Sunday, August 24

a little boozy devil's food cake

Since I learned the basics of baking cakes last year, I have declared myself the official cake baker for any family occasion at home. And being at the stage of trying different cake recipes off the net and tweaking them a little to suit my family's tastes (or my budget), I was able to make some good ones.

Now when I found this recipe, it became a totally different story. I baked this the first time at my on Mother's day this year.  Everyone loved it so much I baked it again for Father's day and my sister's birthday. Even my boss (and friend) who is also a baker and not such a fan of chocolate flavored baked goods liked it. Now that's saying something.
The father's day version (as inspired by Lorraine Pascal's "i can't believe you made this cake" design. i surrounded the cake with chocolate pretzel sticks and topped it with a bunch of grapes.
The second time i baked this (Father's Day), there was some rum sitting in the fridge and I was then fascinated by boozed-up baked goods then so I said why not? Thus this spiked devil's food cake version was born.

Spiked Devil's food cake
Ingredients  (makes 1 two-layered 6-inch cake/12 cupcakes)

1/2 cup best-quality cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
1 stick (1/2 cup) soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
3/4 cup sugar
11/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon rum (or more if you like it boozier)
2 eggs
chocolate butter cream frosting or any other frosting of your liking

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottoms of both cake pans with parchment paper and butter the sides.

Put the cocoa and 1/2 cup dark brown sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to combine, then set aside.

Stir the flour, baking powder and baking soda together in another bowl.

Cream the butter and superfine sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.  Dribble in the vanilla extract and rum into the creamed butter and sugar.  Add in the eggs one at a time beating well after each addition.

Slowly add the dry ingredients then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl out well with a spatula. Divide the batter between the two prepared pans and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Take the pans out and put them on a wire rack for 5 to 10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.

If you are making this batter for cupcakes, line a 12-slot muffin pan with cupcake liner and pour the batter into each cup. I usually do 3 tbsp per cupcake then bake in a pre-heated 350 degrees F oven for about 15-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cupcake comes out clean.

Note: The cake layers can be baked 1 day ahead and assembled before serving: wrap tightly in plastic wrap and store in airtight container. Iced cake will keep for 2 to 3
days in airtight container in a cool place.

Freeze Note: Un-iced cake layers can be frozen on day of baking, each wrapped in double layer of plastic wrap and a layer of aluminium foil, for up to 3 months. Thaw for
3 to 4 hours on wire rack at room temperature.

Note: I adapted this recipe somewhere but unfortunately wasn't able to recall the blog's link anymore. I hope the owner forgives me.

Sunday, August 17

grilled calzone (a clean-out-your-fridge recipe)

I always take it as a challenge when I check out the contents of my fridge right before I do my next batch of grocery shopping and see if I can cook something up out of what's left in it. I let my imagination go wild (yup, because i live on the edge!).

Today, when i checked out what's left of the vegetables and meats in my fridge, here are what I found:

a jar of olives
half a jar of button mushrooms
left over pasta sauce
left over chopped grilledchicken breast (orginally meant for my vegetable salads)

You already have a hint of what you can do with these? They all seem pretty Italian to me so what do I make with them? Nope,not pasta (I've been eating pasta the past 2 days so i was getting tired of it), calzones! And since I wasn't in the mood to use the oven, being it was about 33 degrees (C) outside and it's already hot as it is at 9 in the morning, I decided to do something crazy and said to myself, "hey, if you can grill flat breads, why not grill calzones?"  and so I did.

so i just chopped up those vegetables i found in my crisper, added some yellow onions and my chopped grilled chicken breast, poured some pasta sauce on them and stuffed it onto rolled out fresh pizza dough (yup, i made one because i'm trying my hand at yeast bread making too.) folded it up,crimped it and onto the stove top grill it goes. then i realized that I made 2 BIG calzones so one of them became my brown bag lunch at work for the next 2 days plus some chopped salad and the rest my family feasted on for afternoon snack.


1/4 cup chopped vegetables of your choosing (bell peppers, onions, zucchini, olives,mushrooms)
1/4 cup chopped grilled chicken (or other meats/seafood) 
1 cup pasta sauce
1 cup grated cheese
salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste
1 egg beaten for egg wash
half recipe of this pizza dough or store-bought frozen dough (3-4 ounces)

1) mix together the chopped vegetables, grilled chicken and pasta sauce. add salt, pepper and chili flakes to taste and set aside. 

 2) Once the pizza dough is done with the 1st proofing (if fresh) or if it has already thawed (frozen),  line your work table with parchment paper and divide the dough in half. Roll each ball out into a 1/4 inch thick rectangle about 4x9 with a rolling pin. top half of the dough with cheese then top that with the vegetable-chicken mixture the top that again with grated cheese.  fold the other half of the dough over the filled half and crimp the sides with a fork to seal it.  prick the calzone with a fork to let out steam as it grills.  brush with egg wash and transfer the calzones to an aluminum sheet and wrap it loosely with it. grill on top of a preheated grill and grill for about 4-5 minutes per side until golden brown.

Note: You can also bake these at a 400F oven for about 15-20 minutes.

Sunday, August 10

brownies of celebrity origin

When I first started baking, I wanted to try something simple. something that preferably wouldn't need a mixer (because I didn't have a mixer yet at that time) so as any normal 21st century citizen would do, I resorted to the internet. And there I found the famous Katharine Hepburn brownies. I baked it the first time and my family loved it. Who wouldn't? It's Katherine Hepburn's recipe, duh?!

What I like about the recipe is that it only needed 2 ounces of chocolate so it is less expensive that other brownie recipes out there.  I also added a little something extra to create a more pronounced and shinier "crackled crust" on top.

Oh, and pardon the photos. I just took them using my camera phone. I'll get better at it, I promise.

Katherine Hepburn-inspired Brownies
Yield: 16 bars

1/2 unsalted butter, cubed
2 ounces (60 g) unsweetened chocolate, chopped
3/4 sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tbsp. cocoa powder*
3/4 cup (75 g) nuts, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 325ºF (160ºC.) Line an 8-inch (20 cm) square pan with a large rectangle of foil, leaving the overhang over the rim of the pan. Butter or spray the inside of the foil lining the pan with nonstick spray.

2. In a medium saucepan set over very low heat, melt the butter and the chocolate, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from heat and let stand for a minute or two just so to avoid letting the heat of the chocolate cook the eggs and stir in the sugar, then mix in the eggs and the vanilla extract.

3. Stir in flour, cocoa powder and salt. Scrape the mixture in the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until the brownies feel just-set in the center. Remove from oven and let cool. Once cool, lift the brownies out of the pan by grasping the foil overhang, the cut the brownies into squares.

Note: *This is that something extra :)
Adapted from: David Lebovitz's blog

Saturday, August 9

and so it begins...

I have found passion in baking and cooking for that matter since I was a kid. I remember watching "Wok with Yan" when I was about 4 years old with my mom and dad every Sunday afternoon. As I grew older, I remember watching my grandmother and uncles cook in the kitchen and persistently staying in there no matter how much they push me away.  When I was finally allowed to cook in the kitchen at 9 years old, I started with the basics. Boiling water, cooking rice, sautéing vegetables. I even still have the recipe clips from magazines and newspapers that I kept since I was 12. That's the year I really started experimenting n the kitchen. I'd watch cooking shows and get ideas from there: technique, flavor combinations, plating.

I started baking, on the other hand, 3 years ago. I have been fascinated by it since my teenage years but I was never confident to try it. I wasn't sure if the science of it all is something I can keep up with.  but all these doubts were finally dispelled after my aunt sold me her electric oven. I bought it, stored it and forgot about it until I one day remembered and realized that I shouldn't let it stay in the cupboard.  So I starting buying baking basics a little at a time and in about 3 months I was already baking basic cookies, cakes and bars from recipes I got off watching the cooking channel and from food blogs.  it took me another 3 years to finally get the courage to blog about it. and so Passion, bakes and bites happened.