Saturday, 29 November 2008

Daring Bakers November Challenge - Caramel Cake

It is that time of the month for many food blogs around the world to be taken over by the wonderful Daring Bakers - yay! I love it. I have missed some challenges unfortunately, and for this I apologise. Pregnancy has caused vomiting all day, every day for 6 months straight which hasn't helped my time in the kitchen (or anywhere for that matter!) but this month I managed to complete a challenge so here I am again.

This months task was set by Dolores with the help of Alex, Jenny and Natalie and is a gorgeous caramel cake recipe created by Shuna Fish Lydon.

As you can see, I decided to make cupcakes, which turned out successfully. I as worried I may have lost my touch with months of not baking but I was fine. I didn't find this recipe difficult at all, I don't know how others feel? My caramel syrup came up easily, the frosting mixed together nicely and the cakes were perfect. I prepared the syrup and frosting on a different day to the cakes and when realising just how sweet the frosting was halved the sugar in the cakes, which I am very happy about as they overall effect was still very sweet. I am a sweet tooth, so when I think something is very sweet, it really is!

I brought these along to a big family event this evening and one walk around the room on a tray and they all disappeared and seemed to be devoured just as quickly.


10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 180C

Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Sift flour and baking powder.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.


2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.


12 tablespoons unsalted butter
450g icing sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 24 November 2008

Tiramisu - David Lebovitz

I don't know about you, but if Tiramisu is on the menu somewhere, I always order it. Therefore I think of myself as quite the connoisseur! There seem to be so many different ways for it be made and presented. I am rarely disappointed, but there are outstandouts among all these tiramisu's I have ordered, I can't think how to describe it other than nice and moist, juicy, boozy and chocolatey as well as the definite flavour of mascarpone.

So when I saw David Lebovitz' recipe recently and noticed how easy it all was to prepare I decided it was time to give it a go at home. The perfect occassion arose, when friends of ours came for dinner who both own successful restaurants with my favourite little girl, Indiah. I made delicious meatballs (coming here soon) and this tiramisu for dessert. I always get a little nervous cooking for people in the hospitality industry, they know so much and chances are they'll discuss it (often at length) on the way home. Everyone loved this though, I think I was actually the most critical - the balance wasn't quite right - too much boozy biscuit and not enough creamy goodness. There's an easy solution for that though, I'll just double the mascarpone/egg mix next time!

½ cup (125ml) espresso, at room temperature
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 tablespoon cognac
2 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
pinch of salt
90g sugar, divided
250g mascarpone
twelve ladyfingers
optional: 1 ounce (30g) bittersweet chocolate
unsweetened cocoa powder, for serving

Mix together the espresso, rum, and cognac.

Beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they begin to get stiff. Beat in half of the sugar until stiff. Scrape the egg whites into a small bowl.

Separately beat the egg yolks with the remaining sugar until stiff and light-colored, about three minutes. Beat in the mascarpone with a spatula or whisk by hand, until smooth.

Fold in half of the beaten egg whites, then the remaining half, just until fully incorporated.

Place a large soup spoon, of the mascarpone cream into each vessel (I used martini glasses).

Dip each ladyfinger in the espresso mixture for 5-10 seconds, until completely, utterly soaked. (Dried ladyfingers will take longer to saturate than softer ones.) Break the ladyfinger in half to be sure; they should be dropping wet, and can't be saturated enough. Then layer them over the mascarpone cream in each vessel. Use two ladyfingers per.

Grate a lots of dark chocolate over serve and top with remaining mascarpone cream. Cover and refrigerate at least four hours, or overnight.

When you’re ready to serve shake powdered cocoa generously on top.

Sathya-rating ***

Monday, 17 November 2008

Coconut Bread

First and foremost, I'm sorry I haven't been giving this little blog much attention of late. I can give you many excuses, but I don't really like excuses, they're boring and don't really relate to the world of food, so please believe me its not because I don't love this blog and all that comes with it, its just been a full on time in my life (and will continue to be what with a baby coming in Feb)!

Anyhow, I'm here to tell you about a Bill Granger recipe I came across, mixed up and served when my gorgeous friend Anna came over for a cup of tea recently. Coconut Bread. YUM! It was delicious. I often make banana bread as its such an easy pull together recipe that is highly satisfying, so this appealed to me immediately. Everyone really enjoyed it and the loaf disappeared in one afternoon (hence the photo). It does take an hour to bake, but its defintely worth it. The house smelt sensational, we served it warm with lashings of butter and cups of tea and were all extremely content.

2 eggs
300ml (10 fl oz) milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 ½ cups plain (all purpose) flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup caster (superfine) sugar
150 g (5 oz) shredded coconut
75 g (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C (350 degrees F). Lightly whisk eggs, milk and vanilla together.

Sift flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre and gradually stir in the egg mixture until just combined. Add melted butter and stir until the mixture is just smooth, be careful not to over-mix.

Pour into a greased and floured 21 x 10 cm (8 1/2 x 4 in) loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until bread is cooked when tested with a skewer.
Leave in the tin to cool for 5 minutes, and remove to cool further on a wire rack.

Serve in thick slices, toasted, buttered and dusted with icing sugar. Makes 8-10 thick slices.

Sathya-rating *****