Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 2010 Daring Bakers ~ Traditional British Pudding!!

Okay, Bermuda may be a British Dependant Territory…but baking British food is not my flavor.

The April 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Esther of The Lilac Kitchen. She challenged everyone to make a traditional British pudding using, if possible, a very traditional British ingredient: suet.

I first looked at this challenge and thought “Heck no!” I was not buying “suet” no way no how and not making pudding. Then I thought of the Christmas Pudding my granny makes and thought it may not be that bad. I read the challenge…over and over. It was easy… Esther allowed variations…the most important variation was using Crisco or butter rather then suet. Whew.

So, I got cocky. Oh yeah, I can do this…easy. Just like dough. Needless to say, I am not that great with dough. I mean, how many recipes you see on this blog with dough? Two…maybe? My hands are too warm for mixing that butter with flour. My hands are perfectly warm for fondant :)

So, I tackle it…choosing to do a savory vegetarian pudding for hubby. Poor Hubby. My first issue was of course, the dough. It was so fragile. I couldn’t roll it in one piece and even if I managed to do so, transferring to the greased Pyrex dish was a nightmare. Like a puzzle, I ended up slopping my dough in sections in my dish. UGH!! I shook it off. Time for my filling to go in. My filling was a sautéed spicy chickpea with tomatoes and potatoes. It looked a bit too watery…but I thought the more juice the better. I then pieced section by section dough to cover the filling…like a pie. I felt positive. Then, 2 hours later the positivity flew out the window. Much like how I felt when I saw my so called traditional pudding.

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This is the only picture your going to get. After daringly trying to turn this out on a platter I decided that it was only good for my eyes only. The dough was gummy and partially cooked. Just like the hard potatoes in the filling. The filling spilled out because the dough which was supposed to be a great crust couldn’t support the weight due to it being under cooked. What a disaster. I threw the filling in a frying pan and sautéed till potatoes were cooked and served to Hubby with some rice. Poor Hubby.

2 weeks flew by before I decided to tackle the pudding recipe again. This time I figure I will do a sponge cake like pudding! Ah ha! Cake and me are friends..so this should be a no brainer.

Again, super easy recipe I found on the Pudding Club website. Can you imagine…a whole website for pudding lovers! Seriously take a look because some of them look delish! I chose Jam and Coconut pudding.  Please make a note… “desiccated” coconut is not a fancy smancy way that the British call grated coconut. I learned this the hard way. Also, someone needs to explain to me why 120g of caster sugar is not the same as 1 cup of granulated sugar. No explanation is really needed…I just need to know why my brain blanked out and did this. Caster sugar is soooo different from granulated sugar…just as desiccated coconut is to grated coconut.  These ingredients needed to be a finer texture.

I did enjoy putting this pudding recipe together. Creaming butter and sugar and sifting dry ingredients. Whoa, I am a pro at that. I even proudly used my homemade strawberry jam that I cooked the night before. So good.

Unlike the chickpea disaster which went in a casserole dish filled with water in the oven, I put this one in the Crockpot. When I heard the occasional burp from the crock I felt like I finally had it. 

2 hours passed, I checked it and all was good. I let it sit for 10 minutes before turning out on plate as I read that somewhere. Then, IT happened. IT is THIS…

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It kind of fell. Yeah, like splooshed in the middle.. What the heck did I do wrong?? Perhaps the incorrect sugar type? I think so.

However, see the spoon? That spoon tried very hard to let go. Seriously. This pudding was so good… I had to pry the spoon away from it, then pry the spoon away from my mouth. It was difficult to stop nibbling at this pudding.

Kudos to you Esther, for choosing a technique that I, like many have never tried before. You have converted some folks. I haven’t decided if I am a convert yet…I may tackle this again. The taste is well worth another shot!

For those of you that want to know more about steamed puddings and suet, check out Esther’s blog at The Lilac Kitchen. If you go to the end of her post she has a great write up on the different methods. Feel free to try it and get back to me… As I said, I may try again. If I fail then British pudding is just not my cup of tea. :)

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wii Wii Monsieur

My little cousin’s birthday is today…and I told him for his birthday present I can do a cake! When I asked what theme of cake he wanted he said “Final Fantasy.” Who, what? I had never heard of Final Fantasy anything. I had my work cut out for me.

I had all intentions of creating his requested character of choice by gumpaste. I was pretty excited because it was giving me another chance to work on gumpaste figures. His dad quickly informed me that the birthday boy wanted toy action figures on his cake. Okay…no problem. A little disappointed but it was his birthday so he gets what he wants.

Originally I was going to do a round cake with marble fondant and stick the figure on top and do the logo and taaaa daaaa! Then the day before I decided to go a different route. I did a Wii remote control since that is what he was getting for his birthday. No…not a Wii remote…a Final Fantasy game for his Wii.  Why not tie it all in and make it cohesive.

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There is Squall. Squall looks like Cloud. Ask me how I know..

I read so much on Final Fantasy that I could play the game and win on the first try. Not exactly but you get my point.

I like that I went this route with this cake. The Wii remote is pretty simple to replicate. My only thing is I didn’t have a long enough cake board so the remote is not as narrow and thin as I would have liked it. Otherwise then that I was happy with it… I probably would have been more happy if the figure was a gumpaste one too. But it was a great way to present a gift of an action figure to the birthday boy… and he was very grateful.

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The cake flavor was vanilla with a layer of buttercream..as per birthday boy request.

 

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Happy Birthday Zenas!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh So Red Velvet Cake!

I have searched for a good red velvet cake recipe. And that is hard to do when you are not quite sure what flavor red velvet should be. Is it chocolate cake? I think not…not with only 2 tablespoons of cocoa…this chocolate fanatic will never be satisfied with that. Its not vanilla white or yellow cake…if you don’t add the red coloring it is an unappealing beige. What flavor is beige?

Some feel that red velvet cake is just a vessel for a good cream cheese frosting. Well, I happen to think that most cake is so I can’t attest to that theory. Red velvet cake…should taste like something…some type of flavor of cake.

Anyway, with that said I have tried 2 different red velvet cake recipes and not been quite happy. I have had a great red velvet from Metrotainment Bakery here in Atlanta and I just needed to find a recipe that came dang near close if not better.

This, my third red velvet, was a hit. I must say I had a few issues. One was that I kept getting clucks of flour or cocoa in my batter. I was distraught trying to get these flour poufs out of my batter. I did everything, even taking my rubber spatula squashing them…but there where too many. I gave in and baked the cake and the flour poufs came up to the top of each cupcake. I am thinking that I need to sift the dry ingredients instead of whisking to mix. I will have to test this because it could really change the texture of the cake. I mean really, this cake is super soft and moist…any more fluff may cause it to disintegrate in my hands before it disintegrates in my mouth.

Secondly, I tasted a cupcake about 20 minutes after cooling time and I felt it had an aftertaste that I did not like. It didn’t taste bad…but it was just something that lingered on that I didn’t want too.

Without panicking I decided to wait and taste it again. Sometimes cake needs a few hours for the flavors to come together. There are many cakes that taste a whole lot better the next day. Well, by George…this was one of them. I gave a cupcake another go and WOW! Super impressed.  No funny aftertaste..and I didn’t even see the “drive me crazy flour poufs”. Perhaps they really did poof??

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Now, have I figured out what taste a red velvet cake has? Nah… and with this recipe I don’t need to. It clearly taste like red velvet. :)

I will be making this again in 8 inch round and 3 layer form. And I also have another 2 red velvet recipes that I want to try and compare. But for now I had to post this recipe because it tops my list as a great cake. A great vessel for whatever frosting you decide to slather on top. Some prefer a great Vanilla Buttercream but most prefer a Cream Cheese Frosting as I used above.

This recipe was forwarding to me by someone who didn’t even know I was looking for a great red velvet recipe! Go figure… Here’s Simone’s source.. The BEST Red Velvet Cake on"Yes, Divas can cook" blog!

Thanks Divas.

Recipe:

CAKE

Ingredients:~

2 cups all purpose flour

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of baking powder

1 teaspoon of salt

2 Tablespoon of unsweetened, cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar

2 teaspoon of  vanilla

2-3 oz. red food coloring (I used 3 oz)

1/2 cup of coffee

Directions:~

Preheat oven 325 degrees.

In a large bowl add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt & cocoa powder. Whisk until well combined. Set Aside.

In a separate large bowl, add sugar and oil. Mix until combined.

Add in eggs, buttermilk, vanilla & red food coloring. Stir until combined.

Next add in the coffee & vinegar. Stir until combined.

Pour the flour mixture into the sugar mixture a little at a time.  Beating until well combined.

Pour the batter into 2 greased & flour 9 inch round cake pans. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.  (Another way to check for doneness is to lightly press the cake on top, if it springs back then it is done, if the dent remains in the cake then it is not done. Do not over bake.)

Let cool for 10 mins then remove on to racks to cool completely before frosting.

Please note…as I made cupcakes my cooking time was reduced to 19 mins. I recommend checking them at 15 mins first in order not to over bake.

FROSTING ~ The greatest (in my opinion) cream cheese frosting recipe can be found here on the recipe for Big Bill's Carrot Cake!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I Caked a Carrot.

So Hubby says. It was a good carrot too. And a much better cake. Easter was upon us. I wanted a new carrot cake recipe. I asked some of my lovely friends on the WC board and one gave me Big Bill. I found Big Bill on Slow like Honey. Best thing going. This carrot cake that is…and going it went.

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See there…raisins..pecans…and coconut too. Oh, and of course…carrots. This cake was easy to make…the batter was little…and the chunks were plenty.

How can carrots morph into cake. And still taste like carrot…but devishly delicious. Yeah, this isn’t something you want to add to your daily vegetable intake. I mean, I wouldn’t mind if I could…but I can’t. A minute on the lips leads to a lifetime on the hips. Wait…this is a food blog..there’s no talking of weight watching here!!

Slap!! Slap!!…Back to the carrot cake. I must say my Easter dinner was good and this carrot cake, Big Bill’s carrot cake just made it even better.

I urge you to cake your carrots into this.

Oh mannnnn, I haven’t even begun to talk about the cream cheese frosting on this cake…I can’t and I won’t. Just try it. Please.

Recipe:

source: Slow Like Honey whose source was

Baking: from my home

Ingredients:

CAKE

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots,

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

 

Directions:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess.

Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

With a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth.

Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear.

Gently mix the chunky ingredients.

Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans.

Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them.

Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.


The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

 

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

Ingredients:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick  unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

Optional additions:
½ cup shredded coconut
Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut

Directions:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy.

Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peeeas and Rice Please!!

Hoppin John..some may call it. This isn’t quite it, no ham hock here. Rice and Peas…some may call it that too…this isn’t quite that either. Black Eye Peas and rice…well yeah, it is…but in Bermuda it is plain ole peas and rice.


This was a staple in my home growing up. When I saw my mom chopping up chorizo I knew that peas and rice was for dinner. I often snuck pieces of chopped chorizo to nibble on and she would scowl at me. I love a good memory. I don’t make my peas and rice like my momma. Not that I don’t like hers, I love it…I just wanted to adjust it a bit.


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My mom’s peas and rice is dark. She usually adds a browning sauce to it. I prefer mine light. I also leave out chorizo because Hubby doesn’t eat it. In order to give it some flavor since the chorizo added a lot, I add my all time favorite Maggi Vegetable Cube.


This rice is so simple and easy to make. I don’t really have a recipe written for it. And the taste is all controlled by the shake of your hand…not teaspoons or tablespoons. Oh, the relaxation of cooking..compared to baking that is!


For this…my recipe


3/4 cup black eyed peas


2 cups parboiled rice ( I sometimes use brown rice for a healthier version)


4 cups water ( use about 1 cup more if using brown rice)


2 Maggi Vegetable Cubes


Salt


Pepper


Thyme


Paprika


Directions:


Cover peas in water and soak overnight. Drain.


Bring 4 cups water to boil. Add peas and boil for 10 minutes.


Add rice. And to your taste add the seasonings…I am heavy handed with them.


Bring back to boil, then turn down to simmer. Leave uncovered and stir occasionally.


Once water is evaporated rice should be ready. If you are using brown rice the time will be longer.



I tend to use this same method when I use red beans. Sometimes using red beans I used a can of coconut milk then add water to make up to 4 cups. Please note…I use CANNED red beans… if you use fresh..you need to boil the beans until tender prior.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Codfish Cakes!

During the Easter Holiday Codfish cakes are very popular in Bermuda. EXTREMELY popular!! They are enjoyed alone or even sandwiched between a split Hot Cross Bun…smothered in ketchup or cheese and hot sauce.


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The Thursday before the Good Friday holiday you could find my mom slaving in the kitchen. Mashing and rolling…mashing and rolling. Dusting and frying…dusting and frying. Ohhhhh, the house smelled soooooo good. You knew it was the Easter Season from that smell. Coupled with the sound of humming from the kites being flown outside by the neighborhood boys whose main objective was to make their kites the loudest in the neighborhood. It was always a goal to have the best hummer of the season.


Good Friday in Bermuda is so festive. It is a holiday that is treated and respected as a holiday. There is no work and no school. Just good family fun. You either stay home and embrace the day or head to the beach for a swim and maybe a kite competition. we used to head over to my Aunts house and spend time with the family while playing marbles, fly kites and eating fish cakes. Codfish Cakes…


Here’s my mom’s recipe:~


Bermuda Codfish Cakes


2 Pounds Codfish(salted and boneless)


3 pounds potatoes. peeled


1 onion, finely chopped


2 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped


1 tablespoon dried thyme


1/4 cup butter, melted (this is optional)


1 tablespoon curry powder (optional)


flour and oil for frying.



Directions:


Soak codfish overnight in cold water.


Change the water and boil codfish for 1 hour. Add potatoes and continue to boil until potatoes are soft.


Drain.


Add the butter, onion, parsley, thyme and curry powder.


Mash mixture with fork or potato masher.


Using an ice cream scoop, scoop out some of the mixture and roll in flour.


Fry in pan with shallow level of oil until golden brown.


Enjoy!