Chunky Apple Cake

Chunky Apple Cake

Hello Everyone! So I probably didn’t think this through when I was planning for my recipes for the month of March. As I’ve said many times before, yes we are definitely in the middle of summer right now here in the Philippines, and having a warm Apple Cake just doesn’t seem to fit with the temperatures that we’re currently experiencing this summer.

Not to worry though, when I caught on with the dishes that I’ve been cooking for this month, I went back and had to change some of my recipes for next month. I won’t reveal it to you guys yet so you’ll just have to wait for next Wednesday for it!

Chunky Apple Cake

Nonetheless, you can have this Chunky Apple Cake with some ice cream for a cooling element. I would’ve much preferred a simple vanilla ice cream but I had come cookies and cream flavoured ice cream sitting in the freezer that I could use to go with my cake.

I skipped the butterscotch sauce for this recipe as I still had some leftover apple pie filling sitting in the fridge from when I made my Apple Danish recipe. I used that instead to drizzle over the cakes. In addition, I also used the leftover crumb topping from that recipe to top my cake for another layer of texture.

Before we jump onto the recipe, do check out the original over on Taste of Home. Also, please read some very important comments below after the recipe before the end of tonight’s post!

Chunky Apple Cake Ingredients

PREP TIME 15 MINS | COOKING TIME 40 MINS | SERVES 6-8

INGREDIENTS

For the chunky apple cake

  • 110g unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 cups plain flour
  • 2 cups white granulated sugar
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 2 medium-sized (or 1 large) Red Delicious Apples, peeled and chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

For the butterscotch sauce

  • 57g unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream

METHOD

  1. Chunky Apple Cake: Preheat oven to 180C (350F or gas mark 4). Grease a 13in x 9in baking dish with a bit of butter and set aside.
  2. Combine the plain flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda in a small bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, white sugar, and vanilla extract. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and mix well. The batter will be stiff. Stir in the apples until well combined. Spread the mixture onto the prepared baking dish and (optional) top the batter with the crumb topping.
  5. Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and springs back when lightly touched. Once done, cool for 30 minutes before serving.
  6. Butterscotch Sauce: Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and butter. Cook over medium heat until the butter has melted. Gradually add the cream and bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  7. Serving: Once the cake has cooled down, cut them into slices and serve in individual serving plates. Top with the butterscotch sauce and ice cream flavour of your choice. Enjoy!

Chunky Apple Cake

Now, I’ll be honest, the cake turned out to be quite dry, and you can probably tell from the photographs. Here are several reasons on why your cakes turn out dry and crumbly:

  1. Using too much flour. When measuring dry ingredients, gently spoon the flour mixture into a measuring cup for dry ingredients and level off with a flat spatula.
  2. Adding too little shortening/liquid. Measure liquids in a liquid-measuring cup placed on a level surface. Read the liquid measurement at eye level.
  3. Improperly mixed or undermixed. Careful mixing to evenly distribute the ingredients throughout the cake batter will give it a uniform consistency. Be careful not to overmix once the flour is added as this can cause the cake to be tough.
  4. Overbeating or using too many egg whites. Egg whites act as a drying agent. Try using less egg whites if you want to avoid a dry cake.
  5. Too much or too little sugar. Too much sugar can cause a cake to crumble when cut, while too little sugar can make a cake tough. The best cake recipes have a good balance of ingredients.
  6. Pan too big for the amount of batter. Using a pan that is too big for the amount of batter you have can cause it to overbake and become dry. The pan should be filled from half to three-fourths full.
  7. Oven temperature too high. If the temperature is to high, your cake could turn out dry. Overbaking could also be a culprit so check your cake for doneness at the lower end of the baking range.

– from Taste of Home.

I’m most definitely guilty of numbers 3, 5 and 6. I probably undermixed my batter as I creamed the butter and sugar by hand instead of using an electrical mixer (because I still have not bought one)! I also most definitely used too little sugar. I halved the portion of sugar because 2 cups scared me a lot. My Mom’s a diabetic, and because of that we’ve grown up in a household where our intolerance to sugar is quite low due to the fact that we don’t have a lot of sweet things lying around the house. When I read 2 cups of sugar from the original recipe, I felt my non-existent (yet) diabetes rise up. In addition, I definitely used a cake pan too big for the amount of batter I had, and thus lead to overbaking since I did not adjust the time it needed to bake in the oven. Silly rookie mistakes.

Chunky Apple Cake

I did end up with some leftovers, and what my Mom did was steam the cakes the next day for our mid-afternoon snack. The cakes turned out soft and moist, kind of like the texture of a sponge cake.

Anyway, I’ve kept the recipe as is, without adjusting the quantities of sugar just so that I hope for anyone who does try out this recipe, that it won’t be a flop like mine. I’m still posting this recipe anyway for me to learn from it. But to be honest, even one cup of sugar that I used for this recipe was on the verge of being too sweet for me.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

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Apple Danish

Apple Danish

Hello Everyone! My sincere apologies for last week’s post being very bland and uninformative like my recent posts from the beginning of this year. Those who have read my post last week will know the reason for the lack of depth. But moving on, I am hopfully back on track and will not disappoint for tonight’s post. I do have a little bit to say at the end of this post so make sure you read all the way to the end, for those interested/curious that is.

So I did mention in last week’s post that I’d be specifically working with Red Delicious Apples for the month because they were on sale at Rustan’s Supermarket. After doing some research, I realised that these apples are not at all recommended for the way I’m working with them, whoops!

Red Delicious Apples are crunchy in texture and mildly sweet in taste. It is apparently the world’s favourite snacking apple and shines through in cool, crisp salads. They are in season basically all year round and no suggested for pies, sauces, baking, and freezing – oops. I totally used them for baking in last week’s recipe and technically tonight’s recipe. I will use them for a sauce and for baking again for the coming recipes as well *face palm* Oh well, but to be honest, I haven’t come across any dire problems with baking or saucing Red Delicious Apples. After doing some research, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious Apples are the best for pies, baking, and making a sauce out of them. I’ll remember this for next time!

Apple Danish Process

I probably made too much filling and crumb topping for this recipe, even though I had initially halved the recipe that I followed by Melanie Dueck over on The Recipe Critic. If you do end up with leftovers, use another pastry sheet to make more Danishes, which was what I should have done but was too impatient to thaw another sheet, or make mini Apple Crumbles out of them! I would have done the latter, but then I still have another sweet apple recipe to do to complete my month of apple for recipes and I can totally use the leftovers for it!

The only reason why I have opted for the glaze to be optional in this recipe is because I don’t have any confectioners’ sugar lying around in my pantry. If you have read my previous post (can’t remember which specific one it was), I mentioned that I have this habit of buying ingredients that I rarely use. Eventually those ingredients end up sitting on the pantry shelf until its expiration date. The same applies to confectioners’ sugar. I rarely bake nowadays, or when I do bake, I never really need to use confectioners’ sugar regularly, and so if I am just going to use it for this recipe, I have decided to leave it out for mine, but if you do happen to have it lying around, go for it! It tastes good with or without anyway! What I did instead was drizzled a bit of the juices from the apple filling on top of the baked Danishes.

Apple Danish Ingredients

PREP TIME 20 MINS | COOKING TIME 25 MINS | SERVES 8 DANISHES

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 puff pastry sheets, thawed

For the apple filling

  • 1 large Red Delicious apples, peeled and diced
  • 25g unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup water
  • 3 tbsp white granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Pinch of salt

For the crumb topping

  • 1/4 cup plain flour
  • 25g unsalted butter (cold), cut into little cubes
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Handful of roughly chopped walnuts

For the egg wash

  • 1 large free-range egg
  • 1 tbsp water

Optional: for the glaze

  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tbsp heavy whipping cream or milk
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract

METHOD

  1. Apple Filling: Combine all the apple filling ingredients together, except for the apples, in a medium-sized saucepan. Melt altogether over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Add the peeled and diced apples into the saucepan and bring back to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often, until the apples have softened, but still holds it shape.
  3. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
    Crumb Topping: Meanwhile, mix all the crumb topping ingredients in a small mixing bowl that has been chilled in the freezer for about 10 minutes.
  4. With your fingertips, quickly mix the ingredients together until it looks like rough breadcrumbs. Set aside.

Tip: Pre-chilling your mixing bowl in the freezer helps keep the butter chilled when making the crumb topping. Likewise, if your mixture is too warm, put the bowl into the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes and start again when it has chilled.

  1. Apple Danish: Preheat oven to 200C (400F or gas mark 6). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (I used foil for mine because I only realised just as I was about to prepare my sheet that I had none left!).
  2. Unfold one thawed puff pastry sheet at a time and roll it out to about 10”x10” sheet. Use a pizza cutter to cut 16 even strips. Connect four strips together by overlapping about a half-inch and pressing it down together. Twist the strip into a ribbon and snail it around itself to create a rose-shaped pastry. Press the end down to the rest of the dough. Repeat for the remaining dough, should make at least 8 pastries.

Apple Danish Process

  1. Place the prepared pastry dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press the middle down. Place a spoonful of apple filling in the wells of the pastry.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the egg and water together and brush it over the pastry dough. Sprinkle the crumb topping over the tops of each Danish and then bake for about 16 to 18 minutes or until the edges are golden.
  3. Remove from the oven and leave aside to cool before glazing.
  4. Glaze (Optional): Mix all the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl then drizzle over the warm apple Danishes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Apple Danish

This is probably not the best time to have a warm dessert in the Philippines as it’s getting hotter by the minute as the Summer season rolls in. But hey! It’s getting cooler in some parts of the world right? So this would be the perfect snack/dessert for it!

I could have probably plated these delicious Danishes a little better – but I promise that they taste absolutely amazing! Better than they actually look! The flaky and crisp pastry crust, apple pie filling, and crumb topping make them irresistible. In seconds upon placing them on the dining table for our mid-afternoon snack, they were all gone! The three of us (my Mom, my sister, and myself) even fought over who wouldn’t get a third piece since there were only 8 Danishes.

Apple Danish

Before I end tonight’s post I would also just like to say a few things. I didn’t want to say this at the beginning of this post because I didn’t want to start off negatively. I have recovered from my irritable bowel syndrome, but despite that, I haven’t been feeling in the mood to work on my blog since my recovery.

I mean it’s practically normal to have off days – we’re all human after all – but I just can’t shake off the feeling of letting my followers down and letting myself down when it comes to Amcarmen’s Kitchen. I don’t get paid for running this blog, so everything that I do for Amcarmen’s Kitchen is purely for my passion and love for food, and to be able to share it with the few followers I have is just enough for me to continue doing what I love to do.

This is a very reason why I try so hard to stay on top of everything and make sure that I have dishes and recipes lined up in advance so that I can just hit the publish button every Wednesday night without having to stress about editing photographs and writing everything up all on the upload day itself. I probably put too much pressure on myself for this, hence why the sudden lack of determination for the past week.

I know deep down that no one really cares about all this – but I just needed to get this off my chest, even if it just means that I am talking to my blog.

BON APPÉTIT

– Ally xx

myTaste.com

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: CHAR GRILLED MARINATED LAMB CUTLETS

The Potting Shed at the Grounds

Hello Everyone! It’s Sunday which means another review on the blog tonight for you! Today’s post is one of my favourite cafés to date. I’ve been here a total of 3 times now and this place always finds a way to impress me. That’s right, I am talking about The Potting Shed at the Grounds of Alexandria! The ambiance, the feels, the food, the service, and of course the ever so friendly, drop-dead gorgeous waiters there – spot on. I came to know about this place through Instagram photos from friends and various food bloggers that I follow.

My first trip here was when my high school friend Andrew came to visit, which was somewhere in mid-August. We, and three of my other friends went along for a lovely Sunday brunch. I remember that day clearly – it started off wet and gloomy, but ain’t no rain gonna stop me from getting FOOD, especially from the Potting Shed. By the time we finished catching up over food (which was a very long time indeed – basically the table next to us seated 3 different customers before we got up and left), the sun came out and it ended being such a beautiful day. My second trip here was for dinner; a complete different feel to the ambiance as it was dark, but food was the same – spot on delicious. The third time, we were a group of about 12 people, gathered together to celebrate my 23rd birthday over a delicious brunch. And finally, I popped by the Grounds for their Christmas markets. I got a photo with Santa and instead had food from the Garden Café – it was a festive day and again the food didn’t disappoint.

The Potting Shed at the Grounds

The Grounds of Alexandria is located in an old pie factory from the early 1900s. The exterior and interior design maintains the integrity of the former warehouse, embracing its rustic and industrial aesthetic. Besides the cafés, the site opens onto a luscious garden of heirloom vegetables and fragrant herbs, in which the kitchen uses sustainable practices. This includes picking fresh herbs every morning and working with full time horticulturalist to grow seasonal produce for the menu; offering a wholesome and rustic menu. The site is also home to  a coffee research and testing facility as it is known to be the flagship venue for its specialty coffee. If you want to know more about their sustainable practices and research facility, head on over to their website at GroudRoasters.

The Potting Shed is one of the eateries that can be found at the Grounds. It is located towards the back of the site, if you’re entering from Huntley street, right next to the florist. When you walk in, you are immediately greeted by one of the locals at the café Fluffy the Blue and Gold Macaw. The café is surrounded by lush greenery and really defines its name throughout – from how they presented their menu right down to the cutlery used; terracotta pots everywhere! This is also one of the reasons why I love this place so much.

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHARE WITH FRIENDS: PUMPKIN FATTEH
SHARE WITH FRIENDS: PUMPKIN FATTEH
Roasted pumpkin, za’atar, pine nuts, labne, black sesame seeds and flatbread ($16.00)

This roast pumpkin fatteh was melt-in-the-mouth perfection; a wholesome burst of Middle Eastern flavours that is sure to tingle your tastebuds. If you’re looking for a great entrée, this is definitely one to try and share with friends. The pumpkin was so tender that you could easily spread it onto your flatbread. Top it off with a bit of labne, pine nuts, za’atar, and chives and you’ve got every element of this dish in one bite. My only criticism for this is that the flatbread-pumpkin ratio isn’t quite balanced – would love more flatbread to wipe up the rest of the labne and pumpkin!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHARE WITH FRIENDS: KUROBUTA PORK BELLY SLIDERS
SHARE WITH FRIENDS: KUROBUTA PORK BELLY SLIDERS
with kimchi and rye-eye mayo on a charcoal brioche ($16.00)

Taking a shift in culture, these pork sliders are a fusion of French (brioche), Japanese (kurobuta), and Korean (kimchi) cuisines. I am not a complete fan of kimchi, but these flavour combinations worked to my liking. The pork belly sandwiched between the charcoal brioche buns were flavourful and melt-in-thee-mouth tender. The pork crackling on the side of each slider? Crispy. They are offered as a set of three per order on their menu, but you can always ask your friendly waiter/waitress to add an extra or two at additional costs.

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHARE WITH FRIENDS: MINI DOGS
SHARE WITH FRIENDS: MINI DOGS
Shed-made Kurobuta pork & fennel sausages with caraway seed, cabbage and apple slaw, plus white onion, dill and mustard ($16.00)

This was probably one of the most enjoyable entrées on their menu as it was served as a sort of DIY plate. It was quite entreating in a way because not realising that they had already cut a slit into the buns, Jialing further made a horizontal cut along the sides of the buns. When she cut through halfway and the top fell right off, she realised that incisions had already been made. But other than that little mishap, the dogs tasted amazing. Like the pork sliders, you can ask for an additional serving or two at additional costs.

You’d imagine having these 3 hefty entrées would already be ever so filling for 5 people, but no, we were just getting ready and pumped up for our mains!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: BATTERED MARKET-FRESH FISH OF THE DAY (WHITE FISH)
SHED MAINS: BATTERED MARKET-FRESH FISH OF THE DAY (WHITE FISH)
served up with hand-cut potato chunks and rosemary salt, lemon, watercress, radish and tartare ($23.00)

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: GRILLED MARKET-FRESH FISH OF THE DAY (WHITE FISH)
SHED MAINS: GRILLED MARKET-FRESH FISH OF THE DAY (WHITE FISH)
served up with hand-cut potato chunks and rosemary salt, lemon, watercress, radish and tartare ($23.00)

You have a choice of battered, crumbed, or grilled for their market-fresh fish of the day. As you can see, we went for the classic battered and grilled. The fish was cooked to perfection and again just melt-in-the-mouth, especially the grilled fish. It’s like a fancy take on fish and chips, but instead of the chips, you have baked potato chunks seasoned with rosemary salt. The salad on the side added an extra texture to the palette and a burst of freshness to the tastebuds.

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: SLOW COOKED GRAIN-FED ANGUS SHORT RIB
SHED MAINS: SLOW COOKED GRAIN-FED ANGUS SHORT RIB
with sweet & sour glaze, spiced eggplant ($23.00)

This was amongst the best mains that I’ve had from the Potting Shed. Beef and eggplant are a match made in heaven, both absolutely tender and packed with flavour. We were unsure though whether it was actually beef ribs as according to Jialing, they didn’t taste like ribs. For me, they didn’t look like the classic ribs for they weren’t served on the bone, but nonetheless, delicious!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: CHARCOAL-GRILLED HOLMBRAE 1/2 CHICKEN
SHED MAINS: CHARCOAL-GRILLED HOLMBRAE 1/2 CHICKEN
amongst fenugreek, coriander, walnuts, pomegranate, cucumber, radish and grains ($28.00)

This charcoal-grilled chicken was another favourite amongst us. I actually can’t remember if the skin was crispy, but that golden tan on it though! Tender, juicy chicken on a bed of yummy grains. The broth (sauce?) that came on the side to bathe your chicken in was also very flavoursome, and the fresh greens on the side balanced the dish as a whole.

The next two mains I unfortunately cannot comment on because I did not get to have a bite of! This was during my birthday and everyone basically had their own mains. I am assuming that they all taste very good anyway as my friends ate every single thing on their plate and left nothing behind.

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: DAVID BLACKMORE FULL-BLOODED WAGYU CHEESEBURGER
SHED MAINS: DAVID BLACKMORE FULL-BLOODED WAGYU CHEESEBURGER
with shed-made dill pickles, mustard seed onions, tomato chilli jam and lettuce, all on a poppyseed bun with chips ($21.00)

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: LAMB SHANK POT PIE
SHED MAINS: LAMB SHANK POT PIE
with piped buttered mash and green leaf salad ($24.00)

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: BBQ CHILLI & GARLIC QLD JUMBO PRAWNS
SHED MAINS: BBQ CHILLI & GARLIC QLD JUMBO PRAWNS
(6) covered in burnt lemon dressing, served whole ($32.00)

I actually got to try one of these plump jumbo prawns – they were cooked to perfection and packed with flavour. I actually have a funny story to tell about these. But first, flashback to entrées. So amongst the friends who came to my birthday brunch was Daniel. When digging into our pumpkin entrée, we realised that he was putting the pumpkin skins to the side. We told him that you could in fact eat them. Then came along this main of his – I didn’t actually notice it at first, but towards the end of his meal I realised how clean his plate looked. He had eaten the shells of the prawns. After that we all made fun of how when he could actually eat the skins, he’d put them aside; and when he’s not meant to eat the skin (shells), he ate them anyway!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - SHED MAINS: CHAR GRILLED MARINATED LAMB CUTLETS
SHED MAINS: CHAR GRILLED MARINATED LAMB CUTLETS
(6) infused with oregano, mint and grilled lemon, with beetroot, potato & feta salad ($34.00)

When i visited the Potting Shed for the second time for dinner, my eyes were all over this dish as I was deciding on what I wanted to have. I went for something else though only because I thought it was a bit expensive for a casual weekend dinner. We settled the bill and just before I walked out of the café, a waited walked by carrying two plates of these babies and I had an instant food regret. They looked so good even though it was relatively dark and I could barely see a thing. I knew then that this was definitely a dish that I needed to order for the next visit despite how expensive it was. And voilà! I went all out and ordered it for my birthday and definitely no regrets. My only criticism? It was probably a little bit too pink on the inside for me, but otherwise, flavour combination was on point!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - DESSERTS: BAKED APPLE PIE (for 2 people)
DESSERTS: BAKED APPLE PIE (for 2 people)
amongst home style vanilla custard ($16.00)

I actually cannot remember what my mouth felt like after having this dessert which means that it probably wasn’t as memorable as the last dessert you’ll see in this post. Nonetheless, it was a great tasting apple pie. I really liked how they served the vanilla custard in an old-school milk bottle, it made us fight over who wanted to pour it onto the pie!

Again, I was not able to have a bite of the next two desserts, so I won’t be able to comment on them. But judging by the orgasmic sounds that my friends made while consuming the dessert, I’m guessing they were pretty top notch as well!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - DESSERTS: BANANA TART TATIN
DESSERTS: BANANA TART TATIN
alongside coconut ice cream and hazelnut praline ($14.00)

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - DESSERTS: BANANA BANOFFEE PIE
DESSERTS: BANANA BANOFFEE PIE
short crust pastry with caramel topping, flavoured cream, grilled banana and coconut ice cream ($12.00)

The Potting Shed at the Grounds - DESSERTS: SELF SAUCING CHOCOLATE PUDDING
DESSERTS: SELF SAUCING CHOCOLATE PUDDING
with vanilla bean or salted caramel ice cream ($14.00)

Ever heard of the saying that there’s always room for dessert? THERE WILL ALWAYS BE ROOM FOR THIS DESSERT HANDS DOWN! You can obviously tell that this is probably the most mouthgasmic dessert I’ve had EVER! The first time I had this dessert I unfortunately had to share with 4 other people – it was definitely not enough! I had about 2 mouthfuls and that was it! Much rage. But for my birthday, I ordered one just for myself! This warm and chocolate-rich pudding is to die for, and the salted caramel ice cream on the side was the perfect match. I mean, if this photograph of the dessert doesn’t entice you into making that wise decision to order it, then I have no words for your insane mind.

What I have shown in this post is just a number of dishes that you can find at one of the cafés at the Ground of Alexandria. The site is filled with various food stalls and I definitely recommend spending a sunny weekend at the Grounds with friends for some delectable eats. Explore the gardens, the markets, and of course say hi to the various farm animals!

The Potting Shed at the Grounds
Building 7A
No. 2 Huntley Street
Alexandria, New South Wales
Australia, 2015

– Ally xx