This was especially appreciated by my husband who is such a Guinness fan but yet finds it amazing that it can be put in recipes and used to make wonderful creations. It was also a welcome to Ireland treat for him as he arrived from Indonesia today and what better way to greet someone arriving in Ireland than with our greatest export.

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Zebra cake - get stripey!

Easy peasy! The final effect though is stunning. Just make up any regular sponge cake batter you have. Separate the batter equally into two bowls. Mix some cocoa into one half. Then the fun starts...using a large spoon alternate your vanilla and chocolate batters until the batter is finished. This is the time consuming part. Once you've finished though it looks pretty impressive in the cake tin. Pop in the oven and bake. Once it's out and if you're lucky to live in a household where you actually can let it cool, let it cool. Cut into it and be amazed by the gorgeus zebra stripes. This is definitely a cake to make to impress friends. I used a sponge recipe that used oil instead of butter. The cake was lovely and moist and absolutely delicious.

Zebra stripe cake

All purpose flour - 2 cups
Dutch-processed Cocoa powder - 2 tbsp
Baking powder - 1 tbsp

Canola/Vegetable oil - 1 cup
Large eggs - 3
Sugar - 1 cup (Sugar is considered a wet ingredient, don't ask me why)
Skim Milk - 1 cup
Pure vanilla essence - 1 tbsp

Sift the all purpose flour and baking powder together and set aside. This is to aerate the flour.
In a mixing bowl, using a hand mixer combine oil, eggs, sugar, milk for about two minutes till creamy. Add flour mix.
Divide the mixture into two equal halves and to one half mix the cocoa powder and vanilla essence and mix using a hand mixer. Do not add vanilla essence to the white half of the mixture.
Grease a 8" round cake pan with non-stick spray. Preheat oven to 350F.
Use separate equal size ladles for each half of the batter. Ladle the white batter first, then immediately add the brown batter as shown in the picture. It should automatically spread out in the pan, there is no need to wait or tilt pan.
Keep alternating batter until you have exhausted both batters.
Bake in a pre-heated 350F oven for about 45 min or till a toothpick when inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Let it rest for about 15 min in the pan.
Invert and cool on a wire rack.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Valentines Rocky Road treats

It's got to be the easiest treat to make, but looks so adorable when it's all wrapped up and tied with ribbon. I couldn't resist making these for all the teachers at work. I whipped them up pretty quickly the night before and had them all packaged up and ready in no time. The great thing about rocky road is that you are not tied to any particular ingredient. For the chocolate you can use white, milk or dark or evencombine all three to make a lively tri-coloured version. For the surprises inside there's the choice of maltesers, marshmallows, snickers bars, rice krispies, dried fruits, jellies to name a are only limited by your imagination! Melt your chocolate, toss in the goodies, pop into a flat tin (lined with cling wrap) and leave in the fridge. These are great to make with kids. Just make sure you're not around when they start eating them! After 15 years of teaching one thing I know for certain is that children + chocolate = DISASTER!

Friday, 10 February 2012

Lemon crepes...lovely and light

The lemon kick continues...and as well as being a cake snob I am also a pancake snob. There's nothing I hate more than being served a big thick greasy pancake...especially one with doorstep sized chunks of banana or pineapple. Believe me, what I have just described are served up on a daily basis in just about every bungalow and homestay across Bali. When I make pancakes they MUST be like crepes...wafer thin. I have an amazing pancake pan that aids me wonderfully in this process. A simple batter of 1 cup of flour, 1 cup of milk and 1 egg usually does the job. Today however, I decided to put in 2 tablespoons of my deliciously divine vanilla infused whiskey. The concoction has been brewing away quietly in a dark corner for a few months and has now turned into a very rich vanilla essence. The addition of this ingredient really managed to enrich the batter with such an amazing vanilla aroma while they were cooking in the pan. It made the pancakes taste completely different. This will certainly be an ingredient that will be included every time. And how do I like my pancakes? With a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon, of course. How do you like yours?

Thursday, 9 February 2012

lovely lemon scones

I can still recall when I was working in Singapore not all that long ago, the lemon scones that were sold in the basement coffee shop. They were so good that fellow teachers and I used to gloat if we were lucky enough to get one of the few they had on sale each morning. And the incredibly simple they are to make. There is something about scones that is just so wholesome and good. Even more so when flavoured with one of my absolute favourite flavours - lemon. Of course, the key to it all is a generous lemon drizzle on the top and suddenly you have a fabulous start to the day...