Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Cinnamon and orange scented pound cake

Pound cakes must be the easiest cakes to make; with just four key ingredients you have a delightful, tasty and reliable recipe. I have been making pound cakes forever and of course I always add new twist to the base so I don´t get bored.
Now that is colder in Madrid, the pound cakes I make need to have deep warm flavor that suit this weather perfectly. 

I mentioned in previous posts that I love to go on weekends to Madrid's countryside and walk in its forests and explore its charming villages. I usually take some snacks with me as I know I will get hungry and need something to keep me going. On my last visit, I wanted to have a small picnic time, even though it is even colder in the countryside, so I made a heart-warming cake for the occasion.

Thinking of the ingredients that would transform the plain vanilla pound cake wasn't a difficult task. As I am a cinnamon-o-holic, I had to use it to give that depth of flavor and warmth and to complement and freshen up that flavor what better than orange zest? I also added some chooclate drops to round the flavor and give even more depth. Finally, for added texture, I made a nutty, buttery and spicy streusel topping. Heavenly combination.

Now let´s start baking:
For the cake (one small loaf tin)
  • 1 large egg room temperature
  • 60 g sugar
  • 60 g soft butter
  • 60 g flour
  • 2 g baking powder or 1/2 tsp
  • the zest of a small orange
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 20 g chocolate drops
  • dash of salt
For the streusel:
  • 14 g flour
  • 7 g butter
  • 7 g brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 20 g chopped walnuts

First mix the flour, baking powder and salt and set aside. Cream the butter with sugar, cinnamon and orange zest, I do it by hand using a rubber spatula, you can use an electric mixer but I don´t bother, especially when it's only a small quantity. When well combined add the egg and mix well. Fold in  the flour mixture and lastly the chocolate drops.
Quickly prepare the streusel by mixing all the ingredients save for the walnuts. Use the tip of your fingers or a fork to incorporate the butter into the dry ingredients. When well combined add the walnuts. 
Sprinkle the streusel on the top of the batter and bake for about 25 to 30 min in a preheated oven (180 C or 350 F).

That mini cake made that day warm despite of the cold and the snow in the high mountains nearby. The day was perfect, the cake was just right and the colors of the surrounding nature were outstanding. The only downside was the windy weather which made the cold feel even colder. I had to quickly wrap up and head back to Madrid enjoying the good time spent there and the few pictures I managed to take before my hands froze, but it was worth it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Chocolate and buttermilk cake with creamcheese and dulce de leche frosting

I have declared my love for autumn so many times on this blog, and I will do it again and again! This year autumn made a late appearance in Madrid but it´s finally here! Rain, cold weather, falling leaves, time for soups and comfort food; now what´s more comforting than chocolate?
My cupboards are full of chocolate: dark, milk, white and all sorts of chocolate combinations!

Buttermilk is another ingredient that I really love, it gives baking goods such a light and wonderful texture, so this time I decided to use chocolate and buttermilk in a cake and the result was wonderful, just as I wanted.

The cake has a deep chocolate flavor and on a textural level it is crumbly, fluffy and soft. It could be enjoyed simply with some dusting sugar or cocoa powder or you can spice it up and add some whipped cream or some frosting and that´s what I did.

I have a jar of dulce de leche that has been sitting around in the cupboard for a couple of months and it was the time to use it along with my go-to choice of frosting: cream cheese.

So these are the basic ingredients and inspirations behind this cake.

For the cake you need (makes 4  layers using 13 cm pans but I only used 3 layers):
  • 2 eggs room temperature
  • 100 g melted butter
  • 105 g melted dark chocolate (I used 70%)
  • 130 g brown sugar, (I have been using panela sugar lately)
  • 120 g flour
  • 5 g of baking power and 2 g of baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp coffee liqueur (optional)
  • 20 g cocoa powder
  • 145 g buttermilk
  • dash of salt 

For the frosting:
  • 250 g cream cheese room temperature
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 50 g brown sugar
  • 100 g dulce de leche
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

For the sponge cake, first combine all the dry ingredient, mix well and set aside. Beat the eggs with the vanilla and slowly start adding the sugar. Keep beating until the egg mixture doubles in volume and becomes rather thick, then add  the coffee liqueur if you decided to use it. 

Add the chocolate and mix at low speed. Turn off the mixer. Add the butter and mix at low speed, till well combined, fold in the flour mixture using a spatula, then slowly mix the buttermilk, again using a spatula.

Pour the batter into 4 greased and lined pans (about 13 cm) bake in a preheated oven (180 C) for about 20 min. 

If you don't have enough pans, you can prepare enough batter for 2 pans (split the ingredients by two) and then while the first batch is baking prepare the second one for baking. 

Take the cakes out of the oven and let them cool. You can make the cake a day or 2 in advance and then frost them on the day the cake will be served. 

To make the frosting, start mixing the butter and cream cheese, when well combined add the rest of the ingredients and beat till fluffy and lighter in color! Make sure the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature when you want to make this frosting, otherwise the ingredients will never mix well and the frosting will be very lumpy. 

To assemble, just smear some dulce de leche onto  each of the cake layers. Follow with a healthy dose of cream cheese frosting. Decorate the top layer as you like. Make it as simple or as elaborate as you wish! Enjoy!