Thursday, July 31, 2008

Basbousa (Coconut Cake)

This recipe is a unauthentic (yet still yummy) version of the popular Middle Eastern dessert Basbousa. Traditionally Basbousa is meant to be dense, chewier, and made with semolina and yogurt. But I like the version that my friend gave me which is lighter and fluffier in texture and less syrupy.

6 eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup semolina
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes, plus more for topping

Separate eggs, placing the egg whites in a large bowl and the yolks in a small bowl. Make sure there is no yolk in the egg whites. Beat on high until whites are frothy, add sugar and continue to beat until stiff peaks can form. Add egg yolks and oil and blend. Add semolina and all-purpose flours, baking powder and zest, and blend in well. Fold in 1 cup coconut flakes. Pour batter in greased 13x9 pan (or larger pan for a flatter basbousa). Sprinkle cake with coconut flakes. Bake in preheated 350 F for 20 to 25 min, until top is brown and toothpic comes out clean from the center.

Pour syrup (recipe below) over the cake as soon as it is out of the over. Can be served warm, room temperature or chilled.


2 cups sugar
1 cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
Crushed cardamom, cloves and cinnamon sticks or rose water or orange blossom water (optional)

Stirring constantly, disolve sugar in water on medium heat. When sugar is throughly dissolved, increase heat and bring to a boil. Add lemon juice and your choice of flavorings. Boil for 5 - 10 min. Strain if necessary

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Best Low-Fat Banana and Blueberry Muffin

On the The English Patis blog I came across a low-fat (though not low-calorie) banana and blueberry muffin recipe that uses egg whites and olive oil instead of whole eggs and butter. Despite having little fat content, this muffin manages to be moist and tasty. The recipe uses metric measurements but I have converted them into American measurements as best as I can:

Low-fat Banana & Blueberry Muffins
2 cup + 6 tbsp + 1 tsp self-raising flour
1/3 cup porridge oats plus 1 Tbsp for topping
2/3 cup light muscovado sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 medium bananas - mashed (about 1 cup)
1 cup + 3 1/3 tbsp buttermilk
5 Tbsp olive oil
2 egg whites - slightly beaten
1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper muffin cases. Reserve 1 Tbsp of the muscovado sugar. Mix the rest of it with the flour and 1 Tbsp oats.In another bowl, mix the egg whites, oil, and mashed bananas until well combined.Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and quickly stir and fold until just combined. Do not overmix.Add the blueberries and give it a few stirs. Divide the batter into the prepared muffin pans. Sprinkle the 1 Tbsp oats and 1 Tbsp muscovado sugar on top. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes until golden brown.Let cool for a few minutes in the pan then remove and cool completely.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Kuhn Rikon cookie press and Chocolate Spritz cookies

I recently bought a Kuhn Rikon cookie press (Amazon, $14.95). I am loving it so far. I can't believe how easy it is to use. It is much easier than scooping up cookie dough and plopping it on the pan though you cant use it on just any cookie dough. For example, chocolate chip dough and egg-white based dough will make for a disastrous event.

Well, the cookie press has an ample amount of shapes to choose from, but unfortuanly it does not have the pumpkin shape which is a really fun shape! The press also comes with decorating tips though it seems complicated to use (I have not tried it). The first recipe I tried doing was an almond-flavored cookie that I found on the Internet. It was too soft and so the cookies ended up flattening, thus losing shape. But I saved the remaining dough by adding more flour. Your best bet, however, is to follow the recipes that Kuhn Rikon provides (even though there are only four) and then branching out. Anywho, I tried the chocolate spritz cookies from Kuhn Rikon: a very tough dough but it works perfectly. It's tasty but not as chocolaty as I would like. Nevertheless everyone in my family ate them up quickly and I think I will do them again, maybe ice them next time. The recipe comes with the Kuhn Rikon cookie press but for your convenience here it is

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg

2 Tablespoons milk or water
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup cocoa
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  2. Combine the butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl.
  3. Using an electric mixer set on high speed, beat until light and fluffy.
  4. Beat in the egg, milk, vanilla extract, and salt
  5. Using a spoon stir in the flour and cocoa until well mixed.
  6. Remove the white ring at the base of the plastic barrel and pack the dough into the cookie press. Fit with the desired disk and screw white ring back in place.
  7. Place the press flat against the cookie sheet and squeeze the trigger to compress dough in the barrel. Use one click per cookie, lifting straight up and off the sheet.
  8. Space the cookies 1 1/2 inches apart.
  9. For perfectly identical cookies, keep pressing cookies at consistent intervals every 1 - 2 seconds until no more dough remains.
  10. Bake until golden, about 10 minutes. Be sure to watch them so they don't burn!
  11. Gently transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
  12. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar if desired and let cool. Decorate.
  13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.