Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie - Chocolate Gingerbread Cake

Sometimes when there are so many things going wrong, you know you should have quit while you were ahead.  Lol, that is how I feel about this weeks challenge.  

I have been preoccupied this week (that's the excuse I'm sticking to).  This weekend we had a joint birthday party for my two sons and it was great.  We had family visiting and caught up with friends we don't get to see very often.  So I completely forgot about this weeks challenge until tuesday evening and then realised i didn't have any buttermilk.  I had contemplated using yogurt but thought against it.  So after a trip to the supermarket this morning to stock up on dark chocolate and buttermilk, i got home and started making the batter.  

So far so good.  

As i was pouring the molasses into the measuring cup i saw there was only enough for a third of a cup.  Arghhh!  Ok, not that big of a deal, and topped it up with honey.  I pour the batter into the mini springform pans and breathe a sigh of relief.  About ten minutes later i wonder why there's a bowl of chopped chocolate on the counter top.  Doh!  Its too late to mix it into the batter so i sprinkled it on top of the cakes and hope for the best.  I check on the cakes after ten minutes and some of the batter has overflowed onto the baking sheet (lucky i used one!).

So its out of the oven and even though it doesn't look very pretty, it smells great.  I try a piece that broke off when it overflowed and it is really good.  I like the fresh ginger.  I am not neat in any way and am very jealous of those of you that can produce spectacular looking food.  I will post pictures with icing when i've made it.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie - Berry Surprise Cake

This weeks challenge was the Berry Surprise Cake.  A genoise cake hollowed and filled with a cream and cream cheese filling with fruit, topped with whipped cream and fruit.  This sounded like a dream and i couldn't wait to make it!

I love strawberries and as I can get them in season here, i decided to use them.  I made the cake the night before and followed the recipe exactly.  I was so disappointed when my cake completely sank.  It had high sides and was only an inch thick.  So the next morning i made another cake and hoped for the best, but it was not meant to be.  THe only variation i made on the recipe was the syrup.  I added a tablespoon of strawberry jam to the water and sugar mixture and let it reduce a little.

I trimmed the sides and decided to make a layer cake.  I was in such a hurry to assemble the cake as i had friends arriving to try it, so it was a rush job.

My friends really liked it but I'm not sure if i'll be making this one again.  The cake was very dense and heavy, and I'm not sure about the taste of the filling.  I don't think the cream cheese goes with the strawberry.  It wasn't bad, just not to my liking.  If I do make it again i will use blueberries or raspberries and will try to make the cake properly.  I wish the cakes hadn't sunk, it would have been good to try it as it should have been.

ps - i've just tried the cake again (one day later), and really, really like it.  Maybe it needed time for the flavours to settle.  Or my taste-buds were off yesterday ;-)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cake

It was my son's birthday recently and the thought was to bake a cake and bring it to his school for the kids to share.  Of course I didn't think of doing this until 2 hours before he was due to leave for school.   So I found this recipe on Recipezaar that looked easy, tasty, and most importantly, i had all the ingredients!

This recipe is incredibly easy.  The first nine ingredients are mixed together and that's the batter.  The last three are mixed to make the topping and middle.  So i poured half the batter into the cake pan and topped with the cinnamon sugar and chocolate chips, added the rest of the batter, and added the remainder of the topping.  

I couldn't believe everything was going to well.  I still had an hour and a half, plenty of time.  The cake took a lot longer than the 30-35 minutes stated on the recipe.  It took just over an hour, and all the chocolate chips sank to the bottom of the cake.  So i covered the cake with icing sugar and thought it looked ok.  By this time the cake was still too warm to bring so after that, i left it behind.

I called some friends over when I got back to try the cake and its really good!  The chips sinking to the bottom have made a sort of chocolate chip crust.  Ha ha, i don't know what i did but i hope i can do it again!



Heat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease (not oil) a 13 x 9 pan.  

In large bowl, combine first 9 ingredients.  Mix well by hand or use a mixer at medium speed for about 3 minutes.  Pour half of the batter (about 2 1/2 cups) into the prepared pan.  In separate small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle half of the sugar mixture and chocolate chips (1/2 cup) over batter.  Repeat with remaining batter, sugar mixture, and chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tuesdays with Dorie - French Pear Tart

I have always been to scared to make a fruit tart.  I thought it would be too time consuming and labour intensive and then end up with something tasting like cardboard and destined for the bin.

So I was a little nervous with this weeks challenge, but excited too.  When we lived in Brighton, England, we used to buy tarts from a fantastic french patisserie called Real Patisserie.  My favourite was the plum or strawberry tarts and my husbands was the pear tart.  Oh I do miss that place.

 This time I had no problem making the pastry.  In fact, everything went very smoothly.  The only hiccup i had was with the pears.  I live in Singapore and there's is no guarantee that the supermarkets will have the exact type of fruit you need.  Since I couldn't get the fresh Bartlett or Anjou pears mentioned in the book, i bought the only can of canned pears i could find.  It was a large can so i was expecting large pears but there were a lot of little pears.  So if the design of the pears on my tart look a little strange, that it why  :-)

The tart was time consuming, definitely not a last minute dessert.  It was delicious and well worth the time and effort.  I did think it was a little too sweet so next time, yes there will be a next time, i will add less sugar.

10 minutes after it came out of the oven, half of it had already been eaten.  Seal of approval received from my husband and my mother.  

Thank you Dorie for this weeks challenge.  It may not be the most visually appealing tart but I am very proud of it, and it didn't end up anywhere near the bin  ;-) 

Yorkshire Pudding

My son, Ramin, would be quite happy to eat nothing else but these for days.
This is the best recipe I have used.  The yorkshire puds are light, crispy, and the perfect accompaniment  to roast beef, roast chicken, anything really.

Serves 4 to 6 - Recipe adapted from Don't Sweat the Aubergine by Nicholas Clee
115 g self-raising flour
1 egg
A pinch of salt
280 ml milk

Put milk, egg and salt together into a bowl.  Add the flour, a tablespoon at a time, whisking gently with a balloon whisk as you do so.  The batter should have the consistency of single cream.  Cover and leave to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Heat the oven to 220C, and put a thin layer of canola or sunflower oil into a roasting or yorkshire pudding pan; put the pan into the oven for at least 5 minutes, to get the oil hot.  Add the batter and cook until it has risen and is golden brown (about 20-30 minutes).