the third day of the month blues

blues pl n

1. a state of depression or melancholy

2. a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness

I recently observed that I am in a state of depression or melancholy every third day of the month. It has happened without fail for three consecutive months, so I’m convinced it’s a thing. Terrible things will happen to you every third day of the month.

Exceptionally, 3rd January 2014 went by smoothly. This affliction started with 3rd February 2014. It was the day I was to have my first mediation session at the Family Courts. I could make or break a person’s day (sort of). I had to actually make submissions (sort of) before a judge. I’m not good at public speaking stuff and needless to say, I was terrified. And sleep deprived. This was also the Monday right after my trip to Penang over the CNY weekend, where I had barely nine hours of sleep over three-and-a-half days. On top of everything else, I was fighting holiday withdrawal symptoms while trying to adequately prepare for the mediation session. Of course, it was no surprise that I was depressed that day. The mediation was fairly successful however (I was deeply grateful that there were no emotional scenes), but I returned to the office to get told off by my boss on another matter. She must either have been in a bad mood that day or simply pissed off at me because she could not stop calling me that day to scold me on several other matters. Obviously, it didn’t help that I was still facing holiday withdrawal symptoms and sleep deprived. Talk about feeling the blues that day. Since too many things had happened to make it a memorable lousy day, I didn’t think the blues had anything to do with the fact that it was the 3rd of the month.

IMG_9100

we’ve had pretty sky days recently

Before I knew it, February was over and I was overwhelmed with work on 3rd March 2014 (thanks to irritating clients who instruct us at the last minute), managed to piss of my boss (again, I’m really good at this apparently) and naturally, I was depressed. Melancholic. In a state of deep unhappiness. Surprisingly, I was perfectly fine the next morning. Perhaps all my whining (to whoever I could get hold off) helped. Or maybe it was because the sun had set and rose in the east again and the date on the calendar changed from the 3rd to the 4th. Whatever it was, I was flooded with work (to be fair, everyone was flooded with work, and there isn’t a public holiday in March. We officially hate March) but despite all of that, I was happy that month.

IMG_9338

shophouses and skyscrapers

I thought I was (finally) getting the hang of things, but 3rd April 2014 had to come along and the pattern repeated itself. AGAIN. Such that I am convinced the third day of every month is guaranteed to be a bluesy day. A depressing one. Things will happen that will make you pissed off at yourself (I mean, myself) and the entire world in general. You will lose your patience at the slightest thing, and also lose your appetite (which is really sad. I love food.) I hate being depressed. And I dislike crying, though I know I do it often enough that people can’t help but think otherwise. Come 3rd May, I’m more than sure a feeling of depression or deep unhappiness would overtake me. It’s unavoidable.

IMG_9367

Now that we know this is a guaranteed affliction, we need to be prepared. Such as by having some form of chocolate within easy reach, so that you can stuff your face when the blues hit you. Even if you lose your appetite, chocolate will still be welcome (If even chocolate doesn’t help, it’s too serious and professional help is likely needed.) Since I only just discovered this condition, I didn’t have anything at hand to ward off the blues on Thursday (the evil 3rd day of the month). Friday went by smoothly enough, but I still needed comfort, so today, I treated myself to a single serving chocolate lava cake. Which turned out beautifully melty. I’M SO HAPPY NOW.

IMG_9360

I added a toblerone triangle in the centre of the ramekin to up the melty factor – it worked!

IMG_9361

I was so glad it turned out beautifully. A failed attempt might have been too much for me to take. By the way, the recipe for this gorgeous creation is found in the inaugural post. By gorgeous, I mean the recipe/innovation is a thing of beauty. Not my work.

IMG_9372

Can I have more, please?

Advertisements

chocolate cookie crust no-bake cheesecake with berries

Hi! It’s been some time since we spoke. Kind of got caught up with everything else in my life.

IMG_8162

It’s also been two weeks since my birthday. For which I made this cake with the too-long name. And was very excited to share, but other things got in the way (some were really fun stuff, others not at all. both are however essential in life).

It’s really easy to eat, I mean, MAKE and addictively delicious.

IMG_8072

IMG_8074 IMG_8076 IMG_8080

Well of course, where cream cheese is involved, the dessert would be undeniably delicious. That was one criterion for my birthday cake. It had to be delicious (duh), something my family would like, easy to put together (coz I didn’t have much time), and pretty. I voted for no bake cheesecake, coz I love cheesecake but I didn’t want to worry over a water bath making a baked cheesecake. I wanted berries because BERRIES. (And thank God there were still berries from Chile and Korea available in the grocery stores in January.) Then of course, I had to incorporate citrus into the cheesecake batter (in the form of lemon zest) and finally, I decided on a chocolate cookie crust for contrast (alliteration alert) instead of a plain old graham cracker crust.

IMG_8117

IMG_8152

I drew inspiration from various sites for this cheesecake. That’s the beauty of a no bake cheesecake, it is flexible and would accommodate whatever combinations you fancy. Oh, this cheesecake does not have gelatin, so it does not get very firm regardless of how long you chill it. Since it’s harder to get neat slices, you could also serve this in tiny glasses – like cheesecake shooters – instead of assembling it like a cake.

IMG_8161

*I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since I made and ate this!*

in 2014.

2013 was kind of a big year for me, there were several milestones, challenges, learning, failing, growing up, together with lots of fun. So, 2014 has a lot of work to do if it wants to beat that. I think I’m up for it though!

My first weekend of 2014 turned out to be pretty intense. I had promised to make pumpkin cupcakes for my cousin for his engagement on Saturday, 4 January. Since the event was in the late afternoon, I had planned to bake the cupcakes on Friday night, make the frosting Saturday morning and frost the cupcake about a couple of hours before I had to leave my house (so that the frosting doesn’t melt.)

IMG_7557

I had bought all the things I required a week before, but realised I had forgotten to get the main ingredient – canned pumpkin. I don’t know what’s WRONG with my brain sometimes. Oh well. I stopped by the supermarket on my way home from work and got the canned pumpkin (plus extra in case of emergency). My cousin had requested for just 25 cupcakes, but being a typical Singaporean, I anticipated the worst (what if none of my cupcakes turned out decent?) and decided to bake a lot more. So I baked a triple batch of Smitten Kitchen’s pumpkin cupcakes. Do note that a triple batch makes a huge amount of batter! I decided the mixer wasn’t going to do a good job of mixing the pumpkin at the end, so I depended on my trusty arms for that part.

Thankfully, I managed to bake all 76 cupcakes successfully and went to bed 22 hours since I had woken up Friday morning. I love going to bed feeling accomplished

IMG_7550

IMG_7555

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_7627

IMG_7593

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, the frosting was kind of disappointing the next morning. Instead of maple cream cheese frosting, I made cinnamon cream cheese frosting this time. Mainly because I didn’t feel like splurging on pure maple syrup. Anyway cinnamon complements pumpkin well. I wanted to use a large frosting tip because I badly wanted to get bakery-style swirls, but my trial run with the large frosting tip didn’t result in the swirls my mind envisioned. I’m not sure if it’s the consistency of my frosting or my skills, but either way, PRACTICE is called for!

Let’s not talk about the challenge involved in transporting 48 cupcakes. Can people involved in making these things please come up with cost-effective solutions for home bakers for transporting a large number of cupcakes? I have faith in you people. Actually maybe these things do exist in the market, but I haven’t looked at the right places. Yeah, that’s probably closer to the truth.

IMG_7595

IMG_7597

Despite all my complaints however, I really enjoyed the process. It was the biggest project I had undertaken recently, I did all of the work on my own (including most of the washing up), and while they were not as pretty as I had expected them to be, they tasted just fine (in my humble opinion). I must thank my cousin for requesting something from me in the first place because I don’t think I would have voluntarily undertaken such a project otherwise. I sincerely hope his and his gorgeous fiancee’s family enjoyed the cupcakes! My family and I certainly did (I had many extra cupcakes  since I baked a triple batch – worrying has its benefits for sure!)

This gave me hope, hope for incorporating baking efforts, whether simple or elaborate, into my everyday life. To go back to my trusted recipes, to try something new. To put sweet, salty, creamy, homemade stuff into my mouth on a regular basis. That’s the best part, and if we’re being honest, that’s really the goal of baking here …

IMG_7583

vanilla cupcakes with mocha buttercream frosting

I hate falling sick. It makes me moody and depressed. Especially when my bones are aching. It’s so hard to fall asleep when your bones are aching. I felt like I was falling sick since last Saturday, but I was stubborn and didn’t take any preventive measures. As punishment, it became worse on Christmas Eve. And I had already made plans to go over to my favourite cousins’ place to feast, hangout and likely sleepover.

IMG_7188

prepping your equipment and ingredients is essential

While the sleepover part didn’t materialise, I did manage to go have fun at her place. And also managed to bake some simple cupcakes. I wanted to bake something for her and her family, and after browsing through my numerous bookmarked recipes, I decided on mocha cupcakes with espresso buttercream frosting from the browneyedbaker.com., primarily because the frosting sounded as awesome as it looked on the website. My cousin however isn’t a fan of chocolate, so I decided to make plain vanilla cupcakes instead. Since I wasn’t feeling my best, baking these cupcakes, while easy, took longer than usual. And the frosting was terribly ugly. But it was great to know that I could still carry on with baking despite my cold (and aching bones). Now that I think about it though, it probably wasn’t hygienic to bake or do any kind of food preparation while I was unwell … but nobody seemed affected after consuming the cupcakes so I guess I took sufficient precautions!

IMG_7195

The frosting was awesome as promised, though a tad too sweet. The cupcakes however were not as soft and fluffy as I would have liked them to be. I should have suspected that there would be a problem with texture when I saw that the recipe didn’t include any liquid component apart from eggs, such as milk or buttermilk. I will have to rely on a classic vanilla cupcake recipe next time. The espresso buttercream frosting had the perfect coffee flavour and scent, but even being a sweets lover, I found it too sweet. I know that the powdered/icing/confectioner’s sugar helps the frosting reach the consistency necessary for frosting cakes, but is there a way we could add something to achieve the same consistency but without the sweetness? Or perhaps the vanilla cupcakes were not suitable substitutes for the mocha cupcakes in the original recipe? I have made the browneyedbaker’s mocha brownies with espresso buttercream frosting before, and those were a hit (with a group of teenage to young adult girls), so perhaps the base should have something less sweet, like chocolate/mocha to play off the sweetness of the frosting.

IMG_7201

My lovely cousin had also prepared two other desserts for us – no-bake cheesecake and English trifle. Both were creamy and delightful. I was too stuffed for dinner, but her mum’s cooking is too good to resist. So despite being unwell and all, I stuffed myself, because YOLO you know?

IMG_7222

IMG_7232

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, in addition to the amazing foodstuffs, I also got a free henna design done by my talented cousin. She wanted to draw for somebody, everyone else were playing cards, and only I was kind enough to sacrifice my hand for a few minutes. Lol. I dislike henna because I don’t like the smell, but this was the inky type so there wasn’t any smell, and anyway I had a blocked nose so it didn’t really matter. I think I chose a pretty design! 😀

IMG_7236

IMG_7255

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all! May you have a wonderful, blessed time with your loved ones 🙂

Vanilla cupcakes

Source: Good Housekeeping – Cupcakes (Flip-it Book), pg. 22

Ingredients

125 g unsalted butter, softened

125 g caster sugar

2 medium eggs

125 g self-raising flour

1 tbsp vanilla extract

Directions 

1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake liners.

2. Beat butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until cream, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and vanilla extract, and beat till light and fluffy. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour and beat till combined. Do not overbeat.

3. Fill the cupcake liners about 1/2 to 3/4 full and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, when the tops have risen and are springy to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Source: browneyedbaker.com

227 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2½ cups powdered sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons espresso powder

1. Mix the espresso powder into the vanilla until dissolved; set aside.

2. Using the whisk attachment of a stand mixer, whip the butter on medium-high speed for 5 minutes, stopping once to scrape the sides of the bowl. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the powdered sugar a little at a time, waiting until it is mostly incorporated before adding more. Once all of the powdered sugar has been added, scrape the sides of the bowl and increase the speed to medium-high and whip until fluffy, about a minute or two. Add the espresso and vanilla mixture and continue to mix at medium-high until it is completely incorporated, scraping the sides as necessary.

triple berry buttermilk bundt cake

When I saw this post http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2012/06/triple-berry-summer-buttermilk-bundt/ on smittenkitchen.com, I was so mesmerized by photos of the berry-studded cake with sexy icing dripping down its sides that I saved the page to my bookmarks so I could scroll through the photos whenever I wished to. Naturally, I couldn’t wait to make it. Alas, I live in a faraway tropical city called Singapore where fresh berries have to be imported from faraway lands and cost a bomb. Frozen berries aren’t exactly cheap, but given the quantity of berries required for this cake, they were a reasonable alternative.

IMG_7072

To my dismay however, frozen berries too aren’t easily available at any grocery store. Also, I didn’t know how economical it would be to buy 600g of frozen raspberries for $16, frozen blackberries for $14 and so forth. With each disappointing trip to a different grocery store, I grew increasingly depressed, bemoaning my pathetic state (why do I have to live in Singapore?! why are berries so expensive?! why do I love blackberries when they’re like practically nonexistent here?!! why couldn’t I live in Canada?! or someplace where I can have access to fresh seasonal berries for godssakes!!! i think you get the idea.)

IMG_7054IMG_7055IMG_7052

 

Thankfully, on a glorious day sometime this month, I chanced upon a bag of frozen mixed berries of just the right quantity I needed to make this cake. Of course I grabbed it and set about making it as soon as I got the chance to do so.

IMG_7053

IMG_7056IMG_7057

It’s a simple buttermilk cake, employing the usual cake-baking method (beat butter, sugar and eggs, add flour and buttermilk alternately, then fold in fruit), but made gorgeous and deliciously jammy by the delightful berries. I believe any combination of berries will be absolutely glorious in this cake, although the original recipe calls for raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. I’m sure using blackberries only will be even more fabulous; I will have to try that another day. The only problem with using frozen berries is that you will likely end up with a purplish batter (caused by the excess juices from the frozen fruit when you fold the berries into the cake batter) which I guess would be unfavourable to most people, but I’m not most people, purple is my favourite colour, I have made pink-swirled cakes many times, so why not purple, it’s time for purple! I’m sorry, that’s how my brain thinks; can’t help it.

IMG_7061IMG_7063IMG_7064IMG_7066IMG_7068

I think the mixed frozen berries I bought had a combination of four or five berries so it turned out to be a mixed berry buttermilk bundt cake, but whenever someone asked what cake this was, I replied ‘triple berry buttermilk bundt cake’ and I really like the sound of ‘triple berry buttermilk bundt cake’, so I shall just stick to the original name. (Was this explanation really necessary? I really do like to talk a lot sometimes.)

IMG_7069

The citrus icing is pretty and will score you points for presentation, especially if you’re a pro at these things (which I am not), but in terms of taste, I felt that it was unnecessary; the berry cake has tremendous flavour on its own. However, I had difficulty with the release of this cake (I nearly cried, after spending so much effort and cash on my beloved berries, the cake was not perfect!), so there was some patchwork to be done. The icing came in helpful here as it covered up the imperfect portions of the bundt and tried to prettify the cake.

IMG_7071IMG_7073

This triple berry buttermilk bundt cake will definitely be part of my go-to stash of recipes, because it got compliments from all my family members and also some guests that happened to drop by. Preparation is also a breeze – I made this within 2 hours. Of course, you need to have sufficient berries lying around if you have a sudden hankering for this cake. Or it could be adapted with any fruit according to the season, as suggested in the original recipe. A clear sign that this cake is a winner was the fact that more than half of the bundt was gone by the end of the day. This, in a household which takes a week to consume 14 frosted cupcakes, means a lot.

IMG_7074

 

 

pumpkin cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting

IMG_6844 edited

I know I know, the frosting in the above photo looks like it was done by a kid. The truth of the matter is that it was done by yours truly. Oh wells, what can I say except that it was my first frosting attempt. One of my good friends bought me frosting tips from Japan in June this year (she knows me well!), and I put it to use only some six months later. *hangs head in shame*

Ok that’s enough about me. Let’s get on with the cake! This is a smittenkitchen.com recipe, which I followed almost to a T, except for omitting a couple of the spices which I have listed below.

IMG_6840

As usual, gather all your ingredients (for the cakes) first. This is such an essential step, because it makes the rest of the baking process a breeze. Proof: I was able to bake these cupcakes in less than an hour, including prep time. To save bowls, I measured all the dry ingredients directly into a medium-sized mixing bowl.

IMG_6824

Throw the butter and sugars into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer and let it beat at medium speed for about 5 minutes. Panic a little when your mixer turns noisier than usual, but calm down when you realize the mixer is just doing its job. While the mixer is doing its job, prepare the rest of the ingredients. Because the weather here in Singapore is hot and humid, I am always afraid that certain foods might go bad quickly if left out too long. Which is why I gather all my dry ingredients first, set the bowl aside, beat the butter and sugars and while the mixer is working, gather the rest of the wet ingredients.

IMG_6828IMG_6827

Add eggs to the butter-sugar mixture, then the flour mixture and buttermilk and vanilla alternately, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Add the pumpkin last and beat until well combined. And that’s it! Easy right? Try not to lick the batter, because you need to make sure you get 17 to 18 cupcakes as stated in the recipe. At this stage, I preheat the oven, then line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and divide the batter equally.

IMG_6833

IMG_6830

While the first batch of cupcakes were baking, I got ready to make the heavenly maple cream cheese frosting (I used up the last of my beloved pure maple syrup, *sobs*). It was fun to see the amazing whisk attachment of my KitchenAid effortlessly whip up the cream cheese, butter and powdered sugar into this dreamy frosting. If you’re not tempted to lick this straight from the bowl/whisk/spatula/spoon/your fingers, we probably aren’t/can’t be friends.

IMG_6834

Get ready to frost!

IMG_6836

IMG_6842

Regardless of how prettily domed your cupcakes are, trust me when I say that people will be drawn to these cupcakes like bees to honey. They will be devoured quicker than you took to assemble the cakes.  The cupcakes are flavorful with just the right amount of spices (not overwhelming), light and so moist that the frosting is a bonus, an indisputably delicious bonus. I gave away some to one of my neighbours because I think these are best enjoyed fresh, and 19 cupcakes (somehow I ended up getting 19 cupcakes) would take forever to be consumed in my household, unless I ate all of them, which is impossible, even if I wish it wasn’t.

IMG_6838

I felt that this recipe was a breeze despite the relatively long list of ingredients, plus I had fun with the frosting though I’m not very skilled at it, at least not yet. I think these cupcakes will make perfect hostess gifts, or as a simple celebration cake when baked as a two-layer cake (the original recipe which Deb adapted from was for a two-layer cake). 

IMG_6845

I’m not sure whether it was my frosting skills or if Deb provided extra frosting in her recipe (because people will complain only if there is too little frosting), but I had quite a bit of frosting leftover. While we can eat it by the spoonful (which my sister happily volunteered to do), I think I would rather bake up something that will complement this frosting well. Do check this space in the coming week!

IMG_6839IMG_6843

Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

Source: smittenkitchen.com 

Notes: I added 1/2 cup granulated sugar by mistake, but I didn’t think the cake was too sweet, so perhaps you may add 1/2 cup instead of 1/3 cup if you prefer your desserts on the sweet(er) side. I also omitted the ground ginger, ground cloves and freshly ground black pepper, primarily because I didn’t have these ingredients on hand, but also because I was wary of a too-spicy cake. Especially black pepper. Granted, it’s only 1/4 tsp, so its flavour is unlikely to be pronounced. In any case, despite these omissions, I didn’t think my cupcakes lacked flavour, so don’t shy away from making these if you too don’t have these spices on hand! And as mentioned above, Deb adapted this from a recipe which made this as two-layer cake, so this will make a nice celebration cake as well.

Ingredients for cupcakes 

113 g unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

2 cups cake flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 large eggs

1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 tsp vanilla

1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin

Ingredients for Frosting

Two 250-g packages cream cheese, softened

113 g unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups confectioners’/icing sugar

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

Directions for cupcakes

1. Sift the dry ingredients – flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt and pepper – into a medium-sized bowl. Alternatively, you can measure the ingredients into the bowl and give them a good whisk to aerate the mixture, which achieves a similar effect to sifting.

2. In a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. In the meantime, gather the rest of the ingredients – eggs, buttermilk and canned pumpkin.

3. Add the eggs 1 at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and buttermilk mixtures, beginning and ending with flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth.

4. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line a muffin or cupcake pan with liners.

5. Spoon the batter among the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Rap the filled pans once on the counter to release air bubbles. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely.

Directions for frosting

1. In a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, mix all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. The paddle attachment would probably work fine as well, but I feel the whisk attachment is excellent if you wish to achieve fluffy frostings.

2. Attach your preferred frosting tip to a ziplock bag or a frosting bag and fill it half full with the prepared frosting. Squeeze out the extra air and seal. You are now ready to frost and decorate your cupcakes to your heart’s desire. I found this website helpful for my first frosting attempt: http://www.eatliverun.com/how-to-frost-cupcakes-like-a-pastry-queen/

dimply apricot coffee cake

IMG_6676

Numerous recipes bookmarked, but only limited time available. Sad fact of life #1.

Well, we got to make the best use of the limited time we have. I guess that’s how my brain decided to adapt parts of two recipes and create one simple coffee cake. I should probably confess at this point that for a long time, I had thought coffee cake referred to a coffee-flavoured cake. Only rather recently (how embarrassing) I learnt that coffee cake is basically a term used to refer to any cake that nicely complements a coffee or tea break.

Dorie Greenspan’s “Dimply Plum Cake” is one such cake. However, her recipe does not call for a streusel or crumb topping. I remembered seeing a similar plum cake recipe in The best of Fine Cooking – Breakfast magazine which had a crumb topping, so I decided to sort of merge the two recipes. Oh and I substituted apricots (of the canned variety) for the plums, because I saw canned apricots at the supermarket and bought it and it came with a December expiry date, so I had to use it and anyway the recipe is adaptable, as suggested by Dorie. Wow that was a pretty long sentence.

I think we should get on with the cake!

First, get the ingredients ready. This, at my place at least, involves washing and drying all the utensils, baking pans etc., then laying out the ingredients and hooking up the stand mixer (because it does not have a permanent place on our kitchen counter. how sad right. ok stop feeling sorry for yourself, it’s not attractive.)

Prepare the streusel / crumb mixture as directed and place in the fridge while you make the cake batter. Beat butter and sugar till creamy.

IMG_6628

Zest a whole large orange by hand without the help of a microplane zester, instead using a regular grater and stop feeling sorry for the fact that you don’t own a microplane zester, and instead be grateful that you have an opportunity to tone your arms, however pathetic this may seem (by “you” of course I mean me, myself and I).

Add the eggs, then the oil, orange zest and vanilla. Just stand and inhale the lovely orange fragrance. Then snap back to reality and resume mixing. Or rather, turn the mixer to medium speed, so that it will continue to mix.

IMG_6655

IMG_6653

When all the wet ingredients have been mixed, the batter is supposed to appear smooth and satiny; but I have no idea what a satiny batter looks like though. As long as the ingredients are properly combined, I guess it should be fine.

Next, add the dry ingredients (which you would have already measured into a small bowl earlier), a little at a time. Stand too close to the mixer and get flour flying into your eyes. Curse the fact that you’re wearing contacts and blink rapidly to avoid any eye infection. Wonder why you didn’t switch to glasses since you’re at home anyway and it doesn’t matter that you look like a nerd while baking a cake. Stop the mixer after all the dry ingredients have been added. Use a spatula and gently incorporate any remaining flour mixture that had not been properly mixed.

IMG_6634IMG_6656

Spread batter into the prepared pan, level it, top with apricots, realise you have spaced them too far apart in the first rows and hence your last two rows appear crammed, console yourself that imperfections are also artistic. Retrieve the streusel / crumb topping from the fridge, distribute as evenly as possible around the apricots. Wash your hands for what seems like the millionth time, and finally place the cake in the oven. Wait patiently for the oven to do its magic, and dive in! Okay, not really, you got to wait till the cake is completely cooled before slicing and serving (as is done for almost all baked goods.)

IMG_6677IMG_6681IMG_6678

A perfect everyday cake, lovely for tea or as a sweet breakfast treat. Hope you will like it too!

Dimply Apricot Coffee Cake

Recipe adapted slightly from (Fine Cooking, p 91 & Baking From My Home to Yours, p 41)

Ingredients for Streusel / Crumb topping 

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/8 tsp salt

Pinch of cardamom / cinnamon ( I used cinnamon)

3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted (more as needed) ( I found 3 tbsp to be sufficient)

Ingredients for Cake

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup sliced almonds (I added this, felt that almonds complement apricots well)

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

Scant 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (optional) (I left this out)

5 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup flavorless oil (canola or safflower)

Grated zest of 1 orange

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

16 apricot halves (or, in the original recipe, plums)

Directions

  1. Make the streusel: Put the flour, sugar, salt, cardamom or cinnamon in a small bowl and stir with a fork until thoroughly combined. Drizzle melted butter over the mixture and stir with a fork until the mixture resembles a clumpy dough. Using your fingers, break the mixture into pistachio-sized clumps and large crumbs. If the streusel is sandy and won’t clump, add a little more melted butter, 1 tsp at a time. Refrigerate the streusel while you prepare the cake batter.

  2. Centre a rack in the oven, preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line an 8-inch square pan with baking paper / parchment paper with overhanging sides for easier cake removal. Butter and flour the paper and place the pan on a baking sheet.

  3. Whisk the flour, sliced almonds, baking powder, salt and cardamom (if using) together.

  4. Beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for another 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.

  5. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apricots cut side up in the batter (4 rows of 4 halves each), pressing the apricots lightly so they settle into the batter. Sprinkle the streusel around (not over) the apricots until the streusel mixture is used up.

  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the apricots and a thin knife inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.(Mine took about 1 hour for the centre of the cake to be properly baked, so do ensure the cake is done instead of simply removing it at the 40-minute mark!)

  7. Allow cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then lift the cake out of the pan using the overhanging sides of parchment paper and cool completely before serving.

Note from Dorie Greenspan: (about the original dimply plum cake) cake does not freeze well. 

Update 12/12/13: Cake is moister the following day, and the top fruit and streusel layer is slightly pudding-like. Soft cake is almost always a good thing in my book!