chocolate fudge bundt cake

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i remember my first bake implement purchase. like all first-things, it was special. it was at a time i knew little of baking or baking implements. when i could not tell what a springform or pushpan meant, when i could not be bothered about bake pan dimensions. and so i happened to pick a bundt pan. it looked fancy, i had no idea what would follow. i remember bringing it home and now that i had one, being motivated to bake. i picked a simple vanilla and chocolate marble cake recipe. i did not line the tin almost assuming my cake to slide off its nonstick slick surface when finished. i remember struggling to get the hot cake off in one piece, which to no surprise came off in pieces of assorted shape and size, with the bottom, burnt and stuck to the pan. i remember thinking what an oddly shaped cake the pan made, not knowing it was an upside down pan. and the rest is history.

so treasured as it were, the bundt pan found its place at the back of my store cupboard not wanting to make an appearance for long. until many years today when i felt nostalgic wanting to bake a bundt cake, this time for real, with having gained the necessary expertise a home baker ought to. and so, it happened. i chose a chocolate fudge bundt cake recipe from king arthur flour. the cake baked beautifully and came out marvelously in one piece. if it helps to know, i prepared the pan with a coating of vegetable oil followed by a dusting of cocoa powder.

coming to the cake now, this seemingly simple recipe makes for a surprisingly sophisticated cake with its dome shape and a ganache for its crown. i did not make the ganache though, i thought the cake was good even without it. this cake is incredibly moist and fudgey from the yogurt and tastes even better on the second day, that’s if it lasts that long. it keeps well too in an airtight container. it has just the right amount of chocolate to it though i now think that the ganache may have just accentuated the flavor a bit more.

i’m looking forward to putting my bundt pan on centre stage now on. it made for a good purchase after all.

ingredients

  • 1 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 cup / 225g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, dutch-processed cocoa preferred
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt (regular or Greek), full-fat preferred

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 350°F / 180degC
  2. to make the cake: place the coffee, butter, and cocoa in a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. heat, stirring, until the butter melts. remove from the heat, and whisk until smooth. let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.
  3. while the chocolate is cooling, put the sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and flour into a mixing bowl, whisking to combine.
  4. pour the cooled chocolate mixture into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix until thoroughly combined. scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and mix again to incorporate any residue.
  5. in a separate bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs, and sour cream or yogurt. mix into the chocolate batter, stirring until thoroughly combined.
  6. thoroughly grease a 10- to 12-cup bundt pan, preferably non-stick. pour the batter into the prepared pan. bake the cake for 50 to 55 minutes, until a long toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Note: a pan with a dark interior will bake the cake more quickly; start checking at about 40 minutes.
  7. remove the cake from the oven, wait 5 minutes, and turn the pan over onto a cooling rack. after 5 more minutes, lift the pan off the cake. let the cake cool completely before icing.
  8. to make the icing: combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, or in a saucepan set over medium heat. heat until the cream starts to bubble around the edges.
  9. remove from the heat, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth. spoon the icing over the top of the cake, letting it drip down the sides.
  10. store any leftover cake at room temperature, well wrapped, for several days. freeze for longer storage.

chocolate beetroot cake

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it’s been a while since my last post. not that I haven’t baked in a while, but just that I haven’t got myself to post, so much so I failed to create my blog anniversary post too. how bad is that now. bad enough to shame me. so I decided it was time I had made some progress. and it couldn’t happen without a reason as compelling enough as what baking this chocolate beet cake warranted. I wondered what the humble beetroot could impart to an otherwise ordinary chocolate cake. the festive color for one, will have you rethink the way red velvet cakes are made. and the moistness for another, will have you wanting to substitute banana mash or apple sauce with beet purée despite its color.

this recipe from Nigel Slater makes that perfect chocolate beet cake. decadent and chocolatey from the dark chocolate and cocoa, achingly moist from the beet with a color that’s oh so seductive. I call it a labour of love from the many bowls and utensils I had to work my way through, considering that I’d taken to one-bowl-no-creaming recipes for quite sometime now. there is technique to madness after all. not to mention the time that went into its preparation before revealing of its luscious batter, color and consistency. I’d also have to say this makes a rather towering cake in an 8″ springform and comes closest to those mile high pound cake recipes you find on Pinterest!

none of my beet-weary mates I’d offered this cake to could guess its secret ingredient. and when they were told of it, they still refused to believe! so if you’re skeptical that the beet might just overpower the chocolate, there is no reason for worry, trust me, this would be no acquired taste. make it to believe it! 


ingredients 

  • 240g beets, unpeeled, rinsed and scrubbed free of dirt
  • 200 g bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped, 50% or 70% cacao solids
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) hot espresso (or water)
  • 200g butter, at room temperature, cubed
  • 1 cup (135g) flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (the darkest you can find, natural or Dutch-process)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 5 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup (200g) superfine sugar

instructions

1. butter an 8 or 8 1/2 inch (20 cm) springform pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. boil the beets in salted water with the lid askew until they’re very tender when you stick a knife in them about 45 minutes. drain then rinse the beets with cold water. when cool enough to handle, slip off the peels, cut the beets into chunks, and grind them in a food processor until you get a coarse, yet cohesive, puree. (if you don’t have a food processor, use a cheese grater.)

3. preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

4. in a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, melt the chocolate, stirring as little as possible. once it’s nearly all melted, turn off the heat (but leave the bowl over the warm water), pour in the hot espresso and stir it once. then add the butter. press the butter pieces into the chocolate and allow them to soften without stirring.

5. sift together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder in a separate bowl.

6. remove the bowl of chocolate from the heat and stir until the butter is melted. let sit for a few minutes to cool, then stir the egg yolks together and briskly stir them into the melted chocolate mixture. fold in the beets.

7. in a stand mixer, or by hand, whip the egg whites until stiff. gradually fold the sugar into the whipped egg whites with a spatula, then fold them into the melted chocolate mixture, being careful not to overmix.

8. fold in the flour and cocoa powder.

9. scrape the batter into the prepared cake pan and reduce the heat of the oven to 325ºF (160ºC), and bake the cake for 40 minutes, or until the sides are just set but the center is still is just a bit wobbly. do not overbake.

let cake cool completely, then remove it from the pan.

read about David Lebovitz’ experience of baking this cake;

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/moist-chocolate-beet-cake-recipe-nigel-slater/

banana upside down cake

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life is a paradox, they say. how true, it resonates. we live in times where we have all possible means to connect and communicate and yet we’re disconnected in thoughts and words and deeds. religion is used more for destruction than salvation. and that makes us wonder, is God man-made or is man the handiwork of God? we talk more but say little of substance. or we never say what we really mean, but really mean what we never say. and then sometimes by not saying we risk more than otherwise saying. we do more but live less. nothing lasts forever and yet some things are eternal. we’re told it’s now or never and yet there are comebacks and fairly tale endings. and that change is inevitable and yet it is constant. we have to lose what we have to know what we had and yet we never did think we’d lose what we had when we had it. our cure for pain is sometimes revenge, the root of it. we’re happy and then we’re sad for we fear we cannot be happy for long. we fear what we long for. the pursuit of happiness is what makes us sad. and if life is truly outside, why has man spent time trying to perfect the indoors? so what is life then, if not a paradox? 

so not particularly feeling  quite myself, i resorted to baking. with a few bananas lying on my kitchen countertop about to reach their prime, i decided to go with an upside down cake. thankfully, it turned out to be perfect, unlike my state of mind. i chose a David Lebovitz’ recipe, whose book “the sweet life in Paris” i’ve read with undivided attention and complete rapture. it was my first ever chef book read and one that was followed by many chef-culinary memoirs. here’s an interview with David Lebovitz, who i think is witty and writes with unfazed candidness.

ingredients

for the banana topping

55g butter, unsalted
110g packed dark brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
1 tablespoon rum
3-4 medium bananas

for the cake

175g all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
115g unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
150g granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 cup (125ml) whole or lowfat milk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


instructions

1. to make the topping, heat the 55g of butter, brown sugar, and seeds from the vanilla bean, in a 10-inch (25cm) cast iron skillet on the stovetop. stir until the butter and sugar are liquified and start to bubble. remove from heat and stir in the rum. add the split vanilla bean to the skillet.
2. peel the bananas and slice them in half lengthwise, into thirds, and arrange them over the brown sugar topping in the skillet. preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).
3. to make the cake, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and cinnamon, in a small bowl and set aside.
4. in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or by hand in a medium bowl using a sturdy spatula, beat the butter with the granulated sugar until light and fluffy. add the eggs one at a time, stopping the mixer between the additions and scraping down the sides.
5. on slow speed, mix in half of the dry ingredients, then the milk and vanilla, then the rest of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they’re just incorporated. do not overmix. scrape the batter over the bananas in the skillet and bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the cake feels done when you press it in the center. a toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.
6. remove the cake from the oven and let stand for 10 minutes. run a knife around the outside of the cake to help it release from the pan, and turn it out onto a serving platter or cooling rack, wearing oven mitts and taking care to avoid drips from hot caramel. any caramel bits that may have stuck in the pan can be spooned back over the warm cake.

i used a 9 inch bake pan instead of a skillet. i placed the banana slices in the pan and poured the caramel all over before topping it with the batter. and i made the batter entirely by hand using precisely one bowl and one whisk and i must say, it still made a beautifully moist cake. you don’t always need fancy equipment, it’s all about putting what you have to use in the best possible way.


i must say the cake when released from the pan upside down was quite a treat to the eyes, pity i did not take a picture. you can check out the finished cake on David Lebovitz’ site, mine looked just as pretty as his. it tasted yum and is best served the day it’s made, preferably warm, but can also be served at room temperature, like i did. a real moist cake with a delicious tight crumb and the goodness of caramelized bananas. now that’s no paradox. thank God for the simple pleasures.

 

 update 29 Jan 2017

i made a version of an apple upside down cake using the same recipe except for substituting light brown sugar for dark for the caramel. and it goes without saying, lots of cinnamon. 


one bowl chocolate fudge cake

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you know that line that’s been around for a while now – you eat cake because it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. now that could become a perfectly legitimate excuse for baking and eating cake when that someone is your mother and when you’re home away from home. so, homesick, as i’ve been all these years with not having been in town to celebrate my mum’s birthday with her, the closest i could feel to being home with her was to bake her a cake. i wanted a cake that screamed celebratory yet contrary to the effort. something i could whip up after long work hours with precisely one whisk and one bowl. and not having to mention, melted butter considering i always refrigerate. should you carry unrealistic expectations and specifications such as mine, you’d be happy to know they could be fulfilled; with this recipe from Alice Medrich that makes the perfect chocolate fudge cake from basic pantry ingredients all with one bowl and one whisk.

i cannot express how simple this is to put together! and with the results obtained, you would think you worked real hard to get it to taste the way it does. intensely rich from the cocoa and a moist tender crumb from the butter and light muscovado sugar, this cake reigns supreme in all departments. it is now my go-to recipe for when i’m low on time and energy. it is my just-because cake.

this recipe comes from ‘sinfully easy delicious desserts’ by Alice Medrich and though i have had the book for the longest time now, i happened to first spot it here. i must say this has reinforced my belief in Alice Medrich after having tasted many success with her signature cocoa brownies. i look forward to trying more of her recipes.


ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutchprocessed, i used Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • ganache
    • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 cup heavy cream; more as needed
    • granulated sugar (optional)

instructions

position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 180 degC. grease the bottom of an 8×2- or 9×2-inch round cake pan or line it with parchment.

in a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. in a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. add the eggs and vanilla; stir until well blended. add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until all combined. pour the hot water over the batter; stir just until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth. scrape the batter into the prepared pan. bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes for a 9-inch pan; 35 to 40 min. for an 8-inch pan. let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. run a thin knife around the edge and invert the cake (peel off the parchment if necessary). invert it again onto the rack and let cool completely.

put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  (if using a 70% bittersweet chocolate, the ganache may get thick; add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it). you might also want to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar when you add the hot cream. the ganache will keep for a week in the refrigerator, covered – rewarm gently before using.

once cool, set the rack over a baking sheet or foil. pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an icing spatula to spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides. let set for about an hour before serving. i had some leftover ganache from a cake i baked a week ago and used it instead.


after baking well late into the night, i was left with no time for frosting so i let the cake cool overnight in the pan. come morning, in between breakfast, lunch and dinner meal prep i had just about enough time to warm the ganache off the refrigerator and frost the cake that had been sitting plain yet pretty on my kitchen countertop. i regret not having had the time to shoot a few pictures in between the ceremonial cutting of wedges (you get 8 generous portions or 16 measly ones) to take with me to work and some siphoned for snacking later in the day. so you just have to believe this makes a pretty cake when frosted. make sure the ganache is relatively thick so you get to swirl it around forming those soft luscious peaks. between work and home, this cake was gone in a day. try it, you’ll see. happy birthday mom. 

dark necessities

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i loved nutella before the internet made it ubercool. i remember being introduced to it as a child on a summer holiday to Dubai. i remember not quite comprehending how a jar of molten chocolate could possibly have been an acceptable accompaniment to toasted bread at the breakfast table. i remember waiting until told it was acceptable and the rest is history. the only legit way i’d known of devouring nutella was with buttered toast/flatbreads and on days when i’d have that horrendous craving, straight off the jar. it was only much later that i discovered a whole following out there leveraging nutella in more ways than one. in brownies to cakes to smoothies to cheesecake, that i had to dedicate an exclusive board to nutella on pinterest.

http://pin.it/soN8Qam

i’d been eyeing this recipe for too long now – Nigella Lawson’s nutella cake. i finally got around to baking it and boy, the result is rewarding. this recipe makes a rather decadent moist hazelnut torte – flourless with nothing but nutella, butter, eggs, ground hazelnut and dark chocolate. it’s like eating one giant ferrero rocher. except you made it at home.


adapted from Nigella Lawson 

ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 6 large eggs (separated)
  • 125 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 400 grams nutella (1 large jar)
  • 1 tablespoon frangelico (or rum or water) – i used water
  • 100 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (melted) – i used 60% dark chocolate

FOR THE ICING

  • 100 grams hazelnuts (peeled weight)
  • 125 ml cream
  • 1 tablespoon frangelico (or rum or water) – i used water
  • 125 grams dark chocolate – i used 60% dark chocolate

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 180ºC. in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. in a separate bowl, beat the butter and nutella together, and then add the frangelico (or whatever you’re using), egg yolks and ground hazelnuts.
  2. fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time.
  3. pour into a 23cm/9 inch round greased and lined springform tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
  4. dry toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. transfer to a plate and let cool.
  5. in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cream, liqueur or water and chopped chocolate, and heat gently. once the chocolate’s melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to frost the top of the cake. unmould the cooled cake carefully, leaving it on the base as it will be too difficult to get such a damp cake off in one piece.
  6. frost the top with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts.


dutch apple cake

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i just happened to post after a long drawn hiatus and talked about how time had flown that it’d already come to be september and now i can’t help wondering it’s october already. time flies and though most things may become irrelevant with it, some things are timeless. like this recipe i baked a long ago in time but still has its place in my memory that i keep coming back to it – my first dutch apple cake ever, by rachel allen.


ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 175 g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 85 g butter
  • 75 ml milk
  • 125 g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced

method

1. preheat the oven to 200C. line the sides and base of a 20 x 20cm square cake tin with parchment paper.

2. using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, caster sugar and vanilla extract in a large bowl until the mixture is thick and mousse-like and the whisk leaves a figure of eight pattern (this will take about 5 minutes).

3. melt the butter in a saucepan with the milk, then pour onto the eggs, whisking all the time. sift in the flour, cinnamon and baking powder and fold carefully into the batter so that there are no lumps of flour. pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.

4. arrange the apple slices over the batter. (they will sink to the bottom.) sprinkle over a tablespoon of sugar and bake in the oven for ten minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 180C and bake for a further 20-25 minutes or until well risen and golden brown.

5. remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes in the tin. cut into squares and serve.


this recipe makes a delightfully light and moist sponge cake with the goodness of apple and cinnamon. my cake did not have a browned crust like the one on this site but was delicious nevertheless. there are a ton of apple recipes i want to bake this season and hoping i will get to it before it’s next fall already!

one-bowl-chocolate cake

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i have a chocolate fixation. anything in chocolate, dark preferred. and when it comes to a quick fix, i always look for something that can be made out of a single bowl with simple pantry cupboard ingredients. saves on time and without having to do the many otherwise dishes. i found this recipe from Donald Skehan and decided to give it a go. it is a simple moist chocolate cake, though not as chocolate-y as i would have wanted it to be. you could tweak the proportion of cocoa and sugar if you have the same findings as mine. nevertheless, it most definitely makes an easy one bowl chocolate cake – purpose served!


ingredients

100g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
70g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp cocoa powder (or more for a more intense chocolate flavour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar, to dust

instructions

preheat the oven to 180°C.
grease a 20cm cake tin with a removable base, grease the tin and line with parchment paper.
melt the butter in a saucepan. remove from the heat, add the sugar and eggs and mix well.
add the flour, cocoa and vanilla and mix until combined.
pour into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
the cake won’t rise dramatically but you should be left with a set top and gooey middle.
serve in slices, with a dusting of icing sugar. you can also add a little whipped cream to top it off.