Monday, August 30, 2010

Rwandan Honey Bread

When most people think of Rwanda in Central Africa, genocide and conflict come to mind.  However, things are different today and some differences may surprise you.  Even though this country is landlocked, they do have a very large lake.  This lake is an exploding lake due to the volcanic activity below.  The release of gases from the volcano could cause death to many, yet they have found a way to harness the gas for energy.  Saving lives while taking energy out of the ground...well, that is quite a concept!

Anyhow, below you will find the recipe for Rwanda's light and airy honey bread.  This bread is great for breakfast or anytime of the day.  One unique aspect is that it is baked in a 3 quart casserole dish instead of a loaf pan. Also, between the air conditioning and ceiling fans, it is hard to find a draft free place. I use my oven as the warm place for dough to rise. I heat the oven temperature to 150 and then turn the oven off.

Rwandan Honey Bread
adapted from best bread recipes
1 pkg dry yeast
1 egg
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 cup lukewarm milk
4 tbs melted unsalted butter
1 tbs ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tbs melted butter

Put the lukewarm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top.  Wait a few minutes and then stir.  The waiting time keeps your yeast from being lumpy and not dissolving.  Once stirred, put in a warm place for about 5 minutes or until doubled in size.

In another bowl, whisk together the honey, egg, coriander, cloves, cinnamon and salt.  Then add your yeast mixture, milk and the 4 tbs of melted butter until all is combined.  Put in 2 cups of the flour and use a mixer to blend together.  That should take about a minute or more.  After that, you will need to mix in the rest of the flour with a wooden spoon or by hand.  Once mixed, the dough should not be sticking to the sides of the bowl but still be somewhat sticky when handled.

Flour a surface for kneading.  This is the only additional flour you will be using while kneading.  To prevent dough from sticking to hands, cover them with some melted butter or oil.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes until smooth and shape into a ball.

Put the dough ball in a buttered large bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until double, which is about an hour.  While the dough is rising, you can prepare the three-quart casserole dish. Melt the additional 2 tbs of butter and use a pastry brush to butter the bottom and sides of the dish.

Once your dough has risen, punch down and knead for two minutes.  Shape into ball and place in prepared dish.  Press down so it reaches to the sides of the dish.  Then it will need to rise again for an hour, doubling itself.  This is the last rising process, so preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

After an hour of rising or the doubling process, place the dish of bread in the oven for about 50-60 minutes.  When done, the bread will be crusty and light golden.  In my oven, 60 minutes was perfect.  After baking, pull pan out and flip bread out onto a cooling rack.  I have made this bread twice.  Once it fell out of the dish easily and once required a knife to be slid around the inside edge for it to release.

Now, a word of caution-do not make this bread when people are visiting.  The aroma after about 1/2 hour of baking will get them very hungry and then the additional wait will cause the bread to be completely devoured once it comes out of the oven!  So no bread tomorrow....

Friday, August 27, 2010

Paradise Cake-Part Two

As promised in yesterday's post, you will find the recipes for the syrup as well as the whipped cream frosting below.  Both of these were also adapted from allrecipes. The whipped cream frosting has held up and not melted at room temperature for an hour.  According to some of the comments, the icing holds up well into the next day.  Since it is so light, it could also be used as a fruit dip for strawberries or peaches.  If using as a dip, you will want to divide the recipe in half or by four. 

Fruit Syrup

1/4 cup light corn syrup
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup of nectar or juice (I used Passion Fruit)
5 tbs of cornstarch
4 tbs of water

Mix the corn syrup sugar and juice in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil and remove from heat.  In a small bowl, mix water and cornstarch until dissolved.  Mix cornstarch mixture with sugar/juice mixture.  Let cool.  I put this in the fridge for about 45 min to speed up the cooling process.

Whipped Cream Icing

1 eight oz package reduced fat cream cheese (room temperature)
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 cups of heavy or regular whipping cream

Combine all ingredients except the whipping cream by using a regular or stand mixer.  While the mixer is still running, slowly add the cream.  Continue to whip until stiff peaks form.

Cake Assembly

Take the lime layer of cake and put some icing on the top with a knife.  Then use another knife to put the syrup on the icing, taking care not to go too far to the edge so it will not drip past and down the side of the cake.  Continue with this process adding each layer (orange first and then pink).  Then frost the sides and top of your cake and put the syrup on the top, again being careful about the edges.  Should you want a more decorative cake, try using a 1/2 inch star tip for the border of the top and bottom edge of the cake prior to putting  the syrup on top. 

With A Twist
This is a good chiffon cake recipe and you can change out the fruit/nectar flavor or flavors as you wish.  A few examples are below:
Strawberry and Banana, Margarita Mix, Pineapple and Coconut.  Just plain orange would probably make it like a creamsicle cake.Should you try a variation, let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Paradise Cake-Part one

It has been so hot and dry here, I have been thinking of vacation spots where beaches have balmy breezes and fruit grows wild.  I was very much in the mood for something tropical and different.

I saw the picture of this three layer cake and it looked so good (photos link below), I knew I had to try and re-create it. Each layer is a different color and represents a different flavor (guava, passion fruit and lime).I ran to several grocery stores to find the guava as well as the passion fruit nectar. I found both in a Latin-American grocery store. As far as the recipe,  I searched and found a guava cake recipe on allrecipes website and did some modifications.  It took some time but the chiffon cake part turned out wonderful.  I am still working on the icing and syrup (reason this post is part one),which should be in my next post. You see, I made the mistake of cutting a corner and using Redi Whip for the icing, which rolled right of the cake. Lesson learned, do not cheat on ingredients. This recipe does take some time, but the taste and texture is worth it.
The recipe for the cake part is below:

Hawaiian Paradise Cake
Adapted from original recipe here
and you can see photos here 

2 1/4 cups of flour
2/3 cups of white sugar
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
2 oz key lime juice (I used Nellie and Joes )
2 oz guava nectar
2 oz passion fruit nectar
5 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp grated lemon zest
liquid food coloring : yellow, red and green
8 egg whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup white sugar

The first thing that needs to be done is to get organized and prepare.  You will need a total of 6 bowls: 1 for each color layer,one bowl for sifted ingredients, one bowl for batter mixing and one bowl for the egg whites.
Also, 3 nine inch cake pans are needed.  All pans can bake at once, I do not recommend letting the batches sit while each layer bakes.

Regarding your eggs, it is a good idea to let sit outside the fridge for 20 minutes to get to room temperature.
To prepare your cake pans, butter the inside.  I used about 2 tbs of melted butter with a paper towel.  Line each with parchment paper and also butter it.  Then dust with flour, shaking out excess.
Lastly, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. You are now prepared to start the cake-making process.

Sift together flour with 2/3 cup of sugar, baking powder, salt-set aside.  In another bowl, beat together oil, water, yolks, vanilla and lemon zest until well combined.  Mix yolk mixture into flour mixture until smooth.  At this point, the consistency should almost be like cookie dough.  Divide the batter into thirds and put each into a separate bowl.  In each separate bowl of batter, add one kind of nectar/juice.  Once mixed in, you will need to add the food coloring- green for the lime layer, yellow and red (to make orange)for the passion fruit layer and red for the guava layer. Use your own judgment on how many food coloring drops to use and bear in mind that you will be adding eggs whites later which will lighten the batter.

In another bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks are formed.  Then slowly add the 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until stiff.  Then you will need to take 1/3 of the egg white mixture and fold it into each bowl of batter.  Then pour each into a separate pan.

As far as the separation of batter as well as whipped cream, I divided mine by sight.  However, if you want to be more exact, you can weigh the batter and divide by weight and measure the whipped cream by cups and divide that way.

Put each pan into the oven.  I pushed two of the pans to the back right and left corners of one rack and then one pan in the center of a lower rack.  Bake about 25 min or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  For my oven-25 min was perfect.  Take pans out of the oven and run a knife around the edges of cake to loosen.  Allow to cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto a cooling rack. You now have 3 colorful cake layers.  You can assemble with your own version of frosting or just fill the layers with whipped cream and fruit. The frosting and filling will be posted tomorrow.