The Virgin Stove

Making everything for the first time

Monthly Archives: May 2011

Whole Wheat Carrot Muffins

I like to think of these as “healthy” muffins. Sure there’s still flour, but it’s whole wheat flour. Sugar is discarded in lieu of natural honey. There are loads of grated carrot involved. The only thing I can think of that’s not healthy is the butter. If you’re a real health nut, maybe you can substitute the butter for olive or canola oil but I don’t know how good the muffins would taste.

I made two batches a couple of hours before work when I woke up too early and decided I was bored. I tried grating the carrots the pioneer way: by hand like a boss! Sadly, I gave up even before the first carrot was done. My fingers were scratched, the carrot wasn’t faring much better, and seeing the number of freshly peeled carrots that were still waiting to be grated discouraged me.

So I asked my (very sleepy) dad to set up the grinder for me. The Moulinex is about 20 years old, possibly older, and has seen and ground a lot of stuff over the years. The carrots were grated perfectly and efficiently in 5 minutes tops.

The muffins baked very quickly. I used the old gas oven in Apartment #1, which can be tricky if you’re not used to these types of ovens. I’ve learned not to time baked stuff. I just use my nose, eyes and a toothpick. Meaning, (1) if the smell permeates the kitchen, it’s probably done or close to it, (2) open the oven a bit to check the color, and (3) pierce a toothpick through the middle of the cake to check if the doughy bits would stick or if it would come out dry. Take them out of the oven before the edges turn brown.

I really like the subtle bite of cinnamon and garlic in these muffins. So did Tita E, Fatma, and my brother.  Jiko probably ate one whole batch all by himself. Please don’t invite him to dinner parties unless you’re sure that you have prepared XXXL servings for him. 😛

Enough with the talking! Gimme some of those muffins!

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Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Cheese Cake

This isn’t exactly a cheesecake. Which is why I said “cheese cake.” Harhar. The cake itself is a chocolate moist cake, the frosting is made of peanut butter and cheese, and a drippy dark chocolate ganache covers it all. The strongest flavors are chocolate and peanut butter and fans of Cone Zone’s peanut butter choco ice cream would surely appreciate this.

I think that is the most times I’ve written peanut butter in one paragraph. *wipes brow*

I made this cake for Tita Edith’s birthday, not knowing that she’s a big peanut butter fan. And then I made a second cake for my family, knowing that my siblings would feel jealous if I didn’t make one for them. This is also one of the most complicated cakes I’ve ever baked. It took a lot for the batter to turn into the pretty cake on a plate.

For the first time, I used flash freezing (freezing a cake for a short time to firm it up) to make a decent layer cake. When the two cakes come out of the oven, flatten the surfaces a bit with a spatula or a potato masher like what I used here.

Let them cool a bit before inverting onto plates and popping them in the freezer. Ideally, the cakes should be wrapped in cling film but I made do with foil, having run out of the plastic wrap. Thirty minutes later, they’re ready for layering.

I put tons of frosting for the middle layer, around one third of what I made. Just work quickly so the cakes won’t warm up especially if you have a warm kitchen like mine. Because the cakes are firmed up in the freezer, it’s really easy to place the other cake on top of the frosted one without breaking the cake. Just remember to put the straight (or bottom) sides together to avoid having a wobbly cake.

I also learned how to crumb mask. Because the cake is darker than the frosting, it’s advisable to put a very thin layer of frosting over the whole cake and pop it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes before applying the final layer of frosting. This tip will avoid brown cake crumbs from mixing with your frosting as you spread it around the cake.


The finale is the dark chocolate ganache. It makes the simple cake look elegant and avant-garde at the same time, aside from providing it with a richer taste. Between the moist cake, the rich frosting and the sweet chocolate, serving a sliver would be more advisable instead of a hefty slice to prevent blocked arteries and trips to the ER.

Oh, and if you’re wondering if it’s better to leave the cake in room temperature or refrigerate it, it depends on the room itself. If you’re in a cool, air-conditioned room or if the weather is naturally cool, you can leave it out of the fridge. But if it’s hot enough to fry eggs on your car, it’s much better to refrigerate it. It won’t affect the taste. Besides, a firm cake is always better than a wilting one.

Yum! Trust me, this looks much better in real life than in the photos. Tastes much better, too.

And as I receive my self-presented award for having passed another baking hurdle, I would like to thank Smitten Kitchen for being such a dependable baker’s bible filled with wonderful recipes and tips.

Peanut Buttteeerrrrr!!!

Apple Cinnamon Cake

I can’t believe it’s been six weeks since I posted. It must be my lazy gene at work. I’ve tried a lot of new recipes since the last post but, being Ms. Forgetful, didn’t always have my camera with me so I was only able to document a few. And one of those precious few is the apple cinnamon cake. 🙂

It’s Smitten Kitchen’s mom’s apple cake. But I added a lot of cinnamon and lessened the sugar to suit my taste. I also used yellowish-red gala apples because by the time I realized that there were small green apples that’s probably excellent for baking, I already had the gala apples weighed and priced. Another example of the lazy gene at work.

I left the apples unpeeled so I just washed them thoroughly. My aunts always told me that the nutrients are close to the peeling. And it tastes sweeter the way it is.

Instead of sifting the dry ingredients, which would take forever and a day, I used a whisk to mix them all together. I got that tip from Serious Eats. Besides, I don’t have a sifter. 😉

One creates four layers: dough, apples, dough, then apples. Please use a tube pan for this cake, just like Smitten Kitchen did. It’s actually the second time for me to make this and I used a regular square pan the first time when I made it for my girlfriends. It took a long time to bake and, even when the sides were already crunchy, the center was still uncooked. It was then that the usefulness of a tube pan dawned on me.

It hasn’t even been baked but it already looks beautiful. I did use too many apples for my cake. I also had a smallish tube pan and the dough ran over as it was baking. Put a baking tray under the pan like I did to prevent messing up your oven. (Chewing on the crunchy, fallen bits was also fun.)

I brought this cake home to Apartment #1 where my parents and siblings are currently staying. The kids liked it, so did the adults. I set aside a few slices to bring to work before The Terminator (aka Jiko, the younger brother) finishes everything. Luckily, Tita Edith and Layali both liked it. I guess this is one cake that I am going to make again.

Be careful with slicing and serving because the cake can get crumbly. It’s also a bit heavy for dessert and is probably more suited as a snack with your favorite coffee or tea.

On with the recipe!

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