Sunday, May 30, 2010

Better late than never: Jenny bakes Bake #15 Almond-Butter Jelly Cupcakes & Bake #16 Devil's Food Cupcakes

The title of this entry says it all. I’ve been taking a hiatus from blogging just to refocus on other priorities; I know, once upon a time, it was also hard for me fathom that there’re other pressing issues other than baking and blogging! 
Jokes aside, this will be my last FWB post. When Tina and I reconnected last Fall, I was glad to find out that she was also into baking. In fact, Tina was already an accomplished baker and after having tried several recipes from Martha’s book myself, I knew it would be the perfect gift for her. Two bakes and countless photo uploads, comments and comment feedbacks on our Facebook status updates later, this blog was birthed. It’s been a fun ride - all 4 months of it and I cant think of a better way to rekindle the friendship with my dear friend Tina than this! Tina and I had grand plans, didn’t we, Tin?! But I’m truly thankful for our friendship and the privilege to share the passion for baking  with a dear friend. I’ve enjoyed myself immensely doing FWB and the times we “spent” will always be near and dear to my heart. 
Bake #15: Almond Butter Jelly Cupcakes
I came across almond butter in the brand new section of dried food, fruits and nuts section that they had just put in at our local Safeway (grocery) store. 
It’s basically pure almond paste, no preservatives nor salt or any seasonings. The taste? Imagine the taste of an almond nut but instead of crunching the whole nut, you’ll be licking it in its paste form! Nutty, but its flavor slightly understated compared to peanut. Does it make a good nutty-jelly cupcake? You betcha! 
I love the somewhat moist-somewhat crumbly texture of this cupcake. Granted, it has been well over 3 weeks since I baked it but I still recall the wonderful aroma of the cupcakes hot off the oven. They were great as-is, unadorned, but since I still had cream cheese leftover from earlier bakes, I went ahead and made the frosting, topped each cupcake with a dollop of the almond butter frosting and finished with a generous dot of raspberry preserves. The sweet and slightly-tart preserves helped cut through the nutty flavors and balanced out the cream-cheese-almond-butter frosting. Definitely a keeper and I would recommend this for those of you who may be searching for healthier alternatives to your kids’ regular PBJ sandwiches!
Bake #16: Devil’s Food Cupcakes

I have been wanting to try this recipe for some time now. A hopeless chocoholic, I’m always game to try good chocolate cake recipes and gorge myself silly, sampling each bake as they’re done. The photo of the lone, dark chocolate cupcake with chocolate shavings caught my attention each time I thumb through the pages and I knew I just had to put in on FWB list sooner or later. 
The recipe did not disappoint although I must say that the quality of the cocoa powder you use makes a huge impact on the finished product. I baked this twice - with regular Hershey dutch process cocoa powder the first time, and the second time with Valrhona poudre de cacao (100% cacao). The latter lended a deeper chocolaty flavor and seemed a more satisfying fix for my late-night chocolate cravings. Don’t get me wrong, I’d gulp a Hershey chocolate cupcake anytime but chances are, I’d probably ask for seconds if they were Valrhonas. 
The chocolate ganache was the real icing on the cake - both figuratively and literally. D’s colleagues loved this cupcake - ganache and all - so much so that I baked double the recipe each time. A truly decadent cupcake - sophisticated enough to serve during dinner parties but just as wonderful for an anytime snack! In a way, I’m glad to end FWB with this pick, which somehow, “reinstated” my liking for Martha again. 

I’m not certain if this will be a permanent adieu for FWB but we’ll be taking an indefinite break for now.  Until then, continue baking and don’t forget to share - it’s the true essence of why most people bake after all, isn’t it?!
Tina, I can’t wait to see all the BFMHTY bakes you’ll be doing. Keep shooting for the stars and go for your dream!
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like has no survival value; rather, it's one of those things that give value to survival" ~ C.S. Lewis

Monday, May 17, 2010

Bake #15: Tina bakes Peanut Butter and Strawberry Jelly Cupcakes

These were SO, SO GOOD!! Maybe I was just hungry, but I couldn't resist myself from popping these babies into my mouth one after the other!!

I started baking these right after breakfast time (I did not have any) and was alone in the kitchen after the girls and their friends (my daughter had a sleepover) went off to the pool. I just had to have one right after the first batch came out of the oven (this is my ritual).. and three more followed after I frosted them (not a ritual and I sure hope this is not a precedent!). I had one after the other!! If there was a hidden camera in the kitchen, it'll be funny to see how I sneaked one cupcake after another into my mouth, in a dark corner of my kitchen, not unlike a little child sneaking into the kitchen for some cookies right before dinner time!! Thank God nobody caught me!! Ha ha!!

The girls and their friends absolutely love these cupcakes and I made enough  to send some home with the latter.This recipe yielded 33 small cupcakes for me. CUPCAKES noted it would yield about 22.

I must say that I've never been crazy over peanut butter, but these were very good. The peanut butter made the batter thick and creamy. I even added a teaspoon of baking powder to the recipe on top of the required amount for fear that it may not rise at all. Yes, the batter was THAT thick. I also omitted the chopped peanuts in the batter as I knew my children would not like them.

The cupcake below looks dry, doesn't it? But it was not at all... the photo did not do justice to it. The frosting was good but the Creamy Peanut Butter frosting did not taste much different from plain peanut butter, so next time I'd skip beating the peanut butter with confectioners sugar and having to beat cream in another bowl and then mix them up together. Maybe I overdid beating my peanut butter which made it become oily (which then reminded me how much FAT there were in these). I think I also beat my cream too long that they became curdy. You can see from the photos that my frosting were not smooth at all.

Oh! I also halved the frosting recipe and had just the right amount to frost all my cupcakes. I think this is among the best cupcakes I've baked from CUPCAKES. Try it and see for yourself!!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Bake #15: Peanut Butter and Jelly Cupcakes

Hello there!! After a break last week, this week we're going back to good ol' Martha's CUPCAKES, and it's PB&J Cupcakes (pg 56).

I chose this cupcakes because it is something so... familiar!! Just like the Strawberry-Jam Tea Cakes which brought me back to memories of school recess.

And... it's also perfect as snacks for my daughter's slumber party this weekend!! Have a look at the recipe here.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bake #14: Jenny Bakes French Yogurt Cake with Orange Marmalade

In her book “Baking From My Home to Yours”, Dorie wrote about how the French hardly have the need to bake at home. I wouldn’t too, if all it takes to satisfy sweet cravings is a quick run to the neighborhood pâtisseries (and my, how spoilt I’d be by the endless selections offered!) But when the French do bake, this French Yogurt Cake is more often than not, their favorite go-to recipe. I can’t think of any other better recipe to start and ease FWB in on Dorie’s recipes than this!
A quick, simple, one-bowl (well, maybe 2 bowls but still, a ridiculously easy method) recipe with ingredients measured, typically, using yogurt cups - French size, of course. For the minimal effort and time invested, this recipe delivers the ultimate pleasure that one would hope to get out of a pound-cum-sponge cake. Rich but without guilt, since the fat used is vegetable oil. Moist and tender with the addition of yogurt. Compact yet soft as you sink your teeth into it. But above all, the irresistable flavors that this cake delivers - hearty and nutty (from the ground almonds) with a tang from the lemon zests and a surprising hint of rosemary at the end, one that lends a mysterious but wonderful finish to each bite! Yes, I opted to go Mediterranean on this one and chose to spice things up with the Riviera Yogurt Cake! You just have to love Dorie for adding a “Playing Around” section in her recipes! 
As with most cakes, this one tasted even better the next day. I doubled the portion and baked mine in a large loaf pan (~8.5” x 4.5”) and in 5 mini loaf pans to give away as gifts. Don’t skip the glaze and you should really try this with marmalade -  slightly sweet, slightly bitter and it’s that bitter hint that adds that extra “something-something” to the cake! I glazed mine with some homemade kumquat marmalade. Trés délicieux!! Please don’t wait. Bake along!!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Bake #14: Tina bakes French Yogurt Cake with Orange Marmalade

After four months and baking 13 of Martha's Cupcakes, FWB is happy to move on to Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home To Yours. This is a milestone for FWB. As much as I am happy to now bake Dorie's recipes and share with you my new adventures, a part of me is still with Cupcakes. I guess I have an emotional attachment to Cupcakes, it being a gift given to me by dear friend Jen and the reason for this blog you're reading (I'm just gonna go ahead and assume there are loyal readers of FWB besides Jen and me hehe).

Having said that, I must also stress that I am super duper thrilled that we're doing Dorie. Jen has told me so much about her - lucky gal that she is, she's met Dorie personally in Paris before!! Though this is my first FWB Dorie bake, it's my third time attempting her recipes. Let me tell you that I was an immediate fan following my first time with her Swedish Visiting Cake. Take my word for it - in the last 3 weeks, I've baked that cake 5 times to be shared with family and friends!!

Things may change somewhat in FWB in upcoming weeks - we'll keep you updated but for now, I'm enjoying every minute of FWB... and I present you, my French Yogurt Cake with Orange Marmalade:

I made 1.5 of the recipe as I wanted to bake some in muffin tins and play around. I baked a 6 inch cake and 4 cupcakes. I topped  the cake with lemon glaze and swirled some orange marmalade. The cake is very fragrant (I added some lemon juice on top of the lemon zest), moist and just fantastic!! You gotta try it for yourself!! The lemon glaze added some pretty strong citrusy taste to it (and I adore citrus!!) and it actually overpowered the marmalade. You can't really taste the marmalade with the lemon glaze - so next time I need to decide and not make the two compete with each other.

I layered my cupcakes with raspberry preserves and this is also a lovely way to have the cake.

While the cake slices make good coffee cake for breakfast, the dainty raspberry jam-layered cupcakes are definitely for dessert and strictly for the sweet-tooth. Oh before I forgot, I did not reduce the sugar in the recipe and I should have as the glaze and preserves provided more than enough sugar for one's daily allowance ;-)

I give this cake thumbs up for its simplicity in preparation (10 minutes prep time, max) and a 10 for taste.