Eggless Rainbow Cake

People who don’t eat eggs still have birthdays to celebrate and in no way should their birthday cakes be any less rich or flavored just for an egg. No, I am not undermining eggs, because I bake with them throughout the year. All I am saying is that baking without them is not a big deal.IMG_20170807_180736
Each basic ingredient (other than sugar) in baking has a specific scientific role. Butter and yolk of egg provide fats and emulsifying properties, flour provides structure, egg white are the natural leavening agents and baking powder and baking soda too are IMG_20170806_162145leavening agents and latter does some balancing act too when you are using something acidic like cocoa powder. If you look at it, you can substitute anything as long as you are not fiddling with the science of baking (which is majorly chemistry).IMG_20170807_181046
Every time I need to bake without eggs, I search hard for promising recipes. This time I was directed to go either the condensed milk route or to completely vegan cakes route. While I have trod the former last time, I didn’t want to go on an uphill route the latter offered since there were no other dietary restrictions. But still I took the vegan cake route and tweaked it a little to get the best eggless vanilla cake.
So, here is the eggless vanilla cake recipe with its chemistry all balanced and that will amaze you with its fluff and flavor. Whether dietary restrictions or lack of eggs, if you want to/have to bake a vanilla cake without eggs, this is your best bet!

Eggless Vanilla Cake:
(Yields one 8 inch round cake; or 2 8 inch sheet cakes. I divided the batter in two pans to get two sheet cakes so that I didn’t have to slice the layers before filling)

• 1 cup full fat milk + 2 tbsp white vinegar
• 110 grams unsalted butter, softened
• scant 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ¼ tsp salt

Bake the cake:
• Preheat oven to 176 °C and grease and line an 8 inches round cake pan.
• Mix milk and vinegar in a cup and let set to curdle.
• Add softened butter to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer. Then add sugar and vanilla and beat until combined and fluffy – about 2 minutes.
• Sift dry ingredients together and keep aside.
• Mix in the creamed butter sugar mixture alternating with the curdled milk. Blend until well incorporated and no large lumps remain. Mix in colors if using.
• Pour the batter into the pan. Don’t fill the pan more than 3/4th full.
• Bake on a center rack for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. The cake will have a very, very slight golden brown color.
• Let cool completely on a cooling rack.

Rich vanilla buttercream:
200 grams unsalted butter
2 teaspoon of vanilla essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Sift the icing sugar and reserve. It is always good to use fresh icing sugar.
• Whip the butter till it is light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minute
• Start adding the icing sugar in small batches and keep whipping till it is incorporated. Add essence and whip well once again.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, whip well for a minute or two before frosting the cake.

Assemble:

Get VIBGYOR sequence right with violet at the bottom. Infuse each layer with sugar syrup before slathering with buttercream. Repeat and stack the layers. Do a thin crumb coat with the frosting and decorate as desired.

 

 

 

 

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White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base

I am a stickler for cake baking books. Of course there are books to be grabbed with closed eyes when they are written by Rose Levy Beranbaum or Dorie Greenspan or David Lebovitz. And there are books without any author names on cover and are compilations of a few cake recipes from many sources.  I buy a few of those too keeping my fingers crossed. The reason my baking spree is negligible  when compared to my buying spree is the number of recipes which vie to be tried first until I do “inky-pinky-ponky” and choose one. And last time, this one won.wp_20161206_15_54_02_pro-2Meet White Chocolate Freezer Cake with Sticky Brownie Base. This recipe is from one such book, titled “desserts” from “Easy everyday” series I bought more than four years ago. The cake was love at first sight and the title sounds so sophisticated but surprisingly is quite easy to bake. In fact here, its the fridge and oven that do all the job. But of course you need not tell this as you smile when the cake grabs eyeballs and people complement you on your “hard-work”wp_20161206_15_57_26_pro-2This double delight combines sticky brownie with home made ice cream topping and can be (read: should be) made ahead. The ice-cream topping as per the book should be as thick as the cake but I adjusted the amount for our liking and topped with a thinner ice-cream layer and it was heavenly. You may use any brownie recipe of your choice and pour this home-made ice-cream mixture on top and leave to set. I have tried different nuts for the brownie base but you may throw in whatever you have on hand including roasted peanuts. Customize this cake your way. Either way you are going to love it!wp_20161206_15_56_43_pro-2wp_20161206_16_05_04_pro-2

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base
(Adapted from this book)

Yields one 8 inches cake

For the brownie Base
50 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin.
75 g Castor sugar
40 g dark Muscovado sugar
50 g Plain chocolate
2 teaspoons Golden syrup (I used honey)
75 g chopped walnuts (or any nuts of your choice)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
25 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1- 8 inch springform cake tin

For the White Chocolate ice-cream topping
300 g Good quality white Chocolate
300 ml Double Cream (I used one with 25% fat)
400 g Vanilla Custard

To decorate
Cocoa Powder and 50g melted Plain Chocolate

Brownie base:
• Preheat the oven to 180 °C and lightly grease the cake tin.
• In a thick bottom pan set over a low heat mix together the dark chocolate, butter, sugar and golden syrup till it is homogeneously melted.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts or nuts of choice and leave to cool.
• In a bowl whisk the egg with the vanilla extract and add to the cooled chocolate mixture.
• Sift in the flour and the baking powder and stir to combine the mixture.
• Pour into the cake tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until the outside is crisp and the cake has begun to shrink from the side of the tin but the center is still soft.
• Leave to cool.

White chocolate ice-cream topping
• Break up the white chocolate and place in a bowl over simmering water. Mix gently till the chocolate melts. Take off the heat.
• In another bowl whip the cream until it holds shape. Mix in the vanilla custard and then slowly add the melted chocolate.
• Pour over the cooled brownie base and tilt around to level the topping.
• If you wish to decorate, drop small blobs of melted chocolate and draw a cocktail stick through to make the teardrop shape
• Freeze for a minimum 4 hours or until firm.
• Take it out of the freezer 1/2 hour before you want to serve it but keep refrigerated.
• Dust with Cocoa powder just before you serve it.

Swedish Visiting Cake

Relax. I am taking it easy here. You are welcome to join if you are interested or curious or both. I feel that since I have Swedish Visiting Cake ready here, you would be.wp_20161130_14_25_56_pro-2Yes, this is the season of chocolate filled Yule logs and rum soaked cakes, of grandest cookies and gingerbread houses. And that is the reason you need this cake in December even more. I know it is kind of hard to just feed the cakes with rum and not pinching that tiny bit, or building that gingerbread house to perfection while drooling all the while. So, I say, if you have this cake ready, you wont mind not pinching your fruits cake or gingerbread house. In the month of December, this cake is your savior. Really.wp_20161130_14_33_02_pro-2I have baked this cake many times. Its one of the easiest cakes from one of my most treasured cake book. One without any leavening agent, this cake rather sets than baking , filling your house with the most delicious smell of almonds and vanilla. Bake it for yourself, friends or visitors, its a winner all the way!wp_20161130_14_30_46_pro

Swedish Visiting Cake

1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
Grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
1 stick melted butter, cooled
¼ cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

• In a medium bowl, add the lemon zest to the sugar. Rub the zest and sugar in between your fingers to release the oils, the sugar will become lemon scented.
• Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
• Whisk in the salt and the extracts.
• Change to a spatula and stir in the flour.
• Fold in the butter.
• Stir until combined. Dorie baked hers in an 9-inch cast iron skillet. I don’t have one so I used a regular 9-inch pie pan with removable bottom. You may also bake in an 8 inch cake pan but the cake will be thin , like a sheet cake. Grease the pan.
• Pour the batter into the pan and top with the sliced almonds and a generous sprinkling of sugar.
• Bake in the oven preheated to 176 degree Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be golden and the edges will have a nice crust.
• Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then take a knife and run it around the edge of the pan.
• This cake can be served warm or at room temperature. It will stay good for up to two days at room temperature or may be 3-4 days under refrigeration. But it won’t last that long. Promise

Tres Leches Cake

Dear Blog,

Happy first birthday to you!

Honestly speaking, an year ago I wasn’t sure whether we would be together to mark this day. I have too many commitments to keep you running as much and as frequently as I would love to. Days melt into weeks before the ‘next’ blog post turns the date on your page, though this fellow keeps reminding me, “you have not posted in XX  days”. But the day I started you, I promised not to yield to the pressure of passing days and dates. Instead, I chose to create and write at my own pace as it allows me to take care of more pressing issues vying for my time. And in no terms does that rank you low amongst my most enjoyable vocations. In fact, it makes me value you even more. You have been the means to bring out what was always there deep inside, like a childhood paper plane hidden in an old box. You are not a wall I write on. You are my parallel journey, a sweet one with all those cakes. And this time, the cake is for you. Let me just say that it is one of my most procrastinated cakes, but I am so glad I baked it on your day . You are one of the best things I have done and I hope we have a long journey together celebrating many more birthdays!

Loads of love!

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Tres Leches Cake with white chocolate frosting:
(Adapted from Make it ahead by Ina Garten)

Tres Leches or “Three Milks” is a popular Mexican cake. It is a vanilla sponge cake  which gains it’s character from the three types of milks its drenched in- sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk cream. This cake is overly sweet and you may want to cut down the sugar, or do away the white chocolate frosting (we don’t celebrate birthdays without chocolates!), or go the traditional way with the whipped cream topping if that is available. It keeps well under refrigeration and gets better with time. I really wanted to use coconut cream and rum to the milks but then we had our share of that goodness not so long ago. Coconut, almond, raspberry, rum or may be even cardamom, feel free to experiment with flavors. The cake will happily make the flavor its own.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4th tablespoon salt
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream (I used amul low fat cream)
350 ml evaporated milk
400 ml condensed milk

• Preheat the oven to 176 °C. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.
• Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
• Place the eggs, granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract in a big bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes until light yellow and fluffy.
• Reduce the speed to low and slowly add half the flour, then the milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture.
• Mix with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is well mixed.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothen the top, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the middle and a cake tester comes out clean.
• Set aside to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
• Using a bamboo skewer, poke holes all over the cooled cake and slowly pour the mixture over the cake, allowing it to be absorbed completely before continuing to pour on more of the mixture.
• Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

P.S. I made my own evaporated milk by reducing 500 ml  full cream milk to 350 ml over gentle simmering.

White Chocolate Buttercream:
(Adapted from here)

170 gram white chocolate
230 gram unsalted butter
240 grams confectioner’s sugar
2 table spoon light cream
½ tsp raspberry flavor
¼ teaspoon salt

• Prepare a bain marie with barely simmering water.
• Finely chop the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over bain marie such that the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. The bowl should fit snugly to avoid any steam escaping and getting into the chocolate bowl. Take the bowl off heat when about 30% of the chocolate is still not melted and keep whisking gently. The chocolate will keep melting as you whisk. Cool it till it is still at pouring consistency.
• In a medium bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Switch the mixer to low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar.
• Stir in the cooled white chocolate. Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until combined and creamy.
• Add the cream, raspberry extract, and salt. Beat for 1 minute until combined.
Frost the cake as desired.

 

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC)

I am on cloud nine! And the cloud is of Swiss Meringue Buttercream!  Wanna have a look?WP_20160316_06_52_08_Pro(1)

This satin smooth and not overly sweet buttercream is what I coveted for the longest time but dreaded trying. Google about it and you will know! But it kept coming back to me in pictures, thoughts and dreams. I finally decided to try it and read as many recipes and notes as I could and once I was confident, I tried it for the first time and  failed miserably. But SMBC did not intimidate me. It cajoled me to do my home-work better next time. I read beyond what I already knew and decided to make a small batch this time. And this time it all came together as if it was the easiest thing in the whole world!

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This buttercream is satin smooth and holds well at room temperature. I can understand why it is used in the gourmet bakeries all over the world. Unlike the American version, it is delicately sweet. Now I do not need to scrape buttercream off my cake slice. I would rather enjoy. WP_20160316_06_53_37_Pro (2)

I would give you my two cents on making SMBC.  WEIGH YOUR INGREDIENTS AND FOLLOW 1-2-3″  Do not go by “one large egg white” or “3/4th cup of sugar”. Weigh your ingredients. If egg white is X grams, sugar should be 2X and butter should be 3X. Thats all! I mean other than the technique and all the precautions needed to make SMBC. It would be good to go through the notes before jumping to the recipe. This buttercream is my dream come true. Follow the instructions and it would be yours too!

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Makes a practice batch to pipe a few roses)

Ingredients:
Egg white: 30 grams
Castor sugar: 60 grams
Butter in cubes: 90 grams, at room temperature but not runny.
Vanilla extract: a few drops

1. Clean a large heat proof bowl and make sure it is grease free. Same for the beaters and spatula.
2. Add egg white and sugar to the bowl.
3. Set a bain marie with simmering water on a low-medium flame. Keep the bowl on bain marie such that the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the simmering water.
4. Keep a candy thermometer ready.
5. Start whisking the egg white-sugar mix. Keep checking the temperature with the thermometer till it reads 160 F.
6. Remove the bowl carefully and start whisking with the hand beater beginning with the low speed first. Once foam forms, increase the speed to medium and then high.
7. Beat till stiff glossy peaks are formed and the bowl feels cold when touched from outside.
8. Start adding butter cube-by-cube. Do not add more butter till the previous addition is incorporated
9. The mixture will deflate and may even curdle (mine did not) but keep whipping and it will all come together into a fluffy frosting within a few minutes.
10. Add flavouring of your choice and beat once more.
11. The frosting will stay at room temperature for up to two days and for about a week under refrigeration. The frosting will not crust and needs to be whipped once before use if kept under refrigeration.

Notes:
• Make sure that the egg white is devoid of even a drop of yolk. Yolk will hinder whipping the white to its full volume. It is best to separate egg when it is cold.
• Make sure that the egg whites are heated to 160 F before taking them off heat. Salmonella is killed at this temperature, making it safer for consumption. Italian buttercream involves adding boiling sugar syrup to the egg whites but the temperature doesn’t rise to 160 F.
• Make sure that the bowl has cooled down before adding the butter else the heat will melt the butter and it will not whip to a fluffy consistency.
• Make sure that the butter is at room temperature but is a bit firm when pressed with fingers.

 

Rich Vanilla Cake with Fresh Fruits and Cream Frosting

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Chocolate is not my favorite flavor when it comes to having desserts or cakes. No, don’t get me wrong. I do love to bake with all kinds of chocolates in all sorts of combinations. But when it comes to choose for myself, I am more of a fruits and cream  person. I love my fruity flavors so much that I alternate among them in a place  where the hot selling flavor is Belgian chocolate, and I hardly order anything at this much sought after landmark where all chocolate lovers go berserk!

But its alright to be an outlier. Like this cake.

This ambrosial cake is made of rich vanilla cake layers, filled and frosted with fresh cream and fruits. Decorating this cake can be a real hands-on arts and craft project for a five years old helper-cum-official spatula licker, if you have one around like me. Bursting with colors and delicate flavors, this cake has had many converts. Though that’s not the intention here, I am just saying.

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Rich Vanilla Cake with Fresh Fruits and Cream Frosting:
(Source: From here)
Yields Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (Around 525 grams) cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
2 sticks ( 225 grams) unsalted butter at room temperature
400 grams sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
475 ml buttermilk, well-mixed

• Preheat oven to 350° F (176°C). Butter two 9-inches round cake pans and line with buttered parchment paper.
• Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
• In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, (around 3-4 minutes) then beat in vanilla.
• Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
• At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
• Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated. It is always good to mix in the last batch with a rubber spatula.
• Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
• Bake until golden and the cake tester poked in center of the cake comes out clean, (around 35 to 40 minutes).
• Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, and then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment.
• Cool completely before frosting.

Fresh cream and fruits frosting:

Its totally upto you to choose the fruits and their quantities. Here is what I used:

500 grams heavy cream (Fat percentage 30 or more)
1 kiwi
8-10 strawberries
15-20 seedless black grapes
15-20 seedless green grapes
Half ripe mango cut into small chunks
Pineapple tidbits for filling

• Chill a large bowl and beaters for 30 minutes.
• Add cold heavy cream into the bowl and keep it on an ice bed. Start beating the cream at medium speed for about 2 minutes
• Once the cream starts thickening, increase the speed and whisk till cream thickens and forms stiff peaks.
• Crumb coat the cooled cakes.
• Have fun while decorating!

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