Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Friendly Hello


I'm back at school now, as anticipated in my previous post. I have my own room, with paper thin walls, a new set of metro shelving around my desk displaying my bowls and pans to tempt me from my studies (and because I have trouble reaching the shelf in my closet), and three very sweet suitemates, one of whom has a whole host of food sensitivities.

But I'm not one to purposely exclude people, especially not in the first few days back, so I offered to look up some recipes and make some gluten-free cupcakes that we could deliver to our fellow residents of the building, and that she could enjoy.

So together (though it was mostly her, I just did the grocery shopping and provided the materials and recipe printout) we made vanilla cupcakes, and then, along with our other two suite mates, wandered the halls of our residence hall, meeting new people. Except I don't really remember anyone I met yesterday, which isn't a good thing... But hopefully people remember my suite mate's name, because she's running for res college president. So shh... it's too soon to campaign yet.

Gluten-free Vanilla Cupcakes
adapted from Cupcakes Take The Cake
makes around 80 mini cupcakes

2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups gluten-free rice flour all-purpose mix (I used 400 grams of Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups of favorite frosting (if not homemade, make sure it's gluten free)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Place cupcake liners in mini-muffin pans. You probably don't own enough pans, so you'll probably need to bake the muffins in batches.

Beat sugar and eggs in large bowl of electric mixer at medium speed for one minute. Add flour, salt, baking powder, xanthan gum, oil, milk, and vanilla and beat at medium speed for about a minute, or until batter is smooth.

Scoop batter in prepared baking pan. Place pans in center of oven (or in top and bottom thirds and rotate halfway through baking(, and bake for about 15 minutes or until top springs back when lightly touched. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for a few minutes, remove from pan and cool completely before icing with frosting of your choice.

Share and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Summer's Almost Over Again?


I can't believe how much I've neglected my blog over the summer, but come to think of it, I've also neglected the kitchen. Between being busy surrounded by baked goods all day, not knowing when/who would be around for dinner, and being pretty tired after spending the day in 80º+ weather, I just never really cooked or baked much, all summer.

But that still doesn't excuse this neglect. There were things baked, there were things eaten. There were tasty salads that my dad whipped up from leftovers (can those ever be replicated though?). There was an almond pound cake I decided to bake in my 6" cake pan, with a batter-filled center that fell out-yet I managed to save it and it turned out quite delicious. There was my birthday cake, and adventures in making meringue buttercream that I ended up not using. There was a disgusting looking cake that was tasty to celebrate my friend's Notre Dame acceptance. There was my failure of a cake for my dad, that was eventually turned into a week of trifles. There was lots of smoky grilled salmon, courtesy of my dad.

But that still left me, somehow, with a blog with no posts since the beginning of June. It's the end of August practically, and I'm sitting in the waiting room while my mom's car gets serviced. And soon I'll be back to using a dorm kitchen, carrying my supplies up and down stairs, and making (and keeping) friends through their stomachs.

But I'll stop with my regretful babble. Because I have a recipe for you. It's kind of a tres leches cake, but I doubt it's very authentic, considering it's adapted from an old recipe from Cooking Light.

But it was a hit, despite being cut into 24 fairly small, yet rich, pieces, and served with some blueberries on the side. And the torched meringue top (sure, a broiler would've been easier, but where's the fun in that?) added a nice little twist as well, at least aesthetically, that is.

Tres Leches Cake
serves 12 (unless you make small pieces, in which case, 24 not-very-hungry people)

For the cake:
7 large egg whites
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup all purpose flour

For the milk mixture:
1 cup half-and-half
1 can (12-oz) evaporated milk (fat free or 2% work fine)
1 can (14-oz) sweetened condensed milk (fat free works fine)

For the meringue topping:
3 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 9x13 pan. (I'm usually a fan of metal pans, but in this case, a pyrex dish might work better. I transferred mine to one after baking when I realized that it made more sense with the milk mixture.)

Place egg whites and salt in a large mixer bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually add 2/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Place egg yolks and vanilla in a large bowl (most stand mixers won't be able to mix this amount, so whisk by hand or use hand beaters); beat until thick and pale. Fold 1/3 of egg white mixture into egg yolk mixture. Gently fold 1/3 cup of flour into egg mixture. Gently fold in another 1/3 of the egg whites. Fold in remaining 1/3 cup of flour, followed by the rest of the egg whites.

Spoon batter into prepared dish. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes or until cake springs back when touched lightly in center. Cool 5 minutes in pan on a wire rack.

For the milk mixture, combine the half-and-half, condensed milk, and evaporated milk in a 4 cup measuring cup, or bowl. Pierce all over the top of the cake with a fork, and pour the milk mixture slowly and evenly over the cake. It will be soaked, with milk mixture sitting on top a bit. Let it absorb for about 15 minutes or so.

For the meringue topping, beat 3 egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy. Combine 1 cup sugar and 1/3 cup of water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer registers 238°F. Beating the egg whites at high speed, pour the hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over the egg whites. Stir in the extract. Spread over cake.

Refrigerate cake until ready to serve. Just before serving pop under the broiler for 10-15 seconds (keep an eye on it) or until the top is just lightly browned, or use a small torch and gently torch the top of the cake. (This step isn't necessary, but fun.)