Tuesdays with Dorie: A Fig Cake For Fall

October 25, 2011 at 12:15 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments

a fig cake for fall

Fresh figs are a rare treat in my house…they are not so hard to find at the shops when they’re in season, but they don’t come home with me often.  I was excited to buy a pint to make this cake with TWD.  Beneath these flashy ruby port-poached figs is an appealingly rustic and sturdy cake, flavored with honey and cornmeal.  I brushed a little of the reduced port syrup on top of the figs after the cake had cooled.  Whipped cream on the side was a must.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Cookie Rookie.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple Nut Muffin Cake

October 4, 2011 at 12:09 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, muffins & quick breads, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 10 Comments
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apple nut muffin cake

This Apple Nut Muffin Cake is quintessential fall baking…apples, cinnamon, brown sugar, walnuts and raisins…all things that make your house smell great.  Rolled oats (and swapping a little whole grain flour for AP) make this easy breakfast cake feel even more wholesome.  It is just like a muffin in terms of technique and texture, but, not that I would ever really call muffin-making fussy, you simply slap the batter into a cake pan and go….ready for coffee in about 35 minutes.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Baking and Boys!, as it was Katrina’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Flip-Over Plum Cake

September 27, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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flip-over plum cake

Plums are one of the last tastes of summer fruit.  Let’s not be too sad to see the summer go…instead, let’s celebrate with plum cake– Flip-Over Plum Cake.  This is the world’s easier batter to throw together…a quick whisk and that’s it.  It doesn’t even have any eggs.  That was kind of a curveball, actually– I had to, like, quadruple check the recipe to make sure I wasn’t missing something.  Scatter the plums over top and toss it in the oven.  The plums magically turn into a sweet-tart jam layer on the bottom, and the bizarrely egg-less batter turns into delicious cake!

Dorie has this in the breakfast section, and it’s so tasty, I’m sure it would be a fabulous way to start the day, but a little whipped cream turns it into a perfectly lovely dessert, which is how we ate it over here.  I’m betting it would also be great with peaches or nectarines, although I am partial to that intense plum-red color bleeding though.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Project Domestication, as it was Becky’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Apricot and Cinnamon Cake

August 19, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 3 Comments
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apricot and cinnamon cake

No big story here…some apricots that needed using up led me to rifle through my cookbook collection for inspiration.  I found this Apricot and Cinnamon Cake in Bill Granger’s Every Day.  When we lived in Sydney, visiting one of the bill’s restaurants was always a special treat, and I think he is a master of simple cakes and baked goods (and he makes the best pancakes!).

This is a cinnamon-spiced cake with halves of juicy apricots baked in.  A crumb topping with more cinnamon gives it a perfect morning coffee cake vibe, but if you add a scoop of ice cream, it suddenly seems more like dessert.  I used small apricots, but I think peaches or nectarines would be equally delicious (if they are large, they may need to be cut into thick slices, rather than simply halved, though).  This cake smells wonderful in the oven.

Apricot and Cinnamon Cake— makes one 8″ cake
adapted from Every Day by Bill Granger

Steph’s Notes:  The cinnamon is front and center in this cake.  If you’d rather have it little more subtly spiced, I’d suggest leaving the cinnamon amount as-is in the cake portion and reducing it by half in the topping.  If you don’t have self-raising flour to make the cake, you can use 140 grams of all-purpose flour combined with 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

for the cake:
140 g (5 oz) self-raising flour
1/2 t ground cinnamon
50 g (1 3/4 oz) sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 T milk (or 3 T Australian)
1 t vanilla extract
85 g (3 oz) unsalted butter, melted
350 g (12 oz) apricot halves

for the topping:
40 g (1 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
1 t ground cinnamon
35 g (1 1/4 oz) sugar
pinch of salt

35 g (1 1/4 oz) unsalted butter, chilled and diced

-Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).

-To the topping, put the flour, cinnamon, sugar and pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub the butter with your fingertips until crumbs form. Chill while you assemble the rest of the cake.

-Grease and line the base of an 8″ (20 cm) round springform pan.  (You can use a regular 8″ cake pan, greased and lined with parchment, instead, but you will need to flip the cake out and reinvert it if you want to serve it out of the pan.)

-Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl and stir in the sugar.

-Make a well in the center and pour in the egg, milk, vanilla and melted butter. Mix with a wooden spoon until the batter is smooth, then spoon into the cake pan.

-Arrange the apricots, cut-side up, evenly over the batter and then press gently down. Scatter the topping evenly over the apricots.

-Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the cake is light golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.  Leave on a rack to cool before removing from the pan.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Date-Nut Loaf

June 21, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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date-nut loaf

I hate to admit it, but I didn’t think this Date-Nut Loaf seemed like much when it came out of the oven.  It was kind of pale, and when I sliced into it, I thought it looked a little dry.  Boy, I was wrong!  This was a great cake with a cup of coffee for breakfast.  It’s actually really soft and has a tender crumb.  My husband was pumped for this, because he loves dates.  They taste like soft brown sugar nuggets in the cake.

I made a half recipe in my little loaf pan, so I shortened the baking time to under an hour (and didn’t bother to foil tent it).  Because it sounded like a good candidate for a little whole grain flour swapping, I subbed about a quarter of the AP for whole wheat pastry flour.  I haven’t yet tried Dorie’s suggestion of toasting left over slices, but if there’s any remaining tomorrow morning, I might give it a shot.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Popsicles and Sandy Feet, as it was Mary’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake

June 7, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 15 Comments
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blueberry-brown sugar plain cake

A trip to up Boston for my Wellesley reunion this past weekend meant that I wasn’t able to make this Blueberry-Brown Sugar Plain Cake until this morning.  Glad I got around to it though, because it is just plain good.  It has a hint of cinnamon, a kiss of brown sugar and a big whomp of blueberries.  With almost as much fruit as batter, I think it should stay moist for a good long time…although I won’t find out, because we’ll be polishing it off for breakfast tomorrow!  (Hey–don’t judge–I only made half a recipe…we can’t eat that much cake in two days!)

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here on Culinate) or read Everyday Insanity, as it was Cindy’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

P.S.: I forgot to mention that I swapped out some of the AP for spelt flour, one of my favorite flours to use in muffins and fruity cakes like this.  Also, I think this cake would be tasty with raspberries, and I may try that out later in the season.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Brown Sugar Bundt Cake

May 10, 2011 at 12:10 am | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 19 Comments
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brown sugar bundt cake

Well, I do think we have finally found ourselves at the end of the TWD Bundt cake chapter.  A bittersweet day, perhaps…if that may be said concerning something called a Brown Sugar Bundt.

The recipe for this brown sugar and buttermilk cake calls for chunks of apple or pear in the batter (and some prunes, too), but in the interests of being sort of seasonal, I was really hoping to make this with rhubarb.  That plan was foiled, though, after trips to two different farmers’ markets and one produce stand turned up zilch.  I returned home with a nice, ripe mango in my bag and just used that instead (and nixed those prunes).  Despite all the brown sugar in the ingredient list– I used half light, half dark–this cake was not a sugar-bomb at all.  The sweetness was understated enough that I think it would have been a fabulous breakfast cake, even though we had it for dessert.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Pantry Revisited, as it was Peggy’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Matcha Marbled Loaf Cake

May 3, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 12 Comments
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matcha marbled loaf cake

Chocolate and vanilla may be the classic marble cake combo, but a flash of springtime color inspiration made me want something different from the usual swirls of black and white for my Basic Marbled Loaf.  After wondering what I might have at home that would give me a “natural” green swirl (besides frozen spinach, that is), I remembered my tiny tin of matcha tea powder.  I used it to tinge half of my batter green, and added almond extract to the other (plain) half.

I made a half recipe in my little loaf pan, so I was already on the lookout for a shorter baking time than the recipe suggests, but it sounds like even if you bake a full-sizer, you may want to check your cake several minutes early.  My marbling efforts looked more like blobs, but I don’t care too much since it tasted good.  I had a slice with some tea while watching the Royal Wedding.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read The Bake More, as it was Carol’s pick this week.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Lora Brody’s Chocolate Cherry Torte

April 1, 2011 at 4:51 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, sweet things | 9 Comments
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lora brody's chocolate cherry torte

I know that it’s technically spring, but the weather here seems to have missed the memo.  I was hoping that the light snow called for in this morning’s forecast was just an April fool’s joke, but, alas, it was for real.  Rhubarb and ramps have gotta be just around the corner, though, so I’m going to take these (hopefully) final chilly days to squeeze in some of the heavier desserts I won’t be in the mood for soon.  Things like this dense, rich Chocolate-Cherry Torte.

I think this was my husband’s dream cake….chocolate, almonds and cherries…all his favorite things together in one.  I loved the fudgy texture of the cake itself, and, of course, the chocolate ganache glaze.  The thin layer of marzipan in between the cake and glaze was a nice flavor touch.  This isn’t a difficult cake (in fact, you can make the batter in the food processor), but there are a few steps from start to finish.  A fun project for a chilly day spent inside!

lora brody's chocolate cherry torte

Lora Brody’s Chocolate Cherry Torte- makes 8 to 12 servings
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook by Amanda Hesser

Steph’s Note:  You can use semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, depending on how sweet you’d like the cake to be.  I found jarred Morello cherries at Trader Joe’s.  I used marzipan in lieu of almond paste here.

for the cake:
3 T finely ground fresh bread crumbs
one 24 oz jar pitted Morello or sour cherries
6 oz dark chocolate
12 T softened unsalted butter, plus some for greasing pan
2/3 c granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 t vanilla extract
1/2 t almond extract
1/2 c ground almonds
2/3 c flour

2 T confectioner’s sugar
8 oz almond paste (or marzipan)

for the glaze:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp. instant espresso powder
8 oz. dark chocolate

-Preheat oven to 350°F; put rack in center of oven.  Butter a 9″ or 10″ springform pan.  Add the breadcrumbs and shake pan to coat bottom and sides.  Shake out the excess.  Drain cherries well and set aside.

-Melt chocolate in double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring occasionally.

-Put the butter and sugar into a mixer or food processor and blend until light and creamy. Add one egg and mix well.  Then add second egg and mix well.  Add the extracts. Add the melted chocolate and mix gently or process in a few quick pulses.  Mix in the almonds and the flour, and finally, the remaining egg.

-Pour and scrape the batter into prepared pan. Smooth top with a spatula.  Arrange cherries in close concentric circles on top (the entire surface should be covered) and press them gently into batter so just the tops are showing. If the surface is uneven, smooth it out with a wet spatula.  There may be a few cherries leftover.

-Bake for 50 minutes to one hour. Don’t overbake. The cake may look dry on top, but will be moist inside. Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

-Put a length of waxed paper on flat surface and sprinkle with confectioner’s’ sugar.  Work the almond paste into a flat round and turn it in the sugar. Cover with the second sheet of waxed paper and roll out into a circle the diameter of the cake.  It should be quite thin (about 1/16th”). Take off top layer of waxed paper.

-Using the cake pan as a guide, cut out a circle that will fit the top of the cake exactly.  Save extra pieces to patch any torn part or use for decorations. Cover the cake with the almond-paste round.

-To make the glaze, bring cream and coffee to a slow boil in heavy sauce pan.  Take it off the heat and add the chocolate; stir gently until the chocolate is melted with no lumps (you can strain it if lumpy). Let the glaze cool briefly, until spreadable.  Thin it with 1-2 t hot water if it’s too thick.

-Place cake on a rack over a sheet of waxed paper to catch drippings. Pour a thin layer chocolate glaze over the cake spreading it with a spatula. It should cover the top and sides of cake. Chill the cake briefly and and a second coat.  Decorate if you wish (you can make roses or cut-outs from any almond paste scraps).

-This cake will keep unrefrigerated in a cool place for 2 days. It can be refrigerated, but the glaze will lose shine.

Please note that the publisher, W.W. Norton, sent me a copy of this book…but I would have bought it anyway!

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake

March 13, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 9 Comments
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whiskey-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake

I’m not an Irish girl (although with my reddish hair and fair skin, you can’t imagine how often I’m asked), but I’m still up for celebrating Saint Patrick’s Day.  I’m long done with the overcrowed pub thing though, so this year I’m going to get my booze on with Melissa Clarke’s Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt instead.  It is loaded with a whole cup of whiskey, Jameson Irish in this case, and if you like this sort of thing, it is amazingly good.  The crumb is tight and not fluffy, but instead of being a dense chocolate cake, the texture is soft as velvet.

If you read through the recipe, you’ll notice that the cake isn’t meant to be frosted.  It truly doesn’t need it, but my cake needed it.  You see, I decided to ignore the direction to flour my Bundt pan.  Usually a good spray is all I need to get a clean release, but when I went to turn this cake out the entire outer layer stuck to the pan.  Crappola.  I patched back what I could (and ate what I couldn’t!), and then whipped up a quick gancahe to spackle and hide my goof.  I think I did a good job with the reconstructive surgery– I can barely tell. 

Bottoms up!

whiskey-soaked dark chocolate bundt cake

Whiskey-Soaked Dark Chocolate Bundt Cake- makes 10 to 12 servings
adapted from Melissa Clark’s fabulous book  In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, more for greasing pan
2 cups all-purpose flour, more for dusting pan
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup instant espresso powder
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup bourbon, rye or other whiskey, more for sprinkling
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
confectioners’ sugar, for garnish (optional)

 -Grease and flour a 10-cup-capacity Bundt pan (or two 8- or 9-inch loaf pans). Preheat oven to 325° F. In microwave oven or double boiler over simmering water, melt chocolate. Let cool.

-Put espresso and cocoa powders in a 2-cup (or larger) glass measuring cup. Add enough boiling water to come up to the 1 cup measuring line. Mix until powders dissolve. Add whiskey and salt; let cool.

-Using an electric mixer, beat 1 cup butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat until well combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, baking soda and melted chocolate, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.

-On low speed, beat in a third of the whiskey mixture. When liquid is absorbed, beat in 1 cup flour. Repeat additions, ending with whiskey mixture. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake until a cake tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes for Bundt pan (loaf pans will take less time, start checking them after 55 minutes).

-Transfer cake to a rack. Unmold after 15 minutes and sprinkle warm cake with more whiskey. Let cool before serving, garnished with confectioners’ sugar if you like.

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