Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Joy's Red Velvet Marble Cake

I am slowly but surely working my way through all the recipes in Joy the Baker's delightful cookbook (available for purchase at Chapters Indigo and Amazon.ca) and I have had my eye on this one for a while.....but since I always like to have a reason to bake a big beautiful delicious cake...I waited for my in-laws birthday celebration to test this one out.   

Get out all your mismatched mixing bowls and measuring spoons for this one - you will need 'em all.  You essentially have to make two cake batters - which should come as no real surprise to anyone, but since this was my first try at both red velvet cake and a marble cake - I brought my A game. 

In all honesty, the chocolate cake part was perfect - light, moist, and chocolate-ty.  I don't know what I did wrong, but my red velvet cake part was dry....   I also didn't quite marble the cake enough, which didn't help.  Don't get me wrong, it was delicious and every last crumb is gone. 

Red Velvet Marble Cake - from Joy the Baker

Chocolate Cake
1 cup flour
3/4 tsp baking soda 
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup coffee
1/3 cup +1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup softened butter 
1/2 cup +2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

Let's start with the Chocolate cake. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, mix together the cocoa and coffee (its easier if the coffee is still hot).   In yet another bowl, cream together butter and sugars.  Add eggs one at a time (I always add them at the same time.... : ) and continue to beat for another couple of minutes.  Add in the coffee-cocoa mixture and vanilla and mix well. 

Add in the flour mixture and the buttermilk (if you don't have buttermilk on hand, add a dollop of white vinegar to milk and let sit for a couple of minutes - ta-da!).

Red Velvet Cake 
1 cup + 2 tablespoons flour
3/4  tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons red food colouring
1/4  cup softened butter
3/4  cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2  cup buttermilk
1 1/2 tsp white vinegar

Next up - the red velvet cake.  Similar to the chocolate cake batter, combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.  In a small bowl, mix together the cocoa and red food colouring.  They didn't actually mix very well when I tried it (ratio of dry to wet was a little off), but not to worry, it will all work out in the end. 

Cream together butter and sugar.  Add in egg.  Add in cocoa mixture.  Beat until well mixed.  Add in flour mixture and half of the buttermilk, mix well, then add in the rest.  Finally, add in the vinegar and finish mixing with a spatula. 

Now for the marble part.  I was nervous for this, silly but it's true.  I didn't say I was logical : )

Divide the red velvet cake batter between 2 round 9x9 greased and floured cake pans.  My red velvet batter was thicker than the chocolate, and it didn't quite cover the bottom of either pan.  Top it off with the chocolate cake batter.  Using a butter knife, make a few swirls in each pan.  I was too cautious in my swirling, so I didn't end up with a really great marble effect. 

The recipe calls for using two oven racks, one in the middle and one in the top third, and to bake the cakes for 15 minutes at 350 degrees F and then switch and bake for another 15-20 minutes.  My oven was wide enough to bake both in the middle, so I just baked for 35 minutes and they came out perfectly well done. 

Let cool in pans for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling. 

I had a hard time deciding between cream cheese frosting and chocolate buttercream, and in the end I went with the buttercream.  I adapted Joy's recipe (also from the book) by using milk instead of heavy cream, and omitted ovaltine.  It whipped up like a dream....

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Butterscotch Squares

Sweet nostalgia....coming home after a day at school, walking into the house and dropping your backpack and jacket on the floor, kicking off your shoes...running into the warm kitchen where a pan of these babies were still warm out of the oven.  I am so fortunate that I grew up in a household where Mum was always home, and there were almost always home-baked goodies like this to dig into after a tough day at school.  Hey Mum....I have a confession.....I didn't eat my sandwich...or my apple....but I definitely ate my home baked cookies/squares/muffin....but I bet you already knew that. And I know that we always whined about not having the fruit roll-up/packaged brownie with icing/other preservative packed garbage the other kids brought to school.....hey Mum?  Thanks.   

I feel like a kid again when I eat these squares - light and crisp meringue crust on top, gooey butterscotch middle, and shortbread-like crust. 

Butterscotch Squares

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour minus 3 tbsp*
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup butter
2 egg yolks

Sift together flour, baking powder,and sugar. Cut in butter and break up with your fingers until butter bits are  like coarse crumbs. Stir in slightly beaten egg yolks and pat mixture in a greased 8 x 8 inch pan.

2 egg whites beaten stiff
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup shredded coconut**

Beat egg whites until stiff.  Add sugar to beaten egg whites gradually, continuing to beat. Fold in coconut and spread over crumbs. Bake at 350F for 25 to 30 minutes.

*original recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups cake and pastry flour
**original recipe calls for 1 cup flour and/or 1 cup walnuts. I suggest adding to taste.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Fudge Pudding Cake

This was one of my favourite desserts growing up - my Mum baked it in a round casserole dish and the cake puffs up right to the top with the pudding on the bottom.  Needless to say, with three kids in our house plus one father with a serious sweet tooth (thanks Dad!) there were never any leftovers....so now I get to make this just for my husband and I...wait, there are still barely any leftovers!

The original recipe calls for cocoa to be added to the cake batter - I love chocolate just as much as the next girl, but to be honest, I find it tastes sooo much better with a vanilla cake.  Plus, it looks awesome with the chocolate-y smidgens on top. 

Fudge Pudding Cake

1 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa**
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp melted butter or margarine
1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups hot water

1. Combine flour, baking powder, sugar, cocoa (if making chocolate cake, otherwise omit) and salt.
2. Add the melted butter, milk and vanilla.  Mix well.  It will be a sticky, thick batter. 
3. Pour into a square or round 8x8 pan, or a large round casserole dish.
4. Boil water, and pour into a medium sized heat-safe bowl.  Slowly stir in the cocoa, brown and white sugar. Mix well.  Pour the pudding mixture over top of the cake batter.  The liquid will sit on top of the batter - don't worry, it will magically end up on the bottom as pudding. It is okay if there are lumps in the pudding mixture - these will end up as little chocolate smidgens on top of the cake.

Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45-50 minutes or until cake tester or toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Best served warm. Keeps well for 2-3 days covered in the fridge.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Groovy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

It was a dark and stormy night....and I had a craving for home-made cookies, hot out of the oven.

This recipe is from my Mum's high school home economics class back in the Sixties....Groovy Cookies, anyone?  And no, this recipe does not contain any "medicinal" ingredients, please and thank you, just the good ol' basics.  Made a great cookie back in 1965, makes a great cookie now.  Yes, that is a photocopy of the original hand-written recipe!

This is my comfort food recipe...it makes between 3 and 4 dozen old-fashioned-style cookies, depending on how big you make them, of course.  This time, I threw in a handful of leftover peanut butter chips and walnut pieces to the mix.  You can also add coconut (3/4 cup) as per the original recipe if you like, I have never tried it but I am sure they would be even groovier.....

Groovy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup all purpose or whole-wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups oats
3/4 cup butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup raisins and/or chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped nuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, and oats.
3. Cream butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla
4. Add the oats and flour mixture.  Mix well.
5. Stir in raisins, nuts, and chocolate chips.
6. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets.
7. Flatten slightly with floured fork.
8. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 mins or 'till golden.
9. Eat one soon as its out of the oven, making sure to burn your mouth : )

Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Heavenly Sour Cream Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Writing about strawberries and rhubarb seems nostalgic at this time of year, no?

This recipe is an old family favourite, adapted by my Mum from my brother's boy scout cookbook dating back to 1985.  In car years, that makes it a classic.  Rich, easy to put together, and worth it.  The perfect marriage of sweet strawberries and sugar balanced out by the tartness of the rhubarb.

Heavenly Sour Cream Strawberry Rhubarb pie

unbaked pie shell

2 cups cubed rhubarb 
2 cups strawberries
1 1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
1 cup sour cream

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup soft butter
Arrange rhubarb and sliced strawberries in unbaked pie shell.
Mix sugar and flour together, then stir in sour cream. Pour over stawberry-rhubarb mixture. 
Combine flour, brown sugar, and butter until crumbly and sprinkle over top
Bake at 450 for 15 minutes, then 350 for 30 minutes or until fruit is tender, filling is set and crumbs are golden brown
Note:  Sour cream puffs up like a cloud  

Monday, 22 October 2012

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Cinnamon Glaze

This cake is light yet decadent, and so deliciously rich with pumpkin flavour. If you are as big of a fan as I am of all things pumpkin, then this cake is for you.  Topped with a sweet cinnamon glaze, it's a prize-winner. Your family and friends will be fighting for the last piece...

mmmmm......cinnamon glaze

The first time I made this cake was earlier this year for Easter dinner, and it blew our socks off.  My husband has been impatiently waiting for an encore ever since. This one, my friends, is a keeper (the husband and the cake : )

This recipe is adapted from the amazing Joy the Baker's delightful cookbook.  I reduced the sugar and oil by a tad. The icing is sweet enough, and the 4 eggs and pumpkin puree create such a moist cake that next time I might actually reduce the amount of oil even further to only half a cup. I also omitted the cloves, as I keep forgetting to buy it. I made the glaze with light instead of heavy cream, and I just guessed at the cinnamon...at first I was worried I put too much in but it ended up being delicious.  I can smell it as I write this so off I go to cut just another tiny taste.....

Enjoy with friends and family and coffee!

Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Adapted from Joy the Baker

1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs

Cinnamon Glaze
1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 tablespoons light cream

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease and flour bundt pan – set aside.
2 In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices – set aside.  In a separate bowl, whisk together oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and pumpkin puree until mixed well.  Using a mixer, beat the eggs in one at at time (or all at once like I did is fine too).  
3. Pour the pumpkin mixture all at once into the flour mixture and mix well - it might take a little while, ensure you get all those bits of floury sugar out of the bottom.  
4. Pour the batter into the bundt pan and bake for 1 hour or until a cake tester or slim serrated knife inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting the pan to release the cake.
5.  To make the cinnamon glaze, whisk together the sugar and cinnamon with the cream. Pour over completely cooled cake, allowing icing to drip down the sides.

I meant to take a photo of a slice, but this is all that is left, 4 days later and still moist and tasty!

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Apple Cake

Happy Fall!! Well, it isn't technically the autumn yet, but it sure feels like it today in southern Ontario. The perfect day to go for a chilly morning walk all bundled up with a coffee, and then come home and make this cake.  This cake is literally chock a block full of apple-y goodness.  This is one of our beloved fall recipes....we talk about it the rest of the year, waiting for fall so we can make it again. My husband, who rarely bakes, used to make this for himself all the time when I was living in England one year. This cake is easy to make, but don't say I didn't warn you - it's addictive.

Apple Cake

2 eggs
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup oil (I use vegetable)
3 tbsp orange juice (optional)
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
8 apples
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup icing sugar (for topping)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
Beat eggs with granulated sugar and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Add the oil and orange juice to the egg mixture, mix well.

Peel and slice the apples into the baking dish - I use a deep oval casserole dish, but have also used a 9x13 glass dish. The recipe calls for 8 apples, I usually find 6 good sized apples to be enough, but the more the merrier!  I use Granny Smith apples, but a combination of grannies and another kind should work well, any kind you would normally use in pie will work just fine.

Once the apples are sliced and ready in the dish, combine the egg mixture with flour mixture.  It will be thick. Slowly pour the mixture over top the apples.  Make sure that the apples are mostly covered by the thick mixture, as best you can.  It will look like there couldn't possibly be enough cake batter - but it's going to be OK - the cake will bake up around the apples....mmmm.

Top the batter with a mixture of cinnamon and icing sugar, and bake in a 350F oven for approximately 60 minutes.  If your dish is shallow, check closer to 50 minutes.  Today, mine took 63 minutes until the cake tester came out clean.

Enjoy the apple baking season while it's here!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Banana Rum Cake with Browned Butter Icing

A deliciously moist banana cake with a hint of rum, with a rich browned butter rummy frosting.

Browned butter? You say what?! Please let me introduce you....it will change your life, or at least your cake. It adds a nutty, almost caramel flavour.  The rum adds a pleasant kick.

Can you see the delicious brown butter flecks?!

My first or possibly second piece...
The original recipe is for a two layer round cake, but I opted for a single layer, iced only on the top, and it was plenty rich enough for the two of us!                              

I used 3 bananas, 2 eggs, and only 3/4 cup of brown sugar for the cake. The rest of the recipe I halved. The sugar in the icing more than makes up for using less sugar in the cake itself. I also used 5% cream in place of the heavy cream and only a splash or two to get the right consistency.

Here is the original recipe from Joy the Baker cookbook.  (I adore Joy, I have tried many of her recipes, and they never ever disappoint. You can buy her cookbook on amazon.)

Banana Rum Cake with Brown Butter Frosting         
Preheat the oven to 350 
3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/4 cup mashed bananas (about 4 medium)
3 Tbsp rum
3 large eggs
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk

For the Brown Butter Frosting:
3/4 cup salted butter
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tbsp rum
1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Grease and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.  Set aside.
  • In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Set aside.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Mix on medium speed for 3 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Add mashed bananas and rum and blend for another minute, until thoroughly combined.  Add the eggs 1 at a time, beating for 1 minute between each addition.
  • With the mixer on low speed, add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture.  Add the buttermilk and beat on low until the mixture just begins to come together.  Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until the mixture is almost entirely incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and finish blending the ingredients with a spatula.  Fold in the pecans.
  • Divide the batter between the cake pans.  Bake for 30 minutes on alternating racks, switching the cakes halfway through baking.  When a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, remove the cake from the oven.  Let cakes rest in the pan for 20 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
  • To make the Brown Butter Frosting: in a medium saucepan over medium heat melt butter until browned in color and nutty in fragrance.  Pour browned butter into a small bowl to cool.  The browned bits will add color and character to the frosting.
  • In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add powdered sugar, turn mixer on low, and add brown butter in a stream.  Increase speed to medium and add vanilla and rum.  Beat for 2 minutes.  Reduce speed to low, and slowly add cream.  Increase speed to medium and beat until smooth and creamy.  If the mixture is too thick, add a touch of cream.  If the mixture is too thin, add a touch more powdered sugar.  Spread between the layers and on top and sides of cake.