Cinnamon Roll Cake and Eid Eats 2015! (and some life updates)

Knock, knock… Anyone there?

I disappeared, didn’t I? I’m sorry, life just happened and I got caught up in it. To give you an idea of what has kept me, here’s just a short breakdown of everything that’s happened since we last spoke:

  • Some of my closest friends, whom I have met through blogging, threw me a surprise virtual baby shower! I am so humbled by their love and kindness 🙂 Here is a roundup of what everyone shared: Faaiza, Sarah, Asiya, and Amira.
  • We celebrated my son’s birthday with a handful of family, close friends, and classmates. My due date was 10 days from his actual birthday, so we celebrated early because I couldn’t see myself dealing with a room full of energizer bunnies, otherwise known as preschoolers, so close to my due date.
  • My mom flew in from California! She’s still in town, but only until this Saturday.
  • My brother also flew in from California, although his trip was much shorter (he stayed for a little less than one week).
  • And most importantly, we welcomed our newest addition, Ms. Zunaira, on May 28th, at 2:55 p.m. She is 3 weeks old, and she’s already got her older brother and daddy wrapped around her tiny fingers!

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After her birth, days blended into nights, and it’s only now that I am slowly starting to emerge from the fog that is nightly feedings, constant diaper changes, cleaning spit-up, and piles of folded laundry that need to be put away. Alhumdullilah, praise be to God, I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

Speaking of updates, Ramadan Mubarak/Happy Ramadan! We’ve been blessed with the return of this Holy month, and I pray that we all find the peace and rewards that come along with it.

In the spirit of Ramadan, I am joining Asiya (of Chocolate and Chillies) and Sarah (of Flour and Spice) in hosting the very special Eid Eats 2015! What is Eid Eats, you might be wondering? Consider it a virtual potluck in which you “bring” (ie., blog about) a food item which is reminiscent of Eid (the holiday marking the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan). What you decide to share can be something traditional that’s made in your home/family, or you can get creative and share something completely out of the ordinary. The choice is yours, as long as it screams Eid festivities to you 🙂

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Here are a few guidelines in order to participate:

  • Prepare and blog about your food item on July 15th, 2015.   You can prepare your blog post beforehand, just be sure to have it go live on the above-mentioned date.
  • Link your post to the party hosts blogs (Flour and Spice, Chocolate and Chillies, and My Ninja Naan) and be sure to include the party button/graphic (the one you see above) in your post.
  • Visit the aforementioned blogs on July 15th and be sure to submit your post via the link party (will be set up that day).
  • Check out what our fellow bloggers have submitted, and be sure to head on over to their space and leave them some love in their comments section!

To help usher in some Ramadan festiveness, I decided to whip up a delicious Cinnamon Roll Cake. When Sarah initially shared this, I knew it was something that I just had to make! I finally got the chance this week, as my brother was leaving to go back home to California, and I figured that I needed to make this when someone else was around because otherwise I would be eating the whole thing myself (and we all know that that wouldn’t be very wise). Although it may seem daunting, preparing the cake was very simple, and the only downside to the whole process was waiting for it to come out of the oven to be devoured 🙂

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Cinnamon Roll Cake

Yield: One 9-inch Cake

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 ¼ teaspoons yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 egg

For Filling:

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tablespoons ground cinnamon

For Frosting:

  • ¼ pound cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Prepare Dough:

In a large bowl, combine all-purpose flour, sugar, yeast, and salt. Mix and set aside.

In a separate dish, heat water, milk, and butter together until the butter has melted and the mixture is warm to touch. Combine liquid mixture with the flour mixture. Add egg and knead on medium-low speed until a cohesive and pliable dough is formed. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface, knead by hand for a few minutes, then place in a lightly greased bowl and set aside for 30 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients. Mix until thoroughly combined and set aside.

Set aside a greased 9-inch pie plate, cake pan, or springform pan.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the prepared dough out into a15”x12” rectangle. Spread prepared filling evenly over the surface.

Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into six 2-inch strips. Loosely roll up one strip and place it at the center of the prepared pan. Coil the remaining strips of dough around the center roll, starting each strip at the end of the previous strip. Be sure to leave some space in between the coils, as the dough needs room to rise. Cover the cake and set aside to rise for 60 to 90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, until lightly browned.

Make Frosting:

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese and butter on medium speed until smooth. Slowly add powdered sugar, making sure to scrape down the sides, and beat until thoroughly combined. Add milk and vanilla, and mix until combined.

Generously spread frosting over warm cake.

Chocolate Cake (and a little update)

It is common in the South Asian culture to celebrate good news with something sweet. Today’s post was the first time that I baked something specifically to blog about. I’ve been trying to think of ways to share this news with you, and I finally settled on just baking a good old-fashioned chocolate cake. You see, we are awaiting a second addition to our family, due at the end of May, God willing. My Zuni is about to become a big brother, and has decided that he would like to called Zuni Bhai (Bhai in Urdu, literally means brother, and is used as a respectful means to address an older brother or older male) as opposed to Zuni Bhaiya (Bhaiya is just another way of saying Bhai).

I ask that you, my dear friends, remember our family in your thoughts and prayers, and that you send your positive vibes our way 🙂

 

Now, with that, I present to you this delicious chocolate cake. The recipe is courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, and has officially made the cut for the go-to chocolate cake. This recipe yields a very friendly 8-inch cake, and can easily be doubled to fit a 9”x13” pan (although the baking time may need to be adjusted). The crumb of the cake is moist yet holds together well, and it isn’t cloyingly sweet. I frosted the cake with my go-to chocolate buttercream, although this cake pairs well with any type of frosting.

 

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Chocolate Cake

Yield: One 8-inch Square Cake

Ingredients:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F and set aside a greased 8-inch square baking pan.

In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat until combined. Add buttermilk and mix until just combined (batter may look uneven), and scrape down bowl. Place a sifter over the bowl and shake in flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and baking salt. Mix on low speed until just combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan, smooth out, and bake until an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 18 to 30 minutes.

Cool for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Coffee Flavored Cake With Coffee Buttercream Frosting

I love having people over (or volunteering to bring something along when invited) because it gives me a chance to test out recipes that I wouldn’t otherwise.  That’s not to say that we wouldn’t like it, but what I mean is that with a toddler and husband with a very specific palate, I sometimes get lazy in wanting to try new recipes.  Like this Coffee Flavored Cake by Flour and Spice– you see, although I love coffee, my husband isn’t a fan of it, and I’m not crazy enough to give my almost-3-year-old son a cake loaded with caffeine. #SorryNotSorry

So last week when I was invited to a ladies brunch, I jumped at the chance to bring along a dessert.  I had pinned this recipe when it was first posted for two reasons:

(i) I love coffee and coffee flavored baked goods.

(ii)  The size of the cake is ideal for a small gathering, i.e., it produces a one layer 9″ cake.  Also, the frosting amount is perfect too.

If you or someone you know is a fan of anything coffee, be sure to give this cake a shot.  It’s super easy to throw together and the results are phenomenal 🙂

 

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Coffee Flavored Caked

With Coffee Buttercream

Yield: One 9” Cake

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For Frosting:

  • 1 tablespoon hot water
  • 2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Directions:

Make Cake:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and set aside a greased 9-inch cake pan.

In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine instant coffee and hot water. Mix until the granules have dissolved completely. Add milk and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter at low speed until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar and beat on low speed until light and fluffy, approximately another 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well.

Add the coffee and milk mixture and mix well. Do not worry if the batter looks curdled. Slowly add the flour mixture and beat on low speed until thoroughly combined.

Transfer batter to greased pan and bake for 28 to 32 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow the cake to rest for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make Frosting:

In a small bowl, combine hot water and instant coffee. Mix until the granules have dissolved completely and set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add powdered sugar and beat on low speed until fully incorporated, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add coffee mixture, vanilla, and salt and mix on low speed for a few minutes to incorporate. Do not worry is the frosting looks curdled. Increase speed to medium and beat for a few minutes, until the frosting is light and fluffy. Frost cake as desired.

 

Daring Bakers: Whoopie Pies- Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Buttercream Filling

It’s that time of the month again!  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daring Bakers is a group of bloggers and non-bloggers who are assigned a “secret” challenge at the beginning of each month.  The 27th of each month is the “reveal” date, in which those who blog can write about their experiences and recipes for the challenge.

The December Daring Bakers’ Challenge had us all cheering – the lovely and talented Bourbonnatrix of Bourbonnatrix Bakes was our hostess and challenged us to make fun, delicious and creative whoopie pies! Delicious little cake-like cookies sandwiching luscious filling in any flavors we chose… What else is there to say but “Whoopie!”

I was so excited for this month’s challenge! I don’t know why, but lately I had been in a baking rut.  When the challenge was posted in the Daring Bakers Forum on the 1st of the month, I made the whoopie pies the very next day!  While I hadn’t seem them very much while I lived in California, I do seem them around quite a bit here in the Midwest.  I decided to make a Chocolate Whoopie Pie, with a recipe provided by our hostess (which is a King Arthur favorite), and instead of the traditional Marshmallow filling, I opted for a light buttercream.  The recipe for the buttercream filling is courtesy of Annie’s Eats, and it truly makes a wonderful contrast against the deeply chocolate cookies sandwiching it.

My son, husband, and I absolutely loved these! This month’s challenge was definitely a home run, and I can’t wait to try other flavor combinations in the near future (banana whoopie pie with a cream cheese or caramel filling is going to grace our home soon)! 😀

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Chocolate Whoopie Pies

With Buttercream Filling

Yield:  1½ to 2 Dozen Pies

Ingredients:

For Whoopie Pies:

  • ½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup cocoa, sifted
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk

For Buttercream Filling:

  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups powdered sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream

Directions:

Make Whoopie Pies:

Preheat oven to 350˚F and set aside two baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together butter, brown sugar, espresso powder (if using), baking powder, baking soda, salt, and vanilla.  Add egg and beat until smooth.  Add cocoa and stir to combine.  Add all-purpose flour and milk alternately, and stir until thoroughly combined.

Transfer batter to a piping bag and pipe 1-tablespoon sized mounds onto the baking sheets, being sure to keep at least 2 inches of space between each mound.  With a damp finger, lightly pat the tops of the cakes to flatten and even them out.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until the cakes are set and firm to the touch.  Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes, then transfer to cooling racks to cool completely.

Make Filling:

In a large bowl, whip butter over medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Add powdered sugar and salt and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes.  Mix in vanilla and heavy cream on low speed until just incorporated, then increase speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes, making sure to stop a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Transfer filling to a piping bag.

To assemble the cookies, match them up in pairs by size.  Pipe filling onto the flat side of one cookie, and then place the second cookie on top to create a sandwich.

Leftovers may be refrigerated.

Sandwich Maker Cakes

Happy Eid/ Eid Mubarak!

 

I would like to wish you all a very happy Eid!  I hope your day was spent well, as ours was.  We spent our Eid with my in-laws, where my mother in-law cooked an amazing spread and I was in charge of desserts.  I made Gulab Jamun, Mawa Cake, and Qawami Seviyaan (recipe coming soon).  One dessert that I didn’t make, which is usually made in our home on Eid and other special occasions, was a Custard Trifle.  It’s a favorite on my in-law’s side of the family.  It consists of a layer of vanilla cake, any flavored custard, some nuts and shredded coconut, and sometimes a layer of Jello.

Whenever I’ve made this Trifle in the past, I’ve had to first bake a pound cake for the cake layer, which isn’t really an issue if it weren’t for the extra time and preparation.  I no longer need to bake a pound cake to prepare this familial Custard Trifle.  I stumbled upon a genius recipe on Ambreen’s blog, which not only produces soft and absorbent cakes, but also allows me to utilize the sandwich maker that I bought in a rush last year on the morning after Thanksgiving.  After sitting in my cabinet for almost a year without being touched, I have finally found a reason to use my $4 Black Friday find 🙂

Oh and I forgot to mention the best thing about this past Eid!  I finally met, face-to-face, one of absolute favorite bloggers, Asiya!  We were visiting some family who happened to live near her, and Asiya graciously invited us to her home.  My husband, Zuni, and I had a wonderful time talking and spending time with her and her family.  We can’t wait until the next time we meet!

 

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Sandwich Maker Cakes

Yield:  8 – 10 Cakes

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup oil
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour

Directions:

In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until thoroughly combined.  Add eggs and vanilla one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Fold in baking powder and flour.

Turn on sandwich maker and wait until the red light turns off.  Lightly grease the inner plates of the sandwich maker by spraying them with nonstick spray or brush with oil.

Spoon batter into the cavities of the sandwich maker until full but not overflowing.  Close the lid and allow the cakes to cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden brown and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

If the cakes aren’t ready, cook for longer, making sure to check after every minute.

Cakes taste best eaten right away.