Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A Year of Baking in Oceania

What a year! I have had a great time trying out recipes from various countries and people groups in Oceania. This was all to accompany a year of reading books set in the same region, which you can read about over on Reading Envy (or listen to the podcast to accompany it!)

In case you missed them, here are the posts from this year of Oceania (plus a few bonus desserts from previous years.)

Anzac Biscuits (Australia and New Zealand)
Banana Fritters (The Marquesas)
Masi Popo - Coconut Shortbread (Samoa)
Pavlova (New Zealand)
Banana Pancakes (Papua New Guinea)
Rock Cakes (Australia and New Zealand)
Panipopo - Coconut Buns (Samoa)
Lamington (Australia and New Zealand)
Po'e - fruit pudding (Tahiti)
Cocoa Pavlova with Cardamom and Pomegranate Jelly (Americanized but New Zealand)
Mini cocoa pavlovas (New Zealand)
Sydney Special aka Doormat (Australia and New Zealand)
Pandan Chiffon Cake (Indonesia)
Spekkoek (Indonesia)
Maori Bread (New Zealand)

Of all of these recipes, my favorite was either the cocoa-pomegranate pavlova or the spekkoek. My co-workers gobbled up the lamingtons and anzac biscuits, while my husband liked the po'e best.

Not pictured: a complete disaster trying to use tapioca in place of sago in a recipe from Papua New Guinea.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Fried Banana Cakes from The Marquesas

This recipe comes from Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen and is a use of bananas that seems prevalent throughout the South Pacific. This particular recipe comes from The Marquesas.

Fried Banana Cakes

4 very ripe bananas, peeled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 to 2/3 cup flour (depending on the size and moistness of the bananas)
1/4 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp grated lime zest
oil for frying
Cinnamon sugar (1 tbsp sugar and a few pinches of cinnamon) for garnish

In a food processor (or you know, with a fork) pulverize the bananas with the vanilla extract. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the lime zest and dry ingredients to the food processor. Mix until dough is of a light texture. Rest for a few minutes, then form the dough into 15 patties. Fry cakes in 1/2-inch-deep-oil, turning to brown evenly on both sides. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, and serve hot.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Panipopo - Sweet Coconut Buns from Samoa

I previously posted about masi popo, coconut shortbread from Samoa. This recipe is the other one I've been planning to make all year! This is basically just a sweet yeast bun baked in a liquid of coconut milk, water, and sugar. Kind of like buns made into bread pudding. Traditionally it is served in the evening with kokosamoa (Samoan Cocoa) so I waited until I had some before making the panipopo!

Panipopo (Sweet Coconut Buns)
Recipe from

1 package (2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/2 -3 cups all-purpose flour

Let yeast bloom in water for 10 minutes. Add remaining ingredients, adding the smaller amount of flour unless it needs more. Knead 10-20 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and leave to double in volume. (Optional: Punch down and leave to double in volume again.)

There are two ways to shape the buns.
  1. Roll into a long rectangle, and then roll up like cinnamon rolls, then slice into 12 even sized rounds
  2. Pinch off balls of dough and roll into 12 balls.
Place in 9x13 pan and let rise until almost doubled.

Preheat oven to 375 F and make coconut sauce: Mix coconut sauce ingredients together.

Pour coconut sauce over buns and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. Allow to cool at least 30 minutes to ensure sauce is absorbed. Store leftovers in fridge.

Coconut Sauce

1/2 can coconut milk (full-fat)
1/2 can water
1/2 cup sugar

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Wintermint Cake

My friend Kasia makes some version of a Wintermint cake all through the holiday season so I went looking for a recipe. This one was created by the guys who opened Baked in Brooklyn, although please use my recipe below as the one on the Sweet Paul Magazine website has a major error in the buttercream ingredients. I decorated mine with peppermint bark instead of crushed peppermint candies.

Wintermint Cake from BAKED in Brooklyn

Recipe from Renato Polifiato & Matt Lewis of Brooklyn's BAKED Bakery
As posted on Sweet Paul Magazine with buttercream error

Serves 12

Classic Chocolate Cake:
3⁄4 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1⁄4 cups hot water
2⁄3 cup sour cream
2 2⁄3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon salt
3⁄4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1⁄2 cup unflavored shortening
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla

Peppermint Buttercream:
1 1⁄2 cups sugar
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1⁄3 cup heavy cream
1 1⁄2 cups unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Mint Chocolate Ganache:
6 oz dark chocolate (60–72%), chopped coarsely
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon creme de menthe (optional)
1⁄2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  1. For the Classic Chocolate Cake, preheat oven to 325° degrees.
  2. Butter and flour 3 cake pans, line with parchment, and butter the parchment.
  3. Mix cocoa powder, hot water, and sour cream together and set aside to cool.
  4. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and set aside.
  5. Beat butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add sugars beat until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes.
  7. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and then vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Then, slowly add the dry mixture and cocoa mixture to the batter, alternating the 2 kinds and ending with dry.
  8. Divide batter between 3 pans and spread evenly. Bake for 35–40 minutes (rotate the pans halfway through) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then cool for 20 minutes then invert onto a rack to cool completely.
  9. For the Peppermint Buttercream, In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk sugar and flour together. Then add milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until mixture comes to a boil and has thickened. This will take about 10–15 minutes.
  10. Transfer mixture to bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high until cool, which will take about 7–9 minutes of mixing. Tip: Speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn against the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl.
  11. Reduce speed to low and add butter. Mix until incorporated.
  12. Increase to medium-high and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, about 1–2 minutes.
  13. Add vanilla and peppermint extract and continue mixing until combined. If frosting is too soft, put bowl in refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is proper consistency. If frosting is too firm, set bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.
  14. For the Mint Chocolate Ganache, place chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl and set aside.
  15. In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream just to a boil.
  16. Remove cream from heat and pour over bowl of chocolate.
  17. Let sit for 2 minutes, then slowly stir the chocolate and cream mixture until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Then, let ganache come to room temperature.
  18. To assemble the Wintermint Cake, place 1 cake layer on a serving platter.
  19. Trim cake layer to create a flat surface and use offset spatula to spread about 1⁄4 cup of ganache on top only.
  20. Let set for 1 minute in refrigerator.
  21. Spread approximately 11⁄4 cups of buttercream on top of ganache.
  22. Repeat with following 2 layers.
  23. Crumb coat cake and refrigerate briefly, for around 15 minutes.
  24. Frost sides and top of cake with remaining buttercream.
  25. Garnish cake with optional 1⁄4 cup of crushed peppermint candies and refrigerate for about 15 minutes to firm up the entire cake.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Treats from Down Under: Lamington

When considering the final baked good from Australia and New Zealand that I planned to make in 2015 (unless I get my act together and make mud cake for New Years Eve), it had to be the lamington. I had made pavlova multiple times, tried a few childhood snacks like rock cakes and Sydney Special, but something that came up everywhere was the lamington. In my mind it sounds like lamb because it looks like lamb - cake dipped in chocolate and rolled in coconut.

The coconut and the cake vary - Cake Spy uses the more American sweetened shredded coconut, and Dan Lepard posted a delicious looking double chocolate version for The Guardian. I went with the recipe used by The Galley Gourmet, because it seemed rather traditional but was already using American measurements. Her recipes also always look so clean and straightforward, that they always have a lot of visual appeal for me.

People seemed to LOVE this lamington, but I have to tell you that they turned out huge. I cut the cake in the recommended 2 inch by 2 inch pieces, but by the time they were covered in the thick chocolate glaze and not-so-delicately rolled in coconut, they were giant individual sized cakes. One professor said one lamington provided a generous dessert split between she and her husband. Another thing I would say is that this has got to be the messiest dessert I have ever made, and I used to work up to my elbows in cake decorating supplies. Despite the glowing reviews and delicious end result, I'm not sure I would do it again!

makes 24 two-inch squares
Recipe from The Galley Gourmet, who adapted it from Martha Stewart Living

For the Cake
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for pans
2 2/3 cups cake flour, plus more for pans
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher slat
1 cup milk (2% or whole), at room temperature
2/3 cup raspberry jam

For the Chocolate Icing
1 cup milk (2% or whole)
2 (14-ounce) packages shredded sweetened coconut, chopped
2 ounces (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
8 cups confectioners' sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the Cake
Preheat the oven to 325° F.  Butter two 9x13-inch baking pans; line the bottoms with parchment and butter.  Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time; beating until incorporated.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt; add to the egg mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk and beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans.  Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes.  Cool slightly on wire racks.  Remove the cake from the pans and set on wire racks to cool completely.

Spread one of the cooled cakes with the jam.  Place the other cake on top. Lightly cover with plastic and freeze until firm.  (Cakes can be made and filled a day in advance).  Once frozen, use a sharp knife to cut the squares into 24 two-inch squares.  Keep the cakes chilled until ready to ice.

For the Chocolate Icing
In a medium bowl, warm the milk and butter in the microwave until the butter has melted. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Add the vanilla and espresso powder.  Using a wire whisk, gradually whisk in the confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder; whisk until completely smooth.

Place the coconut in a shallow dish; set aside.  Place a cake square on the tines of a large fork and dip the bottom of the cake into the chocolate icing.  Using a large spoon or ladle, coat the the cake with the icing until all sides are covered.  Allow the excess icing to drip off.  Transfer the cake square to the coconut dish and sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the coconut, gently pressing to adhere.  Transfer the coated squares to a parchment lined baking sheet and allow to stand until the coating has set-- at least 20 minutes.  Continue with the remaining squares.  Cake can be kept in an airtight container for up to two days.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Martha Stewart Living, April 2002

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Elusive Yeti: Samoan Coconut Shortbread

When I started researching recipes from Samoa, I found recipe after recipe, savory and sweet, with coconut. Coconut milk, shredded coconut, coconut meat, etc., etc.  It is no surprise that one of the recipes I came across on multiple blogs and recipe websites is this Samoan Coconut Shortbread. When you think Samoan, don't think of the Girl Scout Cookie, which is a shortbread (and coconut, no surprise) cookie that is dipped and drizzled in chocolate. They got the coconut part right but chocolate isn't as prominent. (However, you can buy King Koko Samoa, something I have yet to try, but it appears as if you brew roasted cocoa beans the way you drink coffee - ground and steeped in water. Can't wait to try it!)

I'm not a huge fan of shortbread. I'm still not convinced I do it right although people always assure me it is what they think of as shortbread. So I'm not sure I love this recipe. I do love that it's authentic and from Samoa ("Masi Popo") and I love the adorable cookie cutter my husband bought me of a sasquatch/yeti. That's what inspired me to finally make the recipe! I made a double batch of dough, which was a mistake since half of it is still in the fridge, but I made a bunch of yeti, glazed them, and sprinkled desiccated coconut on for a snowy look.

I like the double coconut, and you really taste it when you bite into the cookie. 

While this recipe is photographed many places and mentioned others, very few sites had the actual recipe. Since recipes can't be covered by copyright, I went a little deeper to find it. The Internet Archive let me down but a fun blog called The International Dinner Project still had it in their post. Check out their site; they will continue to be a resource to me as I cook and bake around the world.

Masi Popo (Coconut Shortbread from Samoa)


120gm butter (4½ oz)
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
200ml full coconut milk – not lite! (7 fl oz)
1 tsp vanilla essence or extract
4 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt

  1. Heat the over up to about 180˚C (350˚F)
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together well.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time mixing well.
  4. Here comes the magic, add the coconut milk and vanilla, again mixing well.
  5. Now mix in the dry ingredients (flour and baking powder).
  6. The dough may still be a little sticky, so a little more flour may be needed.
  7. Cover your kneading surface with a generous amount of flour so the dough doesn’t stick to in and knead until it’s a nice and even consistency. (At this point I chilled the dough several hours so it would be easier to roll out.)
  8. I pinch of about a third of the dough and roll out onto lightly floured baking paper (so I don’t have to try to pick up each biscuit/cookie slice from the kneading surface individually)
  9. Roll out the dough until it’s about ¼” (6mm) thick, and cut into 3″ (75mm) squares. I find dipping the knife in flour every so often helps to keep it from sticking to the dough.
  10. Then just pick up your baking paper at the edges and place it onto your over tray and cook for about 25 minutes, or till just golden brown (a little browner than they appear in the photo above) The squares when cooled should be quite hard, not soft like biscuits, and have a nice “snap” when broken. (For what I used the cookies for, I baked them 10 minutes less, in order to have more of a soft cookie.)

Monday, December 14, 2015

Treats from Down Under: Sydney Special (aka Doormat)

I declared November to be New Zealand November. If you are interested in what I'm reading, you can check out my initial post as well as my first week update.

One of the first books I read was the first volume of an autobiography by Lauris Dorothy Edmond - Hot October. Edmond is a well-loved New Zealand poet. You can read more about her life in my book review, but the book was also useful as an insight into food of the 1930s and 1940s. I previously made and posted about rock cakes, but had a chance to make Sydney Special. The following passage comes from her childhood.

"Greenmeadows was a village, and we took part in local activities and performances without question. Our mother was a faithful member of the Women's Institute, intermittently secretary or president of the Gardening Circle and always president of the Drama Circle. They wrote away to Samuel French and Co for hired sets of plays, English drawing-room comedies mostly, and either rehearsed or performed them in the Taradale Town Hall or did readings in one another's sitting rooms.  When it was our turn there was much preparation, the making of peanut brownies, rock cakes, Sydney Special (a concoction of rolled oats, coconut, sugar, butter, also known as Doormat) and orange cake."

I looked at quite a few recipes before selecting the recipe I used. Some didn't include coconut, some didn't include oats, some didn't have cocoa powder in the lower mixture. It almost has the texture of a Rice Krispie Treat, which you then cover in chocolate. It all sounded so sweet that I elected to use dark instead of milk chocolate. This rendered everything not very sweet, but my tasters (work colleagues!) preferred it this way. I think if I made it for kids, milk chocolate would be the ticket. This recipe also has cornflakes in it, an ingredient I came across multiple times in New Zealand sweets. It must be of the same era where every housewife was discovering the usefulness of processed food!

Another reason this makes a great treat for kids is that it is easy to make, and I can see involving kids in crunching together the parts in the layer before baking, and sprinkling the chocolate chips on top, spreading them as they melt.

Sydney Special (aka "Doormat")
Recipe from Leeks and Limoni, where she also refers to it as "Chocolate Crunch Slices"
(I found equivalencies for these but didn't keep track of them. Sorry! A simple Google search can convert ingredients to American measurements. Or you may use a scale.)
175g butter
110g soft brown sugar
25g cornflakes
50g dessicated coconut
1 tablespoon cocoa
150g self raising flour (or AP flour + a few additions)
pinch salt
200g milk (or dark!) chocolate for the top

A baking tin, 17 x 26cm approx, greased and base lined with greaseproof paper (I used a 9x9 pan and parchment paper.)

Preheat oven to 160°C (I did 350 F.)
Melt the butter and sugar together over a low heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Pour and press evenly into the prepared tin (pan).
Bake for 20-25 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin (pan).
Melt the chocolate and pour over the top. (I let the heat of the baked part do this for me!)
When cold, cut into squares or rectangles as you prefer. (The chocolate, once firm, dictated how big the pieces would be, and I just let it break apart as it seemed to desire.)

Monday, December 07, 2015

Fluffy Paleo Pancakes (gluten-free, low-carb)

I'm back again, happily posting about another adaptation of an outstanding recipe from PaleOMG. Her original recipe includes a lemon raspberry sauce, so please visit her blog to try it out. I just wanted to try the pancakes, so made a half recipe mid-week (with 2 eggs instead of attempting 1.5), and repeated the full recipe for the two of us today. I actually liked the first attempt better texture-wise, so I have added an egg here. I ended up thinning out the second half of the batter with a little more almond milk.  (Also: 1/2 cup + 3 tbsp is just about the same as 2/3 cup, so I've altered that in the recipe I've posted as well.)

The texture for these is really great, the batter has no problem sticking together (see: almond flour pancakes!) and actually bubbles the way normal pancakes do. I will absolutely make these again.

Fluffy Paleo Pancakes

  • 4 eggs, whisked
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar substitute
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ cup coconut flour
  • ½ cup tapioca flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  1. Whisk together pancake ingredients: eggs, almond milk, honey and vanilla extract in a large bowl.
  2. Then, while continuously whisking, add coconut flour, tapioca flour, baking powder and baking soda and a pinch of salt to the large bowl. Whisk until batter is well combined.
  3. Grease a large pan and place over medium heat. Once pan is hot, use a large ladle to pour a pancakes size pancake on the pan.
  4. Once pancake has cooked and bubbles begin to surface on the top of the pancake, flip it. The pancake should need to cook for 2-3 minutes each side.
  5. Repeat with the rest of the pancake mixture.
Yields 4-5 four inch pancakes (I got 6 3.5-4 inch pancakes, just perfect for two people)

Monday, November 30, 2015

New Zealand Baking: Maori Bread

"They would go into Granny's kitchen where the fire was always going and where the table would be set with best cups, and glass dishes of butter and jam. The big new round of bread would be on the board wrapped in a cloth." - Potika by Patricia Grace

Bread is central to the Maori meal, and in all the New Zealand literature I've read in New Zealand November, it seems to be present at times of turmoil, stress, and sorrow. No surprise since bread seems to have that function no matter the culture!

Traditional Maori bread is baked in the pot it rises in, but I had to adjust a little bit. I let the dough raise in a large bowl and baked it in a springform pan to maintain the high sides it would have with the pot. I used the recipe from Sam Choy's Polynesian Kitchen, a cookbook from which I hope to try a few more recipes. The recipe is pretty basic and I imagine every Maori cook has their own secrets and tweaks. Some of the recipes I came across use potato either as part of the flour or as a starter, while this just uses standard yeast. Many New Zealand children eat their bread (Maori or not) with golden syrup, and I'm sure that would be great here too. I made the honey-citrus butter mentioned. To me, this bread is best toasted.

Maori Bread

1 tbsp yeast
11/2 cups warm water
1 cup sugar
4 cups flour
honey-citrus butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, warm water, and sugar. Add flour, all 4 cups at once. Mix, then knead dough until elastic.

Grease a deep pot. Place dough in pot. Cover with a lid, and let rise for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. 

Preheat oven to 350 F.

After dough has risen sufficiently, place in oven (with lid on, I used foil) and bake for 45 minutes.

Open oven, remove lid (or foil), and let bread brown for the last 15 minutes. Remove bread from oven and take out of the pan.

Wrap loaf in dampened cheesecloth to keep the crust moist. Serve hot with honey-citrus butter.

Honey-Citrus Butter

Jenny's note: I didn't eat it as pictured. It is very strongly flavored and is best only lightly spread on the warm or toasted bread.

1 cup fresh orange juice
4 tbsp honey
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tsp minced orange rind
salt to taste

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the orange juice to a boil. Reduce to the consistency of honey. Set aside to cool.

In a food processor, blend the orange syrup, honey, butter, orange rind, and salt until smooth, Place a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper on a work surface. Pour the butter onto a long side and form into a roll or log about 1 inch in diameter, leaving a 1-inch border of paper. Roll the butter in the paper, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Scones with Browned Butter Vanilla Glaze

My co-workers are frequent tasters of my baked goods, but this past week I had an experience that surprised me. I had been wanting to try making pumpkin scones with cinnamon chips; I love pumpkin and chocolate together but I had this idea that cinnamon would be even better. Since my dogs get me up super early, I always have a few hours before the library opens, so Friday morning I made these scones. I brought them to the meeting my group has every Friday at 9:30, and then left the rest in the library break room. By 11:15, they were completely gone. One person rolled her eyes back in her head as I walked by her desk, and another said she doubted I could ever top this recipe. In fact she had "been good" and only taken part of one, and when she went back for another taste there was only a partial one left.

So I had to share it with you without waiting until my usual Monday posting date, in case you were going to have house guests for Thanksgiving and you wanted an idea of a simple but stunning breakfast item. I used a recipe from Joy the Baker that she adapted from Alice's Tea Cup in Manhattan (the only cookbook that has ever made me cry), but instead of pecans I used cinnamon chips. And holy goodness, the browned butter glaze really does take it over the top, balancing the sweetness a little bit. This recipe makes a lot, double the amount I usually make when I make scones. But I was feeding a crowd. If you aren't, you might want to cut it in half.

Pumpkin Cinnamon Chip Scones with Browned Butter Vanilla Glaze

makes about 16 scones

3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup, 6 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk, cold
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups cinnamon chips

For the Glaze:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons whole milk

Place rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and all of the spices.  Add the cold butter to the dry ingredients and toss to coat.  Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, break the butter down into the dry ingredients.  Work quickly so that the butter remains cold. Some of the butter will be the size of oat flakes, others will be the size of small peas. Mix the cinnamon chips to the crumbles.

In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, pumpkin puree, and vanilla extract.

Add the wet ingredients, all at once to the dry ingredients.  Stir together until almost thoroughly combined.  Stir until no dry flour bits remain.

Divide dough into two and shape each half into a flat circle, which you can cut into 8 triangular scones. Spread out around cookie sheet.  Leave about 2-inches of space between each scone (I ended up wishing I had used two sheets.)

Bake for 18 to 20 minutes or until browned slightly with dry tops.  You can insert a toothpick into the center of a scone to test for doneness.

Allow to cool completely before glazing. (I glazed as soon as the glaze was done.)

To make the glaze, in a small saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat.  The butter will begin to crackle and pop.  After the crackling subsides a bit, the butter will begin to brown.  Continue to cook until the butter smells nutty and the butter solids begin to brown.  Immediately remove from the heat and transfer to a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together powdered sugar, browned butter, vanilla, and 2 tablespoons of milk.  Whisk together and add more milk as necessary until your desired consistency is reached.
Generously drizzle scones with glaze.  These scones are best served within 2 days of of baking. As if they could last that long.

Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake

I was poking around for recipes to make for an after-work fall gathering, and still had a few Mutsu apples left to use. I came across the Gingerbread Apple Upside Down Cake recipe from Smitten Kitchen, which I had pinned a few years back but never tried. It looked perfect, like a snacking cake, didn't need to feed a lot, and pretty simple to put together.  After reading her notes on it, I decided to use all molasses instead of half molasses and half honey. My conclusion: this is okay. I didn't think the upside down sugar mixture was successful; if I made this again I'd make an actual caramel in a saucepan or maybe make this in a skillet. I also think that Deb (from Smitten Kitchen) has a more delicious gingerbread recipe that I've made for several Christmases, one that I'm not sure can be beat - the Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread. I wonder if I could pour a half recipe of that batter over the apples and use the concept of this recipe! Something to file away for next time! I still wanted to post this recipe, because it is decent, I just felt like I would make a few changes to make it even more delicious the next time.

Gingerbread Apple Upside-Down Cake
Adapted by Deb at Smitten Kitchen from Karen Bates at the Philo Apple Farm via the New York Times
Serves 12

4 tablespoons butter, plus extra for greasing pan
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
4 apples (about 1 3/4 pounds), peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges*

1/2 cup (1 stick or 4 ounces) butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup dark molasses
1/3 cup honey
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Very softly whipped cream

Make the topping: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Grease a 10-inch cake pan. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Add brown sugar and simmer over moderate heat, stirring, four minutes, then swirl in salt. Remove from heat and pour into the bottom of your cake pan. Make circles of overlapping apple slices on top of the caramel. Chop any remaining slices and place them in the gaps.

Make the batter: Using a mixer, blend 1/2 cup butter and the sugar on medium-low speed. Increase the speed to high and cream until light and fluffy.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, molasses, honey and buttermilk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger and cinnamon. Alternate mixing the flour and molasses mixtures into the butter mixture, adding the next once the last has been incorporated.

Pour the batter into the pan. Bake at least 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes, then turn out onto a platter (one that will catch spills.)

Serve warm or cool with very softly whipped cream.

*I used 2.5 Mutsu apples since they are rather large, and that was too much!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Anzac Biscuits

This recipe has some interesting ties to several projects of mine. First of all, I made these cookies (biscuits) for my self-declared New Zealand November. ANZAC = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and these are cookies that traveled well and lasted, a standard recipe for the wives and daughters back home to send to their soldiers on the front during World War I. Second of all, the primary battle commemorated by Anzac Day was the battle for Constantinople, a turning point in Turkish military history as well, and a significant moment leading to their own independence. (Cross-reference 2013, where I did a lot of Turkish baking!)

I am not sure what I expected, but I thought these would be more historical than tasty. I was wrong! The golden syrup (which I just happened to have in the pantry; it's a key ingredient in sticky toffee pudding and treacle tart) adds a delicious dark caramel flavor. The cookies can be enjoyed as is, where they are somehow both crunchy and chewy, or my favorite way - dipped in milk.

Anzac Biscuits

(recipes comes from Martha Stewart, but retains the original formula of 2+2+2+2. If you use a recipe that calls for eggs, corn syrup, or nuts, that is not an Anzac biscuit!)


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup desiccated coconut
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons Lyle's Golden Syrup
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup boiling water


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, oats, sugar, and coconut. Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter with syrup. Dissolve baking soda in boiling water, and add to butter mixture. Stir to combine. (Be careful; if the butter is hot, it will bubble up considerably.)
  3. Add butter mixture to dry ingredients, and stir to combine. Using a 1 1/2-inch ice-cream scoop, drop onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart (be sure to pack the scoop tightly so the mixture doesn't crumble). Flatten cookies slightly with the heel of your hand.
  4. Bake until golden brown and firm but not hard, about 15 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Rock Cakes

I declared November to be New Zealand November. If you are interested in what I'm reading, you can check out my initial post as well as my first week update.

One of the first books I read was the first volume of an autobiography by Lauris Dorothy Edmond - Hot October. Edmond is a well-loved New Zealand poet. You can read more about her life in my book review, but the book was also useful as an insight into food of the 1930s and 1940s. The following passage comes from her childhood.
"Greenmeadows was a village, and we took part in local activities and performances without question. Our mother was a faithful member of the Women's Institute, intermittently secretary or president of the Gardening Circle and always president of the Drama Circle. They wrote away to Samuel French and Co for hired sets of plays, English drawing-room comedies mostly, and either rehearsed or performed them in the Taradale Town Hall or did readings in one another's sitting rooms.  When it was our turn there was much preparation, the making of peanut brownies, rock cakes, Sydney Special (a concoction of rolled oats, coconut, sugar, butter, also known as Doormat) and orange cake."
Doormat! Well I did find a recipe for Sydney Special but that will be a post for another day. I decided to make rock cakes one morning when I had a few hours before work. Rock cakes are very similar to scones but include eggs, which a traditional scone would not do. You can find them all over the British empire so while I found some New Zealand recipes, I ended up making a version of an Caribbean one. I liked the use of sultanas and coconut in this one, which was pretty standard for the recipes I found from NZ too. Despite its British empire, NZ is located in a place with easy access to coconut! Even in Edmond's childhood, that would not have been a surprising ingredient.

Coconut and Sultana Rock Cakes
(adapted from recipe for Coconut Rock Buns by Immaculate Bites, an Afro-Caribbean cooking blog, which she adapted from Trini Gourmet.)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-2 teaspoon grated orange (I didn't have this so added a bit of cinnamon)
  • ½ cup butter diced (I forgot this and added buttermilk to the eggs)
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ¼ cup raisins (I used golden since that is what I had on hand)
  • ½ cup coconut flakes (I used the larger unsweetened variety but anything would work!)
  • 1½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, grated orange, nutmeg and salt.
  3. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it's OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated. Stir in the raisins and coconut flakes
  4. Whisk together eggs and vanilla
  5. Gently fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.
  6. For true rock cakes, drop portions of batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making 8-10. The crags and uneven bits will look more like rocks.
  7.  Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. (This step of the recipe mystifies me. Is it wrong? Do we actually preheat to 400? I am not sure what I did at the end but 425 isn't too hot for this kind of baked good.)
  8. Remove, let  cool and serve.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Pumpkin Cobbler

Tired of pumpkin pie? Pumpkin cobbler is a nice change from the ordinary and comes together fast. Thanks to my friend Kasia (from Kasia's Kitchen) for pointing me in the direction of this recipe. She says it is now her go-to fall dessert to bring to parties. It isn't as custardy as pumpkin pie, because the pumpkin mixture has flour in it. Personally, I preferred it because it was easier to tell when it was done. I think it is best served warm but can be baked ahead and warmed up.

This version is an adaptation to best fit a 9x13 pan, but really it is just 1.5x the original recipe, so full credit goes to the original author at Taste and Tell.

Pumpkin Custard
  • 1 1/2 cans (22.5 oz) pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup flour (exactly 1.5x a recipe would be 1/2 cup but I found it a bit too stiff)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 Tbsp flour
  • 10.5 teaspoons sugar, divided
  • 1 1/4 tsp teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter, cut into bits
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spray a 9x13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the pumpkin puree, evaporated milk and eggs in a bowl. Add in both sugars, the flour, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, 7.5 teaspoons of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add in the butter, and with a pastry cutter or a fork, cut in the butter until it resembles crumbs. Stir in the buttermilk and stir just until the mixture comes together. (If the mixture is still dry and doesn’t come together, add in more buttermilk, 1 teaspoon at a time.) Do not over stir.
  4. Drop the topping mixture in dollops over the custard. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar.
  5. Bake until the topping is golden brown, 45-50 minutes.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Bakery Adventures: Rise Bake Shop in Columbia, SC

I spent most of last week in Columbia, SC, for the South Carolina Library Association. A librarian who lives in town knows I look for new bakeries and had just the place to visit. We drove over during a session we both weren't attending anything. (Thanks Susan for letting me know and taking me!) It is the Rise Bake Shop and is definitely worth a visit!

Rise Bake Shop has breakfast and lunch options, as well as breads, pastries, cookies, and spreads like blended butters and shmears. What I loved is that the flavor combinations seemed unusual and atypical. The Sally Lunn bread has a significant place on the menu, as well as their baguettes. The day I was there they also had biscoff cakelets (not the official name), a variety of cookies including a gluten-free option, english muffins, biscuits, turnovers, an enormous filled cream puff, and a cabinet of gourmet packaged treats.

I had to try the preserved lemon blended butter, so I got some with a buttermilk biscuit. The butter was not sweet but had a bit of an herb mixed in, so my treat was on the savory side. The biscuit was tender and a bit crunchy on top.

Susan ordered the Sally Lunn Toast off the menu, which is the Sally Lunn bread, toasted and spread with ricotta cheese, topped with pickled peaches and thai basil. I had a bite of hers and had major order envy. In Susan's family, pickled peaches are a holiday treat, so I'm guessing they are a southern thing, but that was my first taste of them. The concept of the bake shop is "southern boulangerie" so this dish embodies that entire concept.  It was a lovely - savory but fresh tasting, and the bread was perfection - dense but not dry.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones (low-carb, gluten-free, low-sugar)

Add this recipe to the numerous attempts at a pumpkin chocolate chip fall celebration! These are repeated flavors at JennyBakes because they are a favorite in my family.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Scones (lower carb, lower sugar, gluten-free)
(adapted from the marvelous All Day I Dream About Food blog)

  • 1 cup pumpkin
  • 2 1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar substitute (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cloves
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sugar free or super dark chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp cream
  1. Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, sweetener, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and salt. Stir in chocolate chips.
  3. Add pumpkin, eggs, melted butter and 2 tbsp cream and stir until dough comes together.
  4. Turn out onto prepared baking sheet and pat into a rectangle about 1 inch thick (about 6 by 8 inches in size). With a sharp knife, cut rectangle into 6 even squares, and then cut each square into two triangles.
  5. Gently lift scones and spread them around the baking sheet so they aren't touching. Bake 23 minutes, or until firm to the touch and lightly browned.
  6. Remove and let cool on pan.


Monday, October 05, 2015

Low Carb Gluten-Free Marionberry Scones

Something standard in practically every Oregon coffee shop is the marionberry scone. Marionberries were tested in Marion County, Oregon, a blend of raspberry and blackberry, and is central to the Oregon berry experience. Once you move outside the state, they are much harder to find! During our last trip to our home state, Nathaniel went to the Willamette Valley Pie Company for pie with his Dad, and learned he could order berries from them. Recently a variety of berries showed up at our door, so I had to make marionberry scones before anything else. Since I wanted him to eat them too, I had to find a low-carb recipe, which we thought was pretty great. I adapted it slightly using coconut sugar instead of a chemical - it has slightly higher carbs but I just can't stand the taste of chemical sweeteners.  I also made regular sized scones in a scone pan, which were a little hard to get out while warm; next time I make these I might just do drop scones on a pan.

Marionberry Scones
(adapted from a recipe by Carolyn at All Day I Dream About Food)

2 ½ cups almond flour
½ cup golden flax seed meal
½ cup granulated erythritol or sweetener of choice (I used coconut sugar)
1 tbsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup almond milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen marionberries

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together almond flour, flax seed meal, sweetener, baking powder and salt.
  3. Stir in eggs, coconut oil, almond milk and vanilla extract until dough comes together. It will be quite sticky.
  4. Stir in raspberries until well distributed.
  5. Turn out dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and pat into a rough rectangle, 6 by 8 inches. Cut into 6 even portions, and then cut each portion in half diagonally to make 12 triangular scones.
  6. Gently separate scones and place around cookie sheet, leaving at least 1 inch between them. Bake 28 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown and firm to the touch.
  7. Remove and let cool on pan.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pancakes (lower carb, low-sugar, gluten-free)

This is a version of the recipe that we have almost every Saturday. We vary it by making it as crepes and filling it with fruit, as pancakes and adding berries or sugar-free chocolate chips or nuts to the batter, or baking it in the oven with apples or stone fruit for another texture. Nathaniel was craving Mexican hot chocolate, so I added a few ingredients to our standard recipe.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Pancakes 
For two thick 6" pancakes or 4-6 thinner crepes:

4 large eggs
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
3 Splenda packets or equivalent sweetener (we don't like ours too sweet so you should find what works for you)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
Sugar-free chocolate chips or super dark chocolate chips (optional)

Blend everything except chocolate chips together. (I use an immersion blender.) Heat small skillet pan to medium heat. Add about half the batter if you're making two thick pancakes, sprinkling chocolate chips in the pan if you choose to use them. Cook until set and flip.

We ate our pancakes with bananas, sugar-free maple syrup and sugar-free whipped cream. It would have been nice with pecans too!

Monday, September 21, 2015

A Visit to Vortex Doughnuts in Asheville, NC

Asheville has always been the Appalachian brother of Portland, OR, so it was no surprise to see a doughnut shop open there. Vortex Doughnuts opened in October 2014 and is going strong, with freshly made doughnuts, including vegan doughnut and drink options, locally sourced ingredients, and business choices such as paying employees a living wage. Oh Asheville, you complete me.

On Labor Day, with the day to myself and seeing in Instagram that they'd still be open, I decided to journey up there to see what they had going on. I joined the Ashevillians in line for doughnuts and ordered a box of four plus one of the interesting drinks. I ended up with three cake and one yeast raised doughnut - one apple cider, one Black Mountain Chocolate ganache, one blood orange (and chocolate drizzle), and the yeast doughnut was topped with a raspberry and matcha glaze. I chose a Thai Eye Opener for a drink - two shots of espresso, lemongrass syrup, and coconut milk (so a vegan option by default.)

It seemed like the flavor options were available as either cake or yeast, and I saw something on the board about chocolate cake, but during the minutes I was ordering, there wasn't a chocolate cake doughnut in sight. I know their flavors change frequently, and following them on Instagram can be quite alluring.  

The yeast doughnut was fine, but these are not my favorite kinds of doughnuts. I always judge a doughnut place on its cake doughnut and I have to say that their cake doughnuts were impressive. The one topped with Black Mountain ganache may have been the most perfect cake doughnut of all cake doughnuts. It had a slight chew instead of being stale or crumbly. It had been freshly topped, unlike a certain unnamed local donutier who makes her doughnuts the night before she sells them, which is doughnut blasphemy.  They are creative with flavor but start with a good base. It isn't just cleverness; it's backed up with quality. I feel I have to clarify after a disappointing trip to Portland's Voodoo Doughnuts, which long ago traded quality for kitsch. 

I try not to eat a lot of sugar but I would probably return to Vortex just to try another creative drink. They have a few details that they would benefit from sorting out - the one public bathroom had a line the entire time I was there, and most of the people there had parked illegally since there aren't enough spaces in the immediate vicinity.  These are practicalities that I hope the business will attend to as they grow their customer base.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Palacsintas (Hungarian Crepes)

 Palacsintas with Apricot Jam and Powdered Sugar

1 cup whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 extra large eggs
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¾ cup apricot jam*
⅓ cup confectioners sugar

Blend the milk, flour, sugar, eggs, and a pinch of salt in a blender. Melt 2 tbsp of the butter and add to the blender. Blend until smooth.

Melt 1 tsp butter in an 8-inch skillet. Coat the bottom of the pan with a very thin layer of batter. Basically make crepes, don’jt feel like typing it all. After flipping and cooking 30 seconds, while still in pan, put a heaping tablespoon of jam down the center of the crepe and roll up, pressing slightly. Transfer to a baking sheet. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Repeat to make 8, adding butter as you go. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar pushed through a sieve.

*I used raspberry!

This recipe comes from Radically Simple: Brilliant Flavors with Breathtaking Ease: 325 Inspiring Recipes from Award-Winning Chef Rozanne Gold 

Like pancakes? I seem to make them from around the world! Check out the Finnish pannukakku, Icelandic pönnukökur, Papua New Guinean banana pancakes, the Danish ebleskiver, and what we call the German oven apple pancake. I also made ratio pancakes from Michael Ruhlman's book, which we can call American.

Monday, September 07, 2015

Coffee Cake Banana Bread (low-sugar, low-carb, paleo)

PaleOMG remains one of my go-to websites particularly for weekend breakfasts, and this coffee cake banana bread is no exception. Since I now keep almond flour, coconut sugar, and coconut flour on hand, I had all the ingredients I needed. I did substitute coconut flour for maple syrup in the cake part and found it to definitely be sweet and moist enough with that substitution.

I'm even including a picture of the full loaf because I love how the streusel looks. 

  • 3 brown bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup maple syrup (or coconut sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup almond butter (or other nut/seed butter)
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
For the toppings
  • 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) grass fed butter, at room temperature (or coconut oil)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pecans, crushed
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8.5×4.5 baking dish with oil then line the middle with parchment paper. It will make it easier to remove from the pan without it coming apart.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together bananas, maple syrup, vanilla extract, eggs, and almond butter.
  3. Then add coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt and mix well.
  4. Pour batter into baking dish. Place on a baking sheet.
  5. In a small bowl, add butter, coconut sugar, almond flour, cinnamon, and pecans. Use your hands to mix the toppings together.
  6. Place chunks of the toppings all around the top of the banana bread mixture.
  7. Place in oven to bake for 50 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven, place on cooling rack and let rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Baking Around the World: Spekkoek

Spekkoek is often mistranslated as "spice cake" because you would think it meant that, when you see the ingredients of the cake. But spekkoek actually means "bacon cake," a reflection of the striping effect of the cake rather than its contents.

I think of spekkoek as the "cake of empire." It would have been impossible for this cake to exist without the European influence and the Indonesian spices. Dutch traders and settlers in the Indonesian islands came together to create this cake, and it is one of the remnants of empiricism worth hanging onto.  It seems like a cake designed to be either simple or impressive - a quick Google search will reveal some spekkoek that are complete works of art, simply unbelievable.

The cake uses a pretty unique technique - the two flavors of batter are alternated in thin layers of the pan and broiled until just set. Ideally the cake is quite high; I didn't pay attention and used a regular cake pan. It worked but I ran out of pan before I ran out of batter. The batter is thinner than normal cake batter, and it is almost like a pancake.

Some of the pictures I've seen have a darker brown batter, and I'm not sure if they are using more clove. One idea I had was to add espresso to help with the contrast. I also added some pandan juice to the white layer, but not enough to alter the texture or flavor really. There was a bit of "oh what is that" that can probably be blamed on the combination of six spices and pandan. (Also I used Chinese Five Spice Powder in place of the star anise that I didn't have on its own so that wasn't very traditional.)

One thing I liked about this cake was that once it cooled, I could slice it into wedges and drop them into a ziploc to take to work. It is sturdy and snackable and would be great for lunches the next day!

I used the recipe from Jenessa's Dinner but there are many out there (plus I thought her suggestion of serving this with maple syrup was strange so I did not do that). I also watched a fantastic instructional video in Dutch from an old grandmotherly type who clearly makes spekkoek pretty regularly (3 at a time!).  I'll add it to the end of this post.


Ingredients: (makes an 8"-9" round cake)

  • 2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground anise 
  • 3 sticks/1.5 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 eggs, separated
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  1. Prep: Line the bottom of a springform pan with parchment paper, and butter well.  Set the oven to broil.
  2. Combine all spices in a small bowl, set aside.  Separate the eggs.
  3. Cream the butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, vanilla, and salt.  Add the egg yolks, and mix until smooth.
  4. Fold in the flour by hand with a spatula.
  5. Combine the egg whites and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, beat with a hand mixer until very stiff.  In four parts, fold the egg whites into the other batter.  Do not over mix.
  6. Divide the batter into two large bowls, stirring the spices into one.
  7. Add 1/2 cup of the spiced batter to the bottom of the buttered pan, spreading it evenly over the bottom.  Cook under the broiler for 2 minutes, or until lightly browned.   Spread a 1/2 cup of the plain batter on top of the cooked layer, broiling again for 2 minutes.  Repeat this process of layering/cooking with alternating batters until the pan is full.
  8. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack before removing from the pan.
  9. Dust with confectioners sugar and serve with maple syrup, whipped cream, or fruit preserves.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap to store

Monday, August 24, 2015

Baking Around the World: Pandan Chiffon Cake

I'm finally back to some Oceania baking experiments. I've hopped on a boat and moved to Indonesia, which isn't far considering I was last in Papua New Guinea and West Papua, part of which is technically a part of Indonesia today.

An ingredient that comes up frequently while researching Indonesian baked goods is pandan.  Pandan is a leafy plant that smells of grassy vanilla. Just like vanilla in other countries, pandan is often imitated with chemicals - artificial flavorings and colorings. Around my area, it can be hard to find the real thing.  I did find some other crucial ingredients for my cooking and baking experiments.

I could find a lot of fake pandan. Fake pandan is easy to spot because it is bright almost neon green, and is a popular flavor throughout Southeast Asia - Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia too. Pandan cakes, pandan bubble tea, pandan ice cream and pandan paste. I really wanted to use the actual thing. Although my local Asian market did not carry the leaves (neither fresh nor frozen), I was able to find pandan juice made from actual pandan leaves, in a can.  And okay, I bought one little packaged cake with artificial pandan and a thai coconut layer jelly cake with artificial pandan, because I was curious!

A recipe I found multiple versions of along the way is Pandan Chiffon Cake. There is a lot of discussion on how the chiffon cake is a reflection of American influence in Southeast Asia, as opposed to the Dutch influence that may be seen in other recipes (stay tuned next week for an example!).  I'm not sure how American the chiffon cake is, but I had never made one. I had made angel food cakes back in my tearoom days, including a mocha version that I thought had more flavor - but angel food cakes are completely free of egg yolks. Chiffon cakes are made in a similar fashion, and folding the egg whites in at the end is a crucial step, but the batter contains a bit more fat in the form of oil and egg yolks.

This is one of the versions of Pandan Chiffon Cake that specifically mentioned using pandan juice in place of homemade paste or artificial flavoring. At the same time, I wonder if the change in liquid amount didn't have a slight change to the final product. I wasn't a huge fan of the texture, it was rather dry to my taste, and despite using 2 oz of juice I could hardly taste the flavor of it. While it was baking it smelled divine but I wish more had come across in the cake itself. Perhaps I should have boiled down the rest of the sugary canned juice into a syrup. You also can't taste the coconut milk as much as I would have expected, so I'd like to find a way to magnify that flavor as well. Coconut and pandan seem to be frequent companions.

A co-worker said her chiffon cakes don't normally have the larger holes in them so there is a definite chance I overmixed or underbeat or all the bad things that can happen to chiffon cakes. The 9 egg whites created quite a bit of volume to fold into the other batter and I actually think my standard KitchenAid mixing bowl was not large enough to accommodate it. 

There are quite a few different recipes for this cake out there. It must be one of those standards that every grandmother has a different recipe for. I looked at some that depended on the artificial pastes, and some that started with fresh pandan leaves. I went with the recipe I found on Serious Eats because it allowed for pandan juice and did not seem to rely on artificial extracts for flavor. I'm not sure how it compares to the rest. (The recipe is labeled as part of their "Singapore Stories" series and I have my eye on the Chinese Egg Tarts if I ever do a year of reading in China.)

Pandan Chiffon Cake
recipe from Yvonne Ruperti, Singapore Stories, Serious Eats

Notes: Look in your local Asian market for fresh or frozen pandan leaves. If you can't find it, increase the pandan extract to 2 tablespoons. Either green pandan paste or clear pandan extract can be used.


  • 6 pandan leaves, washed and roughly chopped
  • 6 large eggs, separated, divided
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup full fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons pandan extract
  • 1 3/4 cup (7 ounces) cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar


  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Line bottom of 10-inch tube pan with parchment paper. Place chopped pandan leaves in food processor and add 2 tablespoons water. Blend until leaves are pulverized, about 1 minute (add an extra tablespoon water if mixture is too thick to blend). Strain mixture though cheesecloth, squeezing tightly to extract as much juice as possible. You should have 3 to 4 tablespoons juice.
  2. In large bowl, whisk 6 yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until very light, about 1 minute. Whisk in oil until combined. Whisk in coconut milk, pandan extract, and 3 tablespoons pandan juice until combined.
  3. Sift cake flour, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Gently whisk flour mixture into pandan mixture until smooth.
  4. Using standing mixer fitted with whip attachment, beat 9 egg whites on medium low speed until frothy. Add cream of tartar, increase speed to medium, and continue to beat until meringue begins to look opaque. Increase speed to medium high and slowly add remaining 1/2 cup sugar. Continue to beat until meringue reaches stiff but not dry peak.
  5. Fold 1/3 of meringue into batter until combined. Carefully fold in remaining meringue in two stages until just combined, being careful to not deflate meringue.
  6. Pour batter into ungreased 10-inch tube pan and bake until cake is golden on top, set, and long skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Completely cool cake in pan, about 2 hours. Invert onto serving plate to serve.