Friday, April 17, 2015

Chocolate-vanilla marble cake and a marshmallow fondant revisit

If you were to ask me how many times a year I make cake or have baked desserts. I'd stumble, mmm, how would I give you a definitive answer? More so, what would you think if you really knew ? And I will admit it's more, much more than I've had you  believe. 
You see, of the 365 days I walk my kitchen, I live to bake, cake, on most- big, smallloaf, cupped, layeredcheckered, pop-stickedsoaked- and eat the results. Though, often than not, it's the weeknight one-bowl whipandbake, unadorned, negates any amount of loft which might have them in for a showandtell. Frequents, that make for substantial after-dinner glee, whose stories remain untold, even though many might be possible contenders for the online spotlight.

Way too many to count these standard everyday occurrences, some that do seem worthy, but never see light, due to the lack of hands, words or, in my case, motivation to record all the flour-sugar-egg narratives that make dessert rotations on my daily table. 

Marble cake, fits and serves just that "everyday cake" bill. A combination of batters in contrasting colors and flavors swirled to a deliriously pretty effect, it assaults more than a few of your senses.  The moist crumb is what hits you the second you take a bite, after you get over the stunning visual effects of yellow and brown psychedelics. This is cocoa- vanilla coupling that's almost too delightful to believe. Because even I question myself on how, really, can something that looks this good, and be ridiculously easy, actually be that good? Oh but it can, and I am honest here, people when I say it does delicious in a so rank a way, that it need no accoutrement whatsoever.

Just have it be, charming enough to accompany sips of afternoon tea. Or even tall iced glasses of milk.
But hey, do we limit something of such impending magnitude and and stop there? For there is much more that transcends and greatly adds to Marbles's values. Thereby, it can and will stretch far beyond the spectrum, to grandiose ventures, where it can duly dazzle in fanciful embellished affairs.

And it did achieve just that, contributing to a broader picture, being the star component in an impressive, at least to a batch of 11 year old boys, birthday cake for my Second Born. Thus, after making his favorite sport edible, almost a month ago today, my oven has welcomed the same marble cake, twice since. 

Simple, sweet and sensational. I believe I owe it to you, so that your weeknights and occasions can be graced by just this kind of versatile cake visitation.

So with this discourse as I  show off the personalities and possibilities of today's subject, I thought it'd be beneficial to work in a marshmallow fondant review as well. I had given you an ingredient list and accompanying workflow once upon a time, but I believe we can perhaps tweak it just the minutest, so that you may never have to purchase those from store shelves, majority of which my kids won't touch if you payed them (and that's saying a lot).

Further, my thanks to the many YouTube demos on how-to-make-soccerball-cake-a-reality and pinteresty illustrations that would put God chefs to shame. Because of you, we got to see futbol in cake format, baked, assembled and scored in less than a day.

Here you have it, today's tract, swathed in visuals to perhaps beckon to your many variant personalities, whether it be a liberation of the inner gluttonous cake beast or paving way to your future as Cake BossPart Deux. I think it'd bide you well to look it over and take many notes.

For the Cake~
(Adapted- Martha Stewart's marble cake)
  • 1 ¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs, room temp
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ⅔ cup buttermilk, room temp
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tbsp
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp boiling water
  • Preheat oven to 350° F. Keep aside a 9×5 inch loaf pan, greased and floured or spray with nonstick spray .
  • Whisk together cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.
  • Add eggs one at time, scraping down sides of bowl when needed.
  • Mix in vanilla.
  • Add in flour mixture, alternating with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour, until all ingredients are combined into one smooth batter
  • In the now empty bowl that was used to whisk flour, mix cocoa powder with the 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp of boiling water and stir until smooth. Add 1/3 of the cake batter to this and combine well.
  • Alternate and scoop the batters in a checkerboard pattern, in two layers- chocolate-vanilla-chocolate. Place brown over yellow, yellow over brown when doing second layer.
  • Swirl  the batters with a skewer/knife in zigzags and figure eights for a pretty marbled effect. 
  • Bake 40- 60 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Leave in pan for 10 minutes, then invert onto wire rack to let cool.
  • You can leave plain, frost with buttercream, ganache , fancy the whole show up. Your choice. It's all good.
  • If you use salted butter, like I do, omit the salt in cake ingredients.
  • For the half dome part of the soccer ball cake, I scooped one batter into the other(brown into yellow). 
In a checkerboard pattern, alternate batters in two layers. Swirl these using a skewer or knife.
Swirl it pretty and let it shine.
I should say it's extremely difficult to get this wrong. Any which way your wrist turns, you create cake art.

Marshmallow fondant~
  • ¼ c unsalted butter, softened or as much needed
  • 16 ounces/1 pound white mini-marshmallows
  • 2 to 5 tablespoons water
  • 2 pounds icing or powdered sugar
  • Have softened butter ready in a widemouthed bowl (for your hands to easily reach )and keep aside.
  • Place the marshmallows and two tbsp of the water in a very large greased microwave-safe bowl, and microwave on high for 30 seconds and melt the marshmallows. Continue at 30 second intervals, stirring between each 30 seconds, until marshmallows are melted, gooey and completely smooth. 
  • In the bowl itself, place 1/2 of the  confectioners' sugar on top of the marshmallow mixture(if your bowl is not big enough, all of this can be done on the countertop). Using a well greased wooden label or greased hands, mix this until roughly combined. Mixture will be very stiff.
  • Rub your hands thoroughly, in between fingers, backs of hands, with butter mixture, and turn out marshmallow dough onto counter dusted liberally with powdered sugar.  Place more sugar on top of this sticky mixture, one cup at time and begin kneading the dough. As you knead, the dough will become workable and pliable. If it does dry and tear, add water-teaspoon at at time- until smooth. 
  • Add confectioner's sugar by cupfuls to the mixture as needed. You may not need all the sugar. Continue kneading until the fondant is smooth and no longer sticky to the touch, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  • Form the fondant into a ball, coat it with a light film of butter mixture and wrap tightly in plastic wrap and place/seal in Ziplock bag squeezing out all air. Refrigerate overnight. 
  • When ready to use, allow the fondant to come to room temperature ( if really hard, microwave at 60% power for a few 30 second intervals until soft) and roll it out onto a flat surface lightly greased with butter/shortening or dusted with cornstarch, sometimes both. I like to coat my work surface with only butter, but if gets "slippery" I add a few sprinkles of cornstarch.
Coloring fondant~
  • You can separate and color the fondant before it goes into the refrigerator, though sometimes the colors get denser as they sit. I prefer to color as and when I need to use it. Bring to room temperature and knead in a little coloring at a time, using a toothpick. If you're using different colors, wash hands thoroughly between or use food grade gloves  as colors will transfer from hands.Wilton gel food colors and Amerigel are the ideal choices when coloring fondant, though with smaller pieces of dough, I've used the liquid drops too- dough consistency may get sticky/soft with it so you have to be careful when/if using liquid coloring.
Additional notes~
  • You could sub all shortening for the butter. I like the flavor of the butter in the fondant- makes it enjoyably edible.
  • If your fondant feels too dry, rub it with some butter/ shortening to make it pliable. If it feels too wet/sticky, add more powdered sugar and knead it a bit more.
  • It's best to let MMF sit, double wrapped, overnight. There have been instances where I've used sans any refrigeration, though it's not advised ;-) If you need to take it out early, see if there are visible sugar specks. If so, knead it through.
  • MMFondant keeps well when stored double wrapped and sealed in an airtight Ziploc or airtight container, upto 2 months. May keep longer in the refrigerator, though you'd have to worry about odors of other foods /drying out if you had it in that long.
The inside reveal was the best part. The 9x13 base cake was Nigella Lawson's Fudge cake from the FN archives. I spritzed the cakes with some simple syrup before frosting and covering to keep them moist.
Wilton's ball pan makes the whole process of making a ball cake quite easy, complete with templates for your soccer ball's hexagons and pentagons, that can be further traced onto cardstock,then laminated. A good covering of buttercream prepares the base for both cakes to be fondant adhered.Like I said YouTube is a veritable university on how to cover cakes with fondant, shapes, etc. So it would be worth your while to check it out.  I made/needed two batches of the marshmallow fondant recipe, prepared the day in advance and pieced and colored accordingly with Wilton gel colors. The black fondant, however, was store bought- way too much work/mess to color fondant black. The "grass" was vanilla buttercream, colored and piped with Wilton's tip #233.
" 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'." Jeremiah  29:11
Much gratitude and thanks to all my faithful readers, supporters, followers and FB page likers-makes blogging goodeats all the more enjoyable.
 I'd however, like to address another issue, one that bothers me to no end, the increasing problem of others lifting (stealing) BFMK photographs/content and passing them off as their own, be it on individual blogs, microblogs, social media, websites. A lot of work goes into all this, from recipe selection/ cooking/ photographing/editing and constructing the posts. Although it's my pleasure and passion to maintain this site, it truly discourages when my images are snagged and pasted elsewhere as another's.
So what I am I getting to? When you need to borrow an image/photograph or post one that appears on my pages, please ask. I promise I won't bite. Further, play fair with attribution- do give credit. I've actually seen pictures with my entire recipe/ notes pasted straight up and no acknowledgement given. But then there are the several positive instances, ones I mention each chance I get, where websites link back and name source. To those, thanks for playing fair. I am grateful.
Through comments below, do ask before taking. Attribute it, with a shoutout/ mention/courtesy link back to my page. Remember... credit where credit is due. I appreciate. God bless.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Bunny buns

This could very well be the best distraction ever, that which kept my mind off several up and comings from the preEaster setup to countless meals on the day of- no, we simply aren't satisfied with one, are you? That yesterday should've seen me through half a dozen things and the ten loads of laundry, yet didn't, mustn't entirely be my fault.  I'll just ignore the 500 plastic eggs and triple the amount of candy that now occupy a room in my house and need to be ready in probably the next 24 hours. No,  I'm not perturbed. My ability to remain in that haze of aloof, with zero urgency, is a dysfunction I believe I am lavishly gifted with. One that ushers in bouts of inspiration such as these, having nothing to do with the present tasks/travails of my everyday, all the while keeping me from going stark raving mad.

So this was the day's saving grace, lovely bun-rolls impersonating rabbits, which, by the way were completely formed, done, photographed and halfway eaten through before my dynamic duo came home from school. A thesis should be written up on the number of ways you can surprise yourself with uncharacteristic super productivity amidst tremendous pressure, and I think I should author it.

These are accompaniment rolls, with a dough structure comparable to any decent iftherollsaregoodeveryone'shappy sort of holiday meal. More often than not, it's what you claw for at the table, soft gluten clouds touched with smears of melty butter and giving off undeniably fresh bread fragrance. 

So, it is imperative that you have in your arsenal a righteous collection of this  sort of flourandyeast glory. And it's not that we haven't mentioned this before, you know. I've chronicled more ways than ten on how to recreate la patisserie in your very own kitchen. That'd be my cue to begin the recipe index promised once, several eons ago.

This project carries far more impressive weight than any ho-hum soft bun. Add to that, the noble charge of a one hour construction, start to finish. How can that not be persuasion enough? To prove or disprove that a knead/roll/shape/wait and bake stance could truly be simple enough for the masses, and the make/manufacture of bread animals within a 60 minute frame may as well be your personal mandate, one you possibly might not ever regret.

There is the one wee disclaimer, since by nature most of us aren't rabbit sculptors, the task may extend your hour by maybe a mere ten, hopeful not more than twenty minutes. Unless you take it upon yourself to masterchef your dough crafting skills as if it be your life's calling and structuring grand dough edifices may in fact be your future, there is no need to go that far.

Because once said and done, the herd of these look mighty splendid. Amidst the crowd, questionable looking ears, flat faces all go unnoticed. And if you're like me, you enjoy the veritable zoo your hands have produced- where my twisted forms came in the likeness of cats, cows, slugs, even pigs. Though we did manage to pull out those two few that were recognizably bunny-like, maybe more in line with Pikachu meets Sonic as opposed to Peter Cottontail.

Lastly, owing to more than a touch of sugar in ingredients, these tag on to a slightly sweeter side than you're regular yeasty bun and lends perfectly to many savory accompaniments, maybe paired alongside that spectacular roast chicken, or much like my dinner last night, two to a plate of a certain stylized Kerala beef.  

So my dialogue ends here, and I bide you well in your own sixty minute rabbit-whispering journey.

But not before I wish you a very happy Easter.

Here comes Peter Cottontail, sans tail, and hopping on a much divergent route than the bunny trail. 
( Recipe, inspiration: Kirbie's Cravings)
  • 1 cup plus two tbsp warm water (temp 100°F)
  • 1/3 cup canola or any other neutral tasting cooking oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 4 tbsp butter, softened
  • 2 tbsp honey, warmed
  • In the bowl of the stand mixer, place water, oil, sugar and yeast. Leave alone for 5-8 minutes
  • Using dough hook attachment, mix in salt, egg and bread flour. Knead all ingredients for 5 minutes on medium-high speed until smooth and elastic.
  • Turn dough out on the countertop. Divide it roughly into 24 equal size pieces. Roll the smaller dough pieces on a hard surface into smooth oval shapes (I roll these two at time, one under each hand on the kitchen countertop.
  • Elongate the ends to create an egg shape, narrower on one side for the head and plump on the other for the bottom.
  • Leave to rise, covered with clean kitchen towel, 10-15 minutes until almost double in size .
  • With a sharp pair of kitchen scissors, facing away from you, nip two triangular shapes toward the narrower end, for the ears. You will have two pointy triangles. Tuck the sharp tip under each triangle, and form the ears with your fingers. Gently pull and smooth out each ear to resemble bunny ears. No worries if you're not perfect. Repeat for all bunnies. See Kirby's step-by-step photos. 
  • Using a skewer or toothpick, poke two smallish but deep holes in the front just below the ears to form eyes. 
  • Preheat oven to 400°F.
  • Let buns rest for a final 5-8 minutes. If the shapes have puffed out, go over them once again and define ears, poke eyes, etc.
  • Bake for 10-13 minutes.
  • Combine the butter with honey.
  • Brush warm buns with the honey-butter mixture.
Be sure to make the cuts for the ears and holes for the eyes deep otherwise they will "fill in" as they  rise in baking,
Leave a good space between the rolls, otherwise bunny bottoms meld with the bunny heads and totally disfigure them, voila instant pig snouts! I used three large sheet pans to distribute the 24 rolls.
My Kitchenaid walked across the counter and would've plunged to destruction, had I not seen it in time. This was during the longish kneading session when it was left unattended. Sooo, I'm never doing that again, especially when I googled "violently shaking kitchenaid" and it came back as a top hit. 
Just curious, has it ever happened to you?

I am submitting this post to Susan Tenney's yeast spotting, well, because it contains yeast.
Piled and stacked, these fine bread specimens lasted in this bowl exactly 6 minutes.
Rocky. His greatest nemesis is the bunny. Especially those he considers potential threats, the ones that eat his backyard. He runs with a vengeance and barks with a brutal echo, chasing each and every grass invader away. So it may not be wrong that he begs for a few bites of this edible hoaxer.
Previous Easters~

The  Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
Psalm 23 (KJV)