Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Making a Splash in town!

A new client recently ordered a chocolate cake. Since it was her first time, I made her my standard chocolate birthday cake, a cocoa cake recipe that I got from Country Living magazine 20 years ago. She liked it but said she was looking for something a bit more chocolatey so I said she should try my Puddle of Mud.........and thats when the ripple effect took over! My client was extremely pleased with that one----I could almost hear the slight giggle in her voice when she described the chocolate experience she had! Needless to say the next day I got orders for it again---from other ladies who were at her party! So I can say it has made quite a splash around town.

Puddle of Mud is my version of a recipe for Mississippi Mud cake I got from a Williams and Sonoma cd-rom many years ago. I changed it around a bit and came up with a moist and deeply chocolate yet light cake. It is almost lowfat yet feels decadent. It starts with a custard and is quickly mixed; you really dont even need a mixer. I fill and cover the sides with a chocolate buttercream frosting and smooth a dark chocolate glaze on top to give it that mud puddle look.

Puddle of Mud


for the custard:

1 1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 T. vegetable oil

Other ingredients:

2 cups flour
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt

2 eggs
2 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and line (with parchment or silpat) and grease again and flour pans----either 2 8-9 in. round or square or 1 9x13, or 1 10x15 etc.( depending on how tall you want your cake to be).

To make the custard, mix the cocoa, milk, and butter and oil in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring all the while. The mix will thicken as it comes to the boil. Let it boil for about 2 minutes and then remove from heat and set aside.

In a large bowl, stir all dry ingredients together. Add warm cocoa mixture and mix until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time with vanilla. Mix until well incorporated and smooth.

Pour batter into prepared pans, making sure to spread it smooth to the edges. If you want to be sure you wont have a hump in the middle, you may like to use water soaked insulated strips around the pans. I got mine from Wilton.

Depending on the size of the pans, bake for 25-30 minutes for the smallest to 15-20 for the largest. Its best to test for doneness with a toothpick or spring back when gently touched.

Let cool in the pans on wire racks.

Make buttercream.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sifted cocoa powder
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla
4 cups sifted powdered sugar

Cream butter until smooth. Add cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Add 2 cups powdered sugar and milk and salt and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Add powdered sugar one cup at a time, mixing until smooth.

Dark chocolate glaze:

1/4 cup evaporated milk
1/4 cup golden syrup
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Bring milk and syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add chocolate chips and stir until melted. Remove from the heat and stir until perfectly smooth.

If youre making a layer cake, place one layer on a plate, flat side up, and spread with about 1 cup of frosting. Place other layer flat side down on top of this one. Spread sides with frosting until covered and smooth. You may like to decorate the base and top with a border. The top border sort of helps to prevent the glaze from pouring down!
When the glaze has cooled a bit and isnt too runny, pour or spoon some on top and spread all over to the edges.


Friday, November 21, 2008

I joined Iron Cupcake Challenge!

This is my first Iron Cupcake event. I Stumbled on its web page recently and it looked like fun so I joined. This month's ingredient is cranberry. Im a big fan of them and have made my own cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving for ages. We dont find them here so I have had to limit my use to dried cranberries. For this challenge, I decided to make a cupcake inspired by a recipe that looked interesting in Better Homes and Garden's Complete Book of Baking on page 131. I got this book several years ago and its a reliable source of nice recipes.
I tweaked that recipe to suit my taste today and I think it turned out quite well.
I also had some beautiful local organic honey I wanted to use so I was excited when I found this recipe that could showcase the cranberries and the honey. It is a light as air genoise cake with chewy bits of cranberry and crunchy bits of walnuts perfumed by the orange and sweetened with aromatic honey. So yummy!
I topped it with an orange buttercream icing and sprinkled more cranberries and walnuts on top.

I call this Cran-Orange Honey-Nut Cupcake with Orange Honey Buttercream

3 egg yolks
3/4 cups flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel
3 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/4 cup finely chopped dried cranberries

1. Place egg yolks in an electric mixer bowl(I used my Kitchen Aid) and whisk until they turn lemon yellow and thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes.

2. In a small bowl, mix together the flour, 2 T. sugar, and salt. Set aside.

3. Add orange juice to the egg yolks and beat on low speed until mixed together. Gradually add the 1/3 c. sugar and beat on medium speed, about 5 minutes, until the sugar is almost dissolved. In four parts, add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture until it is just incorporated. Stir in the orange peel.

4. With a clean whisk, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually add the honey, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

5. Add 1 cup of the egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it. Then gently fold the yolk mixture into the whites until no streaks are visible.

6. Spoon the mixture into your cupcake papers(about 24). Bake the cupcakes at 325F for about 35-40 minutes.

7. Remove from oven and let cupcakes cool on a rack to room temperature.

8. Meanwhile make your buttercream frosting. Place 1/2 cup of butter in a mixing bowl and cream until smooth. Gradually add 3 cups of sifted powdered sugar and mixed. Add 2 tablespoons of honey and blend until smooth. Add 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel. If icing isnt smooth enough, add enough orange juice until it reaches spreading consistency.

9. Spread cooled cupcakes with icing and sprinkle with more walnuts and cranberries.

I also bake this recipe in an ungreased angel food pan. If you do that, bake for about 50 minutes and be sure to invert it to cool and then gently pull it away from the sides of the pan.

I hope you try this and enjoy it!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Just Picked!

I have been trying to decide on the direction I want to go with this blog. While I want to use this forum to document the various birthday and celebration cakes I make for my clients, I also want to highlight recipes made with the huge variety of locally produced foodstuffs from ground nuts(peanuts) and cashews to tropical fruits like mangoes and papayas and coconuts! I am really excited to show you the picking of some fruits from the trees in our compound and the ways I use them in yummy recipes.

I guess Im getting a clearer vision of where Im going now so let the fun begin!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

My first post!

I've been wanting to start a blog for a long time. I have enjoyed reading other blogs about baking and I finally decided that its time for mine! I hope you will enjoy following my baking adventures.

I guess it all started about 20 years ago here in the small West African country where I live with my husband and 3 kids. I didn't have any kids back then! I had never really done much baking but I was willing to try out some recipes since there weren't any bakeries here that had nice cakes to buy. I was used to buying birthday cakes growing up in the USA, but when I moved over here I had no choice but to make my own.

It seems that no one here had eaten delicious American cakes! One of the first cakes that I remember making was a chocolate roll cake with 7 minute frosting. That icing made a real sensation in town! It was as though people couldn't get enough of it and the demand began. I had made that cake for a nice lady's birthday and she then said her friend who had a casino(!) would like to have one every week. So I started supplying that to her. Then the word spread that an American lady was making nice cakes and I started getting orders from others. I never advertised but the word of mouth reached alot of people and I started to become busy. This business was still a type of hobby as I was working full time in the government hospital in the capital and at one point my income from cakes was far exceeding my salary in the hospital!

Making a long story short, supplying supermarkets, restaurants, and coffee shops with cakes over the years and countless birthday parties have kept me busy! I left the hospital after my second child was born and have been too busy baking to go back to it!:-)