I’m having a hard time with the days of the week, apparently. I wrote this post with every intention of having it on the interwebs in order to celebrate my weekly “variety flour Thursday” adventure. Then life happened, and I had to push it back to Friday (today). And now I’m just catching on to the fact that this is a “Sunday night” cake. All this Thursday/Friday hullabaloo is dedicated to a treat, developed originally by Edna Lewis to be a simple cake to make but decadent enough to ring in a new week.
This post is a long time coming. Exhibit A) Colleen’s first attempt at making the cake, straight from Edna Lewis’s recipe. Not the finest example of my baking skills or ability to follow directions. Nowhere in the recipe does it say that using a bundt pan is preferable to a standard square or circle pan. I had a child-like whim that made me crave cake in the shape of a bundt, and look where it got me.
The cake itself was a little chewy and I couldn’t get the frosting right. I despaired a little and put the project on hold. Then, like always, the boys at Baked had a little something to lift my spirits. A recipe for Sunday Night Cake! Sunday Night with (gasp) a chocolate pudding frosting!? My faith in the world, or at least in my ability to bake a cake, was restored and I sallied forth to make another Sunday Night Cake.
Victory is mine! The cake was wonderful – I loved the way the sour cream gave it density but was balanced by the light crumb of cake flour. Due to my oven having a mind of its own, however, it took an extra ten minutes to bake and, when I finally pulled it out of the oven out of fear, was still a wee bit under baked. Under baked is better than burned, I guess? And the chocolate frosting? Forget about it. I was elbows deep in it from the moment it came together. I might just make the frosting on it’s own and pour it into ramekins and call it a chocolate pudding-mousse hybrid pot-de-FANTASTIC. Or something eloquent like that.
(Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations)
Yields one 9 inch square or round cake
1 ¾ cup cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut in ½ inch pieces
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup sour cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and prepare a 9 inch round or square cake pan by lining pan with parchment, then buttering the sides and bottom of parchment thoroughly.
2. In a medium-size mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, or bowl of a stand mixer if using, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs to butter mixture one at a time, beating until just incorporated between each addition. Once all eggs are added, scrape down sides of bowl and beat for a few more seconds.
5. Add flour mixture in three parts, alternating with two parts of the sour cream. Scrape down bowl after all ingredients are added and beat for a few more seconds (to make sure all ingredients are incorporated evenly).
6. Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake cake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Cool cake in pan for at least 20 minutes before loosening the sides of the cake and removing it to a cooling rack to cool completely.
Chocolate Frosting (for Sunday Night Cake)
(Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations)
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably dark – Valrhona)
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped coarsely*
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into ½ inch pieces
1 cup boiling water
*I did not have any unsweetened chocolate on hand (I know, blasphemy!), so I used a 72% dark chocolate and I feel like the frosting was still delicious.
1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, and cocoa powder. Stir in chopped chocolate.
2. Pour boiling water over chocolate mixture and wait 30 seconds, then whisk until mixture is combined and chocolate is melted.
3. Turn heat to medium-high and whisk continuously for 5 minutes, or until mixture begins to thicken. Once mixture begins to thicken, it will come together quickly.
4. Remove saucepan from heat and pour mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on high, with a paddle attachment, until mixture is room temperature.
4. Add butter and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until frosting is light and pudding-like. (If you prefer a fluffier frosting, mix for a few minutes longer, 5-6 minutes in total.)
To assemble cake: Once cake is cooled completely, frost top of cake and let frosting drip a little down the sides. Refrigerate frosted cake for 5 minutes to set frosting. Serve immediately.
Store cake, tightly covered, in refrigerator for up to 3 days. Bring it to room temperature before serving.
May 26, 2011
This post begins with a warning. My roommate (bless her heart and soul) came home from work the other night with three bags of whole wheat flour and gave me full access to them. What does that mean? You’ll probably be seeing a whole bunch of recipes using whole wheat flour, on Variety Flour Thursdays and beyond. “Warning” was perhaps too strong a word. Consider this a “heads-up” then.
As much as I appreciate all flours, as they provide the basis to some of my favorite things in the entire world, whole wheat flour is definitely in my top two favorite flours to use (the other being buckwheat). Not only does using whole wheat flour make it easier for me to pretend what I’m making has some sort of health benefit other than being delicious, but it also lends a more interesting, earthy flavor. Your baked goods have a bit more oompf. There are even options to use whole wheat flour in fluffy cakes and delicate pastries – whole wheat pastry flour and even white whole wheat flour to a certain extent.
My preferred way to use whole wheat flour? Cookies. I love the chew factor and nutty flavor that whole wheat flour can give to cookies without being overpowering or ruining the texture. This week I was feeling like something extra gooey and ridiculous melty, so I decided to make a s’mores treat and substitute some whole wheat flour in for all-purpose to see what happened. Much to my delight, adding whole wheat flour to these bars was a success. However, I didn’t follow the instructions and used marshmallows instead of marshmallow fluff, even though it was clearly stated in the original recipe. I was way too lazy to go back to the store and paid for it. The bars were great, don’t get me wrong, but the marshmallows kind of evaporated (as they tend to do when baked) and left the bars with the occasional white puff and a thin layer of sweet. So, word to the wise, follow the instructions and use marshmallow fluff to get optimal gooey-ness.
S’mores Cookie Bars
(Adapted from Crepes of Wrath)
Yields one 8 inch square pan of bars, between 16 and 20 bars
½ cup, or 1 stick, unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose or whole wheat flour
¾ cup, about 8 whole crackers, graham cracker crumbs*
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 king-size milk chocolate bars, or about 1 ½ cups chopped milk chocolate
1 ½ cups marshmallow fluff (not marshmallows, as we’ve learned!)
*If you have a food processor, you can pulse the graham crackers to get crumbs. If you, like me, lack this marvelous kitchen tool, you can crumble the crackers by hand or with an appropriate kitchen tool (like a potato masher). It takes longer and you don’t get as fine a crumb, but it works!
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and either grease or line with parchment an 8 inch square baking pan. Lining with parchment is nice because you can just pull the bars out of the pan when cooled.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and both sugars until light and fluffy.
3. Beat eggs and vanilla into butter mixture until fully incorporated.
4. In a smaller mixing bowl, whisk together flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, and salt.
5. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and stir until all ingredients are combined. Divide dough in half.
6. Press half of the dough into the bottom of pan. Next layer chocolate over dough, then marshmallow fluff over chocolate, and, finally, press remaining the half of dough on top. It’s okay if there is some marshmallow visible through pressed dough on top.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes until top is lightly browned. If corners brown too quickly, as mine did, cover edges with tin foil.
8. Let bars cool completely before cutting into squares.
Keep bars covered, at room temperature, up to three days.
May 19, 2011
Often people are criticized for being stubborn. Hey, I criticize myself for being stubborn. But being stubborn can have its perks. If I’m not a huge fan of a certain music, I’ll read about it, listen to it, research it, find out why other people like it, analyze my own negative feelings toward it, and try as hard as I can to appreciate at least one aspect of it. It’s a long, sometimes tedious and sometimes fruitless, journey but I end up with a broadened musical horizon and, in general, more reconciled with the world around me.
Same goes for food. I will try a food/ingredient in as many combinations as possible until I find a way to make myself truly enjoy that particular food/ingredient. Luckily, when it comes to food, there isn’t much out there I don’t enjoy already. Unluckily, one of the foods that I have a hard time enjoying is granola. WEIRD. Rolled oats? Heck yes. Any sort of nut or dried fruit? I’ll eat the entire bag in a sitting. Doesn’t matter what it is. I’ll love it. But the combination of all these ingredients in granola form? I’d probably pass.
I’ve been thinking about this recipe since reading it this winter, and finally got around to making it. You’re witnessing my first attempt at making granola myself, and I’m hoping that this cures my ridiculous granola avoidance. First observation, granola is mad easy to prepare. Second observation, granola smells AWESOME when it’s baking. Does all granola smell this amazing while roasting in the oven?
All in all, I ended up really enjoying the end product but can’t see myself eating it by itself. How do you eat your granola? I’m anxious to start putting it in things and see if I can’t love it by the start of next week!
Chocolate Almond Granola
(Recipe adapted from Food in Jars, originally “Cocoa Hazelnut Granola”)
Yields about 4 cups granola
1 cup slivered or coarsely chopped almonds
3 cups rolled, or “old-fashioned”, oats
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
¼ cup neutral oil (I used canola only because it was what I had on hand)
½ cup cane syrup, maple syrup, or agave syrup (I used a maple and agave syrup blend)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. When I need to toast nuts for a specific recipe, I spread them out on an ungreased baking sheet and place them in the oven, while it’s preheating, for 5 to 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them, though, because nuts burn quickly.
2. When almonds come out of oven, all toasty and beautiful, mix with oats in a large mixing bowl. Add cocoa powder and salt, and then stir until all ingredients are coated.
3. Add oil, then using the same liquid measuring cup add syrup. Stir again until all ingredients are evenly coated.
4. Spread granola out evenly on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
5. When granola comes out of the oven, make a tightly packed granola mountain on baking sheet and let cool completely in order to get large chunks of granola.
Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature.
First up, my apologies for not posting my Variety Flour recipe on Thursday. I think I’m going to try to play it off as some parallel universe Friday the 13th mix-up, one where everything I was supposed to do Thursday will be done on Friday. Mainly, though, it was relaxing cocktail of procrastination and sunlight.
Anyways… back to baking! I bought a small bag of brown rice flour last year on a whim. Shortly after buying it, I figured out that rice flour is the perfect ingredient in shortbread, giving an already delicious treat a fantastic textural highlight. Other than that, though, the rice flour has just sat in my freezer, next to all the other flours I use on a semi-regular basis (buckwheat, whole wheat, oat, etc), and that started to make me sad. No flour left behind, people!
Since my rice flour recipe box is embarrassingly sparse, I did what I usually do when I want more information about something, type it into the google machine and see what results come to me from the vast world of the internet. This approach doesn’t always work, but one of the first recipes that came up for “rice flour” and “cake” was, not surprisingly, a rice flour cake from Whole Foods.
I was skeptical without reason. Instead of making the cake, I decided to adapt it to cupcakes so they are easier to eat for people on the go (mainly my co-workers and room mates), and the only other change I made was to add a little bit of almond extract in place of some of the vanilla. I love the texture of these cakes, which is grainy/crunchy, almost like a semolina flour cake, and fall even more in love because the graininess of the rice flour doesn’t overpower the lightness of the cake itself. If you want to make cupcakes that are a little different, I highly suggest these, along with either the jam glaze listed after the recipe or just a smear of plain ol’ jam. Both options were great!
(Recipe adapted from Whole Foods)
Yields 9 or 10 cupcakes (If you use a ¼ cup ice cream scoop, you’ll have 9 cupcakes and they will puff over cupcake papers, so if you prefer cupcakes not puffed over the top, use a scant ¼ cup measure.)
½ cup, or 8 tablespoons, butter, unsalted and softened
½ cup granulated sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 ¼ rice flour, brown or white
1 teaspoon baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line 9 or 10 muffin cups with cupcake papers.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
3. Whisk in eggs and extracts until combined. Mixture will be grainy.
4. Fold in flour and baking powder until no flour lumps remain.
5. Fill cupcake papers using a ¼ cup measure, or about ¾ full.
6. Bake for 18 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool in pan for 5 to 10 minutes before removing them to a rack to cool completely.
Once cool, store unfrosted cupcakes in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days. If frosting cupcakes with jam glaze, store frosted cupcakes at room temperature for up to a day and in the fridge, kept in an airtight container, for up to two more days.
1/3 cup fruit preserves
1 tablespoon water
1. Place preserves and 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Boil for a minute.
2. Turn the heat off and stir the glaze for another 30 seconds or so.
3. Glaze cupcakes.
May 5, 2011
This week I’m celebrating Variety Flour Thursday by… not using flour? I’m justifying this post by thinking about the obscene amount of chocolate and fluffy marshmallow filling involved. I think you’ll understand! If you read this blog regularly, or even semi-regularly, you’ll know that I have a problem with candy. The problem is that I love it too much and sometimes overdo it, like little kids who really love cats but don’t know how to handle that love and end up squeezing them until they squeak or pulling on their tails until the cat runs away and hides for a week. Unfortunately for candy, it can’t run away and hide from me. The point of this little introduction is to point out that I love candy and this love translates into my wanting to learn how to produce it.
My candy-making skills are rudimentary at best, so I figure the only way to become a candy making whiz is to make lots and lots of candy. I’m starting off with a relatively easy project, recreating the Mallo Cup. It’s a simple concept, chocolate covered marshmallow, but the finished product is oh-so-cute in the little wrappers and reminds me of Pennsylvania, home of the original Mallo Cup. I had an absurdly fun time making these candies because you use a pastry brush to brush chocolate up the sides of the cups and you end up with chocolate all over your hands, your face, the table, you name it. Then the marshmallow filling gets everywhere and you find it for days. Even eating them is a fun experience, peeling the papers and having melty chocolate everywhere.
The cups I made were eaten in less than 24 hours, but I was thinking this would be a fun treat to make for gifts, either holiday or birthday, or some sort of finger food gathering. Imagine a party chock-full of candy and friends. This is getting out of hand. So, I leave to enjoy the recipe! Happy Variety (no) Flour Thursday, everyone!
Homemade Mallo Cups
(Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations)
Yields 40 to 60 candies
Notes: My batch yielded 40 candies, but I filled the mini cupcake papers very, very full. If you desire more candies, make sure to only brush the chocolate partially up the sides of the papers (instead of all the way up to the top). If you are able to find mini candy cup papers, then you will have a larger yield because those papers are smaller than mini cupcake papers. For each candy, you’ll need to use two cup-papers, so buy double the amount (if you make 30 candies, you’ll need 60 papers). Also, this seems kind of obvious but I feel like it needs to be said, you should use as high quality chocolate as possible. My rule for chocolate in baked goes is that if you don’t thoroughly enjoy it on its own, don’t use it, which especially applies in this case because you are straight up eating the chocolate you use. The last note is that this recipe is best with some sort of electric mixer and accurate candy thermometer on account of the marshmallow filling.
For chocolate shell:
16 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72%), coarsely chopped
8 ounces milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
Mini cupcake papers or mini candy cup papers
For marshmallow filling:
1 envelope, or 2 ½ teaspoons, unflavored gelatin
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Arrange 30 mini papers on a baking sheet, doubling them up for added stability.
2. In a double boiler, real or improvised using a non-reactive, heat-safe bowl, combine both the milk and dark chocolates. Melt chocolate, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula, until melted together and smooth.
3. Remove chocolate from heat and whisk for 15 to 30 seconds to release excess heat. Using a teaspoon, spoon melted chocolate into the bottom of each cup, filling cups a little less than one quarter of the way full.
4. With a pastry brush, brush chocolate from the bottom of each cup up the sides, completely covering the inside of the cup. Place cups in refrigerator to set while you make marshmallow filling. Since the chocolate coating is thin, they won’t need more than 15 minutes to set. Do not use all the chocolate, as you will need about the same amount to top cups once filled with marshmallow. Set chocolate aside.
5. Attach a small, plain tube tip to a pastry bag and set aside.
6. In the bowl of a mixer, pour 1/3 cup cold water and sprinkle gelatin over water.
7. In a small saucepan over medium heat, stir together sugar and ¼ cup water. Stop stirring and attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, without stirring, until mixture reaches 235 degrees F.
8. Slowly pour hot sugar mixture into gelatin (I find the best way is to pour it down the side of the bowl into the bottom). Whisk mixture for 15 to 30 seconds to release excess heat.
9. Place bowl on stand mixer and, with whisk attachment, whisk on medium-high speed for 5 minutes. Add vanilla and salt and whisk for another 2 minutes. You don’t want marshmallow to reach soft peaks, so a looser mixture is quite all right. Keep an eye on it for desired texture. While marshmallow is being whisked, remove candy cups from fridge.
10. Working quickly, place marshmallow mixture in pastry bag. If using a 12-inch pastry bag, you’ll have to do this in two rounds.
11. Fill each candy cup with marshmallow ¾ of the way full.
12. (If chocolate has hardened, melt again in the double boiler.) Spoon chocolate over marshmallow filling, spreading it gently to sides of cup, covering marshmallow completely.
13. Place cups back in fridge to set completely, at least an hour.
Store cups in fridge, in an airtight container, up to 4 days. They are quite melty and don’t do well at room temperature for very long.
April 28, 2011
I scrutinized the picture accompanying this recipe for a long time, adorable, brown-topped little cakes studded with chocolate chips. No frosting, no frills. Are they cupcakes, really? I mean, does a cake in a cupcake paper need frosting in order to become a cupcake? When you do some research, most people do draw a frosting line between cupcakes and muffins, but I for some reason I can’t rest with that. There has to be more to being a cupcake than a frosted top! Right? I began to question everything I knew about cupcakes, starting with giving this recipe a try.
So I went about chopping and mixing and baking and eating. To be honest, I wasn’t a huge fan of the end result. Although I did enjoy the chocolate chips throughout the cake (more cupcakes should have chocolate chips, I daresay), the cakes themselves were dry and, well, I kind of missed the frosting. Perhaps if these were introduced to me as a muffin I would have thought differently, expecting a drier, less sweet cake-type product, but I wouldn’t say they are what you expect when you think “cupcake”. In conclusion, I’m still on the fence regarding whether or not cupcakes need frosting to be considered cupcakes and I’m not sold on this recipe.
I’ll repeat, however, that I’m still intrigued by the idea of chocolate chip cupcakes. If you could pull off a hybrid cookie-cupcake, imagine the possibilities.
(Recipe adapted from Cupcakes, by Susanna Tee)
Yields 8 cupcakes
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup (scant) cake flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
½ to ¾ cup chocolate chips or chopped semisweet, bittersweet, or dark chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a muffin tin with cupcake papers. I had to do two batches, since my pan only accommodates 6 muffin-size cakes.
2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until incorporated. Mixture will separate but not to worry! It will come together with the addition of dry ingredients. Add vanilla and stir to combine.
3. Add flour, baking soda, and salt to butter mixture. Stir until just combined, and then stir in chocolate chips.
4. Fill cupcake papers ¾ full, using either “guess-timation” or a ¼ cup ice cream scoop with release mechanism.
5. Bake cupcakes in preheated oven 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Tops will brown considerably, as a warning.
6. Let cupcakes cool in pan just a few minutes before removing them to a rack to cool completely.
These cupcakes are best eaten while still warm and/or on the same day, but if you must, store them in an airtight container at room temperature up to 2 days.