Most Delicate Chocolate Cupcakes with Lemon Glaze, Rose Petals and Walnuts

I am very adamant about cakes that are too dry or too hard, so I absolute adore this recipe. The cupcakes are feather light, delicate and very moist inside. They also come out with flat tops, which makes them perfect for decorating. As it happens, no one in my family likes buttercream, so I always glaze them, or dust them and I love such neat, elegant finish.

Approximately 12 servings • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 20 minutes

Tips:

01
The better you cream your ingredients, the more delicate the result. Butter and eggs need to beaten as well as possible, so take your time until they are smooth, visibly fluffy and almost white in colour.

02
Be very careful when you glaze your cupcakes. Sugar gets extremely hot and sticks to your fingers, so any encounter with skin is highly unpleasant.

03
Do not worry that if cupcakes change their height quite a lot during baking. It is perfectly normal. They will rise significantly at first, but then reduce to flat tops at the end.

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
185 g unsalted butter (room temperature or softened but not melted in oven or microwave)
 235 g sugar
185 g all-purpose flour
125 ml milk
100 g baking chocolate
2 medium to large eggs
1 tablespoon cacao
 2 teaspoons baking powder
powder sugar (optional, to decorate)
dry rose petals (optional, to decorate)
 crushed nuts of your choice (optional, to decorate)

Lemon glaze:
½ lemon (squeezed)
 1 cup powder sugar

Method:

01
Melt the chocolate using this tip. Set aside to cool down.

02
Meanwhile, beat the butter with sugar as well as you can. It needs to be very fluffy and white.

03
Separately, beat the eggs. Again, make sure they are fluffy and almost white. It is important for lightness of you cupcakes later.

04
Now, come back to the creamed butter. Add melted, cooled chocolate and blend together with a mixer using slower speed. After that, add the beaten eggs and gently blend as well.

05
Sift the flour, cacao and baking powder into the batter. Gently mix with a blender on a slow setting.

06
At the end, add milk and blend gently on a slow setting.

07
Use silicone moulds or a cupcake tray prepared with paper liners. Fill out the forms at about ¾, leaving a bit of space for the cupcakes to rise. Bake at 180ºC for about 20 minutes. Cool down thoroughly before decorating.

08
In a small saucer, mix the lemon juice and powder sugar, and heat up continuously mixing. Take off the heat and mix for a while longer.

09
When your glaze starts cooling down and thickening, take your cold cupcakes, turn upside and gently dip in the glaze until the top is completely covered. Be careful not to hold the cupcake in hot glaze too long. You do not want the cupcake top to stick to the glaze too much and tear off the cupcake. Finish dipping with a little twist and lift. Add your dry toppings to the hot glaze and set aside to cool thoroughly.

Enjoy!

Classic Marble Babka


NAME AND PRONUNCIATION: babka [bah-b-kah]
DESCRIPTION: marble cake
TYPE OF CUISINE: Eastern European

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In Poland, we usually bake babka for Easter, but it is so quick, easy to prepare and everyone loves it, so it is great for any party or just as a weekend’s treat. There are many different recipes for babka, but I really like this one, since the cake is nice and moist inside, and stays fresh for good few days.


Depending on your form, about 12-16 servings • Preparation time: about 90 minutes • Baking time: about 60 minutes


INGREDIENTS:


250 g all-purpose flour
220 g sugar
150 g unsalted butter
5 eggs
 5 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1 tablespoon potato flour
1½ teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla powder

METHOD:


01
Melt the butter in a saucepan.

02
Sift both flours together with the baking powder to make sure they are thoroughly mixed.

03
In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until they are shiny, silky smooth, and almost white.

04
Once the eggs are ready, add the oil and butter. It is best to keep mixing while slowly trickling the butter in. This way the butter will get mixed into the eggs immediately and not sink to the bottom of your bowl.

05
Split the eggs into two equal parts to make them into two different flavours. You will also need to split the flour. Now, add vanilla powder and a half of the flour to one of the bowls with beaten. Blend until all ingredients are perfectly mixed. This is will be your vanilla batter.

06
Then, take out two tablespoons from the other half of the flour and replace them with two tablespoons of cocoa. Mix the cocoa into the flour with a whisk, before adding them to the second bowl with beaten eggs. Blend until perfectly combined. This way your chocolate batter is ready as well.

07
Grease the form with oil and get the oven hot to about 180ºC. Pour both flavours of batter into the form in patches alternating the flavours. After you have finished, take something thin and long, such as a chopstick or a kitting needle, and gently drag it around the form. Do not mix the batters, just stir them a little for a nice marble effect.

08
The way of baking a babka is very important. It needs to raise equally on all sides and not burn. Start from about 180ºC for about 30 minutes, then bake for another half an hours at about 160ºC. Check on your cake from time to time during baking (through the glass, opening the oven will lower the temperature) and if you notice it is rising more on one of the sides, you can turn the form and reduce the temperature a little. It may crack a bit, do not worry about it. Getting it absolutely perfect may take one or two goes, since it differs from one oven to another.

09
Babka needs to have a nice, golden crust. When you see it, take it out and check the inside. In order to do that, use a thin, metal probe, such as a knitting needle, and pierce the cake all the way through. Any liquid batter will stick to the needle and make it dirty. It is a sign your babka is not ready yet. Bake it until the probe is perfectly clean.

10
When ready, take it out of the oven and cool before flipping onto a plate and gently removing the form. Dust with powder sugar, or finish with caramel or lemon glaze.

Enjoy!


Rich Chocolate Cake

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This is by far my son’s favourite cake. He asks me to make it for him for his birthday every single year, without a fail. It has a rich chocolatey taste, but it is not too sweet and has a very soft, brownie-like consistency and texture. It is also so easy to make!

Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Baking time: 35-40 minutes

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 cup flour
¾ cup sugar
½ cup milk
 100 g baking chocolate
 80 g butter
2 eggs
✽ 1 baking powder
✽ pinch of salt
✽ topping of fresh fruit and/or orange, lemon or lime zest (optional)

Ganache:
100 g dark chocolate
100 g butter (could be a little less)

Lime whipped cream:
 250 g mascarpone
 250 ml crème fraîche
 1 lime

Method:

01

In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Be careful not to burn it, so as soon as it has melted take it off heat and add the chocolate. Keep stirring and hot butter will melt the chocolate safely and turn it into a silky, shiny ganache.

02
Add milk and mix thoroughly.

03
Beat eggs with sugar until they are fluffy, shiny and almost white.

04
Sift the flour with baking powder, add wet ingredients and gently fold in the two together, but only until they are combined.

05
Line a round baking form with parchment paper and bake in 175ºC for around 35-40 minutes, depending on your oven. The best way to check wether it is done is to pierce it in the middle with a metal skewer (my mum always used a metal knitting needle). Raw cake sticks onto the metal. It needs to be perfectly clear.

06
Cool down and once the cake is cold, make chocolate ganache. Heat up the butter and once melted, but not browned, take off the heat and add chocolate. Keep stirring, until perfectly combined, shiny and silky. Cool down a little to thicken your ganache, then gently pour over the cake. Use a spatula or a cake scraper to delicately smooth out if needed. Decorate with fruit while the ganache is still soft, but not too hot.

07
I like serving it with lime whipped cream. First whip crème fraîche, then add mascarpone and keep whipping until it thickens. Finish by adding fresh lime juice. After plating, sprinkle with freshly grated lime peel for added citrusy depth.

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Enjoy!

Simple Chocolate Crackle Cookies

My family loves these simple cookies. They are chocolatey, but not too sweet. You need to plan them a little in advance, since the dough has to harden in a fridge for at least few hours.

Approximately 30 cookies • Preparation time: about 30 minutes • Cooling time: at least 2 hours, could be overnight • Baking time: 12 minutes

Tips:

01
If you can prepare the dough the day before, do. It can be chilled in a fridge overnight, no problem. If the dough is not cold enough, icing sugar will melt into the cookie and you will lose the nice crackle effect.

02
If cannot chill them for more than 2 hours, do not worry. It should be enough, just split the dough in few pieces, this way it will chill more quickly.

Ingredients:

225 g baking chocolate
 110 g butter
✽ 1⅔ cups flour
⅔ cup sugar
✽ 3 eggs
✽ 2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon baking powder
✽ pinch of salt
✽ powdered sugar for rolling

Method:

01
Melt the butter and chocolate in a small pot. Use my tip to melt them easily and safely. Leave the pot to cool in a fridge.

02
Take the eggs and separate whites and yolks. First beat the whites until perfectly stiff and then add sugar (in 4 parts with few seconds of blending in between adding each part), and then yolks (one by one) and vanilla.

03
Now mix both the beaten eggs and the chocolate. You can keep gently blending, or you can do it by hand. If you prefer to mix by hand, make sure you are using a wide, wooden spoon and fold the chocolate in with the eggs.

04
Mix flour with salt and baking powder thoroughly, then mix them in with the wet ingredients. Form a ball from the dough, wrap to prevent from drying (I use beeswax covers, not to use plastic cling film) and chill until cold and hard.

05
After few hours (or a night), prepare the oven to baking (165ºC, line the tray with baking paper) and use a tablespoon to portion the dough. I use a measuring tablespoon, it has sharper edges and makes the process easier. From each portion make a small ball, roll it in icing sugar evenly and place on the tray to bake. No need to keep spaces too big, the cookies will get larger, but will keep their shape.

06
Bake for about 12 minutes (I love watching them crack) and cool.

Enjoy!