Thursday, 26 February 2009

flourless poppy seed cake

there comes a time when even I can no longer stand to see the glum look on the gluten-free people on my floor at work when I take in my baked treats, and so when I stumbled across this little number on Chocolate & Zucchini I knew it had to be made. I love poppy seeds, love love love them, their flvour is so divine and this cake is ram-packed full of them, giving it a that wonderful nutty taste with every bite.
I have an odd relationship with almonds, I can not stand the taste of them, but I have been using them increasingly in my baking and find that I do like the flavour when it is not simply a block of marzipan (triple yuk). This recipe calls for Almond Butter, which blew my mind, what was this, where do I get it? A quick google later and I discovered to my glee that it is easy-peasy to make, all you need are some whole almonds. A simple toasting in the oven, then blitz them up in a food processor for a fair old while until the oil is released and the butter forms! I added a dribble of veg oil when I could see a slight gooeyness and this brought it all together into a buttery paste ball thing, success! And think of the possibilities! Cashew Butter, Pecan Butter...amazing!
60g butter, room temp
60g almond butter
125g soft light brown sugar
zest of one orange, finely grated
4 eggs, separated
100g ground almonds
160g poppy seeds
pinch of salt
1tsp baking powder
1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease an 8" round cake pan
2. In a stand mixer bowl combine the butter and almond butter with 100g of the sugar and the orange zest; Cream for 2 minutes
3. Add the egg yolks and mix again until fluffy
4. In a medium bowl combine the ground almond and the poppy seeds, set aside
5. In another bowl combine the egg whites with the salt and baking powder. Beat until fluffy then add the remaining 25g of sugar, and beat again until the egg whites are nice and glossy (the old hold the bowl over your head trick stage of thickness -stiff but not dry)
6. Fold 1/3rd of the whites into the butter batter - working with a very light hand - then fold in half the poppy seed mix. Repeat with another 3rd of the egg whites, and the last half of the poppy seeds, and finally the rest of the egg whites. All the time working lightly so as to combine the ingredients but not to knock the air out of rht egg whites.
7. Pour into the prepated cake pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown, mine took 25 mins but my oven is quite hot. Turn the oven off and leave the cake inside for a further 10 minutes.
8. Remove and leave to cool for another 10 minutes, then loosen and unmold from the pan, leaving to cool completetly before glazing*
*the glaze - which I forgot to do...whoops:
30g icing sugar
2tsp fresh organe juice
-mix and pour over the cake, leave to set.
I think it is a good idea to glaze as the cake does get a bit drier the following next time I will endeavour to remember...

Sunday, 8 February 2009

red velvet cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting

I blooming love these cakes, and this was my first time of making them into cupcakes, and most pleasing was the result. I ended up making two batches in one week, and did eat quite a few myself, whoops! I used the recipe here for the batter and the frosting....this time I beat the frosting LOADS and I added some vanilla seeds scraped from 1/2 a pod to the mix as well, and lo I had a nice thick pipe-able frosting! Happy days. The first batch, for the team meeting... The second, for an order....and my tum....

carrot and ginger cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Cream cheese frosting has become a nemesis of mine, along with chocolate chip cookies, I feel the intense desire to conquer and perfect it. It just never gets as thick as I want it, and this annoys me more deeply than when you spend time peeling a satsuma only to find it is as bitter as bitter can be (this is one of the more upsetting things in life).
And so, to practice the creation of the perfect cream cheese frosting I commenced to make two cupcakes that required this topping to take to a team meeting...ginger & carrot and red velvet. I think that I can be happy with my results, on the carrot cupcakes I spread the topping so the thickness was not too much of a necessity but I piped it on the red velvet ones and it did stay in a nice little pile, so this was truly pleasing.
For the carrot and ginger cupcakes I adapted a recipe from chockylit, I did not use fresh or candied ginger, but instead used stem ginger (in syrup) which I absolutley love and think has the same, if not more, intensity of fresh and the sweetness of the candied. It worked very very well so if you can get this I would recommend trying it...someone at work said 'mmmm, these are great, i love garlic'...which was confusing, but I decided to just smile and take it as a compliment rather than just some informatin about his dietary habits.
Ingredients - makes 30 cupcakes
1 cup pecans, toasted
1lb carrots, grated
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups caster sugar (I used golden caster sugar as this is yummier)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup chopped stem ginger
3 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 rsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1. Toast the pecans, 5mins at 180C, then chop them roughly once cooled (heh, roughly chop them - good old english language...images of you hacking and insulting the pecans run through my mind)
2. In a large bowl combine the grated carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, vegetable oil and ginger
3. In another bowl sift and mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbionate of soda, salt and cinnamon
4. Fold the dry mix into the carrot mix until incorportated, then fold in the pecans
5. Fill cupcake cases 2/3rds full
6. Bake for about 20 minutes, then remove and cool in the pan before removing to a rack for frosting
7. Frost with cream cheese frosting

dense chocolate loaf cake

erm, yum? correct. having spent the evening at a friends watching her make this, I then immediatley commenced to bang* about in my kitchen at 11pm on my return home to create my own. This page has been bookmarked in How To Be A Domestic Goddess since its purchase and now was the time for my dreams to become reality, and what a glorious chocolatey gooey reality it is indeed.
*why oh why are kitchen cupboards designed to make it impossible to retrieve any item from said cupboard without having to remove the ENTIRE contents each time? And I always think no, no I do not need to take out every saucepan, gridlepan and fryingpan to extract one solitary loaf tin....this thinking almost always leads to the meeting of my toes and a delightfully heavy le cruset pan lid. darn, and double darn.
Anyhoo, the cake!
200g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g dark chocolate (high % cocoa), melted & cooled
375g dark muscovado sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
225g butter, room temperature
250ml boiling water
1. Preheat your oven to 190C, grease and line a 9x5x3in loaf tin
2. In a large bowl using a hand whisk (my kitchenaid would put too much air in the batter), cream the butter and sugar
3. Add in the eggs and vanilla, beating well
4. Fold in the melted chocolate using a spatual, mix well but do not overbeat
5. Add the flour & bicarb, spoon by spoon, alternately with the water - mixing gently until you have a smooth and fairly liquid batter
6. Pour the batter into the prepped loaf tin and bake for 30 minutes
7. After this time turn down the oven temp to 170C and bake for another 15 minutes
8. Remove and allow to cool in the tin on a rack