Monday, July 6, 2015

The Perfect Chocolate Cake (Barefoot Contessa / Hershey)

Have you found your perfect chocolate cake?

Me? Sort of.

I'm not 100% certain because I have baked many chocolate cakes at here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here and I really like ALL of them.

Which one is our perfect chocolate cake? It is a tough decision if we have to choose only one recipe. Among the unforgettable chocolate cakes that I have baked, I wouldn't mind baking this moist and homely chocolate cake (also known as Beatty's Chocolate Cake) from the book, Barefoot Contessa at home, Barefoot Contessa or Food Network again and again.

This chocolate cake is not just perfect for me... It is also perfect for everyone. If you do a search for "best chocolate cake recipe" or "perfect chocolate cake recipe" via Google, you will find these recipes:

1) Best Chocolate Cake Ever at Add a Pinch which evolves from Hershey's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
2) Beatty's Chocolate Cake at Food Network
3) Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
4) Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake
5) Perfect Chocolate Cake at I am Baker 
6) Perfect Chocolate Cake at Food 52

and more... Interestingly, when I look at these recipes very closely, I noticed that all except Nigella's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake and Hershey's Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake are the same! According to Amanda from I am baker, the Beatty's Chocolate Cake is the adapted version of Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake which is an earlier version using milk instead of buttermilk.

My perfect chocolate cake?
I must say that everyone can judge a cake differently. What is perfect to me might not be perfect to you. Hence, there is no right or wrong when you like or dislike anything about a cake. To me, the most perfect cake is always a cake that I baked with the best quality ingredients resulting the texture and taste that I want.

For my chocolate cake, I have baked its original version at Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake using milk but I must emphasise that the use of buttermilk yields a better and moister cake.

For my chocolate cake frosting, I prefer the recipe at Beatty's Chocolate Cake more than the one at Hershey's Perfect Chocolate Cake as it contains lesser icing sugar plus a good amount of melted chocolate... yielding a not-sugary but real chocolaty taste and also a creamy texture. Being a health conscious, I have frosted my cake with only half of the suggested amount of frosting and I reckon that this balanced way of enjoying this chocolate cake is the best for me.

perfect chocolate cake
The Perfect Chocolate Cake

Due to the addition of boiling water, this chocolate cake recipe will yield a thin and runny cake batter. So it is important not to use any loose bottom or springform cake pans to bake this cake as the thin cake batter will leak through the bottom of these pans. To tackle this problem, you can either use cake pans with NO easy removal bottoms or these Push Pan with easy removal. 

Thanks to DonaldsonThese award winning loose bottom cake pans from UK are available now in Australia. They are 100% leak-proof and watertight and can remove all cakes especially the fragile ones easily.

Push pan from Donaldson
How clever is that!
It has a well-fitted silicon seal at the rim of its bottom that can totally seal the pan.
Very innovative!
100% leak proof? Let's see...
For my curiosity, I did this simple test.
True enough that it is 100% leak proof!
I'm totally convinced now and so I went ahead to grease and line the bottom of the pan with baking paper.
Baking the cake is easy...
First, I combined these ingredients.
Then, I did this... Super easy!
Before baking... I have divided the chocolate cake batter into two baking pans.
As I have only one push pan, I have to bake another cake with my regular cake pan. 
The push pan works!
This is how I removed the cake from the pan... Easy and gentle to the cake!
This is how I removed the cake from my another pan...
Not too bad but I must admit that I have been a little less gentle to this cake! LOL!
Making the frosting
I'm always a big fan of this not-so-sweet, smooth and real chocolaty frosting.
To assemble, trim off the bulging cake tops.
Line the serving plate with 4 strips of baking papers and place the bottom cake on the lined plate.
Spread the frosting on the cake.
Place another cake on top of the frosted cake and spread the rest of the frosting throughout the whole cake.
Now, I'm going to enjoy this perfect slice of chocolate cake.
Now, who wants a second serve?

Here's the recipe to make this perfect chocolate cake.

Perfect Chocolate Cake Base that is mostly adapted from Hershey

350g caster sugar
(this is a reduced amount and the sweetness is just right for us. Original was 400g, 2 cups)
260g (1 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
75g (3/4 cup) cocoa powder, preferably good quality Dutch processed cocoa powder like Valrhona
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda (can be replaced with baking powder if you are using neutralised Dutch processed cocoa powder)
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk (I used milk but still prefer the cakes that I have baked with buttermilk)
1/2 cup vegetable oil, preferably Alfa One Brown Rice Oil for its smooth texture and high antioxidants content
2 tsp vanilla extract or 1 tsp vanilla paste
1 cup boiling water

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C  Grease and line the bottom two 8-inch (20 cm) round baking pans with baking paper.

Using a hand whisk or an electric mixer with medium, combine eggs, milk, oil and vanilla in a large bowl.

In another bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift these dry ingredients into the egg mixture and whisk until just combined.

Sir in the boiling water (Note: batter will be thin) and divide batter into prepared pans.

Bake 35-40 mins or until a skewer inserted in center comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool slightly in the pan for 10 mins. Remove the cakes from the pans and allow them to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Not-so-sweet Chocolate Buttercream that is mostly adapted the book, Barefoot Contessa at home, Barefoot Contessa or Food Network

Note: This amount of frosting listed in this recipe is half of the original amount. Please feel free to use the full amount if you like to enjoy this cake with more chocolate frosting.

3 ounces or 90g good quality semisweet chocolate, mine is Callebaut dark chocolate callets with 70% cocoa

125g unsalted butter, soften at room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
60g (1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp) sifted icing sugar
1 tsp hot water or coffee

Melt chocolate in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water or a microwave with low power. Set aside to cool slightly to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter, icing sugar and vanilla until light yellow and fluffy. Using a spatula, stir in the melted chocolate and hot water into the butter mixture. DO NOT whip mixture! Use frosting immediately.
To assemble:

Using serrated knife, slice the bulging top off from the cakes.

Choose your cake stand or serving plate and cut out four strips of baking paper to form a square outline on it. Place one of the cakes and spoon about a third of the icing on to the centre of the cake half and spread with a spatula until the top is covered with the frosting evenly.

Place the other cake on top. With a spatula, spread the top and the sides of the cake with frosting evenly. Serve immediately. Cake is in its best texture when it is at room temperature.

Happy Baking

Don't forget to submit your details to win this newly published book, Eat the Week by Anna Barnett (RRP AUD$39.99) and enjoy Anna's feel good cooking. This giveaway is open to ALL and submission ends on 23rd July 2015. Good Luck!

Eat the Week by Anna Barnett Book Giveaway

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Lemon Yogurt Pancakes with Lemon Drizzle

Can you recall all the food that you have eaten for the week?

Are they healthy, comforting, budget friendly or just routine?

I'm a strong believer of "we are what we eat" and can't start the day without any breakfast. My daily breakfast are often fast and simple being just cereal and milk but on some less hectic days, I like to pamper myself with something a little different...

I would say that these eggless lemon yogurt pancakes are the holistic kind of breakfast as they can really feed my tummy, body, mind and emotion. After I nom nom nom-ed these pancakes, my tummy was happy because four of these pancakes were the perfect amount to fill my tummy. My body was happy because I felt energetic after eating this breakfast. My mind was happy because these yogurt are made with healthy ingredients and also super tang-licious! And of course, I was feeling awesome because my tummy. body, mind were happy... LOL!

Lemon yogurt pancakes with lemon drizzle
Lemon yogurt pancakes with lemon drizzle

This is how I made 4 pancakes to feed one happy me...

Making these pancakes is easy... First, I combined these ingredients.
Notice that there is no egg in this recipe? Yogurt is the ingredient that binds everything together.
Instead of melted butter, I'm using Alfa one rice bran oil.
Combine these dry ingredients.
Whisk into the yogurt mixture to make a thick batter.
Instead of using rapeseed oil, I'm using about 2 tbsp of Alfa one rice bran oil to cook these pancakes. 
While cooking the pancakes, I combined these in a small saucepan to make a lemon drizzle.
It takes just a minute or two to cook this until the sugar dissolves.
Stack the pancakes on my plate. Top with a dollop of yogurt and a sprig of mint.
Now the lemon drizzle...
Dig in!
nom nom nom...
... and I'm feeling awesome!!!

These pancakes are the best being slightly crispy on their edges and moist and soft inside when they are served immediately. However, if you can't do that, the recipe says that you can keep the cooked pancakes in 150°C oven while you are cooking the rest of them.

According to the recipe, this amount of pancakes can feed 2 persons but the energetic me need to eat at least 4 of these pancakes... Opsie!


Do you like this holistic kind of breakfast?

Do you like to eat different holistic breakfast everyday? ... every week? ... holistic food every meal?

Well, you can... Including this pancake recipe, there are a lot of these feel-good kind of recipes from the book, Eat the Week by Anna Barnett.

Anna Barnett is fashionista-turned-culinary queen and has hosted literally hundreds of dinner parties. She lives in London and writes a weekly column The Reluctant Vegetarian for The Independent alongside her own blog, GetInMyGob. Her pop up restaurant at her house attracts many celebrity guests and she has been featured extensively in the media as shown in Anna Barnett Cooks.

The book, Eat the Week by Anna Barnett

Anna shared lots of her most loved dishes in Eat the Week. To me, Anna's daily way of enjoying food is like the fashionable way of eating as her recipes are trendy, classy and can even feed me according to my mood. In fact, I agree with what Anna said "I live for food, every meal in fact, one wrong meal and a day can be ruined!" Totally true. I feel the same with my food and my clothes too. It is like when I wear something that I don't like, the whole day seems ruined...

This is the trendy Anna Barnett.

For a feel-good week, this book starts Mondays with a selection of wholesome and healthy recipes. For those who has Monday blues, Mondays has also foods with carbs for comfort... So well-thought! To Anna, Tuesdays are the more relaxed and lazy kinds of food as she increases her cooking pace on Wednesday with modern vs rustic kinds of fanciful food. As her week approaches, she starts to wind down her schedule and cooking to something homely for Thursday and likes to be barely in her kitchen on Friday. To finish off the week, her Saturdays and Sundays are the entertaining sorts with the splash-the-cash food and also many slow cooking.

From budget Mondays to slow Sundays, there are many different recipes to choose.

Just looking at the contents itself, I can see that there are many recipes to cook and all can suit different moods, schedules, budgets, needs and diets. Despite the variations, I have to say that Anna's food are all mood-orientated and fashionable... For sure, these pancakes made from Eat the Week is making me feeling awesome!

This is the pancake recipe that I have cooked from this book.

Want more holistic breakfast idea? How about these...

Beet 'N' Blueberry Suck Yourself Slim Smoothie 
Coffee and Banana Breakfast Smoothie

I hope that I have shown you the contents of Eat the Week well enough... As this post is specially written to review this book, I'm sorry that I have agreed to the publisher that I can't publish the recipes in this book in this post.

However, if you really wish to cook these pancakes, please read my post in details, you will see that you can actually cook these pancakes without a written recipe as I have fully illustrated the process of cooking very thoroughly to you. *Hint*

If you likes Anna Barnett and her feel good cooking, you can to buy her newly published book at a retail price of AUD$39.99 or win a copy of this book here.

Eat the Week by Anna Barnett Book Giveaway
Before ending this post, I like to thank Murdoch Books for giving me this opportunity to do this review. I like to make a disclaimer here that I'm not paid to do this and like to share my most honest opinions with everyone who read this review.

Happy Eating