Saturday, 31 October 2015

Mom's Best Apple Streusel Pie

Delicious Crispy Topping on
the best Apple Streusel Pie
As I mentioned before, apples pies are one of my favorite desserts, doesn't matter what the recipe is.

Japan is a big producer of apples but there isn't a long a tradition of baking pies here though. Northern Japan in the Aomori area is the largest apple production region in the country. Since most people in Japan eat fresh apples instead of baked ones, the most popular apple sold is the Fuji apple. Unfortunately, this is not the best apple for baking.

Recently, I found Bramley apples in Japan. These apples originated in Britain and have found their way to Japan. They taste similar to Granny Smith apples, i.e. tangy & tarty - just what I like for baking. Now that I found a good baking apple, this is what I use.

I am including the recipe to make the dough, but if you need to save time feel free to use a store bought crust.

18 - 20 cm baking dish

Dough:

200 grams flour
100 grams butter cut into cubes (cold)
1 egg
5 grams salt
10 grams sugar

1. In a food processor, pulse together the butter and flour. Then add the salt and sugar. Lastly, add the egg.  Put the ingredients on a board and gently knead everything together so the dough is smooth. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for about 40 minutes before using.

Streusel Topping:

30 grams flour
20 grams powdered sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
30 grams butter
30 grams chopped walnuts

1. In a food processor, add all of the ingredients except the walnuts and give a short pulse to mix everything thoroughly. Put in a bowl and add the walnuts.

Apple Filling:

4 -5 apples (peeled, cored and sliced)
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon granular sugar
1 tablespoon brown sugar

In a bowl, mix the apples and other ingredients.

Putting together:
1. Roll out the dough to fit the pie pan. Cut the extra dough from the edges and use it take make a nice decoration around the pan.
2. Fill the pan with the apples and sprinkle the streusel filling on top.
3. Bake at 190 Celsius degrees for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature and bake 170 Celsius degrees for another 20 minutes.
4. Let cool completely before slicing.


Calm before the baking storm
 
Pie shell is ready

Friends joined the baking party

Fitting dough to the pie shell

Roll the dough
Pie with decorations

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Spooky Halloween Jar Cake

Spooky Cake in a Jar
It's never too early to start planning for Halloween. It's not just about being spooky, but the dessert also has to taste good.

I am always looking for new and interesting desserts and I found a great idea on I Am Baker. She gave me the inspiration for this Halloween cake in a jar dessert.

The dessert is quite easy to make. You just need to use your imagination and decorating skills to create a beautiful cake.

This recipe is enough for 4 290 ml jars (I used Weck)

Icing Decoration
10 grams butter (soft)
10 grams powdered sugar
10 grams egg white
10 grams flour

1. Whisk the butter and the powdered sugar, add the egg white then add the flour. Add black coloring.
2. I used a water based marker to draw a design on the outside of the jar and then drew the icing decoration to trace the design on the inside of the jar.
3.  Don't make your lines too thin and keep all of the letters and decoration clear & clean otherwise when the cake bakes the decoration will spread together into a blurry lump.
 
Outline the decoration inside the jar
4. Put the decorated jars in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes so that the mixture becomes firm.
 
 
Yellow Cake
 
3 eggs
100 grams sugar
100 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
50 grams butter
 
1. Sift the dry ingredients together.
2. Melt the butter in a bowl over simmering hot water.
3. In another bowl, use a hand mixer to mix the eggs and sugar. Whip until they are yellow and fluffy. This takes about 5 - 10 minutes but don't skip this step.

Putting the cake together
1. Remove the jars from the refrigerator and pour the batter evenly between the 3 jars. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for about 25 minutes.
2. Remove from the oven and let cool.
3. Melt about 50 grams of chocolate in a bowl over simmering hot water until melted. Let it cool until it becomes slightly thickened. Put in a pastry bag for decorating.
4. Draw spider web designs on the top of each cake and add other decorations as you like.


Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Honey Infused Fig Jam

You know it is August when you are in a hot kitchen making jam. Figs are just starting to show up in the supermarkets so it is time to start cooking.

Figs have a lot of water and I haven't been very successful in baking with them so I am sticking with jam. I really enjoy the taste of this jam on a piece of dark bread.

The recipe includes both sugar and honey for sweeteners. Be careful with using honey since it can overpower the taste of the figs. Please adjust the honey to your own taste as well.

I start with cleaning the jars & lids with hot water to ensure that they are thoroughly sanitised. Be sure to dry as well.













 Wash & dry the figs.


















Cut into bite size pieces.















Jam is bubbling away



Recipe:
750 grams figs (approximately)
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
zest of 1 lemon
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar

You can add other flavors such as cinnamon or ginger as you like.

- Combine all of the ingredients in the pan and let sit for about 15 minutes.
- Put on a medium heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for about 35 - 40 minutes. The water will start to reduce and the mixture will become more dense. Skim off the debris from the top while cooking.
- Knowing when the jam is ready can be difficult. Keep a plate in the freezer and drop some of the mixture onto the plate and put back in the refrigerator for about 30 seconds. When you tip the plate, the mixture should be thick and not watery. When it reaches this state then remove the pan from the heat and fill the containers.
- Put on the lids immediately and let cool before storing in the refrigerator.
- Recipe makes 3 cups (600 ml) of jam (and a little extra for tasting).

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Easy Peachy Pie

Peach Pie topped with Fresh Cream
Summer is full on hot! We were enjoying warm weather in June but now the thermometer is hitting the middle 30's - Celsius that is.

I was never a big fan of peaches but I tried this new recipe and I have become hooked. Not only does it taste great, but it only takes about 20 minutes to put together.

I baked this recipe in a both a traditional pie pan as well as a loaf pan and both turn out great.  Pair this pie with vanilla ice cream for the most excellent summer dessert!

Recipe:

3 peaches
55 grams butter softened
65 grams sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
140 grams cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
90 grams milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
 
1. In a pot of boiling water, blanch the peaches for 3 to 4 minutes. Cool under cold water and then remove the skin. Cut the peaches in quarters
2. Place the peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with a tablespoon of flour and mix with a spatula. Set aside. 
3. In a bowl, mix the butter, sugar and vanilla with a whisk until creamy. Add in the eggs in portions continue to mix.
Baking peach pie using a loaf pan
4. In another bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. Add this to #3 above in portions and mix with a whisk. Alternately add in the milk while mixing in the flour mixture.
5. Butter the inside of the baking pan then place the peach pieces on the bottom. Pour the cake batter on top then pour the maple syrup on top.
6. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes. The top should be lightly browned.
7. Serve warm or cold.

5. 

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Berry Berry Pie

Cut yourself a slice of the
mixed berry pie!
Summer and it's berry pie season. I've always favored apple pies but after seeing all of the fresh berries in the store I was too tempted to buy them.

This pie combines all of the berries you like - strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. You can add a few pieces of rhubarb for more variation if you like. Rhubard is difficult to find around Tokyo so I don't use it.

The recipe for the crust below is very flaky and crisp so I highly recommend it.








 Crust
170 grams flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
100 grams butter
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg

1. Put  flour in a bowl and lightly whisk to add air. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the flour. Use a pastry cutter to mix in the butter. Can also use fingers to mix in the butter - should be blended well. Add in the egg.
2. Put on a board and use the heal of your hand to mix everything to ensure it is a smooth texture.  
3. Shape into a ball and flatten. Cover with plastic and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or so before rolling out.  Neatly roll out to fit a 18 cm baking pan. Keep out extra for the top
 
Prepare Berries
Brush with egg before baking
1. Cut the berries into bite size pieces and place into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together 35 grams flour and 35 grams sugar then add to the berries and mix using a spatula.
2. Pour the berries into the pie shell and cut out another piece of dough for the top. Decorate the top nicely and brush with egg.
3. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 30 - 40 minutes depending on the size of the pie pan.

Cool thoroughly before serving
 

Fresh and Creamy Berry Mousse

Forget dinner, go straight to dessert!
There is a great kitchen supply area in Tokyo called Kappabashi and I bought  cute dessert cups there so had to make something to fill them.

This dessert has several items in it - strawberry mousse, cake, custard cream, and fresh strawberries and blueberries. I am providing the recipes if you want to make everything from scratch but you can substitute store bought things such as the cake if you need to save time.

Cake:
2 eggs
60 grams sugar
1 teaspoon water
50 grams flour (sifted)
20 grams butter (melt over hot water)

1. Whip the eggs and add the  sugar and water until they are yellow and fluffy. Add the sifted flour and mix well then add in the melted butter - add in portions and mix each time before adding more.
2. Pour into a square baking sheet (about 20 cm x 20 cm) which is covered with baking paper. Bake at 180 degrees Celsius for 15 minutes. Cool after removing from the oven.

Custard Cream:
2 egg yolks
100 cc milk
20 grams sugar
15 grams flour
1 teaspoon strawberry liquor

1. Mix the egg yolks with the sugar and flour using a small whisk. Heat the milk in a saucepan until lightly boiling then add to the egg yolk mixture and mix. Add back to the saucepan and cook on a low heat until it thickens. Continually mix using a small whisk. Do NOT overheat.
2. Remove from the pan and cool in a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap while it cools so that the top does not become hardened.

Strawberry Mouse
100 grams cream cheese (softened)
50 grams sugar
200 grams strawberry puree
6 grams gelatin (softened in water)
200 grams fresh cream

1. In a bowl, mix the cream cheese and sugar.
2. In a saucepan, lightly heat the strawberry puree. Turn off the heat then add the gelatin. Mix with a small whisk until it is all dissolved. Pour into a bowl and cool.
3. In a separate bowl, whip the fresh cream until peaks appear, do not over whip.
4. When the puree is room temperature, add it in portions to the cream cheese and mix well using a whisk. Place this over a bowl filled with ice to firm up the puree. Keep the puree over the ice water until it becomes pudding consistency. Use a whisk to keep it loose.
5. Add the fresh cream in portions to the puree mixture, use a whisk to mix.

Putting Things Together
1. Cut the cake to fit in the bottom of the dessert cup then layer with the custard, fresh berries and mousse. You can design the dessert as you like ;)
2. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving

Dessert is ready!

Monday, 4 May 2015

Flaky Coconut Oil Raisin Scones

Flaky Coconut Oil Scones
I finally thought I should try baking with coconut oil so I bought a jar of it. It really is quite oily. I took a small taste from the jar and it was like eating coconut flavored lard.

Anyway, I persevered and went on baking. This recipe is incredibly simple and only takes about 15 minutes to put together. You actually can bake them for breakfast!

The texture of the scones if very flaky and not crumbly as can happen with scones. I highly recommend baking scones with the coconut oil if you don't mind the taste of coconut.

Recipe:
200 grams flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
80 grams coconut oil
20 grams sugar
100 grams dried fruit such as raisins or cranberries
100 grams milk (room temperature)

1. In a bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together then add the salt. Mix in the coconut oil using a fork then add the sugar.
2. Mix in the milk. You can use a spatula to mix together. Lastly, add the dried fruit.
3. Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Lightly knead for a couple of minutes to ensure everything is well mixed.
4. Use your hand to flatten the dough to about 3.5 cm high. Use a round biscuit cutter to cut each piece. Place on a baking pan. Makes about 8 pieces.
5. Brush with milk before baking. Bake at 200 degrees Celsius for about 15 - 18 minutes.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Chocolate Checkerboard Cake


Checkerboard Cake
Just add Milk and Serve!
I always thought this cake looked a bit too complicated to make so I never got around to making it. After one try though, it didn't turn out too bad.

It actually only takes a couple of hours to put together and some of that is waiting time so give it a try!


Cake:

6 eggs
200 grams sugar
200 grams flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100 grams butter
120 grams sweet chocolate (chopped)


1. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder. In a separate bowl, measure the butter add melt over a saucepan filled with hot water.
2. Put the chocolate in another bowl and melt over a saucepan filled with simmering hot water.
3. In a large bowl, whip the eggs with a hand mixer and gradually add the sugar. Continue to mix on medium speed until the batter is yellow and fluffy. This may take about 10 minutes so don't skip on this step. After the batter is well mixed, add the flour mixture gradually and continue to mix until everything is well combined.
Cakes after Baking
4. Add a little of the batter into the bowl with melted butter and mix well with a spatula then add to the bowl filled with the batter. Mix for a few seconds with the hand mixer.
5. Evenly divide the mixture between 2 bowls. Add the melted chocolate to one of the bowls and mix using a spatula.
6. Pour the batters into separate baking pans that are lightly rubbed with butter and dusted with flour. I used 2 20 cm round pans.


Putting Together:

Now you need to cut the cakes to put them together. Don't panic :)




Use a guide to cut your cake evenly
 First, you should cut your cake in half. I had these  
 wooden dowels at home so that I used them as a
 guide to cut the cake evenly. If you have a cake
 cutter, you can use that.




Guides for the cutting the cake circles
Secondly, find a piece of paper and outline the cake on it. From the outer edge of the circle, measure points at 4 cm then at 8 cm. Cut out 3 circles from the paper and place them on one of the cakes. Cut the cake based on the circles.

Mix alternate pieces of the cake circles then place alternate layers of cake on top of each other (i.e. alternate layers based on the outer cake color).

Ready for the last step!
 Lastly, you need put together the cake using
  chocolate icing.
 
 Chocolate Icing:
 
 240 grams milk chocolate (chopped)
 1 teaspoon corn syrup
 200 grams fresh cream
 
 1. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a 
 saucepan until lightly boiling then pour over
 the chocolate.
 2. Mix using a small whisk. Put over hot
 water to melt completely if needed.
 3. Cool the mixture until the chocolate has
 the consistency of soft pudding.


 Put the bottom layer of the cake on a cake plate and put several tablespoons of the chocolate icing on the cake and spread evenly. Fill in extra holes in the cake pieces as needed. Add the next layer of cake and do the same until the last layer.
 
After the last layer, use a palette knife to neatly coat the entire cake with the chocolate icing. Keep in the refrigerator for about 1 hour before serving.
 


Sunday, 22 March 2015

Savory Olive Oil and Thyme Dinner Rolls

Ready for dinner!
I really enjoy baking bread, just wish I had more time to make it.  Making bread at home is a luxury.

This is a basic recipe and you can easily add other ingredients to add extra zest such as black olives or nuts.

This bread is soft and easy to eat, great as a sandwich roll as well.

Here is the recipe:

375 grams flour
35 grams sugar
7 grams salt
6 grams yeast
100 grams milk
100 grams water
1 egg
40 grams olive oil
Fresh thyme (4 - 5 pieces)

1. In a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the yeast. Mix the egg, water and milk in another bowl.

 2. Add the egg mixture to the flour.  Use a bench scraper to mix and coat the flour. Put on a flat surface and knead for about 10  minutes. Dough should be soft but not sticky. Let rest under a bowl for about 10 minutes.

 3. Stretch the dough and pour 1/3 of the olive oil over it, knead well to incorporate the oil. Repeat several times until all of the oil has been added. Knead until the bread is soft & supple. If  the dough feels too dense, add a teaspoon of water or so and knead again. Add in the thyme. Put in a bowl and cover with wrap. Let rise in warm place for 60 minutes.

 4. Divide the dough into 70 gram pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball. Place on the kneading board and cover with plastic and let rise for 20 minutes (bench time).

 5. Flatten each ball to remove the air and roll again into ball. Place on the pan you will use for baking - leave room between each piece since they increase in size during rising. Brush with olive oil. Cover with plastic and place in a warm place. Should rise again for about 30 minutes.

 6. Heat oven to 210 degrees Celsius and bake for about 20 - 25 minutes until browned.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake

Happy Valentine's Day
Happy Valentines' Day!  Here is another great chocolate cake recipe. It is made with hazelnuts powder and hazelnuts so it has a delicious nutty flavor.

The cake has 3 parts, a light crunchy bottom topped with a thin layer of Nutella then the chocolate cake on top and finished with chocolate ganache.

You can bake this cake using a pound cake pan.



Crunchy Bottom
30 grams hazelnuts powder
30 grams flour
30 grams powdered sugar
30 grams butter (cold)
1 egg
1.       In a food processor, add the hazelnuts powder, flour and powdered sugar and mix. Add the butter and mix and then add the egg.
2.       Spread the batter on a baking sheet about 20 cm x 20 cm square. Use a spoon to smooth the mixture evenly. Bake at 180 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes.

Cake:
40 grams cocoa mass
75 grams flour
100 grams powdered sugar
100 grams hazelnuts powder
30 grams hazelnuts (finely chopped)
40 grams butter
200 grams egg white
50 grams sugar

1.       In a saucepan, heat the butter until it become bubbly and turns a golden brown color. Do not overcook. Strain the butter into a bowl to remove the sediment and let cool for 5 minutes then pour over the cocoa mass.  Use a spatula to mix. Put the bowl over hot simmering water to melt the cocoa mass completely if needed.
2.       Sift together the flour, powdered sugar, and hazelnuts powder.
3.       In a bowl, whip the egg whites and add the sugar in portions.
4.       Add the cocoa mass to the egg white in portions. Mix with a spatula. Add the flour mixture to the egg whites and mix with a spatula. Lastly, add the chopped hazelnuts.
5.       Pour into a lined baking pan and bake at 180 degrees for 30 minutes.

Chocolate Ganache:
120 grams sweet chocolate (chopped)
15 grams corn syrup
100 grams fresh cream

1. Heat the cream and the corn syrup in a saucepan until it is lightly boiling. Pour over the chopped chocolate and mix with a small whisk.
2. Let cool until the texture becomes like pudding. Either decorate the cake with a knife or put the ganache in a pastry bag with a decorative nozzle to decorate.

Putting Together:
1. Cut the crunchy cookie the same size as the cake bottom. Spread a light layer of nutella on the cookie and place the cake on top. Decorate the cake with the chocolate ganache.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Afternoon Coffee Mousse Cake

Delicious Coffee Mousse Cake with Caramel Sauce
Happy New Year! My new year's resolution is to keep up with blog posts. I slipped a lot in 2014 but will make more of an effort this year.

Cold weather has advantages for baking. This is a good time of the year to make desserts with chocolate and mousses.

The first recipe of the year is a delicious coffee mousse cake with caramel sauce. There are 4 items in the cake to make including the caramel sauce. If you want to keep it simple, you could skip either the cake or the crunchy bottom.

The bottom of the cake is a crunchy cornflake and milk chocolate mixture. Next layer is a sponge cake with candied orange pieces - great complement to the coffee mousse taste. Surrounding everything is a coffee mousse topped with a caramel sauce.  Let's get baking, here is the recipe!

I used a 18 cm x 6 cm ring and the cake easily serves 8 people

Crunchy bottom:
60 grams small cornflakes or other crispy cereal
40 grams sliced almonds
60 grams milk chocolate
10 grams salad oil

 1.       Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering hot water. After chocolate is melted, remove it from the heat and add the salad oil in portions. Mix with a small whisk.
2.       In another bowl, combine the cornflakes and sliced almonds and pour the chocolate mixture over top.
3.       Set a 18 cm ring on plate and fill the inside of the bottom of the ring with the cornflake mixture. Put in the refrigerator to so that it becomes firm. Use a mousse film inside the ring so that the cake will be easy to remove.

Cake:
60 grams butter (room temperature)
40 grams sugar
2 eggs (room temperature)
60 grams flour
5 grams baking powder
55 grams diced orange peel

 1.       In a bowl, mix the butter with whisk until fluffy then add  the sugar and continue mixing. Add the eggs in portions and mix.
2.       Sift the flour and baking powder together and add to the above. Use the whisk to mix. Then add the diced orange peel and mix using a spatula.
3.       Pour into a pan about 20 cm x 20 cm and bake at 180 degrees for 20 minutes.

Coffee Mousse:
150 grams milk
6 grams gelatin
3 egg yolks
12 grams sugar
10 grams instant coffee
250 grams white chocolate
200 grams fresh cream

1.       Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a saucepan filled with simmering hot water. Keep the chocolate to about 25 degrees Celsius.
2.       Heat the milk and coffee in a saucepan. Mix the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl. Add the heated milk to the egg yolk mixture and mix then add to the saucepan again. Heat on a low heat until the mixture becomes lightly thickened. Remove from the heat and add the gelatin and mix well. Pour into a bowl and cool to about 25 degrees Celsius. Add the chocolate to this in portions and mix with a small whisk.
3.    In another bowl, whip the fresh cream until soft peaks form. Add the cream to the chocolate mixture in portions and mix with a spatula. Keep the this bowl over a bowl filled with ice water so that the consistency begins to thicken. Timing is everything - do not cool too much otherwise everything will become firm too quickly.

Putting Cake together:
1.       Cut the cake to fit inside the ring, but make the size about ½ cm smaller than the ring. Place the cake on top of the cornflake filling and pour the mousse on top.
2.       Put in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Caramel Sauce:
100 grams sugar
200 grams fresh cream

1. Heat the fresh cream in a saucepan until it lightly boils.
2. Heat the sugar in a saucepan until it turns a light caramel color. Turn off the heat and add the fresh cream and stir with a spoon to mix. Pour into a bowl to cool.

Ready for Dessert!