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.

Olive Oil Citrus Cake

February 19, 2011 at 10:49 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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olive oil cirtus cake

We’ve had a long, cold winter here, but for two days this week we got a little peek of spring.  The temperature has gone back downtown, but two days of melting snow and no jackets required has left me feeling less weighed down and in the mood for something fresh and light.  I have heaps of citrus in the fridge right now, and have had my eye on this Olive Oil Citrus Cake from a sweet little book called Rustic Fruit Desserts for a while It is bright and sunny in flavor (kind of reminded me of Fruit Loops!) and moist and springy in texture.  It puts me in the mood for more things citrus.

The recipe calls for a whole cup of fruity extra virgin olive oil, so I broke out my special bottle.  To be a little more thrifty in terms of both dollars and calories, next time I may experiment with 2/3 cup of oil and 1/3 cup of low-fat yogurt.  Sounds like it would work here, no?  The recipe calls for grapefruit, lemon and orange zests, but these can definitely be switched up.  I didn’t have a grapefruit on hand, so I subbed lime zest in the cake and orange juice in the glaze.  I’m sure this cake would be excellent even made with only lemon or orange.

olive oil cirtus cake

Olive Oil Citrus Cake- makes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Steph’s Note:  Use a fruity olive oil here rather than a peppery one.  Feel free to mix up the citrus, depending on what you have at home.

1 1/4 c unsifted (5 oz) cake flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t fine sea salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 T plus 3/4 c (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
zest of 1 grapefruit
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 t vanilla extract
1/4 t lemon oil (optional)
1 c extra-virgin olive oil

¾ c powdered sugar
2 T freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

-Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Using a paper towel, coat a 9-inch by 2-inch round baking pan with olive oil (I also lined mine with a parchment round), then sprinkle it with about 1 tablespoon of granulated sugar.

-To make the cake, sift flour, baking powder, and salt together twice. Using a handheld mixer or stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, and zests on high speed for 5 minutes, until the eggs are thickened and lighter in color.  Add the vanilla and lemon oil. Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed and drizzle the olive oil into the batter, pouring slowly along the edge of the bowl.  Add the flour and mix on low speed until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.

-Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden and domed slightly in the center.  Cool to room temperature.

-To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl.  Add the grapefruit juice, and whisk to combine.  Pour the glaze over the cooled cake.

-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake

January 25, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments

nutty, chocolaty, swirly sour cream bundt cake

It’s cold.  So cold that I don’t want to go outside.  So cold that I just want to stay at home and bake all day.  And that’s just how I spent this past Saturday.  First up was this Nutty, Chocolaty, Swirly Sour Cream Bundt Cake.  It’s kind of a cross between a pound cake and a coffee cake…a pound cake-type base with a swirls of sugar, cinnamon and chopped nuts and chocolate running through.  Dorie’s recipe also calls for raisins, but since I don’t normally go for fruit and chocolate combos, I left them out entirely.  However, to totally contradict what I just said, I did add the orange zest (actually I used tangerine), and liked the gentle citrus flavor a lot. 

A word of warning…making the cake was easy, making the swirl was easy, but combining them was not.  I read about sticking, so I was careful not to let the first layer of the sugar-based swirl mix come in contact with the pan.  That wasn’t too tricky, but then when I added the second and final layer of swirl, the cake batter was so stiff, I really couldn’t easily work it over the swirl to cover it.  Not wanting to bake it with exposed swirlage (because it would fall out when I flipped the cake), I popped the cake in the oven for about three minutes, until the batter just started to soften.  Then it was a breeze to get that swirl covered up with batter.

My husband asked for “big pieces” of this cake.  We both liked how it had a nice outer crust with soft cake inside.  And course cinnamon, nuts and chocolate, too!

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

French Fridays with Dorie: Michel Rostang’s Double Chocolate Mousse Cake

January 21, 2011 at 11:09 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, french fridays with dorie, groups, sweet things | 24 Comments

michel rostangs's double chocolate mousse cake

This is baked chocolate mousse.  End of post.

Really, that’s all I think needs to be said.  It is dark and silky and my idea of a perfectly elegant chocolate dessert.  There are options with this cake, too.  You can bake of just part of the mousse as a base, then top it with the remaining mousse and either chill it as-is or bake it again.  If you bake it again, you can either eat it warm or pop it in the fridge and eat it cold.  Decision tree analysis is not my forte, but in the end I opted for the fully baked variation and enjoyed it chilled (and I think it was a good call).  Don’t fret when your cake comes out of the oven puffed and then totally sinks in the middle as it rests.  It’s supposed to…and anyway, that dip is the perfect spot to pile on whipped cream!

michel rostangs's double chocolate mousse cake

I think I’ll be making this again for Valentine’s Day.  For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan.  Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts (and you might want to check out the P&Q section…some folks had problems with mousee seeping while baking, although I did not experience this)!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleines

January 11, 2011 at 12:20 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 26 Comments

fluff-filled chocolate madeleines

Whenever I start a new food job, my new coworkers always seem to ask me where I’m from.  I’m going through this phase at my job right now, and sometimes the question makes me scratch my head…like, what was the last place I worked for, or where did I grow up?  I’ve come to realize that, more often than not, the person asking has recently moved to NYC from someplace else, and is wondering about my hometown.  While I think a lot about the places and people I grew up with, the day I left for college in the early ’90s was the last time I was ever in my childhood home…my parents packed up and moved cross-country a few weeks later.  And, apart from the two years I spent in Sydney, I’ve been in New York since 1996.  Sometimes I think that I’m more Brooklyn than NoVA now, but I don’t, and wouldn’t ever want to, forget where I’m from.

If you asked a Fluff-Filled Chocolate Madeleine where it’s from, it would probably tell you, that while it was born in France, it has spent the last couple decades living in Texas.  A plate of these guys would likely not make Proust remember anything, but one taste would probably shoot most American grown-ups right back to childhood!  Apart from their scalloped shape and cakey texture, they are pretty far removed from their French origins, but with ganache and marshie Fluff, they are instantly recognizable to me.  A couple of tips if you want to make these yummies at home: if you nuke your Fluff jar for 5-10 seconds, it will be much easier to get the sticky stuff out of the jar and into a piping bag; also, madeleines stale quickly, so if you like them soft, eat them soon after they’re put together.

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

 

Tuesdays with Dorie: Cardamom Crumb Cake

December 21, 2010 at 12:06 am | Posted in breakfast things, cakes & tortes, groups, muffins & quick breads, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments

cardamom crumb cake

Have I told you what I have been up to lately?  I started November wishing I could find a part-time job, and now I have two part-time jobs, totaling way more hours than a typical full-time one.  I get very anxious about waking up for job #1 at 5:45 in the morning after I’ve been at job #2 until 11:00 at night.  How do I get myself into these things, and why have I started every new food job I’ve had during the super-busy holiday season?  Oh well, it won’t last forever…job #2 is only for another few weeks.

For the time being, I do really look forward to the one morning a week when I can drink coffee out of a proper cup and stuff my face with things like Cardamom Crumb Cake for breakfast.  I get really happy when folks like Jill pick a breakfast recipe for TWD, and this coffee cake highlights one of my favorite spices.  I’d say that this is a simple, plain cake, but cardamom is an interesting flavor and is something a bit more unexpected than cinnamon.  Combine it with orange zest, espresso powder and walnut crumb topping, and you’ve got a cake I’d eat any day of the week.  Happily, the second half of  mine is tucked away in the freezer until Saturday.

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

Tuesdays with Dorie: Apple-Coconut Family Cake

December 14, 2010 at 9:37 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments

apple-coconut family cake

R and I just got ourselves a new desktop computer.  After working off laptops for the past six or seven years, my fingers feel very clumsy on a full-size keyboard and I’m not used to a mouse at all.  (Can you tell I also haven’t had a desk job in a really long time?)  I have to be sure to hit the spell-check button, or this post will be riddled with typos.  I’m excited to see all the beautiful Apple-Coconut Family Cakes on a big screen, though! 

There’s something about the term “family cake” that sounds really appealing…cute and cozy.  And there’s something about the apple-coconut combination that sounds unusual…how often do you see those two paired up?  Even though there is quite a lot of coconut  in this cake (I used unsweetened desiccated coconut from the health food store, which is more finely grated than the sweetened sheds), I didn’t find its flavor to be that pronounced…I actually thought it tasted more of the rum than coconut.  Instead, I noticed most what it gave to the cake’s texture– sturdiness and bit of chew.  A heap of diced apples kept it moist and the unsweetened coconut kept it from being too saccharine.  This is one I’ll make again.

We are just a family of two, so I only made half a recipe.  Despite its small size, my cake took longer to bake than the 45 minutes Dorie recommended for the full version.  At the 45 minute mark, the edge was nicely browned, but the middle was still wet, so I put foil over the pan and popped it back in the oven for an extra 5+ minutes.  That helped steam up the middle a bit and cooked it through.

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

French Fridays with Dorie: Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake

November 26, 2010 at 10:27 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 13 Comments

caramel-topped semolina cake

Oops– Friday almost passed me by.  Too much leftover Thanksgiving turkey putting me to sleep, I guess.  But I did make this Caramel-Topped Semolina Cake last week, so gosh darn-it, I’m making sure I get this up, stat!

What intrigued me about this cake is it can be made with Cream of Wheat.  I always have a box of that stuff in the cupboard.  I just love it.  It makes me think of snow days when I was a kid.  Waking up and finding out that school was cancelled because of snow was the best feeling ever.  Going back to bed for another couple hours and later having a piping hot bowl of Cream of Wheat while watching “Classic Concentration,” “Scrabble” or “The Price is Right” on TV, then bundling up and going outside to horse around in the snow with my brother and our neighborhood BFFs, Shannon and Andrew…that, to me, equaled childhood bliss.

This cake turns Cream of Wheat (or semolina) into something almost flan-like.  Caramel on the bottom of the cake pan becomes sauce when the baked semolina custard-cake is turned out.  I think the result is supposed to be a bit more saucy than mine (all the caramel was absorbed into the cake), so next time I’ll double the caramel in the recipe.  Very tasty, though.  I’ll make this again and serve it with one thing I never ate my kiddie CoW with– rum whipped cream!

For the recipe, see Around my French Table by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here on Martha Stewart’s site).  Don’t forget to check out my fellow francophiles’ posts (not all of us are doing semolina cake this week)!

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