Carrot cake with chocolate icing

Carrot cake with chocolate icing

 

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This is really the easiest cake ever!  Carrots are blended with eggs and oil, fully incorporated, which turns the batter into the beautiful orange color. Don’t worry about the amount of baking powder! Without whipped egg whites to do the lift of the batter and with the weight of the carrots, there is no other way around. It is a very popular coffee cake in Brazil, sweet and filling but yet with a twist on the healthy side with the carrots, sort of.

If you are not much of an icing person, like me, make the icing as a thin layer, which will add just a touch of chocolate on top of the soft cake, so delicious! You can also use Nutella as a topping or any of your choice of store bought icing.

I remember so well visiting family or friends on a weekend afternoon, nothing planned in advance, as it happens so often down there.  The home host would excuse herself for 10 min and come back to entertaining. In a while all you can smell in the house is this carrot cake baking for us, the unexpected guests! Half an hour later, there comes the cake, still warm served with fresh espressos! Good food always related with good memories, priceless!

Cake ingredients

3 medium carrots (7 to 8 ounces)

3 large eggs

3/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/4 cup sugar

3 tsp baking powder ( it seems a lot, but my guess that the carrots base requires a heavy lift)

1/2 tsp salt

Icing ingredients

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup cocoa powder

3 tbs butter

1/4 cup milk

Cake Directions:

Pre heat the oven to 350F.

Peel and slice the carrots. Mix the carrots, eggs and oil in the blender and give it a good mix.

Mix all the dry ingredients together, sifting the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add the carrot mix and stir well. Grease a 8 inches cake pan and pour the batter evenly.

Bake for 40 to 45F, until a toothpick comes out clean.

Icing Directions:

Mix all the ingredients in a pan, low heat stirring until it comes to a boil. Cook for one minute and pour on top of the cake while both, cake and icing are still a bit warm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Milk buns from Heaven

Milk buns from Heaven

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I found this recipe in the House & Home magazine, from chef Eric Vellend. I was planning to try the technique of baking bread with a steaming water tray in the bottom of the oven, to get the glossy brown crust for a while and had the opportunity to do so with this recipe.
Perfection! I couldn’t expect for a better result: moist, light, these buns melt in your mouth. As dinner rolls they stole all the attention from the main dish!

Milk buns
1 cup whole milk scalded and cooled
1 cup water at room temperature
3 tbs honey
3 tbs olive oil, plus more for greasing bowl
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast ( 1 envelope 8 g)
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more if needed

1 large egg at room temperature, beaten

Place milk, honey , water and oil in large mixing bowl. Stir to dissolve honey. Add yeast and salt. Gradually stir flour with a wooden spoon, until dough forms.
Transfer to floured surface. Gently knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth, 5 minutes.
Oil bowl, large enough for the dough to double size and place dough in the bowl. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let it sit in warm spot until doubled in size, 1 hour.
Transfer dough to floured surface and briefly knead to knock out gas. Return to bowl, cover again and let or sit for 45 minutes.
Transfer dough yo the floured surface again and divide into portion the size of a tangerine ( 45 gr). Form each portion into a tight ball. Place 1/2 ” apart on parchment lined baking sheet and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let sit in warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400F. Bring kettle of water to boil. Pour 1″ layer of water into a roasting pan and place pan on bottom shelf of oven.
Brush tops of buns with egg and bake in upper third of the oven until golden brown, 20 minutes.

The pan of hot water creates steam in the oven, which helps the buns rise better and form a glossy and brown crust.

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The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

The magic of a crispy and fresh no knead bread

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I finally did it! I’ve been waiting for a long time to try a “no knead” bread recipe. I mean, a long time, years actually. I waited until I made one of my most precious kitchen investments and purchased my Le Creuset – Round French oven pan . I was persistent and lucky enough to find the pan, in my choice of color, at Home Sense – Winners at half price! It is the one I use every day, cast iron spreading the heat beautifully and evenly making my cooking faster and easier. I leave it on the stove since it is so pretty and colorful! Other than one frying pan and one sauce pan, I hardly use anything else in the kitchen pans department.

I had seen Laura Calder making this bread and found the exact same recipe The miracle boule on line. Followed her directions and voilà!

The simplicity of the ingredients, flour, water, yeast and salt makes one appreciate the mystical symbolism that bread has always had in the history of civilization, as one of the basics foods for human beings for centuries.

The exchange is quite simple too, no need to knead but you do need to wait. Start to make the night before, 5 minutes of super easy preparation to put the dough together and then forget about it. Next morning or afternoon it will be ready for the next step, one more raise.
Patience does pay off. It is so beautiful to see the yeast working its magic, no intervention needed, as many times we should behave in life, waiting for things to go its own way…

I just loved the whole process and I am now with 2 more doughs gently sitting on my counter top. Forgot to mention how delicious and indulgent was to have the fresh and still warm bread with butter. Simple and irresistible.

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I followed Laura Calder recipe completely. The only thing I would add is to cover the dough bowl with a wet cloth to avoid the dough of being dry. I read many other recipes and tips on the “no knead” bread and apparently you can get the same result with pans that are not cast iron like mine. There are some more information about it here.

Now, to the recipe:

No knead bread

3 cups or 375 g all-purpose flour, plus more as needed
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
1 1/2 cup water
Cornmeal, wheat bran or extra flour

Mix the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Stir in water to blend. What you’ll have is a wet, shaggy, sticky dough, but not so wet as to be batter. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and let it rest in a warm place for at least 12 hours, and up to 24 hours. It’s ready for the next step when the surface is dotted with bubbles.
Flour a work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Sprinkle over a little more flour and fold it once or twice. Cover with the tea towel and let rest 15 minutes.
Using only enough flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers, shape the dough into a ball. Coat a cotton towel with cornmeal, wheat bran or flour and lay the dough on it, seam-side down. Dust with more cornmeal, wheat bran or flour. (You need quite a lot because you want to be sure the dough doesn’t stick to the towel). Cover and let rise for about 2 hours. When ready, the dough will be more than double in size.
Half an hour before the dough is ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F/230 degrees C. Put a 2-liter cast-iron pot or Dutch oven (cocotte) inside to heat.
When the dough is ready, remove the pot from the oven and turn the dough into it, seam-side up. (It will look messy, but this is OK.) Shake the pot to settle the bread evenly. Cover with the lid and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake until the loaf is nicely browned, another 15 to 30 minutes. Cool on a rack.

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Perfect moist and light banana bread

Perfect moist and light banana bread

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Bananas are very abundant in Brazil, all shapes, many different types, found everywhere, a fruit that is commonly taken for granted, as so there is an expression to describe it: “as cheap as bananas”. You would think that banana bread would be a favorite there too but it is not.

There are plenty of banana cakes, banana pies, breads filled with banana and cream, tons of different types of banana desserts but nothing like the North America’s favorite, banana bread. I tried it for the first time still in Brazil, many years ago, in a friend’s house, who used to be a baker in Montreal and I fell in love since.
I never miss an opportunity to try a different one at any coffee shop and I am always experimenting with new recipes, like my Ultimate and fluffy banana bread, still looking for the perfect banana bread, that would remind me of that first one.
So it happened! I was flipping the pages of the last issue of Canadian Living magazine and found it! I had to try it right away and so far, this will be the one I will be baking, for ever!!
The original recipe is here.

The secret that makes it so special ? Let the mashed ripe bananas soak for 5 minutes with buttermilk and baking soda and the magic of fluffiness gets started!

Moist and light, no surprise that baking with brown sugar and real butter would bring the banana flavor very alive, but it was worth it! I substituted half of the flour with whole wheat flour and half of the brown sugar with sweetener to make it diabetes friendly.
If you like walnuts, chocolate chips or raisins, go ahead and add 1/2 to 1 cup of your favorite thing.

Perfect moist and light banana bread

1 loaf – 12 pieces

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup buttermilk
1-1/2 tsp baking soda
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (or half all-purpose and half whole wheat flour)
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Stir together bananas, buttermilk and baking soda. Let stand for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In large bowl, beat butter with brown sugar until combined; beat in egg, vanilla and banana mixture. Stir in flour mixture until combined; scrape into greased 9- x 5-inch loaf pan.

Bake in 350 F oven until cake tester inserted into centre comes out clean, 60 to 70 minutes. Let cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Turn out onto rack; let cool completely.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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Large Cinnamon roll

Large Cinnamon roll

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Baking is magic!

And cinnamon buns are an ultimate indulgence! I had to bake something to bring for a reunion and decided it would be a good chance to make my ever favorite, my way. That means, a generous dough, lots of cinnamon but not too sweet and, very important, packed with raisins. For the icing, just a thin layer of confectioner sugar mixed with milk for a little shine and texture, again, not too sweet. It is a huge treat for me, one I don’t have too often, so I make sure to enjoy eating as much as preparing it. I love to see the dough rising, waiting for the house to be filled with the cinnamon smell and watching the beautiful golden color after is baked. Baking is truly magic!
If you like it richer and sweeter, be more generous with the brown sugar and butter before rolling it out.
I got this recipe from a cooking TV show. I just kept writing it down and baked it right after.

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Large cinnamon bun

Ingredients

2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (1 pouch)
4 oz warm water
1 tbs sugar

3 1/2 cup flour
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsalted butter melted with
3/4 cup milk at room temperature
3 tbs sugar
touch of vanilla
pinch of salt

1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tbs butter

For the filling
1/2 to 3/4 cup of melted butter
1/2 to 3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
lots of cinnamon

For the icing
For my light icing I just mix 1/2 cup of icing sugar with 2 tbs milk. But an optional way, actually more popular, is mixing: 4 oz cream cheese, 1 cup of whipping cream and 1 cup of icing sugar, blending it together with some vanilla.

Directions:

Start mixing yeast and the warm water with sugar and let it rest until a starts foaming. In the mean time gather all your ingredients.

Combine flour, eggs, melted butter, milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt mixing well. Add the yeast mixture and start kneading for at least 5 min., until the dough is nice and elastic. Let it rest in a bowl lightly greased with oil. Wait 45 min to 1 hour.

Flour a surface, take the dough out of the bowl and punch it out to get all the air out of the dough. Roll it out in an oval shape.
Brush the melted butter on the whole sheet of dough. Sprinkle brown sugar, raisins, cinnamon.

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Roll it up as tight as possible. Pinch at the end to seal it out. Now you have a long log.

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Brush more butter, more brown sugar and cinnamon on the top of the log. Roll up the log once more, tight.

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Melt the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a cake pan, mixing well. Place the roll in the center of this pan, cover and let it rise a second time for 45 min to 1 hour.

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At this point it can stay in the fridge until the next morning and you can bake it fresh for breakfast!

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Heat oven to 375 F. Bake for 30 min and then cover with foil and cook for more 20 to 25 min.

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Take out of the oven and spread your favorite icing on top. Enjoy!!!

Perfect classic pumpkin pie

Perfect classic pumpkin pie

perfect pumpkin pie
perfect pumpkin pie

Finally it’s time for pumpkin pie! Not that we can’t enjoy at other time of the year, but when the air is crisp, the leaves are turning red and a light jacket is needed to walk the dog, it is time to fill the house with the sweet smell of a pumpkin pie baking away in the oven.

Every year I try a different recipe and normally I am pretty happy with all of them, just for a change. This time I tried Anna Olson’s Perfect Pumpkin Pie and, literally, is to die for!

The crust is firm and flaky, not too sweet, doesn’t overpower the pumpkin filling, which is definitely the star.
This pie filling is essentially a custard. High heat will let it set, and the reduced heat will cook it. The result is a silky, melt in your mouth filling, rich and soothing but subtle enough to get you wanting a second piece.

Perfection! That’s the pie I will be baking for Thanks Giving this year.

I decided to skip the orange zest and the spicy whipped cream since my family is not too adventurous to changes in a pumpkin pie. But I am sure it would taste great!
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My ever glorious morning glory muffin

My ever glorious morning glory muffin

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I found this recipe in an old issue of Canadian House & Garden magazine and since the first batch I baked, I could not stop thinking of these muffins every time I sip my coffee in a lazy and sunny Sunday morning. Or in any other day, actually. Perfection.

The story behind is that this recipe is one of the signature muffins from chef Debbie Parker at the High level Diner – Edmonton AB, Canada.

For me, the magic about this muffin is the perfect combination of fruity flavors: bananas, almonds, walnuts, coconut, my ever favorite, raisins and a hint of orange. It is an explosion of hearty goods baked with a smart mix of whole wheat flour, wheat bran and all-purpose flour, for a more than satisfying breakfast or snack. And yes, super healthy.

It has 2 layers, so the crunchy topping is quite the hit here. Not too sweet but sweet enough, dense but yet moist.

I did substitute sugars by sweeteners to make it diabetes friendly, as usual, for my husband, but the recipe below follows the original.

Great recipe to get us started in the cooling temperatures waiting for us in this fall!

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Orange nut Muffin

12 large muffins or 18 small ones

Muffins
1 cup natural wheat bran
2/3 whole wheat flour
1 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3 medium bananas, mashed
3 eggs, beaten
1 tbs molasses
1/2 cup melted butter
zest and juice from 1 large orange

Topping
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/2 cup silvered almonds
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 1/2 tbs raisins or currants
2 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Pre heat oven to 350 F. In a large mixing bowl combine wheat bran, flours, brown sugar and baking soda. Sir until well combined. Add bananas and mash well to remove any lumps. Add beaten eggs, molasses, butter, orange juice and zest and mix until batter is smooth and well combined.
In a medium size bowl, combine all topping ingredients except eggs and oil. Stir to combine. Add eggs and oil and stir again.
Pour batter evenly into the prepared baking cups (12 large or 18 small).
Top with nut mixture, spreading evenly among all muffins.
Bake for 30 min. Check after 5 min and push all fallen topping back onto the top of the muffins.

Enjoy and thanks for stopping by!

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