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2 Cakes & A Pasta Dish

April 10, 2010
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My wondermaid and I cooked 2 cakes and a pasta dish starting from 10.30am to 1.30pm.
Her upturned nose to baking has gone down and now she’s sold on baking.

We made another batch of Smitten Kitchen’s Bittersweet Chocolate & Pear Cake for her friends and my friend together with a Orange Cake by Orangette whilst cooking Zucchini Chicken Pasta.

Photos to come soon.


The thoughts of P:

” My nose detected something unusual today.. wholesome dairy flavours in the air. I promptly hurdled over the obstacle course that my Beloved Mistress put up for me to practise my hurdling skills…….and I saw her with this tiny saucepan with oooodles and oodles of block butter. I looked at her expectantly for a quick snack hoping she would feed me some of that goodness but she focussed on all that pan, talking away to my Fierce Nanny who was using this unusual looking kitchen item that vroooms away and I see white and yellow fluffs in the air. I run to the Fierce Nanny who always says she loves me more than D (hah! Stupid D is outside missing all this goodness) and sit down (as disciplined and taught by Beloved Mistress from Day 1) and she ignores me.  I have learnt that sincerity moves these humans, so I sit down, lie down in different positions, begging……..and they just ignore me. I saunter into windows checking out security but I’m drawn back into that fabulous place where I smell aromas of goodness.

More exchange of words go between my Beloved and the Nanny…my Beloved walks over and pours the ooodles of melted stuff into the bowl and the vvvroomy machine goes on, she cautions the Nanny not to over-do something. I don’t know. Who cares. I’m just sticking up my nose into the air to smell since I am not being fed. They see me smelling up in theeee air….and they start laughing and smiling saying that I’m the only dog that knows how to appreciate food whilst my bossy brother is outside guarding the territory and my favourite foster brother Popsy is outside suntanning with grandad.  Nanny suddenly looks worried. Lunchtime is approaching and Beloved Mistress’s cranky mother likes to have her lunch by 12.15pm. She quickly whips up pasta (ooh and she gives me a curly-wirly pasta), I smell oodles of goodness again, I see Beloved Mistress standing by Nanny’s side putting more of that block of butter and she goes on to make something else lemony after putting a metal pan into this big white box (the oven). I hear Nanny and her saying that they can’t believe they are making so much today. Whatever they are making, I’ll wait but first I’m snoozing. This is too much for me to take and they aren’t feeding anyway.”

Yes, I am crazy. But I have been thinking about cakes a lot for the past 48 hours.

Thank you Smitten Kitchen & Orangette.


Smitten Kitchen’s Bittersweet Choc & Pear Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 eggs, at room-temperature
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 pears, peeled, in a small dice (I used anjou, but would recommend a softer variety, like a bosc or any other of your favorites)
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with breadcrumbs (I cheated and used flour), set aside.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume)

While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.

Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.

Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to loose volume, turn the mixture down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the pear and chocolate chunks over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes [updated, thanks for your responses], or a tester comes out clean.

Just my personal tip for the Bittersweet Choc & Pear Cake: Dust the pan with a thicker layer of flour. Do not push down the choc chunks and pear chunks all the way down. Bake it for 40 minutes at top and bottom heat, then turn it to bottom heat only for the next 10 minutes. That should solve the mysterious “why is the middle always crumbling” question which many ask, at least in my case. 🙂


Marmalade Cake
Adapted from the Boonville Hotel, from Orangette.

1 small to medium orange
1 lemon
3/4 cup of raw almonds ( I used roasted almonds from the supermarket, saves time.)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
4 large eggs, ideally at room temperature
½ tsp. table salt
1 ½ cups sugar
2/3 cup olive oil
Confectioners’ sugar, for serving

First, get to work on the citrus. Put the orange and the lemon in a saucepan, and cover with water. (They’ll want to float. Don’t worry about it.) Bring to a boil over medium-high heat; then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain, and cool.
You can skip this whole step if you bought roasted almonds:
Meanwhile, toast the almonds. Preheat the oven to 325°F, and set a rack in the middle position. Put the almonds on an ungreased sheet pan, and bake until they look golden and smell warm and toasty, 10 to 15 minutes. (I tend to get nervous about burning them, and consequently, I always try to pull them out of the oven too soon. Don’t do that. Let them really toast.) Set aside to cool completely. When the almonds are cool, pulse them in a food processor until finely ground, the texture of coarse sand. Set aside.

Set the oven to 350°F, and grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

When the citrus is cool, cut the lemon in half, and scoop out and discard the pulp and seeds. Cut the orange in half, and discard the seeds. Put the lemon rind and orange halves in the food processor – there’s no need to wash it after grinding the almonds – and process to chop finely, almost to a coarse paste.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking powder.

Combine the eggs and salt in a mixing bowl. Beat until foamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Fold in the flour mixture. Add the citrus, almonds, and olive oil, and beat on low speed to just incorporate. Do not overmix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for about 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack. Remove the sides of the pan. Before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar.

Note: This cake tastes even better on the second – or even third – day, as the flavors meld and mellow. Store it at room temperature, covered with plastic wrap.

Yield: 8 to 10 servings


Next personal tip: Resist ALL temptation to eat the cake until the next day. I repeat, DO NOT eat the cake on the day you baked. You’ll probably think it taste awful ( at least I did for the first 8 hours of baking because I inhaled in ALL the ingredients plus I didn’t give it enough time to show its full delicious force). Give it a night for the flavours to mix amongst themselves and you won’t regret it 🙂


Zucchini Chicken Pasta (inspired by

-100g to 150g of butter @ room temperature

– Pasta for 3-4 people

– Half a Zucchini or more, sliced thinly.

-1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced.

– Shredded pieces of raw chicken (or slice thinly)

-Salt & Pepper.

First, put in about 30g of butter into a heated pan. Fry the minced garlic till the aroma of the garlic comes out, add in the zucchini and fry.

Then, add in the chicken slices and stir fry till relatively cooked. Add the a chunk of the butter-about 60g.

Add in the cooked pasta and a little bit of pasta water (ie: water that your pasta was cooking in), toss and add in the rest of the butter. Serve.


Finally, the bossy brother D comes back and licks my hands of goodness.

Mission accomplished.

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