Tags: baking, cake, fruit
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 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.
Tags: baking, cobbler, dessert, fruit
I made Johanne Killeen’s Johnnycake Cobbler twice, both times with peaches and red currants. The first time, I thought the biscuit layer was too thick and the fruit was getting lost underneath all that cornmeal topping. So I tried again, reducing the topping ingredients by a third. Now the cobbler to fruit ratio was in much better proportion. Even with less biscuit on top, in order to get it cooked through, I still had to bake the cobbler for several minutes longer than the recipe stated.
I should warn you that the johnnycake topping uses lots of cream. Like lots. I just couldn’t do it– both times, I used a combo of milk and sour cream to replace it (essentially making a higher fat buttermilk-type liquid). I’m sure it was less rich than the original, but at least I could justify having a little scoop of ice cream alongside.
I’ve been seeing plums at the market, so I’ll probably be giving this a third try soon!
We’re going without hosts now for TWD, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. There’s also a video of Nancy and Johanne making the cobbler together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: jam, preserves
In honour of the Royal Baby, I’ve whipped up something that I think of as very British– gooseberry jam. Gooseberries are high in pectin, so they’re ideal for jamming. Also, when my CSA gave them to me last weekend, I really couldn’t think of anything else to do with them.
I had just two half-pints of gooseberries, so I weighed what I had and scaled down the recipe below accordingly. Even though I had a mix of red and green berries, the jam took on a brilliant rosy color as it bubbled away. My little batch cooked quickly, and gave me a pint of jam plus a smidge extra (that’s what’s left in the pot). A raw gooseberry packs a tart punch, but this jam has a great sweet-tart balance and just a hint of vanilla. Maybe I’ll fold it into whipped cream for a fool or a trifle. That is, if we don’t eat it all on our morning crumpets.
Did you know that “gooseberry” is British slang for what we call “third wheel”? Interesting.
Gooseberry Jam– makes about four 1/2-pint jars
adapted from The Preservation Kitchen by Paul Virant
Steph’s Notes: This is a pretty small batch of jam– small enough that I personally would just store the jars in the fridge and not bother to water bath process them. You can certainly process them to extend shelf life, though, if you choose. New boxes of Ball jars come with instructions on how to do this, or you can find great tutorials online (like this one).
If you have trouble telling if your jam is done, you can pop a small plate into the freezer to chill. Spoon a teaspoon of the fruit mixture onto the cold plate and allow to set for 30 seconds. Tip the plate 45 degrees to one side; jam should be a soft gel that moves slightly. If mixture is liquid and runs quickly down the plate, return the jam to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, 2-5 minutes longer; then repeat the test.
907 g (about 6 cups) whole gooseberries, topped and tailed
282 g (about 1 2/3 cups) sugar
14 g (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) lemon juice
1 vanilla bean (seeds only)
-In a heavy-bottomed pot, combine the gooseberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cover with the lid and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove the lid once the mixture is simmering and stir in the vanilla bean seeds. Continue to cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, for about 15 minutes. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface of the jam during the cooking process.
-You’ll notice some changes in the fruit mixture as it reaches gelling stage. These changes are subtle, but as the jam starts to set, you’ll feel your spoon “drag” on the bottom of the pot when you stir, and the boiling bubbles will slow (similar to candy making). Also, when you hold your spoon up, the liquid will run off the side of it in thick, heavy drops. If you are uncertain, use the cold plate test described in the above notes.
-Spoon or funnel the jam into four clean 1/2-pint jars (even though I don’t water-bath process small batches of jam, I still like to carefully pour boiling water over the jars, lids, funnel and metal spoon before using them, or have them fresh from the dishwasher), leaving about 1/4 inch of space at the top. Close the jars and let the jam cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the refrigerator for several months.
Tags: baking, fruit, tarts
Leslie Mackie ‘s Baked Yogurt Tart was one that I was rooting for in this month’s recipe nominations. The combination of fruit and yogurt in a pie crust sounded pretty good to me!
Instead of using berries for my tart, I pitted some of the sweet cherries I got from my CSA. I see now that I could have squeezed lots more cherries in there…I’ll keep that in mind when I make this again (which may be for this weekend’s BBQ with the in-laws). Also, I left the chopped almonds off my tart and added in a little almond extract instead.
The recipe says to bake it till brown on top. Mine took the full baking time but was nowhere near golden brown afterwards. I didn’t want to overbake it and since I could tell the custard was set, I just went ahead and took it out. When cut, this tart held its shape and reminded me of a cheesecake. I actually thought the filling could be a tad softer– I’m not sure if it was the thick Greek yogurt I used, or if the amount of flour used to thicken the filling could be reduced a bit (3/4 cup is a lot of flour!). I may fiddle with a couple of things next time I make this, but, all in all, it’s a tasty spin on a summer fruit tart.
Tags: dessert, fruit
I’m not too crazy about strawberries in baked goods. Baked strawberries turn pale and sad. Roasted strawberries, on the other hand, are vibrant and intense. We’ve been roasting strawberries at work over the last couple weeks (it’s actually a great way to save berries that are on the verge, so to speak, or were never that great to begin with), and I thought I’d take the concept home with me.
This is a super easy process that you can multiply or fiddle with. Strawberries and a sprinkle sugar are all that’s needed, but I added a dash of cassis to mine as well. A fairly hot oven does its magic, and in about half an hour you have a tray of deep red, syrup coated jewels.
Stir these into your morning yogurt or use them as a topping for ice cream (buttermilk ice cream would be even more amazing topped with these, as would vanilla malted). And mixed in with fresh strawberries in a shortcake–forget about it.
Steph’s Note: This is more of a process than a recipe. Adjust amounts depending on your quantity of berries. Although I probably wouldn’t bother to fire up the oven on a hot day for less than a quart of strawberries, this will multiply no problem.
a quart of strawberries (bigger ones halved or quartered, tiny ones left whole)
a couple spoons of sugar (white, raw or vanilla are all good)
optional splash of flavoring (like vanilla, balsamic vinegar, cassis or Grand Marnier)
-Preheat your oven to 400°F.
-Put the strawberries on a sheet tray, or in a cake pan or a small metal roaster. Use something where they fit in a single layer, but don’t have too much extra empty space where juices will just burn. Sprinkle over the sugar…you only need enough to lightly coat them, as the sweetness will intensify as they roast.
-Roast for about 15 minutes, and then give the berries a gentle stir to coat them with the liquid they’ve released. Continue to roast until the strawberries are deeply red and the juice is syrupy, almost beginning to caramelize. This will probably take another 15-20 minutes. Add in your splash of flavoring. Done….you can store them in the fridge for a several days.
Tags: dessert, ice cream
We’re in the summer swing here, and I’m starting to see some good-looking fruit at the farmers’ markets. The first nice strawberries had me digging through my cookbook collection (I’m not a gardener) the other week for some fresh fruit inspiration. Who wants to turn on the oven, especially in a house with no A/C? What wound up catching my eye didn’t actually involve fresh fruit, but was something to go with it…Buttermilk Ice Cream. It had been a while since I’d made ice cream at home and I happened to have some extra-special “real” buttermilk that I thought I’d paid too much for to hide in a baked good. The gentle sweet tang of this ice cream is the prefect partner for simply sliced berries or peaches. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll also be *stellar* with strawberry-rhubarb double crisp or blueberry-nectarine pie. Oh, and a strawberry-buttermilk milkshake…try that out, too.
Buttermilk Ice Cream (makes about a quart)
adapted from The Last Course by Claudia Fleming
1 1/2 heavy cream
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
5 large egg yolks (you could use up to 9 yolks- the more the richer)
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (or half a vanilla bean, scraped)
pinch of salt
about 1/8 teaspoon xanthan gum (optional; helps keep ice cream scoopable)
-In a large, heavy saucepan, combine the heavy cream and 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar (and the vanilla bean seeds and pod, if using) and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
-In a large bowl, vigorously whisk the egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar. You want it to look lightened.
-Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly drizzle about half the warm liquid into the egg yolks, whisking constantly. Then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.
-Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (if you are using a thermometer, this should be about 175-180°F). Vigorously whisk in the xanthan gum, if using. Strain the mixture and whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla extract (if not using a bean), and salt.
-Cool completely and churn in an ice cream machine according manufacturer’s directions. Transfer to a container for freezer storage.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Ummm…hello? It’s been radio silent here on this blog for almost a month. How embarrassing, but I just haven’t been baking much lately. We went to the beach (and didn’t want to come back). Then when we did come back, I was given what I can only assume was a punishment schedule at work for having taken vacation time. But, now I’m back in the game, and with rhubarb no less!
I tried really hard to find local rhubarb to make Johanne Killeen’s Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake. I feel like it should be around these parts by now, but after striking out at three different farmers’ markets, I stopped wasting my time (and MetroCard swipes) and just got a few stalks from the grocery.
This recipe is intended to make several little baby cakes, but I just baked it off as one big mama in a cast iron skillet. It wasn’t super goopy so it wasn’t too scary to flip out of the skillet. Dark brown sugar gives this upside-down topping real character, and crème fraiche makes the cake batter extra tender. I threw a splash of vanilla into the batter, too, which maybe wasn’t totally necessary since it wasn’t called for in the recipe…and since I had vanilla ice cream with it anyway…but whatevs.
I can see this also being a tasty base recipe for stone fruit or even mango upside-down cake. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Erin’s When in Doubt…Leave it at 350. It’s also here. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
I am a master procrastinator. I should be spring cleaning my disaster of a closet right now. Instead, I am blogging about cake…a cake that I made two days ago, when I was also off work and also should have been spring cleaning my closet. Housekeeping gives me the blues, but cake makes me happy!
I always buy too many bananas at once, so I have this perpetual stash of them in my freezer, waiting to be turned into smoothies or baked with. Although I want to make every single thing in the book Vintage Cakes, I figured I’d start with a cake that would put some of those bananas to use. I’ve made one, no two, banana layer cakes here before, so forgive me if I seem like I’m repeating myself. They’re all good….moist, and most definitely cake and not banana bread.
I think banana cake is a good match for lots of frostings…cream cheese, chocolate, peanut butter. I didn’t use the coffee walnut buttercream that is paired with this cake in the book. Instead I frosted it with some leftover chocolate frosting that I brought home from work a couple months ago and stuck in the freezer. It’s actually too sweet for my tastes, and isn’t a recipe I’d make at home (which is why I’m not providing it below), so I had to temper that sweetness a bit by rewhipping it with a little cream cheese and some instant espresso. OMG, wait–I used bananas and frosting from the freezer…doesn’t that mean I did some spring cleaning after all?
Banana Layer Cake- makes an 8″ three-layer cake, serving 8-12
adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Steph’s Note: I halved the recipe to make 6″ rounds. They took a little less time to bake, about 24 minutes. Frost it with your favorite frosting.
2½ cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
1½ teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3)
¾ cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 cup (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups (14 oz) sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
4 eggs, room temperature
-Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 8″ round cake pans and line them with parchment circles.
-In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda, then whisk them together. In a small bowl or a measuring cup, combine the banana with the buttermilk.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla together on high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping frequently to scrape the sides and the paddle with a rubber spatula. Blend in the eggs one at a time.
-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the banana mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the four. After each addition scrape the bowl well. Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula.
-Divide the thick batter equally among the prepared pans, and tap the pans on the counter to settle.
-Bake until the centers spring back when lightly touched, 28 – 30 minutes.
-Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Flip them out and let them continue to cool on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature. Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.
-Fill and frost with your favorite frosting.
Tags: baking, breakfast
TWD’s crossing a biggie off the list this week– Esther McManus’s Croissants. This probably qualifies as the most technically complicated recipe we’ve made so far. Like puff pastry and Danish, croissants are made from a butter-laminated, or layered, dough. This means a block of butter is encased in dough and repeatedly rolled and folded to create layers that puff in the oven (and flake in your mouth!). Once you get over butter-shock, it’s really fun to make this kind of dough, and if you give someone a homemade croissant they will be seriously impressed by your talents. Cool weather helps when making the dough, and so does leaving yourself plenty of time to let it rest in between rolls and folds.
I could not resist turning half my dough into pains-au-chocolat. Dangerously good–now I remember why I don’t allow myself to buy them! Next time I make croissant dough (that’ll be awhile since I still have like fifteen p-au-c formed in the freezer), I’ll definitely prep almond-filled ones. Would have done it this time, but as usual I procrastinated and didn’t get it together to make the filling. Also, I’ll cut my croissant triangles a bit bigger. I wound up with ones that were only slightly larger than minis and I associate mini croissants with conference room party platters. Although these were much better (and flakier) than any office-croissants I’ve ever had, and here’s proof…
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Amanda’s Girl+Food=Love. There’s even a video of Esther and Julia making the tart together). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
P.S.: For something totally unrelated, enter my BOOK GIVEAWAY for a chance to win a copy of Breakfast for Dinner.