Sunday, November 27, 2011

Lemon Poppy Seed Whipped Cream Cake

I was once conned into eating what I now know as the 'Whipped Cream Cake' by Rose Levy Beranbaum.


You see, there was this time a few years ago when I decided to go on a diet - nothing too drastic, all I was trying to do was stay away from desserts. 


"Come off your diet nonsense and have a small slice," my friend ordered at a coffee morning she was hosting. The cake looked very moist and had a tender crumb and my no dessert resolve was getting a little weak. "Oh and by the way, it doesn't have any oil or butter," she added. That clinched it. I happily dug into the cake.


"How did you manage such a moist cake without using any oil or butter?" I asked her, my curiosity thoroughly piqued.


"Oh, sweetie, but this cake uses fresh cream. 40% fat," she said very nonchalantly.


I could have strangled her, but settled for the recipe instead. Months passed and I eventually forgot about the cake till recently when I started seeing this cake all over my FB wall.






High time I made it myself, I thought. So, I pulled out the recipe and set to work.


But how does the 'lemon poppy seed' part come into the picture, you might wonder. It might sound a little silly but after having lived the past almost 9 years in countries that have banned poppy seeds, I had made up my mind that whenever I moved to a country where poppy seeds where sold in grocery stores, the first cake I would bake would have poppy seeds in it. (In fact, a packet of poppy seeds was one of the first things I purchased when we moved to Johannesburg). 


So that is how the Lemon Poppy Seed Whipped Cream Cake happened. 





Lemon Poppy Seed Whipped Cream Cake


Ingredients:

Heavy Cream : 1 ½ cups

(Rose recommends 40% fat for a more tender crumb, this cream is not readily available off supermarket shelves and needs to be procured from speciality stores/restaurants or bakeries; mine had 34%)


Eggs: 3 (150 gms)
Superfine sugar: 1 cup + 2 tbsps
Vanilla essence: 1 tsp


Cake flour:  2 ¼ cups (or 2 cups All purpose flour)
Baking powder: 2 tsps
Salt: ¾ tsp
Poppy seeds: 2 tbsps
Lemon zest: 1 tbsp


Oil: 1 1/2 tbsp, optional (I used oil to compensate for the lower fat % in the cream )
Lemon juice: 2 tsps


Method:

Pre-heat the oven at 375 deg F or 190 deg C ( 350 deg F or 150 deg C if using a dark pan) for 20 minutes.

Grease and dust a 10 cup metal fluted pan (I don't have one and used a bundt pan instead).

Whisk together the eggs and the vanilla essence until combined. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the poppy seeds and the lemon zest into the sifted flour, set aside.


Whip the cream till it thickens and forms stiff peaks.
With the beaters still running, pour the eggs mixture into the cream. The mixture will emulsify into a mayonnaise like consistency.


Next, beat the sugar into the mixture.


Fold the flour in 2 batches. Mix well until no streaks of flour are visible.


Finally, mix the oil and the lemon juice.


Bake for about 25-30 or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. (It took me about 40 minutes to bake the cake, but that could well be my oven).







For the lemon glaze:


Icing sugar: 1 ¼ cup
Lemon juice: 2 tbsps
Water: ½ tbsp


Mix together the icing sugar, lemon juice and water till smooth. Pour it over the cooled cake and let it rest until it sets, about 10 minutes.







Soft and moist, a slight crunch from the poppy seeds and a delicate lemony fragrance and taste, this is the perfect slice to have with your evening cup of tea. Enjoy!









Monday, November 21, 2011

Announcing Back to Basics: Basic Desserts

In my last post, I mentioned how blogging had made me stretch my boundaries in the kitchen and pushed me into making things that I would otherwise never have attempted before.


While that statement would largely refer to things such as baking bread, making the baklava, or kouign-amann, one of the things that blogging has made me do is revisit the simple, easy things that I had hitherto  not ever made at home. Things I always went into a grocery store and purchased. Things as easy as spice blends, butter and cheese, jams and sauces. I have now realised that making my own pantry staples is not just healthier but a lot cheaper too.



Back to Basics, started by Desi Soccer Mom, is an event that celebrates these very simple and basic cooking techniques. In its new form, the event now looks at a distinct theme every month.


Now, I've had these moments, I am sure you've had them too. That moment when you feel like having something sweet - mind you, it is not a craving for a dessert. Just that sweet something which would make your meal that much more satisfying. Sometimes, I simply mix in some jaggery with a bit of ghee and eat it with a roti. Sometimes,  I reach out for a bottle of strawberry preserve and smear it over a slice of bread. 


So, this month, let's look at quick and easy to make jams, jellies and preserves. That something which you can make and keep in your pantry and then eat when the craving strikes.


Here's what you need to do:


Post your recipe of an easy to make jam or jelly or preserve, then link it post to this post and to the Back to Basics event page.


Older posts qualify as long as they are linked to this event announcement and Jaya's event page.


If you don't have a blog, just email me your recipe for a favourite jam, jelly or preserve and I will include it in the round-up.



Send me your entries mentioning Back to Basics : Basic Sweets in the subject line on aquadaze(AT)rediffmail(DOT)com


Last date for sending your entries is December 20, 2011. I will post the round up in the first week of January.







Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kouign - Amann

Imagine this: a freshly baked loaf of bread. Close your eyes, take a deep breath. Inhale the aroma. Hmmm.....wonderful, isn't it? To my mind, there is no other culinary aroma quite as enticing as the aroma of a freshly baked loaf of bread.

Now, slather some butter on a slice. Oh, and sprinkle some sugar on it. Eat. There is nothing quite as satisfying as a slice of bread with some butter and sugar.

Or is there?

Meet the Kouign- Amann.



The what? Yes, I hear you, for I had pretty much the same reaction when I first heard about the Kouign - Amann.

“There is a new bakery close to you house,” my daughter’s paediatrician excitedly informed me during one of our visits to her clinic, “and  they sell the Kouign - Amann.”

“The what?” I asked her.

“Kweeneen Ahmann. It is a French bread. Lots of butter. Lots of sugar. Sinfully good. You'll love it!,” she told me, writing down the name of the said bakery and the bread.

Back home, I was googling away ‘Kouign Amann’ on the net.




Kouign-amann is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with a dough akin to bread dough with sugar sprinkled between layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake ("kouign") and butter ("amann"). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistere, in the west of France, where it originated in 1865. (source: wikipedia)


The inimitable David Lebovitz has a recipe for Kouign Amann; why buy what you can make at home? So I rolled up my sleeves and got my fingers deep into the dough.

The first time, I followed his recipe to the letter. The second time, I used cinnamon sugar instead of caster sugar, which makes it a not so authentic Kouign Amann, but believe me when I say it, Kouign - Amann with cinnamon tastes heavenly, especially when had with a cup of strong, unsweetened black coffee.

The pictures, however, are from the first time and so you don’t see any cinnamon sugar in the pictures.



Ingredients:

Dried Yeast: 1 tbsp
Warm water: ¾ cup (I needed about a couple of tablespoons more)
All purpose flour: 2 cups
Sugar: 1 cup +1/3 cup
(to make cinnamon sugar, add 3 tbsp of powdered cinnamon to 1 cup of sugar)
SALTED Butter: 125 gms + 3 tbsps melted butter
Sea salt: 1/2 tsp


Method:

Cut the butter into cubes and let it chill.
Dissolve the yeast in a couple of tbsps of water with a tsp of sugar. Set aside till the yeast is foamy.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeast mixture and mix it into the flour.

Add the remaining water in a thin stream till the flour comes together into a soft but not sticky dough.  (If the dough feels too sticky, add some flour, a tbsp at a time. If too hard, add water, again a tbsp at a time. The second time, I needed to add some water).

Transfer the dough on a lightly dusted countertop and knead the dough till it feels soft and elastic and doesn't cling to your fingers or stick to the countertop.

Place the dough in a buttered bowl, cover and let it rest for about an hour.

Lightly dust the countertop with some flour and roll the dough into a rectangle 12”x18” (the 12” side should be on your left and right, the top and bottom of the rectangle should be about 18” - mine was not as big, though I didn't measure the exact dimensions).

Place the butter cubes in the centre of the dough and sprinkle ¼ cup of the cinnamon sugar over the butter. Fold the left side of the dough over the centre of the dough, do so with the right end of the dough as well.



Now sprinkle ¼ cup of cinnamon sugar over the length of the folded dough and fold the dough once again into three.


Wrap the dough into a plastic wrap and chill for an hour. (I chilled mine for over 2 hours).

Wipe the counter top clean and then sprinkle it with 1/3 cup of PLAIN caster sugar. Slide the chilled dough on the sugar covered countertop and press ¼ cup cinnamon sugar into the top of the dough.

                  (drowned in sugar, my entry to Susan's Black and White Wednesday)

Roll the dough into a rectangle once again (of similar dimensions as before). I found the dough more difficult to work with at this stage and so I rolled it for a bit and then finally stretched it with my hands.

Fold it into thirds, wrap it in a cling wrap and let it rest in the refrigerator for about an hour.
(the first time, I made three small loaves. If you wish to do the same, divide the dough into 3 at this stage).

Pre-heat the oven to 425 deg F or 220 deg C (I thought 200 deg C worked better, I thought my cakes were a bit dry when I baked them at 220 deg C) and butter a 9” pie plate.

Open the cling wrap and shape the chilled dough into a disc to fit your pie plate. Lift the cling wrap and invert it over the pie plate. Sprinkle the last ¼ cup of cinnamon sugar over the top and drizzle with 1 tbsp melted butter.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes or until the top is caramelised. Let it rest for a couple of minutes, slide onto a wire rack and cool for about 10-15 minute.

Taste it. Melted butter oozing out and mingling with caramelised sugar…..oh, utter bliss. The Kouign-Amann has been Yeastspotted, hosted by Hefe and Mehr.




It is customary to post something sweet, something decadent especially when marking blog anniversaries. This Kouign- amann celebrates my third blog anniversary. It is a very special recipe to me, because had it not been for blogging, I would never have attempted making something that isn’t pronounced the way it is written! Blogging has made me stretch my own limits in the kitchen and how!

I know I am not as regular as I’d like to be in posting recipes or in responding to comments, but I want to thank each and everyone of you for visiting my blog over the last three years, leaving me your comments and trying out my recipes.

It is not just about the ingredients or the recipe, good food happens when it is served with love!!

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