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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Cake Mixing tools - Baking Equipment in Kenya Explained

Here at Amari we've decided to start a segment called "Tips on Tuesday". 

At least twice a month on Tuesdays, we'll offer baking tips that will help you be a better home-baker in your kitchen ^_^


For this Tuesday, we're posting a third post on our series of Baking Equipment Explained. If you haven't already them, you can read our previous posts on Baking Pans and Cake Decorating Tools.

This time we will address baking equipment used for the mixing process before baking.This post is helpful for those who may just have started baking and may not know all the tools available for mixing your batter.

1. Mixing Bowls

Mixing bowls are an essential part of mixing, they come in stainless steel or plastic material.
They are used during preparation to mix dry ingredients or wet ingredients separately.
Plastic medium bowl

They are also used in the mixing of batter or dough. It is recommended to get a set of 3 in your kitchen if you want to start baking. Get: small, medium & large sizes - one of each at least. They are available in major supermarkets in Kenya as well as bake-ware shops in Nairobi such as Walibhai Karim. They can also be found locally near major markets or stall shopping areas in plastic-ware or kitchen ware shops. They range from Kshs. 100 to Kshs. 700, depending on size, material they are made of and quality.

2. Sieve/ Sifter

This is also an essential part of mixing since it is used to sift flour, baking or cocoa powder before mixing the batter. This is to ensure a smooth, lump-free batter consistency. Sieves are available in stainless steel or plastic materials.  They are also easily found in major supermarkets or bake-ware shops. Once again, they are also easily found locally near major shopping market areas in shops that sell kitchen ware or plastic-ware. They range from Kshs. 50 to Kshs. 300 depending on quality and size.
sifting flour using a sieve












3.  Whisks

This tool is used to mix batter or mix dry ingredients like flour & baking powder together. It's available in plastic or stainless steel material. It is an essential part of mixing ingredients before baking. A whisk can be used by itself, especially for home baking projects, to mix dry ingredients as well as to cream ingredients and mix batter in preparation for baking.Whisks are available individually or in sets of different sizes.It is recommended to have at least 2 or 3 sizes in your kitchen - small and medium. They are easily found in major supermarkets in Kenya as well as bake-ware shops such as Topserve Ltd. They range from Kshs. 300 to Kshs. 2,000 depending on the quality, size and material.
set of stainless steel whisks (kitchennice.ac)

4. Wooden Spoon

This is an important tool that is used for various bakery preparation and mixing jobs. It can be used if mixing any recipes that require heating of cream, milk etc, to stir. It can also be used to fold ingredients into batter such as dried fruits or grated carrots. It can also be used to scrape the sides of the bowl to clear all the batter into a baking pan. Since it's made out of wood it is easily available in any supermarket, local kitchen ware shop or bake-ware shop as well. It ranges from Kshs. 50 to Kshs. 200 depending on size and wood quality.
Wooden Spoons (proprofs.com)

5. Spatula

This is another important tool used in the mixing process. Just like a wooden spoon it can be used to fold in dry ingredients into batter. It can be used to scrape the sides of a bowl to clean all batter into a baking pan. If it is a wooden spatula, it can be used to stir ingredients that have to be heated or melted before mixing. Spatulas are made of wood or rubber. Wooden ones are more reasonably priced i.e. Kshs. 50 to Kshs.100. Rubber spatulas are a bit more costly i.e. Kshs. 300 - Kshs. 800. You can find spatulas at Topserve Ltd on Accra Rd.
Rubber Spatula set (pastrychef.com)

6. Pastry Blender

A pastry blender is an important tool especially when mixing pastries. It is used to mix solid fat into flour e.g. shortening and flour. It helps break the shortening into smaller pieces. It is especially useful for making pie crusts. The handle is made of wood with wire strips attached on both sides of the handle. This tool can be found in major supermarkets or bake-ware shops. It ranges from Kshs. 200 - Kshs. 400 depending on quality of the item.
Pastry Blender (wikipedia.com)

7. Electric Blenders

This electric kitchen appliance is useful in the mixing process. It is used to blend or puree ingredients before they are incorporated into the batter. You can use it to blend ripe bananas before mixing them into a creamed mixture to make a Banana bread recipe. You can use it to blend fruits and maybe herbs you want to incorporate into your recipe. Blenders are easily found in major supermarkets and house appliance stores such as Ramptons or LG Shops. They range from Kshs.1,800 to Kshs. 8,000 depending on size, quality or brand.
Electric Blender - smaller size (wikipedia)

8. Food Processors

This is another useful electric kitchen appliance in the mixing process. It is similar to a blender except for it has inter-changeable blades and attachments used for various mixing jobs e.g. chopping, blending, pureeing, shredding,mixing and kneading dough. It is a wonderful multipurpose tool. It can be used to chop nuts, blend fruits and herbs, shred cheese or assist in mixing multiple ingredients before incorporation into the batter. If one is making yeast bread, some food processors can knead dough for bread baking. Food processors are easily found in major supermarkets or appliance shops as well. They range from Kshs. 2,500 to 9,000 depending on size, quality and brand.

Food Processor (howstuffworks.com)


9. Hand Electric Mixer

This kitchen appliance is very essential in your kitchen if you plan on baking often. It is an alternative to mixing with a whisk. Most hand-held electric mixers come with 2 pairs of attachments; a pair of whisk mixers and a pair of dough hooks. Mixing whisks are for batter and the dough hooks are for kneading dough for yeast bread or other pastries.

Hand-held mixers are easily available in any major supermarkets in Kenya and also kitchen appliance shops as well. They range from Kshs. 1,500 to 8,000 depending on size, quality or brand.

10. Stand-alone Electric Mixer

This kitchen appliance is very essential especially for a seasoned baker or a busy bakery kitchen. It is an electric mixer that comes with a stand, mixing bowl and the 2 pairs of mixing hooks and whisks mentioned above. It is used for more heavy duty mixing than the hand-held electric mixer. It is very convenient to use since one doesn't have to hold it while mixing, just put the ingredients into the mixing bowl and start it. However, it should always be monitored while in use at all times. Stand-alone mixers are also easily available in major supermarkets in Kenya and kitchen appliance shops. They range from Kshs. 2,500 to 9,000 depending on size, quality or brand.
Stand alone Mixer (courtesy of lydiabakes.com)

11. Commercial Electric Mixer

 This  is a heavy duty bakery appliance that is used in commercial bakeries for mixing larger batches of batter. They range from counter top sizes that range from Kshs. 25,000 to Kshs. 50,000;

to larger floor set ups that cost from Kshs. 200,000 to Kshs. 400,000.
Heavy-duty Electric mixer-floor setup (zesco.com)

The counter-top types are not easily available in Kenya but can be found sometimes for sale when commercial bakeries have closed and are selling their fixed assets. They can also be purchased online on trading sites such as Alibaba. The larger floor set-ups are sold by factory and plant appliance vendors in Kenya such as Serviscope  Group Ltd. You can also search for second hand heavy duty mixers sold by commercial bakeries that have closed down or shop online.

Many of the above mentioned bakery mixing equipment can be found in major supermarkets like Nakumatt, Tuskys or Naivas supermarkets in Kenya among others. Bake-ware shops such as Walibhai Karim Ltd in Biashara Street in Nairobi CBD have the items as well. For kitchen electrical appliances, they can also be found in appliance shops such as LG Stores, Ramptons shops or shops such as Cute Kitchen Ltd in Nairobi CBD.

Any other additions, suggestions or questions are always welcome. 
Thanks and happy mixing and baking ^_^!

We offer baking classes if you would like to learn how to bake with a charcoal oven. You can also email us: info@amaribreads.co.ke or call/Text: 0707557091.

If you would like information on starting a baking business, you can get our book - "How to startup a small bakery business successfully" Click on this link for details on where it's stocked and pricing.


Thursday, 14 February 2013

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

A bit of Valentine’s Day History



Valentine’s Day is in a day and we’re sure that everyone has made plans with or for their loved ones ^_^. We decided to share a bit of history of this very popular day. It is a day that celebrates love and affection. It’s a day named after St. Valentine’s – so some people do call it “St. Valentine’s Day.”


St. Valentine is said to be a priest who, during the persecution of the Christians by the Romans, used to perform sacraments the Roman Empire had forbidden. He was especially famous for marrying soldiers in secret. He was imprisoned for doing so and it is said that while in jail; he healed the jailer’s daughter who some believe, he fell in love with. Before his execution, according to legendary stories, he wrote a letter to the jailer’s daughter and signed it, “From your Valentine” as a farewell to her.
St.Valentine

There are two more saints in Christian history with the same name and similar stories and are also celebrated saints in the church. Some churches observe February 14th as a liturgical celebration of these saints.

Valentine’s day is celebrated all over the world, however, it is not a public holiday so people still go to work and their businesses as well.

Due to the way Valentine addressed his letter to his love; most Valentine’s Day cards are signed to their special loved ones in the same manner. For example in schools in the U.S. or Canada, kids write Valentine cards to their friends and family and sign in the same manner. It is customary in many places to give Valentines (cards with love messages) to loved ones and chocolates or other sweet gifts as well. Valentine’s Day is a very popular among couples and married people, but it is also for friends and family since it’s a celebration of love and affection.
Valentine Card (cutevalentinesday.fav.cc)

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day wherever you are and whomever you are with. If you’re not sure what to buy your love one this season, check out our Valentine’s Day Gift ideas.
You can also order from any of our Red Velvet flavored products that are 5% off this whole month on our website.

Enjoy ^_^!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes recipe

We are going to share a recipe for our current flavor of the month Red Velvet. Our recipe for this week is Red Velvet Mini-cupcakes with butter cream frosting.

Ingredients:

  • 11/2c All-Purpose Flour
  • 11/2t Baking Powder
  • 1T Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2c Sugar
  • 1/2c Margarine
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1t Vanilla Essence
  • 1t White Vinegar
  • 1/2c Whole milk/Buttermilk
  • 2T Red Food liquid color OR 1t Red Color powder + 2T Water.
  • Butter cream Frosting recipe
  • (Option) Sprinkles for garnish.
Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

Directions:Preheat the oven to 375 ºF

1.) Prepare the mini muffin pan. You can use small cupcake liners or grease and flour the muffin cups if you're not using liners.
Greased & floured muffin pan

2.) Sift the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
3.)Combine the sugar and margarine a large mixing bowl. Cream the ingredients for about 3 minutes, then add the egg and beat until thoroughly mixed.
4.) In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, vanilla and red color.
Vanilla red color mixture

5.) Add the vanilla mixture into the creamed mixture and mix thoroughly.
6.)Add the flour & milk alternatively - three times, starting and ending with the flour. Mix thoroughly but do not over beat.
7.) Pour the batter into the muffin cups, fill 2/3 of the cup and place in the oven.
Red Velvet batter

8.) Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean.
9.) Remove the muffin pan from the oven and let cool for 3-5 minutes. Remove the mini-cupcakes from the pan and set on a cooling rack to cool.
Baked Red Velvet Mini Cupcakes

10.) Frost the cupcakes as you would like them and garnish with sprinkles.

We hope you enjoy this lovely recipe, make it at home for your loved ones as a treat for breakfast or dessert. They're yummy! Cheers ^_^!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Red - Color of the Season

This month, the most prominent color is red. This is obviously due to the fact that it's Valentine's season. We're seeing a lot of ladies wearing red outfits, rocking red nail polish and of course red shoes - very exciting ^_^!

We've decided to find out some meanings and uses of this very popular color and here's what we've got.


Color - Red

Feelings the color red evokes:

 It invokes feelings of love, passion, desire, sensitivity, romance, strength, leadership, courage, determination, vigor, will-power, danger, rage, stress, action and wrath.
Romance - (breathlessbooks.wordpress.com


Physical reactions it creates:

Causes elevated blood pressure, increased libido, increased respiration, energy and even confidence.

Representations:

The color red represents power and courage. It is used to focus attention and get people to make quick decision hence it's use in traffic lights, fire engines, stop signs etc.
Stop sign

It represents power hence it's use for a "red tie" worn with a suit or a red outfit in business. It's also used for VIPs with a "Red Carpet."

Meaning of Red in different cultures:

In China, red is used for good luck, happiness and prosperity. Traditional brides would wear red.
In Russia, it is associated with communism.
In South Africa, it is the color of mourning.
In Kenya, Red is used as one of the color in our flag to represent the blood shed while fighting for independence.
Kenyan flag


 Different shades or tints for the color red:

Maroon, Crimson, Scarlet, Rose, Brick, Rouge, Tomato Red etc.

This February, have fun with the color red, mix it up in any of your outfits; red tie, red pair of heels or a red purse. You can also order Red Velvet Cakes, Mini-cakes or Frosted Cupcakes from our website.
Buy a loved one a red rose and if you're single, buy yourself a rose anyway ^_^!

Have a lovely month ahead.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Origins of Red Velvet Flavor

Our Flavor of the month for February is Red Velvet. So we did some research on it to see if we could find the origins ^_^

Unfortunately there is no exact proven origin, however there are two main stories that tell of the beginning of this wonderful flavor.

The first is of a lady who went to The Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City around 1930s.
Waldorf Astoria in NYC
She ate a slice of Red Velvet cake from the hotel menu and truly enjoyed it. She later wrote to the chef in that hotel and asked for the recipe. She was sent the recipe and a bill, the amount is rumored to be from $100 - $200. She was outraged at the bill and to get back at the hotel, went sharing the recipe everywhere, even as a chain letter so as to spread the recipe to everyone. That is one version of the history of Red velvet.

The other version of the story is  that it was a secret recipe of a Lady Eaton, the owner of Eaton's Department store in Canada.
Eaton's store in Canada

It is said that they employees of the Bakery department of the store were sworn to silence by their employer as to the recipe of Red Velvet Cake. This is said to be around the 1950s.
As the various hotels and bakeries continued to sell the Red velvet cakes, people begun to slowly make their own versions of the cakes in their kitchens at home. It grew more popular in time.

Recently, Red velvet has gained popularity in different bakeries all over Nairobi, especially since Valentine's Day is around the corner. It is definitely a perfect flavor for the month of love ^_^
Amari Red Velvet Products

Make sure you order our Red Velvet products on our website. We have a monthly sale of 5% off on all of these items.

Enjoy this wonderful month and stay tuned for more information and Red Velvet recipes soon.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

6 Types of Icing used for Cake decoration in Kenya

Here at Amari, we offer only two types of frosting options currently-butter cream and whipped cream. However we have noticed some people are making inquiries on types of icings and may not be sure of the differences. We have decided to explain some of the icings that are generally used in Kenya for cakes for a better understanding of them. Of course there are many different types out there, we'll mention six of the more popular ones used.

 1. Buttercream Frosting:

 This is the main frosting that we use for our cakes and cupcakes. This type of frosting is made with icing sugar, liquid and shortening, butter or margarine. It is very popular because it's one of the best tasting frosting and looks great for most decorating projects.
One of Amari Chocolate cake with buttercream creations ^_^

 It can be made into a thin or stiff consistency depending of the amount of sugar used - more sugar makes it stiff. It remains soft enough on all types of cakes and even flower designs can be cut with a knife. However, this frosting melts if it is kept in very hot conditions so it is not good for outdoor events like weddings, etc. The frosting can be stored in an airtight container in a refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Amari Lemon Frosted cupcakes with buttercream frosting

2. Whipped Cream Frosting:

We offer this option of frosting for our cakes and cupcakes as well. It is creamy, delicate and sweet. This type of frosting is used made with icing sugar and whipping cream. Color can also be added but it works well with pastel colors only e.g. light purple, pink etc. It can be used on all kinds of cakes especially those decorated with fruits. It is very good for borders and large tip cake decoration. It is of a lighter consistency and should be used immediately if possible. The iced cake or cupcakes must be refrigerated if they'll not be used immediately. the cream frosting remains soft on cakes. This frosting is also not good for cakes used for outdoor events.
Whipped Cream (courtesy: pixelatedcrumb.com)

3. Glazes

This is the simplest form of icing. It is made with icing sugar and a liquid mixed to form a thin consistency. It is poured and drizzled on all types of cakes, cupcakes or cookies.
Home-made Glazed chocolate cupcakes

A good example of recipes with a type of glaze are Sugar cookies or Lemon drizzle cake. Glaze forms a shiny hard crust when it sets. Melted chocolate on its own can be a glaze as well.

 

4. Royal Icing

 This type of frosting made from scratch uses icing sugar, egg whites and liquid. An easier way is to use meringue powder and liquid (unfortunately meringue powder is not so easily available in Nairobi). Proper constituency of this icing is of pancake batter. When making this icing use grease free tools, any contact with grease will prevent peaks from forming. This icing dries candy-hard for lasting decoration. It is used for flower making, figure piping, making flowers on wire and decorating cookies.
 It can also be used on most cakes, however since it dries and hardens fast, you must work with it quickly. It is good for most climates since it sets hard and doesn't melt under a lot of heat.
Royal Icing (courtesy of foodnetwork.com)

 5. Rolled Fondant

This type of icing is a combination of icing sugar, corn syrup, gelatin and food grade glycerine to make it pliable. It can also be made of icing sugar and melted marsh mellows. It is used on cakes with a firm structure like Pound cake or Fruit cake. It gives cake a smooth, sleek texture when finished and holds up very well. It can withstand high levels of heat and is therefore used a lot in outdoor events and occasions. It is particularly popular for wedding cakes with elaborate designs like bows and ribbons. However, not many people enjoy the texture when they eat it, it's chewy. It has a dough-like consistency that is rolled out before covering the cake. A butter cream or ganache layer (see below) is used on the cake before covering the cake with fondant. You can knead in the flavor or color preferred on the fondant. It stays semi-soft on cakes but it cannot be refrigerated or frozen.
Rolled fondant (www.wilton.com)

6. Ganaches

This is a french term for chocolate melted with heavy cream. It is used on cakes and cookies and gives them a shiny, beautiful glaze.
You can make truffles if you beat until fluffy and stiff then form into balls. You can also chill the ganache, beat it and frost a cake with it.

Cake with Ganache (courtesy: allrecipes.com)

We hope this information has helped you get a better understanding of some of the different types of icing used on baked products. Any additions on the topic are always welcome ^_^!