The Virgin Stove

Making everything for the first time

Tag Archives: baking

Baked Salmon with Caramelized Onions

I did say that I will try a different recipe for salmon. After my previous try, I decided that I didn’t want to just sear the salmon. It was tasty but I didn’t like the slightly uncooked center; because I seared it for less than the recommended time, I had to cut and reheat it just so I can eat it. Because salmon is an oilier fish compared to the white stuff that I’m used to eating, I baked it this time.

If the previous recipe was sweet, then this one was slightly spicy. I’ve always liked onions and I was attracted to the recipe when I first encountered it. So I made it simpler and easier to cook for those who don’t have a lot of time to prepare.

Served it with your side dish of choice. I don’t really like salads because I prefer my vegetables cooked so I served the salmon with a bowl of zucchini rice. Recipe after the jump.

Bon appetit!

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Whole-Wheat Strawberry Yogurt Cake

I had two tubs of strawberry yogurt that would go bad if I don’t eat it soon. Unfortunately, I left my bag of all-purpose flour in the other apartment and the only thing left is whole wheat flour, which isn’t nutritionally bad but whole wheat is not exactly known for its smooth, moist properties in cakes.

So I tried to look for a whole wheat yogurt cake recipe that I could work with. Luckily, there’s always Food.com. I changed a few things since I wanted to make it healthier and avoid butter altogether.

I’m a little scared of bundt pans. There’s always a possibility that, no matter how much you grease the insides, the pan would traitorously eat the top parts of the cake, leaving a hot mess on your plate that even powdered sugar could not hide. However, one of the reviews mentioned that the center of the cake tended to be a little wet so I was determined to use a bundt pan to avoid smooshy centers.

Thankfully, my bundt pan behaved. This is the third time I’ve used it and it has not failed me so far. Good bundt pan, yes you are. *pats*

As for the cake, my fears were unfounded. I was afraid that I would have a dry, unpalatable cake. Instead, it ended up being dense, moist, and yummy–you could really taste the yogurt and the whole wheat gave it texture that prevented it from being boring.

This is a cake that is best eaten as breakfast or a snack with coffee or tea. Plus the apartment smells heavenly. *inhales*

Note: If you don’t want the chocolate flavor, just follow the recipe as it is without the cocoa powder. I actually prefer it without the chocolate as it brings out the taste of the yogurt more.

Try it for yourself

Lemon Muffin with Red Currants


(Photo taken by Jovett Lopez)

Note (May 25, 2012): I recently made this as a cake with blackberries instead of red currants. Coat blackberries with 2 tablespoons sugar and spread evenly at the bottom of the pan. Spoon cake batter over it and bake. A lot of people have trouble turning an upside down cake without the middle sticking on the pan. Use wax paper or foil to cover the bottom of the pan so when you flip it over, the whole cake comes out foil and all. If the berries stick to the foil, stick the cake in the freezer for 30 minutes before peeling it off.

~*~

Almost a year ago, I had a love affair with muffins. Obsession is probably the proper way to describe it. I wanted to learn how to bake (aside from the token brownies and chocolate cake) by baking as many kinds of muffins as I could find. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and those that I managed to take were poorly focused and had horrible exposure.

I had the chance to make these muffins again for my friends last weekend. Breakfast should always be the biggest meal of the day and we sure had a huge meal with varied dishes. My contribution was a batch of lemon and red currant muffins.

You can be creative with this muffin and use all sorts of berries. SK’s original recipe uses raspberries. I used red currant here. In hindsight, I think the red currants should have been coated with a tad of sugar since they’re really sour. The first time I made this muffin, it had a cherry centre and I topped it with sliced almonds. I think I like the latter version better. Here’s a photo of it, taken just before I brought them to work for my colleagues:

It’s not great, but I used to be really bad with photography and used the “Auto” setting far too often. *wince* These days, I learned how to adjust my dSLR properly to take the type of photos I want. I still have a long way to go, especially when it comes to composition, but I’ll get there eventually.

Note: The lovely topmost photo was taken by my friend, Jovett, just before we ate them.

I really like this muffin!

Gooey Brownies

My mother perfected brownies. She managed to create a brownie recipe made of six simple ingredients. And this isn’t just any brownie, she produces incredibly moist, flavorful brownies with a very very thin crispy crust that contrasts with the gooey insides.

*sighs*

Now, I’m good with the basic brownies. I’m extremely happy whenever I manage to do it right because that means I won’t disappoint the people I have to feed. But, sometimes, I have the urge to add some oomph that appeals to my raging sweet tooth.

Enter my sister’s marshmallows of choice. Plus oats. Plus chunks of semi-sweet chocolate. All that results in extreme gooiness that will block your arteries and will require a half-hour horizontal rest after downing a hot cup of tea.

The goo is important!

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!

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!!!

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

The whole family does share a love for chocolate, so I decided to make cookies for dessert. And since we didn’t have chocolate chips – silly me, I forget the littlest things – I chopped the bar of baking chocolate that I had lying around for a month.

I guess my even chopping looks a bit OCD here. It doesn’t have to be this even. Your chunks can be any size you like.

I did have to hide the chocolate chunks in my parents’ room before I was ready to mix them into the dough because my sister kept on stealing a couple here and there. If I waited 10 minutes longer, I wouldn’t have any left to put in the cookies!

I forgot to mention that I got this recipe from Smitten Kitchen. I really like it because it’s very simple, the ingredients are easy to procure and I can make it without taking the electric beater out and just use arm power. I can get really lazy, you see.

Forming the cookie dough into little balls was really easy, as the dough is more firm than other recipes I’ve tried. It’s also not sticky! No messy, icky spots on the table or the spoon.

I messed up the first batch. 😦 I’m using Apartment #1’s ancient gas oven. While I love our sturdy Ariston, which has lasted years, it can be difficult to estimate the temperature for baking. There are no degrees involved here. There’s just low, medium low, medium, medium high, and high… all measured by how far you move the dial to the right. 😛

There’s no timer either. So if I forget to look at the clock, I have to rely on my nose and by peeking into the oven every now and then since there’s no internal lamp.

Maybe we need a new oven. Hmm.

I did mess up the first batch (left side pic). The fire was a bit too much and the cookies were burning at barely 10 minutes inside. So I lowered the fire and the second batch came out fine. A bit pale on top but a nice medium brown underneath (right side pic).

I think I found my new go-to recipe for chocolate chip/chunk cookies.

Click for the recipe!

Spiced Applesauce Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Last week, we held Ina’s surprise bridal shower just a few days before her wedding. Being the forgetful friend that I am, I completely forgot about it until Jovett texted me that morning as a reminder. (See, my friends know me very well.)

It was a potluck dinner and I didn’t know what to bring! I expected that most guests would probably bring dishes so I opted to bring the dessert. And who else do I turn to for dessert-related emergencies like this? Dear old Smitten Kitchen.

I chose the recipe based on Ina’s love for the wholewheat apple cinnamon muffins I used to make for her. Of course, I didn’t have applesauce on hand. I don’t think I’ve ever bought applesauce in my life. After a panicky mini-shopping spree in my company’s tiny Safeway, I finally had what I needed.

The cake and the frosting were relatively easy to make. The only hitch was that I was strapped for time, having only 1.5 hours to make the cake. Since there was no time to properly cool the cake, I was afraid the frosting would melt and be absorbed by the cake and I’d end up with a mess. I popped the cake in the freezer and hoped for the best.

Though the cake was still warm when I left, the frosting didn’t melt. (Not too much anyway.) And we were still able to enjoy the gooey, moist cake on our white plastic plates. 🙂

Click here for the recipe!

Strawberry Milk Cake

It’s Valentines Day. Or at least it was 48 minutes ago. But that’s not the only reason I tried this strawberry milk cake recipe from The Kitchn. The photos made it look so scrumptious that I’ve been obsessing about it for days and I figured that’s a valid enough reason to bake it. 🙂

I don’t usually buy strawberry milk unless either sibling – Jiko or Sofia – is around since they’re the only ones who like the artificial strawberry flavor. But I’m willing to put my doubts aside for the sake of experimentation.

The recipe is ridiculously easy. I made the cake itself in between breaks from watching The King’s Speech.

But I made a boo-boo with the frosting. Instead of using heavy whipped cream, I used heavy plain cream. The recipe didn’t specify but I should have known better. 😦 Still, the “frosting” made a very nice pale pink ganache.

I wasn’t able to bring Valentine goodies yesterday so I’m taking this to work tomorrow. I made two of these heart-shaped cakes. I’m sure Tita E would love to have this with her morning coffee.

I’m going to make this cake again for our all-girl get-together next week. But with whipped cream this time!

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Cinnamon Muffins

For last night’s potluck, I had to think of something that wouldn’t require me to go out and buy ingredients. The first thing I thought of was cinnamon. I had lots of cinnamon! I browsed through recipes of various cinnamon rolls and breads but due to my previous efforts, I knew that any sort of bread would take forever and a day.

I needed something quick because I only had a few hours. Plus, I was distracted by The Walking Dead as I was trying to find time to watch all 5 episodes in one afternoon on top of all the stuff I had to do. Yep, zombies. Very appetizing.

It’s my first time to try out a recipe from King Arthur Flour. It requires lots of oats on the streusel topping, which was a big selling point for me. (I LOVE oats!) The muffins require 3-4 layers and I’m sure this first effort was a bit messy as the supposed creamy filling just managed to make it look marbled. I opted against a sugar drizzle since the streusel was already loaded with brown sugar. I also used chopped walnuts instead of pecans.

I used paper liners at first but the muffins ended up looking untidy. Pieces crumbled away and the the paper kept on separating from the muffin. Results were much better with a lightly-greased muffin pan. The muffins didn’t stick to the pan and I had no problem taking each one out. The caramel will ooze over the top of the muffins so place a baking sheet beneath your muffin pan to avoid drips.

The muffin is sturdier than I expected. It’s a solid snack and is more appropriate for brunch or teatime than as a dessert. But that didn’t stop Dad from finishing two right after lunch.

Is it yummy? Yes. But it’s not too sweet either. If you’re hoping for sugar overload, better pour confectionery sugar drizzle over it. I like it as it is and it tastes great with Japanese green tea. Thanks for the tea, Cris. 😀

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