Nothing gets me going like a good recipe and a new dish to bake. The planning, the excitement when the dish looks like its working out, the joy of seeing my family and friends gobble it up and eagerly looking forward to what I can bake next, everything about baking makes me happy (the messy kitchen counter top aside :p) Here's a peek into my kitchen, my cooking, my wonderland.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

When vanilla beats chocolate

Vanilla queen
One might think a vanilla cake is plain and boring, but I've got news for you - it can blow you away. I chanced upon this recipe from my go-to blogger as always - Ria and modified it a bit and came up with my new favourite cake (yes, chocolate has bowed down to the humble vanilla this time). I love the lil vanilla bean specs in this white cake and white and chocolate ganache seal the deal to make this a cake you will not put down easily. I made it first for an order )sugar-free that too) and have made it twice thereafter in quick succession, thanks to popular demand :) So here's the angelic cake that will bring out the devil in you :p

The sugar-free order clicked by B'day boy Manu Srivastava

  • 2 cups maida
  • 113 grams unsalted butter (1/2 cup) at room temperature
  • 1 cup castor sugar (substitute with a sugar-free baking sugar or sugar substitute for sugar-free cakes for diabetic people) 
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 eggs
  • A pinch of salt
For the dark chocolate ganache, head to my previous post or click here - ganache. For white chocolate ganache, simple replace dark chocolate with white chocolate.

  • Pre-heat your oven to 180C 
  • Sift the flour and baking soda so that there are no lumps formed and keep it aside.
  • Slit your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds from both halves and keep aside. You can use the bean ‘shells’ to make yum vanilla sugar. Simply place them in your sugar container and there you have it.
  • In a large mixing bowl, whip up your butter and sugar with an electric mixer till smooth and fluffy.
  • Add your eggs one by one and beat after each addition.
  • Add in the vanilla seed mixture and beat till incorporated and you can see lovely specs of black vanilla bean seeds in the batter.
  • Add in the flour and milk alternatively, beating continuously, starting and ending with flour. Make sure to beat it till the batter is light and fluffy. Do not use all the milk if the batter is too runny.
  • Pour into a prepared baking mould (butter the inside or use cooking spray) or pour into cupcake moulds lined with cupcake liners.
  • Bake for 30 mins or so till a toothpick inserted comes out dry.
Decorating your cake/cupcakes:
For the cupcakes, just dip them top side up into melted ganache and leave to rest.
Sugar-free cupcakes dipped in melted chocolate ganache

You can also just alternate slivers of dark and white chocolate ganache, using a spoon to let the ganache flow into ribbons.

Cupcakes drizzled with slivers of white and dark chocolate ganache
Halve the cake, fill with chocolate ganache and top up with the same, adding globs of white chocolate on the edges if desired.
Vanilla cake filled and topped with ganache

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Gussying up a cake quickly

Jack Frost is in town

My Jack Frost cake
This blog has been neglected for some time and apologies for the same. I wanted to put up my best order as the post that followed me crossing a 1000 hits. (Yayyy, big achievement :)) Thanks a tonne guys for reading and encouraging my blog. This one is for you'll. Only wish I could actually share by bakes with you'll too rather than just share pics and recipes... 
     The reason for the delay is that the pictures of the winning cake (sugarless, might I add) sadly weren't all clicked by me. While I have the mini version of it, the final product has been clicked by b'day boy Manu (a talented photographer) and I haven't been able to get the pics just yet. So I decided not to wait any longer and post something else, rather than neglect my blog any longer.
     I just completed by 4th b'day order cake and frankly didn't have much time to decorate it as the darned power went off whilst baking (that's another story altogether with me frantically pacing up and down praying for the power to come back and driving everyone mad with my antics). Thank God the cake had baked its course (almost) by then so the residual heat from the oven baked it through and through, minus the power. So cut short to me having half an hour to pretty up a cake before it was to be picked up, this being a sugar-less cake, icing and butter cream was out of the question, so was melting and blitzing the butter etc for lack of time. So, I decided to go for chocolate ganache once again, only this time, I have my new and improved chocolate ganache. That still looked a lil plain so I 'frosted' it a little. No, not with icing, but with a lil sprinkling of icing sugar mixed with sugarless sugar (diet baking sugar for those in the dark). I call it my Jack Frost cake and the result was simple and stunning and I suggest you keep this as a go to decorating idea for those days when time is of the essence.

New and improved chocolate ganache:
200 grams dark chocolate
100 ml double cream or thick cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (you can add more if you want more gloss, but I find 1 tablespoon works fine)

Chop up the chocolate into tiny pieces or flakes if possible and place in a glass bowl (heat proof bowl). Heat the cream on a saucepan till it comes to boiling point and pour over the chocolate flakes. Drop in the butter on the mixture and leave on the counter top covered for 3 minutes. DO NOT stir it even though the cream at this stage will just about cover the chocolate, not looking liquidy enough. After 2 to 3 minutes the chocolate will still look solid but would have melted. Gently shake the bowl so that the cream covers the chocolate and you can see swirls of brown over the cream. Now, take a silicon spatula and give it a good mix till the butter, cream and chocolate have combined to form this glossy, clear chocolate thick syrup. If you find some lumps in the ganache, heat the bowl in the microwave for 10 seconds at a time and stir till it has all dissolved. Leave to cool for a while and use. I simply poured the mixture over the cake and guided it over, it till it gently slipped onto the sides. Pour some icing sugar or fine sugarless sugar onto a strainer and gently dust over the cake to get this lovely snowed on effect. Viola, you have a pretty cake in a jiffy. It does help to make the ganache before as it sets well and stays for long when refrigerated. When you want to use it, just bring it to room temperature, heat it in the microwave for 10 seconds till it is pourable and use.