Dates Fruit Cake (黑枣蛋糕)

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INTRODUCTION

This is the 5th cake in a series of my baking adventures utilizing the “one number baking ratio”. Previously I have written about basic pound cake, zebra patterned pound cake, layered pound cake, grapefruit cognac pound cake and this post, I am going to share a simple fruit cake like dates pound cake. It is going to be a short post as most background have been explained in the previous posts.

The taste of this pound cake is very much like the fruit cake. The dates have been soaked in cognac before it is added to the cake. Of course for Muslim readers, you can always soaked in milk or orange juices. Therefore, the cakes is full of dates and cognac fragrance.

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As contrast to the traditional fruit cake, the cake texture will be much softer due to the insistence of using one number baking ratio that include one portion of milk. You can understand one number baking ratio here. In summary, the ratio means flour: egg: sugar: butter: milk (or liquid mixtures) is  1:1:1:1:1:1.

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This time, I have purposely not using the egg separation method! Therefore this recipe is even easier than the previous recipes. It have cut less at least half of the time of preparation.

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 grams of self raising flour (sifted)
  • 250 grams of brown sugar
  • 250 grams of butters
  • 5 eggs or 250 grams of eggs
  • 220 grams of milk (balancing figures subject to the weight of your eggs used)
  • 250 grams of dates (soaked in water or alcohol such as rum)
  • 2 teaspoons of vanilla essence
  • 30 grams of rum/cognac or other alcohol or other liquids
  • Some almond flakes (optional)

Calculation of milk if you are using 5 whole eggs instead of using 250grams of eggs

Milk volume is the balancing figures and subject to the volume of liquid ingredients and size of eggs. In this illustration, my eggs weigh a total of 310 grams. Therefore actual milk used = 500 grams (milk + eggs theoretical volume) – 290 grams (weigh of eggs) – 30 grams (weigh of cognac) = 180 grams.

Alternatively, you can just fixed the eggs volume to be 250 grams therefore, you need not to recalculate the milk volume and purely follow the recipe above.

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STEPS OF PREPARATION

Preparation…

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius

  • Lightly grease an 8” x 8” diameter baking tin preferably with a detachable base. (In this illustration, as I want to give some of the cakes to my friends, I have decided to use one 6” x 6” diameter and two small loaf tins therefore cutting time have been cut short considerably).

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  • In a big mixing bowl, add in butter and brown sugar, beat until light and fluffy.

  • Add in vanilla essence and one egg at a time. Beat until eggs are well blend with the beaten butter.

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  • Add in the soaked dates and mixed at low speed until the dates are well mix with the butter batter.

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  • Take out the mixing bowl and fold in 1/3 of the flours followed by 1/3 of the milk and 1/3 of the cognac. Repeat for the other 2/3 portion. 

  • Pour into the light greased baking tin  and baked in the oven at 180 degree Celsius from the first 30 minutes.

  • Reduce the temperature to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top turn yellowish brown and until a skewer comes out clean.
  • Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the cake. It is best to let it rest overnight if time permits.

Note that the above baking time is for an 8”  x 8” baking tin. If you are using 6” x 6” and 2 loaf tins, you will have to bake at 180 degree for the first 20 minutes and reduce the temperature to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes.

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CONCLUSION

This is a very short post by applying the one number baking ratio to the dates fruit cakes. The cakes are definitely moister than traditional fruit cakes. It is definitely a cake worth trying. One number baking ratio can definitely be extend to the baking of more cakes and next in the list will be cup cake or muffins..It is late and really tired after baking 3 products and rushing out 3 posts today. 

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 Hope you like the post today and have a nice day ahead.

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One Number Baking Ratio Adventures Continues… Grapefruit Cognac Pound Cake With Grapefruit Posset…

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INTRODUCTION

One number baking ratio adventures continues and gradually extends to other pastry. I have explained in this post about how I want to apply this ratio to cup cakes, muffins, fruit cakes, layered cakes and other pound cakes. The main objective is to further testify this ratio and giving assurance that this easy to remember simple ratio will beneficial lazy people like me. Very briefly, Guaishushu believes that egg : flour : sugar : butter : milk (or other liquids) can be 1 : 1 : 1 : 1 : 1, hence called it “one number baking ratio”.  You may also be interested in the following posts based on principle of one number baking ratio:

Today, he is going to twist a little bit to become a fruity pound cake and served with grapefruit posset – a traditional Western drink/dessert.

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ONE NUMBER BAKING RATIO VS FRENCH’S QUATRE à QUATRE

As one reader pointed out that the ratios that I am using is basically the “quatre à quatre” ratio used in French cake making and I am basically just reinventing the wheels and revert back to the traditional ratios.

I tends to agree  with this and in fact, I am ignorant about the above ratios before the reader pointed out. I have to thank him for his knowledgeable input.

It is really a coincidence that all the while I am fond of using one number and it would be ideal if it applies to all cakes. I have written in the reply to the reader: I do not think that I am brilliant enough to create a good theory as cooking is just my passion! However, if you analyse in details,“quatre à quatre” ratio differs from Guaishushu’s “one number baking ratio” in that there is a portion of milk (or other liquids) which I insisted to be included in this ratio. So, Guaishushu is just promoting this modified traditional ratios instead of remembering different ratios for different ingredients and for different cakes.

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WHY THIS CAKE?

Grapefruit again? Yes, though Guaishushu just issued a post on Grapefruit Chiffon Cake – Grapefruit Chiffon with Grapefruit Citrus Glaze,… Ever Try This?, however, as grapefruit is very cheap in Singapore this month, I can’t help but to grab another 5 large and juicy grapefruits for SGD2.85 and I am thinking of preparing some other cakes with this fruit. While thinking of what cake to bake, i realized that I have a cognac sitting in my kitchen shelf for many years that I have never used it because I am allergic to alcohol. In fact, when I tried to open it, the cork on the bottle have broken (too dry) and I have to sift the alcohol and transfer to another small bottles.

This cake is rather simple to make and again it is based on Guaishushu’s one number baking ratio. To make is slightly different, I have substituted some portion of milk with grapefruit juices and  addition of some grapefruit peels. With the aim of differentiating this cake with other cakes, I have made the cake slightly pinkish and of course all these colouring are optional.

Note that the recipe applies equally well to an orange cake. Just substitute grapefruits with oranges.

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SELECTION OF GRAPEFRUITS AND PREPARATION OF GRAPEFRUIT PEELS

I will take this opportunity to share with readers about the selection of grapefruits that are juicy after many years of observation!

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The grapefruits on the left were smooth with lights reflection. As it is smooth, it implied that the air holes in the skin are very small and therefore moisture loss will be less than the grapefruit on the right. As contrast to grapefruit on the left, grapefruit on the right appeared to have more holes and if you touch it, you will find some unevenness on the surface. More moisture will be lost and at times, it will feel a bit like a sponge when you squeeze it. Therefore, when one buy a grapefruit, just ensure that it is smooth and full when you squeeze it.

Preparing The Grapefruit Peels

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I am peeling the grapefruit using the above peeler. I just peel in the S shape and a nice pattern will evolve. Try not to peel too deep as the white spongy skin can be rather bitter. Make sure the grapefruits or oranges was thoroughly wash before it the peeling begins. Cut into small strips and chopped fine before adding to the batter as required below.



WHAT IS REQUIRED

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  • 250 grams of white sugar (divided into 100 grams for beating of egg whites and 150 grams for beating of egg yolks)

  • 250 grams of self raising flours (sifted)

  • about 250 grams of egg white and egg yolks (about 5 eggs separated into egg yolks and egg whites) (Note below for calculation)

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  • 150 grams of milks (Note below for calculation) – Balancing

  • 100 grams of grapefruit juice (Note below for calculation) – Fixed

  • 150 gram of grapefruit peels

  • 5 tablespoons of rum or any other alcoholic drinks (cognac, whisky or others) – Optional

  • 2 teaspoons of cream of tartar (optional)

Note: Calculation of liquid required

In accordance to one number baking ratio – eggs plus milk should be equal to 500 grams.

Today, my eggs yolks and egg whites worked out to be  298 grams, therefore, the balancing of milk used is 500 grams (total milk + eggs) less 100 grams (grapefruit juice) less 298 grams (egg yolks + egg whites) =  102 grams of milk (actual usage after considering egg size)

 


STEPS OF PREPARATION

The steps of preparation will involve:

  • Beating of egg whites , creaming of butters, mixing of flours and folding of egg whites

  • Making of pinky patterns (optional)

  • Baking

  • Making the grapefruit posset (optional)

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Preparation…

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degree Celsius



Beating of egg whites , creaming of butters, mixing of flours and folding of egg whites

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  • In a clean, grease free mixing bowl, add egg whites, cream of tartar and sugar. Beat using the machine whisk to whisk the egg whites until firm peak. Spoon the filling into a clean bowl and set aside for later use.

  • Change your whisk to a K beater, place your remaining 150 g sugar and butter, beat until light and creamy.

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  • Add in the grapefruit peels and eggs yolks and use slow speed to “mix” until well mixed. Eggs yolk should be added one by one and scrap the bottom of the bowl to ensure no unmixed egg yolk settled at the bottom of the mixing bowl.

  • Add in 1/3 of the sifted flours, add in 1/3 of milk and 1/3 of the grapefruit juice, used slow speed to mix together. Repeat for the other 2/3 portion. Off the machine and bring out the mixing bowl.

  • Once well mixed, fold in the egg white swiftly and lightly until the batter are smooth.



Making of pinky patterns (optional)…

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  • Take out about 1/4 of the of the batter and add 2 drops of red colouring (optional). Mix well.

  • In the greased cake tin (note that I have also slightly floured it but this is optional), start with 4 big tablespoons of the beige batter. Add 2 tablespoons of pink batter on top of the beige batters. Shake it slightly so that the batter spread over a wider surface. Add another 3 tablespoons of beige batter on top of the pink batters follow by 1 tablespoon of pink batter on top of the beige batter. Do the same for the next step using 2 tablespoons and finally one tablespoon until all the batter have finished. In the event you still have left over, just create another pattern with the batter that you have!



Baking….

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  • Shake the baking tin slightly and baked at 180 degree Celsius from the first 30 minutes.

  • Reduce the temperature to 150 degree Celsius and bake for another 15 minutes or until the top turn yellowish brown and until a skewer comes out clean.

  • Transfer it to a wire rack and let it cool for at least 1 hour before cutting the cake. It is best to let it rest overnight if time permits.

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Making of Grapefruit Posset

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WHAT IS REQUIRED

  • 120 grams of white sugar

  • 1.5 cups of cream

  • 150 grams of grapefruit

Note: Most posset will called for double thick cream, however, since I wanted it to use as some form of toppings, I will use normal cream for whipping. As such, the curdling will not be less strong and easier to pour.


STEPS OF PREPARATOIN

  • In a sauce pan, place the cream and sugar.

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  • Cooked under low heat and bring to boil and let it boil slowly for 2-3 minutes.

  • Off the heat and add in the grapefruit juice. Chilled for at least 3 hours or overnight.

  • Pour on top of the cake and let it drip naturally.

Note that whether you posset will successfully curdled will very much depends on the acidity of your grapefruit. If your grapefruit is sour, it will curdle easily. If it can’t curdle, add in few drops of fresh lemon juice. The use of normal cream and grapefruit juice will produce a posset that are slightly runny which is easier for you to pour on top of the cakes.

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CONCLUSION

A simple cake to make using one number baking ratio. However, the twist to add in grapefruit peels and cognac transformed it into a cake that is full of fruity and cognac fragrance. While posset is generally served with biscuits, the modified grapefruit posset goes well with this cake and will heighten and wake up one’s palate especially  with a cup of Earl Grey tea!

Hope you like this cake and have a nice day. Cheers

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I am submitting this post to Little Thumbs Up “Eggs” event organized by organized by Bake for Happy Kids, my little favourite DIY and hosted by (Baby Sumo of Eat Your Heart Out). You can link your egg recipes here.

I am also submitting this to #recipeoftheweek and Marvelous Monday and Welcome to all My Bloggy Friends

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What I “Ate” Today (家常便饭系列)…. 17 August 2013- Special

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You may be surprised about this title! In fact, the title is not correct either. What I am going to post is not “what I cooked today” or “what I ate today”. It was a gathering at one of my relative’s house and she had cooked some Chinese dishes that are not common among Fujian or Guangdong Province.

My relative is from Jiangxi Province and therefore the food that she cooked were rather different! As you all know, Singaporean and Malaysian Chinese are descendants of immigrants mainly from the South Eastern Coastal Fujian and Guangdong Province.


JIANGXI CUISINES

Per Wikipedia:

Jiangxi (Chinese: 江西; pinyin: Jiāngxī; Wade–Giles: Chiang-hsi; Postal map spelling: Kiangsi, Gan: Kongsi) is a province in the People’s Republic of China, located in the southeast of the country. Spanning from the banks of the Yangtze River in the north into hillier areas in the south and east, it shares a border with Anhui to the north, Zhejiang to the northeast, Fujian to the east, Guangdong to the south, Hunan to the west, and Hubei to the northwest. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiangxi)

As compared to Nanyang Chinese (Malaysian and Singaporean Chinese), in a household meal, they are more dishes but with a smaller portion. For us, we will usually serve 3 dishes and 1 soup, for them the dishes can be as many as 6-12 dishes. Today, the host is kind enough to cook us 7 dishes (excluding desserts and sweet soups). Jiangxi dishes were rather spicy (chilli hot) and as my kids were having meals with us, for some dishes, they have to prepare both the spicy and non spicy version.

Note than I am currently on a vegetarian  diet and since I did not told them in advance, I have taken my meals before joining them.  Therefore, I did not join them for meals.


SPICY AND SOUR SHREDDED POTATOES (酸辣土豆丝)

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Yes, this is my favourite. Potatoes were julienned into thin strips. There were then soaked in cold water until all the starch were gone. This will make the potatoes “crunchy” and water have to be changed regularly. Look at the thin strips, these were all manually done. They were then stir fried with spring onions, black vinegars and chilli. This is something that I have yet to share the cooking illustrations with readers but I can assure you it is something simple yet the taste is superb. Kids are fighting for this.



BRAISED BEEF (酱牛肉)

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I do not know if there is any translation of this dish. It is basically beef braised in dark soya sauce (and herbs and spices). It was then air dried. If it was kiln dried, it will become smoked beef. This is a form of meat preservation that can be commonly found in many parts of China. My relatives have prepared these meat in China and brought it over.

I still remembered  when I was stationed in Changchun, China about 10 years ago, one of the past time is to buy some braised chicken drumsticks and ate it in the hotel. It is delicious and thinking about it make me drooling. Depending on the regions, the preservations can be sugar based or salt based.



TOMATOES FRIED WITH EGGS (番茄炒蛋)

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A common household dish in China. Besides stir frying, another way of cooking this combination is making it into a soup.

Tomato is not a common vegetable in my  traditional house cooking. Tomatoes are considered vegetables imported from other countries (though this may not be true any more). This is evidenced in its Chinese name literately translated as Western Persimmon (西红柿)or Foreign brinjal (番茄)。In Hokkien dialects, it was called Caucasian Brinjal (angmokio)!  Therefore, my mom seldom cooked tomatoes in the house.

As my girl is a tomato fanatic, this will definitely her top choice. However, as my boy is tomato phobia, this is definitely a good dish to make my boy eating tomato.  Though he is a tomato phobia but he is an egg fanatic. I usually requested that if he wanted to eat 2 tablespoons of eggs, he will need to finish 1 tablespoon of tomatoes. Haha



STEAMED CHINESE SAUSAGE WITH CHINESE BLACK FERMENTED BEANS (腊肠蒸豆豉)

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The Chinese sausages were prepared by my relatives in China and brought it over. You can hardly find any fats in the Chinese sausages. Before I am on my vegetarian diet, I have tried the sausages before and it is delicious.

The Chinese sausages were cut into slices, steamed with Chinese black fermented beans and chopped garlics. May be after my vegetarian diets end, I shall cook this. Good thing about having this post is that it can remind me of what I should cooked when I run out of ideas.



PIGTAILS PORK BELLIES SOUP (猪尾猪肚汤)

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I never have this combination before, pork bellies plus pigtails. The reason is because both meats have different cooking times. You know pork bellies are rather difficult to cook until soft. So, it is not easy to cook this soup. Even if you used pressure cooker, both items will have to be cooked separately. There is no vegetables or white peppers. It is pure meat broth!

If you ask me whether it is yummy or not, of course, I can’t tell you directly because I did not taste it. However, from my years of cooking experience, I can tell you that it is a good soup because the soup had turn milky meaning all the gelatine from the meat have been dissolved in the soup/broth.

Don’t believe me, freeze it and you will see that it become jellish and you can use a knife to cut it into small pieces. Teochew dialect group also have a dish that after braising certain meat for a long time, they cut the meat into very small pieces, freeze the broth and become a jelly. The jelly was then cut into small pieces and served as cold dish (猪头粽)



STIR FRIED CHINESE WATER CRESS (清炒西洋菜)

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I remembered when I told my mother in law and wife to stir fry water cress previously, they are against it as they always used water cress to cook soup. It is generally true that most Chinese dialect groups like to boil soup with this vegetable. However, when I travelled to China, I always have stir fried water cress in restaurants. Usually, this vegetable were stir fried using garlic without any other ingredients.

Try and tell me whether it is nice or not! Remember that you have to stir fry the vegetables using high heat, otherwise, it may be bitter.



STEAMED KUDZU FLOUR COATED PORK WITH PUMPKIN (南瓜米粉肉)

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When I asked for the name of the dish, I was told  “namguamifenrou”. However, I can’t find any rice vermicelli or Beehoon. Later she explained the 米粉 is not rice vermicelli, it means “rice flour”. Though the name is called rice flour, the coating of the meat can be any types of flour. It can be corn flour, sweet potato flour, potato flour and etc.…But today the flour that she used is kudzu flour (葛根粉). Again this is brought from Jiangxi and she disclosed that this was made from wild kudzu roots.

Kudzu has many health benefits and among them are relief symptoms of postmenopausal women, reducing alcohol intake, alleviating cluster headaches, managed metabolic syndromes etc. etc. etc. In Singapore, we do have a type of Chinese instant flu medicine called Kudzu soup (葛根汤) that you consumed when you have a fever and it is believed that it will help to reduce your body temperature. You may want to know more about kudzu from here.

Coming back to the dish. Meat were seasoned and coated with kudzu flour. The meat was then placed on top of the pumpkins and steamed under high heat until the pumpkins were soft. The purpose of the flour is to retain the meat juiciness in the process of steaming. Any meat juices that escaped will dripped into the pumpkins those flavoured the pumpkins.

Lastly, I want to convey my sincere thanks to my relatives who cooked us a sumptuous meal and we really appreciate that.

Hope you like the post today and I find this post is meaningful to share with readers about other different types of Chinese cuisines.

Have a nice day and cheers.