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Cream of Tartar – the Secret to a Perfect Pavlova Cake

Cream of Tartar – the Secret to a Perfect Pavlova Cake

Who has heard of Pavlova? The cake that sounds like the last name of some Russian woman actually is the last name of a Russian woman!

It was invented in New Zealand or Australia (there’s a dispute between them regarding this cake) and named after the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova, who visited both countries in the 1920s.

What is Pavlova Cake?

 

This recipe composed of meringue with fruit and cream is a perfect solution for emergency situations. Have a bunch of people coming to your house tonight but you’ve forgotten to buy dessert? Need something that looks mind-blowing but requires minimum skills? Pavlova cake is just the thing you need. Pavlova and cream of tartar, of course.

There are many reasons you should make this cake. First of all, it looks incredible – pillow-y and graceful, just like a ballerina.

Pavlova is also economical, even when you need to feed a crowd. One cake can serve about 15-20 people and it will cost you approximately a dollar per person! Ain’t it great?

Pavlova is very easy to make and quite adjustable, without any special ingredients (except for cream of tartar, which is a must). Even the use of fruits is flexible: in Australia and New Zealand, passion fruit, kiwi, and strawberries are most commonly used. In the States, people seem to favor berries. But who is to stop you if you decide to go with entirely different fruit options?

Where Does Cream of Tartar Fit in Pavlova Cake Recipes

 

Traditionally, Pavlova cake is made with a French meringue. Meringues are very simple in their core – egg whites beaten with sugar and then baked. The baking is at low temperature and lasts for an hour, resulting in a light, crispy exterior, and creamy, fluffy interior. This is the ideal situation. However, contrary to popular belief, meringues are quite easy to mess up.

Enter cream of tartar. Hard meringues, like the French version, usually contain an acidic ingredient such as cream of tartar, which acts as a stabilizer. This means that cream of tartar keeps the meringue from deflating. In addition, it keeps the eggs white and bright, which is certainly important for the final appearance of the cake. Optionally, you can use cream of tartar substitutes such as lemon juice or white vinegar. However, bear in mind that cream of tartar substitutes produce slightly different results.

I highly recommend that you buy a packet of cream of tartar and keep it in your pantry. It is inexpensive, you can use it in different recipes, and it will last for a very long time (it has an indefinite shelf life)!

Pavlova Cake Recipe Step by Step

 

Here are the ingredients you need to make a pavlova cake.

For the meringue:

  • 6 egg whites
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

 

Step 1: Making the French Meringue

Besides cream of tartar to stabilize the egg-white foam, the type of sugar and sugar-to-egg ratio are also important when making meringues. The best type is superfine sugar because it dissolves more easily when whipped. As for the amount, hard meringues like the one required in pavlova cake, call for ¼ cup per egg white.

To take your meringue to another level, use a total of six eggs and heavy cream. The final result will be incredibly rich and marshmallowy. Optionally, flavor the meringue with vanilla, orange or rose blossom water (a teaspoon is enough) or even booze. You can add a bit of bourbon to the mixture (1-2 shots) but in this case, expect a bit longer whipping. Oh, and don’t worry, your kids can still have a slice of this boozy cake; the amount is quite low and most of it will evaporate during baking.

Step 2: Making the Cream

The cream in this cake is a no-brainer. It’s actually plain whipped cream, but you’re not going for plain things here, are you? You can turn ordinary cream into extraordinary by adding maple syrup, cinnamon, orange or lemon zest, or even herbs like mint. But my favorite cream is definitely the chocolate one!

Here is how to make a chocolate cream: dissolve half a cup of cocoa in two cups liquid cream, then whisk until well incorporated. To make the pavlova even better, combine the whipped cream with crème fraîche, sour cream, or soft cheese like mascarpone or ricotta.

Note: Use the stabilizing and whitening properties of cream of tartar when preparing the cream as well, by adding a 1/8 teaspoon to the mixture before whipping.

Step 3: Adding the Fruit

The addition of fruit gives the cake a tangy note that pairs beautifully with the creaminess and sweetness of the base.

As mentioned before, berries are always a good choice (I favor strawberries and cranberries) but citrus fruits like grapefruit or blood orange produce an even better-pronounced contrast of flavors. Consider also apples and pears caramelized in a little butter, plums, or even pomegranate.

Step 4: Toppings

A basic pavlova cake is made up of three elements: meringue, cream, and fruit. But adding some sauce won’t do any harm. On the contrary! You can add various molasses & syrups or nuts for crunchiness. My personal favorite is pistachios but I sometimes use almonds too.

Here is a recipe for my favorite sauce made with berries, which actually unites the obligatory use of fruit with the optional use of sauce!

Ingredients:

  • 1 package frozen berries
  • 1 tablespoon cherry brandy
  • 1/4 cup sugar

Preparation: Make the sauce by simmering the berries, brandy, and sugar together for about 20 minutes. Let it cool before placing it on top of the cake. That’s it!

Baking the Pavlova Cake

 

Here are some basic tips and tricks that will help you make a perfect Pavlova cake every time.

Step 5: Preparing the Baking Sheet

Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to facilitate the meringue removal. If the baking sheet is rimmed, turn it upside down and bake the meringue on the other side.

When you put the meringue on the baking sheet, form a shallow hole in the center of the meringue to form a little ‘nest’ for the fruits after baking.

Bear in mind that the cake will expand during baking so make sure to leave some space on all sides.

Step 6: Baking the Cake

During baking, try not to check the cake by opening the oven door too often. Temperature changes caused by letting cold air inside will make your meringue crack and look less appealing (this won’t affect the taste, though). However, even if the meringue cracks, don’t fret; the cake is covered in whipped cream and fruit anyway. Being messy suits this cake (very unlike a ballerina J)

Ideally, the Pavlova cake should be light in color. So, if you notice the cake is going brown on the surface, lower the oven temperature.

Step 7: After Baking

Once your cake is baked, let it cool completely before topping. Keep it in the oven, with the door closed to avoid cracking or take the cake out of the oven and cover it with aluminum foil.

I love that the meringue for Pavlova can be made a day or two in advance. You just add the cream and fruit when you’re ready to serve.

In case of leftovers, store in a container after breaking up any larger chunks of meringue. Keep in the fridge until the following day.

What’s your favorite pavlova cake recipe?

 

I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!

The Ultimate Guide to Making Perfect Oatmeal Pancakes

The Ultimate Guide to Making Perfect Oatmeal Pancakes

The first association for oatmeal, at least for me, is ‘healthy’. I have read so many articles and recipes on pancakes that use oats instead of regular flour that I simply had to make one. I had no idea oatmeal pancakes tasted so good!

To be fair, the ones I made were not plain regular oatmeal flapjacks. I spiced things up a little bit by toasting the oats and browning the butter (oh, yeah!). One might assume that oatmeal pancakes are not as soft and fluffy as the classic American pancakes we all adore. Well, one might be wrong! With a few tips and tricks up the sleeve, you can make the best oatmeal pancakes ever!

Oatmeal Pancakes Recipe

Wanna make light and fluffy pancakes with nutty flavor?  Try toasted oats,

tangy buttermilk, and browned butter all in one amazing recipe. Toasting the oats make the most of the oats’ flavor, whereas browning the butter will add even more nuttiness and depth to the recipe. The perfect combination of wet and dry ingredients results in the fluffiest and softest pancakes you’ve ever seen.

Let’s start with the ingredients and move step by step.

Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup steel cut oats
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • vegetable oil (or butter) for cooking
  • maple syrup, for topping

The Oats

The first question to answer is ‘How much oats are enough’? I replace part of the regular flour with oats ground in a blender or coffee machine. Use a scale to make sure you substitute the right amount of all-purpose flour with oats. If you don’t own one, consider buying it because that is one of the most useful kitchen gadgets you’ll ever have.

Next question is ‘What type of oats are the best?’ There are three main varieties sold in grocery stores:

–    Rolled oats that have been processed through steel rollers in order to flatten them and turn them into flakes;

–    Steel cut oats that have been cut without flattening and take the longest to cook;

–    Instant oats that have been partially cooked and then dehydrated again.

I vote for the steel cut oats because, even though they take more time to cook than the other two types, taste the best. However, all oat types have a mild taste. If you really want to feel their taste in the pancakes, adding more oats to the batter is not the solution. On the contrary, it will result in denser and chewier flapjacks. In addition, unlike regular flour, oats have no ability to form gluten; hence too much oats can ruin your pancake’s structure, i.e. you’ll end up with flapjacks that fall apart.

So, how do you enhance the oats’ flavor? By toasting them before grinding! Just place the oats in a skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning. This should take about five minutes until the oats become flavorful and nutty.

Due to the fact that oats have no gluten, you might want to increase the amount of baking powder in the pancake recipe. This will ensure the pancakes have structure but will also help them rise and become fluffy. To be more precise, add half a teaspoon of baking soda and two teaspoons of baking powder.

Other Ingredients

To balance the sweet and savory flavor, add ½ teaspoon of table salt (or a teaspoon of kosher salt) in addition to the 3 tablespoons of sugar.

As for the wet ingredients, combine two large eggs with two cups of buttermilk. This will yield a rather thick batter which results in extra-light flapjacks. If you don’t have buttermilk, make it at home by adding a tablespoon of lemon juice into a cup of regular milk. Leave it for five minutes and voila! your homemade buttermilk is ready!

There are a few more secrets to make your pancakes super-fluffy. Besides using buttermilk, whose acidity is the first step towards fluffiness, you should take care not to overmix the batter.

Overmixing will encourage the development of gluten which can make the griddlecakes dense and tough. Mix until the ingredients are just combined. A few lumps here and there are not only acceptable but highly desirable!

 

Cooking Oatmeal Pancakes – Pro Tips

To cook your oatmeal pancakes, choose a steel griddle or a heavy pan.

To make your flapjacks are evenly golden brown, without any spots and splotches, make sure you use the right amount of oil or butter to grease the pan.

If you use very small amount of oil, the batter will stick to the pan’s bottom and possibly burn before you have a chance to release it. On the other hand, if you add too much oil or butter, the pancake batter will not stick at all causing bubbles to for at the bottom of the flapjacks. These bubbles will lift parts of the pancake and result in those unwanted spots.

The best way to grease the pan is by using a paper towel dipped in oil. Or, pour the oil and then wipe the excess before you start adding the batter.

I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!

Heart-Healthy Pancake Recipes

Heart-Healthy Pancake Recipes

Can pancakes be good for your heart? They can if you think outside the box. Stop regarding pancakes as sugar-loaded sweet treats. The era of ignorance is behind us – today we know how to adjust each and every meal we consume so that it fits our needs.

When it comes to pancakes, in order to make them better for you, start by replacing sugar with a natural sweetener like stevia or pure honey. Also, get rid of the white refined flour and switch to whole wheat. And finally, stop using refined vegetable oils and opt for healthier, cold-pressed varieties like coconut and olive oil.

Pack Your Pancakes with Potassium

The heart-healthy ingredient to include in your quick and easy pancake recipes is potassium.

Besides being very important for normal functioning of the heart by lowering high blood pressure, this essential mineral helps maintain electrolyte and fluid balance in the body. Moreover, it keeps kidneys, brain, and muscles in good shape!

One potassium-rich ingredient found in almost all pancake recipes is yogurt. Plain yogurt is often added to the batter to make the flapjacks softer, moister, and fluffier (3/4 cup). Besides potassium, it also contributes extra calcium and vitamin D.

Sweet Heart-Healthy Pancake Recipes

Avocado

Avocado is considered a superfruit for a reason. On top of all the nutrients, it also contains high levels of potassium. In fact, there is no food richer in potassium than avocado! Adding a mashed avocado into the batter will not only make the flapjacks healthier but will also contribute silky and creamy texture!

Banana

You will find banana is almost all healthy pancake recipes. Due to its dense texture, mashed banana is often used as a flour substitute in the batter (often combined with oatmeal or egg whites to boost the protein content). This yellow fruit also acts as a natural sweetener.

Apricot

You can use fresh or dried apricots in the batter (1/3 cup should suffice). They work very well when paired with nuts (especially almonds) and spices like cinnamon or cardamom.

Apricots, similar to peaches, also pair great with booze, bourbon and rum in particular. You can make this pairing by adding a ¼ cup of alcohol into the batter or soaking the fruits in it beforehand (for about half an hour). Most of the alcohol will evaporate during cooking so don’t worry, your kids can safely devour these flapjacks.

Savory Heart-Healthy Pancake Recipes

Spinach

We all know how healthy spinach is. And what better way to sneak spinach into your kids than flapjacks? Make a stack of savory flapjacks for a change by mixing this leafy green with potatoes and onion, then top with crispy bacon slices.

Sweet Potato

Add some color to your flapjacks! Mashed sweet potatoes can serve as a base for both sweet and savory pancakes – add some spices and sweetener to satisfy your sweet tooth or mix them with onions and serve with sour cream on top for a light lunch.

I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!

How to Incorporate Flaxseed in Your Banana Bread Recipes

How to Incorporate Flaxseed in Your Banana Bread Recipes

When a creative cook meets the wannabe fit mom in me… Before you let your imagination loose, let me just finish the thought 😊 Experiments in my kitchen are inspired by my desire to feed my kids healthy and me wanting to keep in shape. This is not an easy task, especially when it comes to sweet treats.

I love making simple and easy things, hence banana bread is often in the repertoire. I have managed to make our fav breakfast/dessert much healthier by simply replacing sugar with stevia and using whole wheat instead of regular refined flour.

After perfecting the recipe, I started contemplating about add-ins. Fruits are the first choice, of course, but in case you get bored, I recommend seeds.

Don’t know where to start? This post is here to help you.

Flaxseed Banana Bread Recipe

Flaxseed is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, dietary fiber, vitamins, and essential minerals. It improves digestion, rejuvenates skin, reduces bad cholesterol levels, restores hormonal balance, lowers cancer risk. Moreover, flaxseed can help you reduce and maintain weight by reducing sugar cravings!

You can include toasted whole flax seeds to give your banana bread a crunchy and a nutty twist but, in baked goods, flaxseed is commonly consumed ground because more easily digestible in that form; otherwise, it can pass through the organism undigested. You can find ground flaxseed in the supermarkets or you can use a coffee grinder to grind them at home.

Flaxseed pairs very well with all sorts of nuts in banana bread recipes, but it also ‘loves’ raisins and spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Healthy chocolate banana bread? This one is my favorite! Combine a ¼ cup of flaxseed with ½ cup whole wheat flour to form the base and add a 1/2 cup of cocoa powder plus a ½ cup dark chocolate chips into the batter to achieve the chocolate taste. Cocoa and dark chocolate are very good for you. They contain antioxidants which help improve heart health and boost your mood. Do I need to mention the divine taste?

Flaxseed is also used to make flax eggs. This is perfect for vegans, people allergic to chicken eggs, or those that are just looking to reduce the calorie count in their banana bread recipe. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water, stir and put the mixture in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes.

There is another flax product you can use to make your banana bread recipe even healthier – flax oil. Refined vegetable oils we are using on regular basis are absolutely harmful. The process of refinement removes all nutrients and infuses them with artificial substances. Butter, on the other hand, is comprised of high amounts of saturated fats which are also to be avoided.

Flax oil is obtained by pressing dried, ripe seeds of the plant. This means that all nutrients remain intact. In addition, this yellowish oil is very low in calories. One advice though: make sure you buy only organic, cold-pressed flax oil from renown brands.

I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!

This is Why You Should Make Your Pancakes in the Oven

This is Why You Should Make Your Pancakes in the Oven

There’s no better way to start your day than pancakes. Warm, fluffy, and delicious, they will put a smile on your face for sure. But wait… Someone has to wake up and make them. Mix the batter (and inevitably make a mess with all the bowls), then stand over the stovetop for quite some time (splashes of oil and batter everywhere). It’s not so much fun to flip flapjacks 5 minutes after waking up.

Don’t worry, there is another way to make flapjacks. Turn on your oven and keep reading.

When I say ‘pancakes in the oven’ I don’t refer to Dutch baby pancakes. This is a different technique: pan-roasting. Yeah, the same cooking method that works so well for meaty dishes works for flapjacks as well. Have you ever prepared a sirloin? You pan-sear it first to obtain a crispy surface and a juicy center. This is exactly what you will get from your flapjacks. Now, who wouldn’t want that? So, the secret is in cooking the batter on the stovetop first, then finishing them in the oven.

 

Pan-Roasted Pancakes Recipe

 

Choose your favorite pancake recipe and mix it up. This method works for every pancake mix.

We have decided to go with the classic American buttermilk pancake recipe:

 

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt

 

Wet ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 stick of butter, melted

 

Note: Use clarified butter instead of regular butter. Clarified butter is produced by melting butter and allowing the components to separate by density. Thanks to its high smoking point, it is less likely to burn. You can clarify the butter yourself or use ready-made products like ghee. This will make your flapjacks extra-buttery and crispy without the risk of burning.

 

Method of preparation:

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: buttermilk, eggs, butter, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until you obtain a uniform, thick, and creamy batter.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of clarified butter over medium heat. Pour ¼ cup batter per pancake into the skillet. Cook the flapjacks for about two minutes, until their bottoms become light golden brown.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook until the other side of the pancakes becomes golden brown as well (this should take about 4-5 minutes).

Remove the skillet from oven and set on a cold burner on the stove. Turn the pancakes over and cook the other side very shortly, no more than 10-15 seconds.

 

These are the best flapjacks you’ll ever have!

I believe that food should not only taste good, but make you feel good as well and that is why I am so interested in exploring ingredients, preparing meals, and finding ways to make the whole cooking experience fun and exciting! Being a blogger for MyGreatRecipes unites my two passions – food and writing, and I am enjoying every second of it!

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