Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Back to Basics - Orange Butter Cake

After two hectic months of work, it is finally time for a short break. While I recharge myself physically and emotionally so that I may be all ready to take on any challenges or pressures at work, it is also time to revisit my pantry and say Hi to my baking books once again. 

Looking at the few blocks of Président French butter tucked away quietly in my refrigerator, I felt that it was time to whip up a butter cake; something simple yet able to satisfy my sweet palate at the same time.   

Referring to the Sicilian Orange Cake recipe from Almost Bourdain, a fuss free recipe that uses but a few easy to obtain ingredients, the end result was a fluffy and tender butter cake with bursts of bright citrusy flavour from the orange zests used.

I particularly loved the proportion of butter, sugar and eggs formulated in this recipe. When doing most butter cakes, the amount of eggs used is often too much for the volume of creamed butter to hold. This often results in a somewhat curdled mixture which is said to affect the fluffiness of the resulting cake or may cause the cake to be oily.

When I was adding eggs (170g) to the creamed butter ( 250g), the eggs and butter emulsified beautifully without a single trace of separation, making the mixing process a reassuring one. I strongly believe this might be the tipping point before the butter-egg mixture separates should any more eggs be added to the mixture. I will be discussing further on this hypothesis in my upcoming post on banana butter cake.

Orange Butter Cake (recipe slightly adapted from Almost Bourdain)
Serving size: 9 x 5 inch loaf cake, serves about 10 slices.
Taste and texture: Citrusy, fluffy and tender with the right amount of moisture.
Equipment and materials:
  • 9 x 5 inch loaf tin
  • Handheld electric mixer/ Stand electric mixer
  • Spatula
  • Grater
  • Mixing bowls
  • Wire rack
  • flour sieve
  • Weighing scale
  • Baking/ parchment paper
  • Pastry brush for oiling pan

  • 250g good quality unsalted butter, softened
  • 185g castor sugar
  • 170g whole eggs, at room temperature 
  • 100ml freshly squeezed orange juice
  • finely grated zests of 2 oranges (see instructions below)
  • 250g self raising flour

Making the cake:

Preheat Oven and preparing baking tin - Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 9 x 5 loaf tin with baking paper.

Rubbing orange zests and sugar - Grate orange zests over castor sugar to catch the orange oil. Using your hands, rub the orange zests and the castor sugar until the flavour is infused into the sugar. The castor sugar will be pale orange in colour. 

Creaming the butter - In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and orange-infused sugar on medium high speed for about 5 minutes until pale and fluffy (as mentioned in how to cream butter).

Adding eggs to creamed butter - Add beaten eggs to creamed butter in 6 additions and mix on medium speed, ensuring each addition is well incorporated before adding the next addition. The batter will become wet as more eggs is added but will slowly firm up when the last portion of eggs are mixed in.

Adding flour mixture and orange juice - Sieve 1/3 of the self raising flour to the egg-butter mixture. Mix on low speed until the last bit of flour is absorbed. Next, add in half the orange juice and continue mixing until the orange juice is incorporated. Repeat the mixing process by sifting another 1/3 portion of self raising flour, followed by the remaining half of the orange juice, lastly followed by sifting in the remaining 1/3 of the self raising flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula to incorporate loose ingredients.

Baking the cake - Pour batter into lined 9 x 5 loaf tin. Bake the batter for 50-60 mins at 180 degrees C. Allow cake to cool in loaf tin for 10 minutes before removing cake from loaf tin. Allow cake to cool completely on a wire rack before storing.

Instagram link: http://instagram.com/bakertanbakes

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Awards 2012

Apologies to my fellow bakers Jane from Passionate about Baking and Judy from A Busy Gran's Kitchen for accepting the following awards so late! Thank you ladies for passing these awards to me, I am truly honoured and proud to be a recipient  of these two awards =]. 

The past two months have been quite a mad rush, leaving me fatigued after my work hours. Even during my free time, I still have to do some work-related planning and preparation. The rest of my free time is spent with my family and close friends. On a good weekend when I have no plans to step out of the house, I would just stay at home and rest, doing nothing much except surfing the net and watching tv. Hence, little attention have been given to baking and blogging for the past two months.

Hopefully, I can to get out this cycle soon and get some baking and blogging done.. 

Instagram link: http://instagram.com/bakertanbakes

Chinese New Year Bakes 2012

My baking blog seems to be gathering cobwebs due to several weeks of neglect. Before it continues to fall apart due to lack of maintenance, it is time to do some "Spring Cleaning" and "repair works".

This post was supposed to be up during Chinese New Year period. For this Chinese New Year, I have decided to move away from doing just the usual pineapple tarts. Come to think of it, it is my fourth year doing the all-time festive favourite. Before I could decide if I want to make the pineapple paste from scratch, mum happily handed me two packets of store-bought paste, leaving me with no choice but to use them.

Ever since I had my maiden attempt on making homemade pineapple jam, the bar has been raised. I am no longer satisfied with the one-dimensional plainly sweet pineapple jam. There is far too much sugar in store-bought paste, probably necessary to allow the paste to keep for a long period of time. In addition, store-bought jam is much drier compared to homemade ones, does not taste as fruity and lack the cinnamon taste which gives it the extra oomph.

Next year, I will likely not be doing any pineapple tarts and will be shifting the focus to trying out other CNY cookies instead.

Preparing the pineapple balls and pineapple tart crust.

Store bought pineapple paste. Sweet and sticky.

Pineapple tart pastry made with Lurpak butter.

Besides doing pineapple tarts, I have tried Florence's peanut cookies recipe. These cookies are so fragile that they crumble in the mouth right away, giving the melt-in-the-mouth texture. Personally, I prefer my peanut cookies to be firm and crunchy, but taste-wise there is nothing for me to find fault with, for they are packed with loads of peanut flavour. I will be using caster sugar in place of the icing sugar for this same recipe next CNY to give a crunchy texture instead.

Just a few tubs of CNY goodies I have made.

Peanut cookies and pineapple tarts.  

Peanut Cookies (recipe from Do What I Like by Florence)
Taste and Texture: Strong peanut flavour with melt-in-the-mouth texture.

click on the following link for recipe:

Instagram link: http://instagram.com/bakertanbakes
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