Sunday, 30 November 2014

Confetti Cupcakes

I get it. I finally get it. All this time, I have been baking cakes with all-purpose flour when I really should have been using cake & pastry flour.  I always looked at it askance in the grocery store, like, why bother? Cakes taste great with all-purpose, what difference could it make? Well, as you may have guessed it, it does make a difference.  I am won over.  Looks like I have to go find another flour canister for my counter top.

An avid reader of How Sweet Eats, I purchased Jessica's cookbook in September.  This is the second recipe I have tried (the first was the brown butter banana bread).  I wanted to make cupcakes for a bake sale, and I wanted to try something new.  Jessica doesn't devote a lot of space in her cookbook to baking, so I figured, if it made it into her cookbook, it must be at least half-way decent.  Well, yum YUM yum - these are possibly the best cupcakes I have ever made (best muffins are these ones).

I doubled the recipe, didn't bother with the egg whites and reduced the sugar a tad.  Enjoy!

Confetti Cupcakes
slightly adapted from Seriously Delish by Jessica Merchant

3 cups cake and pastry flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups white sugar
3 eggs
4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil
2 tbsp vanilla
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sprinkles

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
In a separate large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, add the eggs one at at time, beating in between, Add oil and vanilla and mix until well combined.
Add half the flour to the butter mixture, then half the milk and stir.  Add the remaining flour and milk and continue to stir until thoroughly mixed.

Spoon batter into cupcake liners until 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in middle cupcake comes out clean.  Makes 24 cupcakes.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Swedish Chocolate Cake

I read quite a few baking blogs.  There are some amazing bakers and bloggers out there - with incredible creativity and talent - but most of the time I just enjoy browsing and maybe one in 100 recipes I will actually bookmark for later. This represents the one percent.

This was my first experience with Swedish chocolate cake - and I am hooked.  It's like a really really big brownie with a soft, gooey centre.  This cake is best served warm, but it won't be turned down once it cools. Trust me. When we were down to the last decadent piece, my husband begged me to make another.  He was dreading the come down. I think I will have keep this tucked away in my recipe arsenal for a special occasion.

Swedish Chocolate Cake
slightly adapted from Top With Cinnamon by Izy Hossack by way of The Vanilla Bean Blog

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons salted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup, minus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour, sifted
3 eggs
2 tbsp icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350. Line, grease, and flour a deep 6-inch cake pan.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients until completely combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, and bake 30-35 minutes.  Be brave and just trust me on this.  Bakers are trained to know when our cakes are ready - through hard-won experience - but ignore your instincts this time. If the edges of the cake are hard, but the middle is soft - she's done.  We want this cake to come out now.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and serve warm.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Waffles

I love waffles, pancakes, and french toast - which really shouldn't surprise anyone that knows me.   I love them for breakfast, for brunch, and even for dinner.  I loved them so much as a kid, that I even chose pancakes for my birthday dinner one year, much to my grandfather's dismay.  My grandfather and I shared a birthday, and he used to drop by our house for dinner.  According to my mom he ate them with a smile although he was a meat and potatoes kind of man.  I have no doubt these pancakes were chased by chocolate cake for dessert.

I recently purchased a waffle-iron - after years of wishing I had one, but never actually pulling the trigger.  I had my eye on a Belgian waffle-maker with removable plates (important).  One day the one I had my eye on went on sale and I just bought it before I could stop myself.

So we have been eating waffles quite a bit lately, trying out different recipes.  This is the best one so far, inspired by the grated apple in this cake.  I have an idea of adding whipped apple butter for an even more decadent or special occasion - but for a lazy Sunday morning, these are perfect.

Apple Cinnamon Buttermilk Waffles

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup grapeseed, canola or vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 Granny Smith apple, grated

Apple Cinnamon Topping
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
1/4 cup water, plus 1 - 2 tbsp as needed
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Begin by peeling, coring, and chopping two Granny Smith apples.  In a saucepan over medium low heat, add the apple pieces along with the water, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Let the apples soften without letting all the water evaporate, about 5 minutes.  Add more water as needed.  Turn down the heat to low and let simmer until the waffles are ready.

While the apples are cooking, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and brown sugar in a medium sized bowl.  In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla.  Set aside.

Preheat waffle maker to desired temperature.  While waffle maker is heating, peel, core, and grate the remaining apple.  Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir in the grated apple.  Be careful not to over-stir the batter.

Once the waffle iron is ready, dollop the batter in and cook according to the instructions.
Serve waffles immediately, with a generous serving of the apple cinnamon topping and syrup.

This recipe makes enough for two very hungry people, or 4 people as a breakfast side.  My waffle iron made 8 waffles (2 sets of 4) leaving a little batter left-over.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake

Let's slow down.  Let's relax and live in the moment, and not think too far ahead.  It's November, and it's fall.  Breathe. Reflect. Red, orange, yellow and brown.  Fallen leaves and fallen soldiers.  It's time to remember.  Let's not get too carried away with all things red and green and sparkly - not yet.

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake is comforting.  It's simple.  It's just what we need right now.

This cake reminds me of my trip to Amsterdam - it's a combination of a Dutch Apple Pancake (left - look at the pretty blue and white tabletop - so Dutch!) and their famous Apfelkuchen (right), which I thoroughly enjoyed at the Rijksmuseum cafe.

Maple Apple Upside Down Cake
slightly adapted from Joy the Baker - Homemade Decadence

Maple Apple Topping
2 Granny smith apples, peeled and sliced into wedges
1/2 cup Canadian maple syrup
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
2 eggs
1/4 cup Canadian maple syrup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and grated

Prepare the apple bottom (which ends up being the topping) first. In a greased 9x2 cake pan, arrange the apple wedges, fanned out in a circle.  Using a small saucepan, heat up butter, maple syrup, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg until the butter melts.  Pour about half of the mixture over top of the apples in the cake pan.  Set aside the other half.

In a separate saucepan, melt the 3/4 cup of butter and let cool.

While the butter is cooling, grate the apple. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a medium sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar and grated apple.  Once the butter has cooled, add the butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Using a large spoon, dollop the cake batter on top of the apples in the cake pan. Careful not to move the apples out of their fan pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting onto a serving plate.  Drizzle the remaining maple sauce over top and serve.  We enjoyed this cake the next day but I imagine that it is terrific served warm, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if you are feeling decadent.