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After last year’s success of my 7-day Tour de Maurice, I wanted to repeat the experience for my upcoming birthday. It did not take me long to map out my travel plan and organize a tailor-made package for my first ever visit to Rodrigues. After hearing several reviews from different sources, I decided to trash the custom made family tours to plan my excursions and select my accommodation all by myself. The basis of the plan was to have minimum connection with the external world and nothing to remind me of work and related issues for a full 5 days!

After an uneventful flight aboard ATR, we landed in Rodrigues past noon and we immediately whisked off to Pirates Lodge, located only a few minutes from St Francois beach, well away from crowds and traffic. We were the only residents there and were quite happy to have the whole lodge to ourselves. Rooms were clean with comfortable beds and thankfully they have AC and fans on both floors. Though we stayed on B&B basis, food was not a problem as we found that there were quite a few snacks within reasonable walking distance whenever we did not feel like cooking.

Waking up early for my morning walk on the beach became my daily routine as I had no trouble getting up at dawn after a good night’s sleep. You can hike down to Trou d’Argent and Anse Bouteille by following the yellow markers on this easy 30-minutes walk or go further north towards Pointe Cotton through beautiful beaches like Anse Ally or Fumier for a swim before breakfast. Breakfast gets served everyday around 8 and is a simple one with bread/butter/ jam, pastries, tea/ coffee/ juice and a fresh fruit platter. It kept us full till lunch time especially when we planned to go on long drives.

Our 4×4 rental allowed to visit most of the northern and southern coast lines and discover the usual tourist spots as well as several roadside stalls selling pickles, salted fish, honey, dried octopus and handicraft. On our 4th day, we booked a very enriching tour with Rodrigues Friendly where we introduced to the typical aspects of Rodriguan culture through activities like octopus fishing, learning the basics of accordion, basket weaving and the customary Séga Tambour. It even included a culinary hands-on experience where we could actually bake our own tourte, a closed short crust pie filled with caramelized papaya and coconut.

I was not fortunate enough to taste the traditional gâteau maïs during my trip to Rodrigues. However, as a memento of this memorable visit and to honour all the lovely people I encountered during my stay, I wish to share this recipe, from Dans Ma Cuisine Mauricienne et d’Ailleurs, which it seems, is as close to the genuine gâteau as it gets. No need for me to say that I cant wait to go back for another taste of authentic cuisine Rodriguaise which uses only pure, unprocessed ingredients straight from their gardens or fresh catch from local fishermen for simple yet amazingly flavourful dishes.

GATEAU MAIS DE RODRIGUES

Ingredients:

100g butter, softened

250g white caster sugar

6 eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

250g fine cornmeal/ polenta

100g desiccated coconut

3 tablespoons full cream milk

30g raisins, soaked in water

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease and line a 8-inch or 9-inch round sandwich tin with parchment paper.

  • Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy. Add egg yolks and beat well till it is pale yellow.

  • Fold in cornmeal and milk into the butter mixture until everything is well combined and homogenous.

  • eat egg whites until they form soft peaks and carefully fold into batter until there is no trace of whites.

  • Fold in raisins and pour the batter gently into the prepared tin. Bake for about 50 minutes until golden.

  • Remove from oven and cool for 10 minutes in tin before turning out. Cut into wedges and serve warm.

With love from Rodrigues

Have you ever inadvertently missed an important ingredient from a recipe even after carefully copying it down in your own hand and double checking that you have all those things accurately weighed out on the kitchen counter? The 1/2 teaspoon baking soda that gets overlooked or the extra 1/4 cup flour that should be folded in last before sending the cake to the oven. This time I had already shut the door for a good 15 minutes on my mini Bundt pan before I noticed the eggs which should have been whipped into the batter along with butter, cream cheese and sugar, still waiting patiently in their rack. The resulting eggless cake was still nice and moist, bursting with fresh blueberries and toasted almonds, though it did not rise as much as it might have if I had not forgotten about the eggs.

BLUEBERRY ALMOND POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Bundt Cake

3/4 cup butter, softened

110g cream cheese

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup almond meal

4 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoon kitchen salt

1 3/4 cups fresh blueberries

3/4 cup slivered almonds

For the Glaze & Topping

55g cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

2-3 tablespoons milk

1/4 cup slivered almonds

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease and flour a 24-cm Bundt pan. Set the pan aside.

  • In a medium bowl, combine the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt till it is well combined.

  • In large bowl, beat softened butter, cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

  • Beat till well combined and add vanilla extract along with the last egg. Carefully add flour mixture.

  • Fold in until it is well incorporated into batter. Stir in fresh blueberries and slivered almonds last.

  • Spoon batter into the prepared Bundt pan and bake for about 50 to 55 minutes until golden brown.

  • A toothpick inserted in the center of the baked cake should come out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes.

  • Invert the Bundt cake onto a wire rack and let cool completely to room temperature before glazing.

  • For the glaze, beat cream cheese and sugar together. Add milk until desired consistency is reached.

  • Drizzle thinly over the cooled cake and sprinkle with more slivered almonds. Makes 8-10 servings.

Recipe from Baker Street

Happy Women’s Day, my dear bloggers!

Today we celebrate the achievements of women all over the world and from all walks of life – from the dedicated homemaker to the independent career woman – who deserve to be honored for their significant contribution in shaping our present and future. As a spouse, daughter, sister, mother, co-worker or friend, a woman has an influential role in society, which is still unfortunately not acknowledged by many. While issues of gender bias and abuse persist at large, we still hesitate to take steps to raise awareness and empower women to recognize and stand up for their rights.

This year’s campaign theme, Be Bold for Change, aims at bringing the contribution of male and female to equal value and closing the gender gap but is it an impossible dream? We are always under constant pressure to comply with the norms society imposes on us that we fail to express our true selves. I deem myself lucky to have escaped this coercion, having always been free to speak my mind and do what I feel right. Today, I choose to be bold and take some time out for myself. To recover from my horrible period cramps and post viral symptoms and to bake a simple chocolate cake from Nigella Lawson, one of my baking inspirations and a remarkably gifted woman.

CHOCOLATE OLIVE OIL CAKE

Ingredients:

50g cocoa powder, sifted

125 ml boiling water

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

150g ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 pinch kitchen salt

150 ml regular olive oil

200g white caster sugar

3 eggs, room temperature

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 170°C/325ºF. Grease a 23 cm/9-inch spring form cake tin with a little oil.

  • Line the base of the tin with baking parchment. Measure and sift the cocoa powder in a bowl.

  • Whisk the boiling water into the cocoa till you have a smooth and chocolatey but runny paste.

  • Whisk in vanilla extract, set aside to cool. Combine ground almonds with baking soda and salt.

  • Put sugar, olive oil and eggs in a mixer with paddle attachment, beat vigorously for 3 minutes.

  • You should have a pale-primrose, aerated and thickened cream. Turn the speed down a little.

  • Pour in cocoa mixture. When all is scraped in, slowly tip in the ground almonds and scrape it.

  • Stir it a little with a spatula. Pour batter into the prepared tin. Bake cake for 40 to 45 minutes.

  • Bake until the sides are set and the centre on top still looks slightly damp. Cool for 10 minutes.

  • Serve the chocolate cake cut into thin slices with vanilla ice cream, like a pudding. Serves 8-10.

Nigella’s Olive Oil Chocolate Cake

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PrerrnaMirchi
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