6 November 2018

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

I am not opposed to vegetables in pastries, not at all. Some of the most unforgettable desserts I have had include a piece of spring pea cake from Rose's Luxury (which inspired this one here), a corn cookie from Mr. Holmes Bakehouse, and a sweet but almost savoury zucchini tea cake from a local coffee shop. I am a fan of vegetable-forward desserts and do not mind when the vegetables actually contribute in flavour, not just moisture.

Chocolate and zucchini has always been a classic combination. When it is peak zucchini season, I always see many variations of chocolate zucchini cake or bread in magazines, blogs, and wherever recipes are shared. The addition of zucchini adds an insane amount of moisture to a cake and I wanted to create the same kind of lushness to a non-chocolate spiced cake. I made this zucchini cake in peak zucchini season but got distracted by trying to master choux pastry, arranging apple roses, and making flamingo doughnuts that are even more out of season. This cake is one of those cakes that are great, no matter what season it is. I never have trouble finding zucchini throughout the year so this recipe is something I will be making again and again. Besides the flavour of the cake, one of my favourite things about this zucchini cake is that you can see little flecks of green dotted throughout layers. The recipe calls for two cups of grated zucchini — that might seem like a lot but I promise you that it does not impart any vegetal flavours to the cake. The grated zucchini simply adds a softness and lushness unlike any other. The cake is frosted with a lemon cream cheese frosting to add brightness to every bite.

This zucchini cake would taste just as good un-iced, but I decided to have some fun with the frosting and pipe a pair of swans on the sides. I coloured the majority of my frosting a light purple and left the remainder white for the swans. I fitted a piping bag with a leaf tip and piped at the base and pulled away to create the feathers. A little bit of frosting coloured orange and black adds the facial details to the swan. This recipe would be great as a sheet cake as well (bake time will have to be adjusted, of course).

Zucchini Cake with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
Yields three layer 6-inch cake

Zucchini Cake
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cup whole milk

Preheat oven to 350F and prepare three 6-inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the melted butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk in the shredded zucchini. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix with rubber spatula until just combined.

Gently fold in the milk with the spatula.

Divide the batter into the three prepared pans.

Bake for 33-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out mostly clean with no wet batter.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese, softened

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 - 
5 cups confectioners' sugar

In the bowl of a mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until creamy on medium until smooth and uniform. 

Add lemon juice, lemon zest, vanilla extract and mix well.

With the mixer low, slowly add in the confectioners' sugar.  Once incorporated, beat the buttercream on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 - 5 minutes.

Happy baking!

29 October 2018

Matcha Swirl Bread + Two Red Bowls' New Book!

I don't think I have ever bookmarked so many recipes in a cookbook before, but I am not at all surprised by how much I love all the recipes in Cynthia's new book, A Common Table. Before I started blogging, Two Red Bowls was one of the first blogs I subscribed to. Two Red Bowls was one of those 'If-I-had-a-blog-I-would-want-it-to-look-like-this' kind of blogs to me. I remember making her butter mochi recipe circa 2013 and her mochi recipe on Food52 again in 2014. After my big mochi phase I also tried my hand at Cynthia's chamomile lemon poppyseed loaf cake and her london fog cupcakes among many other sweet treats. Just because I gravitated towards following her sweet recipes, it doesn't mean her savoury recipes are any less stellar — and her book really showcases that. Not only is Cynthia's book filled with approachable, homey recipes that remind of things I ate growing up (hello, she has a recipe for Hong Kong style condensed milk toast and an ode to spam!), it is also a beautiful collection of photos and stories of shared cultures and how food can bring all of us together at the table. The matcha swirl bread on page 232 was the first thing I decide to make from Cynthia's book, but it definitely will not be the last pages I unintentionally soil with flour from making a basic dumpling dough or Korean vegetable fritters.

Congratulations, Cynthia on your new book! A Common Table feels like the book I have been waiting for and it was definitely worth the wait.

Matcha Swirl Bread
From A Common Table by Two Red Bowls
Yields one 9 x 5-inch loaf

For the sweet dough
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten
1/4 cup full fat greek yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the matcha glaze
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon matcha powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream, plus 1 teaspoon for thinning
1 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar

The night before or two hours before baking:
Bring milk to a boil over medium heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Let the mixture cool slightly until warm to the touch.

Sprinkle yeast on top and let it sit until foamy (5 - 10 minutes). If the milk and yeast mixture does not foam, you may want to start over to make sure yeast is active.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt. 

When the yeast is foamy, add the egg, egg yolk, yogurt, and vanilla to the yeast-milk mixture and whisk to combine. Mix the wet ingredients to the dry, until all the flour is incorporated and a wet, sticky dough forms.

Knead in the bowl until dough it smooth and elastic (8 - 10 minutes). The dough will start out very sticky; sprinkle up to 2 more tablespoons of flour to knead. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp dish towel and place in the refrigerator overnight. Alternatively, leave the dough covered and at room temperature to rise until dough has well doubled in size. 

The next day or one hour before baking:
Line a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Sift match powder into a medium bowl. Vigorously whisk 2 tablespoons of heavy cream into matcha until smooth. Whisk in remaining cream, then sift in the confectioners' sugar 1/4 cup at a time, whisking after each addition, until mixture forms a very thick glaze.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Roll the dough out very thin, to about an 18 x 24 inch rectangle.

When the dough is evenly rolled out, reserve 1/4 cup of the matcha glaze and spread the rest in a very thin layer across the dough. Using a pizza cutter, sharp knife, or scissors, slice the dough in half lengthwise to form 2 long 9 x 24 inch strips. Carefully lift one strip and place it on top of the other. If desired, trim the edges into a neater rectangle, then, starting at the 9-inch end, roll the stack into a short, thick log.

Using a sharp serrated knife, slice the log widthwise into 4 equal pieces. Place the rolls, cut-side down, into the loaf pan.

Let rolls rise in a warm place until the dough is puffy and fills the pan (1 - 1 1/2 hours). 

During the last half hour of the rise, preheat oven to 350F. Bake, uncovered, for 35 - 40 minutes, until golden-brown on the top. eLet cool, then drizzle with remaining glaze and enjoy.

Congratulations on your new book, Cynthia!

22 October 2018

A Hot Minute in LA

‘I’m surprised my pants still fit’ was exactly what I said at the end of my LA trip and to be honest, that is probably one of the best feelings to have at the end of any trip. I was in LA for a hot minute (read: six days) with my boyfriend for what I would consider my first time. I have been to California a few times before to visit family before but never ventured out of see what LA had to offer. By no means is this a guide to LA because there are still so many things I need to cross off on my LA list. This is simply a list of things/carbs that we did/ate/saw that are worthy of sharing.

In-N-Out. Because it is a classic and Rich made it pretty clear that it had to be our first stop. So we did it animal-style, of course. We got a cheeseburger, a double-double, fries, and animal-style fries. We perhaps got animal-style fries more than once on this trip...but that's between you and me.

Mr. Holmes Bakehouse. While In-N-Out was at the top of Rich's list, Mr. Holmes was at the top of mine so we made it our first stop on our first full day in LA. We went to both locations on the trip but the Highland Park location was our favourite. The Highland Park location is the home to the instagram-famous neon sign that says 'I got baked in Los Angeles.' We couldn't decide which pastries to get so we ordered everything: matcha dipped croissant, rest in peach croissant (the name!!), elote danish, black forest brioche donut, strawberry shortcake brioche donut, a cruffin, and a cornflake cookie. Did it all add to over 5000 calories? Probably. How did we eat it all? I don't know. Would I do it again? Yes, especially for the donuts and the cornflake cookie.

Go Get 'Em Tiger. We ordered the Full Nelson so we could try a bit of every drink. The coffee was really good but their chai latte was what I couldn't stop sipping.

Sqirl. Have always been obsessed with the idea of Sqirl and their cookbook when it hit shelves two years back. Got their pesto rice bowl, breakfast sandwich, and famous ricotta toast with three types of jam. The ricotta toast was a complete dream.

Fairfax. We took a brief break from all the eating to explore Fairfax. We lined up to get into Supreme, I squealed over all the RIP N DIP cat things, and I stared at Rich staring at walls and walls of sneakers. Oh, we also  parked illegally somewhere and ventured to the OVO store.

LACMA. We went to listen to some free jazz because it was a Friday and it was so lovely. Go early to save a seat. We would bring picnic snacks and a blanket next time.

Republique. Perhaps my favourite meal on the trip. The place looked like a dream but the malfadine with maine lobster and santa barbara uni was the real dream. It was a rich pasta dish that I wish never ended. We also got a duck dish with savory oats and a few cocktails, which were all great.

Proof Bakery. Because 8am calls for a slice of quiche, cheesecake, olive oil cake, croissant, canele, and a cookie. It was all so lovely, especially the olive oil cake and canele.

Taco's Villa Corona. We didn't plan this burrito. We saw a huge line and decided we had to be in it too. Anthony Bourdain featured it on The Layover so we decided why not?

Somisomi. Matcha taiyaki ice cream!

Verve Coffee Roasters. Verve never disappoints.

Eggslut at Grand Central Market. We were really full. We still ordered two egg sandwiches because it's Eggslut. Would do it again. The Fairfax sammie was my favourite.

Smorgasburg. We were beyond full at this point but Smorgasburg only happens once a week and we wouldn't be here the next week. We gave ourselves a limit - we were allowed to get one thing and one thing only. We decided to order the garlic prawn situation from Shrimp Daddy and dannnnnng it was so tasty.

Little Tokyo. Such a cute little area to walk off the food coma induced by Smorgasburg and all the other forms of carbs eaten on the trip. We explored many cute Japanese stores selling things I wanted but didn't need. Settled for a whale shark enamel pin and a matcha watermelon drink. Will be back to try Bae ice cream next time.

Hangari Kalguksu. I have been dreaming of Korean clam noodles for a long time. They are almost impossible to find in Vancouver but this place in Koreatown serves big bowls of these knife-cut wheat flour noodles topped with manila clams. The noodles had such a great bounce and the broth...the broth! I could eat these noodles everyday.

Intelligentsia Coffee (Venice Beach). Super busy but worth the wait for a good cup of coffee. They also serve Mr. Holmes baked goods so it was a two bird one stone situation.

Gjusta. I had both Gjelina and Gjusta on my list but ran out of time and stomach space for Gjelina. Gjusta was great. I ordered a simple bagel and lox situation and it was some of the best lox. We also got a slice of breakfast pizza (why not) and a baklava croissant for the road.

Disneyland. It was Halloween at Disneyland! We took photos in front of the castle! We got to steer a boat! We shared a giant turkey leg! I've been to Disneyland before but not when it is decked out with Mickey-shaped jack-o-lanterns and ghost shaped balloons. We got the FastPass on our Disneyland app and were able to strategically plan out our day. Some of the rides got a Halloween makeover and the ride that was the most worth the wait was the Haunted Mansion (Nightmare before Christmas theme!).

Howlin' Rays. HOT CHICKEN SANDOS. Try and get a fast pass for this (somehow) if you want to avoid the two-hour wait time. Got one of everything on the menu and the hot wings made me cry uncontrollable tears. Would eat again.

Afters Ice Cream. This was our last stop before the airport and I am so glad we made time for it. Afters is like an Instagram legend. Both Rich and I have been obsessing over their ice cream and cool merch for the longest time so when we got there, we bought everything. Milky bun with cookie monster ice cream? Check. Over $100 of Afters merch? Check. I will never take off my Anti Diet Diet Club shirt. Never.

Until next time, LA.

17 October 2018

Pink Pearl Apple Custard Tart

Pink pearl apples might be the biggest highlight of the fall season for me. It wasn't until two or three years ago when I found my first pink pearl apple but since then it is what I look forward to most every fall. I had to travel quite a distance to find last year's pink pearl apples. When I did get my hands on them I bought many of them and made many treats with them, including:

- and a few iterations of the above treats

This year I was able to find pink pearl apples at my local farmers market. They are a bit lighter in colour than the ones I found last year, but I love these ones just as much. I showed some self-control and only bought a few apples, just enough for what I wanted to make. There was no apple-hoarding behaviour. I wanted to use these pink pearl apples to make something simple, something that would let the apples shine. I remade the tart that many of you love on this blog. This pink pearl apple tart is a slightly updated version of that rose apple tart. I have made it many times since that first iteration, and each version is better than the previous one. So here is my latest and hopefully greatest version of my rose apple custard tart starring pink pearl apples, of course. If you don't have pink apples readily available, I promise this tart will taste just as good when made with your favourite type of apple. If you are keen on having a pink apple tart, a little hack to creating your own pink pearls with normal apples is giving them a light hibiscus tea glaze or cooking them down in hibiscus tea.

Pink Pearl Apple Custard Tart
Yields 9-inch tart

Pâte Sablée
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

Beat the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until creamy.

Beat in the egg yolk and mix until fully combined.

With the mixer on low speed, beat in the salt and flour just until the dough comes together and there is no more visible flour. Careful not to over-mix.

Remove dough from the bowl and press the dough into the tart pan, making sure it is evenly distributed.

Using a fork, prick the bottom of the tart shell to prevent the bottom from puffing up when baking.

Wrap the pan loosely in plastic and chill 30 minutes.

Bake the tart shell at 350F or until the crust is a light golden brown (approximately 13 minutes).

Remove carefully from oven and let rest on a wire rack.

Vanilla Custard
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 vanilla bean 
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar

Combine milk and cream in a small saucepan.

Using a sharp knife, split vanilla bean in half lengthways and scrape out seeds. Add bean and seeds to milk mixture.

Place mixture over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove saucepan from heat. Remove vanilla beans from milk mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar.

Slowly stream the hot milk mixture over egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly.

Return mixture to saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 10 - 15 minutes or until custard thickens and coats the back of a spoon.

Apple Roses
5 - 6 large apples
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter

Over medium heat, combine orange juice, sugar, and butter in a medium-size pot. Remove from heat once mixture boils.

Peel, core, then cut apples in half. Using a very sharp knife or mandolin, slice apples paper thin, roughly 1/8-inch in thickness.

Place the sliced apples in the hot sugar, butter, and orange juice mixture. Leave apples to soak for 10 minutes, or until they are pliable.

Remove the apple slices from the liquid and pat with paper towel if too wet. Lay the apple slices on a plate.

Start with the smaller apple slices first (the centre of rose), roll apple slice so that both ends of the slice overlaps a little. Taking a slightly larger slice, build a second petal on the exterior of the first rolled slice. Continue until you have a fully "bloomed" apple rose. 

Arrange apple roses into the custard-filled tart. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.


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