Pineapple Upside Down Cake

I broke my stand mixer not too long ago and this precipitated a need to buy a new one. I’ve wanted a KitchenAid mixer for a while now but had never bought one because it seemed so extravagant. They’re a bit costly here in Australia ranging from $650 – $1200 each. However, since I needed to replace my mixer anyway, and I want one that will last a long time, I decided to take the plunge and buy the long desired KitchenAid. I have to admit I’m happy I did. I chose the “ice” colored mixer from the Artisan range but it strikes me as more of a duck egg blue. I didn’t really want the iconic red and my eye was consistently drawn to this lovely light green/blue color. It’s a beautiful piece of equipment and I was excited to try it out when it was delivered.

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For its inaugural task, I decided to bake a Pineapple Upside Down CakeThis cake is the first thing I learned to bake, so it seemed fitting that it should be the first thing my dream mixer should make hehe. I was eight years old and eager to take on Yan Can Cook when I learned this recipe. Problem was, I wasn’t allowed to play around the kitchen yet. After a prolonged campaign of  pestering, I finally succeeded in convincing my mother to let me bake. We made a Pineapple Upside Down Cake together. Well, at least my mother did. I made a mess, but I did mix the batter and added ingredients every now and then.  I didn’t do much in terms of cooking that day and never did develop the skills to take on Mr Yan, but I did have a great time. Albeit under the watchful eye of my mother, who was determined to stop me from enjoying myself to the full in her constant efforts to keep me from falling off the chair, falling into the batter or burning myself, the kitchen or the house down.

This cake is pretty simple to make and very tasty. To make it, you’ll need:

2 cups self-raising flour
1 cup softened butter
1 cup white or caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 can pineapple pieces
1 packed cup brown sugar
1/2 cup softened butter (extra)
Maraschino cherries

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Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a 20cm round cake tin using the 1/2 cup extra butter.
  2. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the base of the tin and arrange the pineapple pieces and maraschino cherries evenly on top.
  3. Beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until the mixture is light and creamy.
  4. Add the eggs gradually, beating well after each addition.
  5. Sift the flour over the mixture, adding alternatively with the milk.
  6. Pour the batter over the pineapple, sugar and maraschino cherries.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.
  8. Cool the cake in the pan for a few minutes before turning it over onto a plate.

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Brazo de Mercedes

Brazo de Mercedes is a traditional Filipino dessert consisting of a custard filled meringue roll. The name literally translates to “arm of Mercedes”. The origin of the dessert is unclear although the name indicates it stems from the era of Spanish colonization. I have to admit I find the name a little baffling. Why would someone name a dessert after a woman’s arm? At any rate it is a delicious dessert and one of my favorites. It’s also pretty straightforward to make. The difficulty is in applying the will power to stop eating it after one serve (well, okay…maybe after two) :-)

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Ingredients

10 large eggs, separated
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 C caster sugar
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
2 C condensed milk
1 tsp white vinegar
1/3 C powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees celsius.
  2. Combine the egg whites and cream of tartar then beat with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Gradually add the caster sugar then vinegar. Continue beating to a stiff peak.
  4. Place baking paper on top a cookie sheet and lightly grease the surface.
  5. Pour the meringue mixture onto the baking paper and even out the surface using a spatula.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes until the meringue turns a light brown color.
  7. Combine the egg yolks, condensed milk and vanilla in a saucepan over medium heat. Cook the mixture, stirring continuously until it thickens.
  8. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool slightly.
  9. Remove the meringue from the oven and allow it to cool for a few minutes.
  10. Sprinkle powdered sugar over the meringue and place wax paper over it. Turn it out onto a similarly sized tray and slowly peel off the baking paper.
  11. Pour the cooled custard over the meringue and spread it evenly over the surface.
  12. Carefully roll the meringue using the wax paper.
  13. Transfer the finished roll onto a serving platter and enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes

I recently had occasion to make cupcakes and I thought this time I’d use some white chocolate frosting..I love chocolate in any way, shape or form and I like the taste of the chocolate frosting better than buttercream. Of course, the only appropriate topping would have to be more chocolate :-) This time in cookie form, hehe.

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Cupcake 
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour

Frosting 
120 gms white chocolate melts.
1/4 hot water
2 cups icing sugar
100 gm butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate cream cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celscius and line muffin pans.
  2. Combine the water and milk chocolate over low heat, stirring until the chocolate has melted. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat together the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift the flours and cocoa together. Gradually add into the sugar, butter and egg mixture, stirring until just combined.
  5. Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the center bounces back when lightly tapped. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. To make the frosting, combine the white chocolate and hot water. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
  8. Sift the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add the butter and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in the cooled white chocolate then place in the fridge until the frosting is firm enough to pipe.
  9. Place the frosting in an icing bag and pipe onto the cupcakes using a star tip.
  10. Cut some chocolate cream cookies in half and place on top of the frosted cupcakes.

Puto

Puto is a traditional Filipino steamed bread which is generally served as an accompaniment to meat dishes although it can be eaten on its own. There are many variations of the basic puto ranging from savory to sweet flavors. The basic version can be made with all purpose or rice flour and has a slightly sweet taste with a wonderful crumbly, cake-like texture.

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To make it, you’ll need:

About 1/2 cup melted butter
3 cups self raising flour
1 1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
Approx 2 cups water
1/2 tsp baking powder.

Instructions

  1. Cream together the sugar and butter.
  2. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Sift the flour and baking powder together.
  4. Add the flour and water, beginning and ending with the flour. The batter should have the consistency of a pancake mixture.
  5. Pour into individual molds and steam for about 15 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean

Rocky Road Cupcakes

I have a long and abiding interest in cupcakes. I love their versatility and convenience – they’re relatively easy to transport and good for giving as gifts or packing as a treat for work. I also love to experiment with them….whether it’s to try out a new kind of icing, or going all out with the topping and having a candy sampler.

I recently experimented with this rocky road cupcake recipe and it definitely satisfied my sweet (sweeeeet) tooth. Actually the sweetness was a little too much for me….after one or two of the cupcakes, I felt like I was drifting in a haze of sugar induced semi-consciousness. I think next time I would consider using a cream cheese instead of buttercream icing which will hopefully offset the sweetness of the chocolate topping. At any rate, I thought the end result looked quite nice and it tasted delicious, although it was (did I mention?) very sweet.

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Ingredients

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
100g milk chocolate
125g softened butter
3 eggs
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups self-raising flour
1/2 cup plain flour

185g softened butter
2 cups icing sugar
Vanilla essence
About 1 cup mini marshmallows
2 bars Cherry ripe chocolate
chocolate sauce

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160 degrees celscius and lightly oil or line muffin pans.
  2. Combine the milk chocolate and water over low heat. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
  3. Beat the sugar and butter until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Sift the self raising flour, cocoa and plain flour together. Add gradually into the mixture and stir until just combined.
  5. Stir in the melted chocolate and spoon into the prepared muffin pans.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the center bounces back when lightly tapped. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
  7. To make the icing, beat 185g butter until light and creamy. Gradually sift in the icing sugar and add vanilla essence. Refridgerate until needed.
  8. Chop the Cherry Ripe into small cubes.
  9. Pipe the buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes and top with the chopped Cherry Ripe and mini marshmallows. Sprinkle chocolate sauce on top of the cupcakes.

 

Breakfast muffins

It’s Mother’s Day and as a gesture of my appreciation for one of the nicest mothers I’ve ever known, I made my mum a batch of *healthy* breakfast muffins. They have a variety of healthy berries but also a generous helping of chocolate guaranteed to help kick start a good day. You can use fresh or frozen berries and any kind of chocolate you like. I used white chocolate which complimented the berries nicely. My mums liked it and of course after breakfast I gave her a bouquet of fresh flowers along with (I couldn’t help it!) a Mother’s Day balloon.

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Ingredients

2 C plain flour
3/4 C caster sugar
3 tsp baking powder
2 large eggs
1 1/2 C buttermilk
2/3 C vegetable oil
about 1C fresh or frozen berries
about 1C chopped white chocolate
Vanilla essence.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven the 180 degrees celsius and grease a 12 hole muffin pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Mix in the caster sugar.
  3. Add the chopped chocolate into the flour mixture.
  4. In a large pouring jug, whisk the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla together.
  5. Gradually pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir in the berries. Be careful not to overmix the batter.
  6. Spoon into the prepared muffin pan and bake for about 20-30 mins.

Date Scones

scone is a British type of quick bread originating from Scotland. It was originally made in a round, flat form and baked in a griddle. After baking, it was divided into triangle quadrants. The whole, flat bread is called a bannock and the triangle segments called scones.* The introduction of baking powder to commercial and household kitchens led to the scone’s development into the leavened, oven-baked version commonly seen today. Scones are popular in the UK, New Zealand, Australia and other countries in the Commonwealth.

This scone recipe incorporates dates and is delicious served warm with a dollop of cream and jam. To make it you’ll need:

3 C self-raising flour
1 C milk at room temperature
1 tbs caster sugar
80g butter, cubed, at room temperature
1/2 C sliced dates
Extra flour for dusting.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 220 degrees celsius.
  2. Mix the flour and sugar together. Rub the butter into the mixture using your fingertips. Continue until you achieve the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the milk and dates. Mix with a spatula using a cutting motion until the mixture begins to hold. The dough should become soft and a little sticky.
  4. Transfer the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently for about 4 mins. (Do not over handle the dough as this will cause your scones to become tough and heavy).
  5. Flatten the dough to a thickness of about 2cm and cut into rounds. Lightly dust the tops with flour
  6. Place onto a greased sheet tray, spaced about 1 cm apart.
  7. Bake for about 15-20 mins until golden.

Serve warm with clotted cream and jam.