Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In full bloom and a recipe for coffee cake

There's a cherry blossoms tree outside my apartment building that I am obsessed about when April rolls around.
The first time I saw it in full bloom, it took my breath away. I remembered standing under the tree, with camera in hand, snapping the most romantic pink kanzan blossoms I have ever seen for hours. I would go in the morning and then in dusk, trying to capture its beauty under different lights.


It is one of those things that put a smile on my face.

Last year however, I missed it while attending pastry school. So the first thing I did when I came home in April, was to check out my favorite tree. Lucky for me, the tree bloomed a week later than the years before. So for the first week of April, I waited patiently, passing the tree everyday to check on its blooming progress.


Until one day, almost overnight the tree came alive and displayed its full glory in pink blossoms. I stood under the tree and looked up. All I could see was clusters of pink. It's one of nature's most romantic sight.

coffee cake

I made this coffee cake sometime ago when I came back for vacation. But I think it would be perfect for a little picnic under the cherry blossom tree, either with my love or just myself. Thinking of all the possibilities that a new season brings.

It's a simple cake to make, with chocolate streusel made with brown sugar and cocoa powder that melts into a lovely chocolate tunnel in the middle after baking. The original recipe comes from Chef Claudia Fleming which Rose Levy Beranbaum adapted in her latest book- Rose's Heavenly Cakes. I have been baking a lot from this book, with satisfactory outcomes. So be prepared to see more recipes from this book coming soon on my blog!

coffee cake

Chocolate Streusel Coffee Cake
adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes

Chocolate streusel filling
3 tbsp/40g light brown sugar
2 tbsp + 1.5 tsp/ 12g sifted unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine the ingredients in a small bowl until well blended.

Cake batter
1 3/4 cups / 200g sifted bleached all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 + 1/8tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp/ 113g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup/ 200g granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg white, at room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup/ 242g sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350F and coat a tube pan with baking spray with flour.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter on medium high speed for one minute. Slowly add in the sugar. Beat until the mixture looks pale and fluffy, about another 4 minutes.

With the mixer off,pour in the eggs mixture and vanilla. Scrape the sides of the bowl to make sure that all the ingredients are well combined. Beat with medium speed until mixture is well blended. Scape the sides of the bowl as needed.

Add flour mixture in 3 parts on low speed and alternate with the sour cream. Scrape the sides of the bowl after each addition. When adding the last part of the flour mixture, make sure to just mix until well blended, which is at the point when you don't see a trace of flour in the batter. Overmixing will result in a tough and dense cake.

Spoon half of the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle the chocolate streusel filling evenly in the middle, forming a ring, and avoid the inner and outer edges of the pan. Spoon the remaining cake batter on top, and spread it evenly.

Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the cake just begin to come away from the sides of the pan. you can also test the doneness with a cake tester/skewer. The cake is done when the tester/skewer comes out clean.

Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. With a small metal spatula, gently loosen the edges of the cake and invert it onto a lightly greased wire rack. Cool completely.


Thursday, April 08, 2010

A new beginning and a recipe for Carrot cupcakes with cream cheese frosting

Sometime in life, one needs to make difficult decisions. Like leaving the job you love to be with the man you love. And yes, it is very difficult. Especially when you have gotten more comfortable with the daily tasks and started to know your coworkers better. Even more so when the city you love has just begun to show the slightest sign of Spring after the dreadfully long winter.

carrot cupcakes w/cream cheese frosting

I packed and said goodbye to Chicago at the end of March.Off we flew back to Atlanta, where new challenges await.

I must say that it is nice to be home. Amidst the unpacking and cleaning, I found time to reacquint with my long neglected Kitchenaid and caught up with the new cookbooks I barely read.

carrot cupcakes w/cream cheese frosting

Cooking and baking are going to take up most of my time now until I find a new job. I hate that feeling. Of starting all over again. But such is life.

Here's the first thing I baked upon my return. A batch of moist carrot cupcakes from my new favorite baking book- Rose's Heavenly Cake. I frosted them with a simple cream cheese frosting from Dorie Greenspan's Baking.


I also used some of the batter to make 2 rabbit cakes with the disposable aluminium tins I bought on sale a few years ago. The decoration was horrible, but I am working on it. Now that I have the free time, it will be perfect for piping practices!

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cake

The original recipe includes a tablespoon of cocoa powder, which I find intriguing. It is also the reason that interested me to try the recipe. However, while mise-en-placing the ingredients, I forgot about it until the cakes were in the oven!

Carrot cake
unbleached all purpose flour 300g
baking powder 1.5 teaspoon
baking soda 1 teaspoon
salt 1 teaspoon
cinnamon 2 teaspoon
granulated sugar 300g
light brown sugar 100g
canola oil 269g
4 large eggs,room temperature 200g
vanilla extract 2 teaspoons
coarsely shredded carrots 454g

Preheat the oven to 350F, and coat the pans with PAM baking spray. Alternatively, you can butter the pan and dusted it with flour.

Sift the unbleached all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon into a medium bowl.

In a mixer bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs, sugars, vanilla extract and oil until well blended, about 1 minute. Add in the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated. Finally add in the shredded carrots. Beat for another 10 seconds.

Because the cake rises quite a bit. Fill the cake pans/cupcake liners to 1/2 full.

Depending on the pan sizes, time to doneness may varies. It takes about 20-25 mins for the cupcakes, and 45-55 minutes for 9 inch pans. Always remember to check for doneness by inserting cake tester/skewer into the cake, instead of following the suggested time. Cake is ready when the cake tester comes out clean and cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.

Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Dorie Greenspan's Baking

cream cheese, at room temperature 8 oz ( 1 block)
butter 4 oz (1 stick)
lemon juice 2 tablespoons
confectioner's sugar,sifted 1 pound (3 3/4cups)
shredded coconut for decoration

Cream butter and cream cheese until well blended. Add in the lemon juice and confectioner's sugar. beat until everything is well incorporated. Use it to frost the carrot cake.

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