Friday, 19 April 2013

Sweet Potato and Coconut Steamed Cupcakes

I got so excited when I found mom's recipe collections... It's like finding a treasure chest full of gold (I wonder if mom has that too... because that would be awesome!).  There are clippings from magazines and newspapers, hand-written recipes and recipes typed with typewriter.  Seriously, gold stuff. 

One of the recipes that caught my attention straight-away is sweet potato and coconut steamed cupcakes...   It may sound unusual to steam cupcakes, but they're so delicious, I've got to share it with all of you.

Unlike regular cupcake batter, this one has yeast in it and the batter needs to prove like making breads.  But the yeast here it really is the only raising agent. The cupcakes will bloom up and crack as they cook in the steamer. I prefer the cupcakes when they're still warm... soft with a nice chewy texture.

Just a note, because of the coconut content, if you happen to have some leftovers, they need to be stored in the fridge and re-steam before serving.  

Sweet Potato and Coconut Steamed Cupcakes
Recipe by Mom
Makes about 35 mini cupcakes

200 gr sweet potato
500 gr plain flour
325 ml water
125 gr palm sugar, or substitute with dark brown sugar
125 gr caster sugar
2 eggs
300 ml coconut milk
11 gr dried yeast

Start by steaming the sweet potatoes until they're cooked.  Peel the skin and finely grate them.  

In a sauce pan, add 250 ml of water with the sugars and cook on medium heat, just until the sugars dissolved.  Take it off the heat and let it cool.

In the mean time, in a small bowl, add 125 ml of water with the dried yeast and 4 tablespoons of the flour.  Give them a mix and leave for 10 minutes.  The mixture will be foamy which is a good sign, meaning the yeast is alive and working. 

Using a hand/free-standing mixer, whisk the eggs for few minutes until it doubles in volume and form ribbons when dripped from the whisk.  Add the yeast mixture, cooled sugar, remaining flour, baking soda, sweet potato, coconut milk and whisk again until all is nicely combined.  Cover the batter with cling film or clean tea towel for 45 minutes to an hour.  Now is a good time to line your little cups with mini cupcake/muffin paper cases, and also to prepare your steamer.

When the batter has doubled in size, it is now time to fill the little cups.  The easiest way to do this is by using a spoon.  Try to handle the batter delicately as we want to keep as much air as possible.  It's about a couple of heaped tablespoons for each little cup, but that really depends on the size of cups you're using.  Steam the cupcakes for 12 - 15 minutes.  To test if the steam cupcakes are ready, insert a skewer into the cake and see if it comes out clean without wet batter.    

Serve warm or at room temperature.  Store the leftovers in the fridge and they can be re-steamed before serving.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Zebra Cake 2.0

To be honest, there's nothing wrong with the previous zebra cake recipe.  It is a delicious dense cake.  But that's also the problem.  With denser cake like this, I find that I can only eat one slice at one seating and that's just not ideal for someone greedy like me.  

I don't know about you, but I find greed to be a great source of inspiration and motivation.  So after playing about with the recipe and experimenting... a total of five cakes; Mom and I, we came up with the recipe which will give you a moister and lighter cake.  Using my mom's own recipe for zebra cake, I updated the flavour a little bit.  I was a bit skeptical when I first read the recipe, but who am I to question my mother, who was a pastry chef.

The base for the cake batter is basically a meringue, with ovalette added to the egg whites.  Ovalette is a gel type stabiliser which gives extra volume and stiffness to the egg whites.  But if you can't find it, cream of tartar can be substituted.  To the meringue, the rest of the ingredients are then added.

To create the distinctive zebra stripes pattern inside the cake, I've given up using piping bags.  Patience is virtue I just don't possess.  I use soup ladles which is much quicker and it works just fine!

And one last note, the cake isn't too sweet which I like, but do add more sugar if you want it sweeter.

Zebra Cake 2.0
Recipe by Mom

250 ml egg whites, approximately from 5-6 large eggs
1 tsp ovalette
180 gr caster sugar
125 gr plain flour
100 ml water
125 ml vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cocoa powder, sifted
1 teaspoon instant espresso

Grease, line, grease again and flour a 23 cm round cake tin.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.

In a free standing mixer, whisk the egg whites and the ovalette until they are holding soft peaks.  Keep whisking and gradually add the sugar a little at a time.

When you have a firm meringue, put the mixer on low and slowly add the flour and water.  When everything is incorporated, stop the mixer and fold in the vegetable oil using a spatula or a big spoon.

Divide the batter into two.  To one batter, add the vanilla extract; and to another, fold in the cocoa powder and instant espresso.  Using two ladles of the same size, one for each batter, ladle one batter in the middle of the cake tin.  Then ladle the other batter right in the middle of the first batter, and keep alternating the batter, creating a loosely speaking target pattern.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25 - 30 minutes.  When the cake is done, let it cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning it out.  Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy the cake.  I stop eating after three slices, just so you know.