Nov 29, 2008

Daring Bakers-Caramel cake

This month's daring baker challenge is a caramel cake with caramelized butter frosting. This month's challenge is brought to us by Shuna Fish Lydon of Eggbeater. Helping Shuna are Alex of Brownie of the Blondie and Brownie, Jenny of Foray into Food, and Natalie of Gluten-a-Go-Go.

The original author of the Caramel Cake is Shuna Fish Lydon and the original recipe can be found here. We were also given the option of making Golden Vanilla Bean Caramel from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert. I didn't end up making the caramel as this is a busy time of the year for us.

This challenge has three parts, the caramel sauce, caramel cake and the caramelized butter frosting. The part that scared me the most was the caramel sauce...I think it was because of the warning that came with the recipe (see below). But it actually wasn't that bad at all. It was fun watching the sugar change color and the sauce is so very tasty!!

After making the caramel sauce, I made the caramel problems there, the cake turned out fine. Not too much trouble there...the last part was the caramelized butter frosting. I have never browned butter before and I absolutely love it!! I am now in search for other recipes that use browned butter. The smell of browned butter is amazing. The frosting is very good and you can really taste the browned butter, but the only thing is that it's so very very very sweet!! I wish I knew how to make it less sweet without ruining the texture, because I just love the browned butter taste...any ideas?

Here are the recipes, enjoy!!

Caramel Cake
from Shuna Fish Lydon

10 Tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/4 Cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 Cup Caramel Syrup (see recipe below)
2 each eggs, at room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 Cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350F

2. Butter one tall (2 – 2.5 inch deep) 9-inch cake pan.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth. Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.

4. Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl. Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

5. Sift flour and baking powder.

6. Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time. Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dry ingredients. {This is called the dry, wet, dry, wet, dry method in cake making. It is often employed when there is a high proportion of liquid in the batter.}

7. Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds, making sure batter is uniform. Turn batter into prepared cake pan.

8. Place cake pan on cookie sheet or 1/2 sheet pan. Set first timer for 30 minutes, rotate pan and set timer for another 15-20 minutes. Your own oven will set the pace. Bake until sides pull away from the pan and skewer inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool cake completely before icing it.

9. Cake will keep for three days outside of the refrigerator.

Caramel Syrup
by Shuna Fish Lydon

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water (for "stopping" the caramelization process)

1. In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand. Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush. Turn on heat to highest flame. Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

2. When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter about! It is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and be prepared to step back.

3. Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly and feels sticky between two fingers. {Obviously wait for it to cool on a spoon before touching it.}

Note: For safety reasons, have ready a bowl of ice water to plunge your hands into if any caramel should land on your skin.

Caramelized buttered frosting
by Shuna Fish Lydon

12 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound confectioner’s sugar, sifted
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons caramel syrup
Kosher or sea salt to taste

1. Cook butter until brown. Pour through a fine meshed sieve into a heatproof bowl, set aside to cool.

2. Pour cooled brown butter into mixer bowl.

3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle or whisk attachment, add confectioner's sugar a little at a time. When mixture looks too chunky to take any more, add a bit of cream and or caramel syrup. Repeat until mixture looks smooth and all confectioner's sugar has been incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Note: Caramelized butter frosting will keep in fridge for up to a month. To smooth out from cold, microwave a bit, then mix with paddle attachment until smooth and light.

Nov 22, 2008

Strawberry muffins

I am in love with my muffin's as if all of a sudden, I realize what a great baking tool the muffin tin is. Since then, I want to use it all the time. It's great clean up. It's also wonderful when your baked goods is in these small portions and you can just grab, eat and go. So now I'm trying to think of what else I can make in my muffin tin. heehee =P

Anyway..onto these wonderful Strawberry muffins. These muffins are adapted from the Blueberry muffins from the New Best Recipe by the wonderful folks at Cook's illustrated. I used strawberries instead because I didn't have any blueberries on hand. They turned out wonderful!! They are so perfectly moist and the sour cream in the muffins made them taste like strawberry cream cheese muffins. yum-ME! Here's the recipe.

Strawberry Muffins
adapted from The New Best Recipe
total time: 1 hour

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar (7 ounces)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/4 cups sour cream (10 ounces)
1 1/2 cups strawberries

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick vegetable cooking spray.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl until combined. Whisk egg in second medium bowl until well-combined and light-colored, about 20 seconds. Add sugar and whisk vigorously until thick and homogenous, about 30 seconds; add melted butter in 2 or 3 steps, whisking to combine after each addition. Add sour cream in 2 steps, whisking just to combine.

3. Add frozen berries to dry ingredients and gently toss to combine. Add sour cream mixture and fold with rubber spatula until batter comes together and berries are evenly distributed, 25 to 30 seconds (small spots of flour may remain and batter will be thick). Do not overmix.

4. Use ice cream scoop or large spoon to drop batter into greased muffin tin. Bake until light golden brown and toothpick or skewer inserted into center of muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes, rotating pan from front to back halfway through baking time. Invert muffins onto wire rack, stand muffins upright, and cool 5 minutes.
  • The original recipe calls for 1 cup of sugar. I lowered it to 3/4 cups of sugar. I thought it was sweet enough...but you might want to put the whole cup of sugar if you like things sweeter.

Nov 18, 2008

Chocolate chocolate chunk muffins

A friend of mine had a little get together at her house...sort of like a tupperware party, but only better because it was clothes. The company is called Jessica's traveling boutique. It was so much fun having her at my friend's house. There were only a few of us, so we could really take our time browsing, and of course Jessica is so nice!!! If you're in Hawaii, I highly recommend throwing a party with Jessica.

Anyway...on to the food, this is what I brought to the get together. I wanted something kind of brunch-y. So I decided to make this Chocolate chocolate chunk muffins from Annie Eats. I think the recipe is actually originally from Baking from my home to yours.

I thought the muffins were just definitely did not have a wow factor. It's not very sweet and there's not enough chocolate flavor. If I were to make these again, I would definitely up the melted chocolate. Anyway, here's the recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Chunk Muffins
Annie’s eats

total time: one hour

3/4 stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter
4-6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°. Line a muffin pan with 12 paper liners. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter and 2 oz. of the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the heat.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don’t worry about being thorough – a few lumps are better than overmixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Creamy bread

I just came back from a trip to Hong Kong where I acquired a wonderful bread recipe book. I can't wait to make every single thing from this book. It's called Japanese bread bread. When I was in Japan, I absolutely fell in love with Japanese bread. Don't get me wrong, I love my rustic bread once in awhile...but the soft and buttery Japanese bread is a different category all together. I don't think you can even compare the two.

The reason I ended up buying this book in particular is because of this recipe. I saw the picture and the ingredients, and I was drooling at the bookstore. It turned out really well. The little buns are so soft and buttery. Absolutely delicious. The only gripe I have with this book is that it's in Chinese, it also has English translation in the book, but the instructions are not detailed at all. The following is the recipe from the book with a little bit more guidance from me...hope you enjoy it too!

Creamy bread
adapted from the Japanese Bread
total time: 2 hours

250g bread flour
25g sugar
10g milk powder
80g butter
8g yeast
2 pieces egg yolks
100g milk
40g warm water

1. Mix 5g of sugar, yeast and the warm water together. Allow the yeast mixture to rest for five minutes or until it is frothy.

2. Mix the bread flour, 20g of sugar, milk powder together. Combine the milk, frothy yeast mixture and the two egg yolks together. Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and knead the mixture until it is smooth. Add the butter and knead until it is smooth and elastic.

3. Allow the dough to rest for about 30 minutes or until it is double in size. Roll out the dough into a square. Roll up the dough and close the sides by pinching the dough.

4. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

5. Cut the rolls up into 12 equal pieces. Place each piece in a muffin tin. Brush the dough with egg wash and allow the little doughs to rest for 45 minutes.

5. Brush with egg wash again. Bake the rolls for 10 minutes or until the little buns are golden in color.

  • The original recipe says to roll up the dough, let rise for 30 minutes, and then cut it up. I didn't shape the dough until after the first rise. I'm not sure if this would make a difference, that's normally how it's done in other bread recipes I have used.

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