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While I love to experiment with different cake textures and flavors, the recurrent request in my house, especially when it comes to birthday requests, remains the ubiquitous butter cake. And though I suspect it must have something to do with the yummy melt-in-the-mouth factor, homemade butter cakes seem to charmingly convey the message “I made it myself” without actually having to say the words.

One step ahead of your regular vanilla butter cake, this stunning Almond cake, baked in a Bundt pan, has all the makings of a perfect birthday cake. It was my first and only choice when I started planning my mum’s birthday. “With almonds, almond extract, and almond liqueur all working together in this cake, there’s plenty of almond flavor for even the biggest almond fan.” I cannot help agreeing here with Jennifer from Bake or Break, even if I made the switch from liqueur to more extract. Other than the simple sugar glaze, this beauty needs nothing more a handful of toasted almonds on top to look pretty. My mum loved it so much that she did not want to share her cake with anyone 😛

ALMOND BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cake

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup almond flour

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar

4 large eggs, room temperature

3 tablespoons almond-flavored liqueur

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 cup full cream milk

For the Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

3 to 5 tablespoons heavy cream

1 teaspoon almond extract

Toasted sliced almonds, for garnish

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Generously grease a 10-cup or 12-cup Bundt pan. Whisk together the flours.

  • Add salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Set aside. Using electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter.

  • Add granulated sugar and brown sugar, beat well until it is light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time.

  • Mix well after each addition. Add liqueur, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Reduce mixer speed to low.

  • Add the flour mixture in three portions, alternating with two portions of milk. Mix it just until combined.

  • Transfer the batter to the pan and spread evenly. Bake 50 to 60 minutes until the cake is golden brown.

  • A pick inserted into the center should come out clean. Cool the cake in pan on wire rack for 20 minutes.

  • Flip cake onto a serving plate and leave it to cool completely. While the cake is cooling, make the glaze.

  • Whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, 3 tablespoons of the cream, and the almond extract in a bowl.

  • Add more cream, a teaspoonful at a time, until the glaze has the desired consistency, thick but pourable.

  • Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and garnish with toasted sliced almonds. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

Happy Birthday Mama!

Like any recipe with a great name, this Blueberry Boy Bait taken from Smitten Kitchen, also has a great story. In 1954, a 15-year-old girl stole the show (but only won second prize) in the junior division of an early Pillbury Bake-Off with a variation of this recipe, named, she said, after the effect it had on boys. Cook’s Country magazine dusted this recipe off from the Pillsbury Bake-Off Dessert Cookbook and made a few tweaks to bring it more deliciously into the modern age. Butter was swapped for shortening, the quantity of blueberries was doubled and some plain sugar was replaced with brown sugar. The result? Let’s just say you don’t need to be a boy to be lured in.

BLUEBERRY BOY BAIT

Ingredients:

For the Blueberry Cake

2 cups (250g) plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon table salt or kosher salt

16 tablespoons unsalted butter (225g), softened

3/4 cup (145g) packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup (100g) granulated sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

1 cup (235 ml) whole milk

1/2 cup (85g) blueberries, fresh

For the Topping

1/2 cup (about 85g) blueberries, fresh

1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Method:

  • Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13″x 9″ baking pan.

  • Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Beat butter and sugars on medium-high speed.

  • Beat till fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until incorporated, scraping down bowl.

  • Reduce speed to medium and beat in one-third of flour mixture until incorporated; beat in half of milk.

  • Beat in half of remaining flour mixture, then remaining milk, and finally add the remaining flour mixture.

  • Toss the blueberries with remaining one teaspoon flour. Using rubber spatula, gently fold in blueberries.

  • Spread batter into prepared pan. Scatter blueberries over top of batter. Stir sugar and cinnamon together.

  • Sprinkle over batter. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, for 45 to 50 minutes.

  • Cool in pan 20 minutes, then turn out and place on serving platter. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

  • Cake can be stored in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days. Makes 12 generous servings.

Blueberry Boy Bait

It must have been weeks since I last spotted a decent punnet of fresh strawberries in the supermarkets, the price being often blown out of proportion for a mere 250g of these imported berries. I have yet to come across a local variety that tastes sweet enough to be eaten on its own, so usually, they find their way into my baked goodies where their relative tartness can be overlooked. Though I initially bought these berries to be enjoyed with a tub of mascarpone cream, I found myself being drawn to these fine-looking Strawberry Crumb Muffins from Baker by Nature. Do not go by the long ingredients list – other than the strawberries, you will probably have everything you need in your kitchen for the delicious muffin batter, the buttery crumb topping, and the sticky glaze.

STRAWBERRY CRUMB MUFFINS

Ingredients:

For the Crumb Topping

1/2 cup granulated sugar

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled

For the Strawberry Muffins

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon kitchen salt

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups white granulated sugar

1 large egg plus 2 large egg yolks

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

1 1/2 cups strawberries, chopped

For the Vanilla Glaze

1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons heavy cream

Method:

  • For the crumb topping, combine the granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and butter in a large bowl.
  • Using forks or a pastry cutter, combine until mixture is very crumbly and resembles a coarse meal.

  • The crumbs should be about pea-sized. Place crumb mixture in the fridge or freezer until needed.
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter and line a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, sift together 3 cups all purpose flour, baking powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Using an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium speed till light and fluffy.

  • Beat for about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolks, and vanilla and continue beating till well combined.
  • Reduce the speed to low; alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with flour.

  • Be sure not to over mix. Place strawberries and remaining flour in a bowl; toss to coat completely.
  • Add the strawberries and any excess flour into the batter; use a spatula to gently fold the berries.

  • Divide batter evenly among prepared pans. Top each cup with 2 tablespoons of crumb topping.
  • Bake for 20-22 minutes until tops are golden brown and a toothpick in middle comes out clean.

  • For the vanilla glaze, combine confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and cream and whisk till it is smooth.
  • Add more cream to reach desired consistency and drizzle over the muffins right before serving.

Strawberry Crumb Muffins

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PrerrnaMirchi
Mauritius

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