IT’S GIVEAWAY TIME!
UPDATE: time’s up, comments shutdown for this post
It’s been five years and 688 posts. I enjoyed blogging from the beginning, and then it got better as the years passed. Now I’m more relaxed about it, I suppose. Looking back, I went through a few phases that are maybe not obvious to you. For instance, in the second year I became slightly obsessed with getting special serving dishes, plates and small bowls “for the blog.” I also flirted with the idea of a fancy camera and photography classes, until I realized that’s not what my blog should be about. I assembled all the extra stuff, donated it, and felt great. Our life has little to do with perfectly set tables and carefully placed food props. “…not that there’s anything wrong with that!” ;-)
The Bewitching Kitchen revolves around our desire to eat well while working jobs that demand our full attention, even beyond the daily 9-to-5. So, most stuff I post reflects the need for simple dishes that are reasonably quick to prepare, but flavorful and fun to eat. I have neither goals nor expectations for the blog, except to keep it going as long as I enjoy it. If this site can motivate busy people to cook, eat well, and - I bet you knew this was coming – exercise often, so much the better!
Five years went by so quickly. This blogging milestone demanded that I face my own cooking demons. I baked a cake! What’s even more amazing is that it involved creaming TWO types of sugar with butter. Can you imagine that? It will take me a while to recover …
APPLE SPICE BUNDT CAKE WITH RUM GLAZE
(slightly modified from Alton Brown, Best Thing I Ever Made)
for the cake:
12 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for the pan
15 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground grains of paradise
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground star anise
8 ounces granulated sugar
7 ounces light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 Granny Smith apples, about 8 ounces each, 1/4-inch dice
3 ounces walnuts, chopped
1 1/2 ounces crystallized ginger, finely chopped
for the glaze:
6 ounces powdered sugar
4 teaspoons dark rum
Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
Heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly butter a Bundt pan and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together in a large bowl.
Combine the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using the paddle attachment, beat on medium until the mixture is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Whisk together the eggs and vanilla and slowly add, with the mixer on low-speed, to the butter and sugar. Add the flour one-third at a time and beat on low just until combined after each addition. Stir in the apples, pecans and ginger.
Transfer the batter to the prepared bundt pan; the batter is thick and will almost fill the pan. Bake for 75 minutes, rotating the pan after 30 minutes. The cake is done when it pulls away from the sides of the pan, springs back when pressed and the internal temperature reaches 205 degrees F.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 30 minutes. Invert and remove the cake from the pan. Cool completely on the rack before glazing.
Combine the powdered sugar, rum and 1 tablespoon water in a small mixing bowl and whisk until smooth. Pour the glaze onto the bundt cake and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Let the glaze set for at least 30 minutes before serving.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: This cake was part of the show “Best Thing I Ever Made” on FoodTV Network a few years ago. Ever since I watched that episode and listened to Alton Brown describe his rationale behind the recipe, I wanted to make it. First, I love a cake that goes in the direction of speculoos with all those delicious spices. And this cake had two things that appealed even more to me: the inclusion of grains of paradise, and the omission of cinnamon. Grains of paradise (shown on the top left of the composite photo) have a very unique flavor, so I was quite intrigued by their use in this cake. And cinnamon is so common when apple cakes are concerned, that NOT having it immediately called my attention. In fact, Alton made a specific point of not adding cinnamon to the batter, to avoid taking his masterpiece in the direction of apple pie. Brilliant move!
The whole thing works beautifully together, just as he promised: chunks of apple permeate the cake, a tender crunch of walnuts (he used pecans, by the way), and the assertive crunch of crystallized ginger. The delicate shell of the icing with rum (barely noticeable) is perked up by the sprinkle of turbinado sugar, not to be omitted… For my taste, this cake is close to perfection. I did not have that many issues to bake it, which is a bit unusual. Ok, later I had to wash some dried up cake batter from my right eyebrow, but that’s nothing compared to what cake baking has done to me in the past. Still, below you see a photo of the state of our kitchen midway through this labor of love. Trust me, I never make this mess, only when I’m working on a cake. It is absolutely pathetic. Please notice the place I chose for resting the bowl with all the flour. Why would I pick the most unstable place ever? Let’s not waste time trying to understand it. It is cake. And it is me. Capisci?
And now… GIVEAWAY TIME! I am so thrilled to celebrate my 5th year in the blogosphere that I am offering two gifts. First, a wooden board beautifully crafted by Michael (link to his site), who has been featured on IMK in the recent past. He was actually quite busy with some trips but managed to make time in his schedule to have this board ready for my giveaway. Thank you, Michael!
The second gift, is a copy of the latest cookbook by David Lebovitz, My Paris Kitchen…. If you are familiar with his style, you’ll know this book is a must-have. Paris is obviously a place very dear to my heart, it’s where Phil and I met, and where we spent a sabbatical year together later. Visiting often is not possible, but cooking French food is one way to keep the memories alive. This book is a virtual passport to the city we love. To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment on this post.
Everyone is welcome to enter, I will draw two names on July 1st, 2014 an announce the winners right then. Entries will close on June 30rd at midnight. Good luck, and a big thank you for all who make the interactions in comments, private emails, and Facebook so much fun! I invite you all to join me in the journey of my 6th Bewitching year! There will be bread, sous-vide, and pies. There will be macarons, dog tales, and when the mood strikes, pull-ups, push-ups, and sit-ups. Maybe this will be the year I get to finally conquer the crane pose that I’ve been working on for as long as I’ve been blogging….
It’s the road that matters, not the destination. I firmly believe that. ;-)
ONE YEAR AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Four!
TWO YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen Turns Three!
THREE YEARS AGO: The Bewitching Kitchen turns Two!
FOUR YEARS AGO: Bewitching Birthday!
FIVE YEARS AGO: Welcome to my blog!