February 25, 2015

Simple Chocolate Cake - use up leftover sour cream!

I only use sour cream for baking, and I buy it specially when I am trying out a recipe that calls for it.  Unfortunately, this usually ends with the sour cream sitting around in the fridge until it goes off.

This time, I was determined to use it, and I came across this recipe which calls for just 115g sour cream - perfect for that little bit left over!  The cake itself has a batter like brownies, but comes out of the oven fluffy and light.  You could use any icing you wanted, really; I went with a simple dark chocolate ganache with hazelnut praline paste.

I recommend doubling the recipe if you would like to make a layer cake, or using a smaller cake tin.

Recipe adapted from: Foods of Our Lives
Ingredients - 22cm round cake (1 layer)
115g butter
57g dark chocolate
43g cocoa powder
2 eggs
150g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
115g sour cream
105g flour
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
3/4 tsp baking powder

1. Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F).  Line a 22cm round tin with baking paper and butter the sides.  I used a springform tin.

2. Melt the butter with the chocolate then mix in the cocoa powder.  Set the mixture aside to cool.

3. Beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla together until combined.

4. Beat the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.

5. Stir in half of the flour.

6. Mix in the sour cream and finally add the rest of the flour as well as the bicarb soda and baking powder.  Mix until combined.

7. Spread the batter into the prepared cake tin.  Mine was quite thick at this point, but don't worry!  Bake the cake for about 25 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs.

8. Let the cake cool before serving with whatever sweet topping you desire!  As per usual, I used ganache...

...as well as 100s and 1000s.  I recommend eating this cake warm - a quick blast in the microwave will do the trick.  Enjoy!

February 14, 2015

Coconut (Meringue) Macaroons

It's that time of year - the time when I see a lot of pink, hearts and chocolate all over food blogs and food link sites.  Let's do something completely different, shall we?

The recipe I have to share with you today is for coconut macaroons; delicious melt-in-your-mouth meringues that are easy to make and even easier to eat.  This is a recipe from 1999 that my Mum has written down in her recipe book and it's an absolute classic in my house!

3 egg whites
167g caster sugar
60g desiccated coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 tsp corn flour


1. Preheat your oven to 110 degrees C (230 F).

2. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.

3. Bit by bit, add the caster sugar, beating well in between.  Once all the sugar is added, beat the eggs until they form firm peaks.

4. Beat the vanilla essence and corn flour into the eggs.

5. Gently fold the desiccated coconut into the mixture.

6. Transfer the mixture into a piping bag with a star tip and pipe swirls onto a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat.  You can make these whatever size you like (just make sure that you adjust the baking time) - I like to make mine so that you can eat it in one to two bites.

7. Bake the macaroons for about 50 minutes to 1 hour or until they are lightly golden, dry and firm on the outside.  You really want to dry these out so they're good and crunchy and don't stick to the baking paper/silicone.

Usually at my house we bake them then turn the oven off and open the door and let them sit in there (as we steadily snack on them) to dry out completely.

8. Let the macaroons cool and enjoy!

When straight out of the oven, the macaroons will be chewy in the middle but once cooled, they are crunchy all the way through.  You can eat them by themselves or sandwich them with ganache or Nutella or something of the sort.  I like them plain because you can just pop them in your mouth and munch.

February 9, 2015

Hokkaido Milk Bread

I'm having a bit of an obsession with yeast.  When I saw this recipe, I just had to make it, because I also have a bit of an obsession with soft, sweet bread.  This recipe is pretty simple (just time consuming as you have to wait for the dough to rise) and it makes a beautifully soft bread.  It's supremely satisfying to have the smell of yeast spread through the house and pull the loaf apart once it's out of the oven.  I highly recommend baking this bread the next time you have a free day!

Recipe adapted from: Two Red Bowls
Ingredients - 22 x 12 cm base loaf (approx 8.7 x 4.7 inch)
6 tbsp water
2 tbsp bread flour

1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
350g bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cream
1 egg
2 tbsp butter (at room temperature)

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp milk

1. First, make the tangzhong, which is a cooked mixture of flour and water.  Whisk the 6 tbsp water and 2 tbsp bread flour in a little saucepan until smooth, then heat over medium heat while whisking constantly.  The mixture should thicken up; take it off the heat as soon as lines appear while you're stirring.

2. Transfer the tangzhong to a small bowl and set it aside to cool. 

3. Microwave the milk until it's just above room temperature (not too hot, or you'll kill the yeast!) then sprinkle the yeast onto the milk and set it aside for 10 minutes.  The mixture should start to foam and smell yeasty.

4. Once the tangzhong has cooled, whisk the cream and egg into it.

5. Pour the milk and yeast mixture into the tangzhong mixture and stir briefly, then tip the wet mixture over the dry ingredients (bread flour, salt and white sugar).

You can use a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients together but I just gave it a blast in my stand mixer with the dough hook attachment.

6. Knead the dough (or mix in your stand mixer) until the dough forms a ball.  It will be very sticky at this point but there's no need to add more flour, unless you're kneading by hand, in which case just flour the surface of the table and your hands.

7. Add the butter one tablespoon at a time, kneading in between.  Ensure that the butter is fully incorporated into the dough.

Keep kneading/mixing for 5 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

8. Butter a bowl (I just used the mixing bowl), and place the dough into it.  Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it sit for 1 - 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.  You could leave the dough in the fridge overnight, but I wanted to get to the end bread product ASAP.

9. Punch the dough down and divide it into four equal pieces.  Roll each piece out into a rectangle-like shape.

Fold the rolled out piece of dough into three, and roll that out again.

10. Roll each flat rectangle up...

11. And place each roll into your loaf tin lined with baking paper.  The rolls don't have to be perfect, don't worry, the dough will rise even more and any spaces will be filled in.

12. Cover the baking tin with a tea towel and let it rise for another hour until doubled in size.  While that's going on, preheat your oven to 175 C (350 F).

13. Mix the egg and milk for your egg wash, then brush it over the top of your risen bread.

14. Bake the loaf for about 30 minutes.  The top should be shiny and browned, and when you tap the bread it should sound hollow.

15. Let your bread cool a bit, then there are many ways you can enjoy it!

As the loaf is made in sections, you can pull each quarter apart beautifully; or you can always cut the bread up with a knife.

I love to eat this bread by itself, it tastes amazing, but it's also delicious when toasted and slathered with honey or condensed milk.

January 26, 2015

Peanut Butter Double Choc Chip Cookies

I make no secret about my love of peanut butter, and these cookies satisfy my cravings.  The combination of whole peanuts, dark chocolate chips as well as white chocolate chips really make them great.

Recipe adapted from: Brown Eyed Baker
115g butter
185g peanut butter
125g brown sugar
80g white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla essence
200g flour
30g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb soda
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 white chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanuts

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F).  If desired, at this time you can toast the peanuts under a grill or in a frying pan and then set them aside to cool.

2. Beat the butter, peanut butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs one at a time, beating in between the additions.

4. Beat the vanilla essence in.

5. Stir the flour, cocoa powder (it's best if you sift the cocoa!), baking powder and bicarb soda into the wet mixture.

6. When all ingredients are combined, add the dark and white chocolate chips as well as the peanuts.

7. Roll the dough into balls about 1 tbsp size (or whatever size you want them, just make sure you adjust the baking time accordingly) and place them on a baking tray covered with baking paper or a silicone mat.  The oil from the peanuts may make the dough slide off them (especially if the nuts are toasted), but just squish them together in your hands and they'll be fine!

8. Bake the cookies for about 10 minutes.  You want the middles to still be a bit soft.

9. Let them cool (or eat them straight away...) and enjoy!

January 12, 2015

Chocolate Nutella Layer Cake

This cake is definitely a winner - the cake itself is so moist and the icing is lighter, fluffy and delicious.  It's definitely one I'll make again and again!

Recipe adapted from: Sweetapolita
Ingredients - 21cm round cake
285g flour
470g caster sugar
90g cocoa powder
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
300mL buttermilk
180mL coffee (I use instant granules and hot water)
160mL vegetable oil (I use canola oil)
3 eggs
1 tbsp vanilla essence

Ingredients - Nutella icing
565g icing sugar
340g butter (room temperature)
280g Nutella
180mL sour cream
330g dark chocolate
1 tbsp vanilla essence
Pinch of salt

Method - cake
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).  Butter three 21cm cake tins and line the bottoms with baking paper.  Using more tins helps your cakes bake quicker and more evenly.

2. Mix the dry ingredients (flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt) in an electric mixer with the whisk attachment.

3. In another bowl, combine the rest of the cake ingredients (buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla).  Beat them gently, make sure to break up the egg yolks.

4. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix until fully combined.  The batter should be pourable and runny.

5. Separate the batter between the cake tins (if you're using three tins, each should have about 600g of batter) and bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with just a few crumbs.

6. Let the cakes cool in the tins, then invert them onto wire racks.

Method - Nutella icing
1. This is seriously easy.  Melt the chocolate, when once it's a little cool, put all the icing ingredients in a food processor.  Process until the icing is smooth.

2. Refrigerate the icing for about 15 minutes, until it's a good spreadable consistency.

Method - assembly

1. On your desired cake plate, layer up the completely cooled cake layers with a generous helping of the Nutella icing in between each layer.

2. Finish off by completely icing the outside of the cake, and decorate to your tastes (or leave it plain - that looks good, too!)  I decorated this cake with silver and blue cachous, as well as small silver sprinkles.


January 3, 2015

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Icing

There's something so compelling about whoopie pies; they're the soft sweetness of cake with all the delicious icing, but in a no-fuss package.  You don't need to mess around with plates and knives and forks with these babies, just pick them up out of their container and eat them.  I hope that you enjoy this easy recipe!

Recipe adapted from: Top With Cinnamon via My Name Is Yeh
Ingredients - whoopie pies
110g butter
1 tsp vanilla essence
220g white sugar
2 eggs
50g sour cream
2 tbsp cocoa powder
250g flour
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients - icing
38g butter (room temperature is best)
75g cream cheese (room temperature is best)
1 tsp vanilla essence
75g icing sugar

Method - whoopie pies
1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).

2. Cream the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy.

3. Add the eggs and sour cream, beat until combined.

4. Stir in the cocoa powder, flour and baking powder.  Mix until combined and smooth.  The batter should be nice and thick at this point.

5. Drop 1 1/2 tablespoon sized dollops of batter onto a baking tray lined with a silicone mat or baking paper.  I used a piping bag for this, which is super quick and convenient, but you can just as easily use a spoon.  The whoopie pies spread a bit so make sure you leave enough room between them.

6. Bake the whoopie pies for about 10 minutes, or until they are springy to the touch.

7. Set them onto a wire rack to cool, and get started making the icing!

Method - icing
1. Mix all the icing ingredients together.  I find that using an electric hand beater or electric mixer is best for this, to ensure that everything's completely smooth.

2. Once the whoopie pies are cool, pair them up and spread one half of each pair with the icing.

3. Sandwich them together and enjoy!

I hope that you all had a great holiday and new year!