My life with a pinch of sugar.

Category: Baked

The best carrot cake !

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Carrots? I don’t really have the fondest memories with carrots. They are not my favorite thing to eat. When I was younger I wondered what are carrots anyway? They are obviously not green so I never classified them as vegetables. I doubted that they’re fruits since they’re all that sweet or luscious. But since my parents always went on and on about how carrots are good for me, I always ended up eating them. Gosh, the ambiguity. And then there is carrot cake. Why would anyone put this funny tasting thing into a cake? Whatever carrot was, putting them in a cake was illogical.

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But like every other things that change, so too my love for carrot cake. It all started when I first tasted my aunt’s carrot cake. It was a 3 layers cake smothered with tier of rich cream cheese frosting. I take back all the evil things I said about carrot cake. I love everything about my aunt’s cake, especially the wholesome texture. The cream cheese frosting? Genius. I can have this cake for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I keep telling myself that all that sugar is nothing compared to the ratio of carrots in cake. Since carrots are packed with lots of vitamins A, I guess I don’t have to feel guilty about helping myself to a second slice. But yeah I’m no longer five so who am I kidding.
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This carrot cake that I’m about to share with you is adapted from Dorie’s Big Bill carrot cake.. This is seriously my favorite recipe EVER. It’s wholesome and not too sweet with a tinge of lemon, everything I love in a cake. Feel free to substitute different fruits or nuts to your liking but this variation so far is my favorite. I made 24 cupcakes with this recipe and it was gone by the next day.
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Carrot cupcakes with tangy lemon cream cheese frosting
(Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Big Bill carrot cake.)

This cake is best enjoy the day it’s made and is good for any time of day.

Make 24 cupcakes

Cake
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted with a shredding a blade or use a box grater)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1/3 cup moist, plump raisins
½ cup candied orange peel
2 cups sugar
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

Lemon cream cheese frosting
85g Unsalted butter
113g Cream cheese
1 1/2 cup Confectioner sugar, sifted
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 lemon zest

To make the cake
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with paper cups.

2. In a large bowl whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped walnuts, coconut, raisins, and candied orange peel.

3. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

4. Bake for 16-18 minutes, rotating the pan halfway thgough, and bake until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and unmold them.

5. The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

To make the lemon cream cheese frosting
1. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy

2. Add in cream cheese and beat until well combine.

3. Beat in sugar, lemon juice and zest.4.Refridgerate cream cheese for 15-30 minutes. Now frost your cupcakes and enjoy!

Brown butter + Chocolate chips + Marshmallow Cookies

IMG_5621Christmas break is less than a month away. I’ve made a list of all the things that I’ve been wanting to bake for Christmas: a pear frangipane tart, sticky date pudding, and almond scone. I already have all the ingredients bought and ready. What seems to be missing is “time.” Everyday I feel like I’m stuck in this never-ending whirlpool of research paper, presentations and finals It just doesn’t seem right to have my head (and heart) focused on reading baking books when in reality I should be studying or starting on my unwritten field trip report due this Tuesday.

So imagine my enthusiasm when my one of my friends asks me to bake some sweet treats for our charity project at an all-girls orphanage. Projects and pleasure? I wouldn’t say no to that!

This chewy brown butter chocolate chip marshmallow cookie is happiness in a mouthful. It is best enjoyed freshly baked with a glass of warm milk.IMG_5573IMG_5601

Brown butter + Chocolate chips + Marshmallow Cookies
(Adapted from Joy the Baker)

makes 24 cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
226 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup mini marshmallows
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips

Directions

First, whisk together flour, salt and baking soda.  Set aside.

To brown butter, use 113 g butter and melt it over medium heat.  Once the butter has melted completely, it will begin to foam and froth as it cooks. Swirl the pan occasionally, and keep an eye on the melted butter.  Once brown bits begin to form at the bottom of the pan and it’s the color of amber brown, immediately remove pan from the heat and pour browned butter (bits and all) into a small bowl. Do not leave butter in pan as it will get burnt. Allow butter to cool for 20 minutes.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream remaining 113g of butter with brown sugar.  Cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Add the vanilla extract and molasses and beat until incorporated.

Once the brown butter has cooled , pour the butter (including brown bits) into the creamed butter and sugar mixture.  Add the granulated sugar and cream for 2 minutes, until well incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute more.

Stop the mixer and scrape the bottom of the bowl to ensure that everything is evenly mixed.  Add the flour mixture, all at once to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until the flour is just incorporated.  Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and use a spatula to fold in marshmallows and chocolate chips.

Spoon batter onto a piece or parchment paper or plastic wrap and wrap into a disk or cylinder and seal at both ends.  Allow to rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. (I refrigerate it for two days.)

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees f.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Scoop dough by the two tablespoonful onto prepared sheets. Be sure to leave about 2-inches of space between each cookie.

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes of until cookies are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes.

Almond crumble and coconut muffin

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There’s just something about baking that I love. I don’t know if it’s the sweet fragrance of melted chocolate, the beauty of creaming butter and sugar, or the fun in snacking on whatever there is I can get my hands on. Whatever it is, I just love it. Despite a full time enrollment in a psychology course at my university, with loads of projects due that are screaming for my attention, I still wouldn’t give up my very own Sunday when I’m crammed in my tiny little kitchen, lost and unreachable to the world.

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Yet, judging from the overwhelming pile of work that is starting to form, I think it’s about time I get my priorities straight. And so, I vowed to dedicate this whole day to studying. I promised myself that I’ll do some revision, prepare for my English presentation and watch some movies for my Industrial Psychology class.

30 minutes into my revision.. I once again found myself in the kitchen with hands greased in butter and hair cached in sugar.

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It’s settled. My priorities are straight. Today I’m experimenting with muffins. This type of quick breads is my favorite go-to breakfast. It’s easy to bake and simply to die for when paired with a good cup of coffee. Some people prefer their muffins moist and light, I like mine wholesome and good to the grains. And just because I happen to have spelt flour, desiccated coconut and a bag of almonds in my pantry, those will be the shinning stars of my recipe.

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To be honest I experimented with this recipe twice. The first time I tried baking it, I could barely trace any hint of coconut. I guess the other ingredients just outshined it and so I ended up adding twice more the second time round. The result is mouthwatering. The additional half a cup of dessicated coconut is just right. Not too over empowering nor minimizing, And before putting them in the oven, I sprinkled the batter over with some almond crumble for a flaky crunch to give the muffins an extra texture.

This almond crumble and coconut muffin recipe is full of nuttiness. It’s great for a breakfast option and even better as an afternoon snack with “a cuppa tea”  🙂

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Almond crumble and coconut muffins
(Adapted from Baking: From my homes to yours, by Dorie Greenspan.)
makes 12

Crumble topping
80g all purpose flour
80g ground almonds
80g sugar
80g ice-cold butter

Muffin
1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 cup desiccated coconut
1/3 cup spelt flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup honey
2 eggs
113 g butter, melted and cooled
1 1/4 cup diced almonds

To make crumble topping
1. Combine all purpose flour, ground almonds, granulated sugar and cut in ice-cold butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.

To make muffins
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Spray 12 muffin molds with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together all purpose flour, spelt flour, desiccated coconut, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, set aside.
3. In another bowl, whisk together butter milk, honey, eggs and melted butter.
4. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just well combined.
5. Stir in any dried fruits or nuts (optional).
6. Divide batter evenly into each muffin mold.
7. Bake for 18-20 minutes (mine took 18 mins) or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.
8.Transfer pan to rack and let cool for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, remove from pan and left on rack to cool completely.

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