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Showing posts with label Pareve. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pareve. Show all posts

Monday, August 3, 2020

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake


Whoa. Technicolor.


Can we be real for a second? Sometimes, you want cake. You really want cake. But it's in the middle of the summer and it's just too dang hot and humid to even think about turning on the oven. Even during the famous Midwestern False Fall, it's humid. So what's one to do when you want that cake but don't want to heat up your whole house? Use a rice cooker to make a cake! 

This is the perfect recipe for that summery situation of wanting a light spongecake without sweating yourself into a puddle. If you have no choice but to cook this cake in an oven, keep reading! I've got your answer below...

Disclaimer: I'm an Asian-American person that (mostly) grew up in a white family. I had a brief phase where I wanted to be in fashion design, but once I realized that I'd much rather be tubby and eat good food, I signed up for culinary school. I went to Culinary school and learned the old-school French ways of cooking, which means my first formal exposure to cooking rice that was of the Western-style, which is to say in a pot on the stove. It wasn't until living with my mom, a full indigenous Filipino woman of Pampanga, that I learned the proper way to cook rice. She never had a rice cooker but just used a pot and the old finger-trick. (Jo Koy talks about it here.) I didn't buy my first rice cooker until I was 30 and am decidedly ignorant about all the glorious things you can do with this amazing machine. I am now in love with it and use it constantly. I stand before you now and I'll say it out loud: I'm a Janie Come-Lately. Please be kind to me, fellow Asians.

Cotton-Soft Ube Cake
adapted from Cooking Tree's recipe
yields 1 cotton-soft cake
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150 g sugar, divided
  • 30 g raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp ube extract
  • 110 g all-purpose flour
  • 20 g tapioca flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 40 g olive oil
  • 40 g almond milk
  • 30 g ube jam
Gently oil the bowl of your rice cooker or steamer with either olive oil or coconut oil. If you do use a steamer, you can either use a bowl or little individual ramekins. I wouldn't use paper cups for this, as it's going to be steamed for quite some time! 

Separate the eggs, with yolks in a large bowl and the whites in the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment. Combine the honey, egg yolks, half the sugar, ube jam, and ube extract in a large bowl with a balloon whisk until light and fluffy. It's good for your arm to work this hard, so spend at least 60 seconds on whipping by hand! The idea is to dissolve everything together in a beautiful, thick purple paste. 



Measure out the olive oil and almond milk in a small, separate bowl, and set this aside. Whisk together the two flours, the baking powder, and the salt in another bowl. Spoon in your flour mixture to your egg yolk mixture and whisk gently to create a paste. You're only going to want to do this about a third of the dry ingredients at a time to prevent lumps. Don't worry too much about the gluten!

Whip the egg whites with the other half of the sugar until stiff peaks form. It's going to be tripled in volume, and oh-so-glossy. If they look dry, you've over-whipped them, and the cake won't be as nice, so please err on the side of 'under'-whipping, as you're going to already have some leavening from the baking powder. Does that make sense?


Whoa. Groovy, man.


Add in a dollop of the egg white meringue to your purple yolk mixture. Use the whisk to stir it gently and lighten your batter. It's going to be a little thick, and it's a-okay if you lose a bit of the volume of the egg whites in this step. Add in about a third of your remaining egg white mixture and fold in gently, using the whisk instead of the spatula. It's going to take a little longer than usual; be patient.

Switch to the spatula and fold in your remaining egg whites as gently as you can. The most important thing in this step is to make sure that they are fully incorporated with no streaks of white in your purple batter. Next, take a healthy spoonful of the batter and add it to your almond milk and oil mixture and stir together until homogenous. Scrape this mixture into your big bowl of batter and fold it all together as gently as you can. 

Pour your batter into the prepared bowl of your rice cooker and smooth out the top. Give the pan a few good taps from the bottom to break up any large bubbles, so the only bubbles you get are fine and even. Ten taps usually do the trick for me!



Put your rice cooker bowl in the machine and push to the "STEAM" function, and set it for 65 minutes. 

Note: You will need a good rice cooker for this recipe to have the same results as I have here. I have this one here by Zojirushi, and it comes with all the bells and whistles. If you don't have a rice cooker and are absolutely dying to make this cake anyhow, you may do this:

Follow the usual instructions only pour the batter into an ungreased tube pan and bake at 350 degrees F for about 40-45 minutes or until the top of the cake is dry. Please note to not open the oven to check it until at least 35 minutes has passed. You must also note that it's very important that the oven be already quite hot and ready for this cake, as it won't rise the same without that heat.

This is quite a long time to cook for a steamed cake, so let's use up some of that time to talk about what ube (pronounced "oo-bay") is!

Ube is a beautiful species of the tuber family that is quite high in sugar, incredibly flavorful, and shines like a jewel with vivid purple color. This is also known as a purple yam or the greater yam. It has a creamy, almost coconut-like taste that's unique to Southeast Asia! You'll often see it in Philippine desserts, as well as Thai and Vietnamese cuisines. You can grow them, but most recipes you see calling for ube will usually mean ube halaya or ube jam. You will be able to find this item, jarred and ready to go, in any Asian grocery store with a Filipino section. The extract of this item is quite powerful, so use it sparingly. 

A note about this ingredient: it's very high in sugar already, and when you add sugar to preserve it, it'll be even sweeter in the jar. Make sure you taste it before you make it into a pie so you don't use too much sugar. To make an ube pie for Thanksgiving, I like to simply use a whole jar of ube halaya, some coconut cream, a few eggs, a dollop of tofu sour cream, and salt for the filling. Bake as normal for a pumpkin pie, and you'll have the most technicolor-looking pie you've ever seen. It's almost as bright and colorful as my Pandan Custard Pie!
 
When your timer signals that the cake is ready, open the rice cooker and let the steam escape for about 5 minutes. The cake will have pulled gently away from the pan and the sponge will be firm, yet springy, to the touch. 



Turn the cake upside down over a cooling rack and let sit for another 10 minutes before you gently remove it from the bowl. This may take a spatula, but please, for the love of all that is holy, don't use metal on your nonstick surface. Remember, the cake will have reached the top of the cooker, and some of the bubbles might have popped a little when you open the door to it. It's not the end of the world if, when you turn it out, it sinks just a tiny bit. I swear it'll still taste delicious! Let cool completely before cutting and serving. To cut, I suggest using a serrated knife and using long, gentle strokes. Don't push down - just let the weight of the knife to the work for you.  

You can enjoy a slice of this cake with some coffee or iced tea! This is a delicious cake all on its own, so I don't think this cake needs any kind of icing at all. If you absolutely must give in to temptation, may I suggest that some fresh whipped cream might not be amiss should you be so inclined? Personally, I just like this cake plain!

My dog is behind me, isn't he?


Store this cake in an airtight container. It keeps well for several days, just as moist and tender as the day you made it. If I'm being honest, though, I've never let it survive for longer than 48 hours before it gets gobbled up.

I love this cake because it's incredibly tender, so easy to do, and you don't have any baked-on mess to clean up. I know the value of easy-to-clean stuff at this time. Between volunteering, writing, schooling, and doing the part-time influencer thing, the last thing I want to do is spend a lot of time on the dishes at home. I'm sure that a lot of you here in the United States are feeling some emotional exhaustion from the quarantine, and while I don't know how things are going overseas, I know that there are more than a few of you that have lost their jobs, lost their loved ones, and even more in this uncertain time. 

It's hard now, and it's normal to not feel normal. I understand that we'll likely never have our old 'normal' back again, and that's okay. We're in the middle of a global revolution, and I for one am ready to see what the next chapter holds. Keep holding on, just a little longer, and I know we'll be okay. In the meantime, find yourself some solace in happy distractions, like an oh-so-pretty ube cake. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake

Have your cake and eat it too!
A lot of you are learning to bake. I've seen and joined groups called "Quarantine Cooking" and am absolutely loving your progress. I think it's a lot of fun to bake and that it's easy to do, and being a person that's classically trained, I suppose that I take quite a bit for granted. So many are intimidated by baking, so I thought it'd be fun to give you my easiest recipe that's also one of my most-delicious.

My favorite thing about cakes at home is that you have absolutely no pressure to make it look perfect. Is it nice to do it for the 'gram? Of course! But don't be brainwashed into thinking that there's only one kind of beautiful cake. You can dive headfirst into that rustic-looking style and use flowers and herbs straight out of your garden to decorate the top of your cake. You'll take the pressure off yourself, and you'll dirty fewer dishes.

Favorite Kosher Carrot Cake
yields 1 full sheet pan, or a 4-layer cake

Cake

  • 240 g all-purpose flour
  • 100 g tapioca flour
  • 275 g granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 Chinese long peppercorns ground quite fine (or grate some off with a Microplane)
  • 198 g vegetable oil
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Mexican vanilla
  • 1 1/2 medium carrots, grated finely, roughly 300 g
  • ** You may add a few handfuls of chopped nuts to this cake. I like pecans, but walnuts are great in this cake too!
Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 227 g vegan cream cheese
    • I like Daiya's brand the best for this application
  • 113 g/1 stick vegan butter
  • Roughly 2 cups Powdered Sugar
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a half-sheet pan by lining it with either parchment or a Silpat mat. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl with a whisk. Melt the butter together with the vegetable oil and mix it together with the dry ingredients using a wooden spoon. This method is called reverse creaming, but please don't ask me why. 

This is one of those recipes that you can add different spices to suit your tastes, so please have fun!

Mix together the eggs and vanilla, and add to the flour-fat mixture a third at a time. Make sure this is wholly incorporated before adding in the grated carrots. The finer the grate on the carrots the better, so don't be afraid to use the smaller bits. The carrots in this recipe are what provide moisture, and the fine grate lets you get lots of it released into the cake. When all of this is combined, you can pour the batter into the pan, and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake is done. Remove from the oven and let cool.

While it's baking, let's talk a little about what kosher and pareve are, since I tend to write about it a lot. I'd like to clear up quite a few misconceptions and with the rising amount of antisemitism online I think it's appropriate to be loud and proud about my culture. Why do I feel that way? I feel this way because ignorance leads to fear, and fear leads to hatred. It seems like everyone in America is at least playfully antisemitic nowadays, and I don't entirely think it's their fault. I think there's a lot of media bias and a lot of cultural bias against Jews, not to mention that a lot of folks seem to think that the Jew is some exotic creature instead of just the gal next door. This idea of the 'other' leads down many paths, but most of them are to genocide.

In the holocaust alone, approximately 11 million people were killed for this culture. This is not including the others killed by the Nazis. I read somewhere that if we were to take a moment of silence for every soul lost in the holocaust, we'd be silent for something like 10 years. Living loud and proud about the culture you inherited is going to not just empower you, but give others that share your culture the courage to live loud and proud themselves. Being your wonderful radical self is a defiant act in a society that tells you what to be. Being kosher or having pareve items may sound foreign; so let's just clear up what they are and why I cook that way.

To keep kosher is, in short, to keep to the strict dietary standards set by Jewish Law. Most have heard of "don't mix milk and meat," and that's one. Another is to not eat cloven-hooved animals, such as pigs. I don't always keep kosher, as I do consume pork products on occasion. I do, however, keep dairy and meat separate because both my husband and myself are lactose intolerant. Actually, he's severely lactose intolerant, whereas I just get really gassy if I have ice cream. 

When possible, and at home, I do try to keep kosher and tell myself that if G-d wanted me to keep kosher my entire life He'd have made a whole Jew instead of half-and-half. Yes, yes, I know there are going to be a lot of more orthodox Jews on here telling me that there's "no such thing as half a Jew." Genetically, there is where religiously there is not. The other half of me is a full-blooded native Filipino, and they are pork-heavy people. To balance the love of all of my cultures, I tend to not buy pork to cook in my home, and instead only eat it when I'm out. If I did have dairy in my home, I'd have to have separate plates, cookware, tools, and silverware for when I wanted to have dairy-based meals or meat-based meals. 

Pareve (or parve) is a food that is neither meat or dairy. These things are pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, etc. When you have a pareve cookie or pareve cake, that means that this cookie or cake has no dairy nor meat in it. Do I still have eggs in it?  Yes, so it is therefore not vegan. One might look at pareve or kosher baking as the stepping stone towards vegan baking. All of the baking I do at home is pareve. I can remain pareve thanks to the many wonderful vegan products out there that replicate milk, butter, and cheese in a baking scenario. It is because of these products, I can quite literally have my cake and eat it too. 

Now, should you be eating pareve desserts? If you're even mildly lactose intolerant, I'd seriously suggest it. I don't know how much healthier it is for you than the dairy-laden alternative, but I can tell you that at least some calories are cut with non-dairy items, and there are certainly less saturated fats. I personally know I've felt much better now that I cut dairy almost entirely out of my diet. If you're baking at home more, that means you're likely eating more goodies at home. So why not eat some nice goodies by cutting back here and there, and inserting gorgeous vegetables...like carrots?

When your cake is cool, you may work on the frosting. Simply whip your butter using the paddle attachment on your standing mixer until it's quite soft, and then add the cream cheese, whipping slowly until wholly incorporated. Whip on medium-high to get some loft before adding the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix slowly to start, and then mix on higher and higher speeds. The trick is to get it to be your desired consistency without it being too terribly sweet. I like it a little thinner, as it's better to spread on this cake. 

I wish more folks would bake cakes in a sheet cake form. It's so much easier to layer!
My trick for getting layers on a sheet cake is thus: 

First, turn your cake out of the pan and then trim all the crunchy edges off. Measure with a ruler the length and width of your cake. My width ended up being 28 cm, so I knew to cut that in half to 14 cm. The length of the cake was 40 cm, so of course, I would cut it in half at 20. Next, frost your cake evenly with your smooth and delicious icing. Cut your cake into your 4 equal pieces, and layer each piece atop one another. Et voila! Now you have a four-layer carrot cake, with not too much frosting on it. 

See? There it is, just stacked atop one another! EASY!
You can garnish with carrot chips or candied nuts, if you like, or just have it plain like this. This cake is sweet enough to stand on its own merit, in my opinion, so I don't like to let it get too frilly and fussy. I think a good portion of what we like to see, especially on Instagram, is a cake that's too pretty to eat. Cake, however, is meant to be eaten, and with so many of you all learning to bake at home, I think it's more than fine to love the things that are delicious and without frills. 

Good luck everyone! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Hickory Nut Cake


Memorial Day is upon us, so I thought it would be fun to dive right in to some American culinary history, featuring one of our many indigenous trees that just happen to produce some delicious nuts. The Americas are home to many different kinds of trees, and the nuts of said trees can be foraged at no cost to you, other than a simple "please" to the owner of the land that you're on. I've got a neighbor that has a hickory tree and an oak tree, so they let me gather nuts and acorns as I please. In return, I like to bake them some cookies every so often, or - if you like - a delicious cake, such as this one. Remember, a neighborhood full of victory gardens is made even better when you share your bounty; so be good and share and share alike!


Hickory Nut Cake
Recipe adapted to be dairy-free from American Cake by Anne Byrd
  • 11 oz all-purpose flour
  • 4 oz tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • 8 oz vegan butter
    • I like Earth Balance, but you can - of course - use dairy butter if that's what you have
  • 14 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 c almond milk
  • 1 tsp good vanilla extract
    • I like this Mexican vanilla from Global Goods Inc. Use code "LFVanilla" to get 30% off!
  • 1 c hickory nuts, chopped
    • If you can't find any, you can use walnuts instead!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Take a 10" tube pan and butter and flour it liberally. Don't skip this step, and don't be skimpy on the flouring of this tin. The cake batter will rise and will need something to cling to!

Sift together all of your dry ingredients and set aside in a bowl. Separate your eggs, and set those aside. Combine your milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract into a container and set aside. Grab yourself a large bowl and a long spatula, and set that aside as well. 

Cream the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer on medium for 2 minutes and then on high for another 2 minutes. Lower the speed to medium-high and add your sugar, a few spoonfuls at a time, until all but 2 oz of it are left in your container. Let that mix until sugar is completely incorporated, and add in your egg yolks, one at a time. Scrape all of that goodness into your large bowl and give your mixing bowl a quick wash with soap and water. 

Using your spatula, stir in your flour mixture, alternating with your milk mixture, until everything is just incorporated. Go slow, as you're stirring by hand, and you don't want to overwork it. Take the remaining sugar and your 4 egg whites into your now clean mixing bowl and whip it with a whisk attachment on high until stiff and glossy peaks form and the mixture has tripled in volume. Fold in your egg whites gently in thirds. Fold in your chopped nuts as gently as you can, as you don't want to knock out all that lovely air.

Pour your batter into your prepared mold and smooth the surface. Bake at 350 for 55 - 60 minutes, never opening the oven until the 45-minute mark hits. Then, you may open your oven and rotate your pan once, and let finish cooking. Err on going towards the 60-minute mark, as this cake can be a little doughy if not cooked well enough. You want your cake to be a nice golden-brown, and to have a lovely crack going down the middle of the cake. While we're waiting for the cake to bake, let's learn a little bit about the hickory nut and the history of this cake! 

Hickory nuts come from - you guessed it - hickory trees. We here in the midwest are more than familiar with hickory wood, as it's incredibly popular to use for BBQ smoking. Hickory also makes beautiful furniture. Their nuts are a little bit of a pain to harvest, and the nutmeats are small, but they're quite buttery and delicious. They grow quite fervently here in America, so you'll likely not have a problem finding a neighbor that'll be happy to get them off their lawn. If you don't have a hickory tree, nor a neighbor with a hickory tree, I highly recommend heading over to Burnt Ridge Nursery, an awesome small business, that has hickory nuts in stock!

The hickory nut cake was specifically a favorite of President James Polk. Although the civil war began years after his presidency, this cake was still popular during that time, where not every township had a proper general store that was able to get regular shipments of walnuts or pecans during the war, and most folks wouldn't mind sending their youngins out to the field to gather nuts and acorns for supper. Through necessity comes ingenuity, and the classic tube cake shape was a great way to ensure a cake was going to rise instead of falling flat in a simple circular cake pan. The civil war is timely now not just because we're in a pandemic and every day feels like an episode of Little House on the Prairie, but because Memorial Day is coming up next weekend and that holiday was established to honor the fallen of the Civil War. You can find all sorts of fun tidbits of information on Memorial Day here. Is it a bit of a reach, just to justify making a cake? Sure; but who cares? You learn something and you get to eat some delicious cake. It's a win-win.

If you are curious, or if you still have a few minutes before your cake is done, check out this fellow here, teaching you all about hickory nuts and what to do with them.



Is your cake done yet?

Remove from the oven and let cool on the rack, right-side-up, for 20 minutes. After that timer's gone off, turn your cake tin upside-down and let cool entirely. Most tube pans have feet that will help give air between the surface of the cake and your counter, but if yours doesn't, you may balance it on a bottle to let it be suspended instead. To serve, run a knife or spatula around the edge of the cake tin. Dust with powdered sugar, and serve!

So light.
This cake is just fine on its own and has absolutely no need for extra glazing or frosting. Have it with a cup of coffee or some green tea. It's light as a cloud, thanks to the tapioca starch, and I know you'll have a great time baking this cake. It makes quite a bit, so feel free to take a slice with you to the grave of a fallen soldier, light a candle, and offer it to them. Remember, Veteran's Day is for those that are here with us that have served, and Memorial Day is for those that have fallen.

I hope you're all keeping your spirits up! If you make this cake, leave a comment below, and feel free to share this recipe around with your friends and family. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Mulberry Lemon Muffin Loaf

So easy!
I love this recipe because it's consistent and easy to pull together with any soft fruit you have lying around, and you can easily modify to fit your tastes!

Mulberry Lemon Muffin Loaf
adapted from On Baking: A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals

  • 7 oz all-purpose flour
  • 1 oz tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 5 oz granulated sugar
  • 2 oz vegan butter, coconut oil, or lard (solid fat only please)
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 8 fl oz (1 cup) oat milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste
  • A fat pinch of kosher salt
  • Last year's mulberries from the freezer 
    • Or whatever small round fruit you have that's frozen; 5 oz of blueberries will do


Prepare a loaf tin by buttering and flouring or lining with parchment paper. I am the proud owner of a sort of funny "ridged" loaf tin that I had acquired from a garage sale before the Plague hit us all, so I decided to use that for this endeavor. If you are like me and collect random tins from thrift stores and garage sales, fooling yourself by saying "Oh, I'll use this for X Y Z applications", I should like for you to take this opportunity to prepare that special tin for this endeavor. After all, when else have you ever used that thing? If you do have your heart set on muffins, however, this yields a dozen large muffins, that should be filled in paper cups lining your standard muffin tin.  

Combine both flours in a medium bowl with the baking powder, granulated sugar, and salt. Chop the butter into cubes and dump it into the flour. Using your fingertips, pretend you're making a pie and rub the butter into the flour. I like to do this until the butter is quite small, almost like little rice granules are hiding in the flour mixture. I then add the lemon zest and do the same thing. I like to do this because I think it helps release the essential oils of the lemon into the flour, which will permeate the entire batter. 

Wash your hands now, starting by wetting with hot water and lathering separately with soap. Scrub between the fingers, under the fingernails, and then the top of your hands, all the way up to your wrists. Look out the window over the yard, or parking lot, and have a quick daydream about lounging around your living room in a long gown, telling everyone who'll listen that you used to be beautiful once. Rinse your hands thoroughly and pat dry. 

Combine the oat milk and eggs in a large measuring cup using a pair of chopsticks or a fork. Stir in the vanilla paste and lemon juice and mix until everything is mixed well. Make a deep well in the middle of your dry ingredients and add your liquid ingredients. Make sure you scrape the edges of the measuring cup with that spatula!

Next, stir gently three times clockwise, then three times counter-clockwise. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl all the way around, and then repeat that same method of stirring. You should have a loose and lumpy batter that everything has come together for, without dry spots. Take this now and add in the frozen mulberries, as many as you want, and fold in gently. I only had a cup and a half left, so that's what I used. 

It's not gonna look cute at this stage.
Pour your muffin batter into your prepared molds of choice and then let sit on the counter, undisturbed, and covered with a loose and clean tea towel. You're now going to want to preheat your oven to 350 degrees and let the muffin batter rest until the oven gets hot. While we're waiting, let's learn a thing or two about different mixing methods for any quick bread recipe you may find.

As mentioned before, this recipe is adapted from a textbook I bought in culinary school. My own copy of the textbook is now a tattered mess, but it's gotten me through the baking portion of culinary school and talks about mixing methods. In this recipe, it says right up top that this is the muffin method, and I will tell you now that yielding entirely to the muffin method will yield tasty results. 

The muffin method is simply sifting all dry ingredients together (flours, baking powder, salt, sugar) in a large bowl and then separately mixing the fats (which are usually either melted butter or oil) with the milk, extracts, eggs, etc. in another separate bowl and then dumping the liquid into the dry. Simply mix until just barely combined, fold in the soft fruits and whatnot, and bake. Why have I changed the method for this application?

In short, I like to do a combination of muffin and scone method for this loaf, because I think this makes this particular recipe just that much more versatile, and you can bake in big loaves as well as small cups. Muffins wrapped in paper cups are a joyful staple in the breakfast world, but few things are more satisfying to me than slicing into a big cake-like loaf and enjoying that slice with coffee in the morning. It only feels like I'm having cake for breakfast, which is enough to get me through my day.

The scone method might also be called the biscuit method if you live in the United States, where we love our buttermilk biscuits. To the rest of the world, however, our biscuits are versions of scones, and the method we use to make them is a classic method for making good quick bread. Simply take all of your flours, leavening agents, etc., and sift them all into a big bowl. You can cut in the fat with biscuit cutters, knives, or your own fingers until the butter is quite piece-y and pea-sized. Mix in your liquids, roll out onto a floured surface and cut into shapes before either freezing or baking. This method is done this way instead of the muffin way because this method desires one thing above muffins:

Layers.

You get a "layer" in a baked good by having a solid, chilled fat sort of hanging out in pockets, between little blankets of dough. You'll want this chilled and solid because when this cold item hits a very hot oven, it'll melt quickly and the water in this butter will boil and therefore create steam. The steam shoots upwards and forces the flour to rise up, too. As the oven continues to cook, the heat solidifies the structure that the butter has made the flour create, and you get layers as a result when they come out. 

Since we've been reading this, you might want to check your oven and see if it's hot enough. If it has reached its desired temperature, pop your muffin loaf in on the middle rack and bake the loaf for 45 minutes at 350, rotating once halfway through to ensure even cooking, or until it's golden-brown and delicious. While you're waiting, would you like to hear why the heck I want to put the "layers" principle in my muffin loaf in this way? 

When you're baking a larger mass like this and you want the muffin texture to remain, I think it's important to give your leavening a little bit of extra help. Cool-ish, tiny pockets of fat will result in larger bubbles in this loaf, but I personally like that because I like to slice the loaf and sometimes toast it under the broiler. These tiny extra 'pockets' of air where the fat once was are quite pleasant for an extra smear of butter, jam, or cream cheese. It's also nice because when you bake in a long loaf, you get that glorious crack all down the top, and that crack is the extra texture that I simply adore. Better and better still, I personally have found that baking them this way helps them last a day or two longer than the kind of muffins I bake with the butter being in a more liquid state. I have a lot of theories as to why, but I also am a person that says "who am I to argue with consistent results?"

Some might also be wondering why I let my muffin batter rest instead of just baking it. I like to let my muffin batter rest for two reasons, the first of which being gluten. Gluten is a great thing for baking, but too much of it will result in a bread-like texture for your muffin, which is not exactly what I want for this. Think of gluten as a net, trapping the air and fat and all the other goodies into a solid mass after baking, but we don't want too much because gluten results in chewiness instead of the cake-adjacent texture that someone would generally shoot for in a muffin. For all of these reasons, the muffin batter resting means the gluten will relax, and the acid in the lemon juice will have some time to snip away any excess gluten we might have lying around wanting to thwart our muffin's efforts at perfection. 

The second reason I like to do this is because of moisture. If one were to let the muffin batter go straight into the oven without a rest period, they would still get a muffin, but I don't think that the end result is as nice as letting it rest for at least twenty minutes in a cool space before baking. This is not an absolutely necessary step, but I do think that anything worth doing is worth doing well. 

After your 45 minutes has passed, peek into the oven to see how your loaf is looking. This all should look like you have a shiny, golden-brown top with a little crack running down the middle and the surface should spring back when touched. If these parameters are met, feel free to evacuate your loaf from the oven and allow to cool for at least ten minutes, in the tin, before removing to a cooling rack. If they are not met, then you likely only need another 5-10 minutes in the oven.

Dust with powdered sugar and serve with coffee! 
This muffin loaf can easily be modified with any soft fruit you may have in the freezer and is designed to let you bake something quick and simple without dirtying up too many bowls. I love this muffin loaf recipe because it's versatile, consistent, and - above all else - easy to whip up in an instant. I think that the humble quick bread should be a part of every good cook's repertoire and I call on you, dear reader, to take up your wooden spoon and claim this skill for your own. When the Plague has left this land, we will be armed well with basic baking skills, and hopefully, the confidence to make our own continental breakfasts at home. It is my sincerest of hopes that once we all are safe enough to leave our homes, we'll have a renewed sense of ability and confidence in the kitchen.

Good luck, everyone! I hope you're all staying safe, staying hydrated, and staying a safe distance apart from everyone else. Don't forget to wash your hands often and wear a face mask every time you go outside of your own home.  

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Pandan Custard Pie


Do not adjust your screens! This pie really IS that green!

If you didn't find me on Instagram I applaud you. If you did, you probably saw my little precursor on what pandan is and why you should be getting it for yourself to try. If you don't have it already at home, you're going to have to get it delivered, but there are a LOT of options for that! Even better, I can assure you that - as someone who's been shopping at Asian grocery stores for a fair portion of her life - that they've been using gloves, sanitizing, and wearing masks long before this whole pandemic nonsense started. In fact, I would say that I shop at the Asian markets more than I tended to shop at the western markets before this all happened. Where else am I going to get my 50 lb bag of rice and canned coconut milk and all those dried and preserved veggies that have kept me inside and healthy?

To sum up before I get into the recipe: pandan extract as we know it comes from the leaves of the pandan plant, which grows in southeast Asia. It has a gorgeous fragrant coconut-like flavor and colors everything bright green. I love a pandan angel food cake, or pandan macarons. You can use the leaves as wrappers for steamed cakes or cook and blend them for your own extract. I personally find it way easier to just have a supply of the extract in my baking pantry. Anyway, here's the recipe, since I promised I'd do my best to put the recipe at the top of the page and not go on a 30 paragraph rant on what pandan is and what it means to me.

Pandan Custard Pie

  • 1 Pie Crust, blind baked
    • 4 oz (1 sticks) vegan butter
      • of course use dairy butter or shortening, if you like
    • 7 oz all-purpose flour
    • 2 Tbsp cane sugar
    • Enough vodka to pull it all together, usually an ounce or two
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 160 g (about 3/4 cup) cane sugar 
  • 2 tsp pandan extract
This pie truly couldn't be easier. The hardest/longest part of the process is the crust! You'll see that I included a pie crust recipe up there, but if you have your own pre-made pie crust or a favorite crust that does well, I highly encourage you to use it. I've made a lot of pie on this site, and that's not even touching all the stuff I don't document. The point is I understand the value of a good pie crust that you've come to like and trust. So use that as a single-crust and decorate the rim however you like.

If you don't know how to put a pie crust together, it's easy:

Simply combine butter, sugar, and flour in a bowl with your fingers, rubbing the tips into the butter as quickly as possible, sort of like you're trying to snap your fingers with the butter in between. The idea is you want to push the flour into the butter as quickly and as cooly as possible. Once the butter is looking piece-y and pea-sized, add vodka. Yes, vodka. You're not going to get a gluten-y crust with vodka! And since it's vodka, it's likely that you're already chilling it, so bless. All you must do is add enough of it for the dough to come together to a single mass and then cool, roll out, and lay in your pie dish of your choice. I have collected a plethora of tiny cutters over the years (at least half of which I bought in culinary school when I was obsessed with garde manger) so I always have fun decorating my pie crust. With this one I used a fork on the whole rim and then added tiny leaves around halfway, mostly because I think asymmetry is visually interesting.

Please note that you can freeze a pie crust and keep it for up to 3 months before using!

When you blind bake something, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and gently prick the bottom and sides of your pie crust before lining with either parchment or aluminum foil. Fill with pie weights and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the crust is a gorgeous golden brown. I like to use ceramic pie weights to fill the inside, as they hold heat well, but you can use rice or beans. I wouldn't recommending eating the baked grains or legumes, however, so just let them cool once done and save them in a jar for later blind-baking purposes. 

Once baked, please remove weights and allow to cool, then fashion a pie crust shield out of aluminum foil. Simply take a long-ish-sheet of foil and slice longways into thirds. Press gently and easily around the rim of the pie to protect the crust from burning during that second bake, so that way the filling can do its thing without ruining the look of the whole pie. 

As for the filling, simply combine the coconut milk, sugar, eggs, pandan, and a little pinch of salt in a blender, running on the lowest setting for 30 seconds before pouring straight in to your baked crust and then baking at 350 for 25-30 minutes. (Don't forget that  You'll want to watch for the stage at which it's still a hair loose in the middle - it should be jiggly without being slosh-y. (Yes, those are technical terms.) When it reaches that stage, simply turn off the oven and let sit with the door cracked for an additional 10 minutes. Evacuate and let sit, undisturbed, for at least 30 minutes at room temperature before cooling in the fridge. I like this pie bruleed, so it really does need to be quite cool before I torch it. If you don't have a torch, just enjoy as is, with a cup of hot coffee or tea. 

While you eat it, remember that you're one of the lucky few that gets to sit at home while our healthcare workers fight for us and die for us facing this pandemic. Show love and respect to them by staying home, washing your hands with hot soap and water, practicing social distancing, and keeping yourself sane and occupied enough to help them survive this. I know that there's a group of people out there protesting the stay-home orders, but please know that they're just a very small, very loud group of people that are sick of not getting what they want to get when they want to get it. As far as I've seen, these are people that don't want to go back to work but want others (namely us) to go back to work so they can get their hair cut, eat a burger at a restaurant, etc. 

I know it sucks. I want to go back to work. I know a lot of my friends want to go back to work. But trust us, it's not safe. There are so many other people looking at the bigger picture and there are so many people out there that are out there and being responsible about it. The sooner we all hold on, the sooner we can all get on with our lives. So hang on, bake on, and carry on. 




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Do not adjust your screen! I repeat, do not adjust your screen! 😋 This gorgeous Pandan Custard Pie is hundo P Pinterest worthy, and couldn't be easier to make. What's pandan, you ask? . . Pandan is an extract that comes from these fragrant leaves found in southeast Asia. It's beloved not just for it's yummy flavor, but it instantly turns anything a GORGEOUS verdant green color. 💚💚💚 You can make your own at home by cooking and blending your own pandan leaves, but it's just as easy to get the good extract at the Asian grocery store. (Here in Kansas City, I prefer Pan-Asia Market for baking supplies!🤫) It tastes like a mild, young coconut - so it's a gorgeous twist on a coconut custard pie. You can use the extract to make pies, cookies, cakes, waffles, and more! I personally love a pandan angel food cake. . Look for the recipe on Wannabgourmande.com later today at 11 am CST. Because you may as well create something new today while you're staying home and saving lives! . . . #wannabgourmande #piesofinstagram #instafood #baking #kosherbaking #coconutmilk #dairyfree #dairyfreerecipes #green #piecrust #pie #pastrychef #culinaryarts #discoveringchefs #chefsofinstagram #quarantinelife #stayhomesavelives #pandan #foodphotography #kansascity #kcinfluencer
A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on


It's always been such a comfort to me to know that no matter what your day has in store for you or what the world has in store for you, you can come home and know with absolute certainty that if you add eggs and sugar to coconut milk, it'll get thick and custardy when you cook it. If you can use your cooking as a little bit of therapy, I invite you to do so.  Chin up, guys. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Chocolate Pistachio Pudding Cake


This is a super-rustic recipe, so don't worry if it turns out a little sloppy!

Chag Sameach, everybody! The first night of Passover was yesterday, and I've been getting a lot of queries about this chocolate pistachio pudding cake I made. Not only is it dairy-free, but it's #GlutenFree as well, just perfect for your Passover table! I know we're in the middle of the plague, but I don't see any reason we can't scrape together whatever we have in our pantries to celebrate the fact that we're all still making it. Now, since I've made my promise to keep recipes at the top, I will thank you for your indulgence and get right in to the recipe and method.

Reine de Saba au Pistache
adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

  • 113 g semi-sweet chocolate, melted
  • 113 g vegan butter (or dairy!)
  • 135 g sugar + 40 g
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 50 g (1/2 cup) pistachios, pulverized 
  • 70 g gluten-free flour
Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a ring-mold cake. I had a smaller savarin pan that was actually WAY too small, so if you have a bundt pan I'd go ahead and use that if I were you. Remember, if you have a nonstick pan, you're fine. If you are going to grease the pan, though, please flour and sugar it as well! It's a sponge-cake, so it therefore needs something to cling to as it's rising. 

Melt your chocolate either in a double-boiler or in the microwave on low heat until a liquid state. You may add a couple of teaspoons of this morning's coffee, if you like, or a tablespoon of kirsch or coffee liqueur. This is your cake, so you may flavor it as you like.

Cream your 135 g sugar and butter together for about 3 minutes with a whisk attachment of your standing mixer. I love the whisk attachment for things like this, which should be nice and light. Once everything's delightfully doubled in size, add in the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping down as we go. After all three yolks are added, transfer this mixture to a larger bowl. Fold in your pistachios and gluten-free flour until just incorporated with a rubber spatula. Next, you will thoroughly clean your standing mixing bowl and whisk so you may whip egg whites with the remaining 40 g of sugar. You're going to want stiff and glossy peaks, so please don't overwhip. Finally, fold in gently your egg whites, a fourth at a time. Your result will be a beautiful batter, which you'll portion into your cake tin and bake for 30 minutes, or until your cake is just springy to the touch.

This cake tin was WAY too small for this 😂 I should have used the bundt pan. Oh well! Such is life.


Let cool 10 minutes in the pan and then turn it over onto a cooling rack. You're going to want it wholly cool before you add the filling. Once it's cool, transfer it on to the dish you'll be serving it on. 

Chocolate Creme Diplomat
  • 135 g sugar + 40 g
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 20 g corn starch
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 2 c oat milk, warm
  • 2 egg whites
  • 3 Tbsp water + 1 Tbsp gelatin (or agar agar)
Bloom the gelatin in the water for 5 minutes set aside. Combine 135 g sugar with the corn starch and cocoa powder in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed saucepot. Add in the egg yolks and whisk together until all combined and rather creamy. Heat the oat milk either in a microwave or on the stove, and stream in to your yolk mixture. Pop this on a medium flame and whisk gently until it thickens to a gorgeous thick pudding. Immediately remove from heat and transfer into a large mixing bowl. Add the bloomed gelatin mass; the heat from the creme will melt the gelatin, allowing you to mix it all in.

Whip your egg whites and 40 g sugar to stiff, glossy peaks using your standing mixer. While your creme is still warm, use a whisk to fold in your egg whites, a fourth at a time, until wholly incorporated. You know have what is known as a creme diplomat, a classic French cream filling! If you've mastered this, you've mastered a fundamental filling that can go in cakes, charlottes, and more. It doesn't matter if it's totally perfectly voluminous in this instance, but it helps a lot! Get your cake and pour in your creme into the center. Go only until you're at the top before you pop it in the fridge to let set, uncovered, for at least one hour. You can then add a cover if you like. 

It's likely that you're going to have some diplomat left over, so you can fill molds to turn out later, put it in a couple of coffee mugs to top with whipped cream or toasted marshmallows for a fun campfire treat later, or even fill it in a popsicle mold to freeze for a chocolate pudding pop. The possibilities are rather endless for this. 

This recipe is great because it's inclusive for a lot of diets. It's a good practice recipe for a person that's a good home baker and is looking to expand their skill set. Incredibly, you can adapt so many beloved retro recipes to make them dietary-restriction-inclusive. My sister-in-law is wholly gluten-intolerant now, and with my husband being dairy-free it's a good idea for me to know how to get around these restrictions without sacrificing good taste and flavor. 

The result of this cake, once wholly set, is rather like a gooey spongecake that's filled with almost a classic American filling - French Silk. (Because I'm pretty sure that "French silk" is actually a creme diplomat.) My husband's favorite pie is French Silk Pie, so he loved this cake. It went very well on our Passover table, and we ate ourselves silly with brisket, tea eggs, carrot tzimmes, and a veggie kugel before diving in to this gorgeous cake. It's rather rich, but the light filling helps you not feel like a bloated mess of a person after eating it.

I've been holding up as well as I can during this quarantine. I, like so many others, have been temporarily laid off from my job until the quarantine is over. I've taken to making masks and offering remote cooking lessons via Instagram. I've even started teaching my friends' kids how to draw to help them supplement homeschooling. But one thing I also want to highlight is the Kansas City Hospitality Support Initiative.

The KC Hospitality Support Initiative has been an absolutely incredible organization to help displaced culinary professionals such as myself stay afloat in this troubling time. They've been selling t-shirts and collecting donations to give away grocery gift cards to culinary industry professionals that have lost their source of income until all of this is over. I recently have been lucky enough to be included in the drawing, and this card will help me and my house hold greatly until this is all said and done. It is humbling and comforting to know that Kansas City is a community that truly can and does come together to support each other in trying times.

Thank you KC Hospitality Support Team!

instagram: @HSInitiativeKC
twitter: @HSInitiativeKC
facebook: @HSInitiativeKC



Be sure to donate, support as many local people as you can via contact-free carryout, and stay home as much as possible. This is a perfect time for you to clear our your garage, plant a garden, acquire a new skill, and so much more. Please remember to cover your mouth when you cough, wash your hands with soap and use water as hot as  you can handle, for at least 30 seconds. Consume local honey to help quell your allergies, and drink mint tea with chammomile to calm your nerves at night, as well as keep your sinuses clear. 

We're stronger together, and we're all going to get through this together. So get out there and bake this cake, and tag me if you do!

Use a HOT knife to cut this. Simply run your knife under HOT running water between each cut for perfectly clean slices.

Happy cooking and happy eating! May the Angel of Death pass over your door!