Archive of ‘Cakes’ category

Baking Math – Marbled Pumpkin Bundt Cake

Today in school we spent a day learning about how to teach Math in school, what new approaches we can take to make it more engaging for the students in elementary school, and how to look at math in a whole new way to get even the most math-averse interested (like myself). My experiences with math are not so great – I always felt like I was never fully getting it. I struggled through school with math, and luckily I was able to do quite well in the only math class that mattered for my career, “Math for Elementary School Teachers,” so that I never have to take a math class again.

That is, until I myself am a Teacher, and have to actually teach math to students. Me – the person who greatly dislikes the subject more than any other subject in school. I’ll have to be responsible for instructing and helping students understand math concepts.

The only math that actually makes sense to me is in baking and cooking. If I could have just become a Home Economics teacher I would have, but I wasn’t sure about whether or not a position would up somewhere, I would probably have to become an English teacher first (which would have been ok). So, I am becoming an elementary school teacher, something that I have wanted to become since I was little. Math is being used in the kitchen constantly, it is in every recipe, and at every table (think, how much do I need per person? Will I have enough?) Many people wouldn’t even think about math while cooking or baking, but if you look carefully there are a lot of math skills involved. I think that my love of cooking and baking has greatly helped my math skills. I have probably been cooking since I was about 13, putting roasts in the oven while my parents were at work so dinner would be ready when they got home, meaning I would have to measure out the oil, spices, and put it in the oven at a certain time so it would cook for long enough. I highly suggest allowing your kids to help in the kitchen!

You might be amazed at how many math skills you actually use on a daily basis while you are in the kitchen.

Math In the Kitchen

Ingredients:

  • Measurements – fractions, 1/2 cup, 1/4 cup etc.
  • Dividing recipes, half, thirds, doubling recipes
  • Equivalents (ingredients, measuring, substitutions)
  • Number of ingredients needed (How many eggs, how many ingredients total?)
  • Money – how much money will it cost, how much money will I need, How much will it cost Per Person?
Conversions:
  • Conversions from tablespoons and teaspoons to cup, to millilitres to grams, ounces to litres etc.
  • Converting temperatures from fahrenheit to celsius (degrees)

Oven:

  • Time
    - how long will each dish take, how long will a batch take, when should you put on the next ingredient etc.
    - how long it will take to cook, time vs. weight (pounds per hour etc)

Temperature:

  • What is the boiling point of water? The melting point of butter? How do you temper chocolate?

If you don’t know the correct measurements, a great meal can quickly turn bitter (literally), if you have too much salt, or not enough sugar.

Cooking/Baking also helps children with literacy! Think: Reading the ingredients, reading instructions, new vocabulary (Sauté, Barbecue, Boil, Braise, Sear, Separate, Kneed, Chop, Grate, Incorporate, Beat, Simmer, Add, Mix, Pre-Heat)

How about learning about cultures? History: World food, Ethnic foods – Where do certain ingredients come from, what type of Food do Italians eat? Japanese?

Problem Solving?

“We are going to make a half batch of cookies. This recipe calls for 2 1/4 cups of flour. How much flour do we need?”

Becoming a teacher has allowed me to think outside of the classroom – learning takes place everywhere, and everything you do can be a learning experience (Already sounding like a teacher!) I will definitely be throwing in some baking themed equations into the curriculum once I’m a teacher, and sharing my baked goods with the staff, of course.

I really think some of my math skills have been helped by my love of baking and cooking. Next time you look at a recipe think of all the math involved in the making of it – You’ll be pleasantly surprised that you’re learning math!

Speaking of baking and measuring, I put together a new Fall recipe, my first of the season. I had to do it – pumpkin is Everywhere! I can’t get away from it, so I may as well embrace it. I love pumpkin in all ways, sweet or savoury. You can make it a regular pumpkin bundt cake, but I decided to give it a little drama with a marbled chocolate effect. Welcome Fall!

Marbled Pumpkin Bundt Cake

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs – room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, or whole wheat
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 and 1/2 or 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 2 tsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice (or your own blend)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin puree (if using fresh, make sure excess liquid removed)
  • 2 tbs. cocoa

In a large bowl, of a stand mixer preferably, combine sugar and oil until well blended. Add the eggs, one at a time – beating well after each addition.

In another medium sized bowl, combine flour, baking soda. Add to egg/sugar mixture alternating with pumpkin, beating until thoroughly combined. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and make it as spicy as you like.

Reserve 1 or  1 and a 1/2 cups batter, and place the rest evenly into a greased bundt pan. With reserved batter, whisk in the cocoa (more or less depending on how chocolatey you want it) and drop by spoonfuls on top of batter in the pan. Using a knife, cut the chocolate batter into the batter below swirling as you do it.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Cool for a few minutes before inverting on to wire rack. You can turn it right side up, or leave it ‘upside down’ to see the marbling effect.

Coconut Cloud Cake

First, I’d like to wish my Mom a…

Very Happy Birthday!!!

{Vegas in 2009! For my 21st}

 

She was the youngest girl of 6! She is the baby here, and then my grandparents had their 6th child, a boy! After five girls, I guess my Grandpa wanted a boy! haha.

Last night we celebrated her birthday, which is actually today! We had a lovely family dinner and watched the Canucks game. It’s a good thing we had cake before the game ended, because I don’t think we would have felt like celebrating afterwards ;) Yes, the Canucks are now out of the playoffs unfortunately. But, it was good while it lasted. My mom and I said we weren’t ready for the playoffs to end, as we all like to watch them play. It seems like it was such a long season last year, of course making it to round four,  game seven. And now that’s it. Oh well. Next year!

For dessert, my mom requested a coconut cake. She loved the coconut cream cupcakes I made for the Fundraiser a few weeks ago. I made a simple yellow cake, with Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream, topped with large flakes of coconut from Whole Foods.

Also, I am Officially finished my degree!!!!! As of April 19 I am a graduate! Well, my ceremony will be in June, but I have finished all my final exams and essays and can breath again. At dinner my mom said I was already looking more relaxed, and I definitely feel relaxed. I am planning on going traveling this summer, so I don’t think I’ll be working. After 5 semesters back to back, 20 months of school without a break I am in need of a little down time! I am definitely in summer mode. I have lots planned, including selling out apartment. I’m happy to have lots of free time ahead!

This cake is a perfect party cake, and summer dessert. The buttercream is so light and airy, and the coconut gives it a tropical feel. I melted some chocolate, and froze it in a disk and piped on top of it to lay on the cake.

I had seen this Coconut Cloud Cake from Martha Stewart that looked heavenly, and made my own version of it.

Coconut Cloud Cake

  • 2 Layers baked and cooled Yellow Cake of your choice
  • Swiss Meringue Buttercream (Recipe to follow)
  • Coconut Extract
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
  • 2 Cups large flaked coconut
For the coconut:
In a pan on medium, place the 1 cup of shredded coconut. Toast coconut, using a wooden spoon stir until it becomes fragrant and begins to brown, about 2 minutes or so. Remove from heat and let cool.
For the Frosting:
Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Sweetapolita
For details and tips on Swiss Meringue read Sweetapolita’s in depth post here
Yield: 5 cups

Ingredients

  1. 5 large egg whites (30g each–total 150g)
  2. 1 cup granulated sugar
  3. 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, slightly softened, cut into cubes
  4. 1-2 tsp Coconut Extract

Method

In a bowl of a clean mixing bowl from a mixing stand, combine egg whites and sugar. Place over a simmering pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly, until temperature reaches 160 degrees F, or if you don’t have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.

With whisk attachment of mixer, begin to whip until the mixture is thick, glossy, and cool. Switch over to paddle attachment and, while mixing on medium speed continously, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth). Add coconut extract, as little or as much as you desire. I like a really coconut-y flavour, so I add a few drops. Continue to mix until incorporated.

Assembly

Place four pieces of parchment paper onto cake board that you will use, and place one of the cake layers on top. This will help you keep the cake plate clean. Be sure to place them almost at the edge of the cake, for easy removal. You don’t want it completely under the cake, but enough of an overhang so that it covers the plate.

Once the bottom layer is in place, frost top with 1 cup of buttercream, spread using an offset spatula.

Sprinkle top with the toasted coconut. 

Place second layer of cake on top, using the offset spatula to crumb coat it in a sheer layer of frosting. Then, go back and add a thicker layer of frosting using the spatula to make a smooth finish.

Sprinkle the top and sides of the cake with the larger coconut flakes, making sure they stick to the frosting and cover completely.

Once you are finished, slowly remove the parchment from underneath the cake, being careful with each piece, tugging gently. You will have a nice clean edge.

To make the chocolate disk, simply melt (stovetop or microwave) about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips or other chocolate, and using a spoon smear onto a piece of parchment on a cutting board in the shape of a circle. Place in freezer until frozen, turning it over to reveal the smooth side. Pipe your greeting on top using some of the leftover icing.

Store at room temperature until ready to eat. Best if eaten the same day.

Skillet Apple Cake

Adam and I are lucky to live in the same condo building as our friends. It sometimes feels as if we are living in a FRIENDS episode, bumping into them in the hallways and elevator, borrowing clothing, ingredients, pots and pans when needed and other miscellanious items such as muffin liners, glue guns, and staplers etc. It’s nice to know if you run out of something, or need to run out quickly someone is home to watch a little one, like we have done for our friends with a toddler. We’ve even relieved them of the little guy when they aren’t feeling well, taking the baby and the dogs out for a walk so they can get some rest. It’s nice to know people in the building, other than just a neighbor whom you pass by in the hallway with a nod. One of our friends lives only a few doors down, while the other live on the opposite side of the building. We get together for dinners as often as possible, knowing its only a short commute between houses, without worrying who is driving or what the weather outside looks like. It’s also nice that one of them is a Vancouver Police Officer, so if anything happens I know where to go! Haha. I was originally going to make another type of apple cake, to bring to Adam’s parents, that required eggs. Having only one egg left, and not wanting to get dressed to go to the store, I called our friend to borrow an egg. We were all still in our PJs. Afterwards, I found this recipe which I wanted to try instead, and of course, it did not require any eggs. Bonus for me, since I have a slight allergy.

Later that afternoon, we were waiting to go to dinner when all of a sudden the fire alarm in our building began to go off. We have had problems in the past of pipes bursting after cold weather, as they did last winter. Again, knowing people in the building really pays off, as our friends apartment was unfortunately flooded with water when the pipe burst, and luckily I was home along with our other friend who had a key to their place, and we were able to get in and try to control the water damage before the Firefighters got there. We figured this was the same instance, and got our jackets on to go outside and wait. However, when we entered our hallway we smelled smoke. This was an actual fire. Other neighbours told us there was a lot of smoke at the end of the hallway, and to call 911. We went back in, grabbed a couple items,  like my computer (my life!) and went outside. Our friend, the police officer, was waiting for us to look after the little guy, so he could go inside and see what was happening, as his wife had just gone to the store when it happened. Our other friend had to wrangle their two cats into a carrier, much to their dismay, but humorous for us watching them trying to push their way out of it, met us outside. Luckily it was not a large fire, but rather someone had not watched a pot on the stove that caused it to smoke and sound the alarm in their apartment, to which they did not turn off, and then it caused the entire buildings fire alarm to set off. There was quite a lot of smoke, but luckily no one was hurt and no further damage was caused.

We went back in, got dressed and left for dinner, apple cake in hand. Adam is part of the strata committe, and had to attend a scheduled meeting that night. I’m sure they had more to talk about after the ‘fire’ incident. I sent the rest of the cake down with him to share with the other members. Another reason you should get to know your neighbours – they might bake you something!

This cake is subtley sweet, studded with tart chopped apples. You can bake it in a skillet, I decided to finally break mine in. Or, bake it in a cake dish, 8” or 9”.

Unfortunately I don’t think I can use our skillet for cooking on our stove, as we have a glass top stove and I’ve read some stories online of the cast iron causing it to break and crack. So, for now it will only be used in the oven.

Apple Cake
Slighlty adapted from: Joy Of Cooking 75th Anniversary Edition 

You will need:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup buttermilk (or regular milk, with a squirt of lemon)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2-3 medium green or tart apples

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season/grease your cast iron skillet. Alternatively, you can use an 8 or 9” cake pan.

Cut apples into segments, chopping up into smaller pieces, reserving some slices, leaving the peel on.

Whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and spices in a large bowl thoroughly to remove any large lumps.

Add, the milk, oil and vanilla.

Add the chopped apples and mix until incorporated into the batter.

Scrape the batter into your prepared baking dish, and spread evenly. Arrange reserved apples slices ontop of batter in a pattern.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool on the counter on a cooling rack.

Once cooled, you can sprinkle with confectioners sugar. Serve warm or cold, with whipped cream or maybe a scoop of ice cream.

This would also be good with a crumb topping, a mixture of brown sugar and buter with oats.






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