Back-To-School Chocolate Cake

It’s that time of year again! Back to school. That moment each parent looks forward to—or is it just me? I like the rhythm it gives our lives and enjoy the time off, be it a few meager hours, to concentrate on the books I’m critiquing and the ones I’m writing. To celebrate, I baked my son, Adam’s favorite cake.

 

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It’s a spongy and moist chocolate cake that takes no time to make, but quite a bit to bake (nearly 1 hour). It’s light on the calories. One slice will set you back a mere 312 calories. Yummier by the minute, no?

 

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Serves 12

1 cup sugar

¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup boiling water

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

½ cup vegetable oil

2 eggs

1 cup heavy cream

2 cups flour

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F or 180 C and line a round pan with a sheet of parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, whisk the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract with the boiling water.
  3. Add in the oil and mix well.
  4. Beat in the eggs and the cream.
  5. Whisk in the flour until your batter is smooth.
  6. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes.

 

 

4TH OF JULY SUMMER CAKE: Coconut Cake with Italian Meringue

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To celebrate Independence Day in style, we made a barbecue with homemade buns’n’burgers, corn on the cob, quinoa salad, and sparkling cocktails. Virgin cocktails for me as I’m expecting baby number three (coming to a maternity clinic in Geneva around Thanksgiving).

After the meat and all the summer salads, I chose to make a dairy-free cake. Umm…Probably the best cake I have ever ever made. For the lactose intolerant reading this blog, this cake will become your new kitchen staple.

AMAZING!

 

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Gabrielle got some frosting on her knee, which she decided to lick off. And Adam, ever so proud to be American.

 

Reduced Coconut Milk (you can make it up to 2 days ahead)

1 (13-14 oz) can of coconut milk

 

  1. Bring coconut milk to boil in a deep saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to approx. 1/2 of the original volume, stirring occasionally (15-20 minutes).
  3. Remove from heat and cool completely.
  4. If making ahead, chill in the fridge until ready to use.

 

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Cake batter

¾ cup vegetable oil

½ tsp salt

1 cup of sugar

3 eggs

½ cup coconut milk reduction

½ cup soy milk

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180°C or 350°F. Line a square baking pan with parchment paper or coat with nonstick spray.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the sugar, salt, and eggs on high until fluffy (1 min).
  3. Add the oil and mix until just incorporated.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and the soy milk and whisk until homogenous.
  5. Add the flour and the baking powder and baking soda, and beat again. Finally add the coconut flakes and blend well until batter is creamy.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes or until the top of the cake is puffed and golden, a knife blade comes out nearly clean, and your house smells like a coconut palm grove.

 

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Italian Meringue Frosting

200 g sugar

100 g egg whites (approx. 3-4 eggs)

½ tsp salt

40 g water

 

  1. In a stand mixer, on medium high speed, whisk the egg whites with the salt until they reach soft peaks.
  2. In the meantime, boil the water with the sugar until an instant read thermometer indicates 121 C or 230 F. If you don’t have a thermometer, this step will take a good 5 minutes. The mixture has to be thickened, but stay clear.
  3. Beating continuously, drizzle the sugar syrup over the egg whites and whisk on high until mixture is perfectly creamy and comes to room temperature. Touch the side of the bowl (approximately 10-15 minutes).
  4. Cover the cooled cake with the frosting.

 

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American Flag Decoration

A handful of strawberries and blueberries.

 

 

 

Fluffy Pancakes

I heart pancakes more than any breakfast treat out there. I love them so much that I make them at least twice a week. I used to make this recipe, which always turns out nice, but I had a consistency issue. Sometimes, they’d be fluffy and sometimes a little flat. So I decided to change things up this morning and use a new recipe I found on Pinterest. As usual, I tweaked it – I took out the sugar which is unnecessary since I ladle maple syrup on top of mine, and I cut out half of the salt. And now, it’s pretty much the perfect-est recipe of pancakes you will ever come across!

 

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1 cup bread flour (not self-rising)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup milk
2 tbsp vinegar
1 egg
2 tbsp butter, melted

 

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1. In one bowl, mix the milk and the vinegar and let sit at least 5 minutes for it to sour.
2. In another bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the egg and the butter to the soured milk. Beat well.
4. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just homogenous. Don’t over mix!
5. Let batter rest 10 minutes.
6. Heat a griddle on medium-high heat and coat the pan with cooking spray. Once hot, turn the heat one notch lower.
7. Using a soup ladle, drop a ladle-full of batter in the middle of your pan. When little bubbles cover the surface (anywhere from 30 seconds-1 minute), flip your pancake around and cook for another 30 seconds or until nicely golden.
8. Top with maple syrup or jam and devour while they’re still warm!

 

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Mini English Muffins

Last night—while browsing Pinterest—I came upon a recipe for English Muffins. I haven’t had them in a long time, which is a shame because they’re so yummy. They go so well with butter and jam or with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.

 

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I’m sorry I didn’t photograph the entire process, but they were so easy to make that you really aren’t missing out. I let my dough rise overnight, covered by a dishtowel, and rolled them out on a whole-wheat dusted board first thing in the morning. My English Muffins turned out to be minis because I cut them out with a standard-sized drinking glass. (I need to invest in a proper round cutter.) Last but not least, unlike most breads, these are cooked in a frying pan on your stove top, and not in the oven.

 

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Makes 15 minis

 

¾ tsp instant yeast

150 g warm water

100 grams warm milk

2 cups bread flour (the type of flour really makes a difference)

½ tsp salt

 

Whole wheat flour or semolina for dusting

Cooking oil for coating the pan

 

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  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix the yeast with the warm water and the warm milk.
  2. Add the bread flour and salt and whisk on medium speed for 2-3 minutes or until the dough comes together in a slightly sticky ball.
  3. Place in an oiled (I coated mine with non-stick spray) bowl and cover with a towel. Let rise overnight or until doubled in size (2-3 hours).
  4. On a floured surface (I used whole wheat flour but you can use semolina), roll out the dough into a ½ inch thick rectangle. Cut with a round cutter (I used a standard glass).
  5. Deposit on a floured cookie sheet and let rest for 15-30 minutes. It’s OK if they don’t double in size. They will in the frying pan!
  6. Preheat a frying pan coated with a little plain oil over medium-high heat. Once pan is warm, carefully place your raw English Muffins in it. I managed to cook batches of 7 at a time.
  7. After about 3 minutes or when golden brown, flip onto other side and pursue cooking another 3 minutes.
  8. You’ll need to re-oil your pan between each batch. If they’re browning to quickly lower heat a tiny bit.
  9. Enjoy still warm.

 

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Whole Wheat Berry Scones

I haven’t had scones in months—maybe years. One of the reasons for that is that in Switzerland, they’re not offered in bakeries. And when they are, they’re usually dense and way too sweet. This morning, I decided to whip some up. They take 10 minutes to make and 12 minutes to bake. So quick!

For this recipe, I based myself on the blueberry & cream scones I’d eaten in Martha’s Vineyard, but added some whole wheat flour and wheat germ. They were as delicious as I remembered them to be. And at least, you get a little fiber.

 

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You can play around with these and substitute diced bananas and chocolate chips for the mixed berries. Or raisins. Or cubed, ripe peaches and brown sugar… The possibilities are endless.

 

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Makes 10 scones

1 cup all-purpose flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup white sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

2 tbsp melted butter

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup mixed berries

 

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  1. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and preheat your over to 190 C or 375 F.
  2. Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl.
  3. Pour in the butter and the cream, and mix carefully (i.e. just with a spatula or wooden spoon).
  4. Fold in the mixed berries.
  5. With an ice-cream scooper, scoop out the dough in 2-inch balls onto your baking sheet. Make sure to keep a little space between each scone.
  6. Bake for 12 minutes or until puffed up and firm to the touch.

 

raw:

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cooked:

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Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats | sisterbakers.com

I’m about to change your life. You can have your cake and eat it too. Yes, you can now enjoy a big bowl full of creamy chocolate oatmeal, completely guilt free. And it’s super fast and easy. Just put all of the ingredients in your slow-cooker before you go to bed and enjoy a nice warm breakfast when you wake up in the morning. Now go make this for your significant other, friends and/or kids, and watch their faces light up when they dig into this chocolate breakfast nirvana.

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats | sisterbakers.com

Slow-Cooker Chocolate-Coconut Steel Cut Oats
Serves 4-6 – can easily be doubled

1 cup steel cut oats

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup sweetener of choice (I used cane sugar but you could try honey or maple)

1 can full-fat coconut milk

3 cups plus 2 tbsp (745ml) water

  1. Place oatmeal, cocoa powder and sweetener in the bowl of your slow-cooker and whisk to combine. (Note: If your cocoa powder seems clumpy you may need to sift it)
  2. Add coconut milk and water. Whisk to thoroughly mix all the ingredients.
  3. Place the lid on your slow-cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. That’s it! When you wake up, you’ll have a warm bowl of chocolate oatmeal ready to eat. Top it however you like, but I highly recommend bananas and strawberries! Also, feel free to add extra honey or maple on top if you find it’s lacking a bit of sweetness.

 

 

Berry Crumb Muffin

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I had a craving for blueberry muffins yesterday morning. So I made blueberry muffins.

They were absolutely scrumptious, moist and full of flavor. The crumble topping added a nice crunch to them, but I have to admit, I might forgo making it next time because the muffin underneath was absolutely amazing in itself.

 

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makes 8 large muffins

Muffin Batter
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup white sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups fresh mixed berries (I used a mix of blueberries and raspberries)
Crumb Topping
2 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp brown sugar
3 tbsp cup all-purpose flour
3 tbsp butter, cubed
1 tsp ground cinnamon

 

  1. Preheat the oven to 190 C or 375 F.  Grease a muffin tin or line with muffin wrappers.
  2. Whisk the sugar, the salt, the baking powder, baking soda, and egg until light and creamy.
  3. Pour in the vegetable oil and milk, then add the flour. Mix until combined.
  4. Fold in the berries.
  5. Fill the muffin cups 2/3rds full.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugars and cinnamon.
  7. With a fork, cut the butter into the mixture until crumbly.
  8. Sprinkle mixture onto the unbaked
  9. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and a knife blade inserted in a muffin comes out clean.

 

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The Perfect Gingerbread

The last time, I made this cake was a year ago. It’s the funny thing about spice cakes—they really taste better when snow blankets the ground and the temperatures drop. I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s some ingrained human habit. Whatever the reason, this cake is wonderful and I’m sure it would taste as yummy with poached peaches in the summer as it does with mulled wine in the winter.

I adapted it from the Williams Sonoma Dessert cookbook, substituting the butter for oil, for no other reason that I was out of butter (it tasted delicious with oil). It is moist and springy and absolutely delicious. If you asked me what winter tasted like, I would say gingerbread.

Happy, happy holidays to all!

 

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Makes 1 loaf

1 2/3 cups (235 g) all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 ½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp grated nutmeg

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

¼ tsp salt

¼ cup + 2 tbsp vegetable oil

½ cup (125 g) dark brown sugar

½ cup (160 g) molasses

½ cup warm water

2 eggs

 

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C or 350 F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper or grease it with non-stick baking spray.
  2. In a bowl, whisk all the dry ingredients (flour and spices).
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.
  4. Add the oil, water, and molasses and whisk again.
  5. Mix the dry ingredients with the egg mixture. Beat until smooth.
  6. Pour in the loaf pan and bake until puffed and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean, approximately 30-35 minutes.

 

Vanilla Cloud Meringues

In Switzerland, a famous dessert is meringue with Crème de Gruyere (which is not cheese but a sort of double cream). It’s amazing. The sweetness and crispness of the meringue fits so well with the unctuosity and smoothness of the cream.

I don’t make meringues very often because I rarely find myself with a lot of egg whites. But the other day, I made Pots de Crème au Chocolat (which uses only yolks) so I had a lot of whites left over.

 

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I like my meringues crisp on the outside but slightly chewy on the inside and that’s a question of cooking time:

Completely Crisp – 2 hours

Crisp on the outside but still soft – 1 ½ hours

 

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Makes 24 meringues

 

180g egg whites (approx. 6 eggs)

1 ½ cups of sugar

¼ tsp cream of tartar (optional)

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla extract

 

  1. Preheat your oven to 100 C or 215 F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the sugar on high speed until stiff peaks form (about 2-3 minutes).
  3. Add the cream of tartar, salt and vanilla extract. Beat for another minute or 2 or until your meringue is glossy.
  4. With an ice cream scooper, drop dollops of meringue on the baking sheets, leaving an inch between (In case they spread).
  5. Bake for 1 ½ hours for chewy meringues or 2 hours+ for crisp.

 

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The Overnight Bread

I haven’t made bread in a long, long time. On Friday, I went to my son’s school to cook with his class and I thought the kids would get a kick out of kneading dough and choosing flavorings to throw in. I brought raisins, sesame seeds and chocolate chips. Unsurprisingly, they all chose chocolate chips. Apparently their bread was delicious. I became nostalgic for homemade bread, so last night, I rolled up my sleeves, dusted my kitchen with flour, and whipped up an incredibly easy, hearty bread.

 

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My husband likes light and fluffy breads. This is neither light, nor fluffy, because I didn’t use white flour. But if you substitute the grain flour for white flour, you will get cloud-like bread. Experiment. Throw in the flavorings you like or keep it simple.

I coined it the overnight bread because I let it rise all night on the counter top and threw it in my heated, lidded Dutch oven first thing in the morning.

 

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For 1 loaf:

 

½ tsp active dry yeast

1 ½ cups warm water

2 tsp salt

3 cups of whole-grain flour

¼ cup flax seeds

¼ cup sesame seeds

¼ cup of chia seeds

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, mix the yeast and the water and let it froth (this takes 3-4 minutes). It will bubble.
  2. Add all the seeds and the salt and mix on low speed.
  3. Add the flour and mix again until your dough comes together. This is a slightly sticky dough.
  4. Spray a large with cooking spray and place your ball of dough in it. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rise on your counter top all night. If your kitchen is cold, place the bowl on your radiator. This is not a bread that triples in volume, but it will puff up when baked.
  5. The following morning, place your empty Dutch oven in the oven and turn it on to 220 C or 450 F.
  6. Once your oven is on the right temperature, with oven mitts, carefully take the Dutch oven out of the oven. Remove the lid. Throw in some oat flakes so that your dough doesn’t stick then drop the raw bread into the Dutch oven. Slash the top of the dough with a sharp knife. Replace the lid with your oven mitt. Then put the Dutch oven back in the oven.
  7. Cook for 30 minutes with lid on. Remove the lid and cook another 20 minutes.
  8. Slide your hot bread onto a cutting board and let it cool for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.

 

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