Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing (II)

1 cup (100 grams) pecans or walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
3/4 pound (340 grams) raw carrots (about 2 1/2 cups finely grated)
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (240 ml) safflower, vegetable or canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Note: For a moister carrot cake, add 1/2 cup of crushed pineapple (well drained) or applesauce to the batter when you add the oil and vanilla extract. You may have to bake the cake a few minutes longer.

Note: This cake can be baked in a 9 x 13 x 2 inch (23 x 33 x 5 cm) pan. Just increase the baking time to between 30 to 40 minutes

Cream Cheese Frosting:
1/4 cup (57 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
8 ounces (227 grams) cream cheese, room temperature
2 cups (230 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon (4 grams) pure vanilla extract
finely grated lemon zest of one lemon

Carrot Cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Butter or spray two - 9 x 2 inch (23 x 5 cm) cake pans and line the bottoms of the pans with a circle of parchment paper.
Toast the pecans or walnuts for about 8 minutes or until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool and then chop coarsely.
Peel and finely grate the carrots. Set aside.
In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Set aside.

In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the eggs until frothy (about 1 minute). Gradually add the sugar and beat until the batter is thick and light colored (about 3 - 4 minutes). Add the oil in a steady stream and then beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture and beat just until incorporated. With a large rubber spatula fold in the grated carrots and chopped nuts. Evenly divide the batter between the two prepared pans and bake 25 to 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. After about 5 -10 minutes invert the cakes onto the wire rack, remove the pans and parchment paper, and then cool completely before frosting.

To assemble:
place one cake layer, top side down, onto your serving plate. Spread with about one third of the frosting. Gently place the other cake, top of cake facing down, onto the frosting, and spread the rest of the frosting over the top and sides of the cake. If desired, press toasted and finely chopped nuts on the sides of the cake and decorate the top of the cake with marzipan carrots (see below). Cover and refrigerate any leftovers.
Serves 10 - 12.

In bowl of electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the cream cheese and butter, on low speed, until very smooth with no lumps. Gradually add the sifted powdered sugar and beat, on low speed, until fully incorporated and smooth. Beat in the vanilla extract, and lemon zest.

Chocolate Fruit Cake (by Nigella)

350g/12¼oz dried soft prunes
chopped 250g/8¾oz raisins
125g/4½oz currants
175g/6¼oz unsalted butter, softened
175g/6¼oz dark muscovado sugar
175ml/6¼fl oz honey
125ml/4½fl oz coffee liqueur
2 oranges, juice and zest only
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tbsp good quality cocoa
3 free-range eggs, beaten
150g/5¼oz plain flour
75g/2½oz ground almonds
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
For decoration
25g/1oz dark chocolate-covered coffee beans
edible glitter
gold mini balls
about 10 edible gold star

1. Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.
2. Line the sides and bottom of a 20cm/8in, 9cm/3½in deep, round loose-bottomed cake tin with a layer of reusable silicon baking parchment. When lining the tin with the parchment, cut the material into strips that are twice as high as the tin itself (it is easier to use two shorter strips of parchment, than one long strip); the height of the strips protects the cake from catching on the outside of the cake tin.
3. Place the fruit, butter, sugar, honey, coffee liqueur, orange juice and zest, mixed spice and cocoa into a large wide saucepan. Heat the mixture until it reaches a gentle boil, stirring the mixture as the butter melts. Let the mixture simmer for ten minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
4. After 30 minutes, the mixture will have cooled a little. Add the eggs, flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bicarbonate soda, and mix well with a wooden spoon or spatula until the ingredients have combined.
5. Carefully pour the fruitcake mixture into the lined cake tin. Transfer the cake tin to the oven and bake for 1¾-2 hours, or until the top of the cake is firm but will has a shiny and sticky look. At this point, if you insert a sharp knife into the middle of the cake, the cake should still be a little uncooked in the middle.
6. Place the cake on a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled, remove it from the tin.
7. To decorate, place the chocolate-covered coffee beans in the centre of the cake and arrange the gold stars around the perimeter of the top of the cake. Then sprinkle some gold mini-balls over the whole of the cake. Sprinkle the edible glitter over the top of the cake.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

2 cups (500 mL) all-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) baking powder
2 tsp (10 mL) cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
3/4 tsp (4 mL) salt
1/2 tsp (2 mL) nutmeg
3/4 cup (175 mL) each granulated and packed brown sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup (175 mL) vegetable oil
1 tsp (5 mL) vanilla
2 cups (500 mL) grated carrots
1 cup (250 mL) drained canned crushed pineapple
1/2 cup (125 mL) chopped pecans

1 pkg (8 oz/250 g) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter, softened
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla
1 cup (250 mL) icing sugar

Grease and flour 13- x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan; set aside.
In large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. In separate bowl, beat together granulated and brown sugars, eggs, oil and vanilla until smooth; pour over flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Stir in carrots, pineapple and pecans. Spread in prepared pan.
Bake in centre of 350°F (180°C) oven for 40 minutes or until cake tester inserted in centre comes out clean. Let cool in pan on rack.
(Make-ahead: Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 2 days. Or oven wrap with heavy duty foil and freeze for up to 2 weeks; let thaw before continuing.)

In bowl, beat cream cheese with butter until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Beat in icing sugar, one-third at a time, until smooth. Spread over top of cake.
(Make-ahead: Cover loosely and refrigerate for up to I day.)

Additional Information
Tips: Set timer for 5 minutes less than the time specified in recipe, check cake then for the following signs. If the cake is not done, return it to the oven to finish baking.

When is the cake done:
A fully baked cake will spring back when touched in the center. The cake also draws away from the side of the pan, and a cake tester (a toothpick of skewer works well) inserted in the center comes out clean. Also trust your sense of smell: the fresh aroma of butter and sugar wafting out of the oven can be the signal to check the cake. When cakes emerge from the oven, their structure is set, but the set is still fragile. Let cakes stand in pans on rack for time specified in each recipe, usually 15 to 20 minutes. Run knife around edge of cake, then place rack over pan and invert cake onto rack to cool completely.

Honey Hazelnut Cake

- 80 grams (6 tablespoons) sugar
- 40 grams (1/3 cup) flour
- a pinch of salt- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 eggs
- 45 grams (1/3 cup) hazelnuts
- 70 grams (5 tablespoons) unsalted butter
- 50 grams (3 level tablespoons) honey

Pre-heat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Blend together the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly, trying to avoid lumps. Chop the hazelnuts, and fold them into the dough. Melt together the butter and honey in a small saucepan, and pour this into your dough. Mix well and pour into muffin tins or a small greased and floured cake pan. (In fact, the author has you incorporate the beaten egg whites into the rest of the dough at the end, but I hate beating egg whites so decided I would just ignore this and use baking powder as a leavening agent.)Bake for 25 to 35 minutes (25 for cupcakes, more for a single cake). Let it cool down a moment, then turn it out on a rack to cool completely, and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Pear Cake

- 125g (1 stick plus 1 Tbsp) salted butter
- 4 large pears or 6 small ones (substitute apples, apricots, plums...)
- 150g (3/4 C) sugar
- 2 eggs
- 60g (1/2 C) all-purpose flour
- 20g (2 tablespoons) ground almonds
- Half of an envelope (1 1/2 tsp) baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Melt the butter in a small bowl and set aside to cool. Butter a non-stick 8-inch cake pan. Wash, peel and cut up the pears. Lay the pieces of fruit at the bottom of the pan. In a food processor or a medium mixing-bowl, blend the sugar with the eggs until the mixture whitens slightly. Add in the flour, almond powder and baking powder, and blend well. Pour in the butter, and blend again. Pour the batter evenly over the fruit, and put into the oven to bake for 40 to 50 minutes.

Let the cake settle on a cooling rack for a few minutes. Invert it on a plate (the fruit side will be on top). If any bit of fruit has stuck to the bottom of the pan, simply scrape them and place them back where they belong on the cake. Use a second plate to invert the cake again (the fruit side will then be at the bottom). Let cool and serve slightly warm or at room temperature.

Yoghurt Cake (Gâteau au Yaourt)

- 2 eggs- 250ml (1 cup) whole milk plain unsweetened yogurt (if you use two 125ml or 4oz tubs, you can use them to measure out the rest of the ingredients)
- 200g (1 cup) sugar (you can use an empty tub of yogurt and measure the equivalent of 2 yogurt tubs if you used the 125ml or 4oz kind)
- 80ml (1/3 cup) vegetable oil (or a bit less than 1 yogurt tub)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (or 4 yogurt tubs)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste/extract- 1 tablespoon light rum

Preheat the oven to 180° C (350° F), line the bottom of a round 25-cm (10-inch) cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides. In a large mixing-bowl, gently combine the yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, and rum. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture into the yogurt mixture, and blend together -- don't overwork the dough. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean. Let stand for ten minutes, and transfer onto a rack to cool.