Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

This week's bake at Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD) where we are currently baking from the lovely book "Baking Chez Moi", by Dorie Greenspan is Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake. 

According to Dorie, "The French call this a weekend cake because it will last all weekend, and it's good with so many kinds of weekend meals and outings."

I've made the cake twice, the first time, I've used a hand whisk. The cake did not really rise, the texture inside is full of holes, obviously I may have done something wrong during the mixing of the batter! But the cake tasted really good! 

The first bake ; lots of holes and did not rise that much at all.

Interestingly, this cake is baked in a loaf pan which is placed on two baking sheets that are stacked up together with the top sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.

The second bake : turned out really nice.

Made the cake the second time, this time using the stand mixer with the balloon whisk attachment, from the whisking of the eggs, right through to the adding of the brown butter, which is the last step before baking. The cake bakes up really nice, well risen and moist, with lovely golden crust. I was really impatient to slice into it, but did as Dorie suggested, to wrap it in plastic wrap and leave it overnight for the flavours to develop. 

When I sliced it the next morning, I was all smiles as the crumbs are moist, there's no holes like the first time I've made it, and it smells really nice with the vanilla. It has a tight, dense but soft crumbs. The cake is buttery with the lovely scent of the vanilla and the light fragrance from the rum.  The only changes I made was to reduce the sugar to 180gm from the original 250gm, and the sweetness was just right for us. I've used salted butter and have omitted the salt. And I've lined the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, though it was not mentioned in the recipe, I always do that with my bakes.

As for the browning of the butter, Dorie mentioned that it takes just seconds for the butter to turn from a deep honey-brown to black, so keep a lookout for it, do not turn your back on it! (just love her friendly and easy to understand instructions!). I'm so relieved that I've managed to brown the butter to a deep honey-brown without any blunders! :)

I like eating thin slices of this cake, with a cup of warm tea. Though it cannot be seen clearly from the photo, the tiny specks of vanilla seeds are all over the cake. A tasty buttery fragrant cake!

To see the other bakers take on this cake, do stop by Tuesdays With Dorie (TWD).

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Stir-Fried Kailan with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli

"Veggie Variations", the theme for this week at I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC). It's veggie week! I've harvested some homegrown Kai Lan from my potted garden and made Diana Henry's stir-fried veggie dish. She uses Kale, which I have not eaten nor seen before, so I've used my homegrown Kai Lan which is also known as Chinese Kale. I do wonder whether is the taste similar to Kale.

Kai Lan from my potted garden

A simple stir-fried dish, our version is pretty much similar to Diana Henry's  recipe ingredients. She has pre-boiled the Kale before stir-frying them, but I have omitted that step since I've used Kai Lan. A nice dish to serve for dinner along side some other dishes to eat with fluffy hot white rice.

Stir-fried Kale with Ginger, Garlic and Chilli
(adapted from "Food From Plenty", Diana Henry)
400gm (14oz) kale (I use my homegrown kai lan, cut into pieces, separating the stems and leaves)
2 tbsp oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced
2 garlic cloves, sliced
2cm (3/4in) fresh root ginger, peeled and chopped
4 spring onions, chopped

  1. Remove the ribs from the kale and tear or shred the leaves. Put into a large saucepan, cover with boiling water. Add salt and cook for about 4 minutes, then drain. (I use kailan, and omitted this step).
  2. Heat oil in a wok and fry the chilli, garlic, ginger and spring onions for 2 minutes (don't let the garlic burn). Add the kale. Cook for 1-1/2 minutes, turning to absorb the flavours. Season, squeeze over fresh lime juice and serve. (Add the stems, cook for about 2 minutes, then add the leaves, cook for a further 3-4 minutes. I did not use lime juice).

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs (IHCC), theme for this week "Veggie Variations"

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Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hot-Milk Cakes with Strawberries and Cream : Bake-Along #74

It's our Bake-Along #74, and this week's bake, Hot-Milk Cakes with Strawberries and Cream, is selected by me to bake together with Lena and Zoe, and anyone who wishes to bake-along with us. 

Have you tried hot-milk cakes before? It is a light sponge cake, really soft and fluffy. The butter and milk are heated together until the butter melts and the mixture is just beginning to boil. This hot mixture is then poured into the batter, stir to combine gently, pour into the cake pan and bake accordingly. Guess that is why it is called Hot-milk Cake. 

The mini cakes which I've baked using ramekin moulds.  

I've baked this cake twice. The first time, the cake did not rise that much and it was dense and not fluffy soft as hot-milk cakes should be. I was sort of expected that actually, as when I read through the recipe, I realized that the method is slightly different from my favourite recipe which I have baked before, the one from Tish Boyle, which always turned out well. I noticed that the eggs are beaten rather than whisk. Should I use the whisk instead of the beater? But I decided to make the cake following the recipe and instructions from the Bon Appetit cookbook to see if there is any difference in the cake texture, with my fingers crossed that it would be just as good as Tish Boyle's, if not better! The cake did not turn out well at all. They are dense and not fluffy soft as a good hot-milk cake should be, but tasted pretty good!

So I've made the cake again, this time, following the same recipe from Bon Appetit, but using Tish Boyle's method of mixing the batter. And the cake turned out really well. They rise really nice with rounded top, the crumbs are soft and fluffy. Same recipe but with different methods in mixing the batter, gave completely different results. I'm not saying that there are anything wrong with the method of mixing the batter from Bon Appetit cookbook, but the one from Tish Boyle seems to work for me. I'm sure there are many bakers out there who has tried the recipe and method from Bon Appetit with good results! I was wondering which step I went wrong when following the Bon Appetit's recipe instructions. My guess is I should have used the whisk as I intended in the first place. Recipe says to "beat" and there is a vast difference between "beat" and "whisk"! 

I reduced the sugar for the batter to half a cup, and the sweetness is just right for us. The strawberries are sliced and macerated in some sugar of which I've used about 3-4 tablespoons,  for 20-30 minutes for the juices to form. I have added a tablespoon of rum, smells good!

To prepare the cream, whipped the whipping cream with 1/4 tsp of vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon of powdered sugar until soft peaks form.

The rounded top of the cake is sliced, and keep aside. Place some sliced strawberries on the cake, place the rounded top back on the strawberries, and spoon or pipe some sweetened whipped cream on top. Garnish with more strawberries slices and drizzle with some of the lovely juices over. Serve immediately.

A lovely and yummy dessert! The cake is soft, light and fluffy (though I find that the recipe from Tish Boyle makes a fluffier cake). The strawberries are a delight with the added rum and with the sweetened whipped cream, makes this one delicious dessert. My family enjoyed this dessert very much!

Hot-Milk Cakes With Strawberries and Cream
(adapted from "Bon Appetit Dessert Cookbook", by Barbara Fairchild)
Makes 6
nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 large eggs
2/3 cup plus 1/2 cup sugar (I've used 1/2 cup for the batter, and 3-4 tablespoons for the strawberries)
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, divided
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons self-rising flour (I've used plain flour with 2 teaspoons baking powder)
2/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (1-pound) container strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon rum for the strawberries (my addition)
1/2 cup chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425F. Spray six 3/4-cup custard cups with nonstick spray. Place cups on rimmed baking sheet. Using electric mixer, beat eggs in medium bowl at high speed until thick, about 3 minutes. Gradually add 2/3 cup sugar, beating until thick and pale yellow, about 1 minute longer. Beat in 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Add flour and beat 30 seconds. Bring milk and butter just to boil in small saucepan, stirring until butter melts. Beat hot milk mixture into batter. Continue to beat 30 seconds. Divide batter among prepared cups.

Bake cakes until firm to touch and pale golden, and tops form rounded peak in center, about 16 minutes. Cool in cups at least 20 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Do Ahead : Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool completely in cups, then cover and let stand at room temperature.

Toss strawberries and remaining 1/2 cup sugar in medium bowl to coat; let stand 20 minutes for juices to form. Using electric mixer, beat cream, powdered sugar, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl until peaks form.

Remove cakes from cups and transfer to bowls. Cut off rounded top of each cake. Spoon some of berries and juices over. Cover berries with tops of cakes. Spoon whipped cream over, garnish with remaining berries and juices, and serve.

My notes :
Difference between the two methods : 
Beating of the eggs (beat/whisk)
Bon Appetit : beat the eggs 3 minutes, gradually adding in the sugar, and continue to beat for 1 minute longer.
Tish Boyle :  whisk the eggs, gradually adding in the sugar, and continue to whisk for 6 minutes until pale and creamy, and tripled in volume.

Adding of flour : (adding direct over the batter/sifting over the batter)
Bon Appetit : add the flour into the batter, and beat for 30 seconds.
Tish Boyle : sift the flour twice in a medium bowl, then sift the flour the third time over the batter, a third at a time, gently fold it in with a rubber spatula. 

Adding of hot-milk mixture : (beat/gently fold it in)
Bon Appetit : add hot-milk mixture and beat for 30 seconds.
Tish Boyle : add hot-milk mixture, and gently fold it in.

Baking temperature : (425F/350F)
Bon Appetit : 425F for 16 minutes.
Tish Boyle : following her method, baked at 350F and since I've used ramekin moulds for mini cakes, I've baked them about 24 minutes.

**To get the full instructions on Tish Boyle's method of mixing the batter, please refer to my old post here. Tish Boyle's recipe uses cake flour, which makes a more delicate and softer, fluffier cake.


Do stop by Lena of Frozen Wings and Zoe of Bake For Happy Kids, and all our friends who has baked along with us in the linky below :

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