I first took up cycling as a sport about 5 years ago and during the first few outings on my brand new bicycle, I remember feeling out of sync with both the bike and the cycling group I was training with. Many a time, I felt uncomfortable and unsure (read: unsafe) on my seat and struggled to keep up with the intensity of the group's pace. In fact, on the very first road outing I had a slight accident that ended up in me somersaulting over my handlebars and launching the bike into the air, only to have it land back on well, me. Thank goodness it was a very light bike! So even while I nursed my bruises and attempted to conceal the tear on my shirt the size of Australia, I was secretly grateful that my bike suffered only a tiny scratch from the incident :).
Then one day, one of the 'pros' who had taken it upon himself to be my cycling buddy said something I would remember to this day. What he said was, "To be able to cycle well and efficiently, you have to be one with your bicycle. You have to think of it as an extension of your body". Now does that make sense to you? Because it didn't to me back then, as I had no clue how to start being one with my bike at all.
Now that I'm no longer such a novice, I'm comfortable going off on solo rides. And this very morning, something rather special happened. You've seen how Lance Armstrong throws his arms up in the air at the finishing line in the 'look-ma-no-hands' style? Well, I managed to do the same and found that I could keep the bike perfectly balanced by shifting my body ever so slightly. I must've been comfortable enough, one enough with my machine to have been able to do that! Those of you who work in the circus must be thinking, yawn...big deal... but for someone who's tried to achieve this for the best part of several decades, it's a small miracle that it's finally happened.
With baking, it was the same thing. My first year of baking was full of hits and misses, probably more of the latter, to be truthful. I wasn't comfortable with my skills and had very little experience to speak of when it came to combining flavors, or textures. For a while, I had to endure witnessing my poor colleagues politely spit bits of cakes, breads and cookies into their napkins because they tasted so awful! I had to endure? Imagine what they had to endure...lol.
Well, now that I'm one with my baking skills, I'm more able to play around with ingredients in the kitchen. And the results don't turn out too badly (most of the time). I can also afford to focus on making the food look more fun and attractive. Like today for example, where I decided to bake this easy German Chocolate Streusel Cake inside parchment paper rabbits.
I first came across this recipe in Germany, on the back of a box of Dr. Oetker Baking Powder. It's been a while since I last baked this delicious cake but I was recently prompted by my cousin Aimi's tweets saying that she wanted to see some German recipes on this blog.
The cake itself is dense and buttery while the chocolate topping is crunchy, a beautiful mix of textures. If you were to use a springform pan, it would take about an hour altogether to prep and bake it. But if you want to bake it inside these muffin-sized paper rabbits, the baking time gets cut down to 20 minutes. The origami part, depending on your paper-folding skills, will probably take more than an hour :). I struggled with the first rabbit, but after that it gets easier and if you're not careful, these little rabbits tend to proliferate! Now I don't celebrate Easter but it's nice to go along with the seasonal theme and these cake rabbits fit the bill.
Here's a YouTube video with clear folding instructions for the paper rabbits. Good luck! :)
Makes one 10 or 11-inch springform pan cake, or 10 muffin-sized rabbits
1/3 cup sugar (75 grams)
5 tablespoons butter (75 grams)
1/8 tsp. salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoons lemon extract (optional)
1 1/8 cups flour (150 grams)
1/4 cup potato starch or corn starch (50 grams)
2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
4 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup apricot or raspberry jam
1/3 cup cocoa (30 grams)
1/3 cup sugar (80 grams)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11 tablespoons butter (100 grams)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/8 cup flour (150 grams)
1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F.
2. Cream sugar, butter and salt. Add egg and flavor extracts and mix well.
3. Sift flour, starch and baking powder together and add to batter, mixing well.
4. Add enough milk to form a medium thick batter (like brownie batter). Spread into a 11-inch springform pan which has been buttered and floured lightly.
5. Heat the jam for 30 seconds on high in the microwave until it becomes runny. Stir and then carefully spread over cake batter.
6. Make the streusel by rubbing all the ingredients together with your fingers. You may also use a pie dough cutter or two forks. Continue until large crumbs form. Sprinkle evenly over cake batter.
7. Bake at 350°F for about 40 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean and cake springs bake when touched lightly. (About 20 minutes for the rabbit muffins)
8. Remove from oven and cool. Remove outer ring after 5-10 minutes so the edges don't become soggy.