Sunday, May 25, 2014

Coffee and hazelnut cake

Like many people, my day starts with a rather large mug of coffee, it´s one of the favorite moments of the day for me. It helps me to have a good start of the day and allows me to reflect, it's just the routine that adds so much structure and beauty to life.

But coffee is not just good for drinking, its taste is excellent in baking. I most always use coffee when I bake something with chocolate as it intensifies the taste of chocolate. However, such cakes do not feature coffee as the main flavor, but rather as a flavor booster. That's why I decided to make a cake that features coffee along with hazelnuts to complement its deep penetrating aromatic earthiness. The combination works like a charm and here's what you need to do the cake.

  • 2 large eggs (about 60 g each)
  • 120 g soft butter
  • 120 g flour
  • 80 g white sugar and 40 g brown sugar cane, you can use just white sugar but I like the caramel taste that brown sugar gives.
  • 4 g baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of instant coffee (or espresso if you prefer) melted with a bit of water, a tsp or 2)
  • 1 tsp of cocoa powder (optional)
  •  2 tsp of kahlua (or any coffee liqueur) or you can use vanilla
  • 50 g of lightly toasted and ground hazelnuts
  • 4 tbsp of milk
  • dash of salt
For the buttercream:
  • 250 g soft butter
  • 250 g powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp of hazelnut pralinĂ© (or you can use ground hazelnuts)
  • 2 tsp of kahlua (or coffee melted with water)
  • 2 tbsp of milk if you want a thinner buttercream
For the cake batter, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt together and set aside. In a bowl cream the butter with the sugar, when combined add the eggs one by one, then add the coffee and the liquer. Once combined, with a spatula fold in the flour mixture, then the hazelnut and last add the milk. Pour into two 18 cm prepared pans and bake for about 20 to 25 min in a preheated oven (180C).

Let the baked cakes cool in the pan for 10 min then on a cooling rack. If you´re not going to frost them the same day, wrap them in plastic and store them in a cool dry place. 

For the buttercream:
Cream the butter for few minutes, then add the sugar and beat until creamy and fluffy, add the praliné and kahlua and the milk and whisk till combined.

Frost the top of one layer with the buttercream (you can add a spalsh of kahlua on the top if you wish or with coffee syrup), I covered it with a generous amount of the frosting, put the second layer and cover it with another layer of the buttercream and decorate as you wish.

I added some mocha chocolate coffee beans, with a sprinkle of cocoa powder and hazelnuts that I had covered with simple sugar caramel (just caramelized sugar no water).

And here you have it, an intense mocha cake with  the delicious flavour of hazelnuts! 

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Orange and buttermilk cake!

I like to include fruits as much as possible in my diet, especially oranges. What better way to start your morning than with a bowl of cereals and a fresh glass of orange juice?

But oranges for me are more than a refreshing and healthy drink. In fact, I use this fruit quite a lot in baking and even in salads and savory dishes. The zest of the orange is just as useful and packed with flavor as the juice, if not more! Keep that in mind that next time you squeeze an orange and throw out the skin!

For this recipe, I will rely on orange juice and zest to enhance the flavor and the texture of the cake I'll be making. In addition to the orange element, another quintessential ingredient in baking, buttermilk, give this cake a moist and wonderful texture.

Trust me this recipe is just too easy to make and is excellent with coffee or tea, especially at the start of the day.

For the cake you need (18 cm round cake pan)
  • 2 large eggs; room temperature
  • 100 g sugar
  • 65 g melted butter
  • 170 g flour
  • 1 tsp of baking powder plus 1/4 tsp baking soda (or just use 1/2 tsp soda)
  • dash of salt
  • 50 ml orange juice
  • 50 ml buttermilk
  • the zest of an orange
  • a splash of cointreau or grand marnier (optional)

Combine flour, salt and baking powder and soda and set aside. Mix the eggs for a minute then start adding the sugar and whip for about 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes pale and creamy. Add the melted butter (I add it pouring it on one side of the mixing bowl) and mix on a very low speed, then add the zest. Turn off your mixer, and fold the flour then the juice and the buttermilk. 

Pour the batter in your prepared pan and bake between 20 to 30 min in a preheated oven (180C).

When the cake is done leave to cool for about 5 minutes then remove it from the pan and cover it with heated orange jam (to the jam I added grand marnier, just few drops), 2 tbsp of jam will be enough to cover the cake top.  Sprinkle some toasted slivered almonds as a garnish and for added texture.

 I like to add a sprinkle of powdered sugar and decorate with orange chips!

Serve it with some whipped cream which you flavor with orange zest and it's that easy to have a  refreshing cake for all seasons.

Note: If you don´t have buttermilk you can use sour yogurt, the acidity in it will give the same result, a fluffy, moist and light cake! Enjoy!  
(For more orange based recipes click herehere and here).