Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Zebra Cake

While I was looking for something interesting to bake for Swara's 10th month B'day, I saw this dark chocolate and Vanilla flavored Zebra cake on Deeba's blog. I followed the links and finally landed on this Blog . When I read through the post and the detailed recipe, I decided to give it a try. This cake requires simple basic vanilla batter. The tricky part is how you assemble the cake with alternating layers of vanilla and dark chocolate batter, which creates the beautiful zebra pattern. I followed the recipe without making any changes and the cake turned out pretty well.

Ingredients -
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk, at room temperature
1 cup oil (corn, vegetable or canola is fine)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons dark cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed Hershey's dark chocolate)

Note - Make sure dark chocolate you use is not very bitter.
Dark zebra pattern won’t stand out with light cocoa powder

Method -
1. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using a hand-held electric mixer or wire whisk beat until the mixture is creamy and light in color
2. Add milk and oil, and continue beating until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, combine and mix flour, vanilla powder and baking powder. Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and beat just until the batter is smooth and the dry ingredients are thoroughly incorporated. DO NOT OVERBEAT to prevent air pockets from forming in the batter. The consistency of the batter should be neither very thick not too loose.
4. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Keep one portion plain. Add cocoa powder into another and mix well.
5. Preheat the oven to 350F.
6. Lightly grease a 9 inch cake pan with oil. If you don’t have non-stick baking pan, grease whatever pan you have then line it with parchment paper (baking paper).
7. The most important part is assembling the cake batter in a baking pan. This is what you do. Scoop 3 heaped tablespoons of plain batter (you can also use a ladle that would hold 3 tablespoons) into the middle of the baking pan. Then scoop 3 tablespoons of cocoa batter and pour it in the center on top of the plain batter. IMPORTANT! Do not stop and wait until the previous batter spreads - KEEP GOING! Do not spread the batter or tilt the pan to distribute the mixture. It will spread by itself and fill the pan gradually. Continue alternating the batters until you finish them. The pictures below will guide you through.

This is how the cake will look before it goes in the oven.

8. Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes. Do not open the oven door at least the first 20 minutes or the cake will shrink and will not rise. To check if the cake is ready, insert a toothpick into the center. It should come out clean when ready. Remove from the oven. Immediately run a small thin knife around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake, then invert the cake onto a cooking rack. Turn the cake back over and let cool.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Apple N Almond Cake

There are several lovely blogs that are a source of inspiration for new bloggers like me. But the one that I worship and admire the most and also visit almost every day is Deeba Rajpal's "Passionate About Baking" . Her creations have truly been a great source of inspiration for me and I have pretty much bookmarked every recipe that shows up on her blog. I baked this Apple and Almond Cake for Swara's 9th month B'day. I also served this as dessert on a potluck picnic lunch the next day. The apples slices layered on top gives this cake a nice tartness and the almonds give it some crunch. The cinnamon compliments the apple and almonds really well. The part that my friends and family loved most about this cake was that it was very lite and not too sweet. So everyone had second and third servings without feeling guilty. This is another simple coffee cake that would be perfect with a steaming hot Cuppa Joe.

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Ingredients -
All purpose flour - 1 1/2 cups
Granulated sugar - 3/4 cup
Baking powder - 1 1/2 teaspoon
Baking soda - 1/2 teaspoon
Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
Eggs - 2
Plain yogurt - 1/4 cup
Butter - 1/2 cup / melted
Almond extract - 1 teaspoon
Apples - 3 / peeled and thinly sliced
Almonds - 1/4 cup , sliced
Granulated sugar - 3 tablespoons
Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon

Method -
1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Butter and flour a 9 inch spring form pan.
2. In a bowl, stir together flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In a separate bowl, beat eggs. Stir into the eggs, yogurt, butter and almond extract.
4. Stir wet ingredients into the flour mixture just until combined.
5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Arrange apples over the batter.
6. For the topping: Combine almonds, sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the topping over apples.
7. Bake for 1 hour 20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.