Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Spring Break - Play Time!

The one week Spring Break had finally arrived!
Lovely weather .... beautiful blue sky, and sunny!

We walked to the school playground, to spend the afternoon there.
"Monkey" Time!

"Monkey" up the bars, instead of sliding down.
Ending the climb with a "Monkey" face =p

"Monkey" swing across the bars! WOW!

"Monkey" dance ... whose the "Monkey" and whose the "Tree"?

What's with that unhappy "Monkey" face? Thumbs down indeed =(

Hungry monkeys are angry monkeys ... Ok, Snack Time!
Two happy smiley faces after snacking =)
Time for some soccer!

Taking turns to be the goal keeper!

I guess this is what school holiday is about ... to be out of the house and to run about, having loads of fun, and free from school work!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Happy Birthday, Janice!

It's my friend, Janice's birthday, and she mentioned that she would not be baking a cake for her birthday. Like me, she's a stay-home=mom, and is always baking and cooking for her family. How can she not have a cake for her birthday?! So I told her, I would bake a cake for her and her family to enjoy!

Another recipe from the book "Baking From My Home to Yours" by Dorie Greenspan. Instead of baking it into a square, I used a round pan. It's in every way, a simple cake. All I needed to do was to get ready the ingredients, mix it in minutes by hand, and 40 minutes later, I get a nice looking and tasty cake! Wonderful!

For the cake :
1 1/4 cups Sugar (I use 1 cup)
1 tbsp Ground Cinnamon
1 3/4 cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
3/4 cup Whole Milk
2 Large Eggs
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
10 tbsp Unsalted Butter, Melted and cooled
Pinch of Salt

For the filling :
2 tbsp Sugar }
2 1/2 tsp Ground Cinnamon } Stir together

3 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp Instant Espresso Powder (I omit this)

For the frosting :
6 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 tbsp Unsalted Butter, cut into 4 pieces

Getting Ready :

  • Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350F/180C.
  • Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet.

Making the Cake :

  • In a large bowl : Whisk together the flour, 1 1/4 cups of sugar, baking powder, salt and 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon.
  • In another bowl : Whisk together the milk, eggs and vanilla.
  • Pour the liquid ingredients over the flour mixture and gently whisk until you have a homogenous batter.
  • Using the whisk or the spatula, fold in the butter with a light touch.
  • The batter should be smooth and satiny.
  • Scrape half of the batter into the pan and smooth the top.
  • Sprinkle the 3 oz of finely chopped bittersweet chocolate over the batter.
  • Dust with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.
  • Cover with the rest of the batter and smooth the top again.
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes, or till the cake is puffed and beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer the cake to a cooling rack and let it rest for 15 minutes before unmolding it onto another rack. Peel off paper, invert it onto the first rack, and cool to room temperature, right side up.

Making the Frosting :

  • Melt the 6 oz of chocolate with the unsalted butter.
  • Be careful not to overheat the mixture so much that it thins out.
  • The chocolate should be smooth,very shiny and spreadable.
  • Using a spoon, or a table knife, spread the frosting in generous sweeps and swirls over the top of the cake. Allow the frosting to set at room temperature, then cut the cake into 9 squares, each about 2 1/2 inches on a side.

There was some leftover frosting. I had some not-so-sweet strawberries sitting on my dinning table. I dipped the strawberries into the frosting and let the frosting set. My boys had them as their after-school snack ... my elder one who was not a fan of strawberries, actually asked for more!

I hope Janice and Family enjoys the cake as much as I enjoy baking it ... Happy Birthday, Janice!

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