Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Eggless Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Buttercream Frosting

I generally prefer to justify baking sweet somethings and felt the act was well justified today! My personal favourites are mini cupcakes, but today made larger ones to accommodate the icing. It's been over a month since I discovered the flower nail and creating roses were demystified. And today was the day I put that knowledge  to use. 

A rose is a rose is a rose!

This was the first time I made buttercream icing with a spatula and not the hand mixer. I used butter (didn't know margarine for icing was different from table margarine or that commercial buttercream has nothing to do with butter!!!) and homemade icing sugar. Also, I don't thing self-made butter-paper icing bags are my thing....ziplock works!

The egg-plus or egg-less thing is a whim. Though if I'm baking for my parents or know that its going to consumed by people with egg restrictions, it's obviously eggless. I'd bookmarked two eggless chocolate cupcakes from blogs I follow and tried one today (just one tweak!). Pavithra of Dishes from my Kitchen, through sufficient trial and error created her "Best Ever Eggless Chocolate Cake/ Cupcake". I'll have to agree that they're perfect! The best part being the ingredients were simple, the process was simpler and even my three year old could mix it up!

Multi-directional mixing!

I bought a bottle of peppermint flavouring last week and decided the icing would be minty. The only crux was I wanted it to be green. Googling for answers (after the cakes were iced, BTW) revealed that green roses do exist naturally and symbolizes richness, abundance and bounty! Perfect!

So, a small batch of dark brown chocolate cupcakes all iced with mint flavoured roses........I loved my share, my daughter loved hers, saved one for DH.....just heading out to give them away before the cake monsters get to them.

Just realized that I didn't take a shot of the ultra-soft cakes. Will update that, since I'm going to be using the same recipe for some cakes this weekend!

(From Dishes from my Kitchen)
Cake Flour - 3/4 cu
Light Brown Sugar - 1/2 cup (original recipe used regular sugar)
Unsweetened cocoa powder - 2 1/2 tbsp
Baking Soda - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Water - 1/2 cup
Oil - 4 tbsp (I used Sunflower oil; nothing specific in original recipe)
Vinegar - 1 tbsp (original recipe listed apple cider vinegar or any vinegar)
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Instant Coffee - 1/4 tsp (Optional)

Buttercream icing:
Butter - 50 gms (out of fridge; not soft or spreadable)
Icing sugar - 75 gms (sift to remove lumps)
Peppermint flavouring - 1/2 tsp
Green food colouring - 1/4 tsp (used gel colour)

Keep prepared 6-7 cupcake molds with liners. Set oven to 180C. Whisk the dry ingredients (except the instant coffee powder) and wet ingredients (the coffee goes here) separately. Add the wet to the dry and mix well till no lumps remain. Pour into prepared molds and bake for 15 minutes or so. Test with wooden skewer or toothpick. when done remove and place on wire racks to cool.

To make the icing, take a bowl and rub the butter against the sides with a metal spatula. Once the butter is smooth add the icing sugar in increments. Once the sugar is incorporated and the buttercream has a nice paste-like spreadable consistency add the essence and colouring. If the icing seems very thick add a drop of vegetable oil. I didn't have to do this since the essence and ambient temperature too care of things. Pipe the icing as desired. I used a no.11 tip to make those roses.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

GEVULDE SPECULAAS - My first Daring Bakers Challenge

I've been looking at joining Daring Bakers for a while. Only kept putting it off since, I didn't think I'll be able to commit to the process of baking, recording and posting with any regularity. (Which is obvious to anyone who looks at my blog!)

This year I just decided to take the plunge. And my first challenge (and this year's) was to make Gevulde Speculaas. The recipe was put forward by  Francijn of Koken in de Brouwerij.

I've followed Francijn recipe to the letter and gives a nice history of these Dutch cookies. I've as usual been remiss in taking a picture of the first batch which I made as individual cookies and had to make it once more. I used lime juice for the almond paste. I did wonder if the cookies might be too 'cinnamon-y' but spice blend was well-balanced and created a delightful melange of aromas. The lime-y almond filling added a tanginess and seemed to hold the cookie together. The only think I didn't expect was the ultra-flakiness of the cookies. 

The first batch - diamond shaped individual cookies

My second batch - so flaky couldn't cut through it without crumbling.
Thank you Francijn, I'm looking forward to my next challenge!!!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Orange-Almond Cake

Every bite of pound cake would take me back to the times when our shopping cart was incomplete without a Sara Lee pound cake and a pack of Swiss Rolls......a long time ago. When I started baking, I'd begun with the basic idea that equal parts of flour, sugar, butter and eggs would give a cake (literal pound cake definition).
I've been modifying my basic pound cake to, well.... you know, spare myself those additional pounds. The cake remains dense, soft, moist and lip-smacking (without leaving a layer of grease on those lips!!). Its all about substitutions.

 Orange Almond not-so-Pound Cake Ingredients:

All purpose flour - 200 gms
Almond meal - 50 grams (ground almonds)
Butter - 50 gms
Sugar - 150 gms
Eggs - 2
Yogurt - 150 gms
Orange rind - 1 Tbsp
Orange juice - 1/4 cup
Vanilla essence - 1 tsp
Slivered Almonds - 1/4 cup (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Grease, flour and line an 8" x 4" loaf pan or a 8" x 8" brownie pan. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one-by-one and beat till incorporated. Add orange zest and juice. Add yogurt. The batter will seem curdled, but that's okay. Stir the flour and almond meal and add in batches to the batter. The batter will look smooth, except for the bits of almonds that escaped getting finely ground.

Pour into prepared container and tap well to remove trapped air bubbles. Sprinkle the top with slivered almonds and bake covered for 15 minutes and uncovered till the cake passes the toothpick test. Remove and transfer to cooling rack. Cool completely and store in airtight containers at room temperature. Serve warm as is or with ice cream.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Cinnamon Chocolate Rolls

Cinnamon is my favourite spice. A recent trip to the wholesale spice markets of Thiruvananthapuram ensured that I have enough to last me quite a while. The plus point is that fresh ground cinnamon gets added to hot chocolate, coffee or oatmeal even!

These rolls aren't the first I've made (and unlikely to be the last!) are simple and quick enough to make for breakfast. Also, they make for awesome snack-box stuff!!!


All purpose flour - 3 cups
(2 cups of APF can be replaced with about 2 cups of whole wheat flour)
Instant yeast - 1 1/2 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Oil (Sunflower) - 3 Tbsp
Water - as required

Cinnamon - large 3-4" strip
Sugar - 4 Tbsp
Butter - 2 Tbsp (room temperature)
Chocolate chips - 1 cup (optional)

Mix the flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl. Add water and knead till you get a soft pliable non-sticky dough. Add oil and knead some more. Cover and keep in a warm place to rise.

Prepare filling by grinding the cinnamon and sugar in a spice blender or dry grinder. Once the dough has risen to twice its volume, deflate and transfer to a counter top. Roll it out roughly rectangular and apply butter. Sieve the cinnamon-sugar mixture and sprinkle the chocolate chips. Roll it up an cut using serrated knife.

Arrange the rolls on a baking dish and let rise till oven is pre-heated to 180C. Bake covered for about 10 minutes and uncovered for another 10 to 15minutes. Check for done-ness and remove from oven. Transfer to cooling rack and serve warm.