The Apple Cake to Convert Apple- Haters

I have a question for all my fellow (wannabe) chefs/ home cooks/ food experimenters out there, have you ever asked yourself what is it about cooking that brings you so much joy? For me, I have never had one clear answer, until now, until I baked this Apple Cake for my friends a few days ago…

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What is so special about this Apple Cake, you ask? It looks to be just a simple teacake with fresh apple slices, flavoured with vanilla and a little cinnamon! Actually what this cake has achieved is to convert a apple-hating friend of mine to realize how tasty they can be!

What is it about cooking that brings me so much joy? It is the ability to introduce others to new or perceived-to-be unpleasant ingredients in a way that is delicious and to hopefully convert them from haters to lovers! The reaction of surprise and delight from my friend upon tasting this cake was priceless and certainly a moment I will remember for years to come.

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Ingredients

(Note: I have doubled the recipe to fit my ring cake mold and an extra sliced apple for the up-side-down cake effect as shown in my photo)

  • oil and flour for prepping the pan
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh apple puree
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 apple , peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • Apricot jam, for glazing

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Oil and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line with baking paper.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, applesauce, oil and vanilla extract. Stir in sliced apple.
  3. Stir flour mixture into apple mixture until just blended. Turn into the prepared pan and spread evenly.
  4. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert on the wire rack to cool completely.
  6. Melt some apricot jam in the microwave and glaze the top of the cake with the melted jam with a spoon or pastry brush.
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Vitamin-charged Kumara Cake with a Sesame Crunch!

On a grey, rainy day what I crave is a slice of warm, moist loaf cake fresh out of the oven with a hot cup of tea, all curled up with a novel (or a cookbook) on my plushy sofa!

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The mashed kumara (sweet potato) keeps this cake wonderfully soft and moist, whilst the top is crunchy and nutty thanks to a toasty sesame-seeded crust! You will feel great knowing that both kumara and sesame seeds are natural Superfoods packed with nutrients (such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, vitamin B1,vitamin B2, manganese, copper, potassium, niacin, phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, iron, zinc, selenium, and dietary fiber) to nourish your body!

Now, I think it’s time for a second slice…

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Veged-Out Cauliflower ‘Pastry’ Tart

Here’s a tart that your vegetarian/gluten-free/ low-carb/paleo/ vege-loving friends can enjoy! What’s the secret? It’s the crust that is made using processed cauliflower, pressed into a tart mold and baked until crisp!

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Originally I was going to name this the “Caramelized Onion, Roasted Mushroom, Capsicum and Tomato Cauliflower ‘Pastry’ Tart”, but this was obviously too long and I didn’t want you falling asleep before you even start to read this post!

Let me just say that this is one amazingly delicious tart packed full of flavour. There is a thick layer of sweet, soft caramelized onion with strips of roasted capsicum, Portobello mushrooms sautéed with minced garlic and roasted cherry tomatoes sitting atop. The cauliflower crust is thin and crispy with a hint of thyme, garlic and cracked pepper. For the finishing touch- fragrant basil leaves from the garden are scattered over the tart as it comes fresh out of the oven!

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65°C White Loaf

I have always wondered how Asian bakeries create the characteristic soft and fluffy yet chewy and springy bread loaves that are so addictively delicious! So when I found this recipe, I couldn’t wait to get started to make my own fresh loaf- perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea!

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The reason behind naming the loaf “65°C” is because it uses the “tangzhong” method where a roux made of  1 part bread flour to 5 parts water cooked to 65°C is added into the dough. This roux helps to the dough to absorb more moisture to produce softer, fluffier and higher-risen bread.

It is recommended by the recipe that you use a bread machine to knead the dough, as it is a very wet mixture. If you decide, like me, to knead the dough with your hands- be warned that it will be extremely sticky and wet! I actually thought that my batch would fail (and that my arms would fall off) as it was nearly impossible to knead. Thankfully after proofing, the dough came out right again.

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Read more: http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2010/03/japanese-style-bacon-and-cheese-bread.html#ixzz2rONZ1wYo

Japanese Sunny-Side Up for One

A new take on the ordinary fried egg. Light and refreshing, the use of konbu tsuyu (light seaweed-infused soy sauce), dried bonito flakes and shichimi togarashi (7-spice powder) provide a delicious Japanese twist.  Make this dish for a special breakfast or brunch for the ones you love (or just for yourself)!

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Ingredients

  • 1 large egg
  • salt and white pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into eighths
  • 1 handful of dried bonito flakes
  • 1 handful of seasoned seaweed, cut into strips
  • some thinly sliced spring onion
  • shichimi toragashi, to taste 
  • knobu tsuyuto taste
  • sweet chili sauce, to taste

Method

  1. In a small non-stick frying pan (16cm in diameter), pan-fry the egg until done to your liking over medium heat. Lightly season with salt and white pepper. Remove from heat.
  2. Arrange tomato pieces on top of the egg.
  3. Mound bonito flakes in the center and scatter over seaweed strips and sliced spring onion.
  4. Sprinkle over shichimi torigashi, konbu tsuyu and sweet chili sauce