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Ring-a-ring o' rosy cakes

Monday, February 7, 2011

For some reason, ring moulds are currently my favourite baking pans. I used mini bundt moulds last week for the gingerbread cakes featured at the bottom of this post and a fluted one for the Apple Streusel Coffee Cake I made for this month's Don't Call Me Chef column (out in print today; link to pdf up soon here's the link). Two days ago, I baked a Zebra Cake in a ring mould.

I first saw the recipe and instructions for a zebra cake – a marble cake but with zebra stripes on the inside! ­­– at AZ Cookbook back in 2008. (Real Epicurean has a slightly different recipe but with the same design.) I tried the recipe, and the stripes came out quite nicely, but the centre of the cake was uncooked. I usually have myself to blame when my cooking attempts fail, but this time it was the fault of my oven which didn't heat properly from the bottom.

Now it was time to try that cake again. But with my current obsession with rings, it had to be doughnut-shaped. I used a cake mix this time – BUT it was a homemade cake mix, not from a box.

There are some really good box mixes on the market and I have even used them without feeling guilty about it. Recently, I tried the lemon cake and English tea cake mixes from the Australian brand Green's and liked both. But with any box mix, there are always those nasty preservatives to contend with. When you make your own, you can use the best quality, natural products.

There are quite a few sites with recipes for homemade cake mix. Here's mine:

Makes 3 portions

4½ cups plain flour
½ cup cornstarch
½ cup milk powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
2¼ cups sugar
½ cup cold unsalted butter, chopped
1 tablespoon vanilla extract 
  • Sift the flour, cornstarch, milk powder, baking powder and salt together; place into a food processor and pulse for 10 seconds to combine. Add remaining ingredients and pulse to form a fine meal. 
  • Divide into three portions, about 420g each, and store in zipper bags in the freezer.
To make a vanilla cake using the cake mix, beat with 2 medium eggs, 3 tablespoons softened butter and ½ cup milk or water. For a chocolate cake, sift 3 tablespoons cocoa powder into the cake mix before beating with the other ingredients to make a batter. Blend 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda with 1 tablespoon milk or water and stir this into the batter; immediately pour batter into prepared tin to bake. Baking instructions as for the Spiced Zebra Cake below.

Batter up
1 (one-third) portion homemade cake mix
2 medium eggs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ mixed spice
½ cup milk or water, divided
2 tablespoons cocoa powder, sifted
  • Preheat oven to 180°C. Base-line, grease and flour a 20cm ring mould. Combine cocoa powder with 1 tablespoon water; stir until dissolved. Set aside.
  • Place the rest of  the ingredients in a large bowl. Beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. The batter will have a flowing consistency but will not be runny. Place half the batter in another bowl and blend in the cocoa mixture.
  • Starting on one side of the prepared pan, place 2 tablespoons of the plain batter into the pan; it will start to spread slowly on its own. Quickly drop 2 tablespoons of the cocoa batter on top of the plain batter; the cocoa batter will push the plain batter outwards (pictured top, left). Continue alternating the batters until they are used up; by this time, the batters would have met on the other side of the pan (pictured top, right).
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes until top is springy and a skewer comes out clean when inserted near the centre of the cake. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes; remove tin and leave on wire rack to cool completely. Serve plain or with a simple sugar glaze (icing sugar mixed with a little milk to a drizzling consistency).

And here are more spicy ring cakes, this time flavoured with ginger...

Bundt on the run
I know I have used both cup and weight measures in this recipe –  it couldn't be helped. I adapted this recipe from one in Donna Hay magazine, which uses cups, but made a smaller amount and weighed the dry ingredients instead.

Makes 12 ⅓-cup Bundt cakes

100g plain flour
1¼ tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
Pinch of nutmeg
60g butter, chopped
¼ cup golden syrup
½ cup brown sugar
100ml milk
1 medium egg, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped crystallised ginger
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C. Process the flour, baking powder, ginger, mixed spice, nutmeg and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Place the golden syrup, brown sugar and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Cool until lukewarm. Pour the mixture into the processor while the motor is running and process until smooth. Add the egg and process for 1 minute. Stir in crystallised ginger until combined. Spoon the mixture into 12 lightly greased mini ⅓-cup capacity Bundt cakes tins and bake for 12-15 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Cool on wire rack.

I have linked up this post to Sweet As Sugar Cookies, a blog by Lisa; her "Sweet for a Saturday" linky party is great! You'll get a lot of ideas for sweet treats there from many bloggers.

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