Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Black Magic!

This is one super easy chocolate cake, one of the easiest I've ever made. I only needed a mixing bowl and a wooden spoon and with a few quick stirs to combine everything together, I'm done! The best thing is the cake turned out moist, velvety and very soft! And because the texture was so soft it felt fluffy light on the palate. I couldn't believe it because I had my doubts, and was actually expecting a kueh-like flop as the batter was really thin like pancake batter. What a pleasant surprise it was!  

The only complain I'd nit-pick about is the presence of a  strong bicarb pong. As you can see from the recipe, it calls for 2 teaspoons of baking soda. Maybe my tongue was not as sensitive as my nose, though I could smell, I couldn't taste any unpleasant soapy alkaline aftertaste. The baking soda must have been neutralized by the acidity of the natural cocoa powder. The reaction between the two also explains how the cake got its fabulous deep dark hue and its name. Black Magic indeed! 

On a side note, in baking especially chocolate cakes, it is very  important to use the type of cocoa powder specified in the recipe. Recipes that are leavened with baking soda usually require natural cocoa (Not Dutch processed!) so that the alkalinity of the baking soda can neutralize the natural  cocoa's acidity. On the other hand, those that are leavened with baking powder would require Dutch processed cocoa powder. In case you really need to make substitutions from what is called for (bearing in mind the results will most likely differ along with the substitutions), try the formula here.

I am submitting this entry to Aspiring Bakers #7: Chocolate Delight (May 2011), hosted by Doris of Tested & Tasted.

Black Magic Cake
(Recipe adapted from Allrecipes here)


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup strong brewed coffee (or use 2 tsp instant coffee granules disoolved in 1 cup water)
1 cup buttermilk  (or use 1/4 cup buttermilk powder dissolved in 1 cup water)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 175 ° C. Grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
  2. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
  3. Bake at 175 °C for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack. Fill and frost as desired.


I've baked mine into cupcakes which took about 20 minutes to bake and frosted them with Chocolate Ganache.

Chocolate Ganache
(from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa)

8 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp instant coffee granules

Cook the chocolate, heavy cream and coffee granules in a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rich Shortbread Apple Crumble Pie

Rich & buttery, not your traditional kind of apple pie!

Last week, I made an apple pie using homemade apple pie filling from my Mom. If you ever get apples which turn out bland tasting, don't waste and throw them away. Do what my Mom did, make apple pie filling. Unless of course, you have rotten apples!

I don't have a proper recipe for the apple pie filling but here's a rough idea on how my Mom made it. Cut the apples into even chunks. Big or small chunks, it's up to you. In a saucepan, put in the diced apples, add water just enough to cover the apples. Add sugar and spices (cinnamon & nutmeg) to your taste. Simmer until the apples are cooked to your desired firmness and the juices are reduced. Add cornflour and cook a while more to thicken (It should not be watery!) That's it, there's your apple pie filling.

Now on to the crust. I'd like to share a very easy recipe (adapted from Allrecipes here) which makes a rich shortbread crust and the most scrummy crumble topping for an apple pie ...or any fruit pie really. My Daughter G couldn't stop telling me how much she loved the pie and everyone I served the pie to raved about the cumble topping. This recipe makes enough crust mixture to cover the base & sides of an 8 inch pie pan and for the crumble topping. But if I were to make this again next time, I'd most probably omit making the crust for the base & sides and use all the crust mixture for the crumble topping! We just can't have enough of the delicious crumble topping!

Rich Shortbread Apple Crumble Pie
(recipe adapted from Allrecipes here)


about 600g apple pie filling - more if you prefer! (either homemade or store bought canned filling)
250g all-purpose flour
100g  white caster sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
170g chilled butter, diced
2 egg yolks, beaten

  1. Preheat oven to 200 °C.
  2. Sift four, sugar and salt into a large bowl. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Fold in egg yolks (mixture will be crumbly). Remove 1/4 of mixture, and set aside. Press remainder onto bottom and sides of an 8 inch tart shell or pie pan. Using the tines of a fork, poke holes all over the  crust base. Then bake for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the half baked crust from the oven. Reduce heat to 175 °C.
  4. Place apples onto crust, and sprinkle reserved crumb mixture evenly over the top.
  5. Place pie on a baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until top is golden brown and filling is bubbling.
  6. Serve with vanilla ice cream or custard sauce. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Black & White Mousse Cake

Have you ever wondered how the oreo cookies got their deep dark black colour? Well, the secret lies in the use of  black cocoa powder. It is essentially  a super alkalized cocoa powder. Normal alkalized cocoa powder which is known as Dutch process cocoa powder is made from cocoa beans that have been treated with alkali solution to neutralize their acidity, and thus, creates cocoa powder that is darker in colour and milder and less bitter in flavour as compared to natural cocoa powder which is simply made from ground roasted cocoa beans. The more alkaline it is the darker the cocoa becomes. Hence, from super alkalizing  or extreme Dutch processing you get black cocoa powder. The black cocoa powder is used mostly for its color and not for its flavor. On its own the black cocoa powder has very little cocoa flavor and it leaves a soapy aftertaste - and in my opinion it also tastes like charcoal. Therefore it is recommended that the black cocoa powder  is used mixed with another cocoa powder either natural or regular Dutch process  in your bakings.

Sometime back, on a regular haunt at my local baking supply store I had come across this black cocoa powder for the very first time. It's the darkest blackest cocoa powder I've seen. Coming from a small town some baking ingredients can be really hard to come by. Fearing that it may not  be restocked,  I grabbed a packet eventhough I had no idea what to do with it. Needless to say  it remained stashed away in my kitchen pantry with no purpose until now. Blame it on impulsive (kiasu) buying! Heh. Thanks to Aspiring Bakers I've finally used the black cocoa powder - though I barely made a dent. I made a black chocolate sponge cake, split then layered with white chocolate mousse before finishing off with a covering of shiny black chocolate glaze. I really love the how the cake looked. The visual contrast of the black and white was so striking and mesmerizing. Love it!

This will be my entry for this month's Aspiring Bakers#7 - Chocolate Delight (May 2011) hosted by DG from Tested & Tasted. Do join in the fun and show off your gorgeous bakes!

Black Chocolate Sponge Cake (Adapted from here)
2 large eggs
67g caster sugar
1/2 tbs liquid glucose
1/8 tsp salt 
2 tbs vegetable oil
5g cocoa powder
5g black cocoa powder
53 g cake flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1 tbs milk

White Chocolate Mousse (Adapted from the cookbook Baking Code by Alex Goh)
50g milk
20g sugar
1 egg yolk
60g white couverture chocolate (melted)
2 tsp gelatine
30g water
140g whipped cream

Chocolate Glaze
1/2 tbs gelatin powder
60g heavy cream
60g granulated sugar
50g water
20g unsweetened cocoa powder
10g black cocoa powder


Black Chocolate Sponge Cake: Preheat oven to 170°C. Prepare a 6 inch  round baking tin with removable base.Gently warm up vegetable oil, mix in the cocoa powder and the black chocoa powder. Set aside. Whip eggs,caster sugar and salt at high speed until sugar dissolved. Add in the liquid glucose and continue whipping till ribbon stage- (Very important! The mixture must be well beaten till very fluffy and thick. When the beater is lifted, it leaves a riboon like trail that will dissipate into the batter after a count of ten). Sift in  flour and baking soda, mix at medium speed for 20 seconds until just combined.
In another  bowl, take some batter and mix with the cocoa mixture together with the milk until well blended. Pour back into the batter and fold in until well combined. Pour batter into tin and bake for about 25 minutes  or when skewer comes out clean when tested. Remove from oven and cool upside down on a wire rack. Once cooled, remove cake from tin.

White Chocolate Mousse: Bring milk to boil. In a separate bowl, combine egg yolk and sugar. Gradually pour in the boiling milk, mix well. Then pour back into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Mix in the melted white chocolate and set aside. In a separate bowl, sprinkle the gelatine over the water and set aside for the gelatine to soften. Then place over double boiler and cook until gelatine has completely melted. Now combine the dissolved gelatine with the white chocolate mixture.Cool over ice water to 30°C. Fold in the whipped ceam.

Chocolate Glaze: In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over 1 & 1/2 tablespoon water. Set aside to soften. In a saucepan, combine heavy cream, sugar, water and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil. Let boil for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and add in the softened gelatin. Mix well then sieve. Let cool a while. Once the mixture has thicken, use immediately.

Assembly: Line a 6" removable base cake tin or cake ring with a piece of sponge cake. Pour in half the mousse then lay another piece of sponge cake before topping with the remainder of mousse. Cover and chill in the fridge until the mousse set. Once set, remove the cake tin/cake ring. Make the chocolate glaze then pour over the whole cake to cover. Leave a while for the glaze to set then keep in the fridge to chill before serving. Decorate as desired.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Swiss Carrot Cake

My mom is a big fan of carrot cake. In honour of Mother's Day I've baked her a carrot cake using Sonja Watson's winning recipe from the People's Cookbook, a British TV cooking show. Believe it or not, there's no oil or butter in the recipe! The cake turned out to be tender and very moist. It was also lightly spiced and tasted refreshing with a hint of lemon.

As I was busy  capturing pictures of the sliced cake, my Daughter G couldn't wait to tuck into the cake and kept pestering me. For a person who never fancied carrot cake before, I was surprised at her eargerness to eat the cake. To my amazement, she even helped herself to a second piece! I guess that says alot about this cake.

Swiss Carrot Cake
(Recipe from The People's Cookbook)

5 eggs, separated
250 gm sugar
1/2 lemon, finely grated zest and strained juice
100 gm plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
250 gm carrots, grated
250 gm ground almonds

Kirsch Icing:
200 gm icing sugar
1 tbsp water
1 tbsp kirsch
50 gm almonds, dry roasted and finely chopped

1.  Grease a 22 cm springform cake tin.
2. Whisk the egg whites in a bowl with a tiny pinch of salt until they are stiff, then set them aside. Mix the egg yolks and sugar in another bowl until smooth, and stir in the lemon zest and juice. Add the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, carrots and almond meal and mix everything together well. Gently fold in the whisked egg whites.
3. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and put it into an unheated oven. Set the oven to 180C/350F, and bake the cake for 50–60 minutes until it is baked through. Test by inserting a skewer into the centre of the cake and removing it; if it comes out clean, the cake is ready. Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
4. For the Kirsch icing: sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix it with the water and kirsch until you have a smooth paste. Pour this on to the cold cake and spread it evenly over the top and sides, using a warm knife. Finally coat the sides and rim of the cake with a 2–3 cm wide band of the almonds.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Where's the butter?

That's precisely what you'll be thinking when you're told that there's no butter in this cake. This cake smells buttery, tastes buttery and looks buttery  just like any butter cakes. But instead of butter it uses whipped cream. The texture is very tender and velvety, way better than any butter cakes. You can even take a big greedy mouthful bite and that wodge of cake will glide down your throat ever so pleasantly. You don't need to reach out for a cup of water. My hats off to Rose Levy Beranbaum for such a lovely cake. Do check out my fellow blogger Jess's (Jess Kitchen) perfect looking cake here. I swear you'd definitey be itching to try out the recipe after looking at her beautiful cake.   

Whipped Cream Cake
(adapted from 'Rose's Heavenly Cakes's by Rose Levy Beranbaum )


225g cake flour
2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
348g heavy cream (or uht dairy whipping cream with at least 35% - 40% fat content)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
225g superfine sugar (reduced to 175g)

  1. Grease and flour a 10-cup fluted pan or bundt pan. Preheat oven to 175C.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking powder and salt and then sift them together to make the mixture easier to incorporate.
  3. In another bowl, whip the cream, starting on low speed, gradually raising the speed to medium-high as it thickens, until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk the egg and vanilla just until lightly combined.
  5. On medium-high speed, gradually beat the egg mixture into the whipped cream. The mixture will thicken into mayonnaise consistency (unless high-butterfat cream is used).
  6. Gradually beat in the sugar, it should take about 30s to incorporate it.
  7. Add half of the flour mixture to the cream mixture, and with a large spatula , stir and fold the flour until most of it disappear, continue with remaining flour mixture.
  8. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
  9. Bake in preheated oven for 25-35mins, or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the centre.
  10. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10mins before unmolding and cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

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