Tuesday, January 26, 2010

TWD: Cocoa-Nana Bread

I'm going to come right out and say it. This one was a bit of a disappointment. It was neither cocoa nor banana enough for me. And it certainly wasn't bread. This was cake. Not that that's a bad thing, but the whole name led me to believe that this was going to be something else.

This was a simple recipe to make (whew!) It calls for a lot of cocoa. More than in most recipes. I use a black cocoa from KAF. It makes dark, rich, wonderful things. Because of all the cocoa, I was hoping for a rich, chocolate taste. The cake also uses two ripe bananas. I just want to show you what a RIPE banana that is ready for baking looks like. (I throw them in the freezer when they start getting black. That's why they look wet)

I used 2 1/2 because that is what I had in the freezer. This was a very thick batter. I was a little surprised with the instructions at the end. Normally, when there is a liquid to add, it is added alternately with the dry ingredients. In this case it was all dry and then the buttermilk. Thanks again to my trusty stand mixer.

I used the full baking time plus a couple of extra minutes. It was tasted the first night by some friends of the husband. They all thought it was ok, but it would have been better with ice cream. The next day it was better. I'm discovering that with certain baked goods, a bit of ripening is helpful. Having said that, I didn't love this. It wasn't strongly cocoa flavored, and it wasn't strongly banana flavored. It's as if the two flavors almost cancelled each other out. I have other things that I love to make when I have black bananas.

Here's the full cake.

Here's a slice begging for some ice cream. Those lighter brown spots are semi-sweet chips. When they say black cocoa, they aren't kidding.

Thank you to Steph of Obsessed with Baking for choosing this one. I don't think this will be joining my baking list any time soon. Ah well. It's good to try new things anyway.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

TWD: Chocolate Oatmeal Almost Candy Bars

Well, with a title like that, who wouldn't want to make this?! It's almost health food what with the oatmeal and raisins and everything....

This is a bar recipe with two components that make three layers. It is very rich and pretty sweet. The good news is that a little goes a long way.

The base layer calls for a rather large quantities of the chosen ingredients. There's brown sugar, flour, oatmeal, butter, eggs, nuts, and some other stuff. The recipe calls for three cups of oatmeal alone. This is when I was grateful yet again for my KA stand mixer. It handled the job easily. The crust mixture is divided, and most of the mix is pressed into a 13 x 9 pan. The rest is set aside. The chocolate layer was pretty simple to make. I used a homemade double boiler (bowl over pan of simmering water) to melt chocolate, butter, and sweetened condensed milk (not to be confused with evaporated milk. I guess it's a common mistake because I see the warnings in almost every recipe that calls for one or the other.) You add chopped peanuts and raisins to that. I used a mix of almonds and peanuts because that's what I had. I did add the raisins, though other bakers were worried about the sweetness. The chocolate layer is spread over the base layer. The remaining crust mix is crumbled over the top. It didn't need a long bake, but it does require a long cool -- at least three hours.

See, Oatmeal! It's good for you!

Here's the whole pan.

This was my corner piece. It was excellent and chewy.

I cut mine while it was still at room temperature. It was easy to do. Much easier than when it was cold. We also ate it while it was still warm, though Dorie makes a case for eating it cold. I really liked it warm. I liked the contrast of the gooey chocolate and the crunchy top and base. Though, it was pretty darn good the next day right out of the fridge. It wasn't as sweet as I was expecting it to be. I wonder if I just used a different chocolate than some of the other bakers. It does make a lot, so half of my pan went into the freezer for later use. I could certainly see myself making this one again. I might play around with cappuccino chips to replace the raisins and using all almonds. Thank you Lillian of Confectiona's Realm for choosing this recipe. Go to her blog to see the recipe.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Not a TWD: I made a cake, though

This week's recipe was for something called Mrs. Vogel's Scherben. It is essentially fried dough with powdered sugar on top. I am not opposed to frying. I own a deep fryer. I like dough and I like sugar. However, this one didn't appeal to me. I did go to Teanna's blog, Spork or Foon, and saw a lovely photo that made me think I want to try these another day.

I did make a delicious cake, though. I have fairly recently discovered cardamom. It has a sort of herbal, woodsy taste. It's used a lot in Scandinavian baking and Indian cooking. (Thank you Wikipedia!) We had friends over this summer and I made a wonderful cardamom ice cream. I had plenty left over, so when I was trolling blogs, and I found this recipe, I knew I wanted to make it.

The cake was very easy to put together. It has two parts: cake and swirl. I used a whole vanilla bean instead of a half and yogurt in place of the sour cream for the cake. Each component had orange zest and cardamom in it. The swirl ingredients were unchanged. My kitchen smelled amazing while it was baking. I let it "ripen" overnight. (I'm discovering that this is a good trick for most of the cakes I've made lately)

This is an excellent cake.

My swirl didn't end up very swirl-like. It sort of clumped. Truth be told, the cake would be fabulous without it. It's a rich cake with hints of cardamom, citrus, and vanilla. The swirl is a little more crunchy with a very concentrated cardamom taste. The cake is very moist.

I would absolutely make this cake again. I might either play with the swirl or take it out completely.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

TWD: Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake

Happy 2nd anniversary to Tuesday's With Dorie! It started small with one woman and her Christmas present: Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. It expanded slowly with a few bakers joining in to help her bake through the book. Then it exploded. Now hundreds of bakers pull out their well-worn copies and bake along.

This week we had the choice of Tarte Tatin or the Cocoa Buttermilk Birthday Cake. It was a coin flip for me. Both sounded wonderful. The cake won. Since we have been eating plenty of sweets lately, I did at least cut the recipe in half so I could (eat it all in one sitting and no one would know) limit the sugar intake of the boy and girl.

The cake was easy enough to put together. I made a mini version. I have a set of 3" pans that make an adorable layer cake. I had a bit extra so there was also a mini loaf cake for us to snack on. On day one, I was a bit disappointed with the taste. All I really got was sweet. Today, when I was trimming the layers I took a little bite of the crumbs. Much better on day two! The chocolate flavor became a bit more prominent.

I used a simple brown sugar caramel icing. Yum on its own.

This cake is 3" wide and about 6" tall.

Happy anniversary, TWD! We'll cut this tonight and clink our forks in honor of the big day.

*** Edited to add -- this was tasty! The boy and girl especially enjoyed the frosting. The cake was good as well. ;-)