Carmela’s Lemon Loaf Cake | World Baking Day Challenge

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So I’m posting this a day late, but I guess baking enthusiasts will agree that every day should be celebrated as baking day! The concept is fun- you log on to the website http://www.worldbakingday.com, choose a recipe posted there based on the difficulty level, grab the badge and bake!

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

image courtesy | worldbakingday.com

There it is- difficulty level 67- Carmela’s gorgeous lemon loaves. I recently bought some loaf pans, plus, I had plenty of lemons (desi nimbus) in my fridge- which is what made me choose this beautiful, fragrant lemon loaf cake. Those two reasons, plus the fact that ever since I saw Julia from MasterChef Australia S4 bake her lemon syrup loaf cake, I’ve wanted to try it. (Remember her? The Princess Of Pastry who barely smiled. I mean she did smile the odd smile, but it seemed so forced. I liked her desserts much more than her. I was always rooting for Andy!)

Anyway, snap back to reality after reminiscing  about MC Australia. I followed the recipe with a few minor tweaks, because I did not have access to some ingredients. (Substituting butter for margarine and desi nimbus for lemons.) And you know what? Even though most lemon cakes I have come across use Meyer lemons, our desi nimbus work pretty well- they are quite fragrant and manage to give off that floral undertone. Which got me thinking- if this cake could turn out so well using nimbus, imagine how amazing it would be with larger, juicier Meyer lemons!

The batter was a little runnier than I expected and I feared it would not bake properly, but I was wrong. This recipe calls for creaming the eggs, sugar and lemon zest; then adding in the dry ingredients followed by more wet ingredients- milk and melted butter.

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

Ready for the oven! (I love saying that.)

While the cake is baking, you make a quick lemon syrup- just lemon juice and sugar slowly boiled on a low flame till it reaches syrupy consistency. Once cooled, poke some holes in your cake and drizzle over! Just make sure you use your skewer to poke all the way through, so that the syrup permeates evenly and well.

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Whether you have access to Meyer lemons or not, do try this cake. It’s simple enough and requires so few ingredients- in fact, I did not even need a trip to the grocery store.

CARMELA’S LEMON LOAF CAKE (Original recipe here.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 160 g castor sugar
  • 1 1/2 medium eggs (for the half, take one egg, whisk it in a cup and pour only half the whisked egg into your batter. A tip I learned from  Thanh!)
  • 175 g flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 125 ml milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 100 g butter, melted and cooled
  • Zest of 3 regular sized nimbus

For The Syrup:

  • 50 g castor sugar
  • Juice of 2 nimbus

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 170 C
  • In a large bowl, cream the eggs, sugar and lemon zest.
  • Add the flour and baking powder and beat well.
  • Pour in the milk and vanilla extract and combine well.
  • Add the melted butter and beat a little more.
  • Once your batter has come together and there are no lumps, pour into your loaf tin and bake for 30-35 min at 170 C till the top becomes golden.

For The Syrup

Heat the castor sugar and lemon juice in a pan for 5-7  minutes on low heat until everything is dissolved and the mixture becomes a light syrup.

Assembly

Once the cake is ready, allow it to cool a little. Then pierce some holes on the surface and spoon the syrup over the cake.

This is a perfect tea-time cake, and would be great with a dollop of fresh cream or vanilla ice cream. I didn’t have any decorative lemon slices to garnish the cake with, so I dusted it with powdered sugar instead. It’s a no-fail decorating tool!

There is something quite comforting about a loaf cake- they can be so delicious, without being intimidating for the baker or the consumer. Plus, you can dress it up or down with whatever you like, making it one of those creations which fits at a  party or a picnic. Personally, I like having a slice of loaf cake first thing in the morning, still in my pajamas, with a cup of coffee.

Am I- gasp- turning into Nigella?

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Hope all you bakers out there had fun on World Baking Day. Here’s to more happy baking round-the-year!

Buttery Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

Peppermint is Christmasy.  Candy canes, peppermint pigs…the sweet and icy cool candy is everywhere this season. The one thing I enjoy even more than peppermint? The combination of chocolate and mint…how many of us have eaten way too many After Eights for our own good; or double scoops of Milk Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream? :D So when I received a bag of these baking chips, I knew I wanted to use them as part of my Christmas sugar and spice project.

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If you’ve eaten Andes candies before, these chips are the candy rubble version of the real thing. And so addictive when you are eating them for fun! (I do this. With all manner and form of baking chips. A LOT. I never said it was good for you, though.)

I wanted something for afternoon tea, and something that could be made fast. I had bookmarked my blogger pal Ameena’s thumbprint cookie recipe, and figured now would be the perfect time to use it. My initial idea was to create a thumbprint cookie, filling the thumbprint with the chips. But then I figured, why not just throw everything into the batter so you can bite into the chips  from all sides?

20121212_155146I followed Ameena’s recipe  as is; except that I added these mint-chocolate baking chips instead of jam. The batter I got was light and fluffy; almost like cake icing, and I had some trouble handling it and shaping into little balls. So I allowed it to rest in the fridge for half an hour and then scooped them into 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls onto my cookie tray.

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Baked at 200C for 15 mins and voila!

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I added a bit of a saturated effect to the pics just for the heck of it.

BUTTERY MINT CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (Adapted from Ameena’s Thumbprint Cookies.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup castor sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup mint chocolate chips + a little extra for sprinkling on top

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 200 C.
  • Grease a cookie tray and keep aside.
  • First, in a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and castor sugar together really well. I oscillated between low, medium and high speeds just to amuse my toddler son. And myself.
  • Next, add the flour and mint chocolate chips a little at a time and combine well.
  • Allow the dough to rest in the fridge for half an hour.
  • Shape into 1/2 tablespoon sized balls, decorate with some more chips on top and bake at 200c for 15minutes.
  • Allow cookies to cool completely.

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These cookies are crisp and oh-so-buttery; and very crumbly as well. They do leave behind a lot of crumb, but hey- at least it’s proof that they were devoured. These are great for tea time. Or any other time.

Have a great weekend!!

Something Sweet For Diwali: Brownie Cupcakes

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It’s Diwali! The festival of lights :)

Perhaps this is not the most traditional of Diwali sweets, but hey- you know how much I love anything chocolate. I took my fail-safe brownie recipe, added a tweak and some coffee, and poured everything into cupcake moulds.

So you get something that’s a little more festive than brownie squares.

BROWNIE CUPCAKES (Tweaked with help from Nigella.)

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 eggs
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1 3/4 cups castor sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 150 grams milk chocolate cut into pieces
  • 10 ml boiling water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee powder.

METHOD

  • Preheat oven to 180C
  • Line a cupcake tin with cupcake liners
  • In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda and keep aside.
  • In a small bowl, combine the coffee powder and boiling water till coffee dissolves; then add the chocolate so that it just melts and you get a thick chocolatey sauce. Add a little more water if you need to.
  • In a saucepan with high sides, melt the butter over gentle heat. Once the butter is melted, add in the sugar and stir with a wooden spoon until well incorporated.
  • Next, add in all the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. You will get a soft crumbly chocolate mixture; and it may not be completely well blended at this stage, but you need to pull it off the heat. Allow mixture to cool a little.
  • Whisk the eggs and vanilla extract into the saucepan, followed by the coffee-chocolate liquid.
  • Pour the batter into the cupcake tin and bake at 180C for 30-40 mins. Here again, your cupcakes should look dry and set on top but still be a little moist and soft within.

These are quick to make and you certainly won’t disappoint anyone!

Happy Diwali everyone!

image courtesy | journeymart.com

As you can see, I decided to stop being such a Nigella hater and bought her book. And I stacked my cupcake on top of hers. (Now that sounds like something she would say on air, right? Stacking her cupcakes.)