Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Hazelnut Baby Loaves

November 3, 2015 at 2:36 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 4 Comments
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hazelnut baby loaves

For all the yapping I did last week about wanting my own dessert, I have to admit that I shared one of Johanne Killeen’s individual Hazelnut Baby Cakes.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want a whole little loaf cake all to myself…it’s just that a mini loaf is actually kind of a lot of cake.

These mini loaves were easy to make.  I did take them out of the oven a few minutes before the time noted in the recipe, and I did replace one tablespoon of butter with this lovely hazelnut oil that I bough a while back to use in vinaigrettes and keep forgetting about.  Other than that, I followed the recipe as-is.  I was pleased to use my mini loaf pans, which almost never see the light of day.

The cakes themselves aren’t too sweet, so it’s nice to serve them with a little something.  In addition to the suggested mascarpone-whipped cream (sans grappa, thank you), we had our baby cakes with poached pear slices and candied hazelnuts.  Speaking of that cream, after I made my husband a birthday cannoli cake a few months ago and frosted it with mascarpone whipped cream,  I decided that adding a nice blob of mascarpone is the best way to stabilize whipped cream.  It’s light, tastes delicious and holds up perfectly for a few days.  I highly recommend.

hazelnut baby loaves

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.  There’s also a video of the TV episode.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Tiger Cakes

October 13, 2015 at 6:10 pm | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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tiger cakes

I first had a Tiger Cake a couple of years ago at a beautiful bakery in Montreal, but I had no idea what it was called.  I don’t think there was a sign and I just pointed to it and I took it to-go.  When I ate it I thought it was so delicious– moist and chewy with ganache in the center– that I kicked myself for not having gotten its name.  I could tell that it had almond flour in it and its texture seemed like a financier, so I immediately Googled around in English and French (it’s limited, but thanks to my fluent mother, I can speak some– especially food words!).  I found exactly what I was looking for on several French sites, les tigrés au chocolat.  Although I once posted about a tiger cake, it was a very different animal, and I never did make les tigrés at home.  I didn’t forget about them, though, and was delighted to see a recipe for Tiger Cakes in Baking Chez Moi.  I have nominated the recipe several for TWD times now, and I am really glad that its time has come!

This batter is a lot like a financier, or maybe more like a friand, with melted butter and egg whites.  It stirs together in just a few seconds.  Dorie’s recipe has finely chopped chocolate mixed into the batter to give the tiger cakes their stripes, but a bunch of those French recipes I saw called for chocolate vermicelli instead.  Makes sense to me…jimmies do look like stripes.  I have a box of nice Dutch dark chocolate ones, so I went ahead and used them (and also saved the trouble of chopping up chocolate into tiny flecks).  I just eyeballed the amount.  Some folks had trouble getting their baked tigers out of the tin, and recommended greasing well.  My mini muffin mold is non-stick and has only been used a couple of times so it’s still pretty slick.  I used a bit of spray for added insurance and I didn’t have any sticking issues.  The ganache on top isn’t strictly necessary, but it sure is good.

These were great…just what I remember from Montreal.  Cute, too.  I will definitely repeat this one.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

May 26, 2015 at 7:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 24 Comments
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rhubarb upside-down brown sugar cake

I look forward to rhubarb in the spring just as much as I look forward to all the berries and stone fruit that will come our way in the summer.  It is one of my favorite things to bake with, so a Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake?  Yes, please!

This is, my opinion, better (and prettier) than the last rhubarb upside-down cake I made here.  The brown sugar in this BCM recipe is in the cake rather than in the fruit topping, which uses regular sugar that I guess you can caramelize to your desired shade of darkness.  I left mine pretty light, so it more or less just glazed the fruit and kept it from getting too brown.  My rhubarb stalks were more green than red, and I didn’t want to make my cake topping look too murky…I didn’t bother to string the stalks during prep either so I could keep whatever bits of red they did have.

The brown sugar cake is really soft and not to sweet.  The whole thing together hits the perfect sweet-tart balance…sometimes rhubarb desserts can be too sweet, and I like to be reminded of its snappiness!  Before making the rhubarb topping for the cake, Dorie has you macerate the cut pieces in some sugar for a bit.  This draws out some liquid from the rhubarb, which I suppose keeps the topping from being too wet when the cake bakes up.  Dorie says you can save that sugary rhubarb juice for homemade sodas, but I reduced it until it thickened a bit and then used it as my glaze (rather than jelly) to give the topping extra shine.

rhubarb upside-down brown sugar cake

Upside-down cake makes a great dessert with vanilla ice cream, and also a fabulous morning coffee cake with yogurt and some berries.  For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Lemon Madeleines

March 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, cookies & bars, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 22 Comments
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lemon madeleines

By now, I’ve made several of Dorie’s madeleine recipes, but these Lemon Madeleines were the first to give me that coveted backside bump!  The trick, apparently, is to keep the batter super-cold until the second the shell-shaped pan hits the oven.  Hmmm…perhaps I should revisit one of the older recipes (chai was a favorite)?

I like madeleines, but I never really think of them until they roll around for TWD.  They’re easy enough to make…the batter is quickly whisked together by hand and it can even out in the fridge for a few days.  Madeleines are for sure best eaten fresh, so it’s handy to be able to bake them off as you want them (I did about four a day until the batter was gone).  These ones came out nice and spongy.  And lemony, of course, because of zest in the batter and juice in the glaze.

Madeleines often find themselves dunked into a cup of tea, but there was some lemon curd left from last week’s BWJ recipe, so we swiped them in that.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Brown-Butter-and-Vanilla-Bean Weekend Cake

January 27, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 37 Comments
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brown-butter-and-vanilla-bean weekend cake

A weekend cake- I love it!  A good cake does make the weekend even better, if you ask me.  (Hopefully it will make the nor’easter we’re about to get socked with better, too!)  This one’s a simple loaf cake, but it’s flavored with brown butter, vanilla bean and rum.  Simple but special.

I have a French blue steel loaf pan, and I thought it naturally appropriate to use for a French cake.  I like that the pan has perfectly straight, not flared, sides.  It’s longer and slimmer than the standard 9×5, so I was sure to check it in the oven plenty early.

The ingredients are lovely and fragrant, and the cake smells so good out of the oven, that it’s hard to wrap it up and let it sit overnight like Dorie suggests.  It’s less buttery and heavy than a pound cake but has a similar delicious crust.  This cake is good on it’s own or with a sauce.  (I’m going to try it in early summer as a strawberry shortcake base.)  If you can’t eat it all up over the weekend, don’t worry because it freezes nicely.  Dorie also says stale slices are good toasted, although I don’t plan on testing that out this time.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes

September 2, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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oven-roasted plum cakes

These Oven-Roasted Plum Cakes from Marcel Desaulniers were an easy little treat to make with my CSA plums.  The batter was a simple butter cake, flavored with orange zest.  I made half a recipe (6 cakelettes), so I just mixed it by hand.  I had to sub some plain yogurt for the buttermilk, but that worked out fine.  The recipe calls for the cakes to be baked in ramekins or custard cups…I was worried that I’d never get them out (although sounds like I needn’t have been), so I used some shallower mini pie tins instead, buttered and floured.

These were good, although the plums (even though they turned very soft in the oven) wanted to jump onto our forks all in one piece.  I liked them best with whipped cream.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s also a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Poppy Seed Torte

August 5, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 17 Comments
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poopy seed torte

Markus Farbinger’s Viennese Poppy Seed Torte is one of the more unusual things I’ve baked.  Now, I’m aware that poppy seeds are widely used in foods all over the world and are not unusual at all, but we Americans– especially those of us who are many generations and more than a couple hundred years removed from our ethnic roots– normally just mix a mere tablespoon of them into lemon muffins or white cake, or sprinkle them on top of bagels or crackers.  Maybe it’s because we’re afraid we’ll fail a drug test, but any recipe that calls for two cups of poppy seeds sounds a little strange.  The Austrians sure know their pastries though, so I knew this would be tasty, no doubt.

Those two cups of poppy seeds are whizzed up in a coffee/spice grinder, and along with cake crumbs (I used a frozen slice of leftover Vanilla Pound Cake, also put through the same coffee grinder) become the dry ingredients for the cake.  The crowning jewels on top are poached apricot halves.  I found the cutest little apricots with rosy cheeks at the Greenmarket. I didn’t bother to blanch and peel them before poaching…the skins slipped right off anyway once they cooled, and I think poaching them skin-on helped infuse the flesh with that rosy color.  I’m saving the poaching liquid, btw, which I think will be nice as a fruity simple syrup for drinks or poured on top of raspberries and vanilla ice cream.

Based on visuals alone, I’d assume a dark colored cake like this would be dense and heavy. But it’s quite light and springy (thanks to the meringue that’s folded into the batter), moist and not too sweet.  It really tastes like poppy seeds (as it should), and since they are ground into flour, they don’t get stuck in your teeth!  I made a half-recipe..a full makes a big 10-inch cake…and debated the pan size for a while before settling on a 8-inch round.

poopy seed torte

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (there’s a a video here of Chef Markus making the cake in a totally rad vest). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Vanilla Pound Cake

July 15, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in bundt cakes, BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 23 Comments
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vanilla pound cake

I love a good Bundt, and I think Flo Braker’s Vanilla Pound Cake recipe makes a particularly handsome one.  I’ve been sort of afraid that my nice little 6-cup Bundt pan (that I always use to make half recipes) has been losing its non-stick abilities, but with a good spraying and flouring this cake fell right out, no problem. The cake was no problem to mix either– super straightforward.  The only trick I had up my sleeve was to swap the vanilla extract for a smear of vanilla paste.

vanilla pound cake

The cake is really tender…it’s not dry at all.  Because I only made a half-sized cake, I really watched the baking time and took it out of the oven at just under 40 minutes. I think this cake would go with just about anything, but summer fruit sounds particularly good to me.  I had jar of dark cherries that I poached in the fridge, so we had half our cake with those.  The other half’s in the freezer, but the recipe mentions toasting stale slices as the base for ice cream sundaes, which makes me think about recreating a yummy, fancy affogato concoction my husband had at Brooklyn Farmacy a couple of weeks ago.

vanilla pound cake

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Blood Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake

March 26, 2014 at 4:01 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 14 Comments
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blood orange yogurt loaf cake

It might technically be spring, but it sure doesn’t feel like it yet.  I’m still wearing a scarf inside, my down parka outside, and there was even talk of pulling snow boots out again last night.  Oh, bother.  A bright spot here, while I wait for spring to really show up, is that the citrus is still good.  I think we’re at the tail-end of the preciously short blood orange season.  Blood oranges are so sweet and vibrantly colored– I still feel surprised every time I cut one open.

I’ve made lots of yogurt cakes here (and even yogurt cupcakes, too).  They stay moist for days, feel less guilty than pound cakes and they’re a great match for citrus, so I looked around on-line to see if anyone had a good one using blood oranges. Most cakes that I saw seemed to resemble another one I’d made, Ina’s Lemon Yogurt Cake, swapping out the lemon zest and juice for blood orange.  At its core, so did this one but it has a few tweeks that set it apart for me.  Subbing some of the AP four with cornmeal gives the cake a more rustic taste and texture.  Swapping the plain vegetable oil for olive oil adds to its fruitiness.  Cutting out just a bit of the sugar and forgoing the powdered sugar glaze keeps it from being overly sweet. Don’t worry– a jewel toned blood orange juice soaking syrup drenches the top and seeps into the cake, so you still get enough of that sticky sweetness to call this dessert.

P.S.:  If you like cocktails, add a little vodka and a splash of simple syrup to blood orange juice, top it off with seltzer and ice, and you’ll have the most brilliantly colored drink you’ve ever seen.

Blood Orange Yogurt Loaf Cake-makes an 8 1/2″ x  4 1/4″ loaf cake
adapted from Ina Garten and foodonfifth.com

for the cake
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal,
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
zest of two blood oranges
1 cup yogurt (Greek or regular, but preferably not non-fat)
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup olive oil

for the soaking syrup
1/3 cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice (from the two zested oranges)
2 tbsp. granulated sugar

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease an 8 1/2″ x  4 1/4″ loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, and salt. In a large bowl, rub the 3/4 cup sugar and the blood orange zest together with your fingers until fragrant.  Whisk in the yogurt, eggs, vanilla and olive oil.  Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, switching to a spatula, if needed.  Mix until just fully combined.

-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at 40 minutes.

-When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. While you’re waiting, make the soaking syrup by combining the 1/3 cup blood orange juice and remaining 2 tbsp sugar in a small pan.  Bring it up to the boil and simmer until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear, about a minute. Set aside.

-Carefully place the cake on a baking rack over a sheet pan. Use a skewer to poke holes in the top. While the cake is still warm and the syrup is hot, pour the syrup mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. (You can get all the syrup to absorb into the cake or reserve a little bit of it for drizzling over the cut slices, if you’d like).

-Cool completely before slicing.


Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake

September 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 7 Comments
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stonefruit upside-down cake

Fall is in the air and I couldn’t be more excited!  I like summer in theory (long days, trips to the beach, bottles of chilled rosé), but in practice, we don’t have A/C, so I just feel uncomfortable and lazy most of the time.  Not to mention sweaty.  I will miss the summer fruit for sure, but luckily I can still get peaches and plums for another couple of weeks.  Even though I have avoided turning on the oven for most of the past two months, now is a great time to get baking.

I’m quite fond of upside-down cakes, and don’t mind experimenting with them.  Fruit cooked in caramel goo…ain’t nothing wrong with that.  And they’re pretty, too.  We know an upside-down cake is really all about the caramelized fruit, but the cakey part shouldn’t be neglected either (trust me).  This cake has the right balance of sturdiness and softness.  Almond meal and a bit of barley flour help with that texture, and also give it some real flavor (as in we’re not just relying on the fruit).  It’s equally delicious made with peaches, nectarines or plums.  I’ve had it all three ways…maybe next summer I’ll do a combo?  Unless we have company, it takes the two of us four nights to go through an 8-inch cake, and I didn’t feel like this one suffered at all.  (I stored the cakes wrapped in the fridge and brought slices to room temperature as we wanted them).

Don’t you just love how plum skins look like jewels when cooked down?

stonefruit upside-down cake

Stonefruit and Almond Upside-Down Cake– makes an 8-inch cake

Steph’s Notes:  If you don’t have pre-ground almond meal, grind an equal amount of whole almonds, along with 2 tablespoons of the all-purpose flour, in the food processor until fine.  You can replace the barley flour with an equal amount of all-purpose flour, if you wish.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more to grease pan
1 cup sugar
3-4 medium peaches, plums or nectarines, pitted and cut into 6 wedges each
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup barley flour
1/3 cup almond meal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup buttermilk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and lightly butter an 8-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the topping, put 1/2 cup of the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a medium skillet over medium heat. It should look like wet sand. Wash down any sugar crystals on the sides of the skillet with a wet pastry brush.  Cook the sugar until it becomes a deep golden brown caramel. This will happen quickly, so don’t walk away. Add 1 tablespoon butter and whisk it in until smooth. Be careful, as the caramel will bubble a bit when the butter goes in.

-Pour the caramel into the bottom of the prepared cake pan and tilt to coat. Arrange the fruit wedges snugly in the bottom of the pan in a single layer, cutting to fit if needed.  It doesn’t matter if the caramel sets up while you are doing this.

-Combine the flours, almond meal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine.

-Beat the remaining 5 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup sugar (a scant 1/2 cup if you like it less sweet, like I do) in a large bowl with a mixer (or in a stand mixer with the paddle) on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in three batches, beginning and ending with the flour. Mix until just incorporated.

-Spread the batter evenly over the fruit and bake until golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

-Transfer to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes. Invert onto a plate and let cool completely before serving.

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