coffee chiffon cake

DSC02999

This is NOT a coffee cake, an American cake made with nuts, sugar, and sometimes chocolate, that’s an accompaniment for coffee and tea. This is not that kind of coffee cake. This is a cake that’s flavored with espresso coffee, and because it’s a chiffon, it is spongy and light. This cake is my mother-in-law’s recipe. If she wanted to make this cake fancy, she would frost it with a butter frosting that has just three ingredients:  a stick of butter whipped until light, a teaspoon of strong coffee, and enough condensed milk to taste. So simple and sinfully delicious. Speaking of simple, from Better Homes and Gardens, I discovered a chocolate ganache that has just two ingredients: cream and enough sweet chocolate to send you hurrying to confession.  This ganache, I confess, makes me want to lick the bowl, the spoon, and the pot.

Mama’s Coffee Chiffon Cake

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 55 minutes
Cooling time: 1 1/2 hours (necessary before frosting or glazing)

7 egg whites (210g)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups (250g) all purpose flour
1 1/2 (225g + 113g) cups superfine sugar, divided
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks (175g)
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons instant espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325˚F/175˚C.

Whip egg whites. Put egg whites in a large mixing bowl. Beat at medium speed until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating at high speed until blended. Gradually add 1/2 cup (113g) sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky. There’s no need to clean the beaters for the next step.

Make the batter. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened.

Combine the batter and whipped whites. Scrape the batter into the whipped egg whites. By hand gently fold egg yolk mixture into beaten egg whites. Cut the center of the batter with a spatula and drag it along the bottom to the side of the bowl then turn the spatula over. Rotate the bowl one quarter turn and repeat the process until there are just streaks of white remaining. Pour into an ungreased tube cake pan. Cut the batter with a sharp thin blade to eliminate air pockets.

Bake and unmold the cake. Bake 55-60 minutes. If the pan has no “feet” invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Cool thoroughly before unmolding and frosting, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. To unmold, use a sharp thin blade to loosen the sides. Push straight down and forward, away from the side. Remove the knife and repeat. To loosen the center, use a skewer, applying the same motion. Gently remove the sides of the pan. Then holding the centerpiece upright, insert the blade between the bottom of the pan and the cake, applying the same motion. Remove the center-piece.

Decorate. Frost cooled cake with a chocolate ganache, if desired. A ganache (pronounced gah-NASH) is a pourable French frosting. To make this, put a half cup of whipping cream or heavy cream in a saucepan. Scald the milk. This means to cook it over medium heat until there are tiny bubbles all around the edges of the pot. In Jamaica we say “watch pot never boil” but you really have to watch this one or the bottom will burn. Once tiny bubbles appear, remove pot from heat. Add 11 1/2 oz dessert chocolate or milk chocolate or a combination of both milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate. Do NOT stir. Let sit 5 minutes. After 5 minutes stir until blended. Let sit to thicken slightly. Pour slowly in a back and forth motion over cooled cake and let it drizzle down the sides. Or just frost the top as I did. This ganache is rich and smooth and not very sweet. It complements the espresso coffee flavor of Mama’s chiffon cake.

DSC02992

Advertisements

buttermilk country cake with whipped cream and mango

DSC02996

It has become so cool here in Bangkok in the early morning that the mosquitoes have come out in droves searching for a warm blooded meal. And I’m their target. So much for a good night’s sleep! Now, what can I say about this cake? Like all of Rose Berenbaum’s recipes in The Cake Bible, where this one is from, the measurements are exact and the method is unique. Instead of creaming butter with sugar, you are directed to mix all the dry ingredients first then mix them with the wet. I did make some notes to the method though (see the Cake Baker’s Notes). If you’ve been following my blog, then you’ll know that I’ve become a convert to the baking-by-weight method, so though I’ve included the measurements by volume, I strongly recommend weighing the ingredients on a kitchen scale. Here’s the buttermilk (sour milk, actually) country cake recipe, with some small adaptations. This is Thailand after all, and fresh mango is an integral part of desserts here.

Have at room temperature:
4 (74g) large egg yolks
2/3 (160g) cup buttermilk (OR: 1 tablespoon vinegar in a measuring cup topped with milk to 1 cup line)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 (200g) cups sifted cake flour (sift then measure)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 (200g) cup superfine sugar
8 (113g) tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix in 1/2 tablespoon flour. Use this butter-flour mixture to grease one 9×2 inch spring form cake pan, bottom lined with waxed paper, then greased again.

Cake Baker’s Note: I used an 8×3 inch spring form pan. If your pan has a dark nonstick finish, reduce the heat to 325˚F.

In a medium bowl, lightly combine egg yolks, 1/4 of the buttermilk or sour milk, and vanilla.

In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Whisk flour mixture to combine. Add the butter and remaining buttermilk. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed on a hand held mixer) and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the surface with an offset spatula. The pan will be 1/2 full.

Cake Baker’s Note: The batter did not fill even 1/2 of the pan. Gently tap the pan on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Bake 30-40 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cake Baker’s Note: If your pan has a dark nonstick finish, test the cake after 25 minutes. In my aluminum 8×3 inch pan, the cake took 45 minutes to bake.

Cool cake in the pan on a rack 10 minutes. Loosen the sides and invert onto a wire rack. Remove paper circle and re-invert to cool completely.

Before serving, trim the dome off the top of the cake to level it. Whip 1 cup of cream with 2 tablespoons of sugar. For best results, chill the bowl and beaters for about 1/2 hour before using. When the cream forms stiff peaks, it is ready to spread. Spread whipped cream generously on top of the cake. I found that about 2/3 of the bowl will cover one 8×3 inch cake. Then I spread diced fresh mango on top of the whipped cream layer. Simply heavenly! I did not get to taste it before giving it away but I imagine eating this cake is like being in the tropics, where you become incredibly aware of intense flavors and textures: the sweet-tart mango, the delicate airy texture of cream, and the way the cake crumbles into moist perfect sweetness.

take the cake: coffee chiffon cake and buttermilk country cake

Today I had two reasons for baking. We had a dinner invitation and it was my sister-in-law’s anniversary. For the invitation, I made my mother-in-law’s coffee chiffon cake, a family favorite, and spread a chocolate ganache on top. I made the ganache from a dessert chocolate bar given to me by my friend Thavida,  and a handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips to make up the difference. So smooth and rich!

DSC02992

For the anniversary cake, I made a buttermilk country cake adapted from a recipe in The Cake Bible. In the book is an absolutely mouthwatering picture of a country cake with a fat mound of crème fraîche and sliced peaches on top. Alas, there are no peaches in Bangkok. So, for my version, I used fresh whipped cream and chopped fresh mango.

DSC02996

I’m so tired I can hardly stay awake! Tomorrow I will post the recipes.

breakfast casserole

I love baking with the confidence that cakes will turn out consistently. Weighing ingredients is such a simple solution to baking problems, and now that I have a scale, it’s easy to do. I do admit I’m a bit anal about getting the grams exact! Here’s a picture of my practically perfect cake:

DSC02914

I love baking, and breakfast casseroles are as easy as cake! For our friends escaping the Wisconsin winter, I made this breakfast casserole out of caramelized onions and bacon from a recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens.

Makes: 6 servings
Preparation: 30 mins
Chilling: 2 hrs to 24 hrs
Baking: 325°F/180˚C;  40 mins
Standing:  10 mins

Ingredients
6 strips bacon
1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cups broccoli florets
5 eggs
1 1/3 cup nonfat milk
1 teaspoon of one or a mixture of: dried basil, rosemary, tarragon, oregano, thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
4 cups crusty French bread, cut into 1/4 inch cubes
4 oz white Cheddar cheese, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (or use any cheese you like)

Sriracha sauce for serving, optional

directions
In the microwave, cook bacon until crisp. Remove and reserve 2 tablespoons drippings. When it is cool, crumble bacon; set aside. Heat skillet and add the bacon drippings. Add onion to skillet; cover and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook over medium heat until caramelized, about 5 minutes. The onion will wilt and turn brown all over. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Heat a small pan of water. When it boils, add about a teaspoon salt. Cook broccoli in the lightly salted water for 3 minutes; drain and rinse until the broccoli is cool to the touch. Rinsing stops the cooking process and preserves the bright green color that makes this casserole so attractive.

In a large bowl combine eggs, milk, herbs, salt and pepper. Stir in bread cubes, cooled broccoli, caramelized onion, cheese, and crumbled bacon. Mix well to combine. Spray inside a 2-quart covered baking dish with cooking spray.  Scrape egg mixture into prepared dish. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 and up to 24 hours.

Preheat oven to 325˚F/180˚C. Bake casserole, covered, for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 20 to 30 minutes more or until a knife inserted near center comes out clean. I simply looked at it and saw that the top had turned golden brown after 20 minutes, so I took the casserole out of the oven. Let it stand 10 minutes before serving. Serve with Sriracha sauce, if desired.

DSC02917

ginger-hazelnut cream icebox cake. how easy is that!

DSC02889
The cream is a little shiny and droopy from the heat! I should have put it in the freezer to firm it up before serving.

Ina Garten’s Mocha Chocolate Icebox Cake recipe inspired this creamy cake. It looks like I made a lot of fuss but I really didn’t! The only hard part about this cake is waiting overnight for it to chill and harden. Since IKEA opened in Bangkok, it’s become the go-to place for inexpensive well-designed furniture, cheap farang cafeteria food (frozen veg, urgh), and inexpensive cookies and chocolate. A one-pound box of Pepparkakor (Ginger Thins) cookies cost only Baht 165 (approximately $4.99) and the chocolate bar (slightly less than 1/4 pound)  was  Baht 39 (approximately $1.20). And I only used half the box of cookies to make this cake. I plan to make ice cream sandwiches with the leftovers. How easy is that!

Ginger-Hazelnut Cream Icebox Cake
Inspired by the Barefoot Contessa How Easy is That? (2010)

Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 12 hr 0 min
Cook Time: none
Level: Easy
Serves: 8 servings

Ingredients
2 cups (470g) cold heavy cream
12 ounces (340g) Italian mascarpone cheese (see Cake Baker’s Notes below)
1/2 cup (112.5g) superfine sugar
1/4 cup (79g) hazelnut syrup (can substitute Frangelico or hazelnut liqueur)
2 tablespoons (1 oz square or 30g) white chocolate, grated fine
1 teaspoon almond extract (can substitute hazelnut extract)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
24-36 thin and crisp ginger cookies (I used IKEA’s Pepparkakor thin ginger cookies)
Shaved semisweet white chocolate, for garnish (I used IKEA’s hazelnut chocolate bar)

Directions
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar, liqueur or syrup, white chocolate, hazelnut extract, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly raise the speed, until it forms firm peaks, about 3 minutes. Put the entire bowl in the refrigerator/freezer to chill while you make the first cookie layer in the next step.

Cake Baker’s Note: When the air temperature is hot and humid, as it often is in Bangkok, I find that it’s difficult to make whipped cream. Unless your kitchen is air conditioned, it’s best to chill the bowl and beaters beforehand, and to try and make the whipped topping in the cooler hours of the day or evening.

To assemble the cake, arrange cookies flat in an 8-inch springform pan, covering the bottom as much as possible. Break some cookies to fill in the spaces. Spread a fifth of the hazelnut whipped cream evenly over the cookies. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying flat and touching, followed by another fifth of the cream. Continue layering cookies and cream until there are 5 layers of each, ending with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight.

Run a small sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut cake in wedges, and serve cold.

Cake Baker’s Notes:

  • Make your own Mascarpone Cheese – An Italian cream cheese, Mascarpone is expensive and difficult to find in Bangkok but it turns up in unexpected places, like Max Value, a mini-mart.  You can make this substitute from allrecipes.com:

o 1x8oz (250g) package cream cheese, room temperature
o 2 tablespoons (28.4g) unsalted butter, room temperature
o 1/4 cup cold heavy cream

Mix together all ingredients until well blended. Use instead of mascarpone cheese in recipes. Makes 337g of mascarpone cheese substitute.

  • Thin and Crisp Cookies – You can substitute vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies. Not Nilla Wafers, though.

a look at my top posts

According to My Stats, these 10 posts from my site,  were the most viewed to date. What surprises me most about number 1 is that it is so simple to make. Perhaps its status reflects a trend among readers. These two  tags, “gluten-free” and “vegan” demonstrate concerns about health and nutrition. However, that doesn’t explain the popularity of the next most viewed recipe, which is a copycat version of a famous cake. In fact, the top 10 is decidedly eclectic. What stands out to me in these popular posts is the fact that fresh, natural ingredients have all been used. Even the paradise cake, a three layer multi-colored cake, was made with natural food colors. Cooking good tasting nutritious food is a worthy goal, and it seems that readers agree with me.

  1. Gluten-free brown rice flour pancakes with strawberries
  2. Hawaiian paradise cake, version 1.0
  3. Kanom krok: Thai coconut-rice pancakes
  4. Chicken with garlic, basil, and cilantro
  5. The versatile crustless zucchini quiche
  6. Mocha chocolate icebox cake
  7. Yogurt marinated oven-fried chicken
  8. Chocolate raspberry pavlova
  9. Turkey, leek, and winter melon shepherd’s pie with mashed cauliflower
  10. When life gives you lemons, make spaghetti al limone

While these popular posts go back to when I first started blogging on WordPress in 2011, for me, 2013 was a year of learning more about cooking and baking. The lesson learned that baking by weight leads to a more successful product is something that I will always remember whatever I bake.  This year I feel I was bolder; I  began to tweak recipes. I revisited an old favorite, Craig Claiborne’s The New York Times Cookbook recipe for banana tea bread, and personalized it. In my evolution as a cook, I have followed but also adapt recipes. To take it to the next level, to develop my own recipes,  I am still learning! From this year alone, these posts are my personal favorites. I selected them based on their taste, texture, and eye-appeal. They were simply memorable–and fun to cook, bake, and eat!

  1. Downy yellow bundt butter cake
  2. Strawberry Snow Fro-Yo
  3. Chinese barbecued spareribs and sesame noodles
  4. Homemade ginger ale
  5. Easter dinner for two
  6. Low-fat broccoli tomato fritters
  7. Banana bread with rum and almonds and turbinado sugar topping
  8. Butternut squash soup with coconut cream.
  9. Roasted Asian vegetable mac and cheese with chorizo and garlic-panko topping
  10. Fried cauliflower rice with Chinese sausage and seasoned shiitake mushrooms

Sawadi pi mai from Bangkok!

Foodie Joanie

DSC02786
sour milk cake with cranberries