Monthly Archives: January 2014

I-Need-Chocolate-Cake-Right-Now Recipe

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I have a confession. I just had chocolate cake for lunch. And no, I didn’t have some chocolate cake wasting away in the fridge that needed to be rescued. I was in the middle of digesting the Theory of Change and trying to see how it could fit an anthology of stories of hope into the picture. Then suddenly the craving hit me. I knew I just needed chocolate cake right away or I wouldn’t be able to do anything else.

I just had to make one. But I didn’t have the time (okay, patience, actually) to whip up a chocolate cake and store bought cakes just don’t feel right. I went to my reliable go-to recipe that I discovered via, (surprise! surprise!) Lantern Hollow Press. I recommend going over there and reading the original recipe. I recommend following the advice to get lost as a cure to writer’s block. Just don’t get too lost, alright? I digress.

This is actually a microwave mug cake. It may not have the texture or look of a chocolate cake. Looks more like a pudding and you won’t have any crumbs for sure. BUT it tastes just like chocolate cake and hits the spot right on. And the best part? It comes together five minutes tops. No kidding. 

Now here’s the recipe. Go make one. 

Oh by the way, be sure to use an average sized mug, not the dainty tea cups or you’ll be wiping chocolate off your microwave.

Ingredients
4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 tbsp muscovado sugar or light brown sugar
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
half of beaten egg
3 tbsp milk
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
splash of vanilla extract
some chocolate chunks or chocolate chips, whichever you have available, or just chop up the chocolate I know you have in the fridge

Instructions
1. In an average sized mug, put together all your dry ingredients. Make sure you mix them well.
2. Add you wet ingredients.
3. Mix until just incorporated, try not to over-mix or your cake will be tough.
4. Sprinkle the chocolate chunks or chips on top.
5. Pop in your microwave and cook for 2 mins 30 secs on high.
(6. Wait for your house to smell of chocolate or spy on your cake and watch it rise to the top or even over your mug. Don’t worry. It’ll settle back down eventually.)
7. Enjoy! 

p.s. I know I have to work on incorporating pictures into these recipes. I used to do photography before but I my skills are very rusty and my camera has been lonely for quite some time. I’ll see what I can do. Maybe later than sooner though. Let’s see.

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One Bowl No Rise Quick Bread

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Last night, around midnight, the hubby hinted of how nice it would be to have bread for breakfast. I totally agree. Nothing beats being greeted by freshly baked bread in the morning, the entire apartment smelling like a bakery. It has been several months since I’ve baked bread and I just really wanted to satisfy the hubby’s craving.

One small setback though. I got home pretty late from a dinner meeting and I didn’t have time to work on the dough, give it time to rise, shape it, and let it rise again. Not if I was hoping to get a few hours of sleep.

A huge thanks to Averie Sunshine for her 30-minute quick bread recipe. This recipe saved me and satisfied our craving big time.

Before I post the recipe, some confessions:

1. Whole wheat flour is not easily available here in the Philippines so I used all purpose flour. The original recipe calls for 1 cup all purpose flour and 1 cup whole wheat flour.

2. Molasses are also hard to come by here, so I simply added an additional 1 tbsp honey as substitute to the 1 tbsp molasses.

3. Another rare ingredient here is buttermilk. I usually substitute this with 2 tbsp white vinegar or lemon juice + 1 cup of milk. If you have the real deal, go ahead and use it. I envy you.

4. The original recipe says it only takes 30 minutes from start to finish. It took me about an hour to get the ingredients ready, let the milk+white vinegar sit and curdle a bit, etc. The good thing was I finished the clean up even before the first half of the baking period.

The bread still came out great though it was denser than Averie’s bread. I’m putting the blame on my baking soda. Looks like it’s not fresh anymore. But overall, it’s just perfect with jam or cheese or just butter. It’s also

Again, the original recipe is here. Now, here’s my version:

Ingredients:
1 cup milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
pinch of kosher salt
2 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp muscovado sugar

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Mix together 1 cup milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes to allow milk to curdle.
3. Meanwhile, spray baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. (I don’t have a cast iron skillet but if you do, use it by all means.)
4. In a clean bowl, mix together all ingredients, except for the milk+vinegar mixture.
5. Pour the milk+vinegar mixture into the mixture. Stir until combined. We are aiming for a loose, very moist dough. Anyway, we won’t be kneading the dough so don’t be afraid if your dough seems to be too moist. If your dough looks dry, add up to 1/4 cup of a milk+vinegar mixture.
6. Turn dough out into greased baking sheet. For a circular mound. Make sure it’s not too tall (aim for about 3 inches in height) nor to spread out (maximum of about 6 inches wide).
7. Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Then turn heat down to 350F and rotate the pan. Bake for another 10 minutes.
8. Immediately transfer bread to wire rack and cool.
9. Enjoy!

 

Necessary Endings and Beginnings

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It doesn’t get any more cliche than this.

I always believed that beginnings need not coincide with the start of the calendar year. December need not necessarily mean doors closing.

It seems that the flow of the universe has something different in store for me this year and is actually speeding up processes.

All beginnings and endings are necessary. Some may be painful, some may be walks in the park. Some you do alone. Some you do collectively.

But always, one must never lose sight of the end goal, the bottom line, the non-negotiables. New paths may be forged, but as they say, all roads lead to Rome.

And The World Turns Round and Round

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Today is the first day of work for most of us, including me. I was reminded of something that I should never have forgotten: the world waits for no one. No, it won’t stop turning while I’m on vacation. Something that I should never ever ever forget ever again. 

Well, I’m back on the ride. 🙂 

Giant Cinnamon Roll Cake

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For the past months or perhaps almost a year now, I have taken to baking. Getting an oven has been one of my requests when the hubby and I were buying appliances for our new home more than a year ago. I find that I bake more when I am stressed or when I need to let some thoughts brew for a while. 

I hope to post more about this relationship I am developing with baking in the future. For now, I guess I am inclined to stocking up on all purpose flour, all sorts of cocoa powder, yeast, baking soda, baking powder and so on and so forth for one simple reason: it gives me the satisfaction of creating something beautiful (and tasty!) from scratch in just a few hours. This is such a huge difference from my work and and my advocacy where I’m not even sure I’ll see the end of it in my lifetime. 

Anyway, today our niece turns eight months and we’re doing a potluck to celebrate the occasion. We volunteered to bring pasta sauce as they still have some leftover pasta from Christmas. I haven’t divulged yet but I planned to bring dessert as well. I already brought chocolate cake two months ago and this time, I wanted to try something different. 

I basically cook much like the way Lola Ma cooks. A pinch, a sniff, a little more of this and that, less of this. Intuition and gut-led. I find that this may not work well with baking. As I have often read, baking is an exact science and it’s very important to follow recipes to the letter. This, unfortunately, really clashes with the way I’ve been raised to cook.

I’ve followed recipes, alright. My go to websites are sallysbakingaddiction.com and bakerbettie.com. I envy them for being able to leave everything and commit to baking as a passion. I try other recipes once in a while as well. But, and this I have to admit, I never really stuck to the recipe exactly as it was written. I keep the improvisation to a minimum as much as I can though. 

So, to celebrate today’s occasion, I decided to bake a giant cinnamon roll cake. Well, the goal is also two-fold. The hubby likes cinnamon rolls. He rarely orders anything else from Starbucks and I hope to make him one that he will really love. To keep the birthday feel, I went for Sally’s giant cinnamon roll cake. However, I combined her recipe with a few add-ons from Averie’s and Joy the Baker’s. The resulting recipe is written below. For the instructions, I more or less stuck to Sally’s. The dough is comfortably rising as I type and I will update this post once the verdict is out.

For the Dough:
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (I used Red Star Yeast
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour (set aside about 1/2 cup for later)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt (I used Kosher as it keeps its shape and form better when baked)
1 tsp cinnamon
lemon zest (what I got from the lone lemon I had)3/4 cup buttermilk (because I can’t find one here in the Philippines, I improvised: 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice + enough milk to reach the 3/4 cup mark)
3 tbsp unsalted butter (be sure to use butter, which is different from the usual margarine we see in supermarkets)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk (I learned from Baker Bettie that egg whites sap moisture from baked goods, so I opted to leave out the egg whites of the second egg)

For the Filling:
3 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar (I always use muscovado)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 tsp nutmeg

Throwing it together was quite simple.

1. In a bowl, put together the flour, granulated sugar, yeast, salt, cinnamon and lemon zest. I usually use a whisk to make sure all ingredients are properly distributed.

2. Add butter to buttermilk. I put this in the microwave for 45 seconds to melt the butter. Mix together.

3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk + butter mixture. Gently mix.

4. Add the eggs. Make sure the ingredients are properly combined but do this lightly. I read that overmixing the batter makes for tough baked goods.

5. Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, adding the flour you set aside as you go along. I actually added about a tbsp more of flour. (I guess because we’re from a tropical country, recipes call for more flour due to the humidity.) I resisted the urge to add more flour as I’ve read that the wetter the dough, the moister the end result. Form the dough to a ball.

6. Lightly spray a bowl (I used the same bowl) with non-stick spray. Let the dough rest for a bit, covered in plastic wrap. 

7. After about an hour (I had to take a break to cook the pasta and spaghetti sauce with the hubby), the dough has more than doubled in size. Take it out and give it a few folds.

8. Meanwhile, get the filling ready. Mix together the cinnamon, brown sugar, cocoa powder and nutmeg.

9. On a lightly floured smooth surface, roll out the dough. (I laid a Silpat mat on a cookie sheet because I do not have a smooth surface to work on.)  I rolled it out to the size of my Silpat, which is about 16×9 inches.

10. Brush with the butter. Sprinkle on the dry ingredient mixture.

11. Using a bench scraper, or a very sharp knife or pizza cutter, divide the dough to one inch strips.

12. In a 9″ round pan, roll the first strip to make a cinnamon roll. Now, instead of rolling each strip to create individual rolls, simply take the next strip, connect it to the end of the first one and wind it around the first roll. Work until the last strip, creating a giant cinnamon roll. I divided the recipe to two and actually had two giant rolls. I did not fill the pans to allow room for the dough to rise.

13. Let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 to 2 hours until they almost fill the pans. Preheat oven halfway through to 350F.

14. Bake the rolls for about 30-35 minutes until lightly browned. You may cover the roll/cake with foil after about 15 minutes to let the inside cook without getting the tops too browned.

All cinnamon roll recipes call for frost/glaze/icing. I chose not to add more sugar to the mix and just enjoy the roll as it is. I do remember growing up enjoying cinnamon rolls from the bakery with some Nestle All Purpose Cream. Maybe we’ll try that later. Meantime, I’ll go check on my rolls/cakes if they’re ready for some heat.