Carrot Cake and Cupcakes with Maple Cheese Filling/Frosting

We went north recently and while mixing business with pleasure we explored the marketplace.  While we often went to buy souvenir food stuff and famous walis (brooms) from the famed palengke (wet market), we were greatly surprised to find out that the market that we were frequenting was just the tip of the iceberg!!!

As we discovered, the market extended to 2 other neighboring buildings!

Relying on (secret???) information, we delved deeper into the market to find… vegetables at prices that were waaaaayyyy more friendly!  So hellooooo carrots!!!!  and mushrooms, and beans, and Japanese cucumbers, and talbos ng sayote, and sayote, and… WATERCRESS!!!! (see the following post…)

Exploring further on, we found the dry goods section.  And glory of all glories, I found YARN!!!! Tons of it!  More importantly, I found SPECIALTY YARN.  Needless to say I had a field day and if I had my way, I would have gotten more but (it’s a good thing that) credit cards weren’t accepted so I had to choose carefully to fit my cash budget.

Our last and best surprise of all was discovering the meat market.  We found the famous longganisa that I adored (of course at a friendlier price than that of the souvenir shop where I used to get them from!) and hubby found the longganisa he preferred!  Do I need to say that we went home LADEN with treasures???!!!

Anyway, let me go back to the carrots.  If I bought carrots in our local market, the price would be (a bit) shocking.  Up north, where many vegetables are grown, the prices are more than reasonable, so when I have the chance, I hoard carrots!  When I return home, I peel and shred them and freeze them in portions for 1 batch of carrot cake/cupcakes!

 

 

 

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Apple Walnut Maple Cake

There’s been rotational water supply lately due to what the water utility company refers to as critical water level in the city. For me this meant doing the laundry at night (which is when we are scheduled to have water supply) and cooking less… as for baking? Virtually non-existent anymore.

But for the last few days, we had water during the day, so while there’s water supply, I took the opportunity to bake!

I chose to try a recipe from this book (Cookingclass Cakes by The Ausralian Women’s Weekly) that I found in a second-hand bookstore. It’s an Australian cookbook and while (I understand that) there are slight differences in measurements, I went ahead and just used the cups and spoons that I have.

This book was a great buy!!! I’ve earmarked a lot of recipes to try. For now I tried the recipe for Apple Pecan Cake but since pecans cost an arm and a leg (and more) I used walnuts instead. Also since we have no self-raising flour locally, I made a substitution as well.

The recipe, adapted –

Mix together the following, on low for 1 minute then on medium for about 2 minutes –

90g butter, softened

1-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar (I reduced from 3/4 cup)
1/4 cup maple syrup (I used real one that my mom got from Canada)
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla (because I always put my homemade vanilla in everything I bake)

Then fold in –

1 cup coarsely chopped toasted walnuts
1 cup coarsely grated apple (I used about 4 small Gala apples)
(I omitted the 1/2 cup coarsely chopped) raisins

Pour/spoon the batter into a greased and floured 8 or 10-cup Bundt pan. Bake in a preheated 325F oven for about an hour, rotating the pan a quarter turn every 10 to 15 minutes. Start checking for doneness at around 50 minutes.

The recipe included maple frosting but we liked the cake bare. It was absolutely divine with coffee for breakfast the next morning!!!

Marmalade Pound Cake

A friend of mine told me about this recipe for Marmalade Pound Cake and forwarded the link to me.  She said (and I quote) YOU REALLY HAVE TO TRY THIS!!!!

So I did.  And am I glad that I did!

The timing was great because I had this half-full jar of orange marmalade!

But, I halved the recipe  and reduced the sugar a little…

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest (1 large orange)
4 large eggs
40 ml orange marmalade
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1-1/2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Grease/butter and flour the baking pans (the original recipe makes 2 8×4-in loaf pans) – I made 5 mini-mini loaves and 5 big muffin sized cakes.

Beat butter, sugar, and orange zest together until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Beat in the marmalade and vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients and stir into the batter.  Mix until just combined.

Place batter into prepared pans and bake (original recipe specified about an hour, rotating midway).  I baked mine at around 20 to 25 minutes.

I did not put glaze on my cakes, instead I mixed marmalade and hot water in equal parts and brushed the tops of the cakes with the mixture.

It was yummmmyyyyyy!!!!

Lemon-Strawberry Roll

Friend C gave us these big, fat, juicy strawberries last week.  We wanted to eat them as is but I gave specific instructions to leave some because I wanted to make this cake!

Truth be told though, I bought some more strawberries because I wanted strawberry curd for the filling and real strawberry buttercream for the frosting!

For the cake, I used a different recipe.  I found this book in a second-hand bookstore –

with the recipe for Lemon Jelly Roll on page 234.

While I already have a lemon sponge cake recipe (which I believe to be the best), I am always ready and willing to try other recipes!

Anyway, I got the recipe for the cake from the book.  My adapted version –

Prepare the jelly roll pan first of all! I usually just line line with greaseproof paper.

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Sift together then set aside –

1-1/4 cups AP flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine and beat (on low-medium speed), for 2 minutes*, –

3 egg yolks
2/3 cup sugar
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 1 lemon, plus soya oil to make a total of 1/2 cup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

In a separate bowl, beat 3 egg whites with 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar until frothy. Add 1/2 cup sugar by tablespoonfuls and beat until stiff peaks (but not dry).

Fold half of the whites into the yolk mixture. Gradually add the flour mixture to the yolk batter (I used an 1/8 cup per addition), folding gently after each addition. Fold the remaining egg whites into the yolk batter.

Place the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 15 to 18 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare a tea towel** slightly larger than the size of the pan. (The recipe specifies that it be dusted with powdered sugar but I don’t do it.) Immediately after baking (make sure that the cake is really done but not overdone), invert the cake on the cloth and remove the paper. Gently roll the cake on the shorter end. Leave the cake until it cools.

Fill the cake with strawberry curd and re-roll. Frost with strawberry buttercream and garnish with strawberries and strawberry syrup.

Notes –
* the original recipe specified that the lemon and orange juices be heated but I did not follow that instruction.
** I used the material from a flour sack, sewing 2 layers together to make a sheet that was 1 inch larger than my pan on all sides. So far none of my cakes have gotten stuck. I was told that the material is muslin but honestly I don’t know!

For the rest I wanted STRAWBERRYYYYYYYYY!!!!!  Strawberry curd for the filling, strawberry buttercream for the frosting… I wanted more strawberry so I decided the cake would have strawberries for garnish.  And to make things even more strawberry, I thought of making a strawberry syrup or glaze, ALL from REAL STRAWBERRIES!!!

All in all, I used about 1 kilogram of strawberries!!!!

For the filling, I got the recipe for strawberry curd from bakedbyrachel – that was 450 grams of strawberries right there…

For the buttercream and syrup, I followed the advise of a friend – Macerate about 350 grams of strawberries with some brown sugar for a couple of hours.  Lightly mash the strawberries to draw out more of its juice.  Drain well. Heat the strawberry juice liquid until reduced.  Add sugar as desired to obtain the sweetness level that you like.  This is the strawberry syrup (it’s actually loose and not thick at all).  For the rest of the mashed strawberries, place in a heavy pot and add the juice of 1 lemon.  Heat over low heat and blend using a hand blender.  Heat gently and cook until thick.  Cool completely.  Chill.

I like my buttercream to be looser and less sweet so I generally use (considerably) less powdered sugar.  But basically, it’s softened butter, powdered sugar, and the cooled strawberry puree!  That’s it!

Having said and done all that, it does not have to be THAT complicated – instead of using homemade strawberry curd for the filling, use your favorite strawberry jam.  For the frosting, there are many ready-to-use frosting available off the shelf; same with the strawberry syrup!  The cake will still be good!  Promise!

Anyway, we served a slice of the cake to the kid’s piano teacher.  And he raved about it!!!!

Mocha Roll

Today is an extraordinary day… two of my childhood best buds came over for lunch – that’s not unusual at all.  What is special today, however, is the fact that I am NOT cooking!!!!!  It is one of those rare times when someone volunteered to cook for me!!!!!!!  And I really, really appreciate it!

Of course I could not be “ungrateful” and contribute nothing to the feast, so I took the opportunity to bake a cake roll with my “new” electric oven…

Since I had a lot of time, I cooked custard for the filling too… and while I was at it, I experimented with a different buttercream – a more stable one, as suggested by a friend of mine.  These days, because of the heat and humidity, my buttercream always, always melt!  So I wanted to see if her secret (not so secret anymore I guess) technique would work wonders for me!

Basically, to stabilize my buttercream, she said, I had to use a bit of Crisco (butter flavored) with the butter.  To be honest, when I heard this, I was hesitant because I have always felt an unpleasant mouth-feel when using Crisco.  But my friend said that I could use about 1 tablespoon of Crisco for every half cup of butter and it would not be noticeable at all!  So, what the hey, it was a day for experimenting…

Well, guess what?  it worked!  and I did not notice any weird mouthfeel at all!!!!

 

Ube, Ube, More Ube!

Who knows if ube is uniquely or exclusively a Filipino food.  What I do know is that it has traditionally been considered as Filipino.  And we grew up with it!  Ube jam, ube cake, simple boiled ube with melted butter… ube ice cream… ube kakanin… there are even ube dishes that are savory!

More importantly, I don’t know anyone (consider though that my world is small!) who does not like ube!  I do know that most of my friends love it… and they love it even more when I make ube cake.

This particular one, however, is not the usual ube chiffon cake that I make.  For friend J’s birthday, I decided to go for a heavier cake – an ube pound cake, filled with ube halaya, and garnished with ube rossettes topped with macapuno balls.

It was a big hit and everybody loved it!

 

Sunshine Peaches & Cream Cake

I made peach danish last weekend… and had some pastry cream and peach halves left over. Not wanting more peach danish, I decided to make cake!

While I already have a “perfect” vanilla cake recipe, decided to try a different recipe. Guess where I found it?

My friends know that I collect recipes and cookbooks. I like new, off the bookstore shelf books, as well as ebooks. But i also keep a lookout for nice pre-owned ones… this particular recipe for “vanilla cake” is a recipe written on paper that was stuck in between pages of a second-hand cookbook that I bought in a bazaar!

(recipe copied as written)

I thought this could be the perfect time to try it out! I wanted only a small cake, so I halved the recipe…

and then I discovered that I DID NOT have buttermilk! I thought of making the substitute of milk and vinegar, but realized that I had used up all my milk to make the pastry cream!!!!!! I was contemplating using plain water when my eyes chanced upon the syrup that was drained from the canned peaches! So I thought of using it (and maybe infusing the cake with a bit of peach flavor???) and reducing the sugar a bit (because the syrup is very sweet already).

My adapted, halved recipe –

1/3 cup sugar
1-1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tbsp vanilla (mine is homemade)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line and butter a 5×3-inch round pan.

Mix the dry ingredients together. Add wet ingredients and mix well, until just combined.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, rotate midway. Cool completely.

After the cake cooled completely, spread the pastry cream all over the top.

Slice 4 peach halves into quarters to make 8 pieces. Arrange the peach quarters around the edge of the pan (to look like petals or rays) then place a peach half in the center. Lightly brush the top with peach glaze (heat the peach syrup until reduced and thick).  (Someone suggested that it would be better to pour clear gelatin over the top in the style of Crema de Fruita…)

Chill and enjoy!!!

Another Fruitcake

This is the last one, I promise!!!

The recipe for this one looked easy – it mixed in one bowl, with no pre-soaking required.  Best of all, it was ready to eat after baking (and cooling)!

The secret? Condensed milk!

I followed this recipe from Eagle Brand.  But not knowing where to find mincemeat I just used mixed dried fruit, about 2 cups worth.  I also added about half a tablespoon of apple pie spice…

Fast.  Easy.  Delicious.

Yuummmmmm!

 

Fruitcake 2018, Finally!

I say “finally” because I have found what I was looking for – a great tasting fruitcake whose recipe is fast (truly fast with no need even for a mixer!), simple, easy, and even when it’s last minute!

After much experimentation that began in July, here it is!!!

It is so fast and easy that even if it’s mid-December already, I can still bake it and give it the day after.  The texture is great – moist but not breaking apart… it is not too heavy but it is not light at all… it is chockfull of fruits (which admittedly is the most time consuming of all – with dicing big fruits and soaking it in brandy for more than 3 months), and IT IS DELICIOUS!!!

00_2018 FC
(a peek of the inside, from the first trial of the recipe, baked in a glass pan)

I bake it right in the “pan”, brush it with more brandy, cool it in the same container then just cover it with the see-through lid that is part of the package (or in one case where I broke the lid, cover it with clingfilm).  Then I just stick a label on it and send it – DONE!

(will post the recipe later after I’ve organized everything.)

For now, I will enjoy baking this last minute fruitcake and then sit back while the recipients compliment me!

hahahahaha!

 

Death by Chocolate Cheesecake

I admit it. I have been obsessed with chocolate lately. I’ve made bourbon brownies, 2 toned chocolate and choco chip cookies, in addition to the usual, standard stuff I make. And I’m not yet done. Still on my list are Kladdkaka, Tableya Cupcakes, Creme de Cacao… and this Chocolate Cheesecake, which has been dubbed Death by Chocolate Cheesecake.

For this one I delved deep into my cookbooks. Both hubby and the kid are chocoholics, and both are very particular when it comes to chocolate – they have discerning tastes! They prefer a deep, complex, nuanced chocolate flavor. I finally hit the jackpot when I found this recipe in a special edition “magazine” of Fine Cooking.

I started with a ready-made, off-the-grocery-shelf Oreo cookie crust. I know I could have made my own chocolate cookie crust but having a ready-made one DOES give me more time to concentrate on the filling, which I believed was more important! The downside though is that the ready made crust could not contain the full recipe for the filling. So I had to polish my math skills and scaled the recipe to about 2/3 – even then I was afraid that the batter would spill over in the oven. But all is well that ends well, the batter puffed up during baking but settled in nicely upon cooling…

The recipe did not specify a topping but I had in my mind a chocolate masterpiece with 6 layers of chocolate! I imagined (1) chocolate cookie crust, (2) double chocolate cheesecake filling, (3) silky ganache topping, (4) dark chocolate curls, (5) chocolate syrup drizzle, and (6) chocolate ice cream on the side!

For the silky ganache topping, I wanted a “softer” consistency, so instead of a 50-50 mix of chocolate and whipping cream, I used a 40-60 proportion, using a bit more cream than chocolate.

For the chocolate curls, I finally used the gourmet dark chocolate bar that my brother-in-law gave as a present.

While I had envisioned the 6 layers, I ended up with just 4 because hubby decided that it was overkill (pun intended!) to go beyond the chocolate curls. (The kid happily doused her slice in chocolate syrup though, but skipped the ice cream so at least for her it was 5 layers!)

The verdict? HEAVENLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, just like that, I am the kid’s hero again! I just love hearing her proclaim – Mommy you are the best cooker and baker ever, ever! (Her exact words)