Monkey Bread

I organised a Diabetes Party yesterday (basically I made proper Spanish hot chocolate and laid on the table all sorts of home baked goods).

If you know what monkey bread is (and if not, just read further) you will agree that it is the perfect choice as main dish for this sort of event. Honestly, enriched dough dipped in melted butter and covered with cinnamon sugar,  plus butter and brown sugar poured over the dough balls and a vanilla glaze to finish it up (in case it’s not sweet enough…). A must.

Monkey bread is at its best when eaten straight out from the oven, and I wanted a real treat for my guests. The drawback is they didn’t allow me very long for pictures… Oh! If you make it, remember it must be eaten by pulling it apart with your fingers directly from the main cake!

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For the dough

  • 8 g active dry yeast
  • 60 ml warm water, around 40 °C
  • 300 ml warm 2% milk, around 40 °C
  • 75 g melted butter
  • 70 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 625 g all-purpose flour

Mix the warm water, milk, melted butter, sugar, eggs, salt, and 3 cups of flour. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes. Add by hand the rest of the flour, until a firm dough is formed.

Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, around 5 minutes. Bring the dough into a ball and place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

For the coating and assembly

  • 170 g butter
  • 300 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 50 g chopped pecan nuts
  • 2/3 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Melt 110 g of the butter and mix the sugar and cinnamon in another bowl.

Grease a bundt pan.

Punch the cold dough gently and pull apart pieces and roll them into golf size balls (40 to 45 will be needed). Dip the balls in the melted butter and then coat them with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Arrange half of the balls in the bundt pan and spread the pecan nuts. Place the rest of the balls on top.

Cover the pan with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour.

Melt the remaining 60 g of butter and whisk in the brown sugar and vanilla extract. Pour it over the rised dough balls in the bundt pan. 

Bake in a preheated oven at 160 °C fan for 30 to 35 minutes until golden brown on top. Let cool slightly before removing it from the pan.

For the vanilla glaze

  • 120 g powder sugar
  • 45 ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

To make the glaze, whisk all the ingredients together and pour over the bread.

 

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Here you have my two most eager guests digging in!

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Lychee cupcakes

Litchi chinensis gives life to a highly demanded tropical fruit throughout the centuries since, guess what, Chinese emperors and other wealthy people kinda liked it.

The lychee tree can be as high as 12 metres and the seeds are toxic… so I can imagine more than one servant on top of a tree thinking about how to sneak a seed or two and get rid of the annoying imperial fondness…

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Lychee Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes.
For the cupcakes
  • 150 g butter
  • 150 g caster sugar
  • 175 g self-raising flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 lychees in light syrup

Preheat the oven to 160 °C fan. Beat the butter and caster sugar until fluffy, mix in the vanilla and eggs and finally the flour until combined, but don’t overmix! Take 12 lychees and blot them dry with a paper napkin. Place 12 cupcake liners in a cupcake tin, fill them 1/3, place one lychee in each cupcake case and cover the lychee with more batter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

For the frosting
  • 100 g butter
  • 200 g powder sugar
  • 1 tbsp of the lychee light syrup
  • Americolor deep pink & lemon yellow soft gel paste
Beat together the butter, lychee juice, and powder sugar with an electric mixer, adding the sugar and light syrup in small portions. Beat for another 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add a couple of drops of each soft gel paste to the buttercream and blend with palette knife. Finally pipe the frosting on top of cooled cupcakes with an open star piping nozzle.
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Pumpkin Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

Looks to me like it’s been long enough since Halloween now…

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Pumpkin Loaf with Cream Cheese Frosting

No butter, and it’s delicious.

For the pumpkin loaf

  • 2 eggs
  • 200 g sugar
  • 125 ml sunflower oil
  • 150 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125 g roasted pumpkin (or squash)

All can be done with a fork: beat the eggs, mix in the sugar, then the oil and vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients and stir into the egg mixture. Finally fold in the roasted pumpkin. Pour the mixture into a half kilo loaf tin and bake for 1 hour at 150 °C fan in a preheated oven.

For the cream cheese icing

  • 90 g softened cream cheese
  • 20 g softened butter
  • 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50 g powder sugar

Beat the cream cheese and butter until creamy, then beat in the vanilla and icing sugar (this better with a hand mixer…). Spread over the cold loaf.

Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting

Our favourite double, Mr. P

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2016-03-27-16-03-06Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting

For the cake tiers

  • 60 g chopped dark chocolate
  • 140 g cocoa powder
  • 250 ml boiling water
  • 220 grams flour
  • 400 grams sugar
  • 1.5 tsp  baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 250 ml sour cream
  • 125 ml sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 160 C fan. Butter two 23 cm round cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper.

Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl. Add the cup of boiling water and whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth. Set aside.

Combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt until combined. In another bowl, stir together sour cream, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add the liquid ingredients and the melted chocolate to the dry ingredients, and beat for 2 minutes

Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 35 to 45 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

For the peanut butter buttercream

  • 300 g softened butter
  • 300 grams powder sugar
  • 20 ml double cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 150 g smooth peanut butter

Beat the butter until smooth and then incorporate slowly the powder sugar, beat until smooth, for 3 minutes. Add premixed cream and vanilla and finally the peanut butter. Beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

To assemble the cake

Place the first layer, spread frosting on top, place the second tier. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on the top and sides of the cake (crumb seal) and place it on the fridge to set. Finally frost the top and sides of the cake.

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Pink Marble Cake

Ladies prefer pink, science says so! (or at least a rather small pool of British ladies, although it would be funny to check whether they were all convinced to enrol in the study as they were exiting Juicy Couture…).

This version of science doesn’t seem to convince everyone, but one way or the other, it’s still my first choice for a marble.

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Pink Marble Cake

  • 200 g flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 200 g powder sugar
  • 200 g rT butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 70 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • Pink food colouring (I used Americolor)

Preheat the oven to 170 °C fan and line a 450 g loaf tin .

Mix and sift together the flour, salt and baking powder. 

Beat butter and sugar until pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until creamy and well combined. Beat in the vanilla and milk, and fold in the flour.

Divide the batter into three portions: stir the cocoa powder into one portion and add some pink food colouring to the second. Leave the third as it is.

Spoon alternate dollops of the mixture into the cake tin (you will have one spoonful too many for each colour), then use a skewer to create a marble pattern by dragging it through the mixture in swirls. Do not overmix, the pattern will be  lost.

Bake around 50 minutes, until a toothpick come out clean from the centre and it looks golden brown. Cover with foil during the baking if the surface is browning up too much. Let cool on a wire rack, slice and enjoy!

EM Cake Push-Ups

I somehow found myself supporting Germany in the Eurocup… At least I found a colourful way.

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EM Cake Push-Ups

  • Fresh Strawberries (for the whole experience, go pick them yourself)
  • Vanilla pudding (Dr. Oetker, have a look at the Herrencreme post for the recipe!)
  • Melted chocolate (for the letters)

For the chocolate cake

  • 170 g self-raising flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 110 g butter
  • 160 g sugar
  • 125 ml buttermilk (or 125 ml normal milk + 7 ml vinegar, let stand 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 70 g dark chocolate

The batter for this chocolate cake is the same as the one for the Ferrero Roche Cupcakes (very rich), so have a look there for the instructions and then bake at 160° C fan for 20 miblog.pngnutes in a lined 27 cm round tin, check if it’s done using the skewer test.

To assemble!

For how to cut the cake and assemble, this is a good video (minute 4:20). No nonsense of baking cupcakes to destroy them…  And remember that with the cake leftovers you can always make cake pops 🙂

Peanut Butter Cookies with Fig Jam

St. Joan is around the corner and by then fig trees become a fruity beacon of hope that make my stomach rumble and my eyes weep with joy. If you have ever approached a fig tree, taken one of the fruits and eaten it there on the spot, you know what I’m talking about. This year I will have to reluctantly accept some seasonal fig jam instead… sad face.

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Peanut Butter Cookies with Fig Jam

Makes around 20 cookies

  • 175 g flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp bicarbonate
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 170 g crunchy peanut butter
  • 100 g room temperature butter
  • 65 g brown sugar
  • 65 g white sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100 g fig jam (or another kind if you can’t find it, my condolences)

Preheat the oven to 150 °C fan and line two baking sheets with baking paper.

Sift the flour, bicarbonate, baking powder and salt and mix thoroughly. Beat the butter and peanut butter until creamy, then add the sugars and keep beating until the mixture is whitish (as whitish as it can be considering the brown sugar…), light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla and finally fold in the flour (or beat at low speed).

Take ice cream scoop size portions of the dough and bake for 5 minutes. Take the biscuits out of the oven and make a hole in the middle with a dessert spoon (or with your thumb if it’s insensitive to heat, this is a thumbprint sort of cookie). Bake the cookies for 5 more minutes, until golden. Let them rest for another 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack and wait until cold. Finally fill the well with the fig jam and enjoy.

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