Saturday, December 17, 2011

Blueberry Cream Cheese Coffee Cake

I think this is a pretty good photo, don't you?
Well, it's better than the ones I've been posting, haha
   Nope, this cake does not have coffee in it. I suppose it's called a 'coffee cake' because it's good to have with coffee, just like a teacake is good with tea? Or good for tea? Anyway, I had three blocks of cream cheese (well, 1 and a half actually) and I wanted to make a cake that uses cream cheese but I did't want anything that uses too much cheese or else I won't have another chance to bake any other cream cheese recipes until we get some more. Get it?

   Thankfully, we can now get Tatura cream cheese for almost half the price of a block of Philadelphia cream cheese. I suppose Philadelphia cheese is creamier or more delicious or whatever, but we're not fussy folk and I believe in enjoying what food we can afford. Some people can't even afford a good, square meal per day. We've had a whole family- a mum and her children, (so many of them too!) come asking for some money and water at our house once. Poor kiddies. And mummy. 

   So should I be overly fussy over getting the best ingredients for baking, when cheaper ones which are good enough are available? I believe not. If I can afford to buy the more expensive stuff one day, Insya-Allah I will, but if I can't, I shouldn't grumble about it. And I won't. So remind me if I do.

   This is a pretty good recipe, and one that I'd probably make again. However, I seem to have problems  with cakes that need to be baked for over one-hour- the sides always turn out overbaked and black and burnt, just like with the Apple Crumble Teacake I made . I'm not quite sure how to counter  this problem, does anybody have any good tips that you ca share with me? I'd be really grateful.

   The ingredients & measurements below are what I've used, so visit the link for the original recipe and the metric measurements. 

Source: JoyofBaking

The Whats:

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup coarse granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter cut into pieces

Cream Cheese Filling:
8 ounce  cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon all purpose flour 

Cake Batter:
1 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup good-quality margarine
1/2 cup soft brown sugar, tightly packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla essence
1/3 cup milk

1/2 cup (or more) blueberry filling

The How-Tos:

Preheat oven to 150C (original is 180C).

Grease and line the bottom of an 8x8-inch pan with baking paper (I don't have a springform pan, so I just used a regular one)..

Streusel Topping:
Mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon in one bowl. Cut in the butter using a fork, a  bread knife or the tips of your fingers  until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Cover and place mixture in the refrigerator (or freezer, which is what I did!) to keep it cold.

Cream Cheese Filling:
Place cream cheese in a bowl and beat using an electric mixer until creamy and smooth. Add the sugar, egg, vanilla and flour and beat until well incorporated. Set aside.

Cake Batter:
Whisk or sift flour and baking powder into a bowl.

In a separate bowl, beat the margarine until smooth and creamy. Add in sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well incorporated. Add the flour mixture alternately with the milk and eat until just combined. 


Spread the cake batter onto the bottom of the prepared pan and up the sides (the mixture is quite thick so this shouldn't be too  difficult). Pour the cream cheese filling on top of the cake batter. Spread or dollop generous spoonfuls of the blueberry filling on top of the cream cheese filling. Scatter the streusel topping on top.

Bake for about 50 to 60 minutes. Test using a toothpick- poke it into the centre of the cake. Wait for 5 minutes and pull it out, if it comes out clean it is ready. Remove from oven and let cool.

Serve warm or at room temperature. It's good enough on its own, but you can always have it with cream. Yum!

Baker's notes:

1. Using coarse granulated sugar gives the streusel topping a lovely crunch, which Littlest Brother approved of. 
2. The cake is best eaten o the day it's made, because the topping will slowly sort of soak the moisture from the cream cheese filling, I think, and will no longer be crumbly. But it's stil definitely good for eating. Definitely.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Lemon Bars

Lemon bars!
I think lemons are the best-smelling fruits in the world! But then again, I haven't smelled all the fruits that ever existed, so I may be mistaken. I've always wanted to make lemon bars. Ever since I started using lemons in baking, I've loved it. Truly. The flavour. The smell. Heavenly.

Source: Joy of Baking (visit the link for metric measurements & a how-to video)

The Whats
Shortbread Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter - I used margarine & omitted the salt
1/4 cup icing/powdered sugar
1 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon salt

Lemon Filling
1 cup fine granulated white sugar
1 large eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons) - I only had 2 lemons & got about 1/4 cup juice
1 tablespoons lemon zest (from 2 lemons)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Some icing/powdered sugar for dusting the top

The How-tos
Shortbread Crust
1. Preheat oven to 350F/180C.
2. Butter and line bottom of 8x8-inch pan with parchment paper. Make sure you butter the sides really well, and if you're up too it, line the sides with parchment paper as well. I'd advice you to do it (which implies that I didn't do it).
3. Beat the margarine and sugar using a handheld mixer until smooth and creamy.
4. Add the flour and salt and mix just until dough comes together.
5. Press the dough onto the bottom of your pan. This might prove a bit tricky. The best way would be to use the base of your palms as the dough won't stick too much to it. Use your pointer and middle fingers to gently press the dough into the corners.
6. Bake dough for about 20 minutes (mine took only 15 minutes) or until the edges are just lightly browned. Don't overbake as it's going to go into the oven again later.
7. Cool the crust while making your lemon filling.

Lemon Filling
1. Beat sugar and eggs using a handheld electric mixer until smooth.
2. Stir in lemon zest and juice.
3. Fold in flour, making sure you beat out any lumps. I like to use a spatula and chase any lumps to  the side of the bowl, pressing them against it.
4. Pour mixture on top of the crust. (My crust had sort of loosened from the sides of the pan a bit, and I was worried the filling would sink to the bottom of the pan, but thankfully they didn't. Much.)
5. Bake for 15-17 minutes or less or until the filling's set.
6. Dust top with icing sugar. Cut into bars and serrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrveeeee!!!

   I forgot about all about the bars after I'd put them into the oven  (I was busy browsing for more recipes). When I did remember, the timer was about to go off and the lemon bars were super brown. Uh-huk. I immediately rescued them without checking if the filling had set.

The crust. I overbaked it.
Just out of the oven. I overbaked the whole thing.  Darn.

   Fortunately icing sugar saved the day! What's important though, is that the flavour was not compromised. I am definitely making these again! Mum  thought they're too sweet, but I think they're fine, so I think they should be fine with you sweet-toothed lot.

   Oh yeah.. The filling stuck a bit to the sides of the pan, but I used a metal spatula to loosen them. They might turn out a bit wonky, and the filling isn't super solid, but I like them that way:

Click here to read about 10 interesting things about lemons

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Super Moist Egg-less Chocolate Cake

  Or Black Beauty. I'd like to call it that. It was wonderfully black in colour.

   We were out of eggs. Dad asked, "What do you need eggs for?"

   "I was thinking of making cake?"

   "Then we're getting eggs tonight!"

   Hopeful they will. I was in the mood for baking right then and there though, and decided that I wouldn't wait. I googled 'eggless chocolate cake' and found this recipe. After being used to the DFCC, it was nice to make plain, chocolate cake without any topping. No fuss, no mess. According to the blogger who posted it, the cake was good enough without the need for a topping, so I went with her suggestion. 

   And it is pretty good. That is, if you like super, dark chocolaty cake. If you'd rather have a topping, then by all means go for it. I like how smooth it looked when it came out of the oven, with just a few tiny cracks on top. And how easy it is to make. You only need one bowl and a hand whisk for mixing. As well as measuring spoons and cups. And a spatula. I can never make cake without my spatula.

This was taken using a flash.
What a huge difference from the first photo!
   The texture is spongy and not too crumbly, and the colour really dark. I'm a goon at taking photos, and this cake was extra tricky because of its colour. Oh well. I had three slices before I knew it. And the others aren't even back home yet.

Sources: Love2Cook & Dapurku Sayang

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon soda
1/2 cocoa powder
a pinch of salt
two tablespoons milk powder
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup cold water (from the fridge)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or essence
1/2 cup vegetable oil (apparently you can also use melted butter/margarine or cooking oil)
1 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar (which I forgot. Whoops)

1. Preheat oven to 160C.
2. Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa powder into a large mixing bowl.
3. Add salt, milk powder and brown sugar into flour mixture. Whisk until well combined.
4. Measure water into measuring cup and add in vanilla extract. Add to dry ingredients and mix using whisk, making sure there aren't any lumps.
5. Add vegetable oil and whisk until well-combined. Apparently you can also use melted margarine or butter (omit salt if you use margarine or salted butter) or cooking oil, but I don't recommend the latter. (I've used cooking oil once for pastry and didn't like the taste.)
6. Add lemon juice/vinegar and mix well. (I forgot this part so I don't know how it affects the cake).
7. Pour into 8x8-inch pan. Or you could use a smaller, round pan if you want a taller cake.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes. Test for done-ness using a toothpick- poke one until it reaches the bottom of the pan, wait for 5 seconds and pull it out, If it comes out clean, it's done.
9. Slather some topping on top if desired. I didn't bother.

I was... uh-hum... trying to take a photo while holding the camera in one hand.
Not a good  strategy.
   This is not a cake for wowing people. More of a I-need-a-good-cake-in-45-minutes sort of cake, maybe for serving some guests? It's nice and simple and uncomplicated. you won't have a heart attack making it. Although my whisk did fall out of the bowl two times. 

Crime scene!
Washing up!