Posted in Bars, Dessert, Snack, tagged Cake, Chewy, Coconut, Dairy-Free, Dessert, Dump Cake, Frosting, Gluten-Free, Green Tea, Japanese, Mochi, One, Red Bean Pasta, Rice Flour on April 1, 2011|
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Several large storms sidelined our trip to Lake Tahoe this past weekend. We were planning to go with friends who, earlier in the week, had stocked up on groceries in anticipation of the the trip. (Four boys and two sets of parents. Plenty of mouths to feed.) With the trip cancelled and the skies fully opened and dumping rain in the Bay Area, we decided to have pajama day and a potluck. I threw open the pantry and knew this would be the perfect rainy day dessert.
Mochi is sweet glutinous rice flour. Someone probably intended to call it “gluttonous” rice flour but mispelled it. It is the key ingredient and it cannot be substituted. Really, no substitutions. I used Koda Farms Mochiko, which is a Japanese American family-owned farm in California. You can find it in most grocery and health food stores (it’s gluten free), including Safeway and Whole Foods. It’s great for savory or sweet dishes and is often used as a thickening agent.
The preparation of this cake is as simple as it gets – dump, whisk, and bake. It does take significantly longer than a standard cake in the oven, however, clocking in at one and a half hours. Place it in the oven, walk away, and enjoy the sweet custard smell permeate the house.
The result is delicious in taste and texture. The coconut milk and eggs add a rich, creamy flavor and the texture is delicately chewy with a crunchy edge. FHE suggested a topping or filling and my neighbors concurred. (FHE topped his share with pistachio gelato tonight.) To stay with the Asian profile, next time I’ll add a middle layer of red bean paste and a green tea frosting. But even in pure form, good luck practicing self-restraint when faced with a pan of these chewy bars. It’s not easy. What is easy is whipping up a batch. Which I encourage you to do.
Sweet Rice-Flour and Coconut Cake, adapted from Gourmet Magazine, May 2005
3 cups mochiko (sweet glutinous rice flour; 1 lb)
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 (14-oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk (I used low-fat; the original recipe calls for full-fat)
4 large eggs (original recipe uses 5, but I found it a bit too eggy)
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
- Whisk together mochiko, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk together coconut milk, eggs, butter, and vanilla in another bowl. Add coconut mixture to flour mixture, whisking until batter is combined.
- Pour batter into an ungreased 13- by 9-inch baking pan, smoothing top, and bake until top is golden and cake begins to pull away from sides of pan, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Cool cake completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours. Cut mochi into 24 squares before serving. Leftovers will keep, covered and chilled, 3 days.
Matcha Green Tea Frosting, adapted from Cupcake Bakeshop
2 sticks butter, softened at room temperature
1/4 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
1 tbsp matcha green tea powder
3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip butter until fluffy.
- In a small bowl, mix cream and matcha until well combined.
- To the electric mixer, add 1 cup sugar and beat until combined. Scrape down bowl, then add 1/3 of the cream-matcha mixture. Beat to combine, scrape down bowl, then add another cup of sugar. Continue alternating until you have used up all of the remaining ingredients. Turn the mixer to high, and whip until frosting is light and fluffy.
- Top on fully cooled cake.
Red Bean Filling
1 jar Red Bean Paste (found at Asian supermarkets)
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
2 tbsp heavy whipping cream
- Whip ingredients together until a frosting-like consistency is reached. Add additional sugar if necessary.
- After preparing the cake batter, spoon 2/3 of the batter in the pan. Then carefully add the red bean filling. Top with remaining 1/3 of the batter. Bake as directed.
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I’ve had my eyes on this cake for a long while. With antioxidant-rich blueberries, vitamin-packed citrus, whole grains, and protein-, calcium-, and probiotic-rich yogurt …. oh who am I kidding, the health benefits of this loaf are but a footnote. I mean, the original recipe is one of Ina Garten’s most famous! In Ina’s language that means, (1) “how bad can that be?” and (2)” how good can it be for your waistline?” All kidding aside, this is a great snack cake to keep around when a craving for sweets occurs (which tends to happen regularly in this household) – and partly because it can be made less sinful.
Rice Kernel decided to skip his afternoon nap today so I enlisted his help. Not a bad idea, per se. Let’s just say my “helper” made a few unexpected modifications. First, he claimed the alluring container of full-fat yogurt I had purchased for the recipe (we only buy Fage 0%). Thinking I better pick my battles wisely with a sleep-deprived toddler, I let him have it. I could see his expression: “Why have you kept this rich goodness from me?!” While he was eating, I grated and squeezed some lemons. In the time I threw away the peels, Rice Kernel decided the yogurt in the mixing bowl (for the cake) needed some citrus. And, in a heartbeat, the cake inherited fat-free yogurt and an extra 1/3 of a cup of liquid. New motto: baking is an art, not science.
Despite the personalizations, our loaf was delectable. The inclusion of yogurt and oil create a moist, custard-like center with a tender crust. (Ours was probably a bit more cheesecake-like, rather than poundcake-like, with the substitution of nonfat yogurt and additional liquid.) The blueberries and lemon add a tart and refreshing lightness. If you prefer the taste of oranges, grapefruits, or limes to lemons, don’t hesitate to make the substitution. This cake can handle your imagination – poppy seeds, raspberries, nuts, chocolate. Utterly simple and versatile, this cake will certainly become a part of your repertoire.
(Will report on my Orange Creamsicle (Popsicle) and Orange Olive Oil Pignolia Nut versions of this cake soon!)
Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Cake, from Smitten Kitchen, with minor adjustments
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon white whole wheat flour (regular whole wheat will make the tender cake a bit too tough)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain yogurt (we used non-fat; full-fat was used in the original recipe)
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp of agave nectar (or 1 cup granulated sugar)
3 extra large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.
- Sift together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 (+) minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
- Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
- When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes before flipping out onto a cooling rack. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the lemon-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in (a pastry brush works great for this, as does using a toothpick to make tiny holes that draw the syrup in better). Cool.
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