Wednesday, August 10, 2016

I love apple crumble

Classic apple crumble



  • 5 medium Granny Smith (green) apples (900g), peeled, cored and cut into 2cm dice
  • ½ cup (110g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • store-bought vanilla ice-cream, to serve 
crumble topping
  • 1½ cups (225g) plain (all-purpose) flour 
  • ¾ cup (165g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
  • 1 cup (90g) rolled oats 
  • 225g unsalted butter, melted


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the apple, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon in a large bowl and mix to combine. Transfer to a 1.5-litre-capacity ovenproof dish. 
  2. To make the crumble topping, place the flour, sugar, cinnamon, oats and butter in a large bowl and mix until just combined. 
  3. Spoon the crumble mixture over the apple and place the dish on a large baking tray. Bake for 40–45 minutes, or until the crumble is golden and the apples are soft. Serve with vanilla ice-cream. Serves 6.

Blueberry, apple and coconut crumble



  • ½ cup (110g) caster (superfine) sugar
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped 
  • 4 Granny Smith (green) apples, peeled and chopped 
  • 500g frozen or fresh blueberries 
coconut crumble
  • ⅓ cup (75g) caster (superfine) sugar 
  •  ⅔ cup (50g) shredded coconut 
  • 120g butter, melted 
  • 1 cup (150g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted


  1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). To make the coconut crumble, place the sugar, coconut, butter and flour in a bowl and rub with your fingertips until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. 
  2. Place the sugar, vanilla seeds, apples and blueberries in a bowl and mix well to combine. 
  3. Spoon into a 26cm round ovenproof dish. Sprinkle over the crumble mixture and bake for 20–25 minutes or until golden. Serves 6.

Apple, honey, pecan and ginger crumbles


  • 4 green (Granny Smith) apples (800g), peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup (120g) honey
  • 12 gingernut biscuits (165g)
  • ¾ cup (105g) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ⅓ cup (40g) pecans 
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted 
  •  vanilla ice-cream, to serve


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Place the apple and honey in a medium bowl and toss to combine. Divide the apple mixture between 4 x 1-cup-capacity (250ml) ovenproof ramekins and place on a baking tray. 
  2. Place the biscuits in a food processor and process until coarsely chopped. Add the flour and pecans and pulse until the pecans are chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl, add the butter and mix to combine. 
  3. Spoon the crumble over the apple mixture and bake for 15–20 minutes or until the apple is bubbling. Top with vanilla ice-cream to serve. Makes 4. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes by Life as a Strawberry

I immediately fell in love with her blog. She has such great tips and her recipes are awesome. This is my favourite recipe.
Lemon Vanilla Cupcakes by Life as a Strawberry
YIELD: 18-24 cupcakes

For the Cupcakes:
  • ½ c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • ½ cup buttermilk (see how I make my own buttermilk in this recipe)
For the Vanilla Buttercream Frosting:
  • ¼ c. (57 grams) of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar (give or take, depending on what kind of consistency you want. I like my frosting pretty thick because it holds up well when it’s piped or it’s warm outside)
For the Cupcakes:
  1. In a stand mixer, cream together butter, vanilla, lemon juice, lemon zest, and sugar.
  2. Add the egg and the egg white one at a time to the mixer while it runs on low speed.
  3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt.
  4. In a glass measuring cup, make your buttermilk. (In this case, I used 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar + milk until the mixture measured ½ cup.)
  5. Add the baking soda to the buttermilk (trust me) and stir. The baking soda will react with the vinegar and your mixture will swell up a bit and take on a foamy consistency. This is what you want!
  6. Alternate adding the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture (starting and ending with flour so as not to deflate the batter) to the batter, mixing after each addition until all the flour and buttermilk have been incorporated into the batter.
  7. Pour batter into cupcake pans and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool and top with your choice of frosting. I used Vanilla Buttercream! (Recipe below).
For the Vanilla Buttercream:
  1. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, vanilla, and ¼ cup of the powdered sugar. (This is easy to do by hand but also works great in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment).
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. of the milk and another ½ cup of the powdered sugar and mix well.
  3. Add remaining milk and stir.
  4. Add remaining powdered sugar as needed until your frosting has achieved your desired consistency. (I usually use all 2 cups, sometimes more.)
  5. Frost your cupcakes and dig in!

For the Buttermilk
*I don't actually use buttermilk from a carton in my baking. For every cup of buttermilk called for in a recipe, I put 2 Tbsp. of apple cider vinegar in a measuring cup and fill it up to the 1 cup mark with skim or 2% milk. In this case, I used 2 tsp. apple cider vinegar and filled the measuring cup with milk up to the ¼ cup mark. The apple cider vinegar lends a nice kick and I don't have to worry about keeping a carton of buttermilk stocked in my fridge. This is my favorite substitute - give it a try if you want or feel free to use the real thing!

Monday, July 11, 2016

How to make cream cheese icing

Finish off cakes, loaves and desserts with this creamy icing. Ideal for veggie based cakes, and a perfect companion to all spices, it is sure to be the perfect companion to your baked goods.

What you'll need

  • 600 g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250 g cream cheese, cold

Step 1

Beat the icing sugar and butter together in an electric mixer on a medium speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

Step 2

Add the cream cheese and beat until it is completely incorporated. Turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Continue beating until the icing is light and fluffy. Be careful not to over-beat the icing or it can turn runny.


  • Add a tablespoon of citrus zest to the butter and icing sugar in step one to make a zingy icing.
  • Add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the butter and icing sugar in step one.
  • Sprinkle crushed nuts over the finished cake to add contrast to the icing.
  • For extra zing, try beating in a tablespoon of your choice of citrus juice into the icing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Aeroplane Jelly Super Cupcakes



  1. Preheat oven on to 200°C. Put the flour, your chosen flavour of Aeroplane Original Jelly Crystals and castor sugar in the mixing bowl, mix and make a well in the centre. Break each egg into this well and add the milk and butter. Gently fold together until smooth.
  2. Spoon into 12 cup cake cases and bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  3. Take the cases out of the pan and let them cool. Serve plain, or ice if desired.


Try serving with plain white icing with extra jelly crystals sprinkled on top.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Orange and Almond Cake

4 oranges
1 tsp softened butter, for greasing
7 eggs
420 gm castor sugar
375 gm blanched almonds or 375 gm almond meal
1 heaped tsp of baking powder
Icing sugar and double cream, to serve

Combine 3 of the oranges in a large saucepan with enough cold water to cover generously, bring to the boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium and simmer, shaking the pan occasionally, until very tender (2 hours). Drain, then set aside for the oranges to cool

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 160°C and prepare 24cm-diameter spring-form cake tin by greasing with the butter and lining the bottom with a round of baking paper. Trim the ends the remaining oranges (discard), then very thinly slice and remove any seeds. Arrange the orange slices in the base of the prepared cake tin in concentric circles, overlapping the slices slightly as you so, set aside. 

If using whole almonds, blitz them in a food processor to form a fine almond meal and set aside.

Halve the cooked oranges, remove any seeds, then coarsely chop the oranges and process in a food processor to a smooth puree.

Whisk the eggs and sugar in a bowl to just combine, then stand until sugar dissolves (4-5 minutes). Fold in the orange puree, then the almond meal and baking powder and pour the batter into the prepared cake tin. Bake until golden and the centre of the cake is firm when pressed gently with your fingertip (50-60 minutes), cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack. Burnish the orange slices on the cake with a kitchen gas torch (optional), dust with icing sugar and serve with dollops of double cream.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Passion fruit and vanilla cheesecake

Vanilla cheesecake base
150ml of double cream
75g of icing sugar
1 large orange, zested
600g of mascarpone
1 vanilla pod
1 lemon, zested
3 1/2 bronze gelatine leaves
250g of cream cheese
10 digestive biscuits
50g of butter

Passion fruit cheesecake jelly topping
200g of passion fruit purée
50ml of water
50g of sugar
3 bronze gelatine leaves

To make this vanilla cheesecake recipe start by creaming the mascarpone and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. In a heavy based saucepan bring the double cream, sugar, lemon and orange zests and vanilla to the boil. Remove from the heat, strain into a clean pan and allow to cool slightly
  • 600g of mascarpone
  • 250g of cream cheese
  • 150ml of double cream
  • 50g of sugar
  • 1 large orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
Add the gelatine to the pan with the cream and stir well while heating through. When the gelatine has melted, remove from the heat and save for later
  • 3 1/2 bronze gelatine leaves
Crush the biscuits in a food processor or put them in a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin. Stir the butter into the food processor bowl and then press the mixture into a mould - preferably with a removable base
  • 10 digestive biscuits
  • 50g of butter
Fold the cream mix into the mascarpone mix and combine thoroughly. Pour onto the biscuit base in the mould. Leave approximately 5mm from the top and allow to set
Soak the gelatine in cold water for about 5 minutes, until soft and pliable. Heat the purée, sugar and water in a pan. Add the drained gelatine and let it melt into the mix. Turn off the heat and allow the mixture to settle to room temperature
  • 200g of passion fruit purée
  • 50g of sugar
  • 50ml of water
  • 3 bronze gelatine leaves
Once cool but not set, pour the passion fruit jelly over the set cheesecake to fill the remaining 5mm. Allow to set in the fridge for a couple of hours
    Once set, remove the vanilla cheesecake from the mould and serve

    Chocolate and salted caramel cupcakes

    50g of dark chocolate
    100ml of whole milk
    115g of dark muscovado sugar
    40g of unsalted butter, soft
    1 large egg, beaten
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    110g of plain flour
    1 tbsp of cocoa powder
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    1 pinch of salt

    Salted caramel
    200g of light muscovado sugar
    1 tsp vanilla essence
    80g of butter
    100ml of double cream
    1 tsp salt

    125g of unsalted butter, soft
    250g of icing sugar
    popping candy, chocolate-covered, to decorate (optional)

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tray with cupcake cases
    To make the cakes, put the chocolate, milk and one-third of the sugar in a saucepan and stir over a gentle heat until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted. Leave to cool
    Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy and gradually whisk in the beaten egg and vanilla essence until fully combined. Tip over the cooled chocolate milk and sift over the dry ingredients. Whisk it all together until combined and divide the mixture between the cake cases. Bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean
    In the meantime, make the salted caramel. Simply put all the ingredients in a saucepan over a gentle heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved and the butter has melted. Increase the heat and let the mixture come to a rolling boil. Reduce the temperature again and leave to simmer for a minute. Taste for saltiness (careful, it’s hot!) and add more if you like. Leave to cool
    Once the cakes are out of the oven, stab them all over with a skewer and spread a spoonful of salted caramel on top. Leave the cakes to cool completely in their tin on top of a wire rack before turning out
    To make the buttercream, put the butter in a large bowl and sift over half of the icing sugar. Whisk together to combine and sift over the remaining half of the icing sugar. Whisk again until fully combined before adding half of the cold salted caramel. Whisk until pale and fluffy and taste, adding more salted caramel if you want
    Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag fitted with a star nozzle and pipe a swirl of buttercream on top of each cake. Flick over some more salted caramel and scatter over some chocolate coated popping candy

    Gluten-free Amaretto Sour cupcakes


    Cupcake batter
    100g of unsalted butter, softened
    100g of caster sugar
    2 large eggs
    50g of ground almonds
    50g of rice flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    2 lemons, zest only
    60g of sour cherries, 1 packet
    2 tbsp of Amaretto
    Amaretto icing
    75g of unsalted butter
    25g of cream cheese
    150g of icing sugar
    Amaretto, a generous splash
    To garnish
    glacé cherries, optional

    Begin by soaking the sour cherries. Add the sour cherries and Amaretto to a small bowl and soak for 20 minutes. Squeeze out the excess Amaretto from the cherries and reserve for later
    Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line a 12 hole muffin tray with cupcake cases
    Place the butter, sugar, eggs, almonds, rice flour and baking powder in a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric hand whisk until light and fluffy
    Whisk in the reserved amaretto cherry liquid to slightly slacken the mixture, before folding in the cherries and lemon zest
    Spoon the mixture into the cupcake cases, two thirds full, and bake for 20 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack
    To make the icing, simply beat the butter and cream cheese together until soft and sift over half of the icing sugar. Whisk together until fully combined, before sifting over the remaining icing sugar
    Whisk in the amaretto, then give it a taste, adding more booze if necessary. Use a palette knife to smooth the icing over the tops of each cake before topping each one with a cherry

    Mini rose cupcakes


    2 large eggs
    3 tsp rose water, or 4 for a stronger taste
    115g of caster sugar
    115g of unsalted butter, soft
    115g of self-raising flour

    For the icing
    250g of icing sugar, sifted
    80g of unsalted butter, soft
    1 tbsp of milk, at room temperature
    1 tbsp of rose water, at room temperature
    pink food colouring
    hundreds and thousands

    Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4 and line the mini muffin tin with cases. Set aside
    Lightly beat the eggs and rose water together in a large mixing bowl and then add the sugar
    Whisk the mixture together using the handheld whisk or a free-standing mixer until it is light and fluffy. Add the soft butter a dollop at a time while beating continuously
    Once the butter is all incorporated, sift in the flour and fold it in carefully until you have a smooth batter
    Divide the mixture between the 24 cases and bake for about 10-15 minutes until the cakes are golden brown. Take them out of the oven and leave to cool completely
    While the cakes are baking, place all of the icing ingredients into a large bowl and beat together until light and fluffy
    Pipe or dollop the icing over the cakes and decorate with hundreds and thousands

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    Rosewater pistachio cupcakes with mascarpone cream frosting

    Rosewater pistachio cupcakes
    50g of pistachio nuts
    60g of ground almonds
    25g of plain flour
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    100g of butter, at room temperature
    100g of caster sugar
    2 small eggs
    2 tbsp of milk
    2 tsp rose water
    1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

    Mascarpone cream frosting
    100ml of double cream, cold
    250g of mascarpone, at room temperature
    2 tbsp of icing sugar
    1 dash of vanilla extract
    red food colouring, optional 


    Preheat the oven to 175°C/gas mark 4. Line an 8-hole cupcake pan with paper liners
    First, make the cupcakes. Grind together the pistachio nuts, almonds and plain flour in a spice grinder or mill. Make sure you don’t over grind it, or the mixture will go from powdery to lumpy
    Add the baking powder to the ground nut mix and keep aside
    Beat together the butter and caster sugar in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. You can do this using a hand mixer, or the paddle attachment of a free standing mixer
    Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, followed by the milk. Add the rose water and vanilla and mix well to combine
    Finally, fold in the ground nut and flour mix until smooth and incorporated. Pour into the cupcake cases (until about 3/4 full) and bake for about 20-25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cupcakes comes out clean
    Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a cooling rack while you prepare the frosting
    Whisk the double cream in a large mixing bowl using the whisk attachment or a hand whisk, until stiff peaks form. Do not over-mix, or the cream will split
    In a separate bowl, mix the mascarpone cheese and icing sugar slowly until well combined
    Add this into the whipped cream, followed by the vanilla and a couple of drops of food colouring - be very sparing with the colouring, adding a drop at a time until you reach the correct shade. Continue whisking on a low speed until well-combined
    Transfer into a piping bag and once the cupcakes are completely cool, pipe the frosting on top. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use

    1M or 2D star tip : piping bag : buttercream : cupcakes : decorations


    This website has a good thorough explanation on how to pipe a rose

    Monday, May 16, 2016

    Orange coconut sago with lychees and passionfruit

    1 cup (200g) tapioca pearls
    400g can coconut milk
    1 teaspoon finely grated orange rind
    1 cup (250ml) water
    1/2 cup (80g) finely chopped palm sugar
    565g can lychees in syrup, drained
    4 large passionfruit, halved

    Place the tapioca in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Set aside for 2 hours to soak. Strain through a fine sieve. Cook in a large saucepan of boiling water for 10 minutes or until opaque. Drain well.
    Meanwhile, combine the coconut milk, orange rind and 1/2 cup of sugar in a large saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring, for 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves and mixture is heated through. Add the tapioca and gently stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.
    Combine lychees, passionfruit and remaining sugar in a bowl.
    Spoon sago into serving bowls. Top with lychee mixture. Serve.

    Ultimate sticky toffee pudding

    175g boiling water
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    175g self raising flour, plus extra for greasing
    1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
    2 egg
    85g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
    140g Demerara sugar
    2 tbsp. black treacle/molasses
    100ml milk
    cream or custard to serve optional

    Stone and chop the dates quite small, put them in a bowl, then pour the boiling water over. Leave for about 30 mins until cool and well-soaked, then mash a bit with a fork. Stir in the vanilla extract. Butter and flour seven mini pudding tins (each about 200ml/7fl oz) and sit them on a baking sheet. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.
    While the dates are soaking, make the puddings. Mix the flour and bicarbonate of soda together and beat the eggs in a separate bowl. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl for a few mins until slightly creamy (the mixture will be grainy from the sugar). Add the eggs a little at a time, beating well between additions. Beat in the black treacle then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold in one-third of the flour, then half the milk, being careful not to overbeat. Repeat until all the flour and milk is used. Stir the soaked dates into the pudding batter. The mix may look a little curdled at this point and will be like a soft, thick batter. Spoon it evenly between the tins and bake for 20-25 mins, until risen and firm
    Remove the puddings from the oven. Leave in the tins for a few mins, then loosen them well from the sides of the tins with a small palette knife before turning them out. You can serve them now with the sauce drizzled over, but they’ll be even stickier if left for a day or two coated in the sauce. To do this, pour about half the sauce into one or two ovenproof serving dishes. Sit the upturned puddings on the sauce, then pour the rest of the sauce over them. Cover with a loose tent of foil so that the sauce doesn’t smudge (no need to chill).

    Toffee sauce
    175g light muscovado sugar
    50g butter, cut into pieces
    225ml double cream
    1 tbsp. black treacle/molasses

    Put the sugar and butter for the sauce in a medium saucepan with half the cream. Bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring all the time, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Stir in the black treacle, turn up the heat slightly and let the mixture bubble away for 2-3 mins until it is a rich toffee colour, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn’t burn. Take the pan off the heat and beat in the rest of the cream.

    When ready to serve, heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Warm the puddings through, still covered, for 15-20 mins or until the sauce is bubbling. Serve them on their own, or with cream or custard.

    Sunday, May 15, 2016

    Buttercream Recipes for pipping and icing

    Crusting No-Melt Vanilla Buttercream
    • 2 sticks (226 grams) room temperature unsalted butter
    • 12 oz. (340 grams) unflavored vegetable shortening
    • 1/2 tsp. salt
    • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
    • 2 tbsp. milk or cream
    • 2 lbs. (32oz., 907 grams) powdered confectioner's sugar
    Cooking Directions
    1. Beat together butter and shortening until pale and glossy.
    2. Add salt and vanilla and mix in.
    3. Add in powdered sugar a little at a time on low speed, beating on a higher speed between each addition to fully incorporate.
    4. Add milk and mix on low, then beat on high until frosting is pale and fluffy.
    5. Store covered in the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature again before using.

    Perfect Piping
    Perfect Piping Buttercream is the absolute best recipe for frosting cakes and cookies with a great consistency just right for piping your beautiful designs. This luscious buttercream frosting is light and airy with added flavor from vanilla and almond extract.
    Serves: 5-6 cups
    • 1 c. shortening (butter flavored)
    • 1 c. butter
    • 1½ tsp. vanilla extract
    • ½ tsp. almond extract
    • 7½ c. powdered sugar
    • ⅓ c. heavy whipping cream
    • gel or paste icing dyes
    1. In a large bowl, beat the shortening and butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the vanilla, almond extract and cream and mix until smooth.
    2. Add the powdered sugar 1-2 cups at a time, mixing well between each addition. Beat the frosting for an additional 4-5 minutes until light and fluffy.
    3. Using a toothpick, add the tiniest amount of dye at a time to the bowl of frosting to control your color. These dyes will color the frosting quickly, so there is no need to add too much.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2016

    lemon yoghurt cake recipes for fondant decoration

    lemon yoghurt cake

    • ¾ cup (180ml) vegetable oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon rind
    • ¼ cup (60ml) lemon juice
    • 1 cup (280g) plain Greek-style (thick) yoghurt, or goat's milk yoghurt
    • 1¾ cups (385g) caster (superfine) sugar
    • 2 cups (300g) self raising (self-rising) flour
    • 2 tablespoons thyme leaves
    lemon icing
    • 1 cup (160g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar, sifted
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ½ tablespoon boiling water
    Preheat oven to 160ºC (325ºF). Place the oil, eggs, lemon rind, lemon juice, yoghurt and sugar in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Sift over the flour and stir until smooth. Pour into a well greased 24cm non-stick Bundt tin and bake for 50–55 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Allow the cake to stand in the tin for 5 minutes. To make the lemon icing, mix to combine the sugar, lemon juice and boiling water. Carefully turn the cake out onto a cake stand and spoon over the icing while the cake is still hot. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and allow to set for 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10–12.

    French Yogurt Cake

    • nonstick vegetable oil spray
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 teaspoons baking powder
    • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
    • 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
    • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
    Preheat oven to 350°F(176'c). Coat a standard (8 1/2x4 1/4") loaf pan with non-stick vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess. Whisk 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a medium bowl. Using your fingers, rub 1 cup sugar with 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2 large eggs, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend. Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 50-55 minutes. Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

    Tuesday, April 5, 2016

    The Difference Between Baking Soda and Baking Powder

    by Simplyrecipes

    Almost every cook has faced this scenario: you’re following a recipe that requires baking powder but you only have baking soda. What do you do? Can you substitute?
    Or this one: you haven’t baked for a while, you make a favorite biscuit and use baking powder, only to find that your biscuits bake up flat as hockey pucks. What went wrong?
    Baking soda and baking powder are both leaveners used in baking, but they are chemically different. The easiest way to explain it is that baking soda is a base—it’s alkaline. Remember those experiments we did as kids, adding vinegar to baking soda to watch the eruption of bubbles?
    When you mix a base (baking soda) with an acid (vinegar) you get a reaction (bubbles).
    So if you encounter a baking recipe that uses baking soda, often that recipe will have an acidic element as well, such as vinegar, lemon juice, buttermilk, or yogurt. When the two come into contact, bubbles of carbon dioxide are formed, creating the leavening in your dough or batter.
    Baking soda will create leavening on its own when it is heated (try pouring boiling water over baking soda in a sink to help unclog a drain, it will bubble up!), but unless it is balanced with an acidic ingredient, the resulting taste may be metallic.
    Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda and a dry acid, such as cream of tartar, and perhaps some corn starch to help keep the two separate and dry. Most baking powders on the market are “double acting”, meaning that some leavening occurs the minute the baking powder gets wet, and the rest of the leavening occurs when it is heated.

    How long do baking soda and baking powder last?

    It depends on storage conditions. Baking soda can last quite a long time if stored sealed in a cool, dry space. Baking powder however is problematic. It can last 3 months, or it can last a year. If you are in a humid environment, once opened, baking powder might not last more than a few months. Having ruined a dish or two with old baking powder, I try to buy small cans, and I write the purchase date on the side of the can, so I know how old it is.

    How to test if your baking soda or baking powder are still good

    The easiest way to test baking soda to see if it is still good for leavening is to put some in a small bowl and add a little vinegar to it. (Make your own baking soda volcano!) If it bubbles up, it’s still good.
    The easiest way to test baking powder to see if it still works is to put some in a small bowl and add some water to it. If it foams up, it’s still good.

    How to substitute baking powder for baking soda

    If you have a baking recipe that calls for baking soda, and you only have baking powder, you may be able to substitute, but you will need 2 or 3 times as much baking powder for the same amount of baking soda to get the same amount of leavening power, and you may end up with something that’s a little bitter tasting, depending on the recipe. If a recipe calls for 1 teaspoon of baking soda, you’ll want to substitute with 2 to 3 teaspoons of baking powder. Just make sure your baking powder is still effective and not passed its use-by date.

    How to substitute baking soda for baking powder

    You can substitute baking soda for baking powder, if you increase the amount of acidic ingredients in the recipe to offset the baking soda. You’ll also need much less baking soda as it is 3 times as powerful as baking powder. You’ll need about a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice for every 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda.
    You can also easily make your own baking powder.

    How to make baking powder

    If you live in a humid environment, or don’t bake that often, it might be easiest to make your own baking powder when you need it. To do so, you’ll need cream of tartar—a dry acid in powder form (no idea why it is called “cream”)—and baking soda.
    Baking soda is much stronger than baking powder. To make baking powder, mix one part baking soda and two parts cream of tartar. So, if you recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of baking powder, use 1 teaspoon of baking soda, mixed in with 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar. Homemade baking powder is not double acting, and will start to react as soon as it gets wet, so work quickly and don’t let your batter sit around!

    Kitchen chemistry

    by Culinate
    (This is a good article for basic understanding of the main ingredients in baking)

    In the home kitchen, there are two kinds of people: cooks and bakers. For cooks, recipes are mere suggestions, flexible in their ingredients and proportions. For bakers, on the other hand, recipes are gospel truth, precise in their measurements and techniques.

    Me, I’m definitely a cook. I enjoy the spontaneity of tweaking a recipe or making one up based on what’s in the fridge. But the downside to being a cook is that, no matter how often I’ve prepared a particular bread or pastry recipe, I can’t guarantee the same results every time. I envy my grandmother, who can whip together dough for dozens of dinner rolls without even measuring the flour. She just knows when the dough looks and feels “right.”
    After a recent cheese-puff disaster — my typically lofty gougères came out of the oven as flat as cookies — I decided to become less of a cook and more of a baker. So I quizzed six baking experts about ingredients and techniques.

    The secret to successful baking? It’s all in the chemistry. And here’s the scientific lowdown on how each basic baking ingredient functions in the kitchen.


    I started my research with flour. After all, the protein in flour lends structure to baked goods, from poufy popovers to crusty artisanal breads. As pastry chef Shuna Fish Lydon wrote recently on her Eggbeater blog, “In baking, protein provides the walls holding up roofs.” But you can’t build walls of any kind without elbow grease.
    I coaxed Peter Reinhart — a baking instructor and the author of several books, including The Bread Baker’s Apprentice — into sharing the basics behind dough construction. He told me that two proteins — glutenin and gliadin — inhabit flour.
    “When you add water to the flour to hydrate the ingredients, these proteins are drawn to each other and bond,” Reinhart says. “This new protein is gluten.”
    Reinhart suggested I call Shirley Corriher for the nitty-gritty on the science of baking. A former Vanderbilt University biochemist, Corriher turned her kitchen into a laboratory of sorts and published her experiments in two cookbooks, CookWise and BakeWise.
    Kneading builds gluten networks, says Corriher, which in turn support bread. While dough rises, existing gluten threads touch and create more links. Later, inside the oven, the proteins and starches in the flour transform into the sturdy webbing inside a loaf of bread.
    Pastries, on the other hand, demand a more tender crumb. Corriher explains that the lower protein content in pastry, cake, and all-purpose flour creates a less rigid gluten network and a finer crumb.
    But selecting the right flour for the job isn’t as easy as it seems. “The problem with all-purpose flour is that it is all over the place in protein content,” Corriher says.
    So she shared a trick to help determine flour’s protein content: Measure two cups into a bowl and stir it with a scant cup of water.
    “If you have a high-protein flour, it’s going to suck in water like crazy” and form a dough, she says. Less protein-rich flour won’t come together unless you add more flour.
    I tested the all-purpose white flour in my cupboard. Sure enough, I had made my top-heavy cheese puffs with a high-protein flour more appropriate for hearty bread.
    Unfortunately, as Corriher says, there’s no easy way to determine the protein content of flour. Just check out the label on the flour in your pantry. The manufacturer has rounded the protein weight to the nearest gram per quarter-cup. So one flour that contains 2.5 grams of protein per quarter-cup, and a second flour that contains 3.4 grams, would both round to 3 grams of protein for labeling purposes. That difference, however slight, can affect how the rest of the ingredients play off each other.
    Because there’s so much guesswork involved with flour and the other elements of baking, Reinhart suggests treating recipes as templates, not rigid rules. But wait a sec; isn’t precision the whole point of baking?
    “Every situation is different,” he says. “The instructions are a general guideline to get you into the ballpark. You let the dough dictate to you what it needs.”
    Bakers benefit from learning more about the reactions that happen in their mixing bowls, pastry chef Carole Bloom adds. “Once you know how ingredients work, that’s when you can start to improvise,” she says.

    Leavening agents

    I love peering through the oven window to watch as loaves and cakes puff up. Yeast, baking soda, and baking powder — combined with the extra oomph of steam — supply airiness to bread and pastries.
    Reinhart reminded me that yeast literally brings bread to life. As yeast feeds on sugars in dough, it oozes a liquid that, when it touches an air pocket, lets loose carbon dioxide and alcohol. Or, in Reinhart’s words, “The yeast burps and sweats.” The elastic dough traps those tiny carbon-dioxide bubbles like a balloon.
    Baking powder and baking soda, meanwhile, release carbon dioxide that “only enlarges bubbles that are already in the batter,” Corriher explains.
    It’s important to cream butter thoroughly to whip those bubbles of CO2 into the fat. “Start with butter that’s soft, not runny,” advises Bloom, whose latest cookbook is Bite-Size Desserts. “If the butter is too firm, you’re not going to get it to that fluffy stage.”
    Baking soda reacts with acids — citrus juice, buttermilk, molasses, honey, and chocolate are all acidic — to produce carbon dioxide, which in turn puffs the batter.
    Double-acting baking powder, adds Corriher, releases carbon dioxide twice during the baking process: once when it reacts with liquids during mixing, and again when it’s exposed to higher temperatures in the oven.
    Bakers struggling with heavy cakes and too-dense breads can often point to leavening agents as the culprit. Resist the temptation to add more leavener to compensate for a weak rise, warns Corriher: “If the recipe is overleavened, the bubbles run together, float to the top, and pop” — and your pastry sinks.
    One teaspoon of baking powder — or just a quarter-teaspoon of baking soda — is enough to leaven one cup of flour, says Corriher.


    In pastry, eggs “help bind things together,” explains Mani Niall, a pastry chef and the author of the cookbook Sweet!.
    Egg whites work as leavening agents. When heated, the proteins in egg whites uncoil and practically explode up the sides of the pan, just like Dutch baby pancakes.
    Corriher has experimented with substituting egg whites for whole eggs to force a bigger rise out of cream puffs or gougères. But substitutions can be tricky, she cautions, because the proteins in egg whites force out moisture when they’re heated. The result: puffy but chalk-dry pastries.
    Egg yolks, on the other hand, lend richness and moisture to baked goods, says David Lebovitz, a pastry chef whose books include Room for Dessert. “If you were to make a cake with all egg yolks, it’d be moist, but also kind of wet,” he explains.
    And make sure to bring eggs to room temperature before mixing. “If you add cold eggs to butter and sugar, they won’t combine correctly,” Lebovitz warns.


    As anyone who’s ever eaten a delicate, buttery croissant can attest, fats are incredible tenderizers. Fats coat the proteins in flour, says Corriher, preventing them from bonding with water and forming gluten.
    “You don’t want a lot of gluten in muffins and scones, making them chewy in a breadlike way,” Niall says.
    Oil coats flour’s proteins better than butter does, which explains why oil-based cakes are moister than butter-based cakes.

    Sugar and milk

    Sugar gives pastries their addictive sweetness, but it also helps keep them moist. “If you think of baked goods without sugar, it’s bread, because it’s not tender,” says Niall. Not surprisingly, there’s a scientific explanation behind sugar’s tenderizing properties.
    “If you have a lot of sugar present, your glutenin runs off with sugar, your gliadin runs off with sugar, and you don’t get much gluten formed,” Corriher explains. And then your pastry won’t have any structure.
    Likewise, adding milk to batter helps keep baked goods moist. Milk contains the sugar lactose, which bonds with flour proteins and hinders gluten formation.
    Both sugar and milk promote browning, Corriher says. Essentially, bread crust is caramelized sugar.


    Recipes for baked goods usually call for a pinch of salt because it helps conceal bitter tastes. But the mineral also plays a key role in gluten formation, says Patti Christie, a biochemist who teaches a series of popular kitchen-chemistry courses at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
    “The reason you add salt to dough is to make dough more elastic,” Christie explains. “Charged amino acids in the flour are going to interact with the ions in the salt, and that helps line up the gluten fibers. Your bread is going to have better texture.”
    As for sugary treats, a bit of salt added to batters and doughs helps to balance sweetness and enhance other flavors during baking. And if added as a finishing touch to, say, chocolate-chip cookies, salt provides a pleasing textural contrast.

    Lab work

    After talking with bakers and chemists about ingredients, methods, and reactions, I decided there was one more person I needed to quiz: my grandmother, the master baker in my family. She didn’t have advice about science, but she did say that practice is the key to good baking.
    But just how much practice? Well, she’s baked four to six dozen dinner rolls for our big, hungry family every week or two for the past 58 years. That adds up to nearly 150,000 rolls in more than 2,000 baking sessions.
    “After you’ve made bread for a while, you can tell just by feeling the dough how good a batch you’re going to get,” she says.
    So even though I’m fresh out of my lessons on baking science, I still have lots of homework ahead of me. But with enough experimentation, I may be able to switch on my family baking genes after all.
    Based in Portland, Oregon, Kelly Stewart is the editor of Roast magazine. Her writing about food has appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Meatpaper, and Zagat Survey guidebooks.

    Cakes & chemistry: the science of baking

    Article from theColumbusDispatch

    It’s one of the first lessons in culinary school: Baking is a science.
    Any slight changes in a recipe — too much baking powder, over-mixing a batter — can make the difference between a moist cupcake and a hockey puck.
    “There is definitely an art to baking,” said Yael Vodovotz, a food-science professor at Ohio State University. “There’s a science to it, too.”
    At Ohio State’s Food Science and Technology Department, Vodovotz’s research focuses on healthful, functional foods that might help prevent chronic diseases. For example, she has worked on a soy-based bread with properties designed to combat prostate cancer.
    “Food is very complicated,” Vodovotz said. “A lot of our (food-science) students go through pre-med because it’s heavy in the basic sciences.”
    Take cakes, for example. Each ingredient has a job to do. Flour provides the structure; baking powder and baking soda give the cake its airiness; eggs bind the ingredients; butter and oil tenderize; sugar sweetens; and milk or water provides moisture.
    Combining the dry and wet ingredients puts them to work — the proteins in the flour bond and create gluten, giving the cake its flexibility. Eggs hold the mixture together. Baking powder and baking soda each release carbon dioxide, adding bubbles to the batter, helping it expand.
    It’s important to mix dry ingredients in the right order, Vodovotz said. Each dry element is competing for water.
    “Depending on which is the stronger competitor is where the water will favor,” she said. “If you put in the wrong ingredients first, (the batter) will tend to clump because then they don’t have enough water.”
    A cake batter that flows means that the hydration is consistent. But be careful not to over-mix, Vodovotz said.
    “When gluten aligns, the proteins align with strands,” she said. “If you keep mixing, it will be too runny, and it won’t hold. You’ve disrupted the networks that are formed.”
    The ingredients change again when the batter is in the oven. The starch portion of the flour gels — with help from sugar — and creates a weblike structure that traps water and provides moisture. The carbon dioxide from the baking powder or baking soda will expand the cake. Gluten holds those bubbles in place (think of a balloon that contains air) while the fat from the oil or butter lubricates the process.
    “When it bakes, the whole protein network hardens and holds the bubbles in cakes,” Vodovotz said. “That’s why when you take a cake out early, the cake can collapse because a structure hasn’t set yet.”
    Also, if there is too much baking powder or baking soda, the bubbles will float to the top and pop, sinking the cake. Adding too much also can give a baked good a chemical taste.
    Sugar and fat also play a role when a cake cools, Vodovotz said. Sugar helps slow the cake from hardening. When a cake begins to go stale, the starch starts to crystallize. Sugar will draw the water and prevent the starch molecules from forming and crystallizing. Higher fat content will keep a cake moist longer, holding off staleness.
    Putting baked goods in the fridge, however, has the opposite effect. Lower temperatures will cause the cake to go stale quicker, Vodovotz said.
    Think of baking as a lab experiment, said Patricia Christie, a chemistry lecturer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who taught a Kitchen Chemistry class for 12 years. The class served as an undergraduate chemistry lab. Most experienced home cooks follow a recipe the first time they use it but alter it the next time based on results, she said. “You’re performing the scientific method to the recipe. You are making an assumption, testing the theory and coming up with a conclusion.”
    She points to boxed cake mixes, which say 50 to 75 strokes are needed to mix the batter.
    “They have cooks test recipes,” she said. “One person mixes it 40 times; another person, 60 times; and another person, 100 times, to figure out the best range.”
    In one lab assignment, students created meringues for lemon meringue tarts in copper bowls because the copper ions help stabilize the meringue.
    “You can always tell when the meringue is done,” Christie said. “The foam stays still.”
    Students at Columbus Culinary Institute are not taught cooking methods at the molecular level, but they cover the basic science behind techniques and ingredients.
    For example, you don’t use high-protein flour when making a cookie. (High-protein flour has more gluten than all-purpose flour and is better suited for bread, in which it gives strength and structure. Cookies don’t need that.)
    And butter for a pie crust has to be cold. (You want the fat to coat the flour, not blend in with it. Otherwise, the crust will get soggy and won’t have a crisp, flaky texture.)
    “I tell my students, ‘If you know the ingredient and how it behaves, you have a better chance of success,’ ” said Laurie Sargent, the institute’s lead pastry instructor.