Coconut Cake with Seven-Minute Frosting

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 8-inch two-layer cake
Recipe: 98/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 148

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     I enjoy coconut desserts as much as the next girl, and since it had been quite some time I decided to make a nice big cake – for no occasion at all other than pure enjoyment. Simply put, the cake is delicious. The coconut flavour is subtle, but the coconut flakes mixed in the batter give the cake a very nice texture. The cake is dense but still moist, as it should. Coupled with the heavenly and beautiful glossy-white seven-minute frosting, the cake looks superb. I would advise not putting too much frosting between the two layers, since when I did so the cake is so heavy that most of the frosting was pushed to the outside! What I particularly like about this frosting is that it hardens as it cools, thus making it lovely in appearance. I keep it on a cake stand on my kitchen table covered with a transparent bowl, and whenever I lift it I get a whiff of coconut – lovely!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature, separated
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 recipe Seven-Minute Frosting
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans, tapping out any excess flour, then line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.
  2. Using  a hand or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 3/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg yolks and beat well, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl.
  4. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
  5. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to the butter mixture in three separate additions, alternating with the coconut milk, while mixing at low speed.
  6. Stir in the toasted coconut flakes and mix well. The batter will be quite dense.
  7. In a separate bowl, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until they are foamy, then slowly pour in the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. Whip at high speed using a hand or stand mixer until the whites form a soft peak.
  8. Fold half of the whites into the cake batter and mix gently until almost all of the egg whites are incorporated, then fold in the remaining whites until evenly incorporated.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and spread evenly. Bake the cakes for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  10. Cool the cake in the pans for 20 minutes, then turn the cakes out to cool to room temperature completely before frosting with the Seven-Minute Frosting. Frost the cake layers with an offset spatula, making swirls as you go. Press the coconut flakes onto the sides of the cake and let the cake set, uncovered, for 1 hour. The cake will keep well, covered, at room temperature for 3 days.

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Valerie

Earl Grey Chiffon Cake with Maple Meringue Frosting

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 10-inch tube cake
Recipe: 95/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 151

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    At my workplace we have this lovely tradition that when it is someone’s birthday, the person whose birthday it was previously is in charge of making or buying a cake for them. Since mine was two weeks ago I had the privilege and mission of baking a cake for my boss. Knowing that he is not a big fan of very sweet desserts, I thought that I would try this recipe for an Earl Grey chiffon cake. I had never made a chiffon cake before so was happy to try it. It was more time-consuming to make than I had expected, many more steps, but in the end I managed. Due to the fact that the egg whites have to be whipped and the tea-chocolate-lemon-dry ingredients mixture prepared separately, you should give yourself a good hour to make the cake. It is not a complicated cake to make per se, but the recipe requires some level of technical skills that have to be put to use. If you take your time and follow the recipe to the tea you should have no problem at all.

    Once I poured the mixture into the tube pan I was a) excited somehow that the pan was ungreased and b) a bit doubting that it would work and that the cake would not remain permanently stuck to the cake pan. My cake took a bit longer to bake than the recipe recommends, about 60-70 minutes instead, but that may just be because of my inadequate and old oven. My favorite part of making this cake was spreading the sexy white, glossy maple meringue frosting onto the cake. What a delight! The frosting was delicious. Flavorful but not too sweet as many frostings are. The cake itself was also very good. A lot of flavors going on there, but not overwhelmingly so. You can definitely taste the Earl Grey tea and the lemon zest, while the chocolate and vanilla are more subtle. Very light and scrumptious cake; so much so that you won’t even feel guilty if you take two slices! I brought the cake to work the next day and it was faced with great feedback. Everyone loved it and claimed that it was the best cake I ever made. Even better than my carrot cake, apparently. I find that hard to believe, but this Earl Grey chiffon cake was indeed delicious. If you are looking to impress someone that is not a fan of too-sweet desserts, I urge you to try this recipe. As Anna herself mentioned in the cookbook, this is also one of my favorite recipes as of yet.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tea bags Earl Grey
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • 8 egg whites, at room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 ¼ cups cake and pastry flour*
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3 oz (90 g) milk chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1 recipe Maple Meringue Frosting

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Steep the tea bags in the boiling water until the water cools to room temperature. Without squeezing the excess liquid, remove the bags, then top up the water to its original ¾ cup measure.
  3. With a hand or stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until the mixture is foamy, then slowly add ¼ cup of the sugar and continue whipping until the whites hold a medium peak. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl or, ideally, into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whip attachment, sift together the flour, the remaining 1 ¼ cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the cooled tea, vegetable oil, egg yolks, vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whip this mixture on high speed until it is thick, about 4 minutes.
  6. Add the melted milk chocolate and whip on low speed until blended.
  7. Gently fold in half of the egg whites by hand with a spatula until they are incorporated. Fold in the remaining whites. Note: Don’t worry if the batter is a bit fluid.
  8. Pour this mixture into an ungreased (yes, ungreased!) 10-inch tube pan. Bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed and until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Invert the cake pan onto a cooling rack and cool the cake upside down in its pan. To extract the cake, run a knife or spatula around the outside edge of the cake, then tap the cake out onto a plate.
  9. Use a spatula to spread the maple meringue frosting over the entire surface of the cake. You can use a small spatula to frost the cake inside the centre hole

Notes from Anna:

  • The cake can be stored at room temperature until ready to serve. It will keep up to 3 days.

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Valerie

Marble Pound Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9 x 5 -inch loaf (about 12 slices)
Recipe: 76/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 156

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     Happy new year everyone! I realized recently that although I had managed to post at least one recipe every month for the past 2 years, I have not published anything for November and December 2014, which is quite disheartening. They were crazy months! I truly have no idea how I thought I would be able to finish the 200 recipes by October of last year (2014) while simultaneously doing a Ph.D in biochemistry. That is totally unreasonable and so that is the main reason that less and less recipes appear on my blog as the end of the year approaches. However, I always enjoy baking and if I am not doing it I am eating desert or thinking about it, so I am not giving up! 

      For my first recipe of 2015, I decided to make this simple yet enticing marble pound cake. Certainly, I have to practice the art of “marbling” different batters, in this case chocolate and vanilla,  but I think that for a first it came out pretty good. Truth be told, I was a bit worried as I was putting the batter in the loaf pan as it was very thick. Much thicker than what I am used to when I am making a banana bread, for instance. However, as usual I trusted Anna’s recipe and went with it, and it came out perfectly! Hence, do not worry when you are preparing the batter, it will seem thicker. Just make sure that you do not overbeat when you have added the flour. The cake is moist, not too sweet and has the distinct flavors of chocolate and vanilla. It is delicious and must be tried.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅔ cup sour cream
  • 4 oz (120 g) bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan and dust it with flour, removing any excess by tapping.
  2. Using a hand or stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar until fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, making sure to beat well after each egg.
  4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  5. Add the flour to the butter mixture, alternating with the sour cream, until the mixture is homogenous. Scrape half of this batter in a separate bowl.
  6. Melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl placed over a pot of simmering water. Alternatively, you can melt it in the microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring every time.
  7. Add the warm chocolate to one of the bowls of batter and stir until well blended.
  8. Put a big spoonful of vanilla and chocolate batter in the pan, alternating between each. Use a paring knife to swirl the batter.
  9. Bake the cake for 60-70 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool the cake for 30 minutes in the pan, then turn it out to cool completely.

Valerie

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: about 16 bars
Recipe: 70/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 216

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     Due to the appealing photograph represented in Anna’s cookbook for this streusel coffee cake, I have wanted to try this recipe for the longest time. Fortunately I did not long ago and was very pleased with the result. Be warned, this cake does not contain coffee, but its name rather refers to the fact that it is a prime candidate to go along with a coffee enjoyed at any time of the day. This cake is moist and flavourful without being overwhelmingly so. It is the perfect  late-night snack to go along with any warm drink. Enjoy! 

Ingredients for topping:

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8-inch square pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  2. For the streusel topping, stir together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a small bowl with a fork. Add the melted butter and stir well until the mixture is evenly moistened.
  3. For the cake, using a hand or stand mixer beat together the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy.
  4. Add the whole egg and the egg yolk. Beat well after each addition.
  5. Stir in the sour cream and vanilla extract.
  6. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Whisk to combine.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir until just blended.
  8. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle the streusel topping overtop. Bake the cake for about 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  9. Cut into squares when the cake is cooled completely and enjoy!

Valerie

Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake

Cakes and Cupcakes

Yield: one 9-inch round cake
Recipe: 52/200
“Back to Baking”, pp. 174

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     This past weekend was Thanksgiving weekend! I love this time of the year simply for all the wonderful moments spent with the family with good food and the beautiful fall weather. As was inevitable, I made one (or three! recipes to come) dessert to bring along to my parents house. This dessert was an easy pick because I had too many apples that I needed to pass and more importantly, it looked delicious! Sadly, it is by making this wonderful upside down cake that I realized that my oven is probably on its way out. It only cooks from the top element, so burns the top of foods and leaves the bottom uncooked. This is why the top of the cake looks mushy. Its unappealing appearance notwithstanding, the cake was very good. Quire rich but quite good. 

Ingredients for caramel apple layer:

  • 3 apples (e.g. Cortland, Granny Smith, Mutsu) peeled, cored and each cut into 8 wedges
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Ingredients for cake:

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 4 eggs at room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
  • 1/3 cup sour cream *
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and place it on a baking tray.
  2. For the caramel apple layer, arrange the apple wedges tightly together in the bottom of the prepared pan.
  3. Pour the water and lemon juice into a small saucepot and then add the sugar and butter. Bring this mixture to a boil without stirring and continue to boil until it is a rich caramel color, about 4-6 minutes. Make sure to occasionally brush the sides of the pot with water.
  4. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the caramel over the apples, coating them as much as possible. Set aside while preparing the cake.
  5. With a hand or stand mixer, beat the butter, sugar and brown sugar until the mixture is fluffy.
  6. Add the egg yolks, sour cream and vanilla extract and beat until blended.
  7. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir this mixture into the butter mixture.
  8. In another bowl and using a hand or stand mixer, whip the four egg whites until they hold a soft peak. Fold them into the cake batter in two additions.
  9. Scrape the batter over the apples and spread evenly. Bake the cake for 45-50 minutes, until a tester inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then run a knife around the inside edge of the cake pan, place a plate over the pan and flip the cake over, revealing the gorgeous caramel apple top.

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Notes:

  • I did not have sour cream on hand, nor was there any in my nearby supermarket, so I substituted the sour cream with the same amount of buttermilk. This replacement seemed to work fine.

Note from Anna:

  • When caramelizing sugar, I prefer to put the water in the pot before adding the sugar, as this facilitate the dissolution of the sugar and is less likely to cause crystallization as the mixture starts to boil.

Valerie