Tags: baking, cake, fruit
It’s kind of hard to fire up the oven in the middle of a heat wave, especially when you don’t have A/C in the kitchen. But I’m willing to get started early in the day if I know that by the end of it I’ll have a piece of cool, chilled tres leches cake on my plate. It pairs so well with seasonal fruit, that this really is a great summer cake, if you have a place to keep it cold.
I did another tres leches cake here before with a baking group. I wasn’t crazy about that one…it was dense and heavy, for which I blamed the creamed butter mixing method. I like this separated egg method much better. It makes a cake that’s light and spongy and just sucks up all tres of the leches you pour on top. I’m amazed that a cake can absorb such a ridiculously huge amount of liquid, but it does.
I made this with strawberries, which have now come and gone from the Greenmarket, but the raspberries and blueberries that are around now would be just as tasty…and very Fourth of July appropriate, I think.
Boozy Berry-Topped Tres Leches Cake- makes a 9×13-inch cake
adapted from a recipe in Fine Cooking, Issue 117 by Fany Gerson
Steph’s Notes: If you don’t want the booze, just leave it out of the cake and topping for a “regular” tres leches. Of course, you can leave off the fruit as well. You can soak the cake in the milk mixture up to a day ahead and top it up to 2 hours ahead.
for the cake
unsalted butter, softened, for the pan
4 1/2 oz (1 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
5 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup whole milk
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
for the soaking liquid
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 12 oz can evaporated milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
Pinch kosher salt
1 tbs gin, tequila, rum or orange liqueur
for the topping
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 tbs gin, tequila, rum or orange liqueur
2 tbs confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
4 cups summer berries (one type or a mix)
Bake the cake:
-Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
-Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch Pyrex baking dish or a nonreactive metal pan. Line the bottom of the baking dish or pan with parchment and lightly butter the parchment.
-Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
-Separate the eggs, putting the whites in a medium bowl and the yolks in a large bowl. With an electric mixer, beat the yolks with 3/4 cup of the sugar on medium speed until the mixture is pale and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and vanilla and beat until combined, 1 minute more.
-Clean and dry the beaters and then beat the egg whites, gradually increasing the speed to high, until they reach soft peaks, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a stream, continuing to beat on high, until you reach firm but not dry peaks, 1 to 2 minutes more. Whisk a third of the dry ingredients into the yolk mixture until thoroughly combined. Gently fold in a third of the egg whites with a rubber spatula. Fold in the remaining dry ingredients and egg whites, alternately, in two more batches each, until fully incorporated.
-Pour the batter into the prepared dish or pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then invert the cake onto the rack, remove the parchment, and let cool completely.
-Return the cake to the baking dish or pan (the cake will soak up more of the liquid if returned to the pan it was baked in), or invert it onto a rimmed platter.
Soak the cake: In a 2-quart saucepan, stir together the condensed milk, evaporated milk, heavy cream, and salt until the condensed milk is well blended. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring to avoid scorching, until it begins to bubble around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the booze and pour into a heatproof 4-cup measuring cup. With a toothpick, prick the cake to the bottom in 1/2-inch intervals. Pour the soaking liquid slowly over the cake, starting at the edges and pausing to let it soak in before adding more. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cake is well chilled, at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
Top the cake: In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium speed. When it begins to thicken, slowly add the booze, sugar and vanilla and continue to beat just until it holds firm peaks, 3 to 4 minutes (be careful not to over-beat). Spread the whipped cream all over the top of the cake. Spoon the berries over the whipped cream and serve.
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
Flo Braker‘s French Strawberry Cake is the perfect thing for right now, right here. Strawberries are all over the NYC greenmarkets (and my CSA), so a summer strawberry cake of some sort was bound to be in order even if we hadn’t picked this for TWD.
This is a lovely simple cake…no fancy buttercreams or anything. Just some lightly sweetened whipped cream and mashed strawberries filling a whole egg sponge cake. The cake is called a genoise in the book, but it’s the only genoise I’ve ever made that doesn’t heat the eggs in the process. The recipe calls for making one tall cake and splitting it into three layers. I made just a half recipe and I thought my little six-inch cake really only needed to be cut into two. This type of sponge cake can be a little dry on its own, but the whipped cream and macerated berries add the moisture that is needed. I think it became even tastier the second day. I can see this being great with raspberry smoosh, too, if you are feeling more English than French (Victoria sponge, anyone)?.
Tags: baking, bread, savory
Phew…I cut it close on this one. I just made Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid’s Oasis Naan a couple of hours ago. Luckily it’s a pretty simple bread dough, as long as you have the time to proof it.
The recipe calls for making this flatbread dough by hand. I’m lazy…I used the food processor, same as I do for pizza dough. (I must say here, that I only made a half batch of dough, so everything fit just fine.) I started by adding the minimum amount of flour to my processor bowl, then with the machine running, I poured in my water/yeast combo. I added more flour to touch and turned off the machine for 10 minutes. Then I sprinkled the salt and a little bit more flour over the dough (because it still felt pretty sticky) and turned it back on for a few more seconds. I kneaded it on the counter for about a minute before putting into a bowl to proof.
The dough bakes up nice and puffy (be sure to dock it well!), and chewy, too. I topped mine with chopped spring garlic and za’atar spice, but I bet all kinds of things would be good on top. You could even make them like mini pizzas. It’s not quite as soft and charred as the naan I get from my local Indian takeaway, but I’d make this again for sure.
We ate our naan with a freekeh, beet, chickpea and feta salad I concocted. Very healty…I think my husband thought the naan was the best part!
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Maggie’s Always Add More Butter and Phyl of Of Cabbages & King Cakes. There’s also a video of Alford, Duguid and Julia making the bread together, and the authors wrote this article that gives more naan tips. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Every Thursday at the shop, I make ginormous batches of all our cookie doughs. And I totally eat ginormous amounts of cookie dough, too! I’d like to say that I do it in the name of quality control, but really it’s a lack of self control. Cookies-in-the-raw just may be better than baked ones. I clearly have no problem snacking on raw eggs (although now that I put it that way…), but if you so deprive yourself, then you’ll be happy to see The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook by Lindsay Landis, who also writes the gorgeous food blog Love and Olive Oil. She has ingeniously concocted an eggless cookie dough that isn’t meant to be baked, but used raw, as an ingredient or an out-of-the-bowl snack. Now I normally take my dough straight up, but I’m amazed by the diversity of recipes in this book…candy made from cookie dough, cakes, pies, puddings, breakfast stuff (what?!). And, of course, there is ice cream…ice cream that is calling–no, screaming–my name. All of this is gorgeously photographed…proof that these things are real and not just in my dreams!
The very kind folks from Quirk Books gave me a copy of this cookbook, and now I want to give one of you a copy, too. Maybe we can make Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream together next weekend?? What do you say? Just leave me a comment (one per person, please) on this post before 5:00 pm EST on Thursday, June 7 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 11, so congratulations to Tina. I’ll be sending your book soon!***
Tags: baking, bread, breakfast
I’ve been getting a lot of practice making breakfast pastries lately. A couple of months ago, the owners of the shop I work for decided that we should open three hours earlier and have a menu of morning baked stuff. I now have to wake up basically in the middle of the night to walk to work and make this happen. I’m thinking about quitting soon….but you didn’t hear me say that, and you certainly didn’t come here for banal griping. You came for Nancy Silverton’s Pecan Sticky Buns!
It’s pretty much a given that sticky buns have a lot of butter in them, but this recipe uses a sh*t-ton of butter. There’s brioche dough..no, make that laminated brioche dough (unlike the other sticky buns we did about–yikes– four years ago)…and then there’s the sticky top part. The only component without butter is the pecan-cinnamon swirl inside. When everything’s tallied up, it comes to five sticks for a whole recipe!! My mind immediately went to work wondering where I could shave off a few tablespoons. First off, a whole recipe makes two 9-inch pans, or 14 buns, and I certainly didn’t need that many for the two of us. A quarter of a recipe would be fine…I knew I could squeeze four slightly smaller buns out of that and bake them in a 6-inch pan. I ultimately decided on making a half recipe of brioche dough, and only taking half of that to make buns with (I’m saving the other half for another project). I kept the full amount of butter in the dough itself. Best not to mess around with that. I used about two-thirds the butter called for in the laminating step and half for the topping. I don’t think I missed out too much…my buns were sweet and soft and flaky. I plan to experiment more with this laminated brioche thing later on…it’s a cool technique.
By the way brioche is a lovely dough to work with…if you can keep it cool enough while you shape it, that is. It’s so soft and nice to touch. And it rises beautifully.
It took me like an hour to figure out how to put two pics side-by-side in Photoshop, btw…wow.
I made my base dough on day one, parked it in the fridge overnight after its first rise, and finished off the laminating and rolling the next day. I did my dough in my stand mixer. Since I just made a half a batch, my KA had no problem cranking it out. It was really such a small about of dough, though, that I think even the whole recipe would have been just fine. Despite my earlier talk about breakfast pastries, my husband and I actually ate two of these sticky buns for dessert. After getting up so early for work now everyday, I can’t manage to get up early enough on the weekends to have buns proofed, baked and cooled before brekkie. The other two baked buns were wrapped up tight and stuck the freezer, to be defrosted and enjoyed properly one weekend morning with a cup of coffee.
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Lynn’s Eat Drink Man Woman Dogs Cat and Nicole’s Cookies on Friday. There’s also a video of Nancy and Julia making the buns together. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, cake, fruit
May is a good time to be in New York City. People are happy to be out and about. It’s nice sleeping weather (our house doesn’t have A/C, so this is a big thing for me!). And there’s finally more at the greenmarket than tired ol’ potatoes and apples. About the same time I saw the first rhubarb here, my copy of Nigel Slater’s Tender, Volume 2 (called Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard in the US edition). I knew he’d have some good rhubarby ideas for me…this guy has a London city garden that puts my weedy Brooklyn backyard to utter shame. I’ll certainly never have a mini orchard like he does, but maybe one day I’ll have a couple of raised beds for a few homegrown herbs and things. Until then, I’ll have to tote my seasonal fruit and veg home from the market.
Slater’s Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake would be just as good for breakfast as it is for dessert. It’s made from more of a dough than a batter. The cake is a little crunchy from the cornmeal and perfectly moist, but sturdy enough to support the layer of baked rhubarb that makes a pink stripe in the center. I make a stove-top rhubarb compote a lot when it’s in season, but I kind of like the more hands-off baked method from this recipe, and I’d use it again even if it’s just for my morning granola. The rhubarb more or less keeps its shape when handled this way and you get to pour off the gorgeously pink liquid it releases. Even if I wasn’t going to serve it alongside the polenta cake, I wouldn’t think of pouring this down the drain. Hello, homemade rhubarb sodas, cocktails, yogurt or ice cream drizzle…I could go on.
Rhubarb Cinnamon Polenta Cake- makes an 8-inch cake
adapted from Tender, Volume 2 by Nigel Slater
Note: Use a medium to coarse cornmeal/polenta for the best texture. The cake is fragile when warm, so it’s best to serve it cool, together with the reserved juices from the cooked rhubarb.
for the filling
4 tbsp water
for the cake
125g medium to coarse cornmeal/polenta
200g AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of ground cinnamon
grated zest of a small orange
1 large egg
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tbsp demerara sugar
-Lightly butter am 8-inch (20-centimeter) loose-bottomed cake tin, preferably spring-form. Set the oven at 350°F (180°C/gas mark 4). Put in a baking sheet to get hot.
-While your oven is heating, trim the rhubarb, cut each stem into three or four pieces and put them in a baking dish. Scatter over the sugar, toss, and let everything sit until the oven is hot. Sprinkle over the water and bake for about 30 minutes until the rhubarb is soft but still retains its shape. Remove the fruit from the dish and put them in a colander to drain. Reserve the juice to serve with the cake.
-Put the cornmeal/polenta, flour, baking powder, cinnamon and caster sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Add the grated zest and the butter, cut into smallish pieces, then blitz for a few seconds till you have something that resembles breadcrumbs. (You could also do this by hand, rubbing the butter into the polenta with your fingertips as if making pastry.) Break the egg into a small bowl and mix with the milk, then blend into the crumble mix, either with the food processor or by hand. Take care not to over-mix: stop as soon as the ingredients and liquid have come together to form a soft, slightly stickydough. If it isn’t sticky, add a little more liquid.
-Press about two-thirds of the mixture into the cake tin, pushing it a couple of centimetres up the sides with a floured spoon. Place the drained rhubarb on top, leaving a small rim around the edge uncovered. Crumble lumps of the remaining polenta mixture over the fruit with your fingertips, and don’t worry if the rhubarb isn’t all covered. Scatter over the demerara sugar. Bake on the hot baking sheet for 45-50 minutes, then cool a little before attempting to remove from the tin. Serve in slices with the reserved rhubarb juice. You can wrap leftovers in plastic and refrigerate for a couple of days…just bring back to room temperature before serving.
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Wow–I went all last week without a post. Blah. But now it’s time for cake with TWD and Norman Love’s Lemon Loaf. I bought a few Meyer lemons at TJ’s a couple of months ago, and although I was too lazy to use them then, I did manage to zest and juice them and stash that stuff in the freezer for another time….a time like this!
I didn’t have any issues with this recipe. I did do a half recipe (although I think that with the particular pan I used, I actually should have done two-thirds or three-quarters to get taller slices). It’s a pretty easy recipe and it’s made by hand. There were a couple of things I fiddled with here to ensure a moist and lemony cake. I rubbed the lemon zest into the sugar before mixing anything and I added (for a full recipe, the equivalent of) the juice of one lemon into the egg/sugar mixture. I also made a quickie soaking syrup by heating some extra juice and sugar together, and brushed it all over the loaf while it was still hot.
I liked this loaf cake. It had a nice sunny color and a good pound cake-style texture. I think cakes like this are really good with a little bit of fruit sauce or compote. Jam’s fine, too, when I don’t have any berries in the house. After I took this picture, you bet I totally smooshed the jam and cream over the the top and ate it as a open-faced cake sandwich (or maybe cake smørrebrød since I used lingonberry jam)!
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Truc’s blog, Treats and Michelle’s, The Beauty of Life. It’s also on The Splendid Table’s site. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!
Tags: baking, bread, holiday
Every year I think about making Hot Cross Buns for Easter (or Good Friday, I guess), but I never get to it. Well, finally, this is my year! And let me tell you that eating one of these sweet, spiced buns freshly homemade is a real treat. I made these with currants and candied orange peel, although you could use raisins or craisins or whatever dried fruit and zest you choose. If you are British or Australian, you may not like what I’ve done on top here. A “traditional” English hot cross bun has a cross made not of icing (like mine), but of a flour and water paste that is baked on. But what can I say– I’m American and I like my icing!!
You’ll see that this recipe begins with preparing a sponge starter. It is really easy…there’s nothing to it but a little added resting time. The sponge lets the yeast get some extra fermentation, which is better for flavor and makes for nice soft buns. The rest of the dough is a snap to put together in a stand mixer. These aren’t so complicated to make, even if, like me, you don’t do a whole lot of bread baking at home…the hardest part is waiting for them to cool completely. You bet I devoured this guy with a little salty butter just as soon as he was cool enough to “cross”!
Hot Cross Buns- makes 12
adapted (quite a bit) from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
Steph’s Note: There’s no real need to soak your currants or orange peel unless they are very dry. If that’s the case, I’d put them in a small bowl with a couple teaspoons of orange juice or Grand Mariner and microwave for ten seconds (cool before using).
for the sponge
38 g AP flour
190 g milk, about 85°F
9 g sugar
7.4 g (2-1/4 t) instant yeast
for the final dough
340 g AP flour
60 g butter, softened
57 g sugar
3 g salt
2 g ground allspice
2 g ground cinnamon
110 g dried currants
40 g candied orange peel, finely chopped
for the icing (amounts are approximate)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
4 teaspoons milk
-For the sponge, combine the milk and yeast in a medium bowl. Whisk in the flour and sugar. The mixture will be very loose. Cover and let rest until it is about 3 times its original volume, 30-40 minutes.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix final dough flour and softened butter until the butter is evenly distributed through the flour.
-Add egg, sugar, spices, and salt. Continue to mix until combined. The mixture will be quite dry at this point.
-Switch to the mixer’s dough hook. Add the sponge and mix on low speed. Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes.
-Up the mixer to medium speed, and mix about 8 minutes. You can occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. The dough will start to leave the sides and come together around the dough hook, and the gluten should have reached a medium level of development.
-Add the currants and orange peel and mix on low speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
-Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container. Ferment in a warm place for one hour, giving it a fold (kind of like a letter) after 30 minutes.
-Turn the dough onto an unfloured counter and divide it into 12 pieces (about 70-75 g each).
-Form each piece into a ball. To tighten the ball, place it on the counter with your cupped hand loosely around it, and move your hand in a tight circle several times.
-Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a 1/4 sheet tray…they did not touch when I arranged them on the tray, but as they proofed, they expanded to gently touch.)
-Cover and proof in a warm place for about an hour.
-Preheat the oven to 400°F . Bake the buns on the parchment-lined sheet at 400°F until the tops are browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until browned all over, about another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
-When the buns are completely cool, whisk together the icing ingredients. You can add extra confectioners’ sugar or milk as needed to make a thick, but pipeable paste. Put it in a piping bag with a medium-small round tip and pipe it in a cross over the buns. They are best when eaten fresh (although I did freeze a few for the weekend).