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Showing posts with label cake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cake. 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. 

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Honeybee Bundt Cake

Hey, honey. 
Spring has sprung! In the spirit of starting things anew, I'm going to be trying something different this week.

A lot of food bloggers give you a really long anecdote or big history before the recipe when a lot of people just want to read the recipe. While I understand the reasoning behind all of this (nobody is going to want to read your writing unless you force them) I'm going to flip the narrative and give you the backstory of the ingredients and the reasoning for things after the recipe. Hopefully, this means you'll appreciate it so much that you'll continue to read all the way to the bottom. So, let's get on with it!

Honeybee Bundt Cake
yields 1 large bundt pan or 2 loaves
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Cake
  • 11.25 oz AP flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 fat pinch kosher salt
  • 7 oz vegan butter substitute, room temperature
  • 5.25 oz cane sugar
  • 4 oz pure honey ( Try Gerard'z Honeybees Star Thistle Honey)
  • 1 tsp vanilla paste
  • 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
  • 3/4 c almond milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp local bee pollen (available at most health food stores)
Glaze
  • 6 oz pure honey
  • 2 oz coconut sugar
  • 2 oz vegan butter
  • A fat pinch kosher salt
  • A big fat handful of walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds...whatever you have lying around, crushed
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and prep a large bundt pan with pan spray. I like the kind that already has flour in it, but if you don't have that then feel free to dust your pan with a little bit of flour, just so the cake has somewhere to climb and stick to without collapsing. That being said, this is a cake you can make the batter for in advance, let rest in the fridge, and then bake from cold when you're ready. Please plan accordingly, as this cake is best served just a little warm, with some homemade (n)ice cream (Try this one.).

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt together. Combine the almond milk and vinegar and allow to sit while you make the rest of the cake. Meanwhile, whip up the cane sugar, honey, and vegan butter with the whisk attachment of your standing mixer until really tall, light, fluffy, and homogeneous, which shouldn't take more than 2 minutes. It's quite important that everything is creamed and that the sugar is not visibly present. Whip in the vanilla paste for another 30 seconds, scrape, and add the eggs and yolk, one at a time, making sure to stop and scrape between this addition. This recipe is pretty high in fat, so it's important to make sure the eggs get in slowly. It also is imperative that everything is at room temperature for this one, otherwise the risk of the batter curdling is higher. I know it's annoying, but I assure you that it's worth it.

Are the eggs all in? Great! Scrape down and get ready. Spoon in about a third of the flour, and stir on low speed for 3 or 4 turns around the bowl. Add in half the milk and stir a little more, another 4 turns or so. Add in the second third of the flour, stir, and add the rest of the milk. Stir, add the final bit of the flour, and stir the rest of it by hand with a rubber spatula, scraping well, especially the bottom. Swirl in the bee pollen.



Scrape the batter into your prepared pan and spread it evenly all around. If your oven is not already hot, you may store it in the fridge until it has sufficiently reached its desired temperature. This particular cake actually does get a gorgeous crackly ridge if you do this, even moreso than if you bake it from room temperature, which is what you want. Either way, only stick this cake in the center rack of the oven to bake when it's sufficiently hot, and not a moment before.

Turn the heat down to 350 and bake for 40 minutes, or until the top of the cake is solid and springs back when gently touched. Meanwhile, make your glaze/syrup by combining the honey, vegan butter, coconut sugar, and a little salt, in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Reduce to a light simmer and stir. It's going to take about 2 minutes for the sugar to fully dissolve once simmering, but please don't pull it off the heat until it's all done! Trust me on this. Take the time now to crush your nuts in a mortar and pestle, but only enough so that they're broken up into irregular pieces. Walnuts work great for this because they're so soft and fatty, but you can use any kind of nut you like. Pistachios look visually stunning, with their bright green!

Remove your cake from the oven, but keep the oven turned on. Poke your cake with either a wooden skewer or a chopstick, all the way down to the bottom. Please be generous, but don't put your holes too close together. Be sure to get a lot of them, as they'll be essential for this cake's flavor later! I use the metal chopsticks because there's a 100% guarantee of no bamboo skewer shavings getting into the cake.

Take your time with this step, and please make sure your glaze is warm and quite runny!
If your syrup/glaze has gone a little cool, heat it up again to where it's quite runny, and then pour about half of the glaze, slowly, into surface of the cake. Try to get it in the crags and holes as much as possible, so it's quite important that your cake and glaze are still warm. Take your crushed nuts and sprinkle them all over. Pop your cake in the oven for another 5 minutes, and then remove from the oven and cool on a rack, while still in the pan. This is the reason I didn't have you turn the oven off just now, and also the reason I didn't have you toast the nuts, so they won't burn.



Now, glaze the cake with the remainder or your syrup and let cool in the pan for an hour or so. This means that this cake is the absolute perfect cake to finish just before dinner so you can eat and then have dessert. It's only folksy in name but is quite impressive for a dinner party, especially with the right accompaniment.

To turn out, flip your cake upside down on a plate (not your presentation plate) and then flip your cake back over on your serving plate. You can garnish with fresh mint, if you like, or dust with powdered sugar...but I really like this cake exactly as it is.You can even reserve a couple of spoonfuls of glaze for your plating and drizzle it all over, letting it drip over the sides, creating a deliciously inviting presentation.

Did you like that recipe? Are you ready for the fun facts? Are you still with me? Great.

Put honey in your tea all spring instead of sugar. Trust me. 
Honey is a superfood and a dang miracle of nature. First, it never goes bad, not ever. There's honey in pots that are from ancient Egypt in sarcophagi that are still perfictly good and edible and haven't rotted or gone rancid. It captures, like a photograph or a painting, the taste of the earth, or terroir, of that region or season. It's an antiseptic (in survival-mode, you can use either pine sap or honey on small cuts in a pinch while you're running from zombies) and a great medicine for a sore throat or allergies. I could go on and on about honey and how important it is to get some in your diet. Yes, it's expensive, but you're going to use less of it than you're going to use sugar in many applications. Per one cup of sugar, you can use 2/3 c of honey when it comes to baking cakes and breads. Honey has complexities that sugar does not, and the fact that it's sustainable to boot doesn't hurt its argument by any means.

You'll notice that I put real honey in the recipe. A fair bit of honey on the cheaper side is made by thinning it out with karo or corn syrup. Unless you get it from a local farm/apiary, there's a good chance you might have a thinned out honey product, so make sure you look at your labels.

Do they look the same? Looks can be deceiving!
Gerard'z Honeybees is a really cool company with whom I partnered with for this post. I want to raise awareness on honey and the proper husbandry of bees. This is an ancient trade and we've been doing it since pretty much the dawn of civilization, unlike the manufacture of and the illegal trade and cartels of cane sugar. A lot of folks of the vegan persuasion - while well-intended - believe that taking honey from bees is harmful. There's a lot of evidence as to why this is untrue, but here are the bulletpoints you need to know:
  • Apiaries house hives and keep them healthy
  • Apiaries only take extra honey
    • If apiaries don't take the excess honey, there's a chance the colony will overcrowd or begin to swarm, and that's not what you want
  • When you have healthy bees, you have lots of food around as bees are pollinators
  • Farmers often have apiary plots rent-free for migrating beekeepers since they know they need the bees to pollinate their crops, which is good for everybody involved
  • Beeswax, a byproduct of most apiaries, can be used as a better alternative in candles, cosmetics, natural lip balms, and lotions than say animal fat would be 
Taking honey from bees isn't harming these animals. The amount of agave we're all-consuming, however, is harmful to a very specific kind of long-nosed bat that lives in the Southwest. We're taking their food supply, which sucks because they're the pollinators out there, so please think twice before you buy agave. If you still have reservations with honey, please buy maple syrup, sorghum, or molasses instead. 

Let's touch on allergy relief one final time. A good reason to try local honey is that it not only supports your community but also will help with your allergies. Since I live in Kansas City, I need to get honey that's from Kansas City, or at least within 100 miles of it. That means the bees are collecting pollen and nectar from flowers that are growing all around me, be they from trees or bushes or grasses or flowers. The point is that it's from the air that exists in the area that's making me sneeze, which is also why it's important to grab some local bee pollen while you're getting that.

You'll note that I called for an ingredient known as bee pollen, which some of you might not be aware of as a product you can buy. In short, bee pollen is the little yellow balls that you see on bees legs sometimes when you find one flying around. You can put it in cakes, sprinkle it on your oatmeal, stir it in your coffee, and more - but the reason that I personally want it around in spring is that it's the only allergy relief I can get without being put into a freaking coma. (Looking at you, Benedryl.) Bee pollen is crunchy, tastes really floral, and dissolves into a powder if you crush it. They come in small bags and from most local herbal or health food shops. I am fortunate enough to get mine at the local organic grocery store! The reason I added bee pollen into this recipe was that the honey I got was not from around Kansas City, but from California.




Star Thistle Honey from Gerard'Z Honeybees 🐝 So I'm obsessed with honey. One of my favorite things about it is that no two batches will ever taste exactly the same, nor should they! This particular honey has a wonderfully bitter quality, almost medicinal, but it's fragrant, pungent and so unbelievably deep with a sour finish... it takes you on a wild ride! And before my #vegan friends get mad, let me assure you that taking honey from bees is hundo P okay πŸ‘Œ . Beekeepers do everything they can to make sure that their babies are healthy and happy and always have enough food. The honey that they take is excess, and they never take so much honey that it would harm the hive. 🍯 besides, if we didn't have beekeepers, our bees would have a lot more trouble than they're already having. . . Honey it is a perfect food, that never goes bad, and is a really good antiseptic. πŸ™πŸ» Seriously! My mom puts honey over our minor cuts after washing them πŸ˜… and nothing is better than hot tea with honey when you have a sore throat. 🍡 The best part? It helps with your allergies. Gerardz's is a feature for tomorrow's blog post! Stay tuned πŸ˜‰ . . . . . #lfthx #gerardzhoneybees #honeytasting #gerardz #foodiechats #dairyfree #pareve #kosher #naturalfoods #KansasCity #california #honey #video #wannabgourmande #organicaid #savethebees #bees #nature @gerardzhoneybees
A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on

For this particular honeybee cake, I used the Star Thistle Honey. I'm partnering with Gerard'z this week and they gave me the exclusive on this soon-to-be-available product. Of course, I had to get a jar of their wildflower, too. The Wildflower honey was mild and floral, but had a bright and pleasantly sour finish. The Star Thistle, however, might be my favorite honey, because of how incredibly complex it is. It starts off with a bitter taste, almost medicinal, before you get into the sweetness. It's got quite a lot of depth, like a good dark roast coffee, and then finishes bright and sweet. I thought it was perfect for this cake, so of course I had to use it. Message the site to get some for yourself!

You saw me use the term terroir earlier in this post. This term is usually found when describing wine. Terroir is "the taste of the land." This means that the grapes are affected by the land they're grown in, say if the earth the vines grow in are heavy with either clay or lime or something else. In truth, it's quite the same for bees, depending on what they can feed upon that year. This is why you can get such flavors as 'Wildflower honey', which have been harvested from bees that get their stuff from wildflowers. You can get 'Orange blossom honey' from bees that have their hive situated in a citrus grove. Gerard'z Honeybees, based in California, have a variety of flavors, such as raspberry, alfalfa, and more. I invite you to try them all!

I also invite you to plant local wildflowers and fall bulbs, to feed your local bees. Just think, you're helping shape 'wildflower honey' in your area! But please check with your local extension office to make sure you're not introducing an invasive species of flower to your region. Otherwise, you might do more harm than good!
Some seasons the honey will be a deep amber color. Sometimes the honey will turn purple, if the bees get into a blackberry farm. Honey can be a very light gold color, or in some cases can be almost clear and be tangy and sour. The beautiful thing about honey is how incredibly seasonal it is. You can quite literally taste the years go by or monitor how the years went if you were to look at it over time. My good friend David, whose mother is a beekeeper, remembers a single summer in which it was the best honey harvest of their lives in which the honey was especially perfect.

Please plant as many flowers as you can this year! And every year! All of these bees need food and so does your soul!

One more reason that I'm in love with honey is because it's a very old world way of eating. Ancient Egyptians were keeping bees and consuming honey, and the Aztecs have been keeping bees for a very long time as well. The wandering Jews of the tribes of Moses are promised "a land of milk and honey." You can find evidence of ancient apiaries in China, and even the indigenous peoples of Northern Americas got in on the party. You won't find cane sugar in traditional Russian or Lithuanian sweets, as honey reigns supreme. If you think about it, cane sugar as a concept is no older than a heartbeat in terms of how civilization came to be. So, really, let's look at going back to our roots in the culinary world and regain a taste for honey. It's fully sustainable, will be excellent for your health and for the environment in the long run, and is incredibly tasty!

Thanks so much for enduring this new format of posting. I'm trying to be conscious of my readers' experience and I hope you enjoyed learning, especially if you got this far. Happy cooking and happy eating!

Share this cake with a loved one. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Lemon Layer Drip Cake



Happy birthday to me! I'm 31 this year, and my favorite German Shepherd, Howl, turned 8 along with me! His birthday is the day after mine, and we're both Pisces Scorpio rising. He's my special dude and we always like to celebrate our birthdays together. (I actually have no idea what he likes other than belly rubs and treats, but he seems to be happy when I'm happy, so hey.)


My favorite birthday cake is lemon cake. I've posted about lemon cakes before, here, but I felt like a loaf cake this year. One thing I dislike deeply, though, is cutting a cake more than I need to. What's the solution? Sheet cake! That's right...all you have to do is make a sheet cake and cut it in strips to create a loaf shape. Bam!

So I do love cake but one thing that I don't love about cake is how heavy it can get, especially with something like a chocolate ganache or an especially thick or stodgy buttercream. Mostly, it's a rarity that I like buttercream, since many that I've had are just too sweet or too thick and gloppy for me. The solution, of course, is lemon cake. Lemon is nice, bright, acidic, and when made into a delicious curd, it's the best. Fat + Acid = good times in this chef's book. When you are cooking something or baking something and you think to yourself:

"Hmm, it's good, but something's missing..." 

The answer is almost always going to be 'acid.' Add a splash of vinegar or a squeeze of lemon. Maybe even some sour cream or a sour fruit. There are quite a lot of things that are on the acidic spectrum. I encourage you to explore them all!

Lemon Genoise Spongecake
yields 1 half-sheet pan or 2 8" rounds

  • 240 g eggs (4 to 5 large eggs)
  • 120 g sugar (I like cane sugar for this application)
  • 135 g AP flour
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • Zest and Juice of a whole lemon
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
Favorite Lemon Curd
  • 3 egg yolks + 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 c lemon juice, freshly-squeezed (about 4 large lemons)
  • 4 oz vegan butter (you can use dairy butter if you like)
  • 3/4 c + 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
Lemon Buttercream
  • 8 oz butter or vegan butter substitute, cubed (I love earth balance)
  • Zest of 2 lemons
  • 3 heaping spoonfuls Favorite Lemon Curd
  • Powdered sugar, A/N
White Chocolate Glaze
  • 1 14 oz can full-fat coconut milk
  • 400 g white chocolate
  • Gel food coloring of your choice

Prepare your pans with either a silpat baking sheet or a parchment round-cut sheet in the bottom of your pans. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. You actually want a rather hot oven for this stuff to go into. Do not grease your pans unless you have the kind of pan-spray stuff that has flour in it. This is because spongecakes need to be able to stick to the sides of your pans to climb and retain their volume. If you grease the inside at all, the sponge will collapse and become quite dense and rather disgusting. Use paper, trust me. 

Get a medium saucepot about halfway full of water and bring it to a simmer. Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and set it over the water. Whisk constantly, but don't whip, to break down the albumins but also to warm the egg mixture. You're not wanting to cook it, of course, but to bring it up to at least body temperature. If you were doing a genoise the old-fashioned way with a Mrs. Patmore type of situation, you'd have to bring it up to a higher temperature, but since we've mostly got electric mixers happening, you only have to bring it up to warm and to dissolve the sugar. 

Once everything is all dissolved, bring it over to the standing mixer and bring up to a full speed whip until the eggs are wholly tripled in volume and of a quite pale color. You don't want it dry, but you want it quite stiff. This takes up to ten minutes, but keep careful not to overwhip things as you'll have to start all over again.

To get the most juice out of a lemon, I suggest zesting it first, then zapping the lemon for about 10 seconds in the microwave. Roll it gently on your cutting board before cutting in half, then squeezing generously, fishing out the seeds. Whisk together the juice, zest, salt, and coconut oil until you get a sort of thickened vinaigrette consistency. Take a fairly large dollop of your meringue-like egg mixture and fold it in. It's okay if it deflates a touch.

Sift your flour into the large amount of meringue mixture first. It's a fair amount of flour, but do take care to be gentle and not to knock out any air. You're not using any baking powders or leavening agents, so your egg foam is all your leavening. Once everything is quite well incorporated, take a large dollop of your mix and fold it into the lemon mixture. Finally, scrape the lemon mixture gently into the egg-flour mix and give it a few folds to make sure everything is wholly incorporated. 

Pan the batter gently and from a low height so as to not knock out too much air. Spread the batter as evenly as possible with your spatula, and then gently tap the bottom of your pans with your fingertips to pop any large bubbles. Remember, you don't want big bubbles like you'd find in an artisinal bread. You want tiny bubbles for your spongecake.

Bake this at 375 for 10-15 minutes, or until the color is golden-brown and springs back gently to the touch, and pulls gently away from the sides of the pan. Cool completely before using. I used the sheet pan application for this cake just because that's the look I wanted. Meanwhile, let's make the rest of the stuff!

To make the lemon curd, simply whip together your egg yolks with your whole egg with a pinch of salt until it's all homogenous. Melt the butter, lemon juice, and powdered sugar together and bring to a simmer. Splash a little bit of the hot juice mixture in with the eggs and whisk quickly to warm. Remove from the heat, add in all of your tempered egg mixture, and return to a medium-low flame, whisking constantly. You want it to thicken, but you do not want it to curdle. Once it's quite thick but not boiling, remove immediately from the heat and strain into a bowl to remove any lumps that may have curdled. Cover with plastic wrap by putting the film directly onto the surface of the curd. This way, you won't get a skin!

To make the chocolate glaze, simply scrape the coconut milk into a glass bowl and pour in with the chocolate. You can add some vanilla paste, if you like, to this but it's not wholly necessary. All you have to do is heat up the glaze in the bain marie (that double-boiler we used earlier to heat your eggs and sugar) until it's quite smooth and melted, and then dye it as many colors as you want! Keep the colors separate, of course, and let them set at room temperature for later. 

Wash our your standing mixer quite well and use the bain marie to heat half of the butter for the buttercream until it's almost completely melted. Add in the rest of the butter in and fit your mixer with the whisk attachment. Whip your butter until quite light and fully incorporated into one lovely texture, then add in the zest and lemon curd. Continue to whip until all nicely together, and then finally add in a little powdered sugar at a time at medium speed until it's thick and the right amount of sweetness that you want. It's going to be amazingly flavorful, and even better the longer you let it sit!

Invest in a rotating cake stand! I know it's strange, but I much prefer the plastic to metal ones. They don't squeak!
Once everything is cooled down, take your spongecake and cut into four equal pieces, crosswise. Spread each layer with plenty of lemon curd (please be generous) and sandwich them to create a gorgeous long loaf. To get extra lemon curd on the inside, pop some of your buttercream in a piping bag and pipe a border along each side of the cake and then fill your cake with as much lemon curd as you like. Keep in mind, it's a very bright curd, so don't overfill lest your border burst! Spread buttercream all around and chill until firm to the touch. Your cake must be rather cold in order for the glaze to not run off everywhere.

Use either gel or powdered food colorings. Please don't use the liquid!
You'll want your glaze/ganache to be a little warmer than body temperature to be flowy, so a quick zap in the microwave will do you good. I did four colors for mine, but you can do as many or as few as you like. When doing a drip glaze, I advise you to do your edges first, and use less than you think you need. Remember, you can always add but you can't take away. Once your edges are about where you like them, fill in the middle with random globs of glaze. You can now use sprinkles around the border, all over the top, decorate with candy, cherries, chocolates...pretty much anything your little heart desires! I chose amarena cherries, white chocolate curls, honeycomb candy, and sprinkles.

Please go crazy with your own decorations, and then tag me at @wannaBgourmande or #WannaBGourmande on Instagram/Twitter to show me what amazing creative souls you are!



Thanks so much for spending my birthday week with me. It was great. I'm looking forward to what my 31st year of existence on this planet does for me. Next week is going to be a fun recipe for Purim. Stay tuned!

Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Rum Bundt Cake


There's nothing quite so fun as a birthday party, and just because you're a grown-up doesn't mean you can't have one. I wholly disagree with the creed that adults aren't allowed to do birthday parties because they're considered childish. What in the world is the point of being alive today if you can't find little reasons to celebrate? I will say, though, that I'm now 30 and I still don't know what you're supposed to do while people sing "Happy Birthday" to you.

This rum cake has come to be my favorite birthday cake. I baked one for my own birthday just last March and it was a fan favorite. I baked two different cakes, of course, and folks seemed to shockingly prefer the rum cake over the avocado oil cake - at least, that's how it seemed, just because I hadn't any left over and I had plenty of the other to spare.

The rum cake I make is an adaptation on a Kentucky Bourbon Cake. This historical confection from the great American recipe book was the prize-winning entry by a certain Nell Lewis at the 1963 Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest in Platte City, Missouri. What's neat about using alcohol to bake is that it is a liquid that won't form gluten, no matter what. You can mix and mix and mix the flour with any kind of rum, vodka, or bourbon and it won't go gloopy. You do need gluten in cake, of course, to trap all of those lovely air bubbles and therefore make your cake rise, so you only use about a quarter cup in this recipe, which was from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vintage Cakes.



When I think of bundt cakes, I think of classic Americana. What better to bake for your Memorial Day celebration? Give this a go. You can find so many funky bundt pans in different designs, especially if you comb thrift stores. There are many bundt pans out there, sitting on shelves, just waiting for you to take them home and use them.

Rum Bundt Cake

Cake
  • 12 oz AP cake flour (or 10.5 oz AP flour and 1.5 oz cornstarch)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 8 oz lard or shortening
  • 13 oz coconut sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/4 cup rum
  • 1 cup coconut milk, almond milk, or hemp milk plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
Rum Simple Syrup(optional but recommended)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar, brown sugar, or honey
  • 1/3 cup rum
  • 1 cinnamon stick
Icing
  • 1 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 vanilla bean
  • Rum, as needed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your bundt pan with a bit of oil and a light dusting of flour. Prepare your glaze by boiling together the water, sugar, and cinnamon stick. Once it's come to a boil and all the sugar has dissolved, add in the rum. You want to add it in now because otherwise all the alcohol would cook off and I don't think we want that. Set it aside. Sift all the dry ingredients for you cake together.

Whip together the shortening and sugar using the whip attachment of your standing mixer until light and quite fluffy. Coconut sugar is an excellent one-for-one substitute for cane sugar. It's a less-refined (but just as dignified) form of sugar that's far more sustainable than many alternatives. It takes quite a bit less processing, as well, and it has a nice note of depth in it, which is appropriate for this cake. Add each egg, one at a time, until each one is fully incorporated. Split the vanilla bean down the middle and scrape one half of the beans into the egg mixture. Save the other half for your icing, which you'll make later. If you like, you can put the scraped pod in either the sugar container (to make vanilla sugar) or into your still-warm syrup for a kick of extra flavor.

Add in your dry and wet ingredients, going dry-wet-dry-wet-dry. Stir gently, of course, just to let the batter come together. Make sure to really scrape the hell out of the bottom and make the batter homogeneous. Pour into your bundt pan, give a few tap-tap-taps to make sure everything is spread evenly, and bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Take this time for yourself to read a magazine and drink the rest of the bottle. You're at home, so I'm assuming nobody is there to judge you.

Once your cake is baked - springing back when touched, and all - remove it from the oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes before turning it upside-down on a cooling rack, set inside a baking sheet to catch the glaze. Once your cake is turned upside-down to continue its cooling, you may assemble the glaze. However, if you are using the simple syrup...

Straight out of the oven, with your bundt pan facing cake-side up, poke plenty of holes into your cake with either a wooden skewer or a toothpick. Spoon half of the syrup straight over the cake and allow to soak in, being sure to spread it evenly. Wait your designated 15 minutes and then flip the cake over onto your cooling rack. Once your cake falls out  of the pan on its own, glaze the remaining syrup over the top of the cake. This should help it cool. Now, for the glaze...

Simply scrape the other half of that vanilla bean into the entirety of the glaze ingredients and whisk together until it's a sort of medium consistency - not gloopy but not at all runny. Dampen a paper towel or clean tea towel and cover the bowl so it won't go dry. Your cake should cool and fall easily out of the bundt pan, and should be  no warmer than body temperature (and seriously that's the absolute MOST it should be) when you ice this cake. I wouldn't recommend it, of course, as it should be at least room temperature so the glaze won't fall straight off, but your simple syrup should have helped to cool it at this point. 

Once your cake is cool enough, spoon over globs of the glaze, in whichever fashion you like. I decorated this cake with fresh flowers from my garden. Pansies, dandelions, and roses were in plentiful supply for me on that day, but make sure you check that your own flowers at your own disposal are edible, and not poisonous. 

Vanilla Rum Cake with fresh flowers - no mirror glaze, just a classic glaze. 🌹 This is one of my favorite cakes to make for birthday parties πŸŽ‚, especially grown - up ones. 🍾πŸ₯‚πŸ˜†There's rum in the #cake AND the glaze! You can also make a rum simple syrup and soak it in for an even more boozy treat. I didn't do that because I didn't know if there were going to be any little ones at the party I attended. I'm loving that simpler cakes are starting to have a moment. Simple doesn't mean plain, of course! When I say simple, I mean the kind of cakes that the great American baker made before us. I find culinary anthropology fascinating - this cake is modified from a "Kentucky Bourbon Cake" which won a #baking contest in Platte City in the 1950s! I think it's great that those kinds of things survived long enough for us to try them today. #foodiechats #wannabgourmande #foodblogger #cheflife #instacake #vanilla #midwestlife #KansasCity #classic #flowersofinstagram #cakedecorating
A post shared by Chef Kolika (@wannabgourmande) on


Take this cake to your next grown-up birthday party, or make it for your own. It's quite festive with all of the flowers, but you can decorate it however you like. It looks especially festive with plenty of candles! Happy cooking and happy eating!

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Chocolate Cake with Fresh Strawberries



I've been focusing a lot on my Instagram lately. It's odd; I always get notifications for new followers, and when I check, the number almost always is the same, or possibly one or two lower than last I checked. I can only guess that - between the hours that I've checked - I've gained one and lost two, or some combination of that. I can't quite fathom why, but I can only assume it's because I don't post as often as a high-follower-having instagrammer might post. Eh.

I love Instagram because I think it's one of the most-pure social media outlets there are. Minimal ads, no add-ons for the interface, just captured moments with a caption, and that's it. You can like it or not. You can follow or unfollow. There's not a huge amount of drama that can happen in that simple space, and I think that's why I love it. It just captures moments and that's it. It's a beautiful way to experience and savor our reality, and I'm 100% for it.



For those of you that may follow me on Instagram, you'll know that my life revolves around three things: my work, my pets, and my garden. Sure, I'll post the occasional style photo of what I'm wearing and what kind of makeup I'm doing(sometimes in my pink wig), but not as often as the food stuff. That being said, I like to think of myself as more of a lifestyle blogger than a food blogger. I try my best to live sustainably and do my best to recycle and produce as low waste as I can. I buy in bulk, for example, and try to make my own sodas. I also compost instead of throwing away biodegradable waste. I'll admit that it's more of a time-based project than anything, but it's worth it when your garden thrives more and more each year you invest in it. That being said, it's still a food blog, and I love food.

I've been on a cake kick lately, which is lucky considering I'm doing a friend's wedding cake come this Halloween. Since the flavor profile was strawberry and chocolate, I wanted to get a little practice in before the event, so I needed guinea pigs. Luckily, the birthday parties of both a dear friend and a soon-to-be sister-in-law would fulfill this need for me.




The first cake I made was this gorgeous strawberry cake. It was bright pink inside(which you unfortunately can't see because of the lighting of the night club we were at) with an Italian Buttercream frosting, a much lighter and more tasty version of the plain old American Buttercream we all might be used to at this point. I learned this amazing new marbling technique for decoration where you smear the sides of the cake randomly with different shades of a certain color and then frost them all together in irregular ways to achieve this effect. I also love the drip cake trend that we've been having lately, with asymmetrical decorations on top. I think it looks so much more organic and natural than anything constructed, which I find so much more appealing.

This cake is chocolate on chocolate, with the fresh strawberries for color and a little contrast in texture. It's insanely rich and dense, and just perfect for a birthday party. This cake makes three nice layers, so you'll get something that's wonderfully tall, which is completely instagram worthy. Oh, and just in case that wasn't instagrammable(is that a word?) enough, it's entirely #dairyfree!

Chocolate Layer Cake
yields 3 8" round cakes
Adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

For the Cake

  • 4 oz baking chocolate(I like guittard dark), broken up in pieces
  • 1 oz cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee
  • 6.75 oz vegan sour cream(I love the tofutti products for baking)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 2 eggs
  • 5 oz brown sugar
  • 7.75 oz granulated sugar
  • 4 oz coconut oil 
  • 4 oz grapeseed oil
  • 10 oz AP flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
For the Ganache
  • 1 lb good quality chocolate, 58% cacao or higher
  • 8 oz coconut-almond milk blend(I like Blue Diamond brand)
  • 0.3 oz coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray three 8" baking pans with pan-spray. Drop in a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder into the middle of one of the pans and knock it around to spread it. You're basically coating the bottom and sides of the pan with cocoa powder, and then knocking the excess into each of the other pans, so that all three are evenly (and thinly) coated to keep your batter from sticking. This allows easy release from the bottom and a good rise on all sides for the cakes when they bake. 

Put the cocoa powder and broken-up baking chocolate in a microwave safe bowl and pour in your hot coffee, and whisk until everything is smooth. You might have to microwave the mixture to get the chocolate to melt, but cross that bridge if/when it comes. Once that's all nice and together, scrape in your tofu sour cream and whisk to combine, ending with the vanilla extract. Set aside. Sift the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a separate bowl. Set that aside. (Yes, you're working with a lot of bowls. Deal with it.)

Combine the sugars and coconut oil in the bowl of your standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until incorporated, which will take about two or three minutes, depending on how warm your kitchen is. Yes, it'll look crumbly and not that creamy - that's okay! Add in your grapeseed oil in a thin stream as it whisks, and it'll get nice and fluffy...or, at least, fluffier. Add in your eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, leaving at least 30 seconds between each addition, and scraping down your sides between so as well. This takes some time, but trust me - the next part goes fast!

Remove your bowl from the standing mixer and grab a spatula, then alternate folding in your flour and the chocolate mixture, about a third at a time, ending with the dry ingredients. You don't want lumps, of course, but it's okay if you have them, as you don't want to overmix your batter. It should be rather smooth and smell quite chocolatey. 

Using a disher, divide the batter evenly between the three pans. I love using ice cream dishers to do these kinds of things, as the results are always consistent, so plan on investing in a large-ish ice cream disher should you plan on producing layer cakes on a regular basis. Once all of your batter is divided, knock the bottom-sides of your cake pans to evenly distribute your mix and knock out any particularly large bubbles that may be lurking insidiously. Yes, you want bubbles, but you want small and even bubbles rather than large ones. 

Bake for 20 - 24 minutes at 350, or until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and springs back when the top is lightly touched. Let the cakes cool, in the pans, for about 20 minutes. In the meantime, make your ganache.

Simply combine all ingredients in a metal or glass bowl over a pot of simmering water and gently melt together. Use a spatula and not a whisk to combine everything, and please be gentle with it. You don't want to create air bubbles in a ganache, lest it turn sandy and the color go off. Once everything is mostly melted together, turn off the heat and let it hang out for about 15 minutes. By this time, your cakes should be ready to come out of the pans and ready to layer up.

Simply take each layer and spread about a third of a cup of ganache between each one, then coating the entire concoction with a thin layer of the ganache before setting in the fridge. Remember, you only want this to set, as you'll be glazing more ganache on top. I personally like the more rustic approach for these kinds of cakes, but you can be as refined as you like with it. I used fresh strawberries, mini meringues (a la Dominique Ansel's book, The Secret Recipes)  and shards of Hershey's special dark chocolate bars to decorate the top of this cake. You can decorate with whatever you want, so long as you play with height, color, and texture. Just make sure to set it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving it, especially if you want nice and neat layers at the end!

Okay so it's not the prettiest picture - that's why it's not on Instagram!
It seriously only took a couple of hours from start-to-finish, and most of that was just waiting on things to bake, cool, or set. There was a lot of Netflix between those times, as well as plenty of time to perfect my party makeup or get a nice outfit together. However you spend your time waiting, I hope you've enjoyed this brief tutorial. Now get out there and share your life! Happy cooking and happy eating!




Friday, July 15, 2016

German Chocolate Cake


When a friend asked me to make a German chocolate cake for his girlfriend's surprise birthday party, I said yes. After all, I own a bakery and he's dating my friend of six years, so of course I'll jump to help when called for. The party was Saturday and I had a little free time, and they're great about tagging my bakery in Facebook/Instagram posts, so it's essentially free advertising for a party I get to go to anyway.

Okay, so here's the thing:

In memory, I've never made box cakes. Every person I know has had the box cake mixes you buy at the grocery store. They know what a great American cake like a "German Chocolate" cake is supposed to be, where I do not. I can't even remember the last time I ate German chocolate cake, aside from the gourmet Chef-y deconstructed versions at restaurants. If you were to put a gun to my head and point to a line of cakes and say "PICK OUT THE GERMAN CHOCOLATE CAKE" I'd say "Shoot me."

According to a quick Google search, German Chocolate Cake is comprised of a nice chocolate cake with a pecan coconut fudge icing, because nothing says Rheinland like tropical dried coconut and pecans fresh from the orchard. Can we detect the hints of sarcasm here?

Here's why "German Chocolate Cake", as a concept, annoys me:


  1. Coconut doesn't grow in Germany
  2. Pecans don't grow in Germany
  3. Although the Europeans mastered the use of chocolate thanks to the Spanish conquistadors, cacao trees don't come from Germany. 
I was about to go on a full rant about how stupid it is that Americans just randomly assign a nationality to a random cake they invented using the coconuts and pecans that have been in the South since before America was technically founded, but then I did some research:

German Chocolate Cake was not just a random assignment of nationality to cake(unlike Italian Cream Cake which is about as Italian as a Georgia Peach). German Chocolate Cake begins with Samuel German, an American chocolatier who created the mild dark baking chocolate for Baker's Chocolate Company in 1852. The company named the chocolate "Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate" in his honor. Therefore, German Chocolate Cake was originally "German's Chocolate Cake," which had his actual chocolate product in the damn thing.

See what a little research can do? See how I'm no longer angry about something I didn't understand? See that I actually sought out the right answer instead of just going on this long rant about how German Chocolate Cake didn't make sense? See how easy that was?

Looking at you, Drumf Supporters.

Sorry. The American Presidential election season is taking its toll on me. I just wish that people would use things like fact checkers or even make a tiny effort to support their ideologies other than the argument of "yes but my FEELINGS"... Anyhow.

German's Chocolate Cake first officially debuted in 1957 in the Dallas Morning Star newspaper when Texas Homemaker Mrs. George Calay submitted it for "Recipe of the Day." The cake gained such huge popularity that it's become the Amercan classic it is today.

My recipe doesn't actually have the German's baker's chocolate in it, but there's nothing stopping you from chopping up this delicious stuff and popping it in your recipe to act as "chocolate chips".

Best Ever Chocolate Layer Cake
(adapted from Ron Ben-Israel's recipe)

  • 1 3/4 cups AP flour
  • 3/4 cups high fat cocoa powder
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted, warm
  • 2 farm-fresh eggs
  • 1 cup HOT coffee/espresso
  • A dash of Bitters**(totally optional, but my secret ingredient!)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and prepare three 8" round cake pans with pan-spray and/or parchment paper. 

Whisk together the sugar, the cocoa powder, the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt in the bowl of your standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment. Add your eggs, one at a time, stirring until the mixture is sort of "chunky", and then repeat with the oil. Your coffee and bitters should be the last ingredient, and simply mix until all is incorporated and relatively smooth. Make sure you take a spatula and scrape the bottom of the bowl!

Divide your cake batter into the prepared pans and pop in the oven. Immediately lower the oven to 350 degrees and bake until done, about 45 minutes to an hour. The cake should be wholly set in the middle and a cake tester/toothpick should come out clean when inserted. 

I doubled up on this recipe and ended up making four 9" rounds for this particular recipe... 

Allow the cakes to cool entirely before removing from the pans and attempting to decorate. I highly recommend that you use your pecan fudge icing almost immediately after you make it, so it has time to cool and set on the cake versus in the pan. 




Pecan Fudge Icing
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 6 oz butter, cubed
  • 1 Tbsp Bourbon
  • 2 cups toasted pecans
  • 2 cups shaved coconut
Melt the butter in a saucepot. Add the evaporated milk, the egg yolks, and the bourbon, and whisk over medium-low heat until it thickens, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat immediately and add in your toasted pecans. Stir well, and add the coconut. Use this icing while it's still warm, spreading evenly between your cake layers, leaving enough for the top. 

You can finish the sides with a chocolate buttercream, but I personally think this cake is moist and sweet enough as it is, so I prefer to leave it naked. It looks so pretty and gives such a wonderful Vintage-y vibe that just reminds you of your grandmother in a crinoline skirt. I highly recommend putting this beauty on a fancy ceramic cake stand and taking it to your kid's bake sale. Oh my God the look on Phyllis's face will be priceless when you pop this four-layer behemoth of Americiana on the bake sale table.