5 Easy steps to a Valentine’s day Pound cake

On this one day, Valentine’s Day, everyone is allowed to indulge their sweet tooth to the utmost.

My way of doing so this year, is by baking one of my favorite cakes, a pound cake, and decorating it pink ^_^ Here’s my recipe, enjoy:

My Pretty Valentine’s Cake

Valentine’s Day Pound Cake

Ingredients:
 – 1/2 cup Unsalted Butter
– 1/2 cup Sugar
– 2 Eggs (beaten)
– 2 cups Self Rising Flour
– 1/8 teaspoon Salt
– 1/2 cup Milk
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Grease and flour a round 6 inch cake pan and set aside.

2.) In a mixer, cream butter and sugar together until white (about 3-5 minutes). Add the egg and vanilla, beat until well incorporated.
3.) Sift dry ingredients into a separate bowl (flour and salt). Fold the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture alternately with milk, until your batter is of a drop consistency.
4.) Pour into the cake pan and bake for 30 – 40 minutes, or until skewer or clean knife inserted in the center of cake comes out clean.
5.) Remove pan from oven and let cool for at least 15 minutes, remove cake from pan and let it cool on a wire rack. Cool completely and then* frost the cake. Enjoy!

P/S: You can also use margarine instead of un-salted butter; if you do, don’t use salt.

 * Use the link to make frosting for the cake and add the color of your choice for your frosting. Use liquid pink food color, at least 1/2 teaspoon.

Valentine’s Day Pound cake

 

15 Valentine’s Day gift ideas for your loved ones

 

‘Tis the season for love and everyone is busy planning for Valentine’s day, whether it is for that special someone in your life, or just a special friend or family member.

'Tis the season of love
‘Tis the season of love

Most of us may be wondering what kind of gift to get our loved ones for that special day. Gift buying can be confusing at times, so I’ve put together a few ideas that are both helpful and budget-friendly to guide you in your gift-buying endeavor.So whether it’s this weekend or on the actual Valentine’s day, use these ideas to help you have a no-stress Valentine’s gift giving day ^_^

GIFT IDEAS FOR HER

1. Beauty Gift Bag

This is an especially good idea if you want that special lady to know how thoughtful you are. Some supermarkets are offering gift bags for beauty products for ladies. You can choose from a variety of products for her.

Eco-friendly beauty gift bag

It would be even better if you have an idea what that special lady’s favorite scent is e.g. vanilla, apple or citrus. Then choose the products with that in mind. If you’re a creative person, you can go the extra mile by assembling a gift bag yourself. You only need to purchase an empty gift bag and tissue paper or crepe paper,then purchase some beauty products you would like to gift, for example; a body wash with a matching lotion and a scented candle. Then assemble the gifts into the bag and voila! you have a custom-made beauty gift bag.

2. Spa Gift Voucher

Ladies love spas, they love to be pampered and taken care of. Another perfect gift to give that special lady in your life is a spa gift voucher. It gives her a chance to take a day off and relax, all thanks to you ^_^! If you know of a great spa near her, visit and ask them if they give gift vouchers, they’ll be sure to assist you.

Spas are great for relaxing
Spas are great for relaxing
3. Pastry Gift Baskets
If that special lady has a “sweet tooth” like some of us do, you can treat her to a gift basket of her favorite pastry or pastries. Many bakeries, especially here in Nairobi, offer gift hampers/baskets with select baked products for special occasions, get her one and she’ll definitely appreciate it. You can try out an Amari Chiffon Cake as a gift as well. 
Chiffon cakes by Amari make for delici ous gifts ^_^
 
 
 
4. Jewelry
 
We’ve all heard the saying, “A diamond is a girl’s best friend.” There’s truth to that.You may not be able to get that special lady a diamond (and if you can, please do ^_^), but these days there are many other options for jewelry types. If you know her preference, you can buy her a set of a necklace and earrings, or bracelet and earrings as a gift. Varieties include; gold, silver, beads and crystals. Make sure you have it wrapped in a presentable box for her and she will truly appreciate it.
Beaded bracelet and earring set
 
Gold jewelry

5. Flowers, Chocolates and Dinner

If you want to keep it simple and classic, treat that special lady to dinner and present her with flowers and chocolates. Most ladies love flowers and chocolates; who can resist a wonderful candlelit dinner? It’s sure to please her.

Chocolates and Flowers - you can never go wrong
Chocolates and Flowers – you can never go wrong
Romantic dinner for two


GIFT IDEAS FOR HIM

6. Watch

For that special man in your life who has great taste in accessories, a good quality watch would be a great present. Make sure you get a watch that suits his style and makes a statement about his personality. He will appreciate it and keep it close to him, (literally, on his wrist).

If you can, get  Rolex, or get an idea of a style to get.
 
  

7. Beer Mug Set

If your special man loves hanging with the guys on some weekends, hosting a barbeque while enjoying some beer, this is a great gift for him. Get him a nice set of beer mugs he can use and they’ll always have a special meaning for him.

8. DVD Gift Set

If your special man loves watching movies, this is a great gift for him. Get a collection of DVDs from  his favorite genre, e.g. Action, Sports, Wrestling or Documentaries and wrap them up for him. He will appreciate the thoughtfulness that goes into his gift.

Sports DVD Gift set

9. Apparel Accessories

If that special man in your life is stylish and loves his accessories, gift him with some that will make sure he always thinks of you. Cuff links, a nice tie and a leather wallet are great gifts to get him to show your appreciation of him. Make sure the cuff links and the tie match and the wallet is genuine leather.

Green cufflinks
Green silk tie
Leather wallet

10. Swiss Army Knife

For that special man in your life who is a handy-man in the house and has lots of tools. Get him a Swiss Army Knife, he will appreciate this multifunctional tool.

Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knife
 
 

GIFT IDEAS FOR BOTH HIM OR HER

11. Box of Chocoloates

A gentleman who has good taste can enjoy a box of chocolates as well as any woman can. It is a classic and simple gift that will always be appreciated.

Box of chocolates

12. Fruit Baskets

An all-around healthy gift that anyone will appreciate.

13. Wine

If that special someone enjoys a good glass of wine, gift him or her with a quality wine for Valentine’s day.

Anyone who likes wine will appreciate the gift
Anyone who likes wine will appreciate the gift
 
 

14. Quality Stemware

For that special someone who enjoys a good glass of wine and has a fully stocked bar ^_^! You can add them some stem ware to compliment the wine.

Quality stem-ware is always appreciated
Quality stem-ware is always appreciated
 
 

15. Gift Vouchers

This is a simple and safe gift that anyone will always appreciate. It is hassle-free and guaranteed to always be appreciated. Just choose a favorite supermarket, specialty store, barber shop, salon or even a butchery of that special someone’s choice and get him or her a gift voucher.

 

Whatever your plans are for this Valentine’s Day are, enjoy yourself and make sure you let all your loved ones know how special they are too you ^_^

How are you planning on enjoying this Valentine’s Day?

Chocolate Chip Cookies- Kenyan Style!

Today is Boy Scouts day, it is the day we celebrate the birth of scouting.  As for me, I’ve decided to commemorate this day by sharing another classic cookie favorite recipe – chocolate chip cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all love chocolate, so why not some chocolate chips in a cookie? Here’s my recipe:

Ingredients:
 – 1 cup Sugar
– 2 Eggs
– 1 cup Butter (or Margarine)
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
– 2 cups All-purpose Flour
– 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
– 1 teaspoon Salt (don’t use if you use margarine)
– 10 oz./ 300gms Semi-sweet Chocolate chips or chunks

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 °F/180 °C. Lightly grease and flour cookie sheet and set aside.
2.) In a separate bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and salt.
3.)  Cream butter and sugar together in a large bowl. Add eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly, then add the vanilla.
4.) Stir in the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly. Stir in the chocolate chips or chunks with a wooden spoon.
5.) Roll the stiff dough into balls and press them onto cookie sheet. Space them about 2-inches apart on the sheet.
6.) Bake until golden brown but slightly soft in the center, about 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer hot cookies onto a cooling rack with a spatula to cool.
 

Enjoy your chocolate chip cookies! Do you like your cookies with milk? What else do you like to take with your cookies? Do share ^_^

HAPPY BOY SCOUT DAY!

We have a Cookies recipe Booklet – click here for details.

Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Of all the bread spreads in the market, my favorite is peanut butter! Not only is it healthy, but since I love peanuts, it has a very wonderful “nutty” smell to it that I particularly like.

So of course when it comes to peanut butter cookies, I’m an absolute fan. I especially love using home-made peanut butter that my mum makes. Here’s my tried and true recipe.

PB Cookies Finished in bowl - WM

Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup Sugar

1 1/4 cup Butter (un-salted) or Margarine

– 2/3 cup Peanut Butter

– 2 cups Self Rising Flour (P/S: You can also use plain all purpose flour)

– 1/8 teaspoon Salt (If using Margarine; don’t put salt)

-1/2 teaspoon Vanilla Flavor

YIELD: 12 – 18 pcs

Directions:

1.) Preheat  oven to 350 °F/ 180 °C. Lightly grease and flour a cookie sheet and set aside. You can also light the sheet with parchment paper (Grease-proof paper).
2.) In a medium bowl, sift flour and salt together; set aside.
3.) In a large bowl, combine the sugar, butter and peanut butter. Cream until light and fluffy, for about 3 minutes. Add flavor.
4.) Add the flour mixture and beat thoroughly. You can also use your hands to mix the dough until it’s a cookie dough consistency.
5.) Scoop the cookie dough using a regular dining table spoon.  Make 1-inch balls and place on the cookie sheet.
Gently press your palm on the balls to flatten them slightly and then make an indentation with the tines of a fork to make a nice pattern.

Peanut Butter Cookies ready to bake
Peanut Butter Cookies ready to bake

6.) Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove cookies from oven and transfer to a cooling rack to cool.

Cookies baking in a Cookswell Oven
Cookies baking in a Cookswell Oven

P/S: This recipes gives you a slightly crunchy recipe (still melts in the mouth though). For a much softer cookie – you can add one egg into the recipe above and mix. 
Do you like peanut butter? Then enjoy the peanut butter goodness ^_^
Want to learn how to bake cookies? We have a recipe book which contains lots of cookie recipes,
Then sign up for our Basic Baking 5-day short course.
Visit our Baking Classes page for details.
You can also email at: amaribreads@gmail.comCall/Text/WhatsApp: 0701796688

5 Unexpected ways to rock @ Baking

Baking is a scientific art that may confuse some people, especially amateur bakers.

Baking at home or hobby baking is different from professional baking, however there are a few tricks professional bakers rely on that can be applied to home baking. Here are some of the professional tips you can depend on that will enhance your home baking experience.

1. Oven Preparation

To get great results from your home baking, make sure you always preheat your oven at least 8 – 10 minutes before you put in the product you are baking.  Baking at the center of the oven also makes sure of even circulation of heat which makes sure your product is baked evenly.

2. Life Expectancy of Baking Powder The freshness of your leavening agent determines the end result of your baked goods. When you buy your baking powder, make sure you mark the date you open it with a permanent marker on the container or carton. Baking powder starts to lose its effectiveness about 6 months from when opened, therefore, marking it will ensure that you keep track of its “freshness”. Be sure to keep your baking powder and other dry spices away from any heat in the kitchen, it will make them lose their potency faster.

3. Recipe Preparation

When baking, make sure you first read the entire recipe before starting so as to understand every step of what you’ll be doing. Make sure you take out all ingredients as well as the equipment to be used ahead of time. Being prepared will make the baking process easier and more fun.

Prepare your equipment ahead of time


4. Personal Touch

When decorating an iced cake, frost the cake then simply add a ribbon or a bow to give it a personal as well as a professional touch.
You can also sprinkle icing sugar on a cake to give it a simple yet professional look.

Icing sugar sprinkled on a cake

Another good idea for a chocolate cake, is to take a doily

Example of a patterned doily

and lay it on the cake. Then sprinkle icing sugar on it and remove the doily. This gives the cake an antique look on top of the cake. You can also use any other pattern and sprinkle icing sugar.

Image courtesy of creativejewishmom.com

Watch this video on 3 simple ways of decorating a cake at home.

 5. Cooling Quick breads

When your baked goodies are ready and you take it out of the oven, don’t cool them in the pan they were baked in. Give them 3 – 5 minutes for the pan to cool and remove them from the pan onto a cooling rack. If you cool in the baking pan, cakes and breads may become soggy and get stuck.

cool cakes on cooling racks
cool cakes on cooling racks

Whatever you’re doing, whether it be baking or decorating, have fun ^_^

Some excerpts courtesy of The Budget Chef website

Join our Baking Classes for more baking tips to use in your kitchen.

Email us on: amaribreads@gmail.com or call/text/WhatsApp: 0701796688

Wonderfulicious Un-Frosted Coconut Cake

For all those who have tasted Coconut Cake, nothing beats that delicious coconut frosting covered by coconut shavings, yum! Sometimes though, I want the Coconut Cake without all that sugar, so I decided to make a Coconut Loaf Cake without frosting. I used a fresh coconut that my sis had bought and it turned out to be quite delicious. It still hit the spot! Here’s the recipe:

Fresh coconut!

Ingredients:

          – 1/3  cup Sugar

-         - 1/3  cup Un-salted Butter or Margarine (*if using butter; add pinch of salt)

         – 1 Egg

          – 1/8 cup Fresh Coconut shavings

          – 1/4 cup home-made Coconut milk (*Recipe below)

          – 1 cup Self-Rising Flour

          – ½ teaspoon Baking powder

Directions:
1.       Preheat oven to 350 °F or 180°C. Grease and flour a small loaf pan and set aside. 
Grease & flour your loaf pan
2.      Sift flour and baking powder into a medium bowl(add salt into the dry ingredients if using butter). In a separate bowl, cream sugar and butter or margarine for 2 to 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until well blended, then add the fresh coconut shavings.
Creamed coconut mixture
3.      AFold in the flour and coconut milk alternately to the batter; until it becomes a nice drop consistency. Pour batter into the loaf pan.
4.       Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.
5.       Remove cake from oven and let stand for 10 minutes on a cooling rack. Remove from pan and allow to cool completely. 
Delicious and so moist ^_^
Enjoy your cake!
 
*Home-made Coconut Milk:
Ingredients:
          ½ cup Fresh Coconut shavings
          ¾ cup Milk
Directions:
1.       Pour milk into a pan and the coconut shavings into the milk. Place pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Remove pan from heat and sieve the milk into a liquid measuring cup. Set the shavings aside.
2.       Let the milk cool completely and then use accordingly.

P/S: If you don’t have a coconut, you can use store-bought coconut milk or coconut powder to make the milk.

*You can double or triple this recipe if you would like a bigger cake.

Share this recipe in your network with anyone who you know loves to bake ^_^

5 Baking Secrets Revealed

For all those who bake at home, we all get recipes from various sources; websites, cook books and even family & friends. Sometimes the terminology used in the recipes while mixing can be a bit confusing. I’ve put together 5 mixing terms used in cake recipes so that if you encounter them next time, or for the first time ^_^, you can understand what they mean exactly.

Baking = Love

1.) Creaming Method

This is when butter or margarine is beaten with an electric mixer or a whisk, with sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. This method can take 3-5 minutes with an electric mixer or if by hand, can take 5 – 8 minutes. The creamed mixture should be white or almost white in color; it should also have a creamy consistency. This method incorporates air into the ingredients; hence the almost white color and creamy texture. This method is used mostly for Butter Cakes.

Creamed batter

2.) Folding Method

This is simply the process of pouring flour or any other dry ingredient, into a creamed or melted mixture, a little at a time, while stirring slowly and gently – moving towards one direction. Generally a wooden spoon or a spatula is used to stir in the dry ingredients.

3.) Melting Method

This is ideal for honey, molasses or syrup cakes or cake recipes that may also contain chocolate in their ingredients. Place the butter or margarine in a saucepan over low heat. When the fat has melted, remove the sauce pan from the heat and add the honey, molasses, etc. Mix well until blended. Let it cool and then mix in other liquid and sugar. Carefully fold in other dry ingredients. This method is also used when melting butter and chocolate to make cakes such as Chocolate Fudge or Chocolate Brownies.

Melted batter

This method is also used if you’re melting cooking/block chocolate for baking. However, the chocolate is melted using a double boiler or, if you don’t have one, two cooking pans.

Boil water in a large pan, then lower the heat and place another pan above the first – make sure the top pan/bowl doesn’t touch the hot water in the bottom pan. Put the cooking chocolate into the second pan and slowly stir the chocolate with a spatula or wooden spoon until melted, remove from heat and use accordingly.

4.) Whisking method

This is when you whisk egg whites (or whole eggs) until they are fluffy and form soft peaks. You then incorporate sugar, any other ingredients and then fold in dry ingredients to make a foam batter. This is mainly used in Sponge cake-making.

Teaser WF Slice - Amari Recipe Booklet
Vanilla sponge cake

5.) One Step/ All-in-One Method

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and all other ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended. The mixture will have a thick consistency and be light and glossy. It can be poured or spooned into tin. This method is used for Quick breads such as Banana breads or muffins.

If you would like to learn how to bake using these methods; learn with us. You can learn online; sign up to our Online baking class or take a practical baking class.

Wherever you get your recipes from, always enjoy your baking ^_^

Best Oatmeal Cookies in Kenya

We all love cookies and once in a while, it is alright to indulge your sweet tooth. ^_^ A great classic cookie to indulge in, one that is a personal favorite, is the Oatmeal Cookie. I like it mostly because it is also quite a healthy cookie, especially if you make some substitutes on the ingredients.

Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients:
– 2 cups Self-Rising Flour
– 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
– 3/4 cup Un-salted Butter or Margarine (*if using butter; add a 1/8 tspn salt)
– 1 cup Sugar
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
– 2 Eggs
– 1 cup Quick Oats
– 1/2 teaspoon fresh Rosemary 
Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius. Grease and flour a cookie sheet and set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour and cinnamon. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, Cream margarine and sugar with a mixer. Mix in vanilla.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Mix in oats and rosemary.
  5. Fold dry ingredients into margarine mixture until a good cookie dough is formed.
  6. Form the dough into balls, approximately 2 Tablespoons. Place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet and with a lightly floured spoon, spread the cookie dough balls to flatten a little. To make a pattern, use a lightly floured fork to mark the cookies with tines, vertically and horizontally.
  7. Bake until cookies turn golden, 20 – 25 minutes. Remove from oven to cooling rack. Let sit for at least 3 minutes on the cookie sheet before transferring to a tray to cool completely.
Cookies on a baking sheet

For a healthier Oatmeal Cookie Recipe 

– Instead of Self-rising flour, use whole wheat flour. A good Kenyan brand is EXE Atta Wheat Flour. Make sure you add 1 teaspoon of baking powder to the flour and cinnamon mixture during preparation.
– Honey can be substituted in place of sugar as well – use 3/4 cup honey in the butter/margarine mixture.

Honey as a substitute for sugar
Oatmeal – Cookies!!

Enjoy your Oatmeal Cookies ^_^!!

Want to learn how to bake cookies with us? Join our Cookie Making class and you won’t regret it. Check our classes page for more details and you can also email: amaribreads@gmail.com for more information.
Call/Text: 0701796688
 

Best Practices for Storing Quick breads

On more that one occasion I have baked for my family two or more banana breads and found that as popular and delicious as they might be, some of them are left over.

Since fruit breads can be perishable if not stored well, I have come up with important tips on storing some of the popular quick breads, they will help you with any left overs from your home baking or bakery purchases to be consumed the next day or a few days later. I’m sure they’ll be very helpful ^_^

FRUIT BREADS/ MUFFINS AND CORN BREADS

If the quick bread is home-made let it cool completely before storage. Wrap tightly in alluminium foil or cling wrap and store in a cool dry place for at least two days. If available, you can also use a plastic air-tight resealable container. If you have a refrigerator, store the wrapped quick bread for at least three days. For longer storage, place the wrapped bread in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag or container and freeze up to three months. For consumption, remove and if the quick bread is hard, don’t worry; warm in a microwave for a few minutes, it will be moist.

Quick bread in a resealable plastic container

COOKIES AND BISCUITS

If home-baked, let them cool completely and then wrap them with cling wrap. Place the cookies in an air-tight plastic container or resealable plastic bag and store in a cool dry place for up to four days. Make sure you store soft cookies and crisp cookies in separate containers. If stored together, moisture from the soft cookies will soften the crisp cookies and they will lose their crunch. For longer storage, freeze the cookies in the container or resealable plastic bag for up to three months. For consumption, thaw wrapped cookies at room temperature before frosting and serve. If crisp cookies get soft during storage, crisp them up by heating in 300 degrees Farenheit or 149 degrees Celsius oven for five minutes.

Resealable bags that can be used for storage
Cookies stored in an air tight container

CAKES

Frosted Cakes:
For a one-layer frosted cake, store in a lightly covered plastic container or cake box. For a multi-layer cake, store under a large inverted bowl. Insert a spoon handle under the edge of the cover to prevent an air tight seal for the frosted cakes to avoid retaining moisture because of the frosting getting soggy.

Unfrosted Cakes:

Tightly wrap the cake in cling wrap and store in a cool dry area for at least two days. If available, you can use a cake plastic container for storage as well. If you store the wrapped cake in a refrigerator, it can last up to 4 to 5 days. For longer storage, you can put the wrapped cake in  an air-tight container or plastic resealable bag and store in the freezer, it can last up to four months.

PANCAKES

If you and your family love pancakes in the morning for breakfast, but you are a busy person and don’t have enough time in the morning to make them. You can make a large batch in the weekend and freeze them to use all week.
When you finish cooking the pancakes, let them cool completely. Freeze individually on a long plate or a rectangular baking sheet in the freezer. When they’re frozen, place them together in an air tight resealable plastic bag or container. Freezing them individually stops them from sticking together. For consumption, reheat with a microwave oven or a toaster oven if you have one, it helps restore the crunchiness at the edges.

Enjoy your pancakes any time!

Whatever they may be, enjoy your breads at your own convenience. Do you often store your quick breads or any other baked goods for future use? How do you store them? please share your other ideas ^_^

5 things you Must know about baking

Baking is a good hobby or business to start, and to some it is quite simple, for others it may be a bit more challenging. I’ve decided to come up with a short list of five important tips that will be helpful to anyone who is baking or has recently decided to venture into home baking.

1. STICK TO THE RECIPE

Baking is an exact science, unlike cooking, reducing or increasing measurements randomly can spell disaster in your end product.

2. QUALITY MATTERS

The quality of ingredients matter. Buy the best you can afford. If it is unsalted butter, buy it from a reputable company like Brookside Ltd. If it is wheat flour, my favorite is EXE flour by Unga limited, they make quality baking flours. Your cakes and other baked goodies will always taste exceptional when made with quality ingredients.

3. ACCURACY IS IMPORTANT

When measuring dry goods like flour; spoon ingredients into the measuring cup, then with a straight-edged object like a knife, sweep away the excess. This method will save you from a ruined recipe due to less or more ingredients.

4. GET A THERMOMETER

Oven temperature dials are unpredictable and can often be wrong. If you are a passionate baker who is concerned about accuracy, invest in a thermometer that accurately measures oven temperature.

5. NO PEEKING!

Avoid opening the oven door while baking. Peeking allows heat to escape and a cake that is baking may not have formed yet, disturbing it may leading to sinking in the middle. Let the cake set for at least 20 to 30 minutes before opening the oven door once you put it into the oven.

peeking not allowed ^_^


Any other tips you might have that you use while baking at home? Please share below and let us know  ^_^

If you want to learn how to bake – check out our available short courses, click here.

Click on this link to find out the next scheduled intake