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O Beautiful, For Spacious Pies

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Blueberry pie, click image for recipe

Oh what I meant skies, not pies. But yes, it’s almost the 4th of July y’all! And in honor of that I feel the need to help you out a little bit. Trust me, I know the frenzy you feel. Grill recipes, pie recipes, treat recipes, snack recipes, goodness gracious how many times must I visit the Martha Stewart website before I can finish my menu!

But, wait, I’ve been baking for more than 2 years now, I should have some things…

What about some Mixed Berry Boy Bait?

Mixed Berry Boy Bait

I’m a pretty big fan of  blueberries. How great that it’s such a 4th of July classic, eh?

But that doesn’t mean blueberries are all! Check out Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts. A delicious food to bring for a picnic if you’re one of those people heading out to parks to check out the fireworks this year.

Lemon Basil Shortbread Hearts

What if you’re going to a park and need picnic food? Well besides shortbread, look at peach crumb bars!

Peach Crumb Bars

Oh and drinks are on me too in the form of virgin mojitos.

Virgin mojitos

Maybe you’re looking for a summery cake that is just as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as it is to your taste buds? Try a ridiculously simple Summery Fruit Cake.

Summery Fruit Cake

I feel like I’ve covered most of my summer favorites for baking that you could surely incorporate into your own 4th of July menu. And just some last few options that might interest you:

Peanut Butter Blondies

Hummingbird Coffee Cake and Over-Cognition

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I am an over-cognitor. That doesn’t mean I’m intelligent, it means I can’t get out of my head and think too much about things that needn’t be thought about that much. I have difficulties reading some novels because I can’t finish the novel without writing it in my own way in my head. I will read a description, a quote, or even a wonderfully used vocab word and my mind will take off running at a hundred miles per hour in the exact opposite direction that the author was going.

I love bookstore sales where they have pile after pile of books, used and sometimes new, for a mere dollar or less. I get extremely carried away and buy any novel that looks like it might hold any hint of a well-written plot full of mystery and/or historical fiction (my two favorite genres), but more often than not, I end up with a book that I can’t finish reading, so instead I dissect it. I take out lines, ideas, words, and let my mind wander off with them.

Over-cognition, my friends, is not that great of a trait. It involves spontaneous creation of poetry, supposedly witty lines, situations, and stories in my mind at the most random times. Today at work in my research lab, I received a new sample from a patient to study and I spent my entire lunch break spinning up a (now that I look at it) rather boring medical mystery. That is what I do. I don’t know if that makes me insane, a mad writer, or simply someone who is constantly lost in the many thoughts in my head.

Maybe I’m meant to be a mad writer…like the 21st-century female version of Ernest Hemingway. But I honestly don’t think anything I have is worthy of publication. I only write down what I believe to be great. The rest I store away in my little noggin (yes I just used that word) for when I am sitting in an orthodontic office and the only things they have to read are brochures about gum disease and then I can lose myself in some story I created once in my head.

That being said, here’s a delicious recipe for a hummingbird bundt coffee cake that I made for Father’s Day last weekend. My Dad absolutely adored it and so did my family. The cake is so wonderfully moist and the glaze and coconut on top made it look so nice. Enjoy!

Hummingbird Coffee Cake (Adapted from Annie’s Eats)

Yield: about 16 servings
For the cake:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
8 tbsp. (½ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. coconut extract (optional)
1 cup low-fat plain greek yogurt
2 mashed bananas (about a scant 1 cup)
2/3 cup shredded coconut
1 cup finely chopped pineapple

For the glaze:
2 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar, plus more as needed

To finish:
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1/3 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, macadamia nuts, or pecans

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Thoroughly grease a bundt pan with butter.  Coat the inside with flour, tapping out the excess.  In a small bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.  Whisk to blend; set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar.  Beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes.  Mix in the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition.  Blend in the vanilla and coconut extracts.  Beat in the yogurt until well incorporated.  With the mixer on low speed, beat in half of the dry ingredients, mixing just until incorporated.  Beat in the mashed bananas and then the remaining dry ingredients, again mixing just until incorporated.  With a silicone spatula, gently fold in the coconut and chopped pineapple.
  • Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan and smooth into an even layer.  Bake, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 50-55 minutes.  Let cool 20-30 minutes in the pan placed on a wire rack.  Gently loosen the cake from the sides of the pan with a knife, and carefully turn out onto the cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely.
  • To make the glaze, whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.  If the glaze is too thin, whisk in more confectioners’ sugar.  If the glaze is too thick, whisk in additional milk 1 teaspoon at a time.  Drizzle the glaze over the top of the cooled cake.  Sprinkle with shredded coconut and chopped nuts for garnish.  Let glaze set before slicing and serving.

Home from the Dorms, so here’s some Crumb-Topped Banana Toffee Cake

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It’s so hard to believe that it’s been an entire six months since I’ve blogged and six months since I moved into my room in McCarty Hall at college. I sit on the floor of my family room as I write, surrounded by boxes of hangers, books, and shampoo that I have yet to unpack, even after having moved back home for a week. Dorming has been…an adventure, to say the least. I was blessed with having the very considerate J– as my first roommate ever in our cozy room at the end of the hall.

Dorming was having to stand outside in the cold when a fire alarm went off because someone forgot to add water while making ramen on the stove. It was watching “Jersey Shore” in the lounge with my floormates while imitating Pauly D and Ronnie’s ridiculous dance moves. It was walking to the nearby 24-hour QFC at 3 am because one of my best friends C– and I decided we wanted food. It was studying (or trying to study) in the rooms downstairs with her until 5:37 am and capping it all off by dancing on tables because we were the only ones left. It was the cheers that echoed through the row of North Campus dorms when announcements of “School cancelled” were made back in January because of snow. It was the 24-hour Mexican fast food place by the name of Memo’s that we frequented (and the memories that were made there). It was blasting Britney Spears in our room and hearing “Oops…I Did It Again” echo from our neighbors’ room, and then having the R.A. come tell us to quiet down.

Besides calling it an adventure, I don’t quite know what other word to make synonymous to my dorm experience. Looking back though, it all ended in valuable friendships being made, experiences had, lessons learned, and two quarters gone.

I baked this cake with my future roommate and wonderful friend R–, while dancing in the kitchen and laughing helplessly (the way we usually do). And to think, 3 months from right now, I will be packing everything up in these boxes again and lugging it all back to McCarty for another year in the dorms. The thought of re-packing the many, many things I have unpacked is quite terrifying. Before any of that happens, though, there’s summer! This summer I’ll be taking a half-term history class about space (oooh!) and working at my research lab, before heading to Cancun with my family the end of July through early August. And then it’s work, and…September! The great thing about colleges on a quarter system is that we don’t start until the end of September, so I can savor my last bit of summer that month.

And, now that I’m home, expect to see a lot more blogging happening. Toodles!

Future roomies!

Crumb-Topped Banana Toffee Cake (Adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody)

Crumb Topping:

1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
8 TBSP unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and still warm
1¾ cups cake flour

Whisk sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine.

Add flour and stir with spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough; set aside to cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

Cake:

1 ½ cups cake flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 TBSP unsalted butter (1/2 stick), cut into 4 pieces, softened but still cool
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 bananas, super ripe
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 cup Heath toffee bits

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 8-inch baking pan with baking spray and set aside.

In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix butter, flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to combine.

With mixer on low speed, mix until batter resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes. Add banana and beat until fully incorporated.

Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.

Fold in the chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to baking pan.

Spread batter into even layer. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center.

Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan.

Upside-Down Pear Cake and Upside-Down Friendships

Walt Whitman once said, “I have learned that to be with those I like is enough” and that is probably one of the truest quotes I have heard in my entire life. It is absolutely possible to still feel empty even when you have numerous text messages waiting in your inbox every time you check your phone and a monumental and growing number of Facebook friends. While it always brightens my day when I find sweet text messages waiting for me or amazing people leaving lovely posts on my Facebook wall, friendship is about finding people who you truly feel connected with and who appreciate you in your entirety.

A truly wonderful friendship that is Casablanca-ending-worthy is rare and precious. So why should we settle for classifications like “BFF” and “Soul Sister” when we know that the relationships we have with certain people are not based on really “liking” each other? I have “friends” who want me to be their therapist and “friends” who want to be my therapist (um no thanks). I have “friends” who belittle my quirks (what, you don’t like my abrupt rambling and bursting into song? Fine) and “friends” who only stick with me because my quirks are attention-grabbing.

Why do I spend so much time interacting with “friends” when the actual friends with whom I feel completely comfortable and amazing with deserve all of that time? Recently, Jimmy Kimmel announced something he called “National Unfriend Day” for deleting Facebook friends who really don’t mean anything to you. Now actual friendship of any sort (regardless of whether or not there should be quotation marks around the friend part) should not be deleted just like that. The whole point of my abnormally serious and emotional post is that we need to learn to re-evaluate our friend-related priorities in life. We must focus on those who truly love and appreciate us.

But let’s set aside the drama-queen-side of things for a moment, shall we? Let us think about what is to come and smile and marvel:

  • I have wisened up so I will spend my spare time with people who I can imagine myself walking away with like Humphrey Bogart at the end of Casablanca.
  • I will buy Christmas gifts and imagine how people’s faces will light up when they open their gifts.
  • I will celebrate my dog’s belated 5th birthday.
  • I will turn another year older in a week.
  • I will hope that a very dear friend K– who has recently moved in with her boyfriend (Congratulations! You two are so amazing!) will be able to spend time with me come Winter Break.
  • I will hope that I will not be so blind-sighted by “friends” and make time in my life for the valuable friendships I have managed to hold on to and rekindle those which I have so mindlessly let go of.
  • I will not hold so many grudges.
  • I will take final exams and at the end of it all throw my hands up in the air and say “Ay-yo, I’m done with finals!”
  • I will listen to Christmas music and dance around with my cup of peppermint hot chocolate.
  • I will tell you guys how to make an amazing upside-down pear cake.

Upside-Down Pear Cake (From Bon Apetit)

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided, plus more
  • 3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons coarse yellow cornmeal or polenta
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 2 medium pears (about 1 pound)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • Whipped cream or caramel gelato (optional)

Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Butter pan; line bottom with a parchment-paper round. Whisk four, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to medium-high. Boil syrup without stirring, occasionally swirling pan and brushing down sides with a wet pastry brush, until sugar turns dark amber, 8–10 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add 1 tablespoon butter (caramel will bubble vigorously) and whisk until smooth. Pour caramel into prepared cake pan and swirl to coat bottom.
  • Peel, halve, and core the pears. Place flat on a work surface and cut lengthwise into 1/8″-thick slices. Layer slices over caramel, flat side down, overlapping as needed.
  • Mix remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 8 tablespoon butter, and vanilla in a large bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating to blend between additions and occassionally scraping bowl. Beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with flour mixture.
  • Using clean, dry beaters, beat egg whites on low speed in a medium bowl until frothy. Increase the speed to medium and continue to beat until whites form soft peaks. Fold about 1/4 of the whites into cake batter. Add in remaining whites; gently fold just to blend. Pour batter over pears in pan; smooth top.
  • Bake cake, rotating pan halfway through, until top is golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few small moist crumbs attached, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a thin knife around the inside of pan to release cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.
  • Invert cake onto a plate; remove parchment paper. Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or caramel gelato, if desired.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Having wi-fi on a bus is a rather awesome thing for someone who has to bus for more than an hour everyday to get to school. I used to pass my bus time with the timeless act of sleeping, the discovery of unbelievably terrible music on my iPod when I put it on shuffle, and trying to figure out the last couple clues for the crossword puzzle in my school’s daily paper. Now not only can I Facebook stalk my best friends (among other people), I can watch the latest episode of Castle, download the weekly free single from iTunes, and write in my little blog.

Blogging on a bus…I love the thought of that. The blogger on the bus. That’s me. Isn’t that snazzy?

So you probably want me to give you a full-fledged explanation about why it’s been so incredibly long since I blogged. A full two months…what in the world has Natalie been doing? I’ve been juggling classes, taking care of chickens at my college farm, being super enthusiastic for incoming freshmen during our welcoming weeks, welcoming foreign exchange students at a really awesome organization, declaring a major, having Criminal Minds marathons with a bag of my favorite cheese puffs (very productive, I know), and laughing so much. Wow. Not that great of an explanation, but I have more to say.

These past two months have been quite typical with the usual routine of school organizations, classes, and work, but something about them has made them the best two months of this year so far. It goes beyond that internal contentment I gloat with when I see my planner filling up and my days being structured towards my ambitions. For one, my music collection has expanded exponentially because of the amazing new music I’ve been able to listen to both through friends’ shared music libraries and the live events I’ve been going to. I’ve also embraced the beauty of unplanned lunch breaks that involve trampling crunchy leaves in the park and sipping eggnog lattes with one of my colleagues and friends M– as we watch the constant, yet strangely calming, activity on the streets along Lake Union. Lastly, I’ve smiled and waved at more strangers than I ever have before.

By “strangers”, I mean those people with whom you exchange fleeting glances because of a certain familiarity that you can’t quite put to reality or imagination. Was that person in my freshman literature class or am I mistaking her for someone else? Was that the guy with whom I had a random conversation about pulling on doors that say “push” the other day as we were both exiting the library? Those instances are so abundant on a college campus that I have decided that the best way to handle them is to simply smile at everyone who even looks vaguely familiar. That may result in you looking foolishly happy…but, hey, what’s wrong with that?

Although, I have to say, because of the great amount of activities I have filled my life with this quarter that have made me unbelievably happy, I have not been able to take as much time to catch up with many of the friends I cherish most dearly.

To V– and M–: You two were the most amazing study buddies and friends in Winter and Spring quarters. I don’t know how I would have managed to smile through all of that o-chem studying if it wasn’t for you guys.

To J–: Our insanely conflicting class/work/bus schedules seem to prevent us from seeing each other at any time besides microbio class. I want you to know that even if it’s only 5 minutes of conversation after microbio class, you still crack me up like you did when we were 13.

To A–: Our summer times spent sitting on the swing on your front porch or arm dancing at a music festival always make me laugh when I think about them. It’s too bad every month can’t be as amazing as our September was.

To my blog readers: the fact that you’re reading this makes me feel so adored. I adore you just as much.

So then, yes, life has been good. And to celebrate the beauty of Autumn, the excitement of a new month, and the dawning anticipation for the holiday season, I present to you…red wine chocolate cake.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake (From Smitten Kitchen)

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (179 grams) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 grams) white granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
3/4 cup (177 ml) red wine, any kind you like (I used a classic Merlot from my Dad)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon (133 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (41 grams) Dutch cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon (this is a great place for that fancy Vietnamese stuff you stashed away)

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment, and either butter and lightly flour the parchment and exposed sides of the pan, or spray the interior with a nonstick spray. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and yolk and beat well, then the red wine and vanilla. Don’t worry if the batter looks a little uneven. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt together, right over your wet ingredients. Mix until 3/4 combined, then fold the rest together with a rubber spatula. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be shiny and smooth, like a puddle of chocolate. Cool in pan on a rack for about 10 minutes, then flip out of pan and cool the rest of the way on a cooling rack. This cake keeps well at room temperature or in the fridge. It looks pretty dusted with powdered sugar.

Blueberry Milk for an Epic End to Summer Break

Well, it’s that time of year when I suddenly realize that there are only three weeks left before a whole new academic year commences and I sort of have a mini panic attack. I start wondering why I didn’t spend more nights huddled around a bonfire with my closest friends laughing till our insides hurt or pushing each other around in shopping carts in the middle of a deserted parking lot (while hoping that the DeLorean time machine suddenly lands in 2011 from 1985).

I have this sort of  nagging feeling that I could have lived up this summer in a much more radical way than I did. Say “Aye” if you know what I’m talking about. Ugh, why bother, I can’t hear you anyways. But I’m sure there are some of you who are saying “aye” at the moment.

But, hey, three weeks. Who knows what could happen in three weeks? In our fast-moving world, things change. For instance, the whole world recently saw Lady Gaga wearing pants while performing last week (was that the first time that happened? It sure feels like it). Seriously, Lady Gaga wearing pants? Did not see that coming.

So this is going to be an epic three weeks. Let’s do this.

As the Mad Hatter would say, your dear blogger Natalie is about to regain her “much-ness”.

So care less and be careless. Lie on the grass and stare mindlessly at the ever-changing clouds. Eat a mind-bogglingly delicious peach and let the juice dribble down your chin. Hop on random buses just because you see pretty people sitting on there and see where you end up. Spin around in a swivel chair till you’re dizzy while listening to this. Buy an overpriced, overly-caloric frappuccino and enjoy every sip of it. You get the gist, right? Do everything to make an unknowing onlooker question your sanity/normality and laugh at the people who give you strange looks because they’ve clearly never enjoyed the indescribable bliss that comes from being so childishly careless.

And this is a really short blog post…okay time for some music. Here’s one of my favorite love songs of all time with high relevance to one of my best friends K–’s life at the moment. I’m so happy for you, K–! And with that, I log out and await the coming of Friday (…Friday, gotta get down on Friday…okay no, that reference is way overused to the point that I want to slap myself for using it now).

Toodles!

Blueberry Milk (From Pass the Sushi)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 3-4 teas sugar, depending on how sweet you like
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (per glass)

Preparation:

In a small saucepan, bring water, sugar, and blueberries to a boil over medium heat. Boil continuously for 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Strain mixture into a bowl or measuring cup through a fine-mesh sieve, pushing the berries to release all liquid.

Refrigerate syrup until cold. Set out glasses on counter, and place 2 teaspoons syrup in the bottom of each glass. Add 1/2 cup cold milk to each glass, stir and watch your milk become a pale shade of violet deliciousness.

The Wise Words of Natalie (And Summery Fruit Cake)

Having lived for a relatively extended period of time on this planet already (or so it feels), I feel that it is my duty as a human being to share with the world some tidbits of wisdom that I have gained from being a human in the late 20th/early 21st century.

First, never leave a CD drive open and jutting awkwardly out of your computer. Because while you may think that you only need to get up for less than a minute and retrieve the next CD to import into your iTunes library, fate/supernatural forces will have it so that you move your legs/arms/head in a sudden motion and break your CD drive. You will then be in a state of eternal lamentation until the CD drive is repaired and your inner music addict is no longer suffering from withdrawal. Okay? That’s lesson 1. Trust me, supernatural forces definitely exist when it comes to messing electronics up.

Lesson two: we are all foolish people, so don’t be afraid of foolishness. Even if a hundred unkind souls are snickering at you, you can bet there’s going to be that 101st awesome person who’s thinking “I’ve totally done something just as foolish” or “How sweet/cute/charming/adorable!”. So go out and be fools because that is better than becoming an unpleasant person in the process of avoiding foolishness. In the long run, the people who you’ll really like are people who appreciate your foolish side anyways.

Lesson three:  stop analyzing text messages. While Faulkner and Tolstoy may have mastered the art of generating “read between the lines” exercises for readers, most ordinary people (i.e. the person whose text messages you’re analyzing) are not quite as skilled in creating those sorts of exercises. So, gals (you know who you are), there is no hidden message in that text. Stop worrying about the lack of a smiley face, which could only mean that someone’s thumbs were too lazy to reach for a colon and parenthesis (ee cummings’s lack of punctuation could be a different story).

Lesson four: never assume the worst. Think of a smile as an expression of friendliness and not pity. Assume that a lack of response is a side effect of being busy and not avoidance. Think of being smiled/winked at by strangers as proof of just how adorable you are. Think of tripping on the sidewalk as a lesson that 1) you should stop texting while walking, 2) you should stop wearing 5-inch stilettos, and/or 3) even if you’re too busy staring at that cute guy on the other side of the street, please continue using peripheral vision, but NEVER think of that as proof that you are a clumsy, awkward person.

Have I enlightened you? Good. That was the point of this post. And now…the recipe. Summery Fruit Cake. MM MM!

Something to always remind me just how beautiful Seattle is.

Summery Fruit Cake (From Happy Home Baking)

Ingredients:

100g butter, soften at room temperature
200g caster sugar (I cut down to180g)
50g sour cream (I replaced with same amount of low fat yogurt)
3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
210g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
500g fruits* tossed with 2 tablespoon sugar*
(You can use strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, oranges, pears, apples, pineapple, or any other fruits that are not too juicy. I omitted the sugar and used as much fruits, either fresh or canned, as needed to fill the top of the cake)

Method:

  1. Wash, cut (chunks or slices, as desired) and drain fruits, toss with sugar (if desired) and set aside. (if using canned fruits, wash the fruits to remove the syrup, omit the sugar).
  2. Grease (with butter) and flour the side of a 9″ round pan or a 8″ square pan and line the base with parchment paper.
  3. With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and sour cream (or yogurt) till light and fluffy.
  4. Dribble in the eggs gradually and beat till incorporated in the batter. (The mixture may appear slightly curdled.)
  5. Add vanilla extract and zest. Mix to combine.
  6. Sieve over flour and baking powder and mix till smooth. (To avoid getting flour all over my work surface, I mixed the flour into the batter using a spatula, just a few strokes will do, then I used the electric mixer to mix the batter till smooth.)
  7. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
  8. Arrange fruits on top, don’t press the fruits down into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
  9. Bake in pre-heat oven at 180degC for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cover the top with foil in the last 15 mins of baking to prevent the top from getting over browned.
  10. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 5~10 mins. Unmold and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely. Dust the cake with some icing sugar if desired.
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