Thursday, April 28, 2016

Golden Almond Lemon Cake


Golden Almond Lemon Cake

How has April come and nearly gone without a post? So much for my once weekly commitment. 

April isn't over yet and I'm shooting for four posts before it's all said and done, so there! It's about striving towards a goal, is it not? 

I went surfing the web to find a recipe that fits the personality of Shelly for whom I made this cake. As always, if you work with me I make you a cake on your birthday. Easy are the people who put in specific requests. Cheesecake? Sure! Carrot Cake? No problem. But the vague, "surprise me" is fun and crazy making. 

I'm not beyond experimenting on a person's birthday cake. Other less adventurous people might feel the need to try a cake out before serving it to others. I have no such compunction. We all can be surprised together. I mean it's cake, how bad can it really be? 

So why this cake in particular? Mz. Shelly is both sunny like a lemon and a little nutty, like the almonds. She's also way more complex than you might imagine just at first glance. This cake looks regular but it has lemons and lemon oil, toasted almonds, sour cream, tons of butter and turbinado sugar. Sweet jesus, that is the whole she-bang. 

The photo above is yet another Bundt cake, in the same pretty swirly pan, but this one is fancier than what meets the eye. I found it on Pastry Joe, (where has he been all my life?) it's his take on Rose Levy Beranbaum's cake (she I have known about for 20 years.) Her Cake Bible is on my bookshelf and I go back to it all the time. Hey Julie/Julia fans, someone should recreate that book and blog about it. Maybe that's so like 2005?

I'd detail out the recipe, but there's a link and Joe covered it pretty well. Oh and I haven't tasted yet. There might be a post script about this whole thing. 

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Carrots with Candied Ginger

I love carrots. I love ginger. I love white pepper.

Oh sweet jesus these were mighty good. I made them for Easter and before I forget what I did I'm putting it down here.

2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut evenly
water
kosher salt
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, diced very small
pinch of white pepper

In a skillet with a lid add the carrots and water enough to steam and a pinch of salt. Cook until slightly tender. Once tender add the butter, ginger and white pepper. Add a little more salt if needed. Simmer and toss to coat with the butter about 5 minutes.


Saturday, March 26, 2016

Fresh Strawberry Elderflower Cake

Strawberry Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
It is spring!
That means strawberries. I had a reason to bake a cake and I had strawberries in the fridge. I used to love pink cake when I was growing up, but come to find out it's hard to make without using Jell-O (not that I mind Jell-O) but I wanted to shoot for a more natural flavor. This is what I came up with:

1.5 pounds strawberries
1 cup sugar

2.5 cups flour
1.25 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
.5 teaspoon salt
1 cup white sugar
1.5 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
0.50 teaspoon almond extract
3 eggs
red food color, if you wish

Syrup
0.25 cup sugar
0.25 cup water
2 tablespoons elderflower liqueur

Frosting
1 cup whipping cream
2 8oz packages cream cheese
0.75 cup sugar
1 tablespoon elderflower liqueur

Cook the strawberries and cup of sugar down until they are thick. Cool. They should measure around 2 cups.
Preheat oven 350 degree.
Prepare 2 9-inch pans with spray and parchment.

Put the strawberries, and all the ingredients for the cake, except the eggs into a food processor. Process. Scrape the sides. Add the eggs one at a time.

Scrape the sides, whirl it one more time and pour into prepared pans. I measure the pans on a scale to make sure they have the same weight batter in them. The old school, what I learned in the bakery is stick your finger straight up and down in the pan, see where the batter comes up to on your finger in relation to your digit and make sure the pans are even that way. The scale is easier, but less tactile.

Bake 35 minutes. Cool completely.

To make the syrup on the stove top, in a small pan combine the water and sugar. Bring to a boil, make sure the sugar is dissolved. Cool. Add the liqueur.

For the frosting whip the cream to stiff peaks, set aside. Cream the cream cheese, making sure to scrape the sides and that it is smooth before adding sugar. Add the sugar and beat for a good 5 minutes to make sure the sugar dissolves. Add the liqueur to the cream cheese. Fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture.

To assemble: When the cake is cool remove it from the pans. Using a pastry brush, brush the syrup on the top of the cake layers. Flip them over and brush the syrup on the bottom layers. Top the layers and sides with frosting and enjoy.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

Dutch Baby Pancake

This serves two people if you like each other and have a little fruit and sausage on the side.

I used a 6 inch non-stick commercial skillet. I think it would do better in an 8 inch cast iron. It was thicker than most the dutch baby pancakes I've seen in Illinois' restaurants.

Alison is a fan of the pancake so I see them when I'm with her. I thought let me make this for her to please her, which I did and it did and here it is for posterity.

Preheat oven 425

In a blender mix
0.50 cup flour
0.50 cup milk
2 eggs
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
0.50 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons butter

lemon half
powdered sugar

Put the skillet in the oven while it's preheating. You want a hot skillet.
Blend the flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt.
Once the oven it to temp, put the butter in the skillet to melt. Swirl the pan. When the butter is melted pour in the batter.
Bake for 15 minutes. (for a 6 inch pan, maybe 12 for a bigger pan.)

Remove from the oven, squirt half the lemon on the dutch baby and top with powdered sugar.

Be the bell of the brunch ball. These are impressive.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Butter Mochi - Chocolate!

It seems like butter mochi is Hawaii's take on the Japanese dessert regular mochi. It's easier to make than traditional mochi and it's super easy to eat. 

Chocolate Butter Mochi

2 cups (9.25 ounces) glutinous rice flour, not plain rice flour. 
2 cups (16 ounces) white sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 cup (4 ounces) butter
1 cup (6.25 ounces) chocolate chips
Like brownies but better!
24 ounces evaporated milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 eggs beaten

This is how you do it: 
In a large bowl combine the rice flour, sugar and baking soda. Mix it. 
In a microwave safe dish combine the butter and chocolate. Heat in 20 increments stirring until it's completely smooth. 
In a bowl of a mixer pour in the chocolate mixture. Add the milk, vanilla and eggs. 

To the wet mixture add the flour/sugar mixture. Stir until combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl. 

Prepare a 9x13 inch pan by spraying the heck out of it with cooking spray. Then do it again. Pour the batter into the pan. It will be very loose. Bake 50-60 minutes. The center will still be jiggly, but a knife inserted will come out clean.  Let it cool before cutting it. This is better if you don't refrigerate it. 

Serve to your friends and be amazed at how much they love it! 

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Samoa (like the Girl Scout Cookie, not the nation) Cake


Angie had a birthday. 
Angie likes coconut. 
Angie likes caramel. 
Angie likes chocolate. 
Angie has good taste. 

I searched for a way to put all those flavors together and I came across the thing that is the Samoa Bundt Cake. I tweaked one and this is what I came up with.  It was suggested to only use Nordic Bundt pans with non stick coating and I have to say that was good advice. However, the only Nordic pan I have doesn't have a fluted edge like a Samoa Cookie. I have a vintage Ekco pan that is flower-like around the edges, so I went with that. I greased the pan as thoroughly as I could but my coconut base (or top when you flip it over) still stuck. 

The next time I make this cake I'll put the coconut on the top (which will be the bottom of the cake) when it's served. 

I want to get the recipe written before it gets too far away from me. How many times has that happened? The good news is that I can't remember! 

Samoa Bundt Cake

Coconut mixture:
2.25 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
0.50 cup brown sugar, packed
2 ounce butter, melted 

Cake: 
2.5 cup flour
0.50 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1.5 cup brown sugar, packed
6 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned coconut milk (not sweetened)

Ganache
6 ounces dark chocolate chips
5.5 ounces canned coconut milk (the rest of the can that was used for the cake) 
1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven 350F. 

Butter and flour then spray with cooking spray a Bundt pan. Put in the freezer while you prepare the cake. 

Combine 2 cups of coconut (reserve .25 cup for decoration) with brown sugar and butter. Refrigerate. I pressed it into the bottom of the pan. I don't suggest you do that unless you have a newer Bundt pan. 

In a bowl combine the flour, salt and baking powder. Set aside. 

In a large bowl cream the butter and both sugars. Cream and scrape the sides of the bowl until all the sugar is dissolved. Don't rush. Add the eggs, one at a time, scrape the bowl between additions. Add the vanilla. For the flour mixture and coconut add 1/3 of the flour, mix and scrape. Add 1/2 of the 1 cup of coconut milk. Add the second third of flour. Mix and scrape again. (Lots of scraping) add the second half of the coconut milk.  Mix and scrape. Add the last third of the flour mixture. Beat the cake for 1 full minute once everything is in the bowl. 

Pour the batter in the pan. Top with coconut-brown sugar mixture. Bake for 65-75 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan 15 minutes. Turn out of the pan and cool completely, not even kidding, before you add the ganache. 

To make the ganache, put the chocolate in a mixing bowl. Heat the coconut milk and butter slowly on the stove. When the butter is melted and mixture is steaming but not boiling, pour over the chocolate. Allow the chocolate to sit unstirred a few minutes. Whisk the mixture. If it is too loose it will thicken as it cools. Drizzle the cake with ganache liberally. Top with remaining toasted coconut. 

Share with friends. 

What's the best cookie ever made? Are you a Thin Mint fan. I wonder what that Bundt cake could look like. 





Cherry & Chips Jello Cookie


I was looking up Jello recipes to see what I could see and I came across these brightly colored babies. I really do tend toward more naturally hued food but these just struck me as a little whimsical and ever so vaguely romantic. Maybe it's the time of year and all the pretty hearts every where. Regardless, they are fun cookies indeed. 

6 ounces shortening 
0.5 cup sugar
3 ounce packet cherry jello
0.25 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla 
2.5 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips
Sugar for topping cookies 

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. 

Cream the shortening with the sugar. Add the jello. Cream until nearly smooth. Add the vanilla and milk. Mix thoroughly. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined. It will look dry and a little crumbly. Mix in chips. 
Make the cookies into fat disks the cut into circles. Invert the cookies into the sugar. Place on parchment line cookies sheets. 
Bake 10 minutes.