Queso de Bola Cake

For the uninitiated: Edam cheese or queso de bola (yes “cheese ball”) is semi-hard, mild-tasting but salty cheese that is constantly present at Filipino Christmas Eve feasts. Because it’s so abundant during the holidays, it will end up in many things on the table, starting from slices on a fruit and cheese plate to big crumbles on top of pinoy-style spaghetti, or even to little salty chunks in an otherwise overly sweet fruit and cream salad. And for those who are initiated: what in the world do you end up doing with all your queso de bola?

Anyway, here we present our suggestion. If you’re a fan of this cheese, then you’ll enjoy this cake, as the flavor not only comes through, but is accentuated by the sweetness of the evaporated and condensed milk. And if you’re not the biggest fan of queso de bola, we understand. We aren’t either. Grating the cheese and mixing in into the batter preserves the flavor but gets around the biggest issue we have with queso de bola, which is its somewhat waxy texture. The salted duck egg slices and sweetened coconut topping to add a little more complexity, not to mention it gives you a chance to enjoy familiar flavors in a slightly different way.

For the cake:
2 salted duck eggs, peeled and sliced
2 sticks / 225g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup / 280g granulated white sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 cup / 240ml evaporated milk
3 tbsp condensed milk
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup / 170g all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup / 150g grated queso de bola
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/4 tsp salt

For the coconut topping:
1/2 cup / 50g unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tbsp granulated white sugar

Make the coconut topping. Combine coconut flakes and sugar. Mix well. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease 2 7×2 inch springform pans with a little oil. Line bases with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, grated cheese, baking powder, spices and salt. Set aside.

In another, combine evaporated milk and condensed milk. Mix well.

In another, combine sugar and orange zest. Mix well.

Cream the butter and orange sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add extracts.

Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Bake and assemble. Fill both pans halfway. Add salted egg slices. Fill with more batter. Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester or until the sides of the cake have started to pull away from the pan. Unmold and cool on the rack.

Have some cake. Serve slices with sweetened coconut topping. You won’t even have to wait for the holidays. This cake works wonderfully with a cup of coffee all year round.

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Roasted Tomato + Olive Oil Cake with Basil Sugar

Our second attempt at a tomato cake and we feel it went even better than our first. No frosting this time, just a simple olive oil cake. Roasting the tomatoes is important – it gives the tomato flavor a chance to deepen, makes it less vegetal and more fragrant and like a fruit. We feel the cake makes for a great breakfast or afternoon snack, but serve it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and it’s not a bad dessert either. What we’d really like to do though, is to make this cake again and have it as a side to a good roast beef. Think chicken and waffles or chicken and cornbread – a combination of sweet and savory on a plate.

For the sweet roasted tomatoes:
5-6 large tomatoes, sliced into quarters
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp vanilla

For the cake:
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup blended sweet roasted tomato
1/3 cup lime juice
zest of one lime
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp orange extract
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt

For the basil sugar:
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup fresh sweet basil leaves

Make the basil sugar. Use a blender, grinder or food processor to pulse the sugar and basil until you get an even consistency. Set aside.

Make the sweet roasted tomatoes. Place tomato slices, sugar and honey in a small roasting tin. Toss to combine well. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until fragrant and soft. The tomatoes won’t be too dried out. Reserve some of the syrup for brushing onto your cakes. Cool for at least ten minutes then blend to get a puree-like texture. Set aside till ready for use.

Make the cake. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8×2 inch cake tins.

In one bowl, combine blended sweet tomatoes and lime juice. Set aside.

In one bowl, combine sugar and lime zest. Mix well until sugar becomes lightly colored and fragrant. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, use your hand mixer to beat the eggs until just combined. Add vanilla and orange extracts. Beat eggs. Start from medium and gradually increase to high speed. Add sugar gradually. Beat for about 4-5 minutes or until mixture is light in color and forms ribbons when mixer attachment is lifted.

Add olive oil. Beat for another minute to combine.

Alternately add flour mixture and tomato mixture in three parts to the eggs, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides with spatula if necessary.

Pour the cake batter into prepared pans. Bake each cake for 45-50 minutes or just until the cake has turned a golden color and a cake tester comes out clean. Unmold and set cakes on the rack.

As the cakes are cooling, brush the tops and sides with the roasted tomato syrup.

Have some cake. Serve with basil sugar and some more of your sweet tomato slices.

White Chocolate & Coriander Tea Cake

We didn’t used to like white chocolate, but we gradually learned to really enjoy its qualities ever since we started baking. The key is finding a way to make good use of its buttery, velvety texture and sweetness. You want to make sure it doesn’t become one-dimensional or get too cloying, so pairing it with tart, fruity or nutty flavors is a good idea. This week we learned that white chocolate and coriander seeds are a fantastic flavor match. Whole raw coriander seeds are floral, citrusy and sweet, while toasted coriander seeds are roasty and nutty. Both happen to be really great with white chocolate, so you’ll find both in this recipe, in the cake and the ganache. Bonus: We also discovered that warming your milk with a bit of coriander seed makes a delicious drink. Try it and thank us later.

For the cake:
1/2 cup / 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
85g white chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3 large white eggs
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup calamansi juice
2-3 whole calamansi peels, finely ground or chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp coriander seed, ground
1 bag of white tea
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

For the ganache:
170g white chocolate
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp toasted coriander seed, ground

Make your cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease a 9×2 inch cake pan or springform pan. Line base with parchment paper.

In one bowl, combine flour, baking powder, spices, salt and contents of the tea bag. Set aside.

In another, combine milk, calamansi juice and peels, egg whites and vanilla extract. Whisk until well combined. Set aside.

Cream the butter and lime sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored. Add melted white chocolate. Beat for another minute or until smooth and well-combined.

Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until cake tester comes out clean or until the sides of the cake have started to pull away from the pan. Unmold and place on the rack to cool for a few minutes.

Make your ganache. Toast your coriander seeds. Put them in a small pan and set over medium heat for a few minutes until they become fragrant. Grind the whole seeds to release the spice’s flavorful aromatic oils.

Place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Add ground coriander seeds. Cool, stirring occasionally, to room temperature, about 30 minutes. Serve immediately if you prefer a pourable consistency. If you prefer a thicker, spreadable consistency, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Have some cake. Sprinkle your slice with a little more toasted and ground coriander seed. Add some white chocolate shavings. Best served warm, with a cup of white tea.

Honey Whole Wheat Breakfast Loaves

So continues our adventures in bread baking. This recipe is quick and easy, so if you’ve got some extra time, maybe on a weekend morning, you could make it for breakfast and have it with your favorite jam or marmalade. We highly recommend toasting your slices, as the light crust gets nice and crisp and the flavor of the wheat and honey is brought out a little bit more when you do. We also made a cinnamon and honey butter to go with this bread, which is even easier to whip up and will go very well with other things you might have for breakfast.

Our loaves are photobombed by Trevor the cat and his little nose. We think he likes the smell of bread.

For the bread:
250g / 2 cups whole wheat flour
170g / 1 1/3 cups bread flour
314g / 1 1/3 cups of water, lukewarm
2 tsp active dry yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
2-3 tbsp toasted muesli, for topping

For the cinnamon and honey butter:
250 g / 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp honey
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt

Make your bread. Grease and line two 8×4 loaf pans.

Combine flours, yeast and salt into a large bowl and mix together with your hands. In a separate small container, stir water with the oil and honey. Stir into the dry ingredients to make a soft dough.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 5 minutes or until the dough no longer feels sticky. Sprinkle with a little more flour if necessary.

Divide your dough into two parts. Place in prepared pans. Cover the top lightly with cling film and leave to rise for an hour or until the dough has risen to fill the pans. Go make your cinnamon and honey butter while waiting.

Brush tops very lightly with more oil and honey. Sprinkle with toasted muesli.

Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until loaves are golden brown. Set on the cooling rack. Leave to cool for a few minutes.

Make your cinnamon and honey butter. Place butter, honey, cinnamon and salt in one bowl. Beat by hand or with an electric mixer for 5-7 minutes or until well combined. Place in a container and chill for at least 2 hours.

Have some bread. Make some toast! Have your slices with some eggs and a good, strong cup of coffee.

Focaccia

We made bread! It was not as difficult as we thought it would be! We were afraid the yeast would be fickle. But we followed Mr. Hollywood’s recipe very closely and nature did most of the work for us. We kept ours very straightforward, with just a sprinkling of dried herbs and chili, and served them with roasted garlic and tomatoes. But focaccia takes flavors very well, so you could easily add garlic, cheese, fruit or any flavor you think you would enjoy straight onto your unbaked loaves (but only after the second proving).

Oh, and here is a very helpful video of Paul Hollywood shaping focaccia dough.

We will make more bread in the future!

For the focaccia:
500g / 1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt
4 tsp instant dry yeast
2 tbsp olive oil
400ml / 2 cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp dried herbs
1 tsp dried chili flaked

+ more olive oil for drizzling
+ sea salt/coarse salt for sprinkling

For the roasted garlic confit:
3 whole garlic cloves
a pinch of salt
a pinch of black pepper
a pinch dried chili flakes

For the honey roasted tomatoes:
6 large tomatoes, sliced
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried herbs
1/4 tsp salt

Make your bread. Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/ 1 1/3 cups of the water into a large bowl. Stir gently with a hand, spatula or a wooden spoon to form the dough. Knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes while gradually adding the remaining water.

Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl. Tuck the sides into the center. Turn the bowl and repeat the process for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for another five minutes. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover the top with plastic wrap to keep from developing a thick skin. Leave it for an hour or until doubled in size. You can start working on your roasted garlic confit while waiting.

Line two round 9×2 inch cake tins or two 8x8x2 square baking pans baking sheets with baking paper. Brush the bottom with some olive oil and sprinkle with some salt.

Tip the risen dough out of the bowl. Divide into two portions. Flatten each portion onto your prepared tins. Push the dough evenly out to the corners of the pan. Leave to prove for another hour. You can get working on your honey roasted tomatoes while waiting.

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F.

Drizzle the loaves with oil. Push your fingers into the dough to create dimples. Sprinkle with sea salt, herbs and chili. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Make your roasted garlic confit. Preheat oven to 148°C/300°F Cut off the tops of three whole cloves of garlic. Place in a small baking or roasting pan. Pour enough olive to cover all the cloves. Season with some salt, pepper and a dash of dried chili flakes. Bake for an hour at or until cloves have become soft, fragrant and just slightly golden in color.

Make your honey roasted tomatoes. Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Lightly oil a roasting pan. Place tomato slices in the pan. Add oil, honey, salt and herbs. Combine well to season all the slices evenly. Roast for about 30 minutes or until slices are bubbling and juicy.

Have some bread. There’s nothing like freshly baked bread, so serve your slices hot or warm right out of the oven. But if you want to have some later, simply wrap the bread in foil or cling film and store in the freezer. Pop it in the oven for a quick reheat and enjoy. Have it with your roasted garlic and tomatoes, with a nice creamy cheese or just some more olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Olive Oil, Lemon & Chardonnay Cake


Presenting last weekend’s Boozy Bake: this olive oil, lemon and chardonnay cake. We love everything about this cake – its bright flavor, fragrant, fluffy crumb and inviting golden color. We also love how the wine gives this cake some richness and more layers of fruit flavor. We used one of our favorite chardonnays, favored for it’s ripeness and aromatic, almost pineapple-like flavor. It’s also a little richer and creamier than other chardonnays. If you prefer a crisper, less ripe chardonnay with notes of apple or lemon, that would work, too. As you know by now, we love citrus flavors dearly, so we chose to serve the cake with more candied lemons, but we can also easily see this cake going very well with a light cream cheese frosting or a sprinkling of slivered almonds.

For the cake:
6 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2/3 cup good extra virgin olive oil
2/3 cup chardonnay
1/3 cup lemon juice
zest of one lemon
2 1/4 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For candied lemon slices:
2 lemons, washed and thinly sliced
2 cups water
2 tbsp chardonnay
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make the candied lemons. In a sauce pan or skillet, combine the water, sugar and wine. Bring to a boil. Add the lemon slices. Cook over medium heat. Stir and turn occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices have turned translucent. Reduce to a low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens and the slices are tender but still intact. Transfer the orange slices to a rack or lined tray to cool. Reserve the syrup for glazing and brushing on cakes.

Make the cake. Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Grease and line two 8×2 inch cake tins.

In one bowl, combine chardonnay and lemon juice. Set aside.

In one bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Mix well until sugar becomes lightly colored and fragrant. Set aside.

In another bowl, combine and whisk together the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, use your hand mixer to beat the eggs until just combined. Add vanilla and orange extracts. Beat eggs. Start from medium and gradually increase to high speed. Add sugar gradually. Beat for about 4-5 minutes or until mixture is light in color and forms ribbons when mixer attachment is lifted.

Add olive oil. Beat for another minute to combine.

Alternately add flour mixture and wine mixture in three parts to the eggs, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Scrape down sides with spatula if necessary.

Pour the cake batter into prepared pan. Bake each cake for 45-50 minutes or just until the cake has turned a golden color and a cake tester comes out clean. Unmold and set cakes on the rack.

As the cakes are cooling, brush the tops and sides with syrup. Optional: top cake with candied lemon slices.


Have some cake! Serve the slices warm and with some whipped cream.

Coconut + Lime Rum Cake

We happily present last weekend’s baking project, this coconut + lime rum cake which turned out even better than we could ever hope. The key to this recipe is the many different kinds of coconut you’ll find in the crumb. Nutty fragrance and velvety texture courtesy of the desiccated coconut and coconut milk. The lovely niyog-like bite courtesy of the larger coconut flakes. Brightness from the lime. We would make this cake again in the future, maybe with a toasted coconut flake topping or with a spiced coconut buttercream. If you love coconut in your dessert, we highly recommend trying this recipe.

We love this cake. We hope you do, too.

For the cake:
2 sticks / 225g unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup / 280g granulated white sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1 cup / 240ml coconut milk
zest of 1 lime
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 cup / 110g all-purpose flour
1 cup / 100g desiccated coconut
1/2 cup / 50g unsweetened flaked coconut
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/4 tsp salt

For the syrup:
1/3 cup / 80ml fresh lime juice
1/4 cup / honey
4 tbsp dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon

For the coconut topping:
1/2 cup / 50g unsweetened coconut flakes
1 tbsp granulated white sugar

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease 2 7×2 inch springform pans with a little oil. Line bases with parchment paper.

Blend the desiccated coconut in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder until you have a fine flour-like consistency. Set aside.

In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, desiccated and flaked coconut, baking powder spices and salt. Set aside.

In another, combine sugar and lime zest. Mix well.

Cream the butter and lime sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored. Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add extracts.

Add flour mixture and coconut milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Make the lime rum syrup. Combine all ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat. Heat just until the mixture is hot and the honey has a thin consistency. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the coconut topping. Combine coconut flakes and sugar. Mix well. Set aside until ready to use.

Bake and assemble. Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester or until the sides of the cake have started to pull away from the pan. Unmold and cool on the rack. Brush the tops and sides with syrup while the cakes are still warm. Sprinkle with coconut topping.

Have some cake. Serve your slices warm, with an extra drizzle of syrup.