Cupcake recipe

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Pick an alphabet 

Like I mentioned earlier, I have a go to recipe for chocolate cakes. And I have another one for Vanilla cakes. I always use the Hot Milk Cake recipe from The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book be it cakes or cupcakes.Its a  very tasty and sturdy cake and it freezes very well too.

I chanced upon a Craftsy (now BluPrint) DVD at the library couple of years back. Craftsy/BluPrint has a lot of online classes for various topics. I found excellent classes for Baking and cake decorating there, so I took the membership. I found their decorating videos to be more useful, its really helped me a lot.

The recipe for cupcakes here is from The Perfect Cupcake by Jennifer Shea . I never knew that there is so much more you can do with the cupcakes, there is a section on adding crusts to your cupcakes which I found very interesting. She suggests serving cupcakes on the day of baking for maximum freshness. Since cupcakes don’t take too much time to bake, I found it to be excellent advice. The recipe can be baked as a cake as well, you will need to adjust the baking time according to the size of the pan used.

This is the last recipe under the alphabet C. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3/4 cups half and half **
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (227 gms/2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs

Method:

  1. Pre heat the oven to 350F/180C. Line two 12 cup muffin pans with cupcake liners. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  3. In a smaller bowl, mix the mik, half and half, vanilla. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, beat the sugar and butter until it becomes light and creamy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix well, scraping the bowl after each addition.
  5. Add the dry ingredients mix in three parts, alternating it with wet ingredients in two parts, keeping the mixer at a low speed. Once everything is added, using a rubber spatula, mix everything well and let it sit aside for 15 minutes. Stir gently before using.
  6. Fill upto 2/3rd of the cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes until the tops are firm and a skewer inserted to the center of the cupcakes comes free of crumbs. Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack.
  7. Frost once the cupcakes are completely cool.

Notes:

*Substitute all purpose flour for cake flour.

**I use a mix of heavy cream and whole milk or whole milk alone for half and half.

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Checkerboard Cookies

1checkerboard-cookies

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Pick an alphabet

I make cakes regularly. Cookies – not so much, but I used to make it often earlier. The main reason was that my recipe sources were my cookbooks. I had excellent baking books and it was my habit to go through those regularly. I would try out the recipes and my first baking book – The Essential Baking, got me hooked to cookies. I never knew it was so easy to make cookies.

I have made checkerboard cookies also many times, but I haven’t had great success with the shape ever. I prefer making spiral cookies using the same recipe. The simple reason that it’s easier to make the spiral cookies. The shape doesn’t require you to bring out measuring tools.

Now a days, the recipe source for me has shifted from books to the Internet. So sometime back when I came across this recipe online for checkerboard cookies, I decided to give it a try. These were made as a gift and were well received.

Read on for the recipe.

2checkerboard-cookies

Recipe source: Taste of Home

Makes about 4 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 sticks ( ~140 gms) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tbsp chocolate chips, melted and cooled or 1 tbsp cocoa powder

Method:

  1. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, cream the butter, sugar, baking powder and salt until light and fluffy. Add in the egg and vanilla. Beat everything until its combined well. Slowly add in the flour in batches beating at a low speed until everything is well mixed.
  2. Divide the dough into two batches. Add the melted chocolate or cocoa powder to one part and mix it in.
  3. Follow this video for instructions on how to shape the cookies. Pictures or videos explain the process a lot better than words.
  4. Clingwrap and Refrigerate the dough until the time of baking.
  5. Pre heat oven to 350F/180C. Slice the cookie log into 1/4″ thick cookies. Spread them evenly on a baking pan, leaving some space between the cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies are set and edges start browning a bit. Take off the oven and let them rest in the pan for 5-10 minutes before removing to a cooling rack. The cookie hardens as it cools.

3checkerboard-cookies

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Chocolate cake

BM# 100: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : Pick an alphabet

For the third week of blogging for BM #100, I have chosen the alphabet ‘C’ and so you will find three posts, all starting with C. The first one is a chocolate cake. Though I make a lot of cakes, I don’t share the recipes often here in the blog. The reason is that I don’t deviate from my tried and tested recipes for cakes. When it comes to chocolate cakes, I always go with the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate cake. Its the same recipe that you find in the back of their Cocoa powder box. Almost all other chocolate cake recipes that you find online are variations of this one. I like it a lot and stopped looking for another recipe longtime back. So anytime I make a chocolate cake, its only the outside design that’s different. The recipe is always the same and its already recorded in the blog. That’s the reason why I don’t feature the new cakes here in the blog.

Though the Hershey’s cake gives excellent results, I find it to be very soft. It’s not a problem for a cake with simple decoration, like just frosting with whipped cream or buttercream. But I wanted to make a fondant cake that’s supposed to carry a topper. In fact I had two such cakes to make, one with farm animals theme and another with Safari theme. I went with the Hershey’s cake for Safari theme but decided to try a different recipe for the farm theme cake. I didn’t have any problems with the Hershey’s cake, it held the topper just fine. But I still decided to try another recipe to see if I can find a sturdier cake.

The recipe here is from the book Erin Bakes Cake. Its one of the best baking books I have come across. The book gives a lot of ideas for flavor variations, about tweaking a base recipe to get different flavors. I have the library copy with me, but I think I will be buying my own copy soon. This cake was sturdier than the Hershey’s cake, but it wasn’t dense. You can make three 8″ cakes if you are using 2″ deep pans. The recipe for the buttercream can be found here.

For the animal toppers, I have used a mix of gum paste and fondant. The farm animals are sitting on a 1″ tall cake base. The base itself can be taken out before cutting into the cake. So its a good way to save the toppers. It has a long shelf life and so you can display it in a covered glass cabinet. I looked at YouTube Videos for making the animals and made them a week ahead so that they can dry completely.

Recipe Source: Erin Bakes Cake 

Makes three 8″ cakes in 8″X2″ pans

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks/227 gms), softened
  • 2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 cups flour

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C. Grease and line three 8″ pans.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer, beat the butter for a minute or two. Add both the sugars, baking soda and salt. Beat this mixture until its fluffy and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides down in between so that everything mixes uniformly.
  3. Add the eggs (one at a time) beat it in until its mixed well.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa powder with warm water so that there aren’t any dry lumps. Add the milk and whisk to combine everything.
  5. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour to the butter-egg mixture. Mix it lightly with a rubber spatula. Now beat it in low speed so that flour doesn’t fly everywhere.
  6. Once you stop seeing flour streaks, add half of the milk mixture. Beat it in. Alternate between the flour mix and the milk mix once more.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between three pans. Bake in the middle rack for about 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes free of crumbs. Take out of the oven, let the cake cool in the pan itself for at least 10-15 minutes. Remove from the pan, cover with two rounds of cling wrap and return to the pan until its time for filling and frosting.

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Falood

BM# 100: Week 3, Day 3
Theme : Let’s have a toast!

Falooda was a regular dessert I used to order in India. With its many layers, it always looked like a complicated recipe to me. So for a long time, I didn’t even look up the recipe. I had decided it in my mind that this is too difficult to make it at home.

It took me sometime to realize that every single layer of this dessert is easy to make. But it does require some shopping to be done. As long as you get basil seeds (Sold as Tukmaria seeds or sabja seeds in Indian stores), falooda sev (thin strands specially made for falooda) and rose syrup, you are good to do. If you really think about it, it’s nothing but glorified rose milk. Top it with ice cream or kulfi of your choice, it’s a great dessert or an icy cold drink for summer.

Some recipes add strawberry jello also as another layer. But it’s optional. It adds another stunning color to the dish, though.

Read on for the recipe.

Makes 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons soaked basil seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cooked falooda sev
  • 1 tablespoon rose syrup, readymade
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 scoop of malai kulfi or ice cream

Method:

  1. Soak 1 teaspoon Basil seeds in 2-3 tablespoons of water. Set aside for 30 minutes.
  2. Cook falooda sev per package instructions. Let it cool and set aside.
  3. At the time of assembling, add a tablespoon of rose syrup to a glass. Add a spoon or two of the now puffed up basil seeds. Add about 2 tablespoons of sev and then add a glass of milk.
  4. Top it with ice cream or kulfi. Using a spoon, mix and drink.

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