6:31 PM

Daring Bakers' Dairy Free Filled Meringe Coffee Cake

I got to say, when I saw the name "coffee cake"; I really thought there was coffee inside. Then I read the recipe and my brain went, "Oh? So this is coffee cake."

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

Make 2 round cakes, 6 inches in diameter
Yeast Coffee Cake Dough

300 g flour
20 g sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3.5 g active dried yeast
90 ml soya milk
30 ml water
67.5 g vegetable oil
1 large eggs at room temperature

2 medium sized egg whites at room temperature
Pinch of Salt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
55g sugar

Pumpkin Puree Filling
Around 500g pumpkin
2 tablespoon soya milk
2 tablespoon sugar (to taste)

Chocolate Cinnamon Nut
55 g chopped nuts
15 g granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
50 g semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large mixing bowl, combine 115g of the flour, the sugar, salt and yeast.
2. In a saucepan, combine the milk, water and oil and heat over medium heat until just above room temperature.
3. With an electric mixer on low speed, gradually add the warm liquid to the flour/yeast mixture, beating until well blended.

4.Increase mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes. Add the eggs and 75 g flour and beat for 2 more minutes.

5. Using a wooden spoon, stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a dough that holds together. Turn out onto a floured surface (use any of the remaining flour) and knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is soft, smooth, sexy and elastic, keeping the work surface floured and adding extra flour as needed.
(But try to avoid this, more flour means tougher cake in the end.)
6. Place the dough in a lightly greased (I use vegetable oil) bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and let rise until double in bulk, 45 – 60 minutes. The rising time will depend on the type of yeast you use.

7. Prepare your filling. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and sugar for the filling. I found it easier to sprinkle on both the nuts and the chocolate separately.
8. Grate the pumpkin finely (remember, the finer they are, the greater the surface area, and the faster it'll be cooked through.) Put into a saucepan over low heat. Stirring occasionally. Add the sugar. Put into a blender with the milk and pureed.

9. Once the dough has doubled, make the meringue: In a clean mixing bowl – ideally a plastic or metal bowl so the egg whites adhere to the side (they slip on glass) and you don’t end up with liquid remaining in the bottom – beat the egg whites with the salt, first on low speed for 30 seconds, then increase to high and continue beating until foamy and opaque. Add the vanilla then start adding the sugar, a tablespoon at a time as you beat, until very stiff, glossy peaks form.

Assemble the Coffee Cakes
1. Line 2 baking/cookie sheets with parchment paper.
2. Punch down the dough and divide in half. On a lightly floured surface, working one piece of the dough at a time (keep the other half of the dough wrapped in plastic), roll out the dough into a 15 x 8-inch rectangle. Spread half of the meringue evenly over the rectangle up to about 1/2-inch (3/4 cm) from the edges.
3. Sprinkle the filling evenly over the meringue.
4. Roll up the dough jellyroll style, from the long side. Pinch the seam closed to seal. Very carefully transfer the filled log to one of the lined cookie sheets, seam side down. Bring the ends of the log around and seal the ends together, forming a ring, tucking one end into the other and pinching to seal.
5. Using kitchen scissors or a sharp knife (although scissors are easier), make cuts along the outside edge at 1-inch (2 ½ cm) intervals. Make them as shallow or as deep as desired but don’t be afraid to cut deep into the ring.
6. Repeat with the remaining dough, meringue and fillings. Cover the 2 coffee cakes with plastic wrap and allow them to rise again for 45 to 60 minutes.
7. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Brush the tops of the coffee cakes with egg wash. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes until risen and golden brown. The dough should sound hollow when tapped.
8. Remove from the oven and slide the parchment paper off the cookie sheets onto the table. Very gently loosen the coffee cakes from the paper with a large spatula and carefully slide the cakes off onto cooling racks. Allow to cool.
Just before serving, dust the tops of the coffee cakes with confectioner’s sugar as well as cocoa powder if using chocolate in the filling. These are best eaten fresh, the same day or the next day.

The bottom is so ugly! But, the pumpkin filled one so soft and tasty!

12:34 PM

For Japan With Love

I'm sure by now, we've all seen it.
Seen devastating photographs. Watched heart-wrenching footages.
And have thought, how helpless we are all.

But we can help.

For Japan With Love is also encouraging donations to ShelterBox. ShelterBox was one of THE first organizations asked by Japan to help and were on hand on the Saturday after the quake. Each large, green ShelterBox is tailored to a disaster but typically contains a disaster relief tent for an extended family, blankets, water storage and purification equipment, cooking utensils, a stove, a basic tool kit, a children’s activity pack and other vital items.

Please check it out and whatever you can contribute will be so appreciated.

As part of a college Rotaract Club, I've raised funds to donate to ShelterBox to help children in a third world country. Now, Japan needs our help.

Head on over to For Japan With Love for more information.
10:47 PM

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread

Imagine this: every morning, you wake up in bed and smell that freshly baked loaf of bread.
Oh wait, I think I might have to move above a bakery for that.

I've never really had much luck when it comes to bread. All sorts of problems arise: they don't rise, they are too dry, etc.

But I'm not discouraged. In fact it made me all the more determined to get it right.
And I think I might have found my saviour in this recipe.

Cinnamon Swirl Raisin Bread
Makes one 1/2 pound loaf
recipe on page 147 of The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhardt.

For the dough:

226g unbleached bread flour
2 tsp sugar
a scant 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1 1/8 tsp cinnamon
less than 1 egg, slightly beaten / .825 ounces
1 tbsp shortening, melted or at room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) buttermilk at room temperature
1/4 cup (60ml) plus 2 tbsp water, at room temperature
3/4 cup raisins - rinsed and drained

For the cinnamon swirl:

40g sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon

1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, yeast and cinnamon in a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer. Add the egg, shortening, buttermilk, and water.
2. Stir together with a wooden spoon or the paddle attachment until the ingredients come together and form a ball. Adjust with flour or water if the dough seems too sticky or too dry and stiff. (I'm no expert, but I think it's better if you start with a drier dough, then slowly work in water bit by bit)
3. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed, switching to the dough hook). The dough should be soft and pliable, tacky but not sticky. Add flour as you knead (or mix), if necessary, to achieve this texture. Knead by hand for approximately 10 minutes (or by machine for 6 - 8 minutes). The dough should pass the window pane test.
4. Once it passes the test, knead in the raisins by hand to ensure even distribution. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.

3. Proof at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size. This only took about 1.5 hour for me.

4. Pat the dough into a 5 inch wide by 8 inch long rectangle about 1/3 inch thick. Sprinkle a generous amount of cinnamon sugar over the dough. Then working from the short side of the dough, roll up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. The loaf will spread out as you roll it up, eventually extending to a full 8-9 inches long. Pinch the final seam closed with your thumbs. Rock the loaf around to even it out and push the ends in so that they are not tapered. Keep the surface of the loaf even across the top. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 - 4 1/2 inch pan, mist the top with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel.

5. Proof for 60 - 90 minutes or until the dough crests above the lips of the pan and is nearly doubled in size.
6. Preheat oven to 350F. Once the loaf is proofed, place loaf pan on a rack in the middle of the oven. Bake the loaf for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees and bake for another 20-30 minutes. The finished bread should register at 190F in the center and be golden brown on the top. It should make a hollow sound when thumped on the bottom.
7. Immediately remove from the pan. If desired, spread 1 tbsp of melted butter on the top and sprinkle some more cinnamon sugar to create a sugary crust.

8. Cool for at least 1 hour before slicing or serving.

11:20 PM

Four Layers of Heaven

The other night my sister attempted the Four Tier Chocolate Layer Cake from Junior Masterchef Australia. It didn't quite work out. I'm not sure what happened, all I know was that when I came home from yoga class, the cakes were in the oven, struggling very hard to rise.

I decided to try a recipe I came across before at Smitten Kitchen.

It was gorgeous. It instantly became my go-to chocolate recipe.

The recipe from SK is for 2 10-inch layers filled with raspberry filling and coated in chocolate ganache. Hop over there for those recipes. For mine, I made 2 6-inch layers (each was then cut into 2 layers making 4 in total) and I had enough for about 30 cupcakes. I say about because I think a few disappeared the second they came out the oven; I kinda lost track. I used a chocolate cream cheese frosting with mine.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

For cake layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar (I only used 1 3/4 cup of sugar for a dark chocolate flavour)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1) Preheat oven to 150°C. Grease two 10- by 2- inch round cake pans (6- by 2- if you want a smaller cake with cupcakes). Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

2) Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3) Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

4) Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. The cupcakes took around 20 minutes.

5) Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
50g butter, softened
250g cream cheese
160g icing sugar mixture, sifted
25g cocoa, sifted

While the cake is baking, make the cream cheese frosting. Place the butter and cheese in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 6–8 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add the icing sugar and cocoa and beat for a further 6–8 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Hmm.. I actually measured how much frosting had to go in between each layer, but for some weird and wonderful reason, the bottom-most layer seems to be... disappearing. It was still nice though.