A VERSATILE SILICONE PAN

Baking in silicone pans can be tricky, so my advice is to always use a good quality product. I stand by Silikomart, all the way. If you’ve been around my blog for a while, you know that I never accept products to review, and only recommend things I love. This little pan makes the cutest, two-bite size cakes. I share today four different bakes using it. The most important thing is to bake a little longer than you would in a metal baking pan, and allow the cakes to fully cool before trying to un-mold them. You can even let them come to room temperature and then place the pan in the fridge for 10 minutes to ensure a perfect release. For all these bakes I used the Silikomart Savarin Mold, medium. Available here. I always spray the inside very lightly with PAM baking spray.

CHOCOLATE CHIP FINANCIER MINI-CAKES

CHOCOLATE CHIP FINANCIER MINI-CAKES
(adapted from foodohfood)

80 g unsalted butter, diced
50 g almond flour
140 g powdered sugar
60 g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
150 g egg whites
50 g mini chocolate chips
chocolate ganache, or melted chocolate and sprinkles for decoration

Heat oven to 360F.

Make the brown butter. Put the diced butter in a pan and melt it over low heat. Simmer the butter until the water is evaporated, it should get a light caramel color and a nutty smell. Pass it through a sieve and allow it to cool.

In a bowl, mix the almond flour, powdered sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Mix on low speed with the electric mixer or with the leaf attachment and gradually add the egg whites and then cold brown butter. Finally, add the chocolate chips. The batter is quite liquid, so use a piping bag to distribute it in the pan, filling almost 3/4 height.

Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your oven. Let it cool completely before un-molding. Fill the center with ganache or melted chocolate, or leave it plain. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For the financier, filling not quite to the 3/4 height was perfect. I love the texture of these mini-cakes. You need tiny chocolate chips for this recipe (I’ve featured the ones I like in my last In My Kitchen post) If you don’t have it, cut regular chips in very small pieces. It is hard to pick a favorite, but these were truly delicious on all counts.

RED VELVET MINI-CAKES

Recipe used: America’s Test Kitchen Red Velvet as published in their book The Perfect Cake. I could not get permission to publish the recipe. If you have the book, my only change was to make half the amount. I still had batter leftover after making 10 mini-cakes, and that was enough for two regular size cupcakes. Recipe for the frosting below.

SMALL BATCH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
(adapted from several sources)

2 ounces cream cheese softened
2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
80g powdered sugar, or more if you prefer a stiffer frosting
Pinch of salt

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Beat until well-mixed and fluffy.

Add powdered sugar and salt and continue to beat until sugar is completely incorporated and frosting is smooth and creamy. For a stiffer frosting, add more powdered sugar. Add the frosting to the cavity of the mini-cakes, and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

BROWNIE MINI-CAKES

I used my default recipe for brownie cupcakes and it worked very well in this shape. I filled the center with ganache and added sprinkles, because as you know, sprinkles make life better.

BROWNIE CUPCAKE
(from Bewitching Kitchen)

1 package Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate (4oz)
1 stick (1/2 cup, 113 g) unsalted butter
265g sugar (1 + 1/3 cup)
2 room temperature eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup (125g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Heat the oven to 350F.

Chop the chocolate and butter in pieces, place them in a microwave-safe bowl and melt at 50% power just until the chocolate is almost fully melted. Finish melting by whisking gently until smooth. Allow it to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

In another bowl, mix flour, salt and baking powder. Reserve.

To the melted chocolate, add the sugar and mix with a handheld mixer, when the sugar is incorporated (it won’t be smooth), add the eggs, one at a time, then the vanilla extract. Whisk until smooth, for a couple of minutes medium-speed. Gently sift the flour mixture on top, whisk just until the flour is incorporated and no dry bits can be found.

Fill each cavity of the savarin mold a little less than 3/4 full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out slightly moist. Cool completely before un-molding.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Any of the icings I shared in my original post will work for these cupcakes, just pick sprinkles that match the flavor. But, for a simpler bake you can just dust them with powdered sugar. The shape is beautiful no matter now you finish it.

BLACK SESAME & CHAI MINI-CAKES

These cakes were made from a recipe found in the cookbook Masala and Meatballs, by Asha Shivakumar. I’ve had this book for several years and everything I made from it turned out excellent. I highly recommend it. For these mini-cakes, the batter takes black sesame paste, and I used my own icing from the Chai-Brownie Cupcake in this post. In Asha’s recipe, the icing was made with sweetened condensed milk as a base plus powdered sugar, so I opted for something a little less sweet.

I hope you’ll consider baking with little savarin molds, especially if you are sharing these with friends or co-workers. They are very small, and the format allows for just a little icing. I am always impressed by the beauty of iced cupcakes, but they can be quite over-indulgent. If you like to enjoy sweets but prefer some moderation, these have your name written all over…

ONE YEAR AGO: Buffalo Chickpeas

TWO YEARS AGO: Bi-Color Croissant and Pain au Chocolat

THREE YEARS AGO: Lemon-Blueberry Entremet Cake

FOUR YEARS AGO: Walk Strong3: Jessica Smith’s latest workout program

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pork Medallions with Black Berry Compote

SIX YEARS AGO: Indian-Spiced Chicken with Chickpeas and Spinach

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Curry Cardamon Cookies

EIGHT YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, March 2014

NINE YEARS AGOBoeuf Bourguignon for a Snowy Evening

TEN YEARS AGO: Chickpea Salad

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

TWELVE YEARS AGO: Roasted Onion and Asiago Cheese Miche

4TH OF JULY INSPIRED BAKING

HAPPY 4th OF JULY!

Just a couple of days ago I celebrated 11 years of my naturalization! It always gives me a smile the fact that it fell so close to such an important holiday. Today I share four bakes that celebrate the occasion: macarons, sugar cookies, red velvet brownies, and baked donuts. The common denominator? Sprinkles. I bet you are not surprised.

4th OF JULY MACARONS WITH CHOCOLATE COCONUT FILLING
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

For the shells:
200g  powdered sugar
115 g almond flour
115 g egg whites at room temperature (approx. 4 eggs)
1/8 tsp of cream of tartar
100 g granulated sugar
¼ tsp vanilla paste or extract
red, blue, purple and black food gel dye

for the chocolate-coconut ganache:  
180g cream of coconut
1/8 tsp salt
200g chocolate, cut in small pieces (II used 70% Lindt)

to decorate:
white non-pareils

Make the shells:
Line 3 heavy baking sheets with parchment/baking paper or Silpat mats. Layer the powdered sugar, and ground almonds in a food processor. Pulse until the mixture looks like fine meal, about 12 pulses. Pass through a sieve and transfer to a small bowl or to a sheet of parchment/baking paper. Set aside.

Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Make sure that the bowl and the whisk are impeccably clean. Starting on medium speed, whip the whites with the cream of tartar until they look like light foam. The whites should not appear liquid. The foam will be light and should not have any structure.

Slowly rain in the granulated sugar in five additions, trying to aim the stream between the whisk and the side of the bowl. Turn the speed up to high. Continue to whip the meringue until it is soft and shiny. It should look like marshmallow creme (marshmallow fluff). Add the vanilla. Whip the egg whites until the mixture begins to dull and the lines of the whisk are visible on the surface of the meringue. Check the peak. It should be firm. Transfer the whites to a medium bowl.

Fold in the ground almond/almond meal mixture in two increments. Paint the mixture halfway up the side of the bowl, using the flat side of a spatula. Scrape the mixture down to the center of the bowl. Repeat two or three times, then check to see if the mixture slides slowly down the side of the bowl.   Divide the batter in three parts, dye 1/3 red, dye 1/3 blue (using a mixture of blue, purple and black to get the tone of blue you like). Leave the final third white. Pour the three batters side by side over plastic wrap, enclose them wrapping the plastic around like a sausage. Drop the bag with the three colors inside a piping bag fitted with a round piping tip.  If you want to make a set of solid color, divide the batter to get a bigger amount of that color and place some of it in a separate piping bag.

Pipe rounds over Silpat or parchment paper in a half-sheet pan and then slam each sheet hard four to six times on the counter. Add sprinkles, if like.  Let the unbaked macarons dry until they look dull but not overly dry. Drying time depends on humidity. In a dry climate, the macarons can dry in 15 to 20 minutes; in a humid climate, it can take 35 to 40 minutes.

While the macarons are drying, heat the oven to 300 F (150 C/130C Fan oven/Gas Mark 2). Bake one sheet at a time on the middle rack. Check in 11 minutes. If the tops slide or move (independently of the ‘feet’ when you gently twist the top), then bake for 2 to 3 more minutes. Check one or two. If they move when gently touched, put them back in the oven for 1 to 2 more minutes until they don’t move when touched.   Let the macaroons cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  The macarons should release without sticking.

Make the ganache. Bring the coconut puree and salt to the boil in a small pan. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate in a bowl. Stir well with a whisk until combined. Cover the ganache with plastic wrap touching the surface and leave at room temperature for at least 1 hour. Do not place in the fridge. Whip with a handheld blender for a minute or so to get a slightly thicker consistency for piping.

Match shells and add the filling (I used a piping bag cut open, no piping tip). Decorations for the small macarons were made with Candy Melts (white) and star-shaped sprinkles. Place the macarons in the fridge overnight to mature before enjoying or freezing them for later.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: For the tie-dye color effect, add the three batters to the same bag. The easiest way to do that is to open a large piece of plastic film on your countertop, lay the different colors in three large stripes, side by side. Roll the plastic wrap as a sausage and drop it inside a piping bag fitted with your favorite tip. That will make sure the colors get a random mixing as you pipe the shells. I reserved some blue batter to make smaller macarons, all blue. If you want the colors to be more separated, with clear margins (also a very cool effect), simply place them in three separate piping bags and drop them inside a larger one, after cutting their tips (easy to forget, don’t ask me how I know).

4th OF JULY CARDAMON-ORANGE COOKIES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

360 g all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
215 g sugar
¼ tsp salt
227 g cup butter, cold and cut in pieces
1 egg
3/4 tsp Fiori di Sicilia extract
zest of 1 large orange
1/2 tsp cardamom

for the Royal Icing:
80 g egg whites
420 g powdered sugar
blue gel food dye

MAKE THE COOKIE DOUGH. Heat oven to 350 F. Combine the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Add the orange zest to the sugar and rub it all with your hands to release the fragrant oils. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg, Fiori di Sicilia and cardamom, mix well. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.

Dough can be rolled right away in between sheets of parchment paper. Roll to about 1/4″ thick, and cut into shapes. I used large stars, small stars, and rectangles. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, freeze for 5 to 10 minutes. Bake for about 12 minutes. Transfer to cooling rack and cool to room temperature before icing.

MAKE THE ROYAL ICING: whisk the egg whites and powdered sugar using a KitchenAid type mixer until fully smooth. Adjust if needed with sugar or a little milk. Color half of it blue, keep the other half white. Make the small stars first, flooding them with white icing. Add the sprinkles before the icing sets. As they sit on a rack, flood the large stars with blue icing. Keep the very center empty, all you need is a little icing to glue the small star on top. Since it is going to be a bit heavy, if you flood the whole extension of the cookie, it will risk pressing is too much and running down the edges. Place the small star on top and allow them to dry overnight.

For the painted cookie effect, see this post.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This basic recipe for sugar cookies is the one I had planned to use in the Great American Baking Show. I’ve made it so many times now, that I don’t even need to look at the recipe anymore. It always works. My only advice for you is to use regular American butter, like the simple, humble Land-O-Lakes. That butter seems to be the best in terms of less spreading and less fat leaking during baking. And the cookies taste as good as those made with higher fancier brands. Come to think of it, if I had made it in the tent, who knows how they would turn out? I shiver to think.  😉

RED VELVET BROWNIE CAKE
(slightly modified from Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes)

300g semi-sweet chocolate, broken into pieces
200g  butter
200g sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla paste
150g all-purpose flour
1 + 1/2  tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
8 g red gel color (I used Americolor Super Red)

for icing:
300g powdered sugar
3 tbsp very hot water
squeeze of lemon juice
sprinkles

Heat the oven to 325 F.  Grease a  12 x 9 in pan tin and line with parchment paper. Sift the flour with the baking powder and the salt. Reserve. Gently melt the chocolate and the butter together.  Let it cool slightly and add the sugar, eggs, vanilla and red gel dye. Mix well until smooth and shiny.  Add the flour mixture, stir until no dry bits remain.

Pour the mixture into the pan and level the top. Bake for 35–40 minutes, or until risen and a crust has formed on the surface. The middle should feel just firm when pressed with your fingertips. Leave to cool in the pan, then remove it.

Make the icing: Mix the powdered sugar, water and lemon juice together in a bowl to make a smooth paste, adjust consistency as needed. Spread over the cold cake and top with sprinkles. Cut in pieces to serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Pretty much everything I bake these days go for Common Table meals, and they need to be wrapped individually. I am always tweaking the recipes so that they bake as flat and uniformly as possible, and if they have some type of icing, it is not too soft. Crusting buttercream and powdered sugar-based icings are the best.  I tend to use less baking powder than the recipes call for, so feel free to up a little the amount (up to 2 + 1/2 tsp)  if you don’t mind a certain dome effect in the center of your cake. For this recipe a 13 x 9 will give a cake a bit too thin, if that’s the only size you have, perhaps a 10 inch square pan will work better.

4th OF JULY BAKED ORANGE DONUTS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

100g granulated sugar
Zest of 1 large orange
160 g cake flour, sifted
1 + ¼ tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
½ cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 tbsp butter, melted
½ teaspoon vanilla paste

Spray your donut pans with a very light coating of baking spray. I used one mini donut pan and one regular size.  Heat oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl combine sugar and orange zest until the sugar is moistened and fragrant. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in sugar mixture.

Add buttermilk, egg, butter, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Add batter to a piping bag and fill each donut cup approximately one-half full.

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the top of the donuts spring back when touched.
Let cool in pan for 4–5 minutes before removing. Finish the donuts with melted Candy Melts and add sprinkles before it sets.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here


Comments: I’ve made these donuts about a month ago using orange blossom water instead of vanilla paste, and to me they tasted a bit artificial. So this time I kept the orange theme exclusively in the zest. Maybe it depends on the brand of orange water you have. At any rate, they are very simple to prepare and have a nice texture. Fiori di Sicilia would probably be quite nice also, but I did not want to have two exact same flavors in the weekly bake. All these goodies were included in the same Common Table meal of July 3rd.

I hope you enjoyed this small collection of 4th of July bakes, and that you are having a nice weekend. Please stay vigilant, observe social distance, and wear a mask when outside. It is not a political issue, it is a matter of your health and that of those around you.

A mask is a sign that you care.

For a recent review on staying safe during this pandemic, visit this post.

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2019

TWO YEARS AGO: Brigadeiros for the 4th of July

THREE YEARS AGO: Kaleidoscopic Macarons

FOUR YEARS AGO: Zucchini Noodles with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

FIVE YEARS AGO: In My Kitchen, July 2015

SIX YEARS AGO: Sous-vide Pork Chops with Roasted Poblano Butter

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Roasted Strawberry-Buttermilk Sherbet

EIGHT YEARS AGO: Amazing Ribs for the 4th of July!

NINE YEARS AGO: Baby Back Ribs on the 4th of July

TEN YEARS AGO: Blueberry Muffins

ELEVEN YEARS AGO: A Pie for your 4th of July

 

RED VELVET LAYERED CAKE FOR SEVEN YEARS OF BLOGGING!

closeup
Better late than never, I can finally share a little cake to celebrate my 7th year of  food blogging. I knew I wanted to make a layered cake this time and also knew it had to be from a new cookbook I fell in “love at first page.”  Granted, I have quite a few books dedicated to cake baking, but Layered might be my favorite now. Not only Tessa Huff’s explanations are detailed enough to give confidence to a cake-challenged person, but  many of her cakes have enticing, unexpected flavors. Sure, you will find a chocolate cake, a shortbread strawberry, a Boston cream pie, but she will also awe you with combinations that bring together Raspberry and Stout.Lavender and Olive Oil... Butterscotch and Bourbon...   Pink Peppercorn and Cherry… Those are included in a wonderful chapter called “Adventurous Cakes.”  I have The Cake Bible from Rose Beranbaum and love it too, but I’d say that about 1/4 of the recipes of that book appeal to me, whereas I would gladly try more than 80% of the recipes from Layered.  Funny thing is that I almost did not buy it because I’m not too fond of naked layered cakes, and that’s what I saw on the cover of the book. Clearly I am part of a minority, as they are very popular these days.  But reading the many great comments on amazon made me change my mind.  So, it’s now officially confirmed the wisdom of:  “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”  HA!

Red Velvet Cake

RECIPE OVERVIEW

Red Velvet Cake with Heritage Frosting, from Layered: Baking, Building and Styling Spectacular Cakes.

Originally this cake is supposed to have 6 layers, so you’ll make 3 red velvet cakes and slice each one crosswise in half. I baked three cakes, but as I started the assembly next day, I thought it was tall enough using only two of them. Plus, probably due to my inexperience and very limited skills, the amount of frosting I ended up with would not be enough to fill and cover a higher cake. Gravity plays tricks on me on a regular basis, perhaps it’s due to my last name. But, independent of the amount of available frosting, I liked the way it turned out as a 4-layer production, easier to slice and serve.

The cake component…  The cake batter uses grapeseed oil and sugar beaten together. To that, some eggs and red food coloring (preferably gel) are added and incorporated. Then, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, a touch of salt are sifted and added to the oil mixture in batches, together with buttermilk. Once the batter is smooth, a bit of baking soda dissolved in vinegar gets into the mixer.  The batter is divided equally into three 6-inch cake pans, and baked until a toothpick comes out clean.

compositecake

The frosting… contrary to most Red Velvet Cakes, this frosting is not based on cream cheese. It is an old-fashioned recipe called “Heritage Frosting” that starts with a thick cooked paste made with milk and flour. That gets incorporated into butter and sugar creamed together with a touch of vanilla. Very unusual, I had never heard of this type of frosting but it was reasonably easy to work with.

compositefrosting
Normally, Buck would be right by my foot and ready to take care of any potential messes. However, having learned painful lessons in the past, I decided that red food coloring and a Jack Russell could be too fiery a match.  Both him and Oscar stayed outside for the duration of my baking adventure. However, they both developed a fascination with my sandal even long after I washed it. Scent of a Frosting. It has movie potential…

Well, for once I will say this cake baking experience was “almost painless.”  At least the cake itself. No problems. A little hyperventilation here, another there, but overall fine. The frosting is another story. Every time I try to frost a cake, I feel this intense respect for those who do it for a living.  I opted for a rustic look, because hell would have to freeze over twice before I could apply a smooth layer of frosting to the top of a cake, let alone its sides…   But even if there is room for improvement in my technique, I think this was one tasty cake!

sliced

Here’s what Phil had to say about it:

Quite often the frosting overpowers the taste of a cake, but this was not the case. The cake is flavorful, it has a very nice texture.  It’s substantial without being too heavy. Slices very well with a sharp knife without crumbling all over the place. The frosting is very creamy but stands well on the cake. It is much less sweet than buttercream or double-boiled white icing.  Enthusiastically approved!

Well, after getting enthusiastic approval from the resident cake critic, I enthusiastically invite you  to join me on my 8th year in the blogosphere… 

ONE YEAR AGO: Lemon-Lavender Bars

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa Fried Rice

THREE YEARS AGO: Carrot Flan with Greens and Lemon Vinaigrette

FOUR YEARS AGO: The Secret Recipe Club: Granola Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Awesome Broccolini

SIX YEARS AGO:  A Twist on Pesto

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Ciabatta: Judging a bread by its holes