chocolate roll

Baking with Jacques! I was looking for a “light” dessert and thought a cake roll with jam filling might fit the bill. I was at first thinking of citrus flavors but the Essential cookbook had this chocolate roll which sounded simple enough to make. Well, melting chocolate, separating eggs, whipping egg whites in separate bowl might be a tad fussy but so would being able to roll the cake without breaking. I read the instructions several times to become confident this would not be problematic. Here is my adaptation.

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 4-6 ounces dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 tablespoons very strong coffee

I melted what chocolate I had on hand. I separated the eggs into two mixer bowls. I poured a quarter cup of prepared coffee and added a teaspoon of espresso powder. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a cookie sheet pan with buttered parchment paper.

Put water and sugar in small saucepan, bring to boil and cook for 2 minutes making a light syrup. Slowly pour this over the egg yolks while mixing vigorously for 5 minutes. This should be fluffy, smooth and pale yellow in color. Add the melted chocolate and mix well.

Whip egg whites into firm peaks. Add one-third of this into the chocolate mixture mixing vigorously. I used a hand whisk to do this in order to mix in the chocolate that had gathered at the bottom of the bowl under the egg yolks. Carefully fold in the remaining egg whites just until blended.

Smooth the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 12 minutes until set. Let cool to room temperature and then cover with plastic wrap. When completely cool this will be filled and rolled.

Traditionally this is filled with whipped cream. I used a jar of Sour Cherry Preserves. It took the entire 8 ounce jar. After removing the plastic wrap, spread the filling on the cake. Then beginning with the longer side roll gently removing the parchment paper as you go along. Use large spatulas to move the cake to a serving platter. I cut it in half to do that.

I am happy to pronounce that this came out nicely. I sprinkle powdered sugar on the top.

Serves 8 and I cut it into serving size pieces and we enjoyed this for 4 nights. It is very rich. Adding a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream would work well here.

Testing one, two, three

How does one make a birthday cake for a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free dietary need? Luckily for me the particular family member is a grown adult who is open to experimentation in recipes and not a small child who doesn’t understand why they cannot have cake.

Looking into gluten-free flours it seems important to get the 1:1 product that contains Xanthem Gum. I looked at the Xanthem Gum and it was not inexpensive and why would I need that much anyway? Oh, and the gluten-free flour must also not contain any almond flour. I found a small bag and purchased it with the intent of experimenting on my standard cake recipes.

Sugar-free is a challenge. Approved sweeteners are honey, dates, and maybe, coconut sugar. I found a small bag of coconut sugar as well.

Dairy-free is simpler as there are so many dairy-free “not milk” products out there. I like oat milk which is better for the planet than almond milk. Soy has a mixed reputation but would more closely match the protein in cow’s milk. Plant-based butters are available but if you read ingredients carefully you can find margarine that is completely lactose-free. An olive oil cake won’t need butter at all.

I have a Betty Crocker snack cake recipe from the back of an ancient flour bag which I have used for almost 40 years. This recipe is actually vegan. I have chosen the first cake experiment for this recipe as it will only need two substitutions: flour and sugar.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour (Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 GF flour used)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (coconut sugar used here)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (why is vanilla used in chocolate cakes?)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray 8-inch square baking pan with cooking spray or oil. I do this even though the original recipe does not direct one to grease the pan.

Whisk all dry ingredients together and then stir in the wet ones. Mix thoroughly and pour into prepared pan. Bake for 35 minutes until done.

Thoughts: coconut sugar is brown in color with a vague caramel aroma. It also does not hold moisture as well as brown sugar (according to the internet). I was concerned the cake may be dry, but it was not. It may have been done just earlier than 35 minutes though. It did have a hint of a caramel/”burnt-but-not-really” flavor. Coconut flavor was not detected. And the texture was good and cake-like, spongy. Perhaps some espresso powder to enhance the cocoa would not go amiss.

Oatmeal Cake with Broiled Frosting

I was thinking that I could make one dessert for the week and that should satisfy my sweet tooth and love of baking. Well, that might be the case for reasonable people who don’t eat half a pan of brownies in one sitting or cut nibble size pieces from cake as one walks through the kitchen. I am not necessarily one of those reasonable people all the time. But here I am hoping that will work this time.

I have selected this recipe from a clipping in my Mom’s recipe notebook. this one appears to have been from a newspaper. It sounded interesting and relatively healthy, if cake can be healthy? And oatmeal is good for one, so here goes!

  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup sugar (Oops! I accidentally omitted this!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (I added a shake of allspice as well as I was not sure if I grated enough nutmeg to equal one teaspoon.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Pour boiling water over oats and mix well. Cream butter and sugar and then beat in eggs. I timed this for 3 minutes. Stir in soaked oatmeal. Sift or whisk the other dry ingredients together and add to batter. Pour this into a greased or buttered 13×9-inch pan and bake in 350 degrees F oven for 30-35 minutes. Cool in pan.

Make broiled topping.

  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup chopped nuts; I used walnuts but pecans would work here too.
  • 6 Tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup light cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Heat all the ingredients in sauce pan until bubbly. Pour over cake. Broil in oven for about 5 minutes. Technically one should stir in the vanilla after the concoction comes to bubbly.

When this came out of the oven, my first thought was “this didn’t rise like a cake.” Then I thought that maybe it is more like a bar cookie. After letting the very hot topping cool slightly we tasted this. It is good and not too sweet. It is more of a spice bar than cake in texture. I have “hidden” this pan in the bread box to prevent “drive by nibbling”!

Boston Cream Pie

This is really cake. This one is from a recipe clipping in Mom’s recipe notebook and looks like it came from a magazine. There is no reference on the clipping. Did Mom make this? I’m not sure. I know she used to make a poppy seed cake with pudding filling and chocolate glaze, so maybe she did.

I read and re-read this recipe before proceeding. As I was making the cake I realized this is a hot milk sponge cake. I proceed hoping for the best and reasonably confident that the past two hot milk sponge cakes I baked were successful but not this recipe. Re-reading helped me see that this called for two 8 inch round cake pans. I recently bought nice 9-in pans. The amounts of the ingredients also seemed scant for two pans, so I doubled the recipe and am very glad I did. The recipe is almost exactly like the one from my previous blog entitled Hot Milk Sponge Cake so I will not reprint it.

I made the filling and the chocolate glaze from the recipe clipping. Making a pudding or cream-custard can by a little tricky and, I admit, mine had a bit of scrambled egg to it, but not much so you noticed.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs (okay so the original called for 1 egg and 1 egg yolk but why?)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir dry ingredients together in medium saucepan and slowly add the milk and cook over moderate heat until boiling, stir and cook 2-3 minutes longer. Meanwhile have your eggs slightly beaten in a bowl or measuring cup. Pour some of the hot milk mixture into the eggs and then pour it all into the saucepan and cook and stir until returns to boiling. Add vanilla and let cool.

When cool and set beat until smooth and layer over one cake layer. Top with the other.

Make the glaze by heating one ounce unsweetened chocolate with 1 Tablespoon butter until melted and add one cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. I did this in a microwave safe measuring cup and not on the stove. Blend in 1-2 Tablespoons boiling water until drizzling consistency. Pour over top of cake.

“This elegant company dessert combines three American favorites–cake, cream-custard, and chocolate.”

Somersault Cobbler

I prepared this as a coffee cake for a Sunday morning treat. This one is in my Mom’s handwriting.

I used butter instead of shortening. I greased a 9-inch round cake pan for this and used a 350 degrees F oven. I liked the idea of cinnamon sugar topping which is why I thought of this as a coffee cake and not a cobbler. However, I remembered I had a can of pear halves and cinnamon would complement pears. I did add the egg.

It makes a nice light cake-y batter. Chopping the pears or slicing them might be better next time but it was a lovely light cake to go with our morning coffee.

Hot Milk Sponge Cake

I wanted to bake a cake. I wanted to try something new. I looked at my Soulard Market cookbook and found the 12th street hot milk cake and decided to try it. The first time I made this I halved the recipe. I remember my sister mentioned she uses this recipe. I then called her up and asked if it really called for so little butter. She then reminded me that this is a sponge cake and that she actually uses our mother’s Hot Milk Sponge cake recipe. The key to success, she said, was to aerate the eggs long enough.

I then went to my mother’s recipe notebook and found the Hot Milk Sponge recipe. The ingredients are almost the same as Soulard’s, except the typo in Soulard of “1 teaspoon flour” which most likely is the salt, except it calls for a “dash of salt” later in the ingredient list and it did not say when to add the vanilla. A bit confusing but when I made the half recipe it came out beautifully. We ate that one before taking a picture.

I made the full recipe in a greased 9×13-inch cake pan as directed in the Soulard book. Mom’s recipe calls for an ungreased 9-10 inch tube pan. There is also a difference in directions in putting together the batter. I used the Soulard because I knew that one worked. I have not had much luck with sponge cakes before but this one is going to be a repeat!

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour (or sifted cake flour)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter per Soulard (2 Tablespoons per Mom’s)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (or 2)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix butter and milk in saucepan or pyrex (for microwave) and heat until butter melts. This takes 1-2 minutes in the microwave. In the mixer bowl put the eggs and beat 5-8 minutes and then slowly add the sugar. This will look fluffy when ready. Now fold in the dry ingredients except the baking powder. I mixed this in on low speed for 30 seconds. Stir in the hot milk mixture. This is where to add the vanilla. Now fold in the baking powder and allow to stand for 10 minutes “to allow the baking powder to expand”.

Pour batter in a greased 9×13 inch pan and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Frost with icing of your choice. My choice of frosting is a super easy chocolate one from a King Arthur Flour sales flyer. Melt one stick of butter in a saucepan. Stir in ¼ cup cocoa and 6 tablespoons buttermilk or plain yogurt. Bring to a boil and boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in 4 cups confectioner’s sugar. This makes a wonderful fudge like frosting.

Variations: one can use coconut oil in place of the butter. This will give the cake a slight coconut flavor, a very mild one. It using coconut oil in place of the butter in the frosting this will be a stronger coconut flavor. I like the combination of chocolate and coconut. It is one of my favorite combinations.

Baking weekend: lemon snack cake

I wanted to make a lemon cake. I wanted to make a lemon cake with fluffy coconut frosting. I wanted to bake something. The grandkids were coming so I wanted something fun so I baked an ordinary banana muffin recipe in the “bug pan”.

Then I got out the snack cake recipe. I’ve made different versions before, https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2019/06/20/snack-cakes/.

I figured I could make it lemon although that is not one of the options given. Would white sugar be okay instead of brown sugar? I just gave it a go.

So for the lemon cake I substituted all white sugar for the brown sugar. I added 1 teaspoon of lemon flavoring and one teaspoon of lemon zest. I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice to the water, still equal to 1 cup.

  • 1 2/3 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon lemon flavoring
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup water, add 2 Tablespoons of lemon juice to measuring cup then fill to 1 cup with water
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Spray an 8-inch square pan with cooking spray or brush with oil. I sprinkled unsweetened coconut flakes on top before putting it in the oven at 350 degrees F. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Looks a paler yellow in real life!

It worked; a moist lemony cake.

Let them eat cake: chocolate cake!

Well, I saw this recipe from The Telegraph for a chocolate cake with a kick of ginger. Sounded good to me so I thought I’d give it a try. First let me check for ingredients. No muscovado sugar but I do have brown sugar. No double cream but I do have evaporated milk. No golden syrup but I do have light corn syrup. No chopped dark chocolate but I do have dark chocolate chips. No dairy milk but I have nut milk. I’m good to go!

Spoiler alert: This essay is about process and not the recipe. I will show you the end product and review the taste. For fans of the GBBO this did not come out as a signature bake, a show stopper, nor would it have passed the technical. I would have to leave the tent!

First of all I pulled together the ingredients for the cake. This cake used oil and not butter and had more sugar than flour which I thought was interestingly different.  So I am standing in my kitchen with Google on one hand, a cookbook open to a chart of conversions from  Metric to Imperial and vice versa, a calculator, and pen and paper. I have to convert grams to cups and portion of cups, weight to volume.  This takes quite a bit of finagling since Siri says one thing and the chart says one thing and the calculator says another thing. Finally I decide on a formula and measure out the cake ingredients. Luckily my liquid measuring cups have ml markings. The batter comes together and is very thin, and there is not a lot of it either. This is to be baked in 20cm round pans which to my measurement were the 9-inch pans. I fit parchment paper, pour in the batter, and bake.

(I have just now double checked the 20 cm measurement and find that it is 8 inches. There is a reason for the “measure twice, cut once” truism.)

The cakes were very thin. Clearly the result of the above mentioned measurement error. But they were raised so I put them on racks to cool. They smell and look good.

While the cakes were baking I had put aside and prepped the ingredients for the ginger caramel as well as the chocolate frosting. But for the frosting I figured the cocoa would make it chocolate enough and did not put in chopped chocolate chips. Boiled (was to only melt) the frosting ingredients and set aside to cool and thicken. Which it did not do. I put the frosting in the fridge. Still liquid. I melted some chocolate chips to try to thicken it which did not really work. So I have fudge sauce for the frosting. Great.

Meanwhile I am looking at the very thin cakes and decide I’ll bake another set of cakes from a tried-and-true recipe, Best-Ever Chocolate Cake (https://mykitchenmythoughts.com/2016/02/18/best-ever-chocolate-cake/) that my mom always made. I whip this up. This cake uses a cup of butter and has more flour than sugar. I bake this in two layers in the 8-inch cake pans. Why? I was not thinking properly? I wanted a cake with good height? There was much more batter than the other cake and the 8-inch pans took longer to bake than I expected and I was afraid the edges that were trying to overflow the pans would burn. They didn’t and finally the cakes were done. I now have these cooling on the racks and turn my attention to the caramel.

I do not make caramel. I cannot recall ever making caramel. The instructions did use the word “stir”. This turned into a sauce that did not thicken to drizzle state when cooled. I wondered about that when I was pouring in the ginger cream (ginger infused evaporated milk) and remember almost all GBBO bakers commenting on NOT stirring the caramel while bubbling. Live and learn.

Now I have four cake layers, fudge sauce, and caramel sauce. I put the two thin cakes together by drowning them with the fudge sauce and a few spoon of caramel. I now add the first layer of Best-Ever. This is tall enough and would be too tall with the fourth layer. So I now have to use the rest of the fudge sauce for the top of the third layer. I’m drowning the cake and the sauce is overflowing the cake plate. I busily scoop around the cake and try to spread some sauce on the sides.  Then I pour the caramel over the top of it all. It dawns on me that I forgot to add the tiny bit of sea salt to the caramel so I sprinkle that on top.  Cake is complete. It looks a mess. And after all that, we don’t even have a slice until the next day. I put it in the fridge overnight.

To review:

  • I used the wrong sized pans for both cake batches.
  • I stirred the caramel.
  • The chopped chocolate was essential for the texture and thickness of the frosting.
  • The fudge sauce (supposed to be frosting) was absorbed by the thin bottom cakes so they became very dense. It did not saturate the Best-Ever cake layer all the way through so there was a bit of cake texture there.
  • The ginger only came through from the sauce on the top of the cake.
  • The chocolate was too intense and although very rich did not result in the best tasting chocolate flavor.
  • It would be helpful to have a kitchen scale.
  • We’ll be eating chocolate cake all week!

Does this ever happen to you? You try something new and are disappointed. It is not certain that it is the recipe or how you carried it out? That does not mean I will stop trying. There are those home bakers who have tried-and-true cakes, pie, cookies that they consistently bake. The only one I have is Best-Ever Chocolate Cake. But I like to try new recipes and they sometimes do not turn out a well as I had hoped. I have a trove of cookbooks, I follow cooking blogs, and the internet has almost everything else. The adventure continues.

Comfort Baking: Olive Oil Cake

My son and daughter-in-law visited so I baked a cake. I was flipping through magazines and so I baked a cake. I was looking through my news-feed and had to bake a cake. I sense a pattern here. I’m thinking I might be baking a cake in the near future as well.

I finally got around to making this cake. I was looking for the magazine that had created a recipe for veggie sauce with the mouth feel of ground meat. I had attached a note to the front of the magazine with the names and page numbers of recipes I wanted to try and this one was there. This turned out well, having a grown-up taste, not too sweet and quite moist. It is possible that I under-baked it by 5 minutes but that did not affect our enjoyment of the cake. The problem with this cake is that it was so easy to slice off a sliver each time one walked by it.

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for topping
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon zest (I used orange zest; the second time I used lime zest. Stick to lemon or orange)
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk.)

Oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 9 inch spring-form pan. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a separate bowl whip eggs on medium speed (stand mixer with whisk attachment) until foamy about one minute. Add sugar and zest increasing speed to high and beating for about 3 minutes. Reduce speed back to medium and slowly pour in oil, mix only one minute. Add ½ the flour mixture about one minute. Add milk and mix for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the flour mixture and mix for one minute. Of course, you are scraping down the sides of the bowl during the addition of the flour and milk. Pour the batter into prepared pan and sprinkle on the remaining sugar. Bake 45-50 minutes. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes before removing. Supposedly let this cool completely before slicing. Hah!

And here’s another cake: Guinness Chocolate Cake in honor of St. Patrick’s Day but really because it was a Friday and I got home from work. For this one I made a Bailey’s Buttercream and not a cream cheese frosting.

https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1875-chocolate-guinness-cake

Thoughts:

Weight loss is out the window. With all this Coronavirus Pandemic, hunkering down, figuring out how to work from home, how worried should I be, binge-watching Netflix for escapism, I eat what I want. I apparently bake and eat cakes too! See above. We re-watched the whole Lord of the Rings Special Edition DVD set. There’s a situation that puts this in perspective. I would have liked to put one of those images and quotes here but am not sure how or if things are copyrighted.

It’s all about priorities and enjoying life. I like to learn about food. I like to do new things with vegetables to eat more of them. I like to bake and cook. I am reasonably healthy and not too overweight. I do not want to add more anxiety in this day and time with regard to the food I eat.

Maybe I’ll get back on the weight loss train sometime later this year. One day at a time.

Cake and Books

On this MLK, Jr. Day let us take a moment to remember all those who have lost their lives due to racial inequality. Let us also pause to remember those past and present who have worked and are working to eliminate racial inequality in our world.

Part A

So I broke down and baked a cake! It was a choice between a chocolate Coca-Cola cake or a cream cheese pound cake. Hubby likes pound cake and I did give him the choice. This particular recipe calls for clementine zest. I have not thought of zesting clementines. I zest oranges and lemons and limes. Now that I think of it I waste a lot of zest left on un-zested pieces of fruit. Think of all that zest one could stash in the freezer for later use. I wonder what use there would be for grapefruit zest.

I have a cream cheese pound cake recipe somewhere in my magazine clippings. This particular recipe is from a cookbook I got from the library. This is one published by a southern bakery apparently: Back in the Day Bakery, Made with Love by Cheryl Day and Griffith Day.

  • 1 ½ cups cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated clementine zest (2-3 pieces of fruit)
  • 12 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 5 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

I was able to let the various ingredients come to room temperature because my daughter called and we got busy planning a camping weekend this summer. They plan to get a large tent. We will be going to a campground where I used to take her and her brother “back in the day”.

Directions for the cake: sift the dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Mix the zest with the sugar in a small bowl and set aside. In the stand mixer cream the butter and cream cheese on medium speed for 2-3 minutes. Gradually add the sugar mixture and beat until very light and fluffy for 4-5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each. Add the vanilla and mix to combine. On low speed add the flour mixture in thirds just until incorporated. Finish this by hand.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Oh yeah, a 9 x 5 loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. And the oven is to be 350 degrees F. Bake for 50-60 minutes. Mine took only 50 minutes. Cool in pan for 20 minutes then remove from pan and parchment paper and cool on rack until completely cool.

Frost with a chocolate ganache or glaze as you would like. The honey chocolate glaze from the cookbook is very rich. I changed it somewhat so here is what I made.

  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¾ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Bring the milk to gentle boil in small sauce pan. Put the honey in a small bowl. Pour hot milk onto honey and add chocolate. Stir until melted. Add vanilla. Let cool to thicken slightly. Pour over cake.

Cake has no place in an eating for health and weight loss plan, but needs must! Cake has zeroed out any beginnings of weight loss this week. But at least I did not gain anything! Yay. And truth be told I started out this year 3 pounds less than the beginning of last year.

Part B

Library books! I went to the library after many months of not. I usually download library books onto my Kindle from my library using my computer. No need to step foot into our wonderful town library. But my library card had expired. Ahhh! Luckily the library was still open so off I go. It takes probably 10-15 minutes to get there but I always think of it as 5 minutes away.

There are books everywhere. Next to camping the library may be my second happy place. Well, being outdoors near the river or in the woods might take second place. It is the closest we have here in Connecticut as “the wilderness”.

Back to the library. They have reorganized the lobby so I wander around looking at titles of books, reading book jackets, and breathing in the atmosphere of paper and ink. I pick a few of the offerings in the lobby and head to the stacks. I’m in search of books about food and cooking. I just can’t stay away. I find a book on bread and a bakery cookbook which is the one mentioned in Part A.

I am on my way down the steps of the stacks and think “What about a book on sewing?” I have recently had my sewing machine repaired after gumming it up sewing an applique quilt with my daughter’s childhood through college t-shirts.

The quilt was far from perfect. My daughter had started it years ago with my advice on using heat and bond to attach the cut out designs to a large sheet. Then it languished at her house for years and years. Then I took it from her to fix and complete. It languished in my house for years and years and I finished it for her this Christmas. So now I need some sewing projects. I find a book on improvisational sewing and making simple patterns using a t-shirt. Interesting.

I come home with a tote bag full of books, real books!  I have one biography, one memoir, one mystery, one on sewing, and two on baking. I love books!