MAPLE PUMPKIN PECAN SNACKING CAKE

SOMEONE TURNS SEVENTEEN TODAY!

Happy Birthday, Chief! You’ll always be a puppy for us…

ChiefNewBed
Birthday requires cake. Obviously.

The other day I saw a compilation of cakes by Food & Wine, a sort of  “bucket list of cakes.” You can check it out here. According to the article, if you bake one of those cakes each month, at the end of the year you will become a very accomplished baker, mastering all techniques that matter.  Danger attracts me, because I was immediately mesmerized by the list and next think I knew, the first one was in the oven. No idea what makes it a “snacking cake” but the name has a good vibe. Plus, it mixes two flavors I love, maple and pumpkin. I am not too wild about pecans, but it’s always good to have an excuse to crack open that bag hibernating in the freezer.  This cake is incredibly easy to make, smells amazing, and everyone raved about it.  Now, before  you get too excited: NO, I am not baking the other 11 cakes.  And YES, this is my final answer.

Snacking Cake

MAPLE PUMPKIN PECAN SNACKING CAKE
(adapted from Food and Wine magazine)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces pecans (about 1 to 1 + 1/3 cups)
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons demerara sugar for sprinkling

Heat the oven to 325° and grease an 8-inch square cake pan,

In a medium bowl, whisk together the two types of flour, cinnamon, and salt and set aside.

In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, toast the pecans until fragrant, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Transfer half of the nuts to a small food processor and pulse until a coarsely ground flour forms. Roughly chop the remaining pecans over a cutting board into small-sized pieces. Add both the pecan meal and loosely chopped pieces to the bowl of dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, brown sugar, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract until very smooth. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until incorporated. Using a spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth out the surface of the cake batter with the spatula and sprinkle the demerara sugar evenly over the top. Bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The top of the cake should be crispy from the scattered sugar-coating.

Let the cake cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

compositesnack

 

Comments: The cake is baked in an 8-inch square pan, so it is reasonably small. Food and Wine lists 8 servings, but I cut it into 20 small squares so that more colleagues could be happy in a cold and foggy Monday morning.  Perfect antidote for that type of day, if you ask me.  What I loved the most about it was the crust that the demerara sugar formed while baking. Delicious contrast with the brownie-type cake underneath.  Notice the lack of leavening agents, the cake is pretty similar to a one-pan brownie, easy and straightforward. Pecans were perfect, but I bet walnuts would work equally well.

Cake number one was pretty painless, I must admit. I like to leave the game while I’m winning, so I’ll stop right here. Although a certain gentleman is lobbying quite heavily for a particular six-layer coconut nightmare. Yeah, when pigs fly over Kansas wearing pink tutus.

molly-in-tutu

Hi, my name is Molly Merlot, I am awfully cute, but I promise you, I don’t fly!

(photo published with permission from Wilson Creek Winery)

 

ONE YEAR AGO: Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

TWO YEARS AGO: Sweet Fifteen!

THREE YEARS AGO: Sesame and Flaxseed Sourdough

FOUR YEARS AGO: Green Beans with Miso and Almonds

FIVE YEARS AGO: Saturday Morning Scones

SIX YEARS AGO: White Bread

 

CARREMENT CHOCOLAT: THE SHOW-STOPPER


Carrement Chocolat Cake

Grab a chair, make yourself comfortable, this will take a while.

I suppose I could call this post A Convoluted Approach to Cake Baking.  I won’t publish the full recipe, as that would not be fair with Dorie Greenspan. After all, it’s the cake on the cover of her book, a cake she developed as an alternative for one of those masterpieces conceived by Pierre Hermé, and I am sure a lot of sweat and who knows, maybe a few tears were involved in her culinary quest to perfect it. Those truly interested can get a copy of her latest book, which by the way, I reviewed not too long ago (shameless self-promotion).

The cake has five components. FIVE. Which proves I was not in the right frame of mind when I decided to go for it. Let’s count them together:

1. A chocolate cake that must be sliced in half.
2. A chocolate filling, custard-type.
3. A syrup to soak the cake.
4. A ganache to ice the cake.
5. A topping of cubed bittersweet chocolate, salted. Surprisingly, those cubes are not simple pieces of chocolate that you can grab in the store. You are supposed to make them yourself.

That was the cake chosen to celebrate my 6 years of blogging.  Excuse me while I wipe tears from my face, I laughed so hard I cried a little…   Moving on…

The cake is a typical French layer cake, supposed to be shorter than your regular American type layer cake. Short and sweet… A single cake, baked in a 8 x 2 inch round pan, sliced in half, etc etc.  Please notice that the composite photo below clearly shows two cakes instead of one. Has Sally gone mad? I won’t answer this specific question. Let’s just say that I allowed the first cake to cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then inverted it on a rack  as instructed. One fourth of the cake stayed inside the pan, laughing at me (insert crass language here). I scraped it all as carefully as I could, pasted the pieces together, but of course realized that slicing that poor baby in half would be impossible for someone with my skills. Quickly, I assembled all the ingredients again and baked a second cake. The level of distress was getting a bit high, and it was only 8:30 am on a sunny Saturday.

composite
For the second cake, I used parchment paper to cover the bottom of the pan, and greased the living bejesus out of it. I also waited 30 minutes to invert it. That cake unmolded like it was baked by an expert  on Ace of Cakes. I danced a little to celebrate, and moved on to the making of the chocolate custard filling. The recipe starts mixing whole milk with sugar, so I promptly mixed the 3 tablespoons of sugar called for in the ingredients and proceeded to warm up the milk, only to find out that in that stage you add only 1.5 tablespoons of sugar.  The remaining sugar is beaten with egg yolks a little later in the method (Sally visualizes Dorie Greenspan giving a small lecture on how to read a recipe carefully before starting to make it). Poured the milk down the drain (please, don’t lecture me on waste), started all over.  The custard almost curdled on me, but it did not.  I danced a little to celebrate, and moved on to the making of the salted chocolate cubes and shards.

SaltedChoc

That involves melting good quality semi-sweet chocolate, gently and carefully, and adding the correct amount of Maldon salt flakes.  I did all that, but thought that the amount of chocolate seemed a little small. What the heck, Dorie knows what she’s doing when it comes to cakes. Placed the concoction in the freezer, where it would stay until next day. In theory. Not in practice. Later, much later that day, while I was making the icing, I noticed something under the stove peeking out. Four squares of semi-sweet chocolate that somehow found their way there, and only by a miracle were not consumed by Buck, the forever famished Jack Russell who sniffs and swallows food items within a mile in 1 second flat.

Puzzled, I tried to find out in which step of the recipe I lost that chocolate. I had just weighed the chocolate for the icing, and those pieces were the exact weight I expected them to be. So the missing pieces had to be for the chocolate cubes, the salted chocolate now in the freezer. Hummmm… that doesn’t bode well, does it?   Already worried, I went to the freezer, grabbed the salted batch, unwrapped it, whacked a little piece and tasted it… Aaargh!!!!!!  Way way WAY too salty, absolutely horrible, it would have ruined my cake…  Back to square one, I quickly re-made the salted chocolate and put it in the freezer at 9 pm on a Saturday evening that felt as if I had run a marathon in Arizona, mid-July.

Next day, the big day of assembling my masterpiece!  I had an important decision to make, go for a single cake sliced in half, or do a double cake using both layers.  Thinking back, I should have used the good cake, sliced in half, and frozen the other one to make something like a trifle, maybe? But I got greedy. Made the simple syrup, spooned some on the first cake, placed it over a rack on a baking sheet.  Added the filling. Topped with the second cake, added syrup, and placed the whole thing in the fridge for one hour.  I have a picture for you from that stage, and those who are experienced cake bakers might be able to see the type of trouble I set myself for.

fridge

Two problems… I think the cakes, although baked in the exact same pan (I simply washed it after the first cake played that nasty trick on me), ended up with slightly different diameters, so the top one was just a tiny bit bigger. I did not even notice at first.  Second problem, I did not allow the filling to ooze out, thinking that it would be too messy.  I am the daughter of my Dad, and we both hate any type of sugary mess. That was a major faux-pas, because I did not end up with a smooth surface in between the layers. Once I was done covering the cake (with not enough icing, I should add), the whole thing looked like Pillsbury Dough Boy going out for a karate lesson with the belt tightened too tight.  No bueno, folks, no bueno.  By then, I was in complete distress, rushed to the backyard where the husband was covered in sweat and mud while trimming trees, and informed him that my cake had been ruined. I also informed him that I would never ever be taking a picture of that “thing”, or any other cake again. And, finally I made it clear that my blogging days were over. I know for a fact that he rolled his eyes to the skies above, but he refuses to admit it, saying it was my imagination. Still, after pointing out the harsh reality that I often receive a lot more sympathy from our dogs, he promised to go back inside and help me out. Then, he reminded me that his Grandma was a fantastic cake baker and he’s got her genes (insert my own eye roll here, it’s appalling the type of stuff I have to put up with; I’ve got some great genes too, just don’t walk around bragging about them).

Staring at the cake, he said “it’s not that bad.”  That, in Phil’s speech means “Holy cow, you really screwed this one up big time!”.  He analyzed the situation and asked me to make a second batch of icing. At that point the cake was already costing me three times as much as it should, but who am I to count pennies in such a situation?  A full batch of icing was made and cooled while we had dinner. Late that Sunday, my dear husband put perfect icing music on, and patiently covered all boo-boos, smoothing out the surface as best as he could. Then I topped the cake with a properly salted batch of chocolate cubes and shards. And collapsed on the sofa.

Slice

THE OUTCOME

All the struggle was more than worthy!  The cake was absolutely delicious, rich, decadent, and the topping of salted chocolate, salted just right, by the way… was the perfect match for the cake underneath it.   My advice for those who want to try it:  read the recipe carefully, spread the preparation over a couple of days, and make it short and sweet as intended. One cake, sliced in half, no need for more.  Squish the cake filling so that it oozes out, like a competent brick layer would do with cement. Don’t worry about the mess. It will ensure that the layers will be well matched, and the icing will cover it all as icing is meant to do. On a side note, there must be some type of literally prize for someone who manages to use cake filling and cement in the same phrase. No? Well, that’s a shame!

Dorie, thanks for a fantastic recipe, it was a great opportunity to push my limits.  And of course, a special thank you to the man who stands by me when even I can hardly stand myself… Thanks to him, I shall keep on blogging…

Most important lesson learned: never underestimate your opponent. Never!

😉

ONE YEAR AGO: Salmon Sous-Vide with Miso-Maple Glaze

TWO YEARS AGO: Avocado “Hummus”.

THREE YEARS AGO: Moving is not for sissies!

FOUR YEARS AGO: Awesome Broccolini

FIVE YEARS AGO: Pizza! Pizza!

SIX YEARS AGO:  From Backyard to Kitchen

RASPBERRY RICOTTA CAKE

This cake recipe was published in a recent issue of Bon Appetit magazine, and I wanted to make it right away.  I subscribe to several cooking magazines but they tend to accumulate by my bedside table, untouched. Then, a trip comes up and they go with me in the plane. I read and rip the pages that interest me, tossing the magazine before coming back home. I know that for some this might be a huge no-no, but ever since we moved from OK to KS and I donated my collection of Fine Cooking magazines, I stopped saving them. The cut out recipes are glued in a notebook, a system that works great for me.  Anyway, as I was reading that issue on a flight to Hawaii (yeah, you got that right…. we’ve been to paradise last month), this recipe screamed at me: MAKE ME! MAKE ME! MAKE ME! Glad I finally did, it’s a great cake, moist, tender, and not overly sweet, thanks to the natural tartness of raspberries.

RaspberryRicottaCake

RASPBERRY RICOTTA CAKE
(from Bon Appetit, March 2015)

Non-stick vegetable oil spray
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1½ cups ricotta
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup frozen raspberries, divided

Heat oven to 350°. Line a 9”-diameter cake pan with parchment paper and lightly coat with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.

Whisk eggs, ricotta, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth; fold into dry ingredients just until blended. Then fold in butter, followed by ¾ cup raspberries, taking care not to crush berries. Scrape batter into prepared pan and scatter remaining ¼ cup raspberries all over the surface of the batter.

Bake cake until golden brown and a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 50–60 minutes. Let cool at least 20 minutes before removing from the pan.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Composite
Comments: This cake was so easy to make that I got into hyperventilation from excessive confidence. Basically, there is no way out for me, cakes make me suffer, even when nothing goes wrong. I thought that the raspberries sitting on top of the batter looked awfully cute, but after a few minutes in the oven, I pushed some of them a little into the batter, just in case.  I bet it made no difference whatsoever, the cake experts might be shaking their heads at my naiveté.  Oh, well.

As you know, food blogging is a very social activity. We leave comments, we follow food bloggers we enjoy, sometimes for their cooking alone, sometimes for the “whole package”.  I love bloggers who are witty (hard to beat Maureen on that category) make me laugh, make me think, teach me something. I normally stay clear from sites that push endless surveys or advertisements. But, anyway, some bloggers seem to always cook stuff I want to make. One such example is Steve, from Oui, Chef.  He subscribes to the same magazines I do, so quite often I bookmark a recipe and, being the slow self I am, next thing I know, the recipe is on his site!  This is exactly what happened with this cake. Take a look at Steve’s post by clicking here.  Obviously, great minds read alike, bookmark alike, and bake alike.

This cake was absolutely delicious! I added a sprinkle of powdered sugar on top because I felt the raspberries would be happy. And everyone who tried this cake in our department seemed to be happy too.  Such a great simple treat to celebrate spring…  Make it, and tell me what you think.

sliceHow about a slice?
😉


ONE YEAR AGO:
In My Kitchen, April 2014

TWO YEARS AGO: Whole-wheat Pasta with Lemony Tomatoes and Spinach

THREE YEARS AGO: Blood Orange Duck: A work in progress

FOUR YEARS AGO: Grilled Mahi-mahi with citrus marinade

FIVE YEARS AGO: Memories of Pastéis (and my Dad)

SPICE CAKE WITH BLACKERRY PUREE & THE GLOBAL PASTRY TABLE REVIEW

HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY AMERICAN READERS! 

After five and a half years blogging, a few things about me should be quite obvious for those who have been around this site for a while.  For instance, my obsession with exercise and fitness is almost as intense as my fear of baking cakes. However, even though I am terrified of baking them, cakes fascinate me so much that I often visit blogs of talented bakers, to live vicariously through them. You know, those amazing people who are not afraid of Italian meringue, of piping gorgeous flowers with buttercream icing, or slicing a cake horizontally in perfect flat layers. One such blog is Pastry Studio. If you don’t know this site yet, you are in for a very sweet treat…  Gayle Gonzales has been blogging since 2007, so there is a lot to drool over in her virtual spot.  One of the reasons Pastry Studio captivated me is the way she adds “Bench Notes” to her recipes.  Just to give you a couple of examples,  check out her Roasted Pineapple with Pink Peppercorns., or her Brownie Brittle. The recipes would be great by themselves, but the bench notes add that extra stuff that makes a person like me consider the recipe doable.  Little tips that an experienced baker can offer, but not always does. Many cookbooks and food blogs assume those to be superfluous, since it should all go well.  Clearly, they have not been in my kitchen.  😉

When I learned that she published her first e-cookbook, I ordered it right away. The Global Pastry Table has 95 recipes, of which 70 are not in her site, so even if you followed her blog from the get-go, the book will give you a lot of new recipes to choose from.  I had a bit of trouble to decide which delicious concoction to bake first. I wanted it to be a cake, and my love for spices pointed me to her Spice Cake with Blackberries. I am thrilled to inform that it was a smooth baking session: the dogs slept through the whole thing, undisturbed by eggs dropping on the floor, exploding bags of flour, or flying spatulas. So there! I might be getting better at this cake baking thing… Ok, I know what you’re thinking: it’s all thanks to her bench notes.  I’m afraid you might be right.

SpiceCakeBlackberry

SPICE CAKE WITH BLACKBERRIES
(reprinted with permission from Gayle Gonzales)

for the cake:
1 + 1/4 cups cake flour (5 oz)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup (3 + 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (1+3/4 oz) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature

for the filling:
6 oz fresh blackberries
2-3 teaspoons granulated sugar (to taste)
powdered sugar, for dusting

Heat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease an 8” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Measure out the buttermilk and add the vanilla.

Beat butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go. Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour. When the batter looks fairly well combined, use a rubber spatula to finish mixing the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pa and spread evenly. Bake for 28 to 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes. Run a thin bladed knife around the edges and invert the cake. Gently peel off the parchment and invert again. Cool completely.

Place the blackberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, to taste. Set aside to macerate for about 10 minutes and then mash them with a fork.

Using a long serrated knife, cut the cake in half horizontally and set the top aside. Place the bottom on a platter and spread a thin layer of blackberries. Replace the top half of he cake and dust with powdered sugar.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite2

This was a great cake, from start to finish, no problems. Of course there is room for improvement, because I did not have the exact size cake pan she recommends. I used a 9-inch pan instead of 8-inch. So my slices were a little thinner, and I should have used less filling.  But, I don’t really care, those are details that don’t bother me. I had NO trouble slicing the cake in half, and that in itself is a monumental feat.  The cake was a huge success with the members of our department, I received emails and visits to the lab. Felt like a Royal Baker.

And now, let me take you through Gayle’s book, The Global Pastry Table

GPTcoverFINALmarketingColor

First of all, did you know that even if you don’t have a reader like Kindle or iPad you can get ebooks and read them in your computer or other devices? All you need is to download a free software and you are all set. Stop by amazon and click away.

Gayle introduces her book with this paragraph: “The Global Pastry Table is a collection of pastries and desserts with a reverence for international style. It’s your invitation to the flavors and aromas of a world connected.”  Indeed, all her recipes start with a little paragraph explaining its origin, and you will see she assembled a collection of goodies rooted in many geographic regions of the world. The book is divided in 6 sections: Cakes, Custards & Creams, Tarts & Galettes, Cookies, Ice Cream, and a final section on More Pastries and Desserts. The first adjective that came to my mind as I browsed the recipes was “refined”. Even recipes that seem pretty simple have an aura of refinement and rustic elegance. Apart from being a great baker, Gayle is a fantastic photographer, and took all the photos of the book.

For a visual tour of all recipes included in The Global Pastry Table, visit Gayle’s flickr collection.  

Chapter One: Cakes
You would be surprised to learn how many cake and dessert cookbooks I own, but for most of them I’d say less than 30% of the cakes included appeal to me.  In Gayle’s e-book, every single one of the 21 cakes sounded great. Shocking, I admit. I will not list them all, you can check the full index at amazon, but I’ll give you my top five (excluding the cake from this post). Cake with Chocolate Cardamon Glaze; Olive Oil Wine Cake, Rum Cake with Spiced Butter Rum Sauce, Hazelnut Cake, Yogurt Cake with Roasted Five-Spice Plums. Well, I must give you a sixth, because it is an amazing cake, very unique and enticing: it is called Coil Cake, an yeasted cake original from Morocco. Show-stopper.

Chapter Two: Custards & Creams
Ten delicious options, once again I would make any of them without exception. Five top choices would be: Brown Sugar Panna Cotta with Five-Spice Figs; Coconut Cream (reminds me of a Brazilian classic called : Flan de Coco); Oranges with Rosemary Sabayon (a simple, very refreshing dessert); Yogurt Mousse with Grapefruit Gelee; Maple Custard (must make this one).

Chapter Three: Tarts & Galettes
I admit that I don’t make tarts and galettes very often.  For my taste, they are too heavy as dessert after a meal, and I am not too fond of sweets mid-afternoon or at breakfast. But, I know I am part of a minority, and of the ten options Gayle has in her book, it was easy to pick my top five. Apricot Galette; Butterscotch Cream Tart; Pear Galette with Honey Cream & Blue Cheese (great combination of flavors); Balsamic Strawberry Tart.

Chapter Four: Cookies
Twenty two amazing cookies for you. Don’t expect a regular choc chip cookie here, she really shines in this collection, going from very simple Plain Jane Cookies to Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Sandwich Cookies (excuse me as I try to regain my composure). Five top choices for me (excluding that Nutella example already mentioned): Sesame Tiles; Oatmeal Shortbread; Chocolate Olive Oil Madeleines; Chocolate Garam Masala Cookies; Spice Route Cookies…  but it’s really hard to stop here.

Chapter Five: Ice Cream
Fourteen ice frozen concoctions, that are all incredibly creative and unique. Five top choices: Pistachio Gelato; Brown Sugar Creme Fraiche Ice Cream with Balsamic Syrup; Earl Grey Ice Cream; Guinness Ice Cream with Oat Crumble; Lime Ice Cream with Ginger Crumble. I must say, though, that I would gladly try them all.

Chapter Six: More Pastries and Desserts
Eighteen additional goodies, very hard to pick only five to showcase here.  By far my number one choice would be the Vanilla Custard in Phyllo. Her description and the photo made me want to go to the kitchen and make it right away. My other favorites would probably be Three Spice Russian Braid (gorgeous shaping of a loaf); Roasted Grapes with Yogurt Honey Cream; Pear and Ginger Scones; Pumpkin Empanadas.

I want to remind my readers that I do not do reviews by request, be it cookbooks or products. I only review things I love. I hope that you will stop by Pastry Studio to get to know Gayle and her wonderful site, and that you invite her cookbook into your virtual library.  It is truly a special publication, made with a lot of passion and attention to detail.

If you love being in your kitchen… if you love having people at your table… if you love that moment of opening the oven door and seeing what has transpired… if you love the preparing, the serving, the sharing, the savoring, I know you will enjoy this collection. (Gayle Gonzales, The Global Pastry Table)

ONE YEAR AGO: Own Your Kitchen with Cappuccino Panna Cotta

TWO YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana, the Thriller

THREE YEARS AGO: Wild Mushroom Risotto

FOUR YEARS AGO: Tartine Bread:  Basic Country Loaf 

FIVE YEARS AGO:  Pugliese Bread

 

FRENCH LEMON YOGURT CAKE WITH POPPYSEEDS

It’s a little hard to believe that it took me 5 years to finally blog on this cake, a classic that I’ve made quite a few times in the past decade to take to graduate students in our lab. The funny thing is that I thought it was already in the blog, so whenever I made it, I never bothered taking a picture. Last month, searching through my index to retrieve the recipe, I was shocked to realize the harsh reality: it was nowhere to be found.   Better late than never, this is the cake-challenged dream.  One bowl, one whisk, absolutely nothing can go wrong. Except of course, if you tip the bowl…

IMG_4759

FRENCH-STYLE YOGURT LEMON CAKE
(from Alpineberry)

for the cake:
3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
3 large eggs
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1/3 cup canola oil

for the glaze:
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Heat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9-inch round cake pan. Line with a parchment circle and butter the paper.

In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, sugar, and lemon zest with a whisk. spoon. Add the eggs and mix well.  Add the flour, baking powder, and poppy seeds. Mix until flour is just incorporated.

Add the oil and mix well. The batter will look curdled at first but it will come together. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, until your cake tester is clean and the cake springs back when lightly touched.

Allow cake to cool in pan on a rack for about 15 minutes. Remove cake from the pan and set on a rack to cool completely.

Combine the lemon juice and powdered sugar and spoon it gently over the cake. The glaze will be thin and will soak in like a syrup.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Such a perfect little dessert or morning treat with a cup of cappuccino.  Not too sweet, not too rich, poppy seeds are of course optional, but they add a very unique flavor, and look pretty cute in their random distribution through the cake.  If you have kids, it will be hard to find a recipe more appropriate for their first lesson in baking. By starting them early enough on this path, they won’t turn into cake-o-phobes like certain food bloggers you may know 😉

 

sliced

Disclaimer: No bowls were tipped during the making of this cake.
Isn’t that something?

 

ONE YEAR AGO: In My Kitchen – July 2013

TWO YEARS AGO: Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies

THREE YEARS AGO: Ina Garten’s Banana Bran Muffins

FOUR YEARS AGO: Beer Bread with Roasted Barley

FIVE YEARS AGO: Tomato Confit with Arugula and Zucchini

THE BEWITCHING KITCHEN TURNS FIVE!

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 Cake1

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.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

composite

 

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?

kitchen,jpg

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!

board

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.

pariskitchen

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.   😉

sunsetwalk1

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!

 

CLEMENTINE CAKE

cake

Clementines will always remind me of my stepson Alex, as he and his Dad would sit together devouring a few of them after dinner or mid-afternoon on weekends. We made sure to keep a backup bag stored away, just in case.  In our neck of the woods, they are sold as cuties, a well-chosen name. This cake – made in the food processor – is supposed to be very easy.  Of course,  Sally + Cake = Drama.  But it  ended reasonably well, except for a burn on my right hand. Actually, two burns.  A sticky kitchen floor. And a major spill of orange extract.

served2

CLEMENTINE CAKE
(From Razzle Dazzle Recipes)

Cake:
3 clementines
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup softened butter
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt

Icing:
1 clementine
2 tablespoons softened butter
1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon orange liqueur (I used orange extract, about 1/4 tsp)

Grease an 8-cup bundt pan. Peel clementines; cut into quarters. If there are seeds, remove them (they are normally seedless).  Process with sugar in food processor until smooth. Add butter, then eggs; processing after each addition until smooth.  Add flour, baking powder, and pinch of salt; process until combined. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake in 350-degree oven for 40 to 50 minutes or until golden.  Cool on rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan.

For icing: Grate and squeeze juice from clementine. In food processor, measure 1 teaspoon rind and 2 tablespoons juice; add butter, confectioners’ sugar and liqueur. Process until smooth. Drizzle over cake.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

At some point I would like to be able to bake a cake smoothly. No bumps, no boo-boos.  In this particular case, the cake part went fine, except for the fact that since our oven is a perverse piece of equipment, I had to keep moving the pan around to try to cook it evenly.  Burned my hand twice in the process, touching the grids. I thought I was off the hook, and proceeded to make the icing.  Knowing how powdered sugar has a tendency to make a mess, I was extra careful measuring the first cup, and then, all confident in my flawless technique, grabbed the 1/3 measuring cup but the bag literally Poltergeisted on me!  Powdered sugar everywhere, counter, floor, rug, my shoes…   Truth be told, not the first time it happened, and I suspect it won’t be the last.  (sigh)  No time to clean then, just chased the dogs away, failing to  notice I had the bottle of orange extract already open next to the food processor.  I bumped it. Double mess to clean up, a sticky mixture of powdered sugar and orange extract.  Its smell lingered for a looong while…

Although I greased the pan well, some parts of the cake stuck while unmolding.  I went Zen, and carefully lifted the stuck parts, patching them nicely back on top of the cake.  I expected the icing to hide my poor baking skills.   That takes me to the icing part. Since I did not have orange liqueur and the orange extract seemed quite strong, I reduced the amount to 1/4 teaspoon.  Eyeballed a little water to compensate. It seemed too thick, so I added more water.  That was a mistake in judgment.  The icing ended up too thin and failed to cover the cut and paste job on the surface of the cake. It explains why you only see a close-up photo of my production… I may not know how to bake a perfect cake, but I can point the camera like a pro!  😉 Anyway, I took the cake to the department already sliced, so the boo-boos were less evident.

The cake has a very intense clementine flavor, if you like cakes that are not too sweet, this is a great option.  Of course, it does have a lot of sugar in it, but the clementine juice and zest comes through loud and clear.   A perfect cake to make graduate students happy.  And lots of staff and faculty members too…

served1

ONE YEAR AGO: Springtime Spinach Risotto

TWO YEARS AGO: The end of green bean cruelty

THREE YEARS AGO: Torta di Limone e Mandorle