If you are looking for something that will put the seasonal fruit in a spotlight, I don’t think there is anything better suited for this than an upside-down cake. This classical cake that becomes a centre piece of any meal, proved to be a perfect use for cute little apricots that I found at my local greengrocer.
APRICOT UPSIDE-DOWN CAKE
1 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
60ml cold water
10 small apricots
- Preheat oven to 180C and grease a 23 cm cake pan.
- Mix flour with baking powder and salt. Separately, beat 125g of butter and 150g of sugar into a light and fluffy cream. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Gradually fold in the flour.
- Pour the remaining sugar and water into a saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until the syrup caramelises and becomes golden brown in colour. Then pour into previously prepared cake pan. Melt the remaining butter and pour it over the caramel.
- Cover the bottom of the pan with apricot halves and pour the batter over them.
- Bake for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake in the pan 10 minutes and then turn out onto a plate.
To be fair, I’m not a big fan of flan. It just seems very bland and boring to me. Coffee flan on the other hand, is a completely opposite story. Coffee makes it thousand times better by turning it from a rather tasteless jelly mass into a flavourful mousse-like glory. It is known that coffee’s best buddy is chocolate, particularly dark chocolate,and this recipe just proves what a fantastic BFF they make.
When this chocolate and flan cake was in the oven I was sure it was destined to fail. My cake pan betrayed me and let half of the flan leak onto the tray underneath it. As it was already halfway through baking, I left it there anyway to see how it would go. As you see, it turned out great even though half of the flan was wobbling in the roasting pan.
So if you are following this recipe PLEASE NOTE that you will need to seal the pan really good to avoid leaks. You will then end up with double layer of flan of what you can see in these pictures.
The thing that surprised me most in this recipe experiment (right after the gorgeous flavour, of course) was the layer switching magic that happened in the oven. All the recipes I found online said that the flan and chocolate cake layers would swap during baking. I had really hard time believing that. You should have seen my face of pure excitement when it actually happened. Neither physics nor chemistry is my strength so I have no idea how and why this happens, so I will just assume it’s magic.
CHOCOLATE AND COFFEE FLAN CAKE
200g good quality dark chocolate
200g sugar + 50g for caramel sauce
370g sweetened condensed milk
370g evaporated milk
3 tablespoons of coffee dissolved in 3 tablespoons of water
- To make caramel sauce heat 50g of sugar on a medium heat. Stir it continuously until sugar melts and turns into a light golden sauce.
- Pour it quickly into a 24cm cake pan and spread evenly across the bottom of the pan. Preheat oven to 180C. Place a roasting pan half filled with water in the oven.
- In a large bowl beat together eggs and sugar until the mixture is foamy and has doubled in size (about 5 minutes). Carefully pour chocolate over eggy mixture and gently fold it in. In a separate bowl sieve and mix flour and cocoa. Add this to batter and gently fold it in until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan.
- To prepare coffee flan simply blend together all ingredients and pour over the chocolate cake.
- Place cake pan into the roasting pan that’s already in the oven. Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into a centre of the cake come out clean. When done take it out with the roasting pan and leave it there for 10 minutes. After this time place a serving plate on top of the cake pan and carefully inver it to remove the cake.
This is a recipe for a party in a cupcake form. Dulce de leche speaks for itself, really. It makes everything better and is one of my (many) food related weaknesses. I was very close to ditching the idea of making the icing and just digging straight in the jar of caramel goodness with a big spoon. However, it is really worth making the effort not to and see how great dulce de leche works with popcorn. Popcorn is not exactly a typical topping for cupcakes, but it works great here to add crunchiness to the whole thing.
If you are looking for cupcakes that are fun to make and fun to eat than look no further. They are a perfect combination of textures and flavours with soft and sweet cupcake and crunchy and salty popcorn topping.
DULCE DE LECHE AND POPCORN CUPCAKES (Makes 12)
140g plain flour
140g caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt
60g soft butter
120ml whole milk
3 tablespoons dulce de leche
100g icing sugar
Your choice of popcorn
2 tablespoons of dulce de leche for decorating
- Preheat oven to 170C. Line a muffin tin with cupcake cases.
- Using an electric mixer beat together butter and sugar until mixed and light in colour. Beat in the egg and rum extract. Mix until combined.
- Separately mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Alternating with the milk add dry ingredients to butter and sugar i.e. add 1/3 of dry ingredients and mix, then add 1/3 of milk. Continue until all incorporated.
- Divide the batter between 12 cupcake cases filling them 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cupcake comes out clean.
- To prepare the icing mix together all ingredients until just combined. Spoon it carefully over the cooled cupcakes and add popcorn on top. To decorate the top with dulce de leche, place it in the microwave for 30 seconds or until melted and pour over the popcorn. NOTE: if making cupcakes for the following day, add popcorn just before serving as otherwise it will become soggy
I am a huge fan of cottage cheese, but since my move to Barcelona it has been rather hard to find it here. I don’t understand how people can live without it?! Then again, those are the same people who don’t have kettles in their houses and therefore don’t even have a word for it. Apparently tea is not a basic necessity here… Anyways back to cheese.
So as cottage cheese is not a product you find in every supermarket here, I have been experimenting with other types of cheeses both for baking and cooking. So far ricotta has worked best for baking and this whole wheat ricotta cake is a proof of that. This cake is so simple that it has just three steps of preparation, yet it is far from plain. The generous amount of ricotta makes it float somewhere between being a cake and a cheesecake, which is probably the best place to be.
Please note that this recipe makes a small 15cm cake. If you are making a cake that’s 22cm or bigger, I would suggest doubling this recipe. Also when I baked this I made a strawberry swirl for the top of the cake, as you will see in the photos, however as it didn’t really add much to the cake I have left it out of the recipe.
WHOLE WHEAT RICOTTA CAKE
115g whole wheat cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
50g butter, softened
- Preheat oven to 170C and line 15cm cake pan with baking paper.
- Mix together cake flour, sugar and baking powder. Separately slightly beat eggs, butter, ricotta and vanilla extract until combined. Fold in dry ingredients.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake for about 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.