Thursday, April 24, 2008

Summer Single Serve#1: Angel Food Cake

Angel food cake is a great figure friendly light summer cake. It has no fat, i.e no butter , no yolks, no oil- not even a drop. It is made from the simplest of ingredients: egg whites, all purpose flour, sugar and salt. Compare these four ingredients to the 18 found in a Boxed angel food cake mix,"Sugar, Wheat Flour Bleached, Egg White, Corn Starch, Leavening (Baking Soda, Citric Acid), Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup, Calcium Chloride, Corn, Modified Soy Protein, Salt, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean or Cottonseed Oil, Cellulose Gum, Artificial Flavor, Dextrose, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (A Whipping Aid), Color (Yellow 5 & 6, Red 40, Blue 1), Nonfat Milk."

When you think about it, an angel food cake is really just a souffle. Souffles are single serve all the time right? Make a little cake all for your self with fresh fruits and a good book, you are all set for a long hot afternoon.

Make your own angel food cake mix: Mix together thoroughly Cake flour 1 CUP, Confectioners sugar 1 CUP and salt 1 TSP in a zip lock bag and keep in a dry cool place like the referigerator. Makes 8 single serves.

To bake a single serve: Whenever you want to make a single serve, take 1/4rth cup of the dry mixture.Turn on oven to 350 F to preheat. Beat 1 extra large egg white with 1 tbsp of sugar and a drop of lemon juice, until stiff . Fold the flour into the egg white gently.Spray one ramekin ( approximately 2 X 2 x 2 inches) with pam. Then put in a couple of tablespoons of sugar and rotate the ramekin until he walls of the ramekin are evenly coated with sugar. Tap out any excess.Fill 3/4rth of the ramekin with the folded mixture. Bake at 350F for around 20 minutes. Makes one single serve with approximately 150 calories and no calories from fat.

Cool Down Usually you must invert the angel food cake pan on top of a bottle or something similiar to cool down for around two to three hours. The ramekins are very difficult to turn upside down, especially when hot. So turn them on their sides, that way the angel food cake will get a chance to cool down and stabilize. Otherwise you will find that your cake collapses!

Very important: You must do the sugar on the ramekin walls or else the angel food cake will not rise. Traditionally , angel food cakes are baked in a tubular cake pan and no butter or flour is applied to the walls so that it can cling to the walls of the pan and rise.

Serve with Fresh fruits- Strawberries or Mango.

Recipe adapted from the Bakers Dozen Cookbook

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Frangipane Pear Tart with Pate Sucree (Sweet Tart Pastry)

I was originally making this for AFAM: Pears hosted by Raaga of the The Singing chef for the month of March. I am posting this recipe after she has even finished with the round up! Talk about Indian standard stretchable time:) I wanted to explore frangipane tarts more thoroughly before writing about them.

The frangipane tart in terms of taste was a great contrast of slightly tart fruit with the crisp chewiness of the macaroon like almond filling.

Frangipane in the pastry world is a sweetened almond filling used in tarts and pastries. I was very delighted to discover that it has an Indian connection. Frangipane is the name of a flower, which was originally used to flavor the almond paste. Look familiar? I love this flower, it has a sweet intoxicating smell which usually denotes summer for me.

For the Frangipane itself I followed this recipe from the Washington Post.For the shell instead of going with the cream cheese tart shell as in the WP recipe, I went for a Pate Sucree ( Sweet Tart Pastry Shell) from the Bakers dozen cookbook.

Couple of important pointers for anyone who might want to attempt this. One is that The frangipane receives equal billing with the fruits. This is not a tart you want to stuff with fruits. The picture I have of my pear tart is actually a good example of what not to do with a frangipane tart. You want give the frangipane enough space to puff up and develop a nice brown crust. A very good example is Spittoon extra's Apricot and Fig Frangipane Tart.

You can substitute the pear with any stone fruit, Apple or Plums being favorite choices. You can also flavor the almond frangipane filling like I did with cardamom or even perhaps nutmeg. I made a Plum filled one as well, but I donot have any pictures because my little daughter really liked it. She polished it off with the ten teeth she has!

This tart shell is perhaps one of the easiest bcause it does not depend too much on the correct mixing of the butter into the flour, which is perhaps the most technical part of forming a good tart shell. So it is good for newbies.

Pate Sucree( Sweet Tart Pastry Shell)
from the Bakers dozen Cookbook.

6 tbsp unsalted butter, cool but not chilled
2.5 tbsp sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of fine sea salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1. In a medium bowl, using a hand-held mixer on medium high speed, cream the butter and sugar until light in color and texture, about 2 minutes. Break the egg into a cup, mix it thoroughly with a fork, and measure 2.5 tbsp. Discard the remainder. Beat it in with the vanilla and salt just until blended. Scrape down the bowl. On low speed, add the flour all at once and mix just until the ingredients are moistened. Donot overmix.

2. Turn the dough out onto an unfloured work surface. Quickly finish combining the ingredients by smearing small amounts away from you. Using a bench knife or plastic scraper, scrape up the dough and gather it together. Form into a flat disk about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap. Referigerate until firm, atleast one hour.( The dough can be prepared upto a day ahead, wrapped, and referigerated.)

This dough tends to break, but it is easy to repair.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Fondant Welcome home cake

I made this quick and easy cake on Saturday for my cousin G. in Baltimore and her cute new baby daughter. The cake itself is a chocolate chiffon cake with vanilla buttercream. The cake topper is a white chocolate baby pram with royal icing decorations.

Chocolate Chiffon Cake recipe from here

Friday, April 4, 2008

Cakeworks for Mahanandi: Devils Food Chocolate Cake

I am really lucky and honored that my first order in my new Cake baking venture, CAKEWORKS, came from Indira of Mahanandi. I am much obliged to her for her thoughtfulness and support. Indira ordered this cake for an event in Philadelphia, on the 29th of March.

Indira says via email,"Cake looks yummilious!:) Great job with the decoration. I like it."

This cake is an all butter devils food chocolate cake with chocolate ganache filling. The two buildings on top of the cake are the Liberty Place buildings in downtown, that I have modeled out of vanilla chiffon cake. The cake is covered with chocolate and white fondant. The roofs of the buildings are non edible and carved out of foam.

I hope to develop a professional career in baking over the years. I will be posting detailed recipes and instructions here.