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Tuesday, 26 March 2013

4 helpful tips on baking with Chocolate and Cocoa Powder

For our "Tips on Tuesday" feature today, we're sharing 4 tips to use while baking with cooking chocolate and/ or cocoa powder.

These are great tips for your chocolate recipes.

CHOCOLATE

1. Melting Chocolate

Chocolate scorches easily, so it should be melted carefully and gently. It should be melted over hot water using a double-boiler
Double Boiler (courtesy: fantes.com)

or make-shift one with 2 cooking pans or sufurias.
Home-made Double boiler (bakingbites.com)

Take a medium pan and boil hot water in it, switch off the heat and set aside. Place another pan on top of the one with hot water, make sure it doesn't enter inside the pan with water. The top pan's base should be slightly larger than the top of the bottom pan, the top pan should not come in contact with the hot water.
Place the chopped, grated or small blocks of cooking chocolate into the top pan and give it some time to start melting. Slowly stir with a wooden spoon until the chocolate is melted; it's now ready for use.
Melted chocolate (courtesy:tipnut.com)

2. Storing Chocolate

Chocolate is delicate and absorbs moisture and odors easily. Store it in a cool, dry place away from light and heat. The ideal storage temperature for chocolate is 12 to 20 degrees Celsius.

Cooking Chocolate (recipes.howstuffworks.com)

COCOA POWDER

3. Add more liquid

When baking with cocoa powder; if you make a chocolate cake from a white cake recipe base, you should increase the liquid in the recipe. This is because the cocoa powder is high in fiber and starch, it absorbs moisture.
Cocoa powder (courtesy:davidlebovitz.com)

4. Substituting Cocoa powder in place of baking chocolate

If you want to bake using a chocolate recipe that calls for cooking or baking chocolate but have none in your kitchen; you can substitute chocolate with cocoa powder. Here is how:
Combine: 3T Cocoa powder
               1T Butter/Margarine or Vegetable Oil
This makes an equivalent of 1 ounce of baking chocolate.

We hope these few tips will help you with your chocolate cake, cupcake and cookie recipes.

If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to comment below, thank you ^_^

To learn how to bake chocolate cake and other delicious baked products. Visit our Baking Classes Webpage, email us: bakingclasses@amaribakery.co.ke or Call/Text: 0707557091.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

7 Helpful tips to use while mixing ingredients for cake batter

For our "Tips on Tuesday" feature today, we're going to share helpful tips on the process of mixing batter in preparation for baking a cake or cupcakes

These tips will come in handy while cake mixing to avoid some common troubles that occur while baking.


1. Measure out all your ingredients before starting to mix.

Make sure all your dry and wet ingredients are all ready and measured before starting the mixing process. When mixing cake batter, it is advisable to start and end the mixing process as fast as possible without pausing in-between.  This is because if you leave the batter to stay in a mixing bowl, it starts to loose the bubbles that make the cake soft and fluffy. This could result in a heavy textured cake.
So ensure that you have measured all your dry ingredients like baking powder, flour, cocoa powder etc. As well as your fat ( butter, margarine or shortening etc), sugar, liquids and any other ingredients required as well.
Measuring cup (courtesy: thegreenhead.com)

2. All your ingredients should be at room temperature, unless the recipe instructs otherwise.

Ensure that your ingredients are at room temperature, if you have products you're using and they're in refrigerated storage; remove them before you start preparation. These ingredients include; eggs, milk, butter, cream and other liquids you may require. These ingredients need to be at room temperature so they can be well incorporated with the creamed ingredients by mixing well and evenly e.g. eggs. If eggs are too cold, they might break apart and not hold well with the creamed mixture.
Room temperature Eggs

Margarine or butter should also be soft at room temperature but not too hot as to melt for it cannot be creamed well if it's melted and runny.
Room temp Margarine (foodsubs.com)

3. Sifting of the dry ingredients.

Before sifting dry ingredients like flour, baking powder or soda and cocoa powder; make sure to first measure the ingredients to exact amounts first. Then sift the ingredients into the batter or into a bowl.
Sifted flour with cocoa powder

4. Creaming your ingredients

When creaming, beat the butter or margarine for at least 5 minutes to get lots of air into the fat, then add the sugar gradually and cream well again.

5. Incorporating eggs into the creamed mixture.

If you would like your cake to be extra fluffy after you bake it. You can use a different method to incorporate the eggs into your batter. Separate the eggs, egg yolk from the egg white. Then beat yolks in a separate bowl until golden and creamy, then add the yolks into your creamed mixture of sugar and fat. After incorporating the other specified ingredients, beat egg whites in a separate bowl until light and frothy. Fold the egg whites into the batter mixture lightly and then pour batter into your baking pan.
Separated eggs (courtesy: tastespotting.com)

6. If your recipe calls for sticky ingredients such as molasses, honey or peanut butter.

For these ingredients, lightly grease the measuring cup with a bit of oil and the ingredients will come off easier after measuring.
Peanut butter in margarine & sugar mix

7. Filling batter into the baking pan

After you have prepared your batter, fill it 1/2 to 3/4 full into the pan to allow for even rising. For cupcakes and muffins, fill the batter 2/3 full. For cakes and fruit breads, fill the pan 1/2 to 2/3 full depending on recipe instructions. For roulades such as swiss rolls, the pan used can be filled 3/4 full.
You can fill the cake pan 1/2 full for even rising
We hope these tips will be helpful in your home-baking projects.

 If you have any tips or questions you would like to share or ask, please feel free to comment below.

If you want to learn how to bake with us, please visit our Baking Class webpage, email us: bakingclasses@amaribakery.co.ke or Call/Text: 0707557091.

Thanks ^_^

Monday, 18 March 2013

Working hard to be the most helpful Baking blog in Kenya

Here at Amari we have a passion for baking. We also love sharing that passion to help others in Kenya who love, not only eating wonderful baked products (^_^), but also creating them. That is why we are continuously working very hard towards being a helpful baking blog in Kenya. 

How do we do this? Well:

1. Sharing recipes on fun and delicious cakes, fruit breads, muffins, cookies and frosting.

  We share recipes that we try ourselves and explain in very easy steps (pictures included ^_^).
We share pics on how we mix for our recipes ^_^

2. Offering helpful baking tips that will be useful in your home-baking projects.

Baking is an exact science and recipes should be followed exactly as directed. However just like any other craft, there are helpful tips that can help make your baking experience easier and have even better results. We share the tips we know with you, even as we ourselves continue to learn everyday ^_^!
Tips on all things baking!

3. Sharing information on necessary baking equipment in Kenya for use in your home kitchen or to start a small commercial bakery.

For those who would like to start baking at home or would like to know more about baking equipment, we share information on the required equipment for different baking purposes.
Information on all kinds of baking pans & their uses.

4. Sharing information on where to purchase baking equipment and some hard to find ingredients in Nairobi.

We know it might not be so easy to find some of the baking equipment required to bake as well as some specific ingredients used in recipes. Since we are based in Nairobi, we share information on vendors that we know who sell the required items.

5. Sharing fun facts, pictorials or any updates from our awesome training bakery workshop in Nairobi.

 We also love sharing, with our fans and customers, any fun facts we might discover on any topics concerning baking, pictorials on our baking projects, as well as any important changes or updates within Amari Quickbreads Bakery.
Updates on our products & many more

We are continuously grateful for the support, feedback and love we get from our fans and supporters. We  want to always work hard to be very helpful and share will all the people out there, especially in Kenya, who have a passion for baking like we do.  So continue to follow our blog, if you haven't signed up to do so, please make sure you subscribe to our new blog on Wordpress via email.
Also make sure you like our social media pages; on Facebook and Twitter for updates on all we're up to.
Pinterest for totally delish pics to follow and pin on your boards.

Thanks and as always, Happy Baking ^_^!   
 

Friday, 15 March 2013

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting Recipe for Flavor Friday

Today is Flavor Friday so we're going to share a recipe with Chocolate in it since it's our flavor of the month this March. ^_^

Today we're sharing a Chocolate butter cream frosting recipe, it can be used on cakes or cupcakes.


Chocolate Butter cream Frosting

Ingredients:

* 11/2C Icing Sugar
* 1/4C Margarine (or unsalted Butter)
* 2T Whole milk/Butter milk
* 1t Vanilla Essence
* 3T Cocoa powder.

Directions:

1. Sift the icing sugar in a medium bowl, then add the cocoa powder and sift as well, set aside.
Sifting icing sugar & cocoa powder

2. In a large mixing bowl combine the margarine or butter and cream for a few minutes, add the icing sugar mixture and continue to cream.
3. Add the vanilla & milk gradually to the mixture and continue to mix until it's a preferred texture.
Chocolate frosting

4. The frosting is ready to be used on a cake or cupcakes, or stored in an air-tight container until use for up to 7 days.
Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting ^_^

Enjoy your frosting ^_^!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Baking Ovens in Kenya - Baking Equipment in Kenya Explained

For our Tips on Tuesday feature, we're sharing tips to help you with home baking equipment. 

This is our fourth post on our Baking in Kenya Explained series. You can also check out our other posts on Baking pans, Mixing tools and Cake decorating tools.

 

Today we will highlight types of ovens for baking.

1. Charcoal Ovens

Charcoal ovens have grown in popularity in Kenya. They are less expensive, low maintenance and if you purchase an original one from Cookswell Jikos - they save energy. They are good for use in a home or even commercial bakeries due to low over-head costs. We at Amari use a commercial Cookswell Charcoal oven ^_^
Cookwell's Charcoal Ovens (courtesy:kenyacharcoal.blogspot.com)

They are available and range from Kshs. 10,000 (smaller sizes) to Kshs. 50,000 for large sizes. You can buy them directly from the company that makes them - Cookwells Energy Saving Jikos, visit their blog for more information. They give you tips on making your own charcoal with their kilns and show you different ways their ovens are used at home and for business.

2. Electric Mini-Ovens

Mini-ovens are a great idea if you are a bacholorette (or bachelor) who only bakes for one ^_^. It's also great if you are just starting out and only bake a little. They are easily found in major supermarkets like Tuskys and Nakumatt. They range from Kshs. 8,000 to 12,000. You can also find them in kitchen-ware appliances stores like LG or Ramptons. You can check for the mini-ovens in such stores in Nairobi CBD.
Mini Electric Oven (courtesy:mykoreankitchen.com)


3. Electric and Gas Kitchen Cooker/Ovens

Cookers come with an oven section at the bottom. A lot of people have the cookers in their kitchen but rarely use them. They are good for use once in a while if you want to bake for your family. They can be found in major supermarkets that sell appliances like Tuskys or Nakumatt. You can also find them in kitchen appliance stores like LG, Ramptons or stores like Cute Kitchen in the Nairobi CBD. They range from Kshs. 30,000 to 100,000 depending on brand and quality.
Kitchen oven cooker (courtesy: boots.com)

4. Commercial Electric and Gas Ovens

Large commercial bakeries use commercial ovens that use either gas or electricity. They are good for very large scale baking purposes. There are different types; deck, rack, rotary types and many more. For large plant equipment in Kenya, they can be purchased from companies like Serviscope EA Ltd. Their prices begin at Kshs. 90,000 and above.
Commercial Bakery Oven (fbmbakingmachines.com)
Hope this was helpful, if you have any questions or additions, please feel free to comment below.

Happy baking wonderful people ^_^!

If you want to learn how to bake with a charcoal oven, we offer baking classes at our Riruta location.
Visit baking classes page for more details.
You can also email us:info@amaribreads.co.ke or Call/Text: 0707557091.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Marble Cupcakes Recipe for Flavor Friday

Our flavor of the month this March is Chocolate. Since we started our "Flavor Friday" feature where we highlight a recipe of the flavor of the month, this week we're going to share a very delicious recipe for Marble Cupcakes.


They are truly delicious, we loved them, hope you do too ^_^

Marble Cupcakes

Marble Cupcakes

Ingredients:

- 2 C All-Purpose flour
- 2 t Baking powder
- 3/4 C Margarine
- 3/4 C Sugar
- 1 t Vanilla Essence
- 2 T Cocoa Powder
- 1 Large Egg
- 1 C Whole Milk/Buttermilk
* 12 cupcake liners (or you can just grease & flour the pans).

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
2. Flour and grease two muffin pans or if you have liners, line the pan with them.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder in a medium pan and set aside.
4. Cream the sugar and margarine for about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the egg and beat for another 2 minutes, then add the vanilla and mix.
5. Add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with the flour - three times. Mix until well incorporated. Do not over-mix.
6. Divide the batter into two equal parts, in one bowl sift the cocoa powder into the white batter and mix briefly until well incorporated. Your batters are now ready.
Vanilla Batter
Chocolate Batter
7. Spoon the batters into the pans or cup liners and fill approximately 2/3 each. Spoon each batter on one side of the liner equally.
Spoon both batters into the liners

8. Place the pans into the oven and bake for about 35 minutes or until toothpick or skewer inserted comes out clean.
9. Remove from oven and let cool in the pans for at least 2 minutes, then remove the cupcakes from the pans onto a cooling rack and let them cool for at least 20 minutes.

Enjoy the cupcakes! If you would like, you can frost them with butter cream frosting.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

How to incorporate 10 unique ingredients into your batter

We want to share some home baking tips on how to incorporate 10 unique and fun ingredients into your batter to make your baked products even more delicious and irresistible ^_^


    1. Dried Fruits

If you want to make fruit cake or fruit bread, you would require dried fruits. Before preparation and mixing, make sure you soak the required amount of dried fruits, at least 30 minutes before use, in a bowl with water, tea or alcohol; depending on the liquid the recipe calls for. You can also soak them overnight for maximum effect. After mixing the batter, fold in the dried fruits last with a wooden spoon or spatula and then pour in the prepared baking pan.  
Assortment of Dried fruits
 2. Grated Vegetables


If you’re baking a carrot cake or a cake with grated beets in it, you will require the vegetables to be grated before adding them into the batter. After you have creamed all the required ingredients, simply fold in the grated vegetable gently with a wooden spoon until well mixed. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake as instructed.

Grated Beetroot

   3. Dried Herbs

If you’re baking a quick bread or cookies and you would like to add herbs into them, it is preferable to use dried herbs. Chop them into small pieces and fold them with a wooden spoon after mixing your batter or cookie dough. However, if the recipe calls for a different method it should be followed. An example for lavender cookies would be to start by incorporating the butter or margarine and lavender leaves and/or florets first to get maximum flavor. 
Dried herbs (courtesy: tallgrassdesign.blogspot.com)

4. Chocolate Chips or Grated Chocolate

If you want to make some Chocolate chip cookies, you will need chocolate chips in the cookie dough, or if you have a block of cooking chocolate - you can grate some of it for the chocolate pieces. After mixing the cookie dough, add the chocolate chips or grated chocolate last with a wooden spoon before shaping the dough into cookies on the baking sheet. You can also fold the chocolate chips/grated chocolate into a Pancake, Cake or quick bread batter if you want to sweeten your recipe with some chocolate.

Chocolate Chips

    5. Fruit Rind (e.g. Lemon, Lime & Orange rind)



For a fruit cake or quick bread recipe, especially if it involves citrus fruits, the rind is also used to enhance flavor. The best way to incorporate the rind is to mix it with the required amount of sugar in a bowl a few minutes before using it. This is a great baking tip that will help you get great end results. However if you are not using sugar, you can add it as specified in your recipe, or fold it in the batter or dough lastly before baking.
Grated Orange rind (courtesy: www.123rf.com)


6.  Fresh Fruits (e.g. Fresh berries, Chopped apples, etc)


If you want to add fresh fruit in your recipe, the first thing is to make sure you wash the fruits thoroughly. In most recipes, fresh fruit is folded last into the batter gently with a wooden spoon. Sometimes the fruits, like berries, sink to the bottom of the pan. To avoid this you can sprinkle them with a bit of flour after gently patting them dry. This will ensure they don’t sink all the way to the bottom in the batter. If a recipe calls for fruits to be incorporated into the batter in a different way; an example being in our featured Apple mini-cake recipe, it should be followed as instructed.

Chopped Apples


  7.  Fresh Fruit juices (e.g. Orange juice, lime or lemon juice etc)


While making some citrus fruit cake or fruit breads like Lemon or Orange cakes, freshly squeezed juice adds more flavor and authenticity towards the end product (we do this with our Lemon and Orange Fruit breads and Cakes). Squeeze the fruits and set the fruit juice aside. The flavor is usually mixed in the final stage of preparation after creaming. When the dry ingredients, flour and baking powder, are being mixed into the creamed mixture, the liquid is added at the same time alternately with the flour mixture. This is when the fruit juice should be mixed in, sometimes preferably mixed with another liquid like milk, alcohol, water etc.
Orange Juice (wikipedia.org)

 8. Pureed/ Mashed Fresh fruits (e.g. Ripe bananas, Butternut pumpkins, Sweet potatoes etc.)


Sometimes a recipe calls for incorporating fruits or even vegetables that have to be mashed or pureed to be used. An example would be a Banana bread recipe, a sweet potato cake or a pumpkin pie. When the fruits or veggies are mashed, they should be mixed in right after creaming the sugar and fat. The rest of the ingredients follow to complete the batter before baking. 
Our Banana Bread ^_^

  9. Melted Chocolate


If you’re making a chocolate cake or brownies and you want to add the chocolate flavor, cooking chocolate is used in the recipes. After melting the chocolate in a double boiler, it should be added into the creamed mixture. However, if the recipe called for a different mixing method like melting and mixing of all ingredients through heating them, it should be followed accordingly. 

Melted Chocolate
 10. Nuts (e.g. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pecans etc)


Nuts are a great way of adding flavor and changing up a regular recipe to make it a true favorite. Nuts should be already peeled, cleaned and chopped into small pieces - unless the recipe calls for another mixing method. They should then be folded into the batter or cookie dough lastly before forming into balls or pouring into the baking pan. They can also be used as a garnish, after batter has been poured into a baking pan, they can be lined on top, especially large nuts full or halved, such as pecans or almonds, for a lovely visual effect.


Pecans (Courtesy: www.robertscottbell.com)


We hope this was helpful and if you have any questions about incorporating any ingredients not mentioned above into your recipe while baking at home, please feel free to ask.

Happy baking lovely people ^_^

Want to learn how to bake with us, or freshen up your baking skills? Sign up for our Cake making & Decorating class on our website
You can email us: bakingclasses@amaribakery.co.ke or call/text: 0707557091.



Tuesday, 5 March 2013

History of Chocolate

As we mentioned last week, this month’s Flavor of the month is Chocolate. 

We’ve decided to give a brief history of the flavor, to better understand how rich its history is and how much it was a much utilized flavor.

The use of cocoa beans is traced back in parts of early South America to 1900 B.C. It was utilized mainly by Mayan and Aztec cultures in religious events as well as royal events.
Myans & Aztecs (whatischia.org)

 Priests offered cacao seeds to the gods and chocolate drinks were served in sacred ceremonies. The seed were so valuable that the Aztecs required areas they had conquered to pay taxes with cacao seeds as a tribute.
Cocoa Seeds (blog.soliditytrade.com)

The cocoa seeds were then introduced to the Spanish and they refined the bittersweet chocolate drink with sugar and milk around 1529. Chocolate was then introduced to the French court around 1615 and it became very popular in French courts from Paris to the rest of France. The chocolate craze spread throughout Europe to London where the first chocolate shop was opened in 1657. By 1730, the steam engine had been perfected and was used to grind the cocoa seed to make chocolate more efficiently.
Chocolate drink (www.telegraph.co.uk)

 By 1755, chocolate had reached the U.S. it gained popularity and different products were created including milk chocolate.
Dairy Milk Chocolate (www.mnn.com)

 Chocolate is one of the most popular used flavor in baked goods, drinks, food and candies in the world. We are no exception since we love using it in our products which or on sale this month ^_^
Amari Death by Chocolate Frosted Cupcakes

Although cocoa was originally grown in America, currently Western Africa produces about two thirds of the cocoa grown worldwide. 

Stay tuned for chocolate recipes coming soon and enjoy our Chocolate Season ^_^