Monthly Archives: March 2010

zucchini chocolate chip bundt cake

Decided to make my remaining zucchinis into a bundt cake.  I thought it needed something nutty as a contrast to zucchini, which tends to be rather earthy but bland.  Lacking nuts in the house, I threw in some chocolate chips (my answer for all things).  I suppose it canceled out the “healthfulness” of zucchini but hey, chocolate is supposed to good for the heart, right?

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Bundt Cake
(makes 1 9-inch bundt cake)

Flour 405g
Sugar 270g
Baking powder 2 tsp
Baking soda ¾ tsp
Eggs 3 large ones
Sour Cream 375g
Canola Oil 120g
Zucchini 2 medium sized zucchinis, shredded
Chocolates Chips 1 cup
  1. Butter and flour a bundt pan.  Set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda) in a bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients  (eggs, sour cream, oil) in a separate bowl.
  4. With the mixer set at the lowest speed (you can mix by hand as well), slowly pour in all the wet ingredients.  Beat together until just combined. Do not overmix or else the cake will become chewy.
  5. Fold the Zucchini and Chocolate chips into the batter.
  6. Pour into pan and bake at 350º F for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick insert into the cake comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan.

zucchini and bacon tart

kinda looks like pizza when you take the aerial view, doesn’t it?  it’s really a zucchini and bacon tart, yes siree! bought a whole bunch of zucchinis at the farmers’ market the other day.  they were green, slender and smelled like zucchini.  decided to incorporate the young vegetables into some baked goods.

i thought it came out quite well, although for version 2.0, i might just pick up some baby tomatoes to plop in for extra colour.

Pâte Brisée ½ pâte brisée recipe (here’s the occasion where you defrost the other half of the pâte brisée recipe you had been saving)
Zucchini 2 medium sized zucchinis, sliced into ¼ inch discs
Bacon 100-150g of bacon, cut into lardons
Crème Fraiche 75g
Whole Milk 100g
Eggs 2 large eggs
Salt & Pepper 1-2 tsp each
  1. Prepare blind baked tart shell.  (see steps 1-6 of apple, pear and almond cream tart recipe)** except during the last 5 minutes of baking (step 5) glaze the tart shell with a little egg wash.  Bake for an additional 5 minutes.  The egg wash will make the tart more “moisture-proof.”
  2. While waiting for the tart shell to cool, lightly saute bacon lardons until most of the fat has been rendered but before the bacon becomes crispy.  Remove bacon from pan and let it cool on a dry paper towel so as to soak up the excess fat.
  3. Arrange the zucchini discs inside the cooled tart shell. I got roughly 2 layers from 2 sliced zucchinis.
  4. Sprinkle cooled bacon on top of the zucchini.
  5. In a small bowl, mix together creme fraiche, milk and eggs.  The creme fraiche might appear in little clumps but that’s okay.   Add in salt and pepper depending on your taste.
  6. Carefully pour the custard into the tart shell until it is about 80% full.  The custard will puff a bit when it bakes.  I might also recommend bringing the tart tray to the oven and then pouring in the custard, so as to minimize spillage.
  7. Bake at 350ºF for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the custard has set.

baked golden kiwis and blueberries in an apple and pear tart

i started to mess about the kitchen the other day and ended up making a variation on my apple & pear tart.  i added blueberries and golden kiwis to the center of the tart.   my true aim laid in testing what baked golden kiwis might taste like.  they are absolutely delicious fresh — a kiwi without the traditional tartness of a green kiwi.  turns out that they are not bad baked. i did lose the lightness and juiciness of fresh kiwis, but baking kiwis ain’t a bad option when you’ve forgotten to eat them and they’ve gotten to be a wee bit too ripe.

jameson whiskey cake

allright, the picture is horrendous.  i packed up the cake for my motley crew of cake taste-testers and then realised that i had forgotten to snap a picture.  i’m told, however, that my cake testers very much enjoyed the cake, so i’m jotting down the recipe for my little experiment before i forget.  i’ll replace the picture with another if and when i ever get around to baking another whiskey cake.

Jameson Irish Whiskey Cake
(makes 1 bundt cake roughly 8 inches in diameter. a larger pan can be used, it just won’t fill up as high)

Cake Flour 3 cups
Sugar 1.5 cups
Baking Powder 1 tbsp + 1 tsp
Salt ¾ tsp
Egg yolks 6 large yolks
Milk 1 cup
Vanilla 2 tsp
Irish Whiskey 1 cup
Butter 12 tbsp, melted
Walnuts (optional) 1 cup, coarsely chopped
  1. Butter and flour an 8 to 9 inch bundt pan. Set aside and pre-heat oven to 325ºF.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and salt).
  3. Add in egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition until well combined.
  4. Pour in milk, vanilla, melted butter and whiskey.  Blend at lowest speed until the liquids have been incorporated. The batter will be fairly thin and liquidy.
  5. If desired, add-in walnuts.
  6. Pour batter into pan and bake at 325ºF for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before unmolding. Then, transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. For an extra whiskey spike, the cake can be glazed as follows:  melt 1 stick of butter in a pan, add 1 cup of sugar, 1 tbsp of water and finally 1 cup of whiskey.  Stir until the sugar has dissolved. Before unmolding the cake, pour 1/3 of the glaze over the cake in the pan.  Let it cool for 1 hour and then unmold.  Pour another third of the glaze over the cooled cake.  Then wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.  The next day, pour the remaining third of glaze over the cake before serving.

celery bread

malaysian master baker alex goh has got a recipe for celery bread. it has a light celery flavour and is absolutely delicious in that “oh my goodness yummy bread, addicted to carbs and can’t stop” kind of way.  the recipe makes use of his sponge dough recipe, which requires a bit of forethought but totally worth planning around.

Celery Bread
(Makes two 8×3 inch loaves; adapted from Alex Goh and slightly modified)

Overnight Sponge Dough
Bread Flour 100g
Hot Water 70g
Main Dough
Bread Flour 325g
AP Flour 75g
Milk Powder 15g
Sugar 50g
Salt 8g
Instant Yeast 8g
Celery 130g
Egg 1 egg
Cold Water 70g
Butter 40g
Diced Celery 50g (optional)
Diced Ham 50g (optional)

To make the sponge dough:

  1. Mix together bread flour and boiling water until a dough forms. Cover with plastic and set asie to cool. When cooled, place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours.

To make the main dough:

  1. Butter and flour your bread pans and set aside.
  2. Prepare celery juice. Put 130g of celery in a food processor and add 65g of cold water (not listed in ingredient list above).  Grind until the celery is totally pulverized.  Strain the celery, making sure to retain the juices. You only want to retain the juices and not the coarse fibers that are strained out.
  3. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, mix together the flours, sugar, salt, milk powder, and yeast until well-blended.
  4. Add in the celery juice, cold water and eggs. Knead with the dough hook until a rough dough forms.
  5. Then add in the overnight sponge dough followed by the butter.
  6. Knead the dough on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes until the dough becomes elastic. When you pull it apart the dough will be springy and not too sticky.
  7. Add in diced celery and diced ham, if desired. Mix until well-combined.
  8. Let the dough proof until it has doubled in size and an indentation remains when pressed. About 1 hour.
  9. Flatten the dough and roll it up like a swiss roll.  Place 3 to 4 pieces in each loaf plan.
  10. Let proof for 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
  11. Bake at 350ºF for ~40-45 minutes.

dorie’s banana bundt cake

i don’t usually like banana cake — mostly because i don’t particularly like bananas (i’ll eat them for the potassium content before a long run but that’s about it).  but, it rained all weekend in nyc, at times with the ferocity of a deluge of biblical proportions.   i started to go a bit stir crazy and just as true cabin fever started to settled in, i spotted a bunch of bananas that had turned black from the corner of my eye. banana cake, yes, banana cake would save me!

i’m glad i made the cake. dorie’s banana bundt recipe (which she got from Sweet Sixteenth Bakery in Nashville) is the be all and end all of banana cakes.  sure, it tastes like bananas but the cake is also very dense with a tight crumb, very silky and very tender for a banana cake.  it also poofs up out of its bundt pan tremendously, and for me at least, the higher the poof, the happier i am.

Dorie’s Banana Bundt Cake
(adapted and slightly modified* from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours; * i’ve cut the sugar content, dropped in some strawberries and substituted mascarpone for sour cream)

Flour 3 cups
Baking Soda 2 tsp
Salt ½ tsp
Butter 2 sticks (½ lb), cubed at room temperature
Sugar 1 3/4 cups
Vanilla Extract 2 tsp
Eggs 2 large ones
4 large ripe bananas Mashed (~1 ½ cups)
Mascarpone 1 cup (can substitute with crème fraiche, yogurt or sour cream)
Fresh strawberries 1 cup, sliced
  1. Preheat your oven to 350ºF.
  2. Butter and flour a 9 inch Bundt cake pan.
  3. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium sized bowl and set aside.
  4. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until creamy on high speed.
  5. Lower the speed to medium and add in sugar and whip until light and fluffy.
  6. Add in eggs and vanilla — one at a time — beating after each addition for about 1 minute.
  7. Turn down the mixer to the lowest speed and drop in bananas.  If they are super ripe like mine were, you don’t even have to pre-mash them in a bowl. Just drop them in.
  8. Add in the mascarpone and mix until well combined.
  9. Finally, add in the dry ingredients in two parts.  Mix until the flour is incorporated into the mixture.  The batter will be fairly thick.
  10. Drop in the strawberries, and fold it into the batter using a rubber spatula.
  11. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.  Use a rubber spatula to spread the top of the batter around evenly.
  12. Bake at 65 to 75 minutes, or until the internal temperature measures at least 170ºF when you take it out of the oven.
  13. Let the cake cool for 10-15 minutes before unmolding it to cool on a rack. [It should be at a temperature where you can comfortably pick up the cake with your bare hands to unmold it].

chips chips ahoy!

there are a lot of fancy sweets out there with exotic ingredients, but sometimes all i really want is a prototypical chocolate chip cookie.  that said, it can be remarkably difficult to find a good chocolate chip cookie, and there are quite a lot of bad chocolate chip recipes floating around.  i’ve followed recipes that resulted in cookies that were too cakey, too crispy, too hard or what not.

a few years ago, jacques torres started turning out chocolate chip cookies and selling them at his chocolate shops.  they are divine — he keeps them on a hot plate (at his Hudson Street store at least), so they arrive in your hands warm, chewy, oozing with melty chocolate.  jacques also generously published his cookie recipe  some years back.  the secret to his cookies lies in his copious usage of chocolate.  he doesn’t use chocolate chips, rather chocolate chunks that he cuts from blocks of chocolate. i’ve been using his recipe ever since, although i have simplified and modified it a bit over the years.  i’ve also corrupted his recipe with my usage of chocolate chips, so i suppose, i can’t really say they resemble jacques’ original recipe very much at all.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(makes 2 dozen large chocolate cookies or about 4 dozen 1.5 inch cookies)

Butter 225g at room temperature
Sugar 130g
Light Brown Sugar 225g
Eggs 2 large ones
Vanilla 1 ½ tsp
Flour 525g
Baking powder 1 tsp
Baking soda 1 tsp
Salt 1 ½ tsp
Chocolate chips 300g [good quality chips, like Ghirardelli, are highly preferable — they come close to emulating the chocolate chunks that jacques cuts from blocks to make his cookies]
  1. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until it is soft and creamy.
  3. Then add in the sugars.  Whip until the mixture is light and fluffy.  You may need to intermittently stop the mixer and scrape down sides.
  4. Slowly add in the eggs, one at a time, followed by vanilla.
  5. When the mixture is well incorporated, turn your mixture down to the slowest speed and add in the flour mixture in two parts until the ingredients just come together as a dough.
  6. Add in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. [Mixer should be on slowest speed]
  7. To make large cookies, use an ice cream scooper with a lever to drop the cookies onto a baking sheet about 1 inch apart (the cookie dough doesn’t spread too much).   Alternatively, you can form the cookie dough into a 1.5 inch diameter log, set aside in your refrigerator for at least 1 hour, and then sliced 1/4 inch thick for baking.
  8. The large cookies should be baked for about 18 minutes at 350ºF and the 1.5 inch diameter cookies at about 12 minutes.

apples, pears and almond cream in a pâte brisée tart shell

i spent almost all of last year making my tart shells out of pâte sucré — mostly because it’s pretty much foolproof.  then, at some point during new year’s resolution season, i decided that i really ought to spend some time in 2010 mastering pâte brisée (aka. the flaky tart dough) based tart shells.  it’s a bit trickier than pâte sucré, though making it in a food processor does simplify things a bit.  still, i had to practice a few times before i rid myself of the urge to over-pulse or add too much water.

As an aside, pâte brisée is often used in savory tarts (as well as sweet) because it contains little sugar.  If all sugar is removed from the recipe, the dough is called pâte salée.

i threw together the tart in the picture above with what i could find in my fridge — some fruit, some almond cream.  i only had one apple, so i had to substitute a pear.  i decided to slice both fruits as donut shaped circles rather than as half moons.  it made layering the slices go much more quickly than otherwise.  the hubby said he really liked it — but then, he’s become a great fan of almond cream as well.

Pâte Brisée
(enough for 2 eight-inch tarts; adapted from the French Culinary Institute)

Cake Flour 250g
Salt ½ tsp
Sugar ½ tsp
Cold Butter 125g (1 stick), cubed
Ice Cold Water 65 ml
  1. Pour flour, salt and sugar into the bowl of a food processor
  2. Add in the cold butter and pulse until the butter pieces are the size of peas (about 5 to 6 short pulse bursts)
  3. Add in the cold water gradually until the dough is soft.  It might seem like you need more than 65ml but resist the urge.
  4. Knead the dough by hand on a clean surface until the dough is smooth.
  5. Wrap in plastic and chill for at least 30 minutes.

Apple, Pear and Almond Cream Tart
(makes one 8 to 9 inch tart)

Pâte Brisée ½ pâte brisée recipe from above (you can freeze the other half for a future occasion)
Almond Cream ~1/3 of an almond cream recipe
Apple 1 large apple, peeled (I used fuji)
Pear 1 medium sized pear, peeled (I used a red Bartlett)
Vanilla Sugar or Granulated Sugar 1 tbsp (vanilla sugar is preferable if you’ve got it on hand. Otherwise, regular sugar works as well)
Butter 2 tbsp
  1. Roll out the chilled tart shell and fit it into an 8 to 9 inch tart ring.  The tart ring should be set over a half sheet pan that’s lined with parchment paper.
  2. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  3. Put the prepared tart shell into the freezer while you’re waiting for the oven to heat.
  4. Prick the frozen tart shell a few times with a fork.  Place a sheet of foil on top of the frozen tart shell and weigh it down with dried beans or other pie weights.
  5. Bake the shell for 15 minutes, then remove the dried beans and foil and bake for another 15 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and let cool.
  7. When the tart shell has cooled, spread the almond cream evenly on the bottom of the shell using an offset spatula.
  8. Peel apple and pear. Remove the core. [If you haven’t got a core-removing gadget, you can slice and use a melon baller to remove the core when you get to the center of fruit.]
  9. Slice the apple and pear as thin as possible, creating a donut shape.
  10. Arrange the sliced fruit in a circular pattern on top of the almond cream.  You can alternate between apples and pears, if so inclined.
  11. Sprinkle with sugar and dot with bits of butter. (Alternatively, you can brush melted butter onto the fruit and then sprinkle the sugar on top).
  12. Bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes or until the almond cream has set and the apples and pears have browned.

batali’s orange tart capri-style (torta di arancia caprese)

i’m finally off my yogurt cake making spree; however, i appear to be back to my tart making ways.  i started flippling through mario batali’s molto italian cookbook in search of a recipe worthy enough for these fabulous fauchon bowtie pastas i brought back from paris a few months ago.  while flipping through the book,  i got a bit distracted by the dolci section and then i got a bit curious about how an italian tart might differ in its construction from the french ones i’m so fond of making. [in short, it’s not so different]. before long, i settled on batali’s recipe for a capri-style orange tart. plus, the hubby and i went to capri a few summers ago; i hoped that the tart would bring back those memories of our short but glorious stay.

Orange Tart Capri-Style
(makes one 10-inch fluted tart; adapted from mario batali)

Flour 2 cups
Salt ½ tsp
Sugar 2 tbsp
Lemon Zest From 2 lemons
Cold Butter 1 ½ sticks cut into small slices
Eggs 1 large egg and 1 egg yolk
Orange Liqueur 2 tbsp
Confectioners’ Sugar 1 cup
Orange Zest From 1 orange
Orange Juice 1 1/3 cups
Dark Brown Sugar ¼ cup
Mascarpone ½ cup
Eggs 7 large ones
Orange Liqueur 3 tbsp
  1. First make the pastry. Combine flour, salt, sugar, lemon zest and cold butter in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Combine eggs, yolk, liqueur and powdered sugar in a small bowl.
  3. Pour into the food processor and pulse until a dough forms.
  4. Remove the dough and knead gently on a well-floured surface until a smooth dough emerges.
  5. Form into a 6 inch disk, wrap in plastic and allow the pastry to chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge. (Well-wrapped, you can keep the pastry refrigerator for up to 3 days)
  6. [NB: The original recipe calls for a buttered, 10-inch fluted tart pan.  Lacking that, I used a 9.5 inch tart ring set over parchment paper.  I had enough leftover pastry dough to make 3 mini-four inch tarts].  Roll out the dough on a well floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  Fit the dough into the tart pan and trim off the excess.
  7. Freeze the tart shell for at least 30 minutes prior to baking.
  8. Heat the oven to 350ºF.
  9. Prick the frozen tart shell with a fork. Then, line the shell loosely with foil and fill with dry beans to weigh it down.
  10. Bake the shell for 15 minutes and then remove the beans and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow it to cool.
  11. While the shell is cooling, make the filling.  Combine the orange zest, juice, brown sugar and mascarpone in the bowl of your standmixer.  Beat until well combined with the whisk attachment on medium speed. (It will splatter a bit, so you may want to have the shield attachment on).
  12. Slowly add the eggs one at a time, beating until evenly incorporated after each addition.
  13. Stir in the liqueur.
  14. Pour the filling into the tart shell.  Bake at 350ºF for 40-45 minutes or until the custard has set.
  15. Once cooled, dust with confectioners’ sugar.

english breakfast tea yogurt cake with berries

i wish you could smell this! of the four yogurt cakes that i made, the english breakfast tea yogurt cake with berries is by far my favorite. i found the scent so intoxicating; it smelled not surprisingly like tea — not brewed tea but dried tea leaves prior to brewing, like that first whiff you get when pop open a cannister of high quality loose leaf teas.  combined with the baked raspberries and blackberries releasing their fragrances and the fresh out of the oven smell of baked goods in general, i was somewhere between being in scent heaven and being a deranged being who sniffed at cake every few minutes.

but enough waxing on cake aromas…here’s the recipe for my little english breakfast tea yogurt cake experiment:

English Breakfast Tea Yogurt Cake with Berries
(one 3 inch x 9 inch loaf cake)

Dry Ingredients
Flour 270 g (2 cups)
Sugar 180 g (slightly less than 1 cup)
English Breakfast Tea Powder 2 tbsp  (take 2 tbsp of english breakfast tea and grind it into a fine powder in a coffee grinder or food processor)
Baking powder 1 ½ tsp
Baking soda ½ tsp
Fresh or Frozen Berries 1 cup [I used a mix of raspberries and blackberries]
Wet Ingredients
Eggs 2 large ones
Yogurt 250 ml (1 cup)
Canola Oil 80 ml (1/3 cup)
Rum 1 tsp
  1. Butter and flour a loaf pan.  Set aside.  Pre-heat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Place all dry ingredients EXCEPT berries in a bowl and whisk together until evenly combined.
  3. Combine all wet ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. With the mixer set at the lowest speed (you can mix by hand as well), slowly pour in all the wet ingredients.  Beat together until just combined. Do not overmix or else the cake will become chewy.
  5. Place berries in a bowl and sprinkle with a bit of flour.  This helps prevent them from sinking to the bottom.  Then, add the berries to the batter and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.
  6. Pour into cake pan and bake at 350º F for about 45 minutes – 65 minutes or until a toothpick insert into the cake comes out clean. [Note: if you’re using frozen berries, the bake time will be closer to 65 minutes. the bake time for using fresh berries is a bit shorter.]
  7. Let cool for 10 minutes before taking the cake out of the pan.