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| 5 Cake Mixing Methods used by Bakers

For all those who bake at home, we all get recipes from various sources; Sites like our blog, cook books, family & friends. Sometimes the terminologies used in the recipes; especially for beginner bakers in terms of mixing – can be a bit confusing. I’ve put together 5 cake mixing methods used by bakers 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 pale whitish in color and 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 adding 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.

There are various folding methods; the two main ones we use in our baking (recipes or when teaching in class) are:

Folding method 1: The No. 8 method: where you fold dry ingredients gently around the bowl, then cut in the middle to make an almost “number eight” shape.

Folding method 2: Over and Under method: where you fold gently with a spatula – pass it under the batter then gently cutting in and over the batter in circular, gentle motions. This is especially used for sponge cake mixing to ensure the cake batter doesn’t deflate.

3.) Melting Method

This is ideal for honey, molasses, beer or syrup cakes or cake recipes that 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.

Click here for a Guinness Beer cake using the melting method.

This method is also used when melting butter and chocolate to make cakes such as Chocolate Fudge, Chocolate Brownies or Blondies. For recipes with Chocolate ingredients; you want to use a double boiler method so the chocolate doesn’t burn due to direct heat.

Double boiler image
Melting method – using a double boiler

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 OR bowls.

Double Boiler Method: 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 meringue; then add dry ingredients to make a foam batter. This is mainly used in Sponge cake-making.

Vanilla slice plain of Chiffon By Amari

Chiffon Sponge Cake

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

Sift dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. Add sugar and all other wet & liquid ingredients. Mix well with a wooden spoon until thoroughly blended; you can also use a mixer. The mixture will have a thick consistency and may 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. The end products tend to be very moist; though not as fluffy as cakes and some may be a bit dense.

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 if you’re in Nairobi.

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

Home Baking in Kenya and a Buttercream Recipe

I was living abroad and came back to Kenya some years ago. The one thing I noticed in most homes is that not very many people do a lot of home baking. When I asked some people why; they mentioned that they may have to buy a very expensive oven to be able to bake at home. Fortunately for everyone, there are various more economical options out there for anyone who has the interest, or for some of us, the passion to bake at home.

When I came back and wanted to bake at home, my mum heard of a gentleman who makes charcoal ovens; she purchased a commercial one (36 loaf capacity) and it costed her Kshs. 30,000 (fairly decent for a commercial size oven). There are smaller sizes also available; Cookswell Charcoal ovens have a small bachelor size that is Kshs. 10,000. They also have a blog that can be very helpful if anyone wants to buy a charcoal oven or discover their benefits, you can check out Cookswell Energy Savings Jikos, their charcoal ovens are the original, energy-saving charcol ovens. So one option people could use can be charcoal ovens.

Cookswell Charcoal Ovens
Cookswell Charcoal Ovens

Another option, which I personally took when I moved to Nyeri to work after staying for a year; and I couldn’t move with my charcoal jiko, was to go searching for an even smaller alternative, I was happy to find an Electric Mini Oven, it was a Westpool model I purchased from Tuskys Supermarket and it cost me around Kshs. 5,600 – very reasonable for anyone on a budget. It served me faithfully for two years. They range from around Kshs. 8,000 to 12,000 currently.

Small & Compact-good for small scale baking

Another alternative for homes which already have electric or gas cookers is to use the oven area for home baking once in a while.

Gas oven with oven area-these are found in some Kenyan homes, but are not so utilized.

As for baking tools, such as whisks, measuring cups, mixing spatulas, mixing bowls, queen cake pans, loaf pans and electric mixers, they are readily available in most supermarkets, and are of very good quality – if you’re willing to spend a fair amount of money. You can also get those baking tools from cake accessory & supplies shops such as Topserve Ltd or vituzote.com. If you are on a slightly lower budget, loaf pans can be purchased at Jua Kali at far more reasonable prices. Check this page where we share various types of equipment required for baking.

Stainless steel mixing bowls
Set of measuring cups
simple mixing whisk
Loaf pans

When it comes to ingredients such as all-purpose and self-rising flour, baking powder, sugar, margarine, butter – to name but a few, are all readily available at any supermarket, neighborhood store or wholesale shop. Click here for information on ingredients used for baking. 

My feature recipe today is Buttercream frosting:

Butter Cream Frosting
Ingredients:
– 2 cups Icing Sugar
– 1/4 cup Unsalted butter  (you can also use margarine as a substitute)
– 1 teaspoon Vanilla Essence
– 1/8 cup Milk
 *This can cover a half Kg cake
Directions:
1) In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter for about 3 to 5 minutes.
2) Add Vanilla and milk gradually and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute, add more milk if needed for spreading consistency.
Ice your cake, bread or cup cake and enjoy ^_^
Picture perfect isn’t it?

Does anyone bake at home? If so what do you use for baking? Share some of your ideas! ^_^

A Definition of Quickbreads and a Banana Bread Recipe

What is Quick bread’?
A quick bread is an American term used to describe a type of bread (or baked good) which is leavened with raising agents other than yeast e.g. baking powder and/or baking soda. They are dense but very moist baked goods made mostly by using the all-in-one method.

Examples of quick breads:
Some cakes e.g. Traditional Carrot cake or Zucchini cake, Brownies, Fruit breads like Banana bread, Corn bread, Muffins and Pancakes.

History:
 Quick breads probably originated from the United States of America at the end of the eighteenth century. Before that, baked goods were leavened with either yeast or by mixing dough with eggs. During the American Civil War, demand for food rose and bread was therefore rapidly made and leavened with baking soda instead of yeast. That was how the name came to be – “quick breads”

My story:
I fell in love with the art of baking in my freshman year of high school. I took a “Creative Cooking” class with a wonderful and quirky teacher called Ms. Minadeo, I have been baking ever since.

The Recipe:
My feature recipe for today is my absolute favorite – Banana Bread, there are many variations of the banana bread, I will share my own version.

Banana Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

1/2 cup Sugar

1/2 cup Margarine

2 Ripe Bananas

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

2 1/2  cups All-purpose Wheat Flour

2 1/2  teaspoons Baking powder
1/2 cup     Milk

1 pce Egg

(Optional) 1/8 cup peanuts – chopped

Directions:

-Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 degrees Celsius.

-Grease and flour a regular loaf pan and set aside.

-In a small bowl, mash bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together flour and baking powder.

-Cream the sugar and margarine in a large mixing bowl until fluffy.

-Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined; then add the egg and mix. Fold in dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears. If adding nuts, fold them into the batter with a wooden spoon or spatula

-Pour batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for at least 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove pan and set aside to cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes. Remove banana bread from pan, invert onto a cooling rack and cool completely before slicing.

I can’t make just one, three will do 🙂

Enjoy your quick bread ^_^