The Opinionated Baker

Not all of us are made of sugar and spice

Archive for May 2010

Black bottomed cupcakes: Celebrating diversity

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I love black bottomed cupcakes. I always bake these when I have cream cheese to clear or if I need some cupcakes to bribe my way past something. (I’m always late for meetups. 😦 When I bring food, I get forgiven more easily)

So the other day, I was baking these cupcakes to clear off the remnants of cream cheese from my cheesecake 2 posts away… and I got to thinking how black bottomed cupcakes are essentially a realistic representative of how important diversity is in our world. The cupcakes would taste (frankly) like crap if it was only the cheese part or only the chocolate part. It is the marriage of the two vastly different tastes that makes it quite so awesome. 🙂

Black Bottomed cupcakes I

adapted from allrecipes.com, I normally halve the cheese mixture which I have calculated in the recipe below.

Ingredients

  • 4 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 small small egg

  • 1/6 cup – 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1/16 teaspoon salt (i just leave this out)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped white chocolate (I have tried this with dark chocolate and stuff but white chocolate gives it the best taste.)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup water (I use milk)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tins with paper cups or lightly spray with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese, egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt until light and fluffy. Stir in the chocolate and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa, baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  4. Make a well in the center and add the water, oil, vinegar and vanilla. Stir together until well blended.
  5. Fill muffin tins 1/3 full with the batter and top with a dollop of the cream cheese mixture.
  6. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
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Written by Musingsat

May 22, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Posted in Cheese, Chocolate, Cupcakes

Gingerbread Men and their miniature counterparts: The solution to sad days

with 10 comments

Recently, I have been plagued by sad thoughts. 😦 Nothing much is going well and I guess that is just typical of life. So I decided to bake silly clown gingerbread men! At the same time, I needed cookies for a special person’s special occasion, and gingerbread men were the likeliest choice to survive the journey north.

This gingerbread recipe has been in my arsenal for over 5 years, it is the longest surviving recipe DESPITE the huge effort needed to carry it out. Beware, this is NOT a recipe for the fainthearted/ for those working alone/  for those who are short of time. You definitely need help unless you have bulging  biceps of steel and thick calloused palms. I had help to watch over the cookies in the oven and to take the trays in and out. Without that help it would not have been a pretty sight. Brr. As it is, my arms are beginning to ache really badly from working the dough. However, what it takes out of you strength wise, it repays in full taste wise. 🙂

The photos this round are not very pretty because of the rush and effort involved in the baking. Didn’t have time to set up lighting and stuff. 😦

Ginger Cookies– makes alot alot alot of cookies, think 3 boxes worth. I have gotten almost 60 over cookies before.

Adapted from a book I borrowed from the library long long ago of which I have forgotten. If anybody recognizes it, please let me know.

Ingredients

Cookies

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 ½ tablespoons ground ginger

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground cloves

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup dark corn syrup (I use light corn syrup because I can’t find dark. But it is not as pretty. 😦 )

½ cup heavy cream (I use thickened cream which is apparently the same thing)

1 large egg yolk

5 cups all-purpose flour

Royal Icing

1 small egg

1 tsp lemon juice

Food colouring

Icing sugar

Method

  1. line a baking sheet with plastic wrap.
  2. to make the cookies, in a small dish, stir together the baking soda, the ginger, cinnamon, and cloves.
  3. In a medium-size saucepan, place the granulated sugar, butter and corn syrup. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring until the butter melts and the sugar dissolves (this is very impt if you don’t want sugar granules in your biscuit). Pour the mixture into the large bowl of an electric mixer.
  4. With the mixer at medium speed, slowly beat in the cream until it is blended. Add the spice mixture and the egg yolk and beat until they are well blended. (My stuff always splatters at this point so be careful and lay newspaper if you’re worried about a mess.) (look at the size difference of my eggs! 🙂 Large eggs and small eggs!)
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add 4 cups of the flour, one cup at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Stir in the remaining 1 cup of flour by hand until a fairly firm smooth dough has formed. (Halfway through, I usually switch to another mixer head and then switch to hand kneading. We had electric mixers burn out before because the dough was too thick and stiff.)
  6. Shape the dough into an 11 by 8 in inch rectangle on the lined baking sheet. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (Clean up the wreckage that you have wrought quickly and get a good nights sleep because day two is going to be tough tough tough.)
  7. Remove the dough from the refrigerator about 2 hours before you plan to start baking. The dough needs to be at room temperature for the easiest handling. (Yes! This is very important, I keep forgetting and regretting horribly.)
  8. Preheat the oven to 350F. Line several baking sheets with  parchment paper
  9. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough on a floured surface (TIP: Roll it sandwiched between baking paper instead. Trust me, it is SO MUCH easier to handle the sticky dough with and it will save you alot of heartache and stress) into a 16 by 12 inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out cookies with a lightly floured cutter. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets spacing them about 1 inch apart.
  10. Bake the cookies for 5 to 8 minutes, until they are puffed. (they will settle as they cool). (TIP: Don’t listen to this point. They will puff, then they will deflate, then they will change colour and brown along the edges. After this happens, then you take them out. Otherwise they’d be floppy and will get soft too quickly after frosting) Cool them slightly on the baking sheets (so that the cookies don’t break) before transferring the cookies to racks to cool completely.
  11. Try not to let them fight too much, naughty politically incorrect gingerbread men. Tsktsk.

  12. To make the icing, in a small bowl, beat the egg white and lemon juice until frothy. Mix in icing sugar until you get the consistency you desire.
  13. Decorate all the cookies with the icing! Have fun! Try and put the cookies in an air tight container as soon as you’re done as they get soft quickly. (The garish colours are no fault of my dslr, but the fault of the colouring so aptly named “Cherry red” ack.

Written by Musingsat

May 21, 2010 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Christmas, Cookies, Ginger

Strawberry Jelly Cheesecake: My sister’s birthday!

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What better way to start off this blog than to document the very first time that I ever baked specifically for a special occasion, AND succeeded at it? =)

Ironically, the item at issue here is a no-bake cheesecake. (is that a hint?)

Each time I bake, I always make sure that my calculator is sitting there next to me. I can never use a recipe directly without making any changes to it, whether it be to the sugar level, or the quantity. And. My mental math skills suck. =(

Jelly Cheesecake (Adapted from Taste.com.au)

Ingredients (serves 12)

  • 125g Morning Coffee biscuits, processed to fine crumbs (I multiplied this by 1.5 and used Marie biscuits)
  • 80g butter, melted, cooled (similarly multiplied by 1.5, if i make this again, i will multiply by 2.0 instead)
  • 375g cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup caster sugar (I used raw sugar, it’s healthier and the grains were not that visible)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence (I used 1.5 tsp)
  • 200ml cream
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
  • 85g packet jelly crystals

Method

  1. Line base and sides of a 3.5cm deep, 16cm x 26cm (base) slab pan with baking paper. Combine biscuit crumbs and butter. Press into base of lined pan. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in cream. Place water into a small bowl. Sprinkle over gelatine. Stir until gelatine dissolves. Set aside to cool slightly (see p21). Beat gelatine into filling until combined.

  3. Pour filling over base. Refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours or until set.

  4. Meanwhile, make jelly, following packet directions. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Pour into a shallow dish. Refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours or until jelly starts to thicken (like consistency of thickened cream). Pour jelly over cheesecake. Refrigerate for a further 3 hours or until jelly is set. Cut into squares to serve.

    At this point, I decided to take advantage of the strawberry season and add fresh strawberries into the cake. I did this whilst waiting for the jelly to cool… (which took a very long time).

    Thanks to my mom for the beautiful korean strawberries that she bought back from the heartland shops. The awesome thing about living in Singapore is that you forever have fruits from whatever country is in season and at budget prices. =)

    I think I am somewhat a perfectionist freak when it comes to baking. I went to google, typed in strawberry cake, and actually researched on cake decoration styles… I even had to plan the amount of fruits I would need. Good grief.

    Here is how it looked like on the cake itself.

    Beautiful isn’t it?

    However, after this, disaster struck and the jelly was a total killer. See, i didn’t exactly chill it for long enough before pouring it in. I thought that if i chilled it, the consistency would be too thick to properly spread out for a beautiful finish. BIG MISTAKE.

    Did you know that spring foam pans have gaps in them? The liquid jelly happily flowed into the pan and out of it. In horror, I watched it fleeing from my pan. It was like some horrible car wreck, with the survivors frantically trying to stem the blood flow of the victims. Horrible. I tried tape and everything but nothing worked, it just kept on flowing happily.

    Finally my mom came up with the perfect solution. We grabbed the pan, stuck it on a low bottom plate and rushed it into the freezer. Thank God for mothers.

    This is how it looked like before removing the #^$@*&^# spring-foam.

    The moment of truth, how would it look without the pan??? =O

    It was greatly loved by all. Thank God for miracles. =)

    Happy birthday Jie. I love you terribly even though I never show it much. =) I’m glad you enjoyed your birthday cake! It was worth the effort.

Written by Musingsat

May 13, 2010 at 10:46 am

Posted in Cakes, Strawberry

Bridging the links

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For 2 years, I have been trying to submit my baking photos to tastespotting and getting rejected. For a while I was utterly miffed, what. Were my photos not good enough? Was my writing lacking in substance? Did they just hate me?

Then, I realized the truth. Tastespotting is only for food blogs, other blogs are utterly discriminated against. Thus, I have decided to create a food blog to document my baking adventures. My normal blog will still be kept but all baking stuff will be posted here from now on instead. =)

This blog is dedicated to Mel, without her, this whole thing would never exist. Mel is my SOS baking hotline and my inspiration! Love you Mel! =)

Written by Musingsat

May 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

Posted in Uncategorized