Baking Diary – Log 17 – 18.11.2012
Huggggggggggg… tightly! (Virtually) 🙂
“Wow, easy there, Rose. What’s up? Sugar high?”
Tehe, I am back, long time no see. I’ve missed you much.
It has been 12 days since my last post of the Tangzhong series, my sincere apology for being away for such long time, my head was spinning like madness between working and studying. So today, I will redeem my lateness by offering you one of the very best recipes in my kitchen, yet might already be very familiar with you guys: My version of Pineapple Upside Down Cake. 🙂
This version of pineapple cake was super moist and complex with a bit sourness of baked pineapple, a bit bitterness of caramel, a hint of nuttiness thanks to the additional almond flour.
However, to add more value to this post, I will not only share with you my recipe, but also summarize the process of making cakes by the creaming butter method, one major branch of Paté Génoise. This method applies to many recipes such as simple pound cake, yellow butter cake, etc. Cakes produced by this method tend to be very moist, buttery, and flavorful yet a bit dense and crumbly. By going through one of this method’s most popular recipe – the mighty Pineapple upside down cake, step by step, as usual, you can see exactly how the method works and what should be expected out of it.
Excited yet? Let’s go! 😀
– My Velvety Chocolate Mud Cake, Made by the Two-stage Method
Introduction of the Creaming Method
Generally, it requires only 3 steps to make the standard butter cake batter, known as the Creaming Method (or Conventional Method), briefly summarized as below:
1) Creaming – means measuring butter and sugar in the same mixing bowl. Then use the paddle attachment of the stand mixer or the whisks of hand mixer to beat the mixture until the butter color lighten and improve in volume. Eggs are usually added one at a time after this process.
2) Blending – Measuring the dry ingredients (such as flour, baking powder, salt, coconut flakes, nut flours, etc.), wet ingredients (such as milk, buttermilk, oil, vanilla extract, liqueur, or juice) and additional ingredients (chopped fruit, nuts, spices, vegetable, etc.) depending on different recipes, into 3 separated bowls, then blend each kind of ingredients well in those bowl.
3) Combining – in the last step, using the paddle attachment to combine all the ingredients into a batter, starting by adding 1/3 of dry ingredients, mix until just combined, then add ½ of wet ingredients, mix, gradually combine the rest following the dry-wet-dry order. Finally, add all the additional ingredients, mix until just combined.
How it works
In the first step of the creaming method, you’re combining two tenderizers–plastic fat (such as butter, margarine, and shortening) and crystalized sugar (either icing or granulated sugar). The tiny sugar crystals tear the fat apart, creating thousands of little holes that can trap air, which will then expand in the oven thanks to the chemical reaction of leavening substance like baking powder or baking soda.
Then, when you add the dry ingredient mix alternately with the wet ingredient mix, you are then agitating flour further in the presence of water (that exist in the milk and/or egg whites), encouraging the gluten formation, which consequently adds strength and structure to your cake.
Some notes on the Creaming Method
NOTE 1 – Usually use icing sugar to help it combine better with butter. If you don’t have it in hand, simply make some by process granulated white sugar in a food processor for a few minutes. In worst cases when you don’t have any icing sugar and cannot make it, using the granulated white sugar is fine, too; however, because it will not completely dissolve into the butter, it might affect the texture of the cake.
NOTE 2 – If you are precise, you can first measure and beat the butter in the mixing bowl until creamy then add the sugar later. Beat the butter and sugar with medium speed until light and creamy to almost ivory and improve at least double in volume, about 8 to 10 minutes. Beat them at medium speed, do not rush creaming the butter or else it will affect the final texture of the cake.
NOTE 3 – In most cases the wet ingredient mixture, including eggs, must be added in stages with only small amounts at a time. If they are added too quickly, they cannot be absorbed properly into the batter. The wet ingredients are often added alternately with the flour, always started with dry ingredient mix, and ended with dry mix also because they help the batter absorb the wet ingredients much better.
NOTE 4 – NEVER overbeat your batter! When adding ingredients into it, remember to mix on medium speed until just combine, meaning to stop the instance you see there is no flour lumps or traces of liquid in the batter (about 1 minute each addition). Overbeating will ruin your cake texture, make it denser and chewier as the gluten is unintentionally formed. There might be little flour linger to your bowl wall, don’t try to beat until all of them disappear, it will be too much too long. Simply turn your mixer off, using a hand spatula to scrape those flour into the batter, give it a few stir and it will be fine.
NOTE 5 – All ingredients (including butter, sugar, eggs, and flour, etc. ) should best be at 21 degree C for easier combination. I notice this and have to note it to you guys immediately because sometimes “room temperature” is a very vague and very wrong figure, imagine “room temperature” of 35 degree C in Vietnam where all your butter has almost turn into liquid. 😦
Ingredients (for one cake of 23cm diameter, 7cm height)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar (100g)
- 2 tbsp. Maple syrup or Dark glucose syrup or honey
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter (~57g)
- 7 slices of fresh or canned pineapple (~ 500g)
- 6 candied cherries (optional)
- 1 ½ cup all purpose flour or cake flour (187.5g)
- 6 tbsp. Almond flour (~50g)
- 2 tsp. Baking powder
- 1 4/5 cup icing/powdered sugar (225g)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature at 21 degree C (~227g)
- 4 eggs
- ¾ cup pineapple juice (~170ml)
- 1 tsp. Vanilla extract + 1 tbsp. Dark rum
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 100g fresh or canned pineapple, finely chopped
Note on Pineapple: For this cake, I usually bought a 650g-pineapple can, which contains 9 slices of processed pineapple and about one cup of apple juice inside. This amount perfectly fits with my recipe, but if you can get a hand to fresh pineapple slices and juice, please do try those because they will yield more flavorful cakes.
Note on fruit: You can almost replace pineapple with any of your favorite fruits: plum, peach, rhubarb, orange, strawberry, etc. simply by using the same amount of them in the topping, as well as in the cake batter, plus replacing the fruit juice in it to match with your topping fruit.
Preheat oven to 175 degrees C and place rack in the center of the oven. I place mine at the lowest rack because my oven has very strong upper heat.
Grease the 23 cm your pan with cold butter or cooking spray. If you have good eyes, you can see that my pan has a round corner, not a perpetual one like normal cake pan, this will help the cake flip out more easily later; but no worry if you do not own this kind of pan, simply be more generous when greasing your pan. 🙂
Making the pineapple – caramel topping
Step 1: measure butter, brown sugar, and syrup in a heavy bottom saucepan.
Step 2: Heat the mix on medium heat, at first, stir until all the sugar has melted.
Then stop stirring, and continue heating on medium heat.
Step 3: Cooking for another 5 minutes or so until the mixture raises bubbles like this.
Step 4: Carefully pour this caramelized mixture into the prepared pan. Be super careful not to burn yourself.
Let this sit for about 10 minutes or so to cool it down a little.
Step 5: Arrange the pineapple slices and cherries like shown in this picture. Try to press the fruit down into the still-soft caramel, this will help the cake appearance more appealing later.
Example of Creaming Method – Making the batter of Pineapple Upside Down cake
Step 1: beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer or paddle attachment of the stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy in size and ivory in color, about 8-10 minutes.
Here is before.
And after creaming.
Step 2: Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
Here is after 1 egg addition.
Here is after adding the final one.
If your egg-butter-sugar egg batter curdles, I’m afraid that you will stand at high chance having a dense, soggy cake, so beat the mix very well after each egg addition, if you see strings of egg still exist in the mixture, give them a little more time. One more notice is that the egg-butter mixture will very likely to curdle when the eggs are not at room temperature when mixed into the butter. So, do remember to put yours 20-30 minutes out of the fridge before making the batter, or simply dip them in hot water (not boiling hot, just enjoyable hot) for 5 minutes beforehand. 🙂
Stir in the vanilla and set aside.
Step 3: In a same small bowl, measure flour, almond flour, baking powder, and salt, stir to combine. Here is your dry ingredient mix.
Here in this recipe, pineapple juice, vanilla and dark rum combined will be your wet ingredient mix, and extra chopped pineapple additional ingredient. In the picture below, you might wonder why pineapple juice is white like milk. Well, it is milk. 🙂 This pic is taken for another butter cake recipe, but used here for reference.
Step 4: Start combining by adding 1/3 of dry ingredient mixture into the creamed butter-egg mixture. Mix well until just combine. (remember the just combine stage I explain above?).
Adding ½ of the pineapple juice, mix until … Please fill in the blank. 😉
After that continue this process by adding another 1/3 of the dry mix, then the rest ½ of the juice, and finally the rest 1/3 of the dry mix.
Remember, always begin and end with the dry ingredient mixture and Scrape the bowl after each addition.
Add chopped pineapple, quick mix for 10-20 second until just combined.
Here is how the batter should look like at the end of this step, thick and not pourable.
Step 5: Scoop the batter over the fruit in the prepared manner. Using a spatula to even out the surface, give the tins a couple hitting against the kitchen counter to make sure there is no big hole in the cake.
Step 6: bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes.Then cover the top with a big dish, like shown here.
Invert the cakes onto wire racks to cool completely. The cake should come out quite easily thanks to the greasing and the caramel. There might be some juice or caramel liquid come out, don’t worry and let the cake absorb those goodies back into it. 🙂
Here is our beauty, waiting patiently on a cooling rack.
A picture from the side to show you how sexy and dreamy this cake is. See how the caramel get absorbed into the cake and imagine what it is like to bite into this goodness.
When the cake is cooled completely, it is time to dig in. 🙂 The cake is so moist, buttery, and perfectly complimented with a bit of everything: sourness of baked pineapple, bitterness of caramel, and nuttiness thanks of almond flour.
Side story – My first job
I’ve been super duper busy with my new baking course and my just-started internship at Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream shop in Vietnam. How was the job of Haagen-Dazs, you ask? Gladly, I survived the first week of the first job in my dream career. (It is not a ghost that is tying this post to you, fortunately, or not.) 😉
Well, it all started on last Monday, 12 Nov. I had to stand continuously from 8am to 7:30pm, then run around like crazy fetching stuff for chefs, then clean, clean, and clean some more till my hands got sore. Also got 2 nasty finger cuts as bonuses from the new kitchen. 😀 When the day was over, recalled that I have not had a drop of water, or eaten anything for a whole day. 😛
The following days of that week kinda had the same routine, waking up at 7, riding to work, clean, clean some more, running round in madness, then riding back home at about 8, nearly starved and hardly breathing. 🙂 It has been desperately exhausting, yet super duper exciting and amazingly incredible time for me since.
Now that the new week has started, together with the practicing part of my baking course, everyday at 7.30AM I ride to school, baking to my heart content until 12.00PM, rush home for lunch, then ride to work and do kinda same routine of the last week (since our kitchen is being set up) until 8.00PM, eating some dinner, working out, writing blog and reading baking books till I was asleep at about 1.00AM. 🙂
Am I dreaming a beautiful dream? If it is, please don’t wake me up just yet…
Unbelievably I was still able to squeeze out some time from this insane schedule to make Kimchi (tasted just as good as store-bought one), unboxing my new oven with a batch of Vietnamese Banh Mi and testing a new Choux à la Crème (cream puffs) recipe 🙂 YAY!
So, what do you want me to write next? 😉 I am thinking a cooking post, since I have not done anything like that for quite a long time. Or should it be choux?