Thursday, December 25, 2014

Gingerbread Cake

I havent really been cooking and baking much this holidays season but i thought i wanted to make a spiced cake for this christmas week.... It always seem to me a spiced cake sounds kinda like a classic christmas flavour ..and so gingerbread cake comes to mind ...afterall i have not tried it myself.  I thought i have ground cloves in my house but none and i have substituted it with ground nutmeg, In fact many of the recipes i see online have both .

For a first attempt in making a gingerbread cake,  i would say i am happy with how the flavour turned out. I am not sure if most people would love a heavily or deeply spiced cake. In this recipe, the spices are not overpowering, we can still find the flavour with much presence here. Nicely moist cake too! Joy of Baking has included a lemon icing to go with the cake but i have opted to use a simple cream cheese icing cos that block of cream cheese has been sitting in my fridge for.. i dont know how long! Anyway, Merry Christmas to all !

Recipe ( from Joy of Baking )
makes one 8" cake
250gm all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
1.5 tsp ground ginger
1/4tsp ground cloves ( i used ground nutmeg )
zest of 1 lemon ( omitted )
1tbsp finely chopped ginger or 1/4 finely chopped crystallised ginger ( optional)
115gm butter, slightly softened
120gm brown sugar
50gm white sugar ( omitted )
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup molasses
1 cup milk

Preheat oven to 180C and place rack in center of oven. Line and butter a 8"by 8" baking pan.

In a bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, ground cinnamon, ground ginger, cloves or nutmeg, lemon zest and grated ginger ( if using )

In the bowl of an electric mixer ( or with a hand mixer ), beat the butter and sugar till light and fluffy ( takes abt 2-3 mins). Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the molasses and beat to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the dry ingredients ( in 3 additions ) and milk ( in 2 additions ) alternately, begining and ending with the dry ingredients and beat just until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 mins or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool on a wiring rack. Let cool completely before frosting the cake.( i baked mine for about 50mins in total, covering the top of the cake with foil after 30 mins )

Cream cheese icing
1 block /225 g cream cheese, at room teperature
1.5 to 2 cup of icing sugar
a little milk

Beat the cream cheese and icing sugar together till smooth. Add milk by tablespoon until desired consistency for frosting.

I am submitting this post to Cook and Celebrate Christmas 2014 hosted by Zoe of Bake for Happy KidsDiana of The Domestic Goddess Wannabe and Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cranberry Orange Biscotti

Although biscottis are enjoyed all year round, i tend to associate them with Christmas. It gives me kind of festive feel, they are like christmas cookies to me! and so i was quite excited when Zoe has made her choice of baking biscottis for our bake along christmas theme. Our biscotti christmas theme will run up till Dec22, 2014, so if you have a biscotti recipe to share, come join me, Joyce and Zoe!

Originated from Italy, biscottis are 'twice baked cookies' meaning the dough is cooked twice till dry in order to have a longer shelf life. Initial baking is almost like in a flat log or cakeform and then after that, it is sliced into pieces for second baking which determines how dry and hard the biscottis are going to be. I have chosen to make mine with some dried cranberries which i also believe it is a popular ingredient in making biscottis, added some dried apricots( well, just for some colour ) and flaked almonds. This recipe also contains some orange zest and orange juice which i find it fabulous. It adds flavour to them ,refreshing flavour and you can already catch the aroma when you take them out from the oven! The only one thing i would do next time making these will be bake them a little longer more so that they stay more crunchier :D

after the 1st baking, slice and bake them again

Recipe ( adapted from laura in the kitchen )
makes just a dozen, recipe can easily be tripled
110gm all purpose/ plain flour
80gm sugar ( reduced )
1/4tsp salt
1/2tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp vanilla extract ( omitted )
zest of 1 orange
1/3 cup flaked almonds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
2 pieces of dried apricots, cut into small pieces ( i added this )
1.5 tbsp orange juice
1 egg, lightly beaten
1.5 tbsp vegetable oil

Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in a bowl. In another separate small bowl, put in 1 tbsp of plain flour and mix in the orange zest so that the zest dont clump together. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment,  pour in the orange juice, egg and oil and mix to combine well. Add in the flour mixture and also the zest flour mixture. Mix well. Throw in the dried cranberries, almonds and also the dried apricots if using. Mix well . Do not over mix.

Remove from the bowl onto a floured surface . The dough will be quite sticky. Shape the dough into a log, about 12 inches in length and transfer it onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Using your fingers or scrapper, pat the dough flat about 2 inches in width . Bake in a preheated oven at 177C for 25 minutes.

Let it cool down for a few minutes and using a serrated knife, slice them diagonally about 1/2inch thick. Arrange the slices on the baking sheet and bake for 7minutes. Flip them over and bake for another 10 minutes until golden and lightly browned. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.

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