Archive for August, 2012

Monday,  August 27,2012

I saw this curious photo a fellow baker, Frantic In The Kitchen, had posted, she being as curious as I, having seen it on Taste.com  and though it looked odd, it peaked my interest, mainly what and why?   Bake a cake in 5 minutes was the tease.    We all crave chocolate and if one could make a cake in 5 minutes wouldn’t we all try it out?   Darn Toot-in!

5 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake     thanks to Frantic in the Kitchen for prompting my experimentation!

4 Tablespoons flour

4 Tablespoons sugar

2 Tablespoons cocoa

1 egg

3 Tablespoons oil

3 Tablespoons milk

3 Tablespoons chocolate chips, optional

dash of pure vanilla

1 large coffee mug

Mix dry ingredients, add egg, blend, add oil & milk.  Blend well.   Add in chocolate chips, and vanilla.  When blended pour into your mug, unless you mixed it in the mug!    Place in microwave on HI for 3 minutes*.  The cake will rise to the top.  When done let it cool before turning out onto a plate.  Serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

I decided to cut the oil down to 1 Tablespoon, I used chocolate almond milk and threw in a pinch of salt and baking powder.   I quickly buttered the inside of my chosen mug, mixed up the cake batter, poured it in the mug and zapped it in the microwave on * HI for 2 minutes as Frantic in the Kitchen had baked hers for less than the time called for.   So it was not quite done, I cooked it for another 30 secs, it began to climb inside the mug but when I opened the micro door it fell.  Still wet in the middle, I put it on MED and zapped it for another 30 secs.  wow it rose about 1/2 ” above the rim of the mug.  I tried to capture this with the camera!    Out it came, down it fell, I cooled it then popped it out.  It  looked liked a steamed plum pudding.   It lacked the soft bounce of a ‘regular’ cake and had a heavy feel, seemed more like a over baked brownie.  I wonder if, at least in my micro, it would have been more cake-like had it been nuked on MED.  I probably made a mistake by cutting down on the oil, also.  Well you know I am not that enthused to try it again.  I think I’d rather take 10 min to mix and 25 to bake a cake in my reliable convection oven.  This was a good experiment and this further strengthens my belief that micros are good for melting chocolate, heating tea and quick cooking potatoes!   My preference, please don’t take offense!  I am too traditional at heart and health!   There may come a rainy day where I will pull out my mug again, this time sticking to the recipe exactly, to see if it indeed does come out cakey.    If I do I’ll let you know!    Everyone intrigued should try this, especially since the results vary greatly, then let me know how your mug cake turned out!!

I chose to mix it in a measuring cup

poured into the mug

looks bizarre, the rising mug cake!

finished baking

turned out and cooling

all cool and decked out with ice cream

I had the most fun preparing and photographing this project.  The photos might be excessive but in a way they were more enjoyable than the chocolate mug cake.  Hope your microwave yields better results!!

Till next time we meet.  Enjoy life, food, family and baking!  Mangia!

PS…… Monday 5:15pm….. I did finish the mug cake or in my case, the mug heavy brownie.  Just couldn’t toss that chocolate.


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Saturday August 25,2012

We have lived on our property in the woods for a considerable length of time!   Over the years we have dedicated a portion of the wooded land to a garden, which has morphed, as we play in the garden making it larger and more regulated.  I generally have become the primary keeper of the garden, which is a blend of flowers and vegetables.  I develop the beds, plant, weed, play, water, weep and battle insects.  The deer amazingly enough do not test the fence.  Why should they as they roam everywhere else indiscriminately ravaging plants as they please.   We are presently dog-less and while our cat freely explores the property, he does not threaten deer!

Last zucchini, out of frig, waiting

Each new growing season yields varying degrees of success.   I believe the most plentiful zucchini harvest was realized in the irregular, haphazard garden design.  Oh well.    Last year I lost my plants early on to squash bugs… this year my dozen or so plants grew magnificently as I trudged out in the early morning light to scrap off the eggs deposited by the dreaded squash bugs.  I abandoned my brother’s concoction of mouthwash & dish soap which stops the bugs dead in their tracks but does adversely affect the leaves over time and concentrated on eggs.  There were moments when I resorted to squeezing the persistent bugs to death, in order to exercise my power over them, I was so determined to beat these guys, but you can’t really fool mother nature!!!    My zucchini plants were lush, vibrant and huge. yielding  fruit and my pleasure.  Eventually BER, blossom end rot, or perhaps borers won the battle and one by one the plants fell in on themselves , giving up the ghost.  I cannot bring myself to use chemicals so I choose the trial by error method.  We might starve!

My last home grown zucchini deserved an  inspired finale and an eternal written memory, hence this post.  I came across these luscious Zucchini Bread Pancakes posted by Smitten Kitchen but a recipe for Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread, caught my eye from King Arthur Flour, what to do… such a dilemma??   My hardy zucchini could provide enough meat for both recipes,  if I reduced each recipe, so VOILA!    I preceded to create my last home grown zucchini treats.    I was psyched!  First I whipped up the chocolate bread so it would bake while I mixed up and then consumed with glee, the light moist pancakes.  It reminded me of a long ago family outing for pizza pick up.  We placed the order then while we waited, we tootled over to another pizza place to chomp on slices to satisfy our immediate hunger and to sustain us for the 1/2 hour ride home.  Yes we were /are crazy.   The zucchini bread did last 2 days, it was a small loaf!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread     adapted from King Arthur Flour
Yield: 1 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf
      2 large eggs
      1/3 cup honey
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      1/2 cup brown sugar
      1 tsp vanilla extract
      1 tsp baking soda
     1 tsp baking powder
     1/2 tsp espresso powder, optional
     1/3 cup natural unprocessed cocoa
     1  2/3 cup unbleached or all purpose flour ( feel free to blend a partial portion of whole wheat if you like)
     2 cup shredded, unpeeled zucchini
     1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350° F, lightly grease an 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 ” loaf pan with butter, oil or spray “Pam”
In large bowl, beat eggs, honey, oil, sugar, and vanilla till smooth.    Add salt, baking soda & powder, espresso powder ( I did not use), cocoa, and flour, mixing till well combined.    Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips.     Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake for 65 – 75 minutes, till loaf tests done with toothpick or cake tester, inserted into center comes out clean. ( chocolate on tester is OK! )
Remove from oven, cool 10 – 15 minutes before turning out onto rack.    Cool completely before slicing unless you can’t control the urge to dig in!  Store carefully wrapped at room temperature.   Lovely!

small loaf, 1/4 of recipe!

dense and delightfully moist

Zucchini Pancakes      adapted from Smitten Kitchen … Thanks  for the inspiration
Makes 10 – 12 Pancakes
      2 large eggs
      3 Tablespoons olive oil
      2 Tablespoons light or dark brown sugar or white
      1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 Tbsp each milk & plain yogurt or 1/4 c milk with 1/2 tsp vinegar ( I use almond milk)
      1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      2 cups shredded zucchini ( 1  1/2 c medium heaping zucchini )
      1 cup unbleached flour
      1/4 tsp salt
      1 tsp baking soda
      1 tsp ground cinnamon
      1/8 tsp ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil for skillet
In large bowl combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk ( or your choice as above) and vanilla till smooth.  Stir in shredded zucchini, then in another bowl whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon & nutmegStir dry ingredients into wet: egg, milk, zucchini, etc,  until combined.  Do not over mix.
Preheat oven to 170 -200° F, if you care to keep cooked pancakes warm on tray, while cooking rest, depending on how quickly you will consume as they come from skillet!
Heat large heavy skillet, I prefer cast iron, over medium heat.  When hot( toss sprinkle of water in, if it sizzles, proceed)  add pat of butter or oil, coat bottom of pan.  Spoon approximately 1/4 cup batter or amount you choose for size pancake you desire, into pan.  I do one at a time.   This is where a griddle comes in handy for multiple pancake cooking!   Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 – 3 minutes, then FLIP, cook another 2 – 3 minutes till  golden underneath.   Continue until batter is used up.  Stack, slather, douse with your choice syrup, whipped cream or jam.   Dig in.  

cooks up quickly in my trusty cast iron pan


Old family pancake cover in use!

stacked and ready



    Until next time we meet….enjoy life, food, family and baking.  Mangia!

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