Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Recipe 3 - Caramel cake

A joint pick this week. We've settled on this delicious sounding caramel cake from epicurious. The recipe is posted below in grams, our unit of choice! The recipe makes 25 150 calorie servings if made as is. He may possibly replace some of the butter with applesauce to slightly healthy it up. I for one can't wait to get this deliciousness into my mouth :)


For cake
  • 230g sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 200g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature 30 minutes
  • 240ml well-shaken buttermilk

For caramel glaze
  • 240ml heavy cream
  • 100g packed light brown sugar
  • 15ml light corn syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Equipment: a candy thermometer


Make cake:
Preheat oven to gas mark 4, 350°F with rack in middle. Butter an 8-inch square cake pan and line with a square of parchment paper, then butter parchment.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

Beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture may look curdled). Add flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.

Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Make glaze:
Bring cream, brown sugar, corn syrup, and a pinch of salt to a boil in a 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Boil until glaze registers 210 to 212°F on thermometer, 12 to 14 minutes, then stir in vanilla.

Put rack with cake in a shallow baking pan and pour hot glaze over top of cake, allowing it to run down sides. Cool until glaze is set, about 30 minutes.

Monday, 25 January 2010

His Results - Black bottom cupcakes

She's right. These really aren't that good. They look pretty tasty though right? I wouldn't recommend anyone try making them.

If I ever go to the Hummingbird Bakery I'll try these things and see what they're like done by them. Presumably they'll be better than this. While making them the chocolate layer was surprisingly thick and the cheesecake layer very thin. They baked up well but the taste just isn't great. I had a great time making them though and can't wait for next weeks adventure! I think it'll be something non-chocolatey.

Her results - Black bottom cupcakes

There are too many good deserts in the world to justify eating mediocre desserts. Why not save the calories and eat something totally delicious? If I'm going to eat these buns then I'm going to have to break my principles, because I'm sad to say that they're just not yummy. My grandma says they may be better tomorrow. I can only hope!

When we were making them, I said, "That's a lot of cocoa." But for some weird reason, I can hardly taste chocolate in the end product. I don't think I can taste anything but flour, which isn't exactly ideal. Plus the cheesecake stuck to my front teeth each time I took a bite. I'm not saying they're gross, but they're not tasty.

The good news is that even though I can't name a redeeming quality about the taste, these were still fun to make. We video chatted on Skype, which was great. All the people who've been telling me to join Skype for years were so right. Plus, I learned the following:

1) What they call a "jug" in England, I call a glass measuring cup.
2) One ml of water weighs one gram. I love it.
3) In place of eggs, vinegar can react with baking powder to create leavening. I only filled my tins about 1/3 full of chocolate batter, but the buns surprisingly rose to full height.
5) "...mix on medium until smooth and fluffy. Be careful not to overmix." is a more ambiguous statement than you'd think. I couldn't get my cheesecake batter to fluff up beyond a liquidy state, which explains my paper-thin cheesecake layer. At least it looks kinda cool. Did they mean "Be careful not to overmix or the cheesecake will stick to your front teeth?" Maybe that's what happened...

I get to pick the recipe for next week, wish me luck!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Recipe 2 - Black bottom cupcakes

It's his pick this week and he's gone for black bottom cupcakes, slightly adapted from the recipe in The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook by Tarek Malouf. These are dark chocolate sponge cake with a swirl of cheesecake baked into them. We'll be baking a half batch. 6 cupcakes will have 170 calories each, 8 smaller ones would have 125.


--- for chocolate sponge---
95g plain flour
60g caster sugar
20g cocoa powder
1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
20ml sunflower oil
3/4 tsp white vinegar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

---for cheesecake filling---
70g low fat creamcheese
30g caster sugar
half an egg
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt


preheat oven to 325 f, gas mark 3
prepare muffin tray with paper cases

---for chocolate sponge---

whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, and bicarb on low speed in a big bowl until everything is incorporated

put oil, vinegar, vanilla extract and 65ml of water in a jug and whisk until combined.

with mixer running in flour mixture, slowly add in oil mixture, increasing speed as it thickens. Beat until everything is well mixed and then spoon into paper cases until 2/3 full

--- for cheesecake filling---

put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix on medium until smooth and fluffy. Be careful not to overmix.

Add a tablespoon on top of each case.

Bake for 20 minutes or until cupcakes are firm and cheesecake filling has a golden colour. If you overcook them the cheesecake will become very dry and crumbly. Leave to cool a little in the tray before turning out to cool completely on a rack.

Optionally these could be decorated with creamcheese frosting but we'll be leaving them without.

I can't wait!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Her results - Mexican chocolate crackle cookies

It was my first time making cookies this way - melting a chocolate and butter mixture in a double boiler; whipping sugar and eggs in a bowl; combining those mixtures; and then adding the flour and other dry ingredients. And I'd definitely never known that rolling the balls in sugar would create this cool crackle effect!

In the end, my cookies were puffier than his, with fewer crackles. And unlike his, mine did not need extra time in the oven. The bottoms of my cookies were shiny and dark from the melted sugar. They were not burnt, but crisp on the first day. A day later the bottoms have softened up, and the whole cookie is chewy and delicious. Roughly speaking, I think they have the flavor of a dark chocolate brownie in the form of a cookie. The coffee, cinnamon and chili powder add to the complexity of the flavor, but none of those ingredients is immediately discernible. Yum!

Best of all, it really felt like we shared a kitchen yesterday. It made me very, very happy.

His results - Mexican chocolate crackle cookies

Since I like a bit of heat and think the combination of chilli and dark chocolate is delicious I added more chilli powder than the recipe called for (probably half a tsp). The cookies turned out to be really tasty with a pretty hearty kick. My oven's a little strange and they took a few minutes longer than the recipe called for but I luckily managed to catch them at just the right moment. After they cooled the surface is not only beautifully crackled but slightly crisp, contrasting really well with the very soft, slightly spongy and chewy interior.

As you chew and swallow the flavour develops pretty interestingly. A sweet start goes into a fairly hot and strong chilli flavour that tickles the back of the throat a little. The rich chocolate then comes through leaving you with a slight tingle at the back of your mouth and a great chocolate taste. I'm a fan of these!

Recipe 1 - Mexican chocolate crackle cookies

Our inaugral recipe is for mexican chocolate crackle cookies. The recipe is taken from The Art and Soul of Baking by Cindy Mushet and was posted on Serious Eats just before Christmas last year. Follow the third link to read the procedure and see the ingredients in cups and things; below is an ingredient list in grams to make a half batch of 22 cookies.

20g unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon cooled brewed coffee
80g 70 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 large egg
100g plus 100g granulated sugar
45g unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ancho chile powder
40g unsifted confectioners' sugar

A warm welcome

We're a lucky pair of people because we've found each other. Unluckily we come from opposite sides of the world.

We got to live together for a couple of years but at the moment we're at opposite sides of the Atlantic ocean and haven't quite worked out what we're going to do to get back together again. This does not make us happy. We only get to see each other every six months or so and we miss each other. As a way to make us feel a little closer together we've decided that every weekend we'll set aside the time to bake the same recipe at the same time. We'll talk to each other as we're baking and sharing the sights, smells, sounds and tastes will make us feel a bit closer together. This blog will be a record of the recipes we make and the results of our efforts in the kitchen.
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