Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Fresh Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

May 7, 2013 at 4:04 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 16 Comments
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fresh rhubarb upside-down cake

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!

Banana Layer Cake (with your favorite frosting)

April 12, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, layer cakes, sweet things | 12 Comments
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banana layer cake

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.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Rustic Potato Loaves

April 2, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 17 Comments
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rustic potato loaf

I don’t make bread super-often. Only sometimes I’m usually proud of myself just for having made the effort to stir together yeast and water.  But when I opened the oven yesterday and pulled out Leslie Mackie’s Rustic Potato Loaf, I felt like a pretty legit bread baker.  Look at that crust…it is awesome. I was in love with this bread before I even cut it open.

You can’t see any trace of them, but the bread has mashed boiled potatoes in it.  I guess they help make the bread really soft inside and give it a slightly earthy flavor.  I wasn’t sure if I should peel the potatoes or not…in the end I did peel them, but also tossed the peel scraps into the cooking pot just to infuse some extra flavor into the water (which is also used in the dough).  The dough looked like a big blob of uncooked gnocchi but it was a quick riser, with two proofs of just 20-30 minutes.  So, for a “rustic” bread, it was pretty quick from start to finish.

rustic potato loaf

I’m making cream of celery soup tonight and toasting off a couple of slices of this bread, and I just can’t wait!  For the bread recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Dawn’s Simply Sweet.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 19, 2013 at 1:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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mocha chocolate chip cookies

I don’t think Rick Katz’s Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies are meant to be a before bed treat.  These are zippy!  Two to three tablespoons of instant coffee and a pound of chocolate may just keep you wired.  Too be honest, you could back off a bit on either of those and you’d still have a delicious chocolate chip cookie.

My dough looks dark compared to some others I saw online.  Maybe it’s because I used instant espresso instead of coffee, or because I used Billington’s molasses sugar (which is a bit stronger than regular dark brown sugar).  Anyway, I liked these a lot.  Pre-scooping the dough and then baking them straight from the fridge or freezer helps keep the cookies from spreading too much.  While I left out the suggested apricots, I used a mix of dark, milk and white chocolates because I’m crazy like that.  Also, ice cream–well, you can see what I did there.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Peggy’s Galettista Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Croissants (& Pains au Chocolat)

March 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in breakfast things, general pastry, groups, sweet things, sweet yeast breads, tuesdays with dorie | 27 Comments
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croissants (& pains au chocolat)

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…

croissants (& pains au chocolat)

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.

Maple-Glazed Meatballs and a BOOK GIVEAWAY!

March 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm | Posted in book review, other savory, savory things | 29 Comments
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maple-galzed meatballs

As a kid, getting breakfast for dinner was a rare and exciting treat.  As an adult, I can do this any darn time I please, but it still hasn’t lost it’s excitement factor.  Clearly I’m not alone in this, because there’s a new book called Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth.  This book has savory takes on pancakes and waffles, lots of egg dishes and even breakfast for dessert, but these Maple-Glazed Meatballs– like breakfast sausage doused in syrup– were what I wanted to try first.

These meatballs are flavorful and moist. Because of their sweetness, I wouldn’t pair these with pasta, but they make a great app or a perfect TV snack.

I want to send a copy of Breakfast for Dinner to one of you!  Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 4:00 pm EST on Friday, March 8 and I’ll randomly choose a winner from the list.  Be sure your e-mail address is correct so I can contact you.

***Giveaway Winner Update: I used random.org to generate a random comment number to find the winner. It selected comment 18, so congratulations to AnnaZed. I’ll be sending your book soon!***

Maple-Glazed Meatballs- makes about 24 meatballs
from Breakfast for Dinner by Lindsay Landis and Taylor Hackbarth

Steph’s Note: The original recipe called for ground pork, but I used ground chicken instead.  If you do, too, you may find that you need to add extra tablespoon of so of breadcrumbs and give the mix about a 30 minute rest in the fridge before portioning into meatballs.

for the meatballs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
 1 small Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground pork (or ground chicken)
1 egg
1/2 cup unseasoned bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

for the glaze:
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/2 cup apple juice
2 teaspoons cider vinegar

-Line a baking sheet with foil.

-Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion.  Cook until translucent, 7 to 10 minutes.  Stir in apples, ginger and garlic.  Cook 1 to 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and cool.

-In a large bowl, combine pork, egg, breadcrumbs, milk, maple syrup, fennel, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper.  Add the cooled onion mixture.  Mix with your hands until uniform. Roll by tablespoonfuls into 1-inch balls, or use a small ice cream scoop to portion.  Arrange on prepared sheet.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

-Preheat oven to 400°F.

-For the glaze, whisk together maple syrup, tomato paste, apple juice and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until reduced by half, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

-Brush meatballs with half of glaze. Bake 10 minutes. Brush with remaining glaze. Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer or until cooked through (internal temperature of 160°F. Serve warm.

Please note that the publisher, Quirk Books, sent me a copy of this book.
Breakfast for Dinner

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Boca Negra

February 19, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, simple cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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boca negra

This Boca Negra isn’t the first super chocolaty cake I’ve made courtesy of Lora Brody.  Really though, this one is more like baked pudding than cake– it’s almost flourless, so it doesn’t really have a crumb.  It’s silky smooth, dense and at room temperature just barely holds shape (seriously, I destroyed the first piece I tried to lift up).  And has a good amount of booze to boot…the recipe calls for bourbon, but I used dark rum.

I made this in the food processor, rather than by hand.  It took barely any effort, and even less time, to make the batter.  I decided to cut back on the butter by a couple of ounces, figuring that it had enough chocolate, sugar, liquor and eggs to still be ultra luxe.  Along those same lines, I skipped the white chocolate cream that goes along with this one and just used plain, unsweetened whipped cream instead.  It helped cut the richness just a bit.  While the recipe recommends enjoying this at room temp, we really liked it about 15 minutes out of the refrigerator, when each piece was like a slice of the most decadent fudge.

I’ll make this again as an easy answer to a special occasion.  For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Cathy’s A Frederick Food Garden.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Cranberry Crème Fraîche Bundt Cake

February 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 11 Comments
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Cranberry crème fraîche bundt cake

It’s almost Valentine’s Day.  A perfect excuse to make something sweet and pink, not that I really need one.  I never need an excuse to make a Bundt either– I just love them!  This Cranberry Crème Fraîche Bundt Cake seemed like just the right treat to make this year.  I know that cranberry season is gone, but if you’re like me, you bought a couple of extra bags during the holidays and threw them in the freezer.  When there’s not a lot of good fruit around, this comes in handy.

This cake uses a lush ingredient–crème fraîche.  You can make your own, but I just buy it.  It’s pretty easy to find now, even at TJ’s.   The crème fraîche gives the cake great structure and texture.  It also helps make it a great keeper.  The pockets and swirls of tasty cranberry sauce inside the cake ensure that each slice just as pretty as the uncut Bundt.  I liked the little bit of almond flavoring in the cake as well, but I’m sure it would be great without if you don’t have the extract or you avoid nuts.

Happy Valentine’s Day!  xoxo

Don’t want cake, try coeur à la crème.

Cranberry crème fraîche bundt cake

Cranberry Crème Fraîche- makes 10 to 12 servings
adapted from Cake Simple: Recipes for Bundt-Style Cakes from Classic Dark Chocolate to Luscious Lemon-Basil by Christie Matheson

Steph’s Note:  I buy my crème fraîche at the grocery store, but you can certainly make your own.  To do this, you’ll want to start at least a day before making this cake, and you’ll need 2 cups (480 ml) heavy cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk.  Combine the heavy cream with the buttermilk, cover tightly, and let sit at room temperature (in a warm room) for at least 8 hours. Stir the mixture– if it hasn’t thickened completely, cover the mixture again and let it sit in a warm place for another 2 to 3 hours and check it again. When it has a nice, thick consistency, it will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

1/2 cup (115 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus melted butter for greasing the pan
2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (200 g) sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

1 cup (240 ml) crème fraîche
Whole-Berry Cranberry Sauce (recipe follows) or 2 cups (450 g) canned whole berry-cranberry sauce
Cranberry Glaze (recipe follows)
1/2 cup (45 g) chopped toasted almonds or toasted almond slivers

-Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C/gas 4). Brush the inside of a 10-cup (2.4 L) Bundt pan with the melted butter and dust it lightly with flour and tap out the excess.

-Whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl until thoroughly combined.

-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with the sugar on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla and almond extracts.

-With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture (in three increments) alternately with the crème fraîche (in two increments), beginning and ending with the flour and beating after each addition until just combined.

-Pour half the batter into the prepared pan. Swirl half the cranberry sauce over the batter. Pour the remaining batter over the cranberry sauce, and then swirl the remaining cranberry sauce over the batter.  I tried my best to more or less keep the sauce from touching the sides of the pan and tube, just so there wouldn’t be any sticking. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes, until golden brown on top and a skewer comes out free of wet batter.

-Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release.  Let the cake cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack and let it cool completely. Transfer the cake to a serving plate and drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Sprinkle the almonds over the top.  The cake will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Whole Berry-Cranberry Sauce (you can use 2 cups of a nice, canned whole cranberry sauce instead if you’d like)

12 ounces (340 g) fresh cranberries
3/4 cup (180 ml) water 
3/4-1 cup (150-200 g) granulated sugar, depending on sweetness preference 
1/4 teaspoon salt

-In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cranberries with the water, sugar, and salt and cook for about 15 minutes (after about 10 minutes, remove about 2 tablespoons of the liquid for the cranberry glaze), or until the sauce has thickened and most of the liquid has reduced. Let the sauce cool completely before using it in the cake (you will need about 2 cups of sauce for the cake, so you may have a bit extra). The sauce keeps in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Cranberry Glaze 

1 cup (93 g) confectioners’ sugar
1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (reserved from making the cranberry sauce)

-Mix the confectioners’ sugar and 1-2 tablespoons cranberry juice (depending on your desired thickness) in a small bowl until smooth.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Focaccia

February 5, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, savory things, tuesdays with dorie, yeast breads | 12 Comments
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focaccia

A warm pan of this stuff– this olive oil-soaked bread– is dangerous.  Craig Kominiak’s Focaccia is the type of thing I could polish off myself in one sitting. 

There was some talk about KitchenAid burnout from the full batch of dough, which made three breads.  In the interests of both self-restraint and my red KA, I did just a third of it.  No problems with the mixing, and only one pan of focaccia to tempt me.

Don’t make this dough in the morning and expect to have focaccia by dinner.  It needs a solid 24 hours to rest in the fridge (after two room temp rises) for flavor and air bubbles.  I was daydreaming about that pizza from a couple of weeks ago, and in the course of that downtime made a pan of caramelized onions to top my bread.

I think with focaccia, as with most things savory, the more olive oil the better.  Rather than sprinkle my baking sheet with cornmeal, I lubed it up with extra oil before stretching the dough into it.  Then I brushed garlic and thyme infused olive oil all over the top.  At the half-way point in baking, I scattered on my caramelized onions (so they wouldn’t burn), popped the focaccia out of the pan and slipped it directly onto my pizza stone to finish baking.  I had delicious oily, salty bread with an almost fried bottom crust.  If I had a criticism, it would be that slashing the dough, as the recipe calls, just before baking seemed to really deflate the air bubbles and inhibit its rise.  Next time, I’ll dimple the dough with my fingers instead and hopefully it will be puffy and tall.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Sharmini’s blog Wandering Through (a modified version is also here and there’s a video here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: French Apple Tart

January 22, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 13 Comments
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French apple cake

I made Leslie Mackie’s French Apple Tart back in the fall, when I had heaps of pink-skinned apples from my CSA.   Good thinking, because the apples I’ve had lately haven’t been so great.  If the tart looks a little familiar, maybe that’s because it’s a sister to the Normandy Apple Tart we made in TWD 1.0 about a year ago.

This tart is easy to make, but it isn’t a quick throw-together.  Get prepared…you can do some of these things in advance.  You need pie dough, apple compote for the filling (this one’s made in the oven) and lots of thinly sliced apples to spiral on top.  It certainly is pretty, though, not to mention delicate and delicious.  Your friends will think it came from a pâtisserie.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Gaye’s Laws of The Kitchen.  It’s also here (and there’s even a video of Leslie and Julia making the tart together).  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

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