boscobel beach ginger cake

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I don’t know if this cake is an authentic Jamaican recipe.

Prepping for this cake, I can honestly say, was a bother. First there is scraping the ginger root and whizzing it in the blender; then, I had to sift the brown sugar (brown sugar in Bangkok has large “stones” in it which must be removed before baking), and third, I must melt butter and mix it with flour for prepping the pan. This last step can be avoided by using flour-spray, but I prefer to use my own flour-butter mixture. In the end, I liked the way it turned out. The crumb was moist, the texture soft but firm, and the taste was cinnamon-y–it reminded me that Christmas is coming. So whether or not it’s really Jamaican doesn’t matter. It’s a great name for a cake.

Boscobel Beach Ginger Cake (adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Prep time: 40 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

For the Cake:
1 cup (227g) butter
1 1/4 cups (250g) packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1/4 cup (50g) grated fresh ginger root
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
2 1/2 cups (312g) all purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the Glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar, optional
1 1/2 tablespoons rum, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease and flour one 9-inch bundt cake pan (1 tablespoon melted butter to 1 tablespoon flour to make a paste). In a large bowl put flour, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon and salt. Whisk 30 seconds to combine. Set aside.

2. In another large bowl, cream the butter on high speed about 30 second. Add the brown sugar and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the grated ginger and vanilla. At this stage, the mixture will look curdled. Beat in the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated, scraping down the bowl between additions.  At the end, use a silicone spatula to hand-turn the batter at the bottom of the pan to make sure the batter is thoroughly mixed. Scrape batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, with just a few crumbs attached. Cool in the pan 30 minutes on a wire rack.  Turn out onto a wire rack for glazing. Cool thoroughly.

4. Glaze cake with rum icing. Set the cooled cake on the wire rack placed over a baking tray. In a medium bowl, mix 1 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons rum. If it is too thick, thin with a little milk. It should be thick but spreadable. Spoon over the top of the cake, letting glaze drip down the sides. Let glaze dry before slicing cake.

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gluten-free high-fiber breadfruit flour banana bundt cake

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In taste, this cake is similar to cakes made with whole wheat flour. It is dense. But instead of being dry, this cake is moist, tender,  and full of banana flavor. And it can be made entirely by hand. The cake plate and server in the picture are gifts from my mother.

Gluten-Free Breadfruit Flour Banana Bundt Cake
Prep time: 25 minutes
Baking time: 45 minutes

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup superfine sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup milk
juice of one lime
3 medium very ripe bananas, mashed
1 1/2 cups breadfruit flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

Preheat oven to 350˚F/175˚C. Grease a bundt cake pan and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time and combine. Add vanilla with the last egg. Set aside

In a medium bowl, combine milk, lime juice, and bananas. Add to butter-sugar mixture.

In another medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cinnamon, if using. Add all at once to butter-sugar-banana mixture. Mix until dry ingredients are just moistened.

Scrape into the prepared pan. Bake 40-45 minutes. Cool in the pan 10 minutes. Unmold and cool completely on a wire cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. If desired, dust the top with powdered sugar.

chocolate red wine cake with red wine glaze

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This is a cake that’s  dark, fudgy, and moist throughout. The red wine was most pronounced in the raw batter–I scooped the leftovers out of the bowl with my finger. Yum. Because of baking, the red wine taste disappeared. Spooned on a slice of the cake, the red wine glaze, a tart garnet-colored sauce, played against the sweetness of the chocolate cake in a very satisfying way.

Chocolate Red Wine Cake (adapted from Food and Wine Magazine and Martha Stewart)

Ingredients:
Cake
1 tablespoon butter, 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to grease and flour 1 small bundt pan and 1 7-inch springform pan
260g (2 cups) cake flour
66 g (3/4 cup) unsweetened natural cocoa powder (no substitution; see Cake Baker’s Note)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
227g (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
394g (1 3/4 cups) superfine sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups dry red wine
Red Wine glaze
28g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup red wine
125g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Crème fraîche or whipped cream, optional

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350˚F or 180˚C. Butter the inside of the pans, making sure to get into the crevices. Add 1/2 tablespoon cocoa powder to each pan and swirl it about inside the pan.  Tap out the excess flour.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

In another large bowl, using a handheld electric mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat for 2 minutes longer. Working in two batches, to the butter mixture add half the flour mixture, all the wine, and then the rest of the flour mixture. Beat between additions until just incorporated.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and smooth the top so that the batter gets into all the crevices. Then tap the pan on the counter-top to dislodge air bubbles. Then bake for 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a rack; let cool completely.

To prepare the glaze, combine the butter, wine, and confectioners’ sugar in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, over medium-high heat. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Set aside until ready to serve.

Dust thoroughly cooled cake lightly with confectioners’ sugar. Slice cake and drizzle each slice with glaze. Serve with crème fraîche or whipped cream, if desired.

Cake Baker’s Note: Now that I live in Thailand, both American and European cocoa powders are available, with Hershey’s being more expensive than Van Houten’s. I decided to research the difference between the two cocoas. Food and Wine recommend using an American brand cocoa powder such as Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, or Scharffen Berger in this recipe. Unprocessed or natural cocoa powder is lighter in color than the darker Dutch processed cocoa (Joy the Baker). Because processed cocoa powder’s acidity has been neutralized, it needs baking powder.  So if a recipe doesn’t specify what kind of cocoa to use, look for the baking powder and baking soda in the list of ingredients. However, this isn’t always a hard and fast rule, I have discovered. The recipe called One Bowl Chocolate Cake from Craig Claiborne’s New York Times Cookbook uses both baking powder and baking soda, with baking powder being the larger amount. Since this is an American recipe I have always used Hershey’s without thinking twice. I did notice though, that Claiborne’s chocolate cake is lighter in color than the chocolate red wine cake. Perhaps it has something to do with the baking powder? I need to do more research!

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chocolate-banana bundt cake with caramel glaze

Chocolate-Banana Bundt Close Up

DSC04486I made this cake for the friend who has been sharing his mangoes with us. The mangoes that went into the mango surprise came from his trees. We have been enjoying them–Andy eats one for breakfast everyday. They make a marvelous accompaniment for sticky rice (ข้าวเหนียว) with coconut sauce. I admit I’ve been slowing down, and there is so much mango in the freezer for smoothies. That’s the trouble with mangoes: feast or famine. I know that I will miss mangoes when the season ends next month. I digress. Now back to this cake: it’s a banana cake with a chocolate center. The sweetness of the banana complements the bittersweet chocolate. So delicious.

Chocolate-Banana Bundt Cake with Caramel Glaze

Prep time: 30 minutes
Baking time: 40 minutes

1/2 cup (113g) plus 1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups (338g) superfine sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ripe, medium bananas, mashed (about 1 cup)
2 cups (250g) plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream (or low fat Greek style yogurt)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, sifted

Preheat oven to 350˚F. Generously grease and flour the inside a 12-cup bundt pan (10-inch diameter) with 1 tablespoon butter and 1/2 tablespoon flour. Tap out excess.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light. Beat in the eggs one by one, waiting until each has been incorporated to add the next. Beat in vanilla extract and mashed bananas.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and stir to combine. Add the sour cream or yogurt, followed by the remaining flour mixture, stirring after each addition.

Remove 1 1/2 cups of batter into a small bowl and stir in cocoa powder. Pour 2/3 of the plain batter into the prepared bundt pan, top with cocoa batter and spoon the rest of the plain batter on top. Smooth the top to cover the chocolate layer beneath.

Cake Baker’s Note: Run a skewer through the batter gently to swirl, using a figure eight motion to create a marbling effect. Or leave it as it is to create a chocolate “tunnel.”

If the pan has a dark non-stick finish, reduce heat at once to 325˚F after putting the pan in the oven. Bake for 45-55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean and the top springs back when lightly pressed.

Let cake cool in the pan on a wire rack 10 minutes. Gently loosen the sides with a skewer. Turn cake out onto rack to cool completely before slicing. Wrap thoroughly cooled cake airtight in plastic if not going to be eaten right away. Serve plain or dusted with powdered sugar. Or serve it with a caramel glaze like I did!

banana bundt cake

DSC04485I’ve had this recipe for a coffee cake-style bundt for years. Like a coffee cake, it has a topping of nuts and sugar, and another layer of nuts and sugar in-between. I had cut the recipe out of a magazine (which tells you this was sometime before Flipboard!), yet this is the first time I got around to trying it. When I unmolded the cake, half of the sugar in the topping had caramelized and welded itself to the bottom of the pan. Ever tried to get caramelized sugar out of a pan that isn’t non-stick?! Major bother!  So this is how I discovered the recipe was untested, for what was missing from the topping was the butter. I also removed the cinnamon from the topping because I ended up with a two-tone cake; due to gravity all the cinnamon in the middle migrated to the bottom. Here it is corrected for the butter and cinnamon, and weights have been added to the measurement of ingredients where it matters most. Despite the mishaps, this is a cake with a tender crumb, lightly sweet, and nutty-crunchy with a smooth banana flavor.

Banana Bundt Cake (from a magazine which shall be nameless)

Topping
1/2 cup (118g) almonds, chopped
1/4 cup (56g) sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

Cake
1/2 cup (113g) all vegetable shortening, room temperature
1 cup (225g)superfine sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup (227g) bananas; mashed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup (123g) sour cream or plain yogurt
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven 350˚F/180˚C

Make the topping. Combine almonds, sugar, and butter; stir well, and set aside. Grease (1 tablespoon unsalted butter) and flour (1/2 tablespoon flour) 10 inch bundt pan. Use all to generously grease and flour the crevices. Tap out the excess flour.

Make the cake. Combine shortening and 1 cup sugar; cream until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time; add bananas and vanilla; fold in sour cream or yogurt.

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; add all at once to creamed mixture, and fold until just combined.

Sprinkle half of reserved almond mixture into bottom of prepared bundt cake pan; spoon half of batter into pan. Gently smooth the top. Sprinkle remaining cinnamon mixture over batter; spoon remaining batter into pan. Gently smooth the top. Rap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles.

Cake Baker’s Note: Drop dollops of topping in the pan and spread it out. Also, drop dollops of batter in the pan and smooth the top.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done. Cool cake 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Loosen edges of cake, if necessary. Invert cake on serving plate; serve warm or cold. Dust completely cooled cake with with powdered sugar if desired.

April 15, 2015: Here’s a picture of the cake after I adjusted for the butter in the topping and the cinnamon in the cake batter! I felt like it needed something decadent, so I poured some home made caramel sauce on the cake.

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sour milk bundt cake with cranberries

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This is my 300th post! Yeay…

It’s been so hectic around here; no time for blogging. There were two whole days before Christmas devoted to baking. I baked three mini bundt cakes.  I baked the first two according to volume but the third was according to weight. It was moist and tender. I’m now convinced that weighing ingredients is the best method for baking. So you see, even old bags can learn new tricks!

This recipe was adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook recipe for sour milk cake. The name comes from a vinegar-milk mixture that sours the milk for baking. I often use sour milk in place of buttermilk in recipes, so it stands to reason that you could use buttermilk if you have it on hand. It’s just hard to come by in Bangkok. I used cranberries instead of the raisins because I prefer the tart flavor and they are firm and chewy when you bite into a baked cranberry.

Sour Milk Bundt Cake with Cranberries

Prep time: 30 minutes (includes cooling time)
Bake time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1 tablespoon butter, for greasing
75g dried cranberries, chopped (substitute: any chopped dried fruit)
260g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon white vinegar (substitute: any kind of vinegar)
250ml whole milk
100g unsalted butter, softened
200g sugar
1 large egg

1 Heat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Grease and flour one 10 inch bundt cake pan. I used an 8″ bundt cake pan. The batter rose over the top, causing some anxious moments but it did not overflow.

2 Toss the chopped fruit with 1 teaspoon of the flour. Mix the remaining flour with the baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir the vinegar into the milk in a small bowl.

3 In a mixer fitted with a paddle (or in a large bowl), beat the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy. Add the egg and blend. Add 1/3 flour mixture and mix until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half the milk and blend until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour and the remainder of the milk, beating after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl. Add the remainder of the flour and beat until just combined. Scrape the sides. Fold in the chopped fruit mixture.

4 Pour the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan and level the top. Tap the pan lightly on the countertop to dislodge any bubbles in the batter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, then remove the cake from the pan. Dust with a little confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon, or glaze it if you wish.