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Turn this simple cake into a visual masterpiece by baking it in a special Bundt pan.  The dense, flavorful crumb of this rich butter cake from Sweetapolia takes the shape of the Bundt pan curves and slides out effortless after it has cooled to room temperature. Use real vanilla beans and nothing else to distract you from the subtle fragrance these tiny seeds impart to your finished cake; you will be able to smell them all over the house once your cake comes out of the oven. I was lucky to get my hands on some gourmet beans from Madagascar [courtesy of my good friend, the Wolfman] but if you cannot find good quality ones, vanilla paste might be the next best alternative. This Bundt cake is so good that it disappeared overnight almost as soon as it was ready to cut and serve and I should warn you that there is the risk of potential fights over the last piece of cake here.

VANILLA BEAN BUNDT CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Vanilla Bundt Cake

3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour, sifted

1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder

1/2 teaspoon (2g) baking soda

1/2 teaspoon (4g) kitchen salt

1 cup+2 tablespoons (255g) butter, softened

1-3/4 cups (350g) granulated sugar

2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise

4 large eggs, at room temperature

1/4 teaspoon (1.25 ml) pure lemon extract

1 cup (240 ml) buttermilk, room temperature

For the Vanilla Bean Glaze

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2-3 tablespoons (30-45 ml) whole milk

About 1 cup confectioners’ sugar

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter a Bundt pan and dust with flour, knocking out excess.

  • Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Beat the butter and sugar in an electric mixer.

  • Beat at medium speed till pale and fluffy for about 5 minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla beans with knife.

  • Add to the butter mixture and beat until well combined for 1 minute. Add eggs one at a time, beating well.

  • Beat in lemon extract until well combined. At low speed add flour mixture and milk alternately in batches.

  • Start and end with flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Spoon batter into pan and smooth over top.

  • Gently tap pan on counter to eliminate air bubbles. Bake until skewer inserted into center comes out clean.

  • Cool cake in pan for 1 hour, invert onto a rack and cool it completely to room temperature for about 1 hour.

  • For the glaze, split vanilla bean and scrape seeds into milk. Add confectioners’ sugar gradually until thick.

  • Once the cake has cooled, drizzle glaze over top. Sprinkle with sugar pearls if desired. Serves about 20-25.

Vanilla Bean Bundt Cake

My very first attempt at baking without the usual butter and eggs, this moist and fluffy cake does not look like it has been deprived of the very basic ingredients of cake baking. The fat to build up the structure of this cake comes mainly from milk solids which is probably healthier than the lipids found in butter or margarine. The resulting texture is a pleasant spongy crumb which benefits from the addition of anything from dried fruit, chocolate chips or chopped nuts. And to dress it up for Holi, the festival of colours, I drizzled the finished cake with a mixture of vibrant shades of red, green and yellow sugar icing. Wishing everyone a happy and colourful Holi 2014!

EGGLESS, BUTTERLESS CAKE

Ingredients:

2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups Nestle Dessert Cream

1 cup unsweetened yogurt

3/4 cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup dried raisin-berries

1/2 cup full cream milk

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180oC. Grease and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan. Sift flour, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl.

  • In another bowl, beat the cream with sugar, yogurt and vanilla extract until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is homogenous.

  • Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture alternating with the milk and fold in carefully until everything comes together smoothly.

  • Lastly fold in the raisin-berries and pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 180oC for about 45 minutes until golden brown.

  • Remove the cake from the oven and stand for 10 minutes before turning out on a wire rack to cool completely. Makes 20 servings.

Happy Holi friends!

Crème caramel, or flan as we all know it here, is a classic dessert loved by just about everyone. It is hard to go wrong with this popular crowd-pleaser which requires nothing more than sugar, milk and eggs. The amber-coloured, soft caramel topping is what distinguishes gives this elegant dessert from a similar custard-based dish, the crème brûlée, which has a thin brittle coating of caramelized sugar. You can either divide this recette grandmère to make individual servings or pour everything in one large ovenproof dish if you have to impress a large party of guests. They are sure to go for second helpings so I recommend that you keep a second one in the fridge, just in case…

FLAN / CREME CARAMEL

Ingredients:

4 eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 cups full cream milk

2 tbs caster sugar

1 tbs vanilla extract

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Method:

  • In a heavy-based saucepan, place 1/2 cup sugar and heat over low heat until it melts and becomes amber coloured.

  • Carefully pour the hot caramel into a large ramekin or mould and swirl around so that it coats the base and sides well.

  • Lightly beat eggs in a large bowl. Heat milk in a saucepan until it simmers. Do not boil. Slowly pour hot milk over eggs.

  • Stir continuously as you add milk to the eggs otherwise the mixture will curdle. Beat until smooth, then add vanilla.

  • Pour the custard over the caramel and place the ramekin in a water bath. You can use either an oven or a pressure cooker.

  • In both cases, place the ramekin so that it is half submerged in water. Cook for 30 minutes until the top appears set.

  • Remove ramekin from the water bath and cool completely to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

 

  • Run a thin knife around edges to loosen and carefully invert flan onto a serving plate. Makes 8 generous servings.

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