Monday, February 20, 2012

Quadruple chocolate loaf cake

Oh yeah. Words. This cake is great. So moist, thick, dense but not grossly filling. Awesomeeeeee.

For the Cake:

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups caster sugar
3/4 cups soft unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon real vanilla extract
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (unless you'd prefer milk chocolate ones)

For the Syrup:

1 teaspoon cocoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup caster sugar
2 1/2 ounces dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible)

For the record, this recipe write-up is in Nigella Lawson's words. She's a bit flowery with her language. It's like reading a nineteenth century how-to-be-a-lady book. Also, undercook this cake. It makes it extra fudgey.

Take whatever you need out of the fridge so that all ingredients can come to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 350°F, putting in a baking sheet as you do so, and line a small loaf tin with greased foil - making sure there are no tears - and leave an overhang all round. Or use a silicone tin.

Put the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and sour cream into the processor and blitz until it's a smooth, satiny brown batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off then remove the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.

Scrape and pour this beautiful batter into the prepared loaf tin and slide into the oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When it's ready, the loaf will be risen and split down the middle and a cake-tester, or a fine skewer, should come out clean. But this is a moist cake, so don't be alarmed at a bit of stickiness in evidence; rather, greet it like a friend.

Not long before the cake is due out of the oven (when it's had about 45-50 minutes) put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar into a small saucepan and boil for 5 minutes. You may find it needs a little longer - what you want is a reduced liquid, that's to say a syrup, though I often take it a little further, so that the sugar caramelizes and the syrup has a really dark, smokey chocolate intensity.

Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack and, still in its tin, pierce here and there with a cake tester. Then pour the syrup as evenly as possible over the surface of the cake. It will run to the sides of the tin, but some will have been absorbed in the middle.

Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin, removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate. Now take your bar of chocolate and cut with a heavy sharp knife, so that it splinters and flakes and falls in slices of varying thick- and thinness. I've specified a weight, but judge it by eye - when you think you've got enough to scatter over the top of the loafcake, stop slicing. Sprinkle these chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of the cake.

Recipe adapted from Nigella Lawson

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Maple bacon cupcakes

I used to be a vegetarian. Then every time I saw chicken, my mouth watered. So I started eating organic, grass-fed chicken. So I ate it. Then in a drunken late-night food run, my friends and I went to Burger King. There in the glow of the backlit drive-through menu, the chicken nuggets called out my name. It was all downhill from there. I eat chicken all the time now. I can't help it, it's just so tasty and nutritious.

Then how did I start eating bacon again? I have to say, it was a moral challenge to abandon my previous eating habits, as I've always been very conscious of the origins of my food, especially meat. Coupled with the fact that I want to have a pet pig when I grow up, the transition to bacon was pretty hard for me.

OK, so it wasn't that hard. I was at my friend's house and her mother brought out a plate of bacon with our breakfast. As it sat there on the table, I thought to myself, "So you've done chicken, turkey... you may as well go all the way. Eat the bacon." And with that, I picked up a piece and ate it. And it was fucking phenomenal. Nearly five minutes later I was concocting bacon recipes in my head. I had seen a few recipes out there for bacon cupcakes, but none that seemed to use enough bacon fat. A tablespoon? Come on. How are you supposed to taste that?

So today I achieved culinary excellence. I put that delicious bacon in a cupcake, and not only did it come out well, but I want to say it's the best recipe I've ever made up.

If this doesn't get me a husband, I don't know what will.

For the cupcakes:

12 strips high-quality uncured bacon, and reserve 1/2 cup bacon drippings
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup maple syrup (REAL maple syrup. None of that Aunt Jemima crap)
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup (see note above)

Begin by cooking the bacon in a frying pan to desired level of crispiness. Reserve all drippings from cooking, and put to solidify in the fridge. Allow bacon to cool on a plate, then, using cooking scissors, cut 7 of the strips into small bits, about the size of small peas (I cut the strips in half, then snipped them up from there). Cut the remaining 5 strips into quarters (these will go on the top of the cupcakes). Set everything aside.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. In a large bowl, cream the butter, solidified bacon drippings, sugar, and maple syrup. Then add the egg and milk. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in thirds. Finally, using a spatula, fold in the reserved bacon bits.

Pour the batter into lined cupcake molds. Bake for ~30 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

While the cupcakes are baking, make the frosting. Cream the butter, then add the vanilla and maple syrup. Lastly add in the confectioner's sugar. Beat on medium speed until the frosting looks light and airy, about 2 minutes.

Once the cupcakes are cooled, spoon the frosting into a ziplock bag. Cut a 1 centimeter slit in the corner of the bag. Starting in the center of the cupcake, pipe the frosting in a spiral out to the edge of the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with a quarter strip of bacon. Enjoy!

Recipe by me.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Guest Tuesdays: in the kitchen with LC's chocolate oatmeal cherry cookies

LC is my new baking buddy.

For the cookies:

1 cup butter
1 cup medium brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. Beat butter and brown sugar together until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add vanilla.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Gradually add to the butter mixture just until combined. Do not overmix. Stir in oats, cherries, and chocolate.

Roll into balls (about 1 inch in diameter). Bake for 16 to 18 minutes, or until bottom edges are lightly browned. Cool on pans for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 2 dozen large cookies.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lavender-infused semolina cake

Oh. My. God. This cake.

It's been so warm outside lately and it's just making me want to eat summery things. Light and fresh and airy things. Plus sometimes I tell myself that summer desserts have fewer calories because they don't rely as heavily on, like, chocolate. Right? That's totally valid. I mean normally I'm a chocolate girl all the way, but sometimes I'll stumble upon a recipe that completely quells my chocolate-tooth. And this one did that entirely. But then I run into problems when something is so good that I go back for seconds... and thirds. Then my calorie theory is shot to shit. But I still justify my eating by saying "hey at least there's no chocolate in here, I totally can't get fat from this."

I think I should just move to California and bake out there. It'll always be warm and I'll bake with flowers and herbs and pretend I'm eating less than I am.

For the cake:

3 eggs
½ cup sugar
1 cup yogurt
1 cup vegetable or corn oil
3 tbsp flour
1 cup semolina
1 tbsp vanilla
½ tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp grated lemon zest

For the syrup:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups water
2 teaspoons dried lavender flowers (they sell these by the ounce at Whole Foods)

Preheat the oven at 350ºF. Beat eggs and sugar well. Add yogurt and oil and mix. Then add the other ingredients and mix. Oil a square 8×13 pan and pour the batter in it. Bake it until golden brown, about 25-30 minutes.

Meanwhile, put water and sugar in a pot and bring it to boil. Let it boil for about 5 minutes, then put lavender flowers in the syrup. Turn off the heat immediately. Allow syrup to cool on stove.
Pour the cold syrup on the cake, in portions if it doesn’t absorb the syrup fast enough. Chill in the refrigerator and cut into squares before serving.

Recipe based off of Honey and Butter's Revani cake.