LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE

Fifteen years ago, if you arrived in our place anytime during the weekend, chances are the FoodTV would be on. Great selection of wonderful shows, a lot to learn in a very entertaining way. Not the case anymore. Even my favorite show, The Kitchen – which I still watch every Saturday – caters more and more to grocery store shortcuts, in a kind of indirect advertisement that irritates me. I am 99% sure Chef Geoffrey Zakarian does not fall for the stuff promoted in the show. It was not the case in the beginning, but obviously money speaks loud. Why do I still tune in? I like those four people together, they have a nice chemistry going on, and every once in a while I find a gem of a recipe (like Jeff Mauro’s eggplant parmigiana). But coming back to what matters, there is one show on the Food Network I like a lot: Girl Meets Farm, with Molly Yeh, a beautiful, super energetic and fun-loving girl who cooks pretty eclectic food, influenced by her Chinese and Jewish backgrounds.  And, she loves to bake. From scratch. No cake mixes and shortcuts. There you go. This delicious example came straight from one episode I watched last year. You know, back in 2018.

LEMON ALMOND CAKE WITH CRANBERRY GLAZE
(slightly modified from Girl Meets Farm)

for the cake:
1 + 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (180 g)
1/2 cup almond flour (48 g)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Zest of 1 lemon
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt (185 g)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 to 2 lemons)
1 + 1/4 cups granulated sugar (250 g)
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (about 160 g)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

for the glaze:
1/2 cup (50 grams) fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup powdered sugar, plus more if necessary
Pinch kosher salt
sprinkles to decorate (optional)

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line with parchment paper. I used a Silikomart mold called Water Drop, and 4 small cupcake type molds.

Whisk together the flour, almond flour, poppy seeds, baking powder, salt, baking soda and zest in a medium bowl. Mix the yogurt and lemon juice in a separate small bowl until very smooth. Whisk together the granulated sugar and olive oil in a large bowl until well combined. Add the eggs to the olive oil mixture, one at a time, whisking very well after each, then stir in the almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture to the olive oil mixture in three alternating additions, whisking after each until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan(s) and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the cranberry glaze: Combine the cranberries with 1 tablespoon water in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until the cranberries start to break down and release their juices, 5 to 10 minutes. Pour the cranberries and their juices into a fine-mesh sieve placed over a bowl. Press the mixture through the sieve with a spatula, making sure to scrape off the bottom of the sieve and adding that to the bowl as well. Add the powdered sugar and salt to the bowl and mix until it comes together into a spreadable glaze.  If the glaze is too thick, add a couple drops of water until it’s thin enough to spread. If it’s too thin, add more powdered sugar. Pour over the cooled cake.

Decorate with sprinkles or slivered almonds, if you like.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This is a recipe for cake-o-phobes, simple, no need to even get your KitchenAid out to play. The cake is moist, satisfying, and don’t even think about omitting the glaze, it is just fantastic. The type of glaze that tempts you to go at it with a small knife when no one is looking and turn any leftover cake into its naked self. No, I did not do it. Just considered it. Very seriously so.

My glaze was a bit thick, so it did not show the ridges on the baking pans too well, but I still like the delicate effect, the suggestion of a pattern underneath. Lemon, almond, cranberries and poppy seeds. Keep this combination in mind, it’s a real winner!

Molds used in this bake: Silikomart Water Drop and Silikomart Parfum. If you have information on programs for recovering silicone mold-addicts, please be so kind and leave me their number in a comment.  Thank you.

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HOMMAGE TO THE SUN

For those living in certain areas of the United States, August 21st marked a very special day. A total eclipse of the sun was visualized all the way from Oregon to South Carolina. I remember watching a solar eclipse in Brazil with my Dad when I was very young. I’ve always thought it was a total eclipse, but it turns out in São Paulo it was more around 75% coverage of the sun by the moon. Still, we darkened pieces of glass with smoke from a candle, a popular home-made strategy those days to be able to follow the event. Honestly, I don’t remember much from the actual eclipse, more the excitement of getting ready for it. Until now, I was not aware of the striking difference between a 95% eclipse to what is described as “totality.”  Here is my advice: if you ever have a chance to place yourself in the path of totality, do not hesitate. It is totally worth it (pun intended).

Our town was within driving distance to the path of totality. One of our colleagues organized a one-day scientific meeting on Membrane Biochemistry on August 20th, so that next day all participants could drive to their chosen spot to visualize the event.  The meeting started on Sunday at 9am, and yours truly was asked to bake something as a breakfast treat to the participants. After I stopped hyperventilating about it, I went with the suggestion of my friend Denise, and baked a cake from Mary Berry, the goddess behind The Great British Bake-Off.  Its bright yellow color would pay tribute to the sun in all its glory…

 

LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE
(from Mary Berry)

for cake:
225g (8 oz) butter , softened
225g (8 oz) sugar
275g (10 oz) self-rising flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
4 eggs
4 tablespoons milk
finely grated rind of 2 lemons

 for topping:
175g (6 oz) granulated sugar
juice of 2 lemons

Cut a rectangle of non-stick baking parchment to fit the base and sides of a 12 x 9 x 1 ½ inches baking pan. Grease the pan and then line with the paper, pushing it neatly into the corners of the tin. Heat the oven to 325°F.

Measure all the cake ingredients in a large bowl and beat well for about 2 minutes until well blended, an electric mixer is best for this but of course you can also beat by hand with a wooden spoon. Turn the mixture into the prepared pan, scraping the sides of the bowl with a plastic spatula to remove all of the mixture. Level the top gently with the back of the spatula.

Bake in the middle  oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake springs back when pressed lightly with a finger in the center and is beginning to shrink away from the sides of the pan.

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for a few minutes then lift it out of the pan still in the lining paper. Carefully remove the paper and put the cake onto a wire rack placed over a tray (to catch drips of the topping).

To make the crunchy topping, mix the lemon juice and granulated sugar in a small bowl to give a runny consistency. Spoon this mixture evenly over the cake whilst it is still just warm. Cut into squares when cold.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I really think I should try it before you share with your colleagues, Mom…

Comments:  Make. This. Cake. That is about it. It is so easy to make that you can definitely do that as a project with young kids. One bowl. Have your butter room temperature soft. Same for the eggs. Add everything to the bowl, mix two minutes. Pour in the pan. It will seem like not enough batter. You will have intense pangs of self-doubt. Ignore them all. Keep calm and bake on. Make the drizzle. Drizzle. Store the cake until totally cold (there I go, totality again). Cut in squares. Share with loved ones. Maybe offer a tiny sliver to your faithful canine companions. Forget the maybe. They deserve a little treat. Just like a total solar eclipse, cake doesn’t happen very often in a doggie’s life. The cake is a burst of lemon, the crunchy topping a perfect crowning for it.

THE ECLIPSE. We had quite  a bit of excitement that morning. The weather seemed horrible at first, we drove through storms, small storm cells were all around us. We were sure the day would be a complete disappointment. First we were headed to a small town called Wymore in Nebraska, but when we got there the sky was too heavy with clouds, so we kept going north, hitting Beatrice. We stayed there from the very beginning of the event, until the sun was about 75% covered, then Phil decided to go reverse-cloud-chasing, using his intuition and sense of direction to place us in a better spot. To make a long story short, with 8 minutes to totality we found ourselves all alone on the side of a farm road. Absolutely no other cars, no other human beings. Total silence, except for the chirping sound of birds and crickets or other creatures I am not too fond of, to be honest. Then, it all went dark, and we saw the magnificent corona forming around the now dark sun. It is so sudden, as if someone flipped a switch to turn it on… It is so bright, so magical, we were absolutely mesmerized by it. To the right, Venus popped up, its presence made visible by the night sky in the middle of the day. For two minutes we were surrounded by darkness, with a delicate shade of red around the horizon. But not in a million years I could foresee what was coming. I had heard of the diamond ring effect, but its explosion of beauty right in front of our eyes was almost too much to take. I offer you a link to a youtube made in Beatrice, a bit to the north of where we were. The images we saw were brighter because we had less cloud coverage. You can see the diamond ring quite clearly in the end of the video.

No matter how many explanations and videos, nothing could have prepared me for those 2 minutes that went by fast, fast, fast, hard to take it all in. The majestic beauty of the universe, watching an event that was part of human history for thousands of years, provoking fear, provoking all sorts of emotions, until science could predict it to the second. Still, being able to understand it cannot take away the beauty of it, the way it makes us all feel small in comparison to the universe staring back at us. Mind blowing. I hope we, as a species, can do our best to preserve the planet, to make it viable for many MANY generations to come.
 

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FESTIVE GLAZED CRANBERRY LEMON CAKE

christmas-card

Time to celebrate! And what could be better than a cake topped with bright red cranberries?  At this time of the year, I go through two phases of culinary fever. First the pumpkin. Then these tasty ruby-red babies. In my mind, both are mandatory part of the end of the year festivities. Typing that gives me a sense of nostalgia. 2016 went by way too fast.  Oh, well. Back to food. Cranberries are perfect in sweets, because they are tart. Yin and yang. In this cake, drizzled with a little powdered sugar icing, they shine. Make this festive cake and take it for holiday potlucks or simply share with your co-workers, neighbors, family, friends. A little coffee or tea will go well great with a slice. Or two. All credit goes to Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, the moment I saw her blog post about it, I could not stop thinking about it.

cranberry-lemon-glazed-cake11
GLAZED CRANBERRY LEMON CAKE
(from Mel’s Kitchen)
.
for the cake:

1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces), room temperature
1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
3 cups (12 ounces) fresh cranberries
2 1/2 cups (12.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups (11.25 ounces) granulated sugar
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
.
for the glaze:

1 cup (4 ounces) powdered sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
 .
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously grease a 10 or 12-inch bundt cake pan with butter – making sure to grease all the nooks and crannies really well. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan, then layer the cranberries evenly over the sugar.
 .
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the granulated sugar together with the zest from the lemons. Rub the zest into the sugar with your fingers until the sugar is infused with the lemon fragrance. Add the butter to the bowl with the lemon sugar and, using the paddle attachment on the stand mixer, beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, mixing and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
 .
Combine the buttermilk with the 2 tablespoons lemon juice in a measuring glass. To a large bowl, add one-third of the dry ingredients (eyeballing is fine). Mix until just combined and a few dry streaks remain. Add half of the buttermilk/lemon mixture. Mix again until just combined. Add another third of the dry ingredients and mix until just combined, followed by the remaining half buttermilk/lemon juice mixture. Mix. Add the final third of the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Spread the batter carefully into the prepared pan over the cranberries.
 .
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until lightly golden on top and just set. Transfer the bundt pan to a  wire rack and let cool about 10 minutes. Invert the cake onto a serving platter, tapping lightly so the cake falls out. Let the cake cool completely.
 .
For the glaze, combine the powdered sugar with the 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk until smooth. Add additional lemon juice or milk for a thinner consistency, if needed. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and let set, 5-10 minutes, before slicing and serving.
.
ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

cranbcollage

Comments: Can you believe that I had zero issues with this cake? I know, how can it be possible? It is shocking. I loved the smell as it baked, and the way it un-molded so perfectly, maybe one or two cranberries stayed stuck at the bottom of the pan, but they were carefully picked up and placed on the correct spot. Plus, the icing takes care of eventual boo-boos. Very forgiving. My kind of cake. The crumb was moist and tender, the tartness of the cranberries  in perfect balance with the sweetness of the cake and icing. And, it looked pretty good too.

buck11

I wish all my readers a wonderful holiday season! 

glazed-cranberry-lemon-cake-from-bewitching-kitchen

 

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