Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Rum Raisin Sponge Cake

After about two weeks or so passed with no baking activity, suddenly I was craving something sweet and cakey.  I chose to make this rum raisin sponge cake.  A long time ago I baked this but I made some mistake in the process and it came out wrong.  This time I decided to try again and proceeded to make this today.  The recipe came from an Indonesian baking book, and books from Indonesia are infamous for being ambiguous about explaining the step-by-step process of baking.  I don't know if this has changed lately because the book that I have was bought 5 years ago.  It seems that when it's a book about cake or Western-style baking, the instructions are scanty; I usually have to consult baking books that I bought here.  Even with the help of my baking books, still I'm puzzled as to what kind of method would be appropriate for certain recipes.  Just recently one of my friends complained that she too found that those baking books that she bought in Indonesia were useless, the temperature of the oven is missing as well as how long it is to bake the cake.  So much for hauling many kilos of books, only to found out that they're not worth the money.

Having said that, I still buy some books whenever I travel to Indonesia because Indonesian-style cakes are different from any cakes I found here.  The flavor combination reflects what I used to eat and the recipes are not overly sweet.  Back to the cake, I started by macerating raisins in rum the night before so the flavor will be full-bodied.  Okay, honestly, I made this twice in three days because I messed up during the mixing and the cake was too dense to be called sponge cake.  I did one again today and made some tweaks in the recipe to get everything right.   Besides, my husband is enamored with the cake that he urged me to make it again.

To make the lightest sponge cake, make sure you sift the flour, sift the confectioners' sugar, beat the egg whites to soft peak, sift the flour again before mixing together, fold the ingredients with light hand, and pray that it'll come out intact :)  Here is the recipe for the cake, it seems fitting to eat this since the weather definitely says spring.

Rum Raisin Sponge Cake

Serves 8 to 10

75 gr raisins

2 Tablespoons dark rum

100 gr all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

4 egg yolks

25 gr granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

100 ml canola cooking oil

4 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

75 gr confectioners' sugar, sifted

Extra confectioners' sugar for sprinkling

The day before making the cake, place raisins in a small bowl with the rum and let it steep overnight covered.

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl.  Sift confectioners' sugar.  Have ready a 8-x 3-inch round cake pan, grease bottom and sides of pan, line bottom of pan with parchment paper, and grease the paper again.  Preheat oven to 350 degree F.

Place egg yolks and sugar in a bowl of a standing mixer, beat with wire whisk until it turns pale in color, about 2 minutes, scraping sides frequently.  Add vanilla extract and canola oil, beat again for about 1 minute.

In a clean bowl with wire whisk, beat the egg whites with cream of tartar until frothy.  Pour confectioners' sugar gradually, scrape sides if needed.  Beat with high speed until the mixture reaches soft peak.  Take a cupful of egg white mixture to the bowl of egg yolks mixture, stir until combined.  Add this mixture to the egg whites and using folding technique, fold these two together until halfway combined.  Sift flour mixture on top of the bowl and fold again until the flour disappears.  Lastly, add the macerated raisins and fold until well combined.

Pour into the pan, tap the pan lightly on the counter and bake on the center rack about 40 to 45 minutes.  The top of cake should be brown and spring back when touched.  When it's done, immediately invert the pan onto a plate lined with parchment paper.  Peel off the parchment paper from the bottom of cake and invert again onto a cooling rack lined with parchment paper.  Let it cool completely before cutting.  Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar if desired.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kue Lopis

Kue Lopis is a traditional Indonesian sweet snack.  It is made of sweet glutinous rice wrapped with banana leaves and boiled until it becomes one solid mass.  Then it is eaten with palm sugar syrup flavored with pandanus and kaffir lime leaves along with steamed shredded coconut.  It sounds complicated huh?  But once one learns how to do it, it's not so complicated to make.  A lot of steps, yes, undoubtedly.

Traditionally the shape of kue lopis is triangular, but cylinder shape  is acceptable.  It's easier too in that when it's being boiled, there's less chance that the sweet rice will escape from the package.  For a long time this has been my favorite traditional sweet snack, but I haven't learned how to make it until my mother- and father-in-law visited us earlier this month.  My mother-in-law has a lot of wealth in creating Indonesian dishes and snacks.  So I wouldn't want to miss the opportunity to learn how to make kue lopis from her.  Everytime I see her there's always not enough time to be just the two of us in the kitchen.  Just a few precious hours after we went out to Costco was enough for making kue lopis.  She showed me the easy way to wrap the package, and we could hardly wait until it was done.  When it's done, my husband also arrived home from work, so we all got to taste it and it's absolutely fabulous.  Remember, I haven't eaten this for a long, long time, so I was partially biased :)

Forgive me if I don't include the recipe here, it's her recipe after all and she didn't want to share it with everyone else.  Maybe in the future, when I could get a copyright release from her then I'll write it down here ;)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Honey Citrus Chicken

Okay, even though it's still raining, cloudy, and cold in Oregon, I wouldn't let them stop me from grilling food outside.  The weather was much better weeks before; this week is definitely wetter.  I made this Honey Citrus Chicken at the end of February and was pleased with the recipes.  The chicken was marinated with pineapple, orange, and lime a day before.  The marinade was then mix with honey to be used for brushing the chicken while they're grilled.  The remainder of it was reduced to make a sauce.  I didn't put the jalapeno in the marinade because my son wouldn't be able to eat it; instead, I sliced it thinly for my husband and I.

This was paired with Orzo Salad with Vegetables and Herbs; an unapologetically refreshing combination and a sign that I couldn't wait for the spring to come.

Honey Citrus Chicken

Serves 8

3 large oranges

2 limes

2 cups diced pineapple

1 3-inch jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed

1 teaspoon minced garlic

3 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons honey

8 6- to 7-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Kosher salt

Vegetable oil for oiling grill rack and for brushing chicken

Grate enough orange peel from oranges to yield 1 teaspoon and then juice them to yield 1 cup.  Grate enough lime peel from the limes yield 1 teaspoon and then juice them to yield 1/2 cup.  Set aside both zests and juices.

Combine diced pineapple, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor in a food processor or blender and process until mixture is almost smooth.  Pour marinade into a large, nonreactive shallow dish, and add orange and lime zests and juices, soy sauce, chopped cilantro, chopped basil, and 1 tablespoon black pepper.  Stir to blend.  Remove 1/3 cup of the marinade to a small nonreactive bowl and whisk in honey.  (Cover and refrigerate the honey mixture until ready to grill chicken.)  Add chicken to dish and turn to coat in marinade.  Cover and refrigerate 4 to 5 hours, turning several times.

Remove chicken from marinade and using a rubber spatula, scrape excess marinade from breasts.  Strain marinade into a heavy, medium saucepan.  To make sauce, boil marinade in saucepan until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 15 minutes.  Whisk in butter and season with additional pepper and salt if desired.

Oil a grill rack and arrange 4 to 5 inches from heat source.  Prepare grill for a hot fire (high temperature).  Brush chicken with oil and grill, turning several times and basting with reserved honey mixture, until chicken springs back when touched with your fingers and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a sharp knife, 4 to 5 minutes per side.

Arrange breasts on a serving platter with sauce.

Source:  adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom

Orzo Salad with Vegetables and Herbs

This is a good salad to make to accompany grilled meat or chicken, I made this along with my Honey Citrus Chicken.  The orzo pasta goes well with a medley of vegetables, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions; the mint and parsley add a herbal tone to the salad.  I love the combination of the texture and the color in it too.

Orzo Salad with Vegetables and Herbs

Serves 8



6 to 8 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

2 2/3 cups (about 21 ounces) orzo

1 1/4 cups diced tomatoes

3/4 cup diced peeled cucumber

1/2 cup chopped green onions including 2 inches of green stem

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest


3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup olive oil


Freshly ground black pepper

1 head Boston lettuce--optional

To make the salad:  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Add sugar snap peas; cook 1 minute, then transfer peas to a strainer with a slotted spoon.  Rinse with cold water and drain.  Add orzo to the same pot.  Boil until tender but still firm to bite; about 8 minutes.  Drain and cool.

In a large nonreactive bowl, mix together orzo, sugar snap peas, tomatoes, cucumber, green onions, parsley, mint, and lemon zest.

To make the dressing:  Combine lemon juice, lemon zest, and garlic in a medium bowl.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Pour enough dressing over the salad to coat well.  You may have a little dressing left over.  Season salad with salt and pepper, if needed.  (The salad can be made 1 hour ahead.  Do not let it sit longer, or the peas and onions will start to lose their bright color.  Cover salad and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature before serving.)

To serve, line shallow serving bowl with lettuce leaves, if you desire.  Mound salad in bowl.

Source:  adapted from The Big Book of Backyard Cooking by Betty Rosbottom

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oatmeal Butterscotch Pies

How do you choose what to make for desserts?  For me, my inspiration is in my freezer, fridge, and pantry.  I have a tendency to stockpile any things related to baking--yeah, it's a bad habit.  And consequently from time to time I lost track of what I save in the freezer, fridge, and pantry.  Then I really do have to jolt down what I save in the freezer because sometimes I have to throw away things that's been there too long.  But, fortunately this time was not the case for my pie crusts.  I have saved three small-sized crusts from making pies back in October.  For a while I've reminded myself to use those crusts quickly before they'd spoil.  I finally had the time make these individual pies at the end of February.  Yes, these are from last month because I've only the time to post about it now.

The other factor that made up these pies were what I had on my pantry.  I saw butterscotch baking chips, lots of them, and I had the urge to use them; and there's oatmeal--the staple of breakfast item.  I tried to find out what would be best paired with those chips and oatmeal. So  I opened my fridge and saw half a bag of shredded coconut.    Quickly, I browsed my baking book collection and yes, I found a recipe that used all those items.  The final result was these oatmeal butterscotch pies.  If you like oatmeal butterscotch cookies, you've got to make these pies.  These were like giant chewy cookies but with the added crunch of the pie crusts.  That's just even better version.

I made mine on tart pans because of the size of the crusts, and the filling seeped through because of that--but don't worry about that--you could make it on the regular 9-inch pie pan and the recipe belows would be for that size pan.  But if you want to make it into a small pie using 4-inch tart pans like mine, divide the pastry crust into 6 equal pieces.  When it's firm enough to be roll, roll each piece into a circle slightly larger than the diameter of the tart pans.  Tuck the pastry into pan without stretching and press on the crust gently against the sides of pan.  Put them in the freezer for 15 minutes and then proceed with the rest of the recipes, just divide the filling for 6 pie shells.  Just before baking, place a baking sheet under the tart pans to catch drippings.  Bake about 25 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 350 degree F, then bake again about 20-25 minutes or until the center of pie doesn't jiggle much and the crust is dark brown.

Try pairing this with not so sweet whipped cream because the pie itself is already sweet enough.  I like mine with lots of cream, before I know it I eat one whole small pie :)

Oatmeal Butterscotch Pies

Makes one 9-inch pie

1 recipe pie pastry, single crust, your own recipe or use mine here


2 large eggs

2/3 cup sugar

3/4 cup dark corn syrup--use light corn syrup is fine if you only have that available

1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

3/4 cup rolled oats--old fashioned or quick cooking, not instant

1/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Prepare the pastry and refrigerate until firm enough to roll, about 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin.  Invert the pastry over a 9-inch standard pie pan, tuck the pastry into the pan, without stretching it, and sculpt the edge into an upstanding ridge.  Place it in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Preheat the oven to 375 degree F.

Combine the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, and butter in a large bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until well blended, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the oats, coconut, flour, butterscotch chips, nuts, and vanilla.  Pour the filling into the chilled pie shell.

Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.  Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degree F and rotate the pie 180 degrees.  Bake until the center is set, 25 to 30 minutes.  When done, the top of the pie will be dark golden brown and crusty.  Give the pie a sharp little nudge.  The filling shouldn't move in waves.

Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool.  Serve just barely warm or at room temperature.

Source:  adapted from Pie by Ken Haedrich

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

This cinnamon swirl bread is one of many sweet breads I've discovered that's big on flavor yet very easy to make with the aid of a bread machine.  I purposely keep a bread machine just to make bread dough or pizza dough because it never fails to produce any kinds of dough I need.  And I don't even have the most expensive brand, in fact this machine was given as a gift about 10 years ago.

Cinnamon and brown sugar is a duo that can't be separated, there's got to be a recipe for cinnamon bread in every collection.  If you like cinnamon raisin bread, you won't miss the raisins in this bread.  I've made it with raisins and without raisins, both versions won two thumbs up from two members of my family and a lucky family of seven from my church who's gotten a loaf of this bread last week.

The texture of the bread is terrific, soft and buttery.  Slather one or two slices, toasted, with additional butter or peanut butter in the morning will get your day right from the beginning.

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Makes 1 1/2-pound loaf

For the dough:

1 cup water

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1/4 cup sugar

3 cups bread flour

1/3 cup dry buttermilk powder

1 tablespoon gluten

1 1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons SAF yeast or 2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

For the cinnamon swirl:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted for brushing

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

Place all ingredients in the pan according to the order in the manufacturer's instructions.  Set program for Dough cycle and start.

Grease a 9-x 5-inch loaf.  When the machine beeps at the end of the cycle, remove the pan and turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface.  Pat the dough into one 8-x 12-inch rectangle.  Brush the rectangle with melted butter.  Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon, leaving a 1-inch edge all the way around.  Starting at a short end, roll up jelly-roll style.  Tuck the end under and pinch the bottom seam.

Place the loaf in the prepared 9-x 5-inch pan.  Spry the top with cooking spray and cover lightly with plastic wrap.  Let rise at room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.  In about 15-20 minutes before the timer is done, preheat the oven to 350 degree F.  Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until golden brown and the sides have slightly contracted from the pan.  If the crust brown too quickly, place a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top.

Place the bread on a rack and let cool to room temperature before slicing.  Dust with plain or vanilla confectioners' sugar, if desired.

Source:  adapted from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook by Beth Hensperger