Archive | cakes

Welcoming the New Year and a Recipe for Banana bread with Pecan Streusel

How is it that we’re more than halfway through January? The three-week stretch before the holidays felt like the longest and slowest marathon of parties, get-togethers, preparation, shopping and errands and then Boom! time moves in lightning speeds.

It was lovely to spend some relaxing time with our loved ones once the flurry of pre-Christmas stuff settled down. The beau’s brother and his girlfriend flew in for the holidays, so it was quite a treat to have the entire family around the table on Christmas Eve. I remember when we were kids, my cousins and I were too eager and impatient for everybody to show up so we could eat then open our gifts. As an adult, one thinks about how to keep the kids preoccupied so we can enjoy each other’s company in peace. On the beau’s side, the girls are old enough that they engage in our conversations–they have very interesting things to say! We don’t have to give them toys and talk over the noise of their toys! Ha. On my side, my nephews are four and five, living and breathing dinosaurs, Transformers and Angry Birds.  They can be really blunt and honest, which make gift-opening around the tree hilarious. You never really know how they’d react or what they would say. Oh, I don’t like that!  [My gifting success average has been great so far when it comes to them. I pick items based on what I would like if I was a kid. Now what does that say about me?] Christmas reminds me of how fun it was to be very young and carefree, but then I’m glad I can sit back and appreciate the comfort of, and being with, family.

Living in a beautiful city–a prime winter destination at that–means getting a chance to repeatedly explore it like tourists whenever friends and family visit. The beau and his brother love skiing so a day trip to Whistler during their short stay was a no-brainer. Vancouver being Vancouver, it did take a bit of wrestling with weather scheduling, but in the end one should just go and prepare for the worst. It wasn’t a great snow day for our skiing companions, but the rest of us who roamed the village and took the leisurely gondola ride between Whistler and Blackcomb didn’t have much to complain about the view and the powder.

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Whistler Mountain, by the Peak To Peak gondola

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View from Blackcomb Mountain

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Posted in baking, bread, brunch, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, quick & easy2 Comments

Versunkener Apfelkuchen (German Sunken Apple Cake)

The truth is, I’ve had the recipe written for weeks now, but I just never had the chance to take a “proper” photo. In an age when the homemaking and crafts queen gets severely criticized for her bad food photo, dare I post a sub-par representation of this fabulous cake?

Dear readers, I do. I’m channeling Martha. There.

Several people have been waiting for this recipe and all I have is a phone photo taken before the Nth cake was devoured. This is the kind of cake that you bake and it disappears. This shot does not do the grandeur of this stunning cake justice, but this will do for now so people can actually make it.

Sunken Apple Cake
I think this would be wonderful surprise dessert for Thanksgiving. Don’t be deterred by a not-so-great food photo and make sure you give it a try. Happy weekend!

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Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert3 Comments

Don’t Waste Those Bananas, Bake Banana Bundt Cake

I have this thing about bananas: I like to buy them. I anticipate that someone else would eat them if it’s available at home, but it’s really just me. I’ve been conservative with my banana purchases lately, but even so, I end up with 4 out of 5 bananas getting too ripe to fast before I can consume them. I can’t believe I’m saying this but I’m getting pretty tired of banana bread. Last week I looked for something else that’s fairly quick to make on a busy weeknight, because let’s face it–bananas won’t wait for you before they’re ready for the compost bin. And I really feel guilty throwing away food due to bad planning.

I turned to one of my go-to baking books, Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours, for inspiration. Sure enough, it saved the day (or evening) with an easy recipe for banana Bundt cake. It’s moist and light, almost like a teacake. The only ingredient change I made is with the sugar, decreasing it by a quarter of a cup. It was just the right sweetness for us.

Banana cake

All the ingredients for the recipe are readily available and you should be able to whip this up last minute. I used plain yogurt instead of sour cream (my preference of the two), which we almost always have except for that one evening. Oh, Murphy.

Making banana cake

If you are fast, you can get this in the oven in 15 minutes. I did it in 20, photography included.

Banana cake batter before baking

Once it’s done, the top will be shiny and moist, but a knife inserted in the middle of the cake would come out clean. Really try to control yourself from eating it right out of the oven.

Banana cake fresh out of the oven

We enjoyed this for breakfast, packed it for school and office snacks, nibbled on it while playing a board game and even gave a couple of slices to the out-laws. If you’re unsure of making this because of the size, I assure you, this will be gone in no time. Bring it to a party or to work and you will come home with an empty plate.

If you’re in Vancouver, baking this would be a great way to warm up the house and it’s a simple, yet delicious snack on this rainy weekend. I’d recommend it with a cup of tea and a good book.

Happy weekend!

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Posted in baking, cakes, fruits, quick & easy1 Comment

Nutella Bomb Brownies

I’m going to try this or this blog will never be updated ever again: tapping away on the iPad (mini, which is perfect for typing with my small hands) at 2am in the morning with what might turn out to be… a post! I already finished drafting the recipe on Evernote earlier, as a gift to myself instead of brownies, after clearing the dining table and cleaning the kitchen. This is the kind of busy I’m in now. I’ve never stopped cooking or baking, but producing content for the site is a different story altogether. And what about photos taken with the DLSR, you ask? I could take one tomorrow IF there’s any left by the time I get around to it. For now, iPhone 4S photos would do. Please bear with me as I return from my writing slumber.

Now these brownies.

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Do we need another one of these recipes, really? For Nutella Day, why not? It is, after all, the sweet and equally evil equivalent of bacon. I picked a drier and fluffier brownie from Alice Medrich’s book as the carrier of the gooey fudge “bombs” of Nutella, making sure to decrease the amount of sugar to accommodate the spread’s sweetness.

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The resulting brownie has pockets of Nutella in every bite.

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Posted in baking, cakes, chocolate, dessert, snacks0 Comments

Dorie’s Perfection Pound Cake | Look Ma, No Need To Tweak!

March has whizzed by. April is beginning to blur . It has been a very busy springtime.  As I’ve mentioned earlier, we’re organizing Bake For The Quake, an event where  bakers, collaborative sponsors, and the supportive Vancouver community come together to raise funds for Japan. There’s no question it’s almost like a second job to organize a charity bake sale event and I won’t even pretend for a second that we know what we’re doing, but we are doing the best we can. Just a couple of days ago there was a strong aftershock that rocked Japan at 7.1 magnitude on the Richter scale, with a few fatalities. Now more than ever, they need our help. So we continue to work hard for this cause. If you’re able and so inclined, please consider donating directly to our fundraising page (it will automatically go directly to Doctors Without Borders). We would also appreciate your help in spreading the word — you might have a friend or family here in Vancouver. Every tweet, link, and word passed along helps. Ah, and we have printable posters for download that would be perfect for posting at your local cafe spot, restaurant, community centre, school, or local community board — just ask for permission first before putting up. :)

Before these all happened, I signed up for an Introduction To Pottery course at the local Shadbolt Centre for the Arts — what this really means is that my schedule for the next 2 weeks is f*****d a balancing act of fragile porcelain. The first class was 3 nights ago and wow, was it ever a humbling experience to make what resembles like mere child’s play:

It doesn’t help that I was practically brain dead from exhaustion. It was a good 3 hours of fortitude, with my patience being counted to the minute. My classmates were a funny bunch, so that is definitely a plus.

I’m not even sure why I’m sharing these embarrassing items to you, but I’m hoping that in a few weeks time, just like when I started cooking, baking, and taking photos, it will eventually become better. One just have to stick with it long enough to make progress.

So while my pottery skills leave a lot to be desired or emulated, this Pound Cake recipe by Dorie Greenspan, is true to it’s name: it is perfection. No tweaking necessary.

I couldn’t ask for anything more after a long day if I’m looking for a non-alcoholic happy hour. Pound cake + tea = instant relaxation. Its soft crust and moist buttery cake goes well with jam. Or if it’s that kind of day, even vanilla bean and dark chocolate ice cream.

If you’re looking at your calendar and you have a busy week ahead, my best advice would be to make this on a Saturday and keep it for the week to nibble on. It will last at room temperature for 5 to 7 days and even those tight deadlines and running around like a chicken without a head would melt in an instant as soon as you take a bite of this.

DORIE’S PERFECTION POUND CAKE
Adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2006)

A tender buttery cake with a soft crust to banish a stressful day. This delightful cake will keep for up to a week at room temperature and is lovely to eat with jams and even ice cream.  – Joy

Yields: one 9”x5” or 8.5”x4.5” pan

Ingredients

  • 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (or 2 1/4 cups cake flour – creates a more tender crumb)
  • 1 teaspoon baking poder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven at 325°F with the rack positioned at the center of the oven. Grease a 9″x5″ loaf pan or an 8.5″ x4.5″ loaf pan with butter. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet or 2 stacked baking sheets.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar on high speed in the bowl a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Continue until mixture is pale and fluffy, about a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and reduce the speed to medium.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes with each interval. Don’t forget to scrape the sides of the bowl and beater to create a homogenous mixture. Add the vanilla extract.
  5. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until flour is in. This can also be done by hand by folding the flour into the batter with a rubber spatula.
  6. Scrape the batter into the buttered pan and smooth and level the top. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Check if it is browning too rapidly, and tent a foil over it if so. If your pan is 9″x5″, the cake needs to be baked for a total of 70 to 75 minutes. An 8.5″x4.5″ pan of cake would require a total of about 90 minutes.
  7. The cake is done when a thin knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  8. Transfer cake pan onto a cooling rack and let it rest for 30 minutes. Carefully run the back of a bread knife between the cake and the sides of the pan to loosen out the cake before inverting out and propping it right side up directly on the cooling rack. Cool to room temperature before wrapping.

Storage: Wrapped in clear plastic wrap, this cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, make-ahead, snacks7 Comments

New York Style Crumb Cake

Before I picked up the new “Baked Explorations” cookbook, coffee and crumb cakes meant the same thing to me and I order them faithfully at coffee shops. Color me surprised when I read that there is something called a New York Style Crumb Cake, and it must never, ever, be confused with coffee cake. Honestly, I thought the crumbs were just a matter of preference! Until, of course, I saw the recipe. For sure I thought it must be a joke that the crumb part had more than 2 cups of sugar. Who does that on purpose? During this time of the year when eating healthy seems to be at its height, whoa, I was on sugar death watch alert. But. I trusted the recipe. I gave the authors the benefit of the doubt and let them have it their way with their cake. The sacrificial lamb. And should this had been a failure, you will never hear of it from me because I will give away the book.

As you can tell, it ended well and the crumb cake survived the scrutiny of family and friends, again and again. The crumb was a toss for me — although it was delish, others thought the base cake itself was the true winner and they would have it any day — flavorful, filling and moist even after 3 days. It actually tastes like puto, the light brown steamed rice cake that we eat in the Philippines. I’ve made many variations of this crumb cake and even so far as ‘ruining’ the crumb, slashing it in half and playing with my own ingredients. In all its incarnations in the kitchen, it had withstood the test of many variations. And that, my friends, is a good thing. Because no matter what you prefer, this cake will work for you.

The recipe makes a large cake and begs to be packed on its merry way to a lot of willing bellies. Go ahead, don’t be shy! It’s a total charmer. In fact, yesterday, a soaking wet Vancouver day, I met up with a few friends and gave a few slices to each of them. They were heartily received and from the messages I’ve received today — they were all devoured and enjoyed to the fullest.

Go forth and bake and share! Have a great weekend!

If you’re looking for something beefy to cook this winter weekend: check out my Asian Style Beef Chili with Garlic Fried Rice! And get a chance to win $100 from Canadian Beef, too!

   Get the recipe for New York-Style Crumb Cake

Posted in baking, books and publications, cakes, coffee buddy, sweets20 Comments

Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

The first cake I ever baked in North America was carrot cake. I remembered then that we only had a fine grater, and can you image grating so many cups of carrot through that? Laborious! I kept thinking that it better be good, while staring at my orange-soaked hands. Guilty of mass carrot murder. But, you know, we love carrot cakes and this is what you make for the love of it.

What makes this different and so much better than my previous attempts was that it’s surprisingly light, and still amazingly good. Sometimes, a heavy carrot cake just puts me off because I can only have a couple of bites and I feel like that’s it for me for the rest of the month.

But this…this I can eat again and again.

Once you make it, I’m sure you’ll agree.

It’s great for Fall or anytime of the year, really. :-)

Get the recipe for the Light Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted in baking, cakes, cheese, coffee buddy12 Comments

Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake

We just finished a family feast of roasted spare ribs, cheese-filled pasta shells, and peanut butter brownies with vanilla ice cream, all inhaled dutifully. Yum. Sit-down meals on the weekends with the family is something I look forward to and I think it’s something we appreciate more now as adults. Are you the same way? Or is my age just showing? :)

This cake wasn’t served on the table today, but will make its way there again in the near future. I made this back in March and featured it in our monthly newsletter (that I have yet to resuscitate), so I apologize for those of you who are subscribed there and have seen it. It’s Autumn, the scent of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg are on high demand, and I may be in the minority for someone yearning for my citrus, but I’m a summer child and I welcome it at any season. If you’re like me who need a break from all the usual Fall flavors, here’s my treat for you.

Beginning today, I will begin putting that massive copyright watermark on the photos on this site. I’ve resisted and battled with it because it’s distracting, but our photos have been blatantly used by other sites with the copyright information cut from either the top or bottom of the photo — I mean, are those people for real? Although I don’t do this professionally, they’re still my work, hope you understand. Sorry we have to stare at these. If you have a better solution, let me know.

I hope your weekend is lovely, and if it’s Monday where you are, enjoy a good start of the week.

xo,
Joy

   Get the recipe for the Lemon Poppy Seed Sour Cream Cake

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dessert, snacks18 Comments

Mamon (Filipino Sponge Cake) with Coconut Lemon Buttercream

Did you find our blog through Saveur.com? Welcome, welcome! We are honored to be featured on The Daily Fare and hope you find this recipe useful. You can download the PDF recipe for it further down this post. We also have a mocha-flavored sponge cake that is a delicious knockoff of the Philippines’ Goldilocks version. You might also want to check other cakes and baked goods. Quick links to recipe categories are available on the main page. To subscribe to our RSS feed, just go here Thanks for dropping by and please come again!

Before I start talking about food, let me just assure you that you are on the right website. We just got a face lift. I’ve been wanting to have a new design for ever but never found the time until now. You know how the full moon makes you do crazy things? This was mine. Part of the reason I couldn’t blog, aside from training for my first 5K (perhaps I’ll tell you about that some other time) and working too much, I just couldn’t stand the old layout. Let’s just say I could breathe easier now.

We’d love to get some feedback. If you don’t like something, please let me know what and why. If something’s not readable, definitely stop me in my tracks here, via email or on Twitter!

The sideblog of links has been revamped. We now have an FAQs page, which also addresses the missing-in-action monthly newsletter. There’s a link to our OpenSky shop, and I promise we’ll add more to the store after the busy IFBC weekend. What? Yes, you heard me!

International Food Bloggers Conference 2010

Woohoo? WOOHOO!

Can you see me jumping in excitement?

I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing old friends, meeting new ones, and learning from them this weekend. We will be eating well, too. So much fun! See you there in a wink!

* * * * * * *

Now that’s out of the way, I’d like you to meet my brother’s Mamon with Coconut Lemon Buttercream birthday cake:

“Mamon” (pronounced as ma-mon’ as if saying c’mon) is a common snack or dessert in the Philippines. It is a soft and moist sponge cake that’s lightly sweetened. They are commonly sold as small cakes, with fluted sides similar to brioche, and come in flavors such as mocha, ube, and pandan. Instead of making small cakes, I created one big cake for my brother’s birthday.

This sponge cake is not as airy as its smaller counterpart; but delicate without falling apart. The toasted coconut adds a taste of the tropics and complements the texture of the silky frosting. It’s light enough to pair with a piña colada or white wine on a hot summer day, or a warm cup of floral tea or dark coffee.

I’ll tell you what else this cake partied with in my belly: I ate it with Caramilk Liqueur. {ducks} {giggles}

It’s no secret that I enjoy putting a Filipino/Asian twist to my cooking and baking, and this one’s no different. This cake tastes like Hawaii meets California on a hot summer day. Surf’s up and let’s eat!

Get the recipe for this Coconut Lemon Frosted Mamon Cake

Posted in baking, cakes, coffee buddy, dairy, dessert, experiments15 Comments

Let’s Keep It Simple: Easy + Absolutely Delish Yogurt Cake for Relaxing on a Sunday

After the recent website troubles, I finally got some decent sleep (aka passing out beside the cat after a hearty dim sum lunch) and now it’s back to things that adults need to do: taxes! Before I get knee deep into that, I thought I’d share with you what has now become a favorite recipe the past 2 weeks, from which I’ve baked 3 successful and well-devoured cakes.

Don't you just love it when a recipe works each time you make it? I do. Not everyone has a backup plan...or a backup recipe for lazy Sundays.

I’d like to keep it simple today. No complications. This cake is straight up mix and bake. Add the syrup if you want to do something a little fancy, but this cake can shine on its own. I love that I have the option to do the least possible work, and add some spark to it when I’m feeling a little fancy. I suggest you make this right now. It’s really easy and you will find it a good complement to a restful and lazy Sunday. Even if your Sunday is hectic, it’s nice to know that with a few strokes of the hand and 15 minutes in the kitchen, you’re all set for a satisfying snack or dessert.

Go. Make it. Now.

I plucked the recipe out of my new favorite food magazine, a new find: Waitrose Food Illustrated. I will talk more about that publication on a separate post, because I love it so. If you’ve ever chanced upon that at your bookstore or magazine spot, know that the higher price tag is worth it.

HAPPY SUNDAY!

P.S. If you haven’t yet, check out the “A(wesome)-List” on the right, where I constantly add recipes and food-related blogs that I’m currently digging. Share the good karma and say Hi to them when you hop over. I think you just might find a treasure and a treat. :-)

   Get the recipe for this Easy Yogurt Cake

Posted in baking, cakes, dairy, dessert, snacks18 Comments