Archive for the ‘Cakes’ Category
You never know what you’ll see posted on Facebook or Twitter, but once in a while you find something that really inspires you. The other day I found a recipe that I knew I wanted to try immediately. Rick Bayless posted a recipe for Rustic Chocolate Cake that looked easy and sounded delicious, so I got together the ingredients to give it a try.
The cake is a gluten free cake that is similar to many flourless chocolate cake recipes that I’ve tried. The bulk of the cake is made with chocolate, butter, sugar and eggs – but it also included amaranth flour. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is commonly used in Mexican and South American cuisines. Amaranth is high in protein, calcium and fiber, as well as many other vitamins and minerals, and with the growing popularity of gluten free grains, it is easier to find than ever these days. When ground into a flour, amaranth is often included in gluten free flour mixes. It absorbs water easily and can help baked goods to stay nice and moist, although it can lead to dense baked goods if not used in the right recipe.
This particular cake was easy to make and turned out beautifully, although I did find it needed a little extra time in the oven to set up completely. There are only a few ingredients, so the only unusual ingredient you might need to pick up is the amaranth flour (which I just happened to have on hand, by random luck, when I read his post ). It was dense, but not heavy, and had a tender texture that just kind of melted in your mouth. It is very, very moist and that just makes it seem even more decadent than it is. The chocolate flavor was great and the cake wasn’t too sweet – and it was a huge hit with the crowd I served it to.
The crisp crust on the cake will crack a bit as you slice it, so I dusted mine with cocoa powder before serving. It would also be great served with a little whipped cream. If you don’t have amaranth flour, you can bake this cake using other gluten free flour mixes (I tried it with Bob’s Red Mill All Purpose Gluten Free Mix and it turned out beautifully) as well, so it is a great choice for any kind of gluten free baking. It is so good and so decadent, that people will never know that they are eating gluten free when you serve this to them.
When I have a couple of lemons lying around my kitchen and want to make a quick dessert, I often opt for lemon pudding cake. Pudding cakes are cakes that create their own sauce while they bake. The sauce (a.k.a. the pudding) forms underneath a layer of fluffy cake while the dish is in the oven. Although the recipe calls for beating egg whites to stiff peaks, this pudding cake is very easy to make and uses ingredients that you probably always have in your pantry. And that means that any time you have lemons on hand, you are ready to make your own batch.
These Little Lemon Pudding Cakes are single-serving lemon pudding cakes that are baked in small ramekins, rather than in a large baking dish. Pudding cakes can be made in all shapes and sizes, but I happen to be a big fan of individual pudding cakes. A single serving cake means that everyone gets just the right amount of sauce with their cake. They’re also easier to serve, since you don’t have to scoop out (sometimes less-than-attractive) spoonfuls from a larger dish. Whether you go with a large dish or small ones, this cake needs to be baked in a water bath to help the pudding layer form during baking.
The pudding cakes have a nice sweet-tart lemon flavor, with a pudding that is almost like homemade lemon curd beneath a layer of airy sponge cake. The key to a great lemon flavor is to use fresh lemon juice, so don’t be tempted to take shortcuts with this recipe. I will warn you right now that these are addictive if you are a lemon-lover, and they might turn you into one if you’re not already. And once you’ve made it once, I can pretty much guarantee that it’ll become a favorite and you’ll find yourself putting it into regular rotation.
Flourless chocolate cakes are one of the most indulgent types of cakes that there is, since they usually deliver a generous dose of chocolate in every single bite and there aren’t a lot of other ingredients to get in the way of that chocolate flavor. I tend to bake them when I’m really in the mood for indulgence (or for the birthday of a chocolate-loving friend or relative), but these cakes also happen to be gluten free and that makes them a fantastic choice when you have to bake for someone with dietary restrictions. While I enjoy larger flourless cakes that can be sliced to serve a crowd, I slightly prefer smaller portions like these Flourless Chocolate Cakelets. They take less time to bake and everyone gets their very own little cake when you go to serve them.
The finished cakes will look like brownies, although they will have a smoother top than most brownies do. But when you bite into one, you’ll find that they don’t taste much like a brownie. The cakes are very tender, with an almost melt-in-your-mouth consistency, and they have a strong, satisfying dark chocolate flavor. They’re not too sweet, which makes them seem even richer. I like to top mine off with a little bit of whipped cream to break up the chocolate intensity and add a few fresh berries for garnish. You can also eat them as-is or pair them with a little bit of ice cream and a few toasted nuts if you want to add a little texture to the finished dish.
I baked these in muffin-top liners, which gave me really elegant finished cakes. If you don’t have muffin-top papers, you can use regular muffin cups and you will get the same number of cakes, though they will have a slightly different shape to them. The cakes keep very well when stored in an airtight container and that means that they are an excellent choice for entertaining because you can do all your baking a day or two ahead of time.
It is always nice to have a cake around the house. My grandmother might say that you need to have something sweet on hand in case company shows up, because it is always polite to offer guests something to nibble on with their coffee. I personally like to have some cake around because I like to have something to nibble on with my own coffee – although I think that the company argument is fair if you have relatives who like to drop in unexpectedly. For these “everyday” cakes, I like recipes that are easy to make and don’t require a lot of special ingredients, so I can whip them up anytime I’m in the mood for a piece of cake.
This Everyday Vanilla Cake is a recipe that you probably have the ingredients for in your kitchen right now. But don’t be fooled by how simple this cake is, because it is very tasty and could be just the thing you need to satisfy a cake craving. It has a tight, soft crumb and is reminiscent of pound cake, although this cake is lighter in texture than a pound cake is. It has a subtle vanilla flavor and there is just enough sweetness in the cake to let it shine. You really can’t go wrong – especially if you are a vanilla fan. If I want to boost the vanilla in the cake even more, I might scrape half a vanilla bean into my cake batter along with the sugar, though the vanilla extract does a very nice job flavoring this cake, too.
I like to keep this cake plain and serve it as-is, much as you would with a pound cake. It is quite good on its own and very versatile this way. For instance, you could serve two slices with fresh berries for a take on strawberry shortcake or toast a slice and top it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. If do you prefer your cake a little dressed up, however, you can top it off with a little vanilla (or other flavor) glaze made with confectioners sugar.
This cheerful Pink Lemonade Cake would be the perfect centerpiece for a springtime party. It’s bright pink color is eye-catching and the cake pops with lemon flavor – just like the drink it is named after. This is a chiffon cake, which is a fluffy, moist cake that is primarily leavened with meringue, much like angel food cake. The cake uses both fresh lemon juice and zest to give it a strong lemonade flavor, and it is topped with a drizzle of lemon glaze that makes the flavor stand out even more.
The main flavor in this cake is lemon, as is the main flavor in a glass of pink lemonade. Pink lemonade is regular lemonade that has been dyed pink using either food coloring or a small splash of a reddish fruit juice, such as strawberry, cherry or cranberry. The origins of pink lemonade are unclear, but almost every origin story claims that the color was added to regular lemonade by accident, and that the perky pink kept customers coming back for more. This cake also just has a splash of red added just to give it a pink color, not necessarily to add flavor. You can use a few drops of red food coloring, an “all natural red food coloring” or even a few teaspoons of all natural grenadine (a bar syrup made from pomegranates, although there are many versions that are little more than food coloring and corn syrup). Use restraint with the food coloring, since you want this cake to be pink and not red.
The inspiration for this cake came from a Pink Lemonade Cake printed in a recent issue of Cook’s Country. It looked beautiful and, since I love lemon, I tried it soon after getting the magazine. Unfortunately, it had very little lemon flavor and the cream cheese frosting nearly overwhelmed the tender cake, although it looked very pretty. I still loved the color, but used some of my favorite citrus chiffon cake recipes (Lime and Strawberry Lemonade) to boost the flavor considerably to make this cake a whole lot more lemony.
Chiffon cakes typically keep very well and this cake is no exception. It will stay moist and fresh for many days when stored in an airtight container, so it can easily be made a day or two in advance of when you want to serve it.