Monday, September 28, 2015

Almond, coconut and lime cake

Almond, coconut and lime cake / Bolo de amêndoa, coco e limão

Hello, is there anyone here? :)

It has been a while since I last published a recipe on this blog, and it has been a while since cooked anything new or interesting – I no longer know what baking is, but I’ve told you that already.

Nothing has changed in nearly a month: I’m still working like crazy (and on top of that I have resumed my Spanish classes), I rarely feel like cooking or baking and I don’t think I ever longed for weekends so much in my life before. I hope things get calmer with time and I also hope to be able to go back to cooking, baking and posting here more regularly, for it is something that makes me really happy.

While that doesn’t happen, I hope that after all this time there is still someone reading me for this cake deserves to be shared: it is absolutely delicious, tender and perfumed, and I am sure that I would feel a lot better now if there was still a slice of it around. :)

Almond, coconut and lime cake
slightly adapted from the über beautiful Summer Berries & Autumn Fruits: 120 Sensational Sweet & Savoury Recipes

1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 limes
1/3 cup (75g) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup (80ml) olive oil
1 ¾ cups (175g) almond meal
½ cup (50g) unsweetened desiccated coconut
¾ cup + 2 tablespoons (125g) all purpose fl our
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
4 medium eggs – I used 3 very large eggs, 70g each
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 rounded tablespoons sour cream*

freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes
100ml water
2 ½ tablespoons honey
1 ½ tablespoons granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a tall 20cm round cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter it as well.

Place the sugar and lime zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Set aside.
Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. Remove from the heat, stir in the olive oil and leave to cool slightly.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the almond meal, coconut, flour, baking powder and salt.
Using an electric mixer, whisk the eggs and sugar on medium-high speed until they are very thick and pale, tripled in volume and leave a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted from the bowl. Beat in the vanilla. Gently fold the almond mixture, then fold in the butter mixture and sour cream. Pour into the pan, smooth the top and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 40-50 minutes or until risen and golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.

Syrup: in a small saucepan, bring the lime juice, water, honey and sugar to the boil. Continue to bubble steadily until reduced by half and syrupy.
Leave the cake to cool in the pan on a wire rack for five minutes. Using a wooden skewer, make holes all over the top of the cake, then slowly pour over the syrup, gradually, waiting for each portion to be absorbed by the cake before pouring more. Let cool completely in the pan.

*homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serve 8-10

Monday, September 7, 2015

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies / Brownies com canela e Cointreau

My days have been very busy – a lot busier than I would like them to be, honestly – and I haven’t baked anything in weeks – I don’t even remember when I last turned on the oven for something sweet. Many weekends have gone by without cakes cooling down on racks around here. :(

I’m glad that I made a few baked goods before going back to work and I can share them with you here, like these absolutely wonderful brownies – the original recipe called for ancho chile powder, but I guess I am a bit conservative when it comes to chocolate desserts and don’t like the idea of adding chili to my brownies (sorry, Matt and Renato).

I omitted the chile powder, amped up the cinnamon and switched the fresh ginger for a healthy dose of Cointreau and the brownies turned out delicious – not only in flavor, but also in texture, very moist and fudgy (that is how I like brownies). You can use your imagination and use different spices or go for whisky or Marsala instead of Cointreau, for example, or if you have kids around use just the vanilla – I guarantee the brownies will be equally great.

Cinnamon Cointreau brownies
slightly adapted from the delicious Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Baked Elements: The Importance of Being Baked in 10 Favorite Ingredients

¾ cup (105g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Dutch cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
140g (5oz) dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter
¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
¼ cup (44g) packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Cointreau

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20cm (8in) square pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang on two opposite sides, then butter the foil as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cocoa powder and cinnamon. Set aside.
Place chocolate and butter in a large bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water) and stir until melted. Turn off heat, but keep bowl over water and add both sugars. Whisk until completely combined and remove bowl from pan. Let stand until room temperature, about 20 minutes.

Add eggs, one at a time, to chocolate-butter mixture and whisk until just combined. Add vanilla and Cointreau and whisk to combine. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or the brownies will be cakey.
Sprinkle flour-cocoa mixture over chocolate mixture. Using a spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the wet until there is just a trace amount of the flour-cocoa mix visible.
Pour batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake brownies for 20-25 minutes; brownies are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool brownies completely before cutting and serving.

Makes 16

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs / Espaguete com farofinha crocante de sardinha e orégano

When I was a kid, my mom was always making something with canned sardines: they were cheap and a good staple for a family with a limited budget. One of the things she made the most was a sardine salad to be eaten in a sandwich – the same thing as a tuna salad, but made with sardines instead, it was delicious! I loved it.

Because of that, it is impossible not to think of mom whenever I see canned sardines, and when I saw this gorgeous can while food shopping in my last trip I knew I would not come home without it. A couple of weeks ago a new issue of the beautiful Donna Hay magazine arrived and there I found a recipe of pasta served with crispy breadcrumbs dotted with pieces of canned sardines – it was the perfect way of using my treasure.

This pasta dish is very simple and straightforward, I made it for a lazy Sunday lunch and it was ready in no time at all – my husband wasn’t too crazy about the sardine breadcrumbs, but I was more than happy to eat his share by the spoonful. :)

Pasta with crispy sardine and oregano breadcrumbs
slightly adapted from the always fantastic Donna Hay Magazine

400g spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup fresh oregano leaves, packed
50g canned sardines, drained and chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 ripe roma tomatoes, deseeded and cut into wedges
pinch of sugar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Before draining, reserve ½ cup (120ml) of the water to use in the sauce.

In the meantime, make the sauce: heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs, oregano and sardines and cook, stirring, for 4-5 minutes or until breadcrumbs are golden and crispy. Season with salt and pepper, remove from the heat and keep warm.

Wipe the frying pan clean with a piece of paper towel and add the remaining olive oil. Heat over medium, add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the sugar, then season with salt and pepper. Add the reserved cooking liquid and the balsamic vinegar, stir to combine and cook for 2-3 minutes or until thickened. Add the pasta to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve topped with the sardine breadcrumbs.

Serves 4

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Orange Marsala pound cake

Orange Marsala pound cake / Bolo de laranja e Marsala

Many, many years ago, without much thought, I started baking a cake every weekend, and it has become a tradition here in my house: if I don’t see a cake cooling over a wire rack on a Saturday it just doesn’t feel like the weekend.

Sometimes I struggle with choosing which cake to make, either because I have too many ideas at once or because I don’t have any. :) Weeks ago I was cooking lunch and as I poured some Marsala over the broccolini I immediately thought of adding it to a cake. After we finished eating I found an orange in my fridge and the flavor of the cake was then decided – just like that. Inspiration coming from all sorts of places – I like that a lot.

This is a moist, delicious and fragrant cake, one that I once made with whisky and nutmeg and that it turned out even more fantastic with a touch of citrus and Marsala.

Do you like making cakes on the weekend? What is your favorite cake flavor?

Orange Marsala pound cake
slightly adapted from the delicious Pure Dessert: True Flavors, Inspiring Ingredients, and Simple Recipes

2 tablespoons whole milk, room temperature
2 tablespoons Marsala wine
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
150g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 1 large orange
105g cake flour (homemade: 15g corn starch + 90g all purpose flour)
55g whole wheat flour
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
180g unsalted butter, softened and in chunks

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 4 to 5 cups loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper.

In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, Marsala, eggs, and vanilla to combine.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine sugar and orange zest and rub with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Whisk in the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the butter then pour in half of the egg mixture. Beat on low speed just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Add half of the rest of the egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Add the rest of the egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the surface. Bake until golden and risen and a toothpick comes out clean, 55-60 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, unmold carefully and transfer to a wire rack. Cool completely, then peel off the paper.

Serves 8-10

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Waffles for crazy, hectic days


My days have been pretty hectic lately, too much to learn in a short period of time – I haven’t cooked much and I don’t remember the last time I actually baked something (I made chocolate mousse last weekend for Sunday’s lunch, let’s pretend that counts). :) The crazy routine is not supposed to last forever, and while it does I’ll try not to let it get in the way of my posts here, but I won’t make promises I cannot keep – I just hope that those of you who have been around for so long bear with me during these days and do not jump ship. :)

I made these waffles a couple of weeks ago to go with an episode of Hannibal (I am brave enough to eat while watching it) and they turned out so good I had to share them with you: crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, perfumed with vanilla, they are absolutely delicious, and the good thing is the batter is put together in no time and can be refrigerated overnight if tightly covered – if you’re pressed for time like I have been lately, this recipe should be permanently on your refrigerator door.

from the beautiful Falling Cloudberries: A World of Family Recipes

2 eggs, separated
pinch of salt
1/3 cup (67g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
4 ½ tablespoons (63g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk, room temperature

Whisk the egg whites and the salt until they’re fluffy and just holding soft peaks.
In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and vanilla until creamy. Whisk in the butter, then the flour and baking powder (batter will be thick). Add the milk, then fold in the egg whites.

Heat a waffle iron. Add about 1/3 cup of batter per waffle, then cook following the manufacturer's instructions, until the waffles are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Makes about 6

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