March 27, 2011

Yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake for March Daring Bakers’ Challenge


I was looking forward to tackle this month DB Challenge. I knew this weekend was going to be the first weekend in a long time free from midterms, homework, seminars, and meetings. I knew I would have had the tranquility and time that this challenge deserved. I loved loved loved spending my weekend with la main à la pâte working with yeast. I really needed some soothing and relaxing kneading time. In fact, this month’s challenge was all about yeast! Yuhuuu!

The March 2011 Daring Baker’s Challenge was hosted by Ria of Ria’s Collection and Jamie of Life’s a Feast. Ria and Jamie challenged The Daring Bakers to bake a yeasted Meringue Coffee Cake.

You should really go and look at all the wonderful creations that we will have today on the blogsphere thanks to this challenge. You should also go and look at the full recipe at the Daring Kitchen’s website. I followed Jamie’s version of the recipe for the filling, the one with walnuts, sugar, cinnamon and chocolate chips.

Wally and I don’t like meringue at all so I did not spread too much meringue on the inside. In this way the meringue flavor was not too strong and the result was that we both loved this cake. But what I truly truly truly loved was the cake itself. The dough was so much fun and so easy to make that even those who are scared of yeast should try it. Once baked, you get a pillow-soft, semi-sweet dough that is going to make you fall in love with it at the first bite. The recipe is definitely a keeper to be used with any filling that can come up to your mind (read “nutella” for me J )

Have a sweet day!

March 21, 2011

Baking with Carla: Maple Cinnamon Scones


I love scones. Scones were the first non-Italian sweet treat that I made when I moved to the US. They were also the first non-Italian treat that I made for Wally, knowing how much he loves them. The first time he tried them, he took a bite and exclaimed:” These are soooo good, Amore!” Since then, he just can’t eat store bought ones. Not even those made in good bakeries. Those rare times he has a craving and buys one, he kind of regrets it. He knows that they will never be as good as the ones I make. At least, that’s what he says. I usually don’t have much faith in my skills but I have to admit…I do make good scones. I don’t know if I would think they are better than any other scones you find around….but they are usually pretty good.

That said, I don’t know why I never make scones with Carla. I made them the second time I’ve met her but never again since them. It was time to fix the situation but I did not want to make the usual chocolate chips scones so I went for maple cinnamon ones. I know she loves both maple syrup and cinnamon so it sounded like a great idea.

I adapted the recipe from The Salty Spoon. I have to admit, though, that I would not consider these to be the best scones I’ve ever made. The texture was simply fantastic: so soft inside with a nice slightly crunchy outside. But the flavor was a bit “whatever” (as I say when something does not really gain my favor). I think they need something else….maybe more maple syrup. I don’t know, I need to work more on them. In the meantime, they were a great start to remind me why I love scones so much. If you guys have a great maple cinnamon scones recipe, I would be super happy to hear about it and try them again with Carla.

Maple Cinnamon Scones
Makes 8 scones

210 g (7.5 oz or 1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
30 g (2 tbsp) sugar
15 g (1 tbsp) baking powder
30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter
120 g (4.3 oz or ½ cup) sour cream
30 ml (2 tbsp) milk
30 ml (2 tbsp) maple syrup
5 g (1 tsp) cinnamon
a couple of spoons of extra milk to brush


Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a big bowl, combine the flour, the sugar, the baking powder and the butter and quickly mix with the tips of your fingers until the butter is coated with the dry ingredients. As usual in the case of scones, don’t overwork the dough so be sure to be very quick.

Add the milk, the sour cream, and the maple syrup and quickly stir, just until the ingredients are combined. Finally add the cinnamon and stir again until the dough just stays together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead just a few times until the dough is a bit more compact. Transfer the dough onto the prepared baking pan and pat it down into a disk. Cut the dough into 8 parts, making sure you don’t go all the way down into the dough with the knife.

With a pastry brush, coat the dough with little milk and if you want top it with some extra cinnamon.

Bake for about 15 minutes (I needed to bake it for about 20 minutes but my oven slightly under-bakes!).

Let the scones slightly cool down on a cooling rack before serving them. They sure are best when they are still warm!

Have a sweet day!

Source: adapted from The Salty Spoon

March 18, 2011

A Lemon Sponge Pudding to die for!


In these busy weeks I tend to bake with whatever I have available in the fridge. Doing with what you have available is, I believe, a great skill. It also forces me to “keep it simple”. Sometimes I find recipes that make me drool as soon as I see the picture but then I get to the list of ingredients only to discover that they require some weird ingredient or a long list of ingredients and/or steps to be made. In these days, I really have no time for complicated recipes so I put those in my wish-to-bake-soon list and I move ahead…not knowing if or when I will be able to make them.

When I stumbled upon this Lemon Sponge Pudding at Joy of Baking, the opposite happened. I fell in love with the concepts of the recipe and when I went to look at the ingredients list and method I could not believe how doable this recipe was with things that everybody always has at home! (p.s. I omitted the cream of tartar of the original recipe because I did not have it at home and everything still worked fine. So you see? Everybody will have all the other ingredients at home!)

On top of it, going through the post I read this sentence What is so unique about this Lemon Sponge Pudding is what happens as it bakes - the batter separates into two layers. The top layer becomes a light and airy sponge cake, yet underneath is a deliciously tangy lemon sauce”. I knew I could not put this recipe in my list and forget about it. I had to make it! Immediately! So I did.

It was love at first sight. And at first bite!

I apologize if the pudding doesn’t look perfectly shaped but I had to unmold it and show you all this “underneath lemon sauce”. It created this juice layer that tasted just heaven in my mouth.

This dessert is a winner for all those who, like me, love lemon flavored desserts. If you are not a big lemon or citrus flavor fan, then this is not really for you…sorry J

Lemon Sponge Pudding
Makes 4 individual puddings

140 g (4.9 oz) sugar
30 g (2 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs, separated
5ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
5 g (1 tsp) lemon zest
30 g (1.13 oz or ¼ cup) all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
60 ml (2 fl oz or ¼ cup) fresh lemon juice
160 ml (5.4 fl oz or a bit less than ¾ cup) whole milk


Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees F and butter 4 ramekins.

In the bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, cream the sugar (minus two tbsp to be used to whip the egg whites) and the butter until light and fluffy.

Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until they are well incorporated. Beat in the vanilla extract and the lemon zest.

Add the flour and the salt and beat until combined. With the mixer on low speed, gradually pour in the lemon juice and the milk. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

In a clean bowl of your electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until you obtain soft peaks, then gradually add the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar and keep beating until you obtain stiff peaks.

Gently fold the egg whites into the batter, in three additions, mixing only until incorporated. The batter will be very liquid. I was concerned I did something wrong but don’t get scared! It’s fine!

Carefully pour the batter into the prepared ramekins. Place the ramekins in a large baking pan and pour in enough hot water so that the water is halfway up the sides of the ramekins.

Bake for about 40 - 45 minutes or until the sponge cakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the cake portion comes out clean. 

When ready, remove the ramekins from the water bath and cool slightly before serving. If you want to unmold them, let them cool completely before trying to do so.

Source: adapted from Joy of Baking

March 14, 2011

Baking with Carla: Banana butterscotch chocolate chips bread


I was trying very hard to find something interesting to write on this post but the truth is that after a long week, filled with work, parents meetings, classes, homework, etc. the only thing I wanted to do over the weekend was to bake something comforting and to share it with you.

The result was so good that I decided to replicate it and make it again today with Carla. I found this wonderful recipe at Steamy Kitchen and I’ll leave you with it with just two quick notes. First, I’m not a big banana bread fan but this one is so far the best one I’ve tried! Second, I did not change the recipe at all except for adding butterscotch chocolate chips…just because I have a weakness for butterscotch chocolate chips. We thought the flavor combination was fantastic!

Banana butterscotch chocolate chips bread

260 g (9 oz or 2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 g (1 tsp) baking soda
1 pinch salt
113 gr (1 stick or 1/2 cup) butter, softened
165 g (5.7 oz or 3/4 cup) brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/2 cups mashed overripe bananas (about 4 bananas)
150 g (1 cup) butterscotch chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 350F degrees and lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, the baking soda, and the salt.

In another bowl, mix together the butter and the brown sugar until creamy. Stir in the eggs and the mashed bananas until well blended.

Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until you obtain a homogenous batter and add the butterscotch chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Have a sweet day!

Source: adapted from Steamy Kitchen

March 10, 2011

CaffeIna and Carla’s interview at Booksicals


Would you like to know more about CaffeIna’s work with kids? Would you like to know more about the little baker behind the weekly Baking with Carla? Would you like to learn about a super cool website that “inspires a love for reading through the arts”?

Well, then you should check out the little interview I did with Booksicals. Booksicals is a very cool website that, whether you have kids or not, you should really check out. An interview with Carla and me will be up today.

Check it out and says hi! I hope you will enjoy it. It was a true pleasure for me to collaborate with Susan and Dagny on this.

Have a sweet day!

March 07, 2011

Baking with Carla: Little Almonds Cakes


I remember back in January foreseeing a long and busy beginning of the year. I got myself organized with my life, my blog (which is my life too!), my work, my classes and I got into a zen attitude to face what I knew was going to be a hard month. It is now March and the expected slow-down pace did not happen. Actually, things just got more busy, hectic and chaotic.

March 03, 2011

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting


For once, I made cupcakes! I am not the biggest cupcakes fan. I like them. Sometimes I find a flavor combination that makes me love them. But I have some troubles with the idea of making them myself. I think it’s very hard to really mess up a cupcake recipe and get very bad cupcakes. But I also thing it’s very hard to get great cupcakes. I wow at breads, rolls, cakes, scones. But I really wow at cupcakes.