LESSON NUMBER 1
I have a few important kitchen items that I deem completely necessary to bake, and the most important is my scale. Until I went to school for my craft I did what most people did, measured everything with measuring cups and measuring spoons just like how my mother taught me. If you only take away one advice from me please let it be BUY a scale. You can get a decent one for less than $15.00. Why is this piece of advice so important you ask? Unlike cooking, baking is much more of a true science, where accuracy is key. When you measure by volume, the weight of an ingredient can differ each time. For example, lets say you are measuring your flour for a recipe that calls for 5 cups of flour. To make it simple all-purpose flour should under normal conditions weigh 128 grams. So lets say you measure your flour by volume and you are off by 10 grams in each cup, your total recipe will be off by 50 grams which could cause a problem in most recipes.
The second benefit of weighing VS volume is it is sooooo much easier to double a recipe or cut a recipe in half. For me, where math is not my friend and I have to make a large batch of lets say Oat Cakes, and I have to make 12 times the recipe and one volume measurement is 2/3 cup, Hmmm my brain hurts, but if measurement was 84 grams , well that is easy 1,008 grams. (OK I used a calculated but still easier than trying to figure out the other)
The third benefit of weighing VS volume is less clean up, and everyone loves that. Think about when you have to measure something like peanut butter (extremely hard to get an accurate measurement by volume) it goes into your measuring cup then you diligently try to scrape it out of the measuring cup into your bowl. Clean up is just a pain. Think if you could just add directly to your bowl that sits on a scale. All scales can be set to zero every time, so you can add all ingredients directly into the bowl.
Once you use a scale you can never go back. Anytime I want to test a new recipe the first thing I do is exchange all volume measurements for weight measurements. Having a scale will change your baking life!!
For your 1st recipe you will see I have both volume and weight for the ingredients. Take note, by month 4 all recipes will only be in weights only, that means you have 3 months to go and pick out your new scale.
1st Kitchen Smidgen bake-along
If you have every traveled to the Caribbean you are most likely familiar with the famous Tortuga Rum Cake. They are the #1 export of the Cayman Islands. They are sold in several stores in Florida, and since I am here I thought why not make my own delicious rum cake. The recipe below makes a VERY large cake, you must have a 15 cup (10 1/2″) Bunt pan. Not to worry if you don’t, you can half the recipe or do what I did and make a small Bunt and use the balance of the batter in a muffin tin.
NOTE- this recipe has been adapted from Thomas Keller Bouchon Bakery
Ingredients – CAKE
468 grams / 16.5 oz unsalted butter (at room temperature)
562 grams/ 2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
468 grams/ 4 cups + 3 tablespoons almond flour
**150 grams/ 1 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
562 grams/ 2 cups + 3 tablespoons eggs
75 grams/ 1/3 cup dark rum
184 grams/ 3/4 cup toasted nuts of your choice
52 grams/ 1/3 cup unsweetened coconut
** if you wish to make this cake gluten free just substitute your favourite 1-1 gluten free flour instead of all-purpose flour **
Ingredients – Simple Syrup
100 grams/ 1/2 cup granulated sugar
117 grams/ 1/2 cup water
50 grams/ 3 tablespoons dark rum
Ingredients – Rum Icing
180 grams/ 1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon icing sugar
15 grams/ 1 tablespoon dark rum
15 grams/ 1 tablespoon water
Preparing your Bunt Pan
Oh how those Bunt cakes look so beautiful on Instagram or in a Bake shop. Why then when ever you try to bake one you are left with most of the cake in the pan and your hubby yelling at you to never make these stupid cakes again as they are a pain to clean. Bunt cakes have come back in fashion, so you tell him you MUST make them. Here are some tips from King Arthur flour, check it out, and I promise you will not have another Bunt cake stick.
Also from Thomas Keller’s book, another great tip : after brushing your pan with soft butter, freeze it, and then dust it with flour. Freezing the butter allows you to add the flour in a thin, even coating. For this rum cake we are going to dust it will sugar instead of flour. This will give the cake a thin crunchy shell-like exterior.
Directions for the Cake
- pre-heat oven to 350F
- prepare your bunt pan : brush butter lightly inside pan, getting all the crevices, freeze
- add one large spoonful of granulated sugar to prepared Bunt pan and swirl sugar around to cover surface evenly, invert pan to remove excess sugar
- place your pecans and coconut on a separate cookie sheet and bake(pecans 8-10 min) coconut (5-8min) you need to watch the coconut carefully as it can burn very easily – you just want it a toasted brown colour
- once the nuts and coconut are cooled add to the bottom of your prepared Bunt pan – set aside
- in a large bowl add almond flour and all-purpose flour, whisk vigorously, make sure there are no lumps
- place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle (if you don’t have a stand mixer use a hand mixer) mix until butter is smooth (should have the consistency of mayonnaise and holds a peak when paddle is lifted
- add the sugar and mix until fluffy ( stopping to scrape down bowl) this should take about 7 min
- add the eggs in three parts, you want to mix until just combined (the mixture may look broken but don’t over mix as then the cake will expand too much
- with mixer on low speed add the almond/all-purpose flour one-third at a time, mixing for about 15 seconds after each addition
- transfer 1 cup of batter to a small bowl and add the rum until combined, fold this back into batter until combined (texture of batter may not be smooth)
- gently pour batter into prepared Bunt pan, ensure batter is evenly distributed in pan
- bake for 55-60 min – cake should be golden brown and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake
- cool on a rack for 10 min
Directions for Simple Syrup
- in a small saucepan mix water and sugar together heat on low until sugar is completed dissolved
- remove from heat and let cool and then add rum
- when cake has cooled for 10min brush syrup on cake generously
store leftover syrup in fridge (will keep for months) take out and use in your next fancy cocktail recipe
Directions for Icing
- sift icing into a small bowl add rum and water and mix until smooth
- using a pastry brush you can glaze the entire cake OR using a spoon you can drizzle icing down sides (just letting in run down) make sure you have cake on a wire rack and a pan underneath to catch the run-off
- if desired you can add extra nuts and coconut on top of cake (should be chopped roughly – not like I have done in photo) Since I am in Florida I don’t have all my equipment, and to be honest I was a bit lazy.
Store cake in a covered container and room temperature and will keep for up to 3 days.