Monday, May 19, 2014

Chocolate truffle amaretti cake with espresso glaze

Did you bake up a storm on World Baking Day? I certainly did! The red velvet cupcakes I made for my mom were a huge success – she ate about six of them! But being an overachiever is tough (thanks for the genes, mom and dad), and since no weekend is bake-free for me, I though it only fitting that on such a special occasion as World Baking Day, I do it justice by doubling up. So I baked an extra recipe, you know, for the fun of it. But to be honest, it was mainly because red velvet cupcakes don’t have any chocolate in them and we all know about my chocolate obsession! So I sort of pledged to bake for myself this time around (that's bad isn't it?!)

This is one awesome cake and it totally hit the chocolate spot. It’s dense like a truffle and if you leave out the amaretti biscuits, it’s completely gluten-free. I love the biscuits in it though so if you can find them, toss a few in. They give an intense almond taste to the ‘cake’ (can we call it a cake, it’s more like a giant slab of chocolate) and along with the extra almondy booze, makes for a great combo. You could however, use hazelnut, coffee or whatever other liqueur takes your fancy (be reasonable though, Jagermeister and chocolate aren’t friends – well, I’m not friends with it either after one or two occasions I’d rather not mention!).

Anyway, the cake puffs up during bake and then flops down enough for you to be completely alarmed, but rest assured, that’s supposed to happen! It gives the top a beautiful cracked appearance and creates deep furrows perfect for collecting that lusciously glossy espresso glaze. Served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s dessert perfection.

Chocolate truffle amaretti cake with espresso glaze
Serves 6-8

45g (3 tbsp) butter
170g dark chocolate (70%)
6 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
250m (1 cup) white sugar, divided
45ml (3 tbsp) almond extract or liqueur
60g amaretti biscuits crushed*
Pinch of salt

Espresso glaze
125g dark chocolate (70%)
50g butter
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tsp instant-espresso powder

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the bottom of a 20cm springform cake tin with baking paper. Melt the butter and chocolate together in a bowl over gently simmering water. Using an electric mixer beat together egg yolks and ½ cup sugar until very pale, thick and creamy (about 10 minutes). Add liqueur, amaretti biscuits, melted chocolate mixture and mix well.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until soft peak stage then add remaining sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. Fold the meringue into the chocolate mixture in 3 batches. Pour the batter into the lined cake tin and bake for 40 minutes or until just set. The cake will still be very moist. Allow the cake to cool completely before removing from the tin. Make the glaze by placing the chocolate, margarine, syrup and coffee in a bowl over gently simmering water and stir until melted. Serve the glaze poured over the cake.

*Amaretti biscuits are small, crisp Italian biscuits traditionally made from crushed almonds. You can find them in the biscuit aisle of most supermarkets but feel free to leave them out completely or replace with toasted crushed almonds, if you like.

Take one packet of speckled eggs (okay may half a packet because you'll probably have eaten half of them) and scatter over the cake for a fun twist!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Red Velvet Cupcakes for World Baking Day

I never bake for myself. If I bake, it's for a reason; to spoil a friend, to share with colleagues or to (hopefully) inspire someone on this page to create something delicious to share with their friends or families - like a ripple effect of baking love! So when I discovered that this year's theme for World Baking Day on Sunday 18 May is #PledgetoBake for someone special, I decided to do what I usually do and bake with love, but this time, it's for the person who inspired my love for sweetness and baking, the sweetest person I know - my mom (who, by the way, is probably the only person who can take down a tin of condensed milk faster than I can - I know, hard to believe isn't it?!). 

It was a mini baking set I received for Christmas at 6 years old that sparked my passion for whipping and whisking but it actually began way before that, with me poking my nose over the kitchen counter and watching my mom and grandmother baking up all sorts of delights. My mother would bake fresh bread each morning and churn butter from the cream skimmed off the top of the milk that came from our cows on the farm. Homemade strawberry jam was also a regular thing in our kitchen. Despite insisting she isn't a talented baker, we still got the most beautiful, creative birthday cakes each year, made in the dead of night. Wishing wells, Humpty Dumpty's and Garden walls crawling with sweetie insects were the cakes I could only dream of. But didn't have to. 

So when I started hosting my own cooking shows in our family kitchen, with every single ingredient neatly measured out in a gazillion little prep bowls (a la Delia Smith-style), my mom never complained about the mountain of washing up (despite it driving her nuts inside!). The older I got, the more challenging the recipes I attempted became. I never stuck to the simple stuff; having once seen spun sugar in a food magazine, I attempted to make it myself, only to leave my mother chiseling molten sugar off her kitchen floor and walls for weeks afterwards! Yet still, she was always encouraging of my dream. 

 Mom, this recipe and post is for you. You've always supported and encouraged me; from your kind words after little flops on national television to sending me countless recipes from your cookbooks and the many, many dishes you've washed during my endless photoshoots. But most of all, it's a little thank you for the passion and love you gave me for food. 

These pretty red velvets remind me of my mom. Graceful and elegant; I've always thought of the red velvet cupcake as the lady of all the cupcakes. It's bright and cheerful and sweet as can be. But who will you be baking for on World Baking Day, which by the way, is this Sunday (18 May 2014)? Let me know in the comments below and also, WHAT you'll be baking for them! 

Don't forget to make your pledge official here - it puts your #pledgetobake into a cute little card that you can share on social media and also allows you to tag the lucky person you're baking for so that the world knows how awesome they are! 
Happy World Baking Day!

Red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting
Recipe by Stork Bake

Makes 12

180g Stork Bake
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp salt
400g (2 1/2 cups) cake flour
315g (1 1/2 cups) castor sugar
Red food colouring (I used the gel variety)
2 tbsp cocoa powder
250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk or natural yoghurt
3 tsp baking powder

55g Stork Bake
300g Icing sugar, sifted
125g smooth full fat cream cheese

Preheat the oven to 180C. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with cupcake cases. 
Cream the Stork Bake and sugar until light and fluffy. 
Add eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. 
In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa, food colouring and 2 tbsp water then beat into the mixture. 
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt and add into the mixture gradually, alternating with the buttermilk and beating on a low speed. 
Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases, filling them 3/4 full. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch, or a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. 
Cool on a cake rack, before frosting. 
For the frosting, cream the Stork Bake until light and fluffy then add the icing sugar and beat well. Once very light and fluffy, add the cream cheese. 

Remember to hop on over to Facebook and like my page for recipes and sweet stuff. I also tweet about some cool things every now and then and Instagram my bakes (if I remember to snap them before I devour them!)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Nutty chocolate magic bars

Idiot-proof doesn't come close to describing these bars. I mean, you don't even need a bowl to make them! It's a simple case of layering 5 ingredients and banging the tray in the oven. No stirring, no mixing, and no effort. But I don't promise that waiting for them to bake won't take effort because it will. It will in fact be torture. Now I hear you asking, 'But Kate, why are they magic?!' Well, because you just layer the ingredients in the baking tin, and while they are in the oven, they magically split into a crumbly biscuit layer, a sticky caramelised toffee layer and a nutty, chocolatey layer on top. 

What I love the most about these magic bars, besides the fact that they're ridiculously easy and decadent, is that they're just as versatile. Don't like coconut? Swop it out for oats, or puffed rice or granola. Add more nuts, take out the chocolate, sprinkle in smarties or chocolate malty balls, the sky is the limit!

Magic 5 ingredient chocolate bars
No mixing, no washing up, simply layer the ingredients in a baking pan and the bars magically come together during baking.
(makes 24)

125g butter or margarine, melted
150g chocolate or digestive biscuits, crushed
1 tin (395g) sweetened condensed milk
1 cup chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
2 ½ cups chopped nuts, coconut or oats (or a combination of all)

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease and line a 20 x 20cm non-stick baking pan.
Pour the melted butter into the tray and sprinkle the biscuit crumbs over evenly.
Pour the condensed milk over. Layer the remaining ingredients on top one at a time and press down firmly with the back of a spoon. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until light brown. Loosen from the sides while still warm and cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Honey and toasted almond puff pancake

Also known as a 'Dutch baby' this beautifully puffy pancake is a different spin on a breakfast favourite. It's essentially a sweet Yorkshire pudding;  a 5-ingredient batter which is poured into a preheated pan with lots of melted butter. I love how the puffy edges go crispy and almost embrace the fillings that you could add in the middle. Think berries or sliced fruit, scoops of vanilla ice cream or dollops of creme fraiche. I kept mine delightfully simple with a drizzle of honey and a scattering of toasted almonds. And if you'd rather to stick to the good ol' classic pancake then give my milk tart pancakes a try!

Honey and almond puff pancake
Serves 1-2

37g (1/4 cup) flour, sifted
15ml (1 tbsp) castor sugar
1 egg
60ml (1/4 cup) milk
½ tsp vanilla essence or extract
15g butter
25g flaked almonds, toasted
Honey, to serve
Icing sugar, to dust

Preheat oven to 200C. Place a 10cm cast iron skillet, pan (with an oven-proof handle) or oven-proof dish in the oven for at least 20 minutes to preheat.
In the meantime, combine the flour and sugar. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk to form a smooth batter. Once the pan is preheated, remove it from the oven and add the butter. Coat the pan with the melted butter then immediately pour in the pancake batter and place back in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pancake is puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately scattered with almonds, drizzled with honey and finished off with a dusting of icing sugar.

TIP Take care when removing the pan from the oven as it will be very hot!