Tags: baking, 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.
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!
Tags: baking, cake, dessert
Markus Farbinger’s take on Cardinal Slice is the first I’d heard of this cake. Where have I been? On the wrong side of the Atlantic, I guess. It’s called kardinalschnitte in Austria, where it’s a classic (and apparently ubiquitous— ha!) Viennese pastry. Well, I didn’t need first-hand experience to know that I’d like to sink a fork into a cake made of ladyfingers and meringues sandwiched with coffee whipped cream. If I could successfully pull it off, that is.
When was poking around the interwebs for info on the Cardinal Slice, I came across Joe Pastry’s detailed posts on the subject. Seems that in order to recreate a classic version, he started off with the BWJ one and then scrapped it for another because he couldn’t make it work. Oh no– not promising! The cake layers are alternating strips of meringue and ladyfinger batters baked side-by-side…two things that require very different baking times and temperatures. The BWJ recipe bakes for a long time at a low temp, which cooks the meringue, but makes getting a puffed up ladyfinger tricky (I can only assume that Chef Markus has made this so many times in life that he just has the touch). I didn’t want to abandon the BWJ recipe entirely here, so I decided to follow the BWJ ingredients and mixing techniques with the baking temperatures Joe Pastry recommends (essentially to start out in a hotter oven and then reduce the temperature halfway through). I don’t think that my cake layers came out as poofy as either Markus’s or Joe’s, but my mixed up method seemed to work out OK.
The whipped cream filling is flavored with an intense syrup made from caramelized sugar and espresso called a couleur. This syrup reminds me a lot of a French coffee extract called Trablit that we use to flavor buttercream at the restaurant. It tastes so much better than instant espresso, but it’s pretty pricey and not so readily available for home use…I’m pleased to know I can make a very similar thing for the price of two shots of espresso from the coffee shop down the block. I have plenty extra for my future coffee buttercream or whipped cream needs…or perhaps my coffee milk or milk shake needs…
The Cardinal Slice has a bit of a tiramsu thing going on with the flavors, but since the filling’s all cream with no yolks or mascarpone, it feels a lot lighter. Like any other type of icebox cake, the cake layers soften further as the cream absorbs into them, and this needs about an hour’s rest before cutting into it. I’d say the recipe instructions to eat the cake within four hours of assembly are probably ideal, although we did have a hunk left over that we ate the next day. It was very smooshy at that point, but still tasty.
Tags: baking, cupcakes
These adorable little two-bite Nutella Buttons (i.e., mini cupcakes) have a surprise hiding inside. If you guessed a pocket of Nutella, you win! And if you aren’t a fan of Nutella, or if you just feel like getting creative, it’s pretty easy to come up with other ideas for the hidden surprise. Jam, peanut butter, ganche, flavored ganache, cookie butter….they’d all be good things to find in the middle of this yellow cake batter. I did a mix– some filled were with Nutella and others were filled with concord grape jam that I made back in the fall.
I made half a recipe of the cake batter and just did it, whipped egg whites and all, by hand. I used the optional almond extract, so the little cakes had a kind of marzipany taste to go along with their springy texture. I split the batter up evenly between the Nutellas and the grape jams. My buttons didn’t brown on top while baking, but they were done a minute or so early.
I topped my Nutella ones with a little of the milk chocolate ganache I have left from the super-delish Black-and-White Malted Icebox Cake I made last week. (That reminds me, have you entered my Icebox Cakes BOOK GIVEAWAY yet?? If not, get on it!) Then I wanted a little flair on top, but didn’t have any hazelnuts in my fridge nut drawer. I did, however, have a single Ferrero Rocher candy, so I chopped up the crispy outside coating part (I scooped out and ate the center…mmm) and decorated with that. The grape jam ones got dunked into a white chocolate and peanut butter glaze and sprinkled with some salty peanut bits on top.
Too cute, especially when you find a smile inside!
Tags: baking, bread
¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo! Maybe you are getting a tres leches soaking or quadruple checking a mole recipe to make sure you didn’t miss an ingredient. If you are thinking about flatbreads today, you’re probably thinking about tortillas, but put Ka’kat on your radar for later. I had never heard of ka’kat before, but Dorie says they are a very typical Eastern Mediterranean street food. You can find them everywhere apparently, just like soft pretzels here in New York. They’re made with a really straightforward yeast dough. If you make it in the morning after breakfast, you can easily have fresh, warm bread snacks by lunchtime!
Although this is another recipe in the flatbread section of the book from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, my ka’kat (at least) came out round and chubby. With sesame seeds on top, they did not look unlike mini bagels. Ka’kat are often flavored with ground mahleb (also mahlab), which are little tiny cherry kernels. This spice has a bit of that bitter almond flavor and is used in Middle Eastern, Greek and Turkish baking. You probably won’t find it at your standard grocery store, but you can get it online (at Penzeys, for example) or in a Middle Eastern market. I found whole seeds at Sahadi’s here in Brooklyn (I love that place!) and ground them to powder in a spice grinder. All that said, the mahleb is totally optional. It gives a very subtle aroma and taste, and I always like to buy an interesting new ingredient, but you can leave it out, no probs.
These were so tasty warm and soft from the oven. I ate four– no kidding! But they are little, yeah? I dipped them into olive oil and dukkah (like I did with the Pebble Bread)…they’d be good with salty butter, too. I made half a recipe and divided the dough into fifteen ka’kat to fit neatly on one sheet tray. I have about half of them left in the freezer and I’ll definitely warm them up a bit before eating them.
Tags: baking, savory, snacks
The Matzo recipe from Lauren Groveman is bread at its most basic. Really, it’s just flour, salt and water, hand-kneaded and with no real resting period required. A little ground pepper and some sesame seeds are technically optional, but I wouldn’t skip them…they make a boring-sounding dough interesting and flavorful.
The instructions say to roll the dough as thin as possible. When I make crackers, I like to roll them out on my pasta machine rather than with a wooden pin. I did that here, too, and because the machine cranks out long, narrow, strips, I wound up cutting them into smaller pieces than the large, plate-sized matzos shown in the book’s photos. The smaller pieces seemed also more easy to deal with using the kinda scary-sounding baking-and-flipping-on-a-blazing-hot-sheet-tray technique called for in the recipe. I only burned myself once, so I’d call that a success!
I got matzos that were much more thin and delicate than the store-bought ones I’ve had. And did I already mention how good the sesame seeds are in here? I made a little smoked salmon, dill and cream cheese spread to go with the matzos, and the combo was every bit as addictive as chips and dip.
Tags: baking, cupcakes
Cupcakes…it’s been a while. They don’t get the same love that they used to, but I still like them. I especially like them when there’s booze involved, and here it’s limoncello, the sweet Italian after dinner drink. This one was missing from my little digestivo collection, but now I have a bottle of limoncello hanging out in the freezer for whenever I might want it!
The cupcake batter is simple to make. It gets it’s moisture from yogurt and oil, so there’s no pesky creaming involved and it comes together in a flash by hand. There’s a little dollop of marmalade hidden in the center of each cupcake, but if you have some lemon curd, I bet it would be good, too. As I was making the batter and scooping the cupcakes, I realized that it’s pretty much the same deal as another Dorie cake– her yogurt loaf cake with marmalade glaze— that I’ve made several times before, just tweaked into a different form and with a bit of limoncello added. The cupcakes rose perfectly. They had a nice dome and the yogurt/oil combo gave then a springy, moist texture. They get brushed with a limoncello simple syrup while they’re still warm to boost that citrusy flavor.
What’s a cupcake without frosting, right? Well, due to an unexpected powdered sugar shortage, I really only made frosting for the two in the picture. The others we ate naked, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and an extra drizzle of the limoncello syrup all over. We actually liked them better that way, so if you don’t want to make frosting, they are great as-is…but I’d still recommend the syrup for a little extra spike of limoncello.
Tags: baking, pie
This Sweet Ricotta Pie from Nick Malgieri is the dessert version of his Pizza Rustica, which we made a few Easters ago. It’s made with the same sweet, cookie-like pasta frolla dough and also has a ricotta-based filling. Apart from the ricotta (and few eggs to bind), the filling is pretty simple and is just flavored with sugar, anisette and cinnamon. I’m not wild about anisette, and thought the filling could use a little more pizzazz anyway, so I tweaked it a bit. I had a small handful candied orange peel left from this year’s batch of Hot Cross Buns, so I soaked that, along with some golden raisins, in a good amount of Grand Marnier. I kept the cinnamon, but stirred it into the filling along with the dried fruit (rather than sprinkling it in a layer on top).
This pie has good orange flavor, but the filling’s a little dry. If I make this one again, I may try adding a few tablespoons of heavy cream to the batter or try swapping out a couple of the whole eggs for just yolks to see if that adds more moisture. I like the pasta frolla dough, too, although I wish the lattice strips had gotten a little more color in the oven. Looking back, I see that with the Rustica, I eggwashed the lattice for some browning action…seems I always look back a little too late.
Tags: baking, bread
A couple of weeks ago, the group made the Pebble Bread recipe from Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid, world travellers who have brought us a few other flatbreads you may or may not remember. I was all geared up to make this one, and then I didn’t. Sometimes I just run out of gas. Thankfully we get a make-up week every now and again.
Pebble Bread is a round Moroccan flatbread; traditionally baked on hot pebbles, it gets dimply and a little puffed. The not-so-traditional Western method we used here involves a bowl of water, your fingertips, and a heavy skillet…first dipping a rolled out dough round into water to create steam, next quickly dimpling it with your fingertips, then starting the bread in a skillet on the stovetop to cook the bottom, and finishing it under the broiler to cook the top.
I only made half a recipe (four large-enough-to-share pieces of bread) and since I used two skillets and they take just a few minutes each to cook, I worked though the process pretty quickly. Of course I totes torched the top of my first one under the broiler, but, just like my morning toast, it was nothing a little scrapey-scrape with a serrated knife couldn’t fix. You learn, eat your mistake before anyone else sees it, adjust and keep going.
I’d call these a definite success. I can’t roll pie dough into a nice round to save my life, but these breads all rolled out into perfect circles. They had just enough puff and chew, and a good flavor from the overnight sponge (yes, you need to plan to make a sponge the day before you make the bread, but it’s virtually hands-off) and the barley flour in the dough. I have a couple breads left in my freezer and I am very happy to eat all of them warm, ripped up and swiped first into olive oil and then into dukkah (which is actually an Egyptian nut and seed mix, but we found it all over the place when we lived in Australia, and ever since I must have it on a regular basis).
For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll to see if anyone else did a rewind this week, and see the links page from the Pebble Bread a couple of weeks ago!