Thursday, November 21, 2013

Olive Oil Citrus Syrup Mini Bundt Cakes (Video Recipe)

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Picture this. Having heard folk rave so much about blueberries, you have been waiting for some in a can . Santa warns that you may not exactly fall in love with them, but you believe it should be fairly good. You have decided on the recipe, you just need those berries. Finally they arrive, yaay! You eagerly open the can, expecting tart-sweet, plump fruit. But wait, errr...umm...well, can't decide if this tastes like berries people rave about or something fruity, squishy, reminiscent of, hate to say, calpol syrup? How thoughtless of me to say that! May be calpol in an exciting new fruity flavor? There came crashing down my dreams of baking that moist lime and blueberry cake, wiping out all visions of the blue stained lovely cake it would make. Sob! Don't know if its the berries or me, it was a sad story!

But then, since I had set my mind on that citrus yogurt cake on Smitten Kitchen, yes, the third or fourth yogurt cake here, I had to bake it. Another matter that I had little time or energy to bake anything which would take more than an hour and half at the most, for the prep, baking, pics and all. These whisk and bake, moist little cakes made with olive oil, lots of yogurt, baked and drenched in hot syrup make delicious warm treats on the fast track if you ever fancy syrup cakes on a whim. Just the recipe I needed, even without the berries. Isn't it great to have one for syrup cakes made with oil? Eat them warm, plump with the syrup, they  really are at their best then, may be with some vanilla ice cream if you want dessert.

This recipe is quite similar to Dorie Greenspan's EVOO Yogurt cake, but has more yogurt in it, making it more moist. Apart from citrus syrup cakes, you could do more with this recipe as Deb very helpfully suggests. Fold in your favorite berries ( I will get there one day!) or bake coconut topped lime cakes using coconut oil in place of the olive oil, orange chocolate chunk or citrus poppy seed cake or one with sliced almonds added in.

You can find the recipe here, original recipe from Ina Garten. I have halved the recipe, which made 7 mini bundts and one slightly bigger one. You could use your muffin tray, the baking  time would vary depending on the size. If making the full recipe, bake in an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan for about 50 minutes as Deb does.


All-purpose flour - 195 grams
Baking powder - 2 teaspoons (aluminum free like Rumford will be great)
Salt - 1/2 teaspoon
Whole-milk yogurt - 240 ml / 1 cup
Sugar, granulated - 200 grams / 1 cup ( I have weighed and powdered)
Eggs - 144 grams / 3 large
Freshly grated citrus zest - 2 teaspoons
Pure vanilla extract - 1/2 teaspoon
Olive Oil (or vegetable oil )- 120 ml / 1/2 cup

(Please note, use the freshest oranges /limes you can find and zest with a citrus zester for maximum citrus zing. You may otherwise find the cake lacking flavor)

For the syrup (alter according to how tart or sweet you want the cake to be, better to have more syrup on hand than less. If making orange syrup cakes, you will need to use more juice, lesser sugar, lesser water). This is for half the recipe.

Lime juice - 1 tablespoon
Sugar - 3 tablespoons
Water - 3 tablespoons

  • Pre heat oven to 180 degrees C / 350 F. Spray your loaf tin or mini bundt pan. My mini bundt pan is about 5 tablespoons capacity per cup.  You could also bake in a muffin tin of 1/4 cup / 60 ml capacity.
  • Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, zest (ensure no lumps), vanilla, yogurt and the eggs. 
  • Whisk just enough to combine, no need to work up a volume. Whisk in the flour mixture gently (in 2 additions) but thoroughly. If adding berries or nuts, toss them in a teaspoon of flour, fold them in once the dry ingredients are almost combined. 
  • Fill the mini bundt pan using a cookie scoop, the batter coming half way up. Bake for about 14-15 minutes in the mini bundt pan, (9-10 minutes in the muffin tin, 50 minutes in the loaf pan) or till a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Be careful to not over bake. 
  • Cool the bundts for 2-3 minutes in the pan, (if baking in a loaf pan, cool the cake in the tin for about 10 minutes) then turn out on a rack. Place a baking sheet underneath to catch the drips.
  • While the cake is baking, combine the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan. Heat till the sugar dissolves. 
  • You could prick the cakes with a toothpick all over. Brush the hot syrup on the cakes. Serve the mini cakes slightly warm or at room temperature.  

 I loved these baked in my mini bundt pan, best warm! If you love citrus syrup cakes, don't let butter or the fear of creaming stop you. Try these!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cinnamon Cornmeal Biscotti

Biscotti, the twice baked Italian cookies, are made with fat and without. For me, ones with less fat are the everyday kind and the more luxurious, considerably higher fat ones would make a lovely make ahead weekend indulgence. Biscotti with no added fat are loud, noisy and crunchy, great for dipping in wine I gather. The addition of butter or oil, makes them a little tender, less loud but still crunchy, crispy depending on the recipe.

After trying out a few recipes, realization dawns that I like biscotti with fat in them. These tender crisp kind are what I like to dunk in my tea/coffee when I feel like eating something light, but don't exactly know what. The kind of healthier cookies I like in my cookie jar for the kids to dip in their glass of milk. The bonus - these are really easy compared to the regular cookies, more substantial and keep well for days. You could  bake them at leisure and rest assured you have something not-too-sweet or fat loaded to nibble on over the next few days.

Looking for a new biscotti  recipe, I baked David Lebovitz's cornmeal biscotti . The gritty cornmeal in the biscotti , gives them a slightly different texture. Since the butter doesn't need to be creamed, you could get away making a really small batch easily. Made a couple of batches of these, one with cinnamon and some with citrus zest. Biscotti with cinnamon and butter taste great when really fresh, you must try these if cinnamon is your spice. Baked a batch with oil in place of the butter. Since using butter or oil did not make a great deal of difference, I think I shall stick to using oil.

I have made small batches (a fourth of the below recipe) just to play around. Have sneaked in a tiny bit of baking powder as well.

  • All purpose  flour -  210 grams / 1 1/2 cups
  • Cornmeal, preferably stone-ground - 70 grams / 1/2 cup
  • Sugar- 200 grams / 1 cup ( I have powdered after weighing)
  • Baking soda- 1 teaspoon
  • Baking powder - 1/2 teaspoon (I have added this)
  • Salt - 1/4 teaspoon
  • Eggs- 2 large / 98 grams
  • Butter (salted or unsalted), melted - 55 grams / 4 tablespoons (weigh and melt) OR 60 ml / 1/4 cup oil
  • Ground Cinnamon - 1 heaping teaspoon 
  • Vanilla - 1 teaspoon 
      • zest of one lemon
      • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
      • Walnuts (or almonds) toasted and coarsely chopped - 1 cup (100g)

      1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC.) Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

      2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, cinnamon, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

      3. In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs and vanilla. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the beaten eggs. Add the butter, then mix until the dough is wet and crumbly. Add the nuts and stir to get them mixed well into the dough. The dough will feel dry but will come together. Its not as wet as the usual biscotti dough, the dough with oil felt a bit dry, but worked just fine.

      4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead a few times until smooth. Divide the dough in two, and roll each portion into a 13-inch (33cm) long or according to the size of your batch and baking tray (these spread, so leave at least around 2'' space all around the log to be safe) , then transfer them to the baking sheet. Leave ample space between the two logs as the dough will spread a bit during baking.

      5. Bake the logs for 20 minutes, or until they feel firm but springs back when you press the top. Remove them from the oven and let cool for 20 minutes. You could, at this point, leave the baked log covered and come back to it even the next day ! Reduce the heat of the oven to 150 degree / 300 F.  (250ºF /120ºC in the original recipe)

      6. Using a sharp bread knife, slice the longs crosswise into individual cookies, each about 1/3-inch (1cm.) Place the biscotti on the baking sheet, standing them up on their back (imagine slicing the log and separating the slices) and bake for 20-25 minutes. The cookies will feel soft when hot, will crisp as they cool. Vary the baking time to your preference, baking longer dries them out further, making them crunchier.

      Let cookies cool completely, then store in an airtight container. The biscotti will keep for at least two weeks.

      Tender-crunchy, I liked these as a change from the normal textured biscotti. Do make yourself a small batch of these with cinnamon and butter. If eating immediately, brush the warm baked slices with a tiny bit of butter and cinnamon as the baker's treat. Storing biscotti brushed with butter is not a great idea, the butter kind of solidifies later. Just happen to know.