Monthly Archives: April 2008

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta cake…

This weeks recipe was brought to you by: Caitlin of Engineer Baker
Generally, I like to experiment and change up recipes. This was a tough one, I thought about maybe brushing a liquor on the cake once removed from the oven, or using prunes instead of figs, or possibly even use olive oil instead of butter. Taking another look at the recipe and it’s ingredients, all I could think was ‘If I add another element to this cake, it will be too much.’ So I decided to add a little fresh rosemary and the rest I followed from the original recipe.

I used a 9-inch quiche pan, which worked out nicely. The fluted edges look dramatic and grand.

In the morning, I had my cup of tea along with a slice of cake. I have to say I enjoyed the flavor, but the cake just seems like it’s not right. It’s really moist, almost to the point where it doesn’t hold together. I might have not kept it in the oven long enough, correct me if I’m wrong. Aside from that, I will definitely be making this recipe again, just with a few changes.

Brown Butter Lavender Cake~ with raspberry honey ice cream & rooibos infused dark chocolate ganache

Last Friday night was our One Girl Cookie outing. I normally do not go for anything lavender, but I had to try the ‘brown butter’ part of the cake. The cake was tasty, and had a burst of brown butter flavor after the first bite. The cake was topped off with a rooibos infused ganache and cocoa nibs. I couldn’t really taste the rooibos flavor, but the chocolate ganache hit the chocolate spot. mmmm. Till next time.

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

This weeks Tuesday’s with Dorie recipe was chosen by Amanda of Slow like honey

I decided to venture out and change up the dried fruit. Instead of raisins, I picked up some dried figs. I plumped them up by soaking the figs in boiling water for 5 minutes and then drained them. Although the taste of the figs were pleasant, the crunchy texture of the fig seeds, interfered with the rest of the experience that comes from eating a carrot cake. The smooth cream cheese frosting, the juicy raisins, and the cooked carrots throughout. Even the walnuts had a tender crunch to them. I think classic is the way to go with this one.

 

Bill’s Big Carrot Cake

Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

 

Yields 10 servings

 

Ingredients:

For the cake:

2 cups all purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon salt

3 cups grated carrots (about 9 carrots, you can grate them in food processor fitted w/ a shredding a blade or use a box grater)

1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans

1 cup shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

½ cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden) or dried cranberries

2 cups sugar

1 cup canola oil

4 large eggs

 

For the frosting:

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

1 stick ( 8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 pound or 3 and ¾ cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

½ cup shredded coconut (optional)

Finely chopped toasted nuts and/or toasted shredded coconut (optional)

 

Getting ready:

Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter three 9-x-2-inch round cake pans, flour the insides, and tap out the excess. Put the two pans on one baking sheet and one on another.

 

To make the cake:

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In another bowl, stir together the carrots, chopped nuts, coconut, and raisins.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the sugar and oil together on a medium speed until smooth. Add the eggs one by one and continue to beat until the batter is even smoother. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture, mixing only until the dry ingredients disappear. Gently mix the chunky ingredients. Divide the batter among the baking pans.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point, until a thin knife inserted into the centers comes out clean. The cakes will have just started to come away from the sides of the pans. Transfer the cakes to cooling racks and cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the cakes and unmold them. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

The cakes can be wrapped airtight and kept at room temperature overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

 

To make the frosting:

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract.

If you’d like coconut in the filling, scoop about half of the frosting and stir the coconut into this position.

 

To assemble the cake:

Put one layer top side up on a cardboard cake round or a cake plate protected by strips of wax or parchment paper. If you added the coconut to the frosting, use half of the coconut frosting to generously cover the first layer (or generously cover with plain frosting). Use an offset spatula or a spoon to smooth the frosting all the way to the edges of the layer. Top with the second layer, this time placing the cake stop side down, and frost with the remainder of the coconut frosting or plain frosting. Top with the last layer, right side up, and frost the top- and the sides- of the cake. Finish the top with swirls of frosting. If you want to top the cake with toasted nuts or coconut, sprinkle them on now while the frosting is soft.

Refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, just to set the frosting before serving.

 

Serving:

This cake can be served as soon as the frosting is set. It can also wait, at room temperature and covered with a cake keeper overnight. The cake is best served in thick slices at room temperature and while it’s good plain, it’s even better with vanilla ice cream or some lemon curd.

 

Storing:

The cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. It can also be frozen. Freeze it uncovered, then when it’s firm, wrap airtight and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator.

Pardon my French…Macaron

Ever since my trip to Paris, I fell head-over-heels for French macarons. Now, in comparison to the great American chocolate chip cookie, a macaron is the Jane Birkin of cookies. It has taste, clean cut style, and is so sweet. On one of our walks in Brooklyn, we found a Patisserie that had French macarons! I immediately jumped to the counter, and blurted out an order for one of each flavor—only to devour them instantaneously. Délicieux.

Attack of the marshmallow man!

Those were my exact thoughts when I read this weeks recipe choice by Judy of Judy’s Gross Eats.

I had made marshmallows twice before, failing miserably both times. It was a recipe without eggs, and the gelatin fell to the bottom of the pan. So here I am again, nervous and anxious waiting for the results.

Three hours later…

They’re perfect! Fluffy, soft, and tasty. This gives me the confidence and encouragement to try raspberry marshmallows. Although, I think I’ll double the recipe next time. It wasn’t nearly as much to fill a half sheet pan. I don’t understand why Dorie chose the pan she did and not a 8×8 or 9×9? Well, I have to thank Judy for picking this recipe…for I’ve been thinking ‘I have to make a good marshmallow’ for months.

Back to the U.S.S.R

Friday night, good friends of ours hosted a dinner at a Russian restaurant in New Jersey called ‘Maximum’. In addition to a bountiful fruit platter, they served apple and grape strudel (pictured above). When I took a bite of the strudel, I was pleasantly surprised at the flavor of the cooked grapes. They were plump, juicy, and just sweet enough… and it was MUCH better than the gray cow tongue!

Lemon cream tart with spiced nut crust topped with lemon thyme

Mary of starting from scratch made a great choice with this weeks recipe. The recipe is called, ‘The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart‘.

As I approached this recipe I was hesitant about the ‘spiced nut’ crust suggested in the book. The thought of hazelnuts and lemon left me squinting, though I was determined to try something different. Making the filling was very simple, but took 30 minutes to reach 180 degrees F! When I got to the crust, I realized I only had an 11 inch round tart pan and a 13.5 x 4 inch quiche pan. What was a baker to do? So, with the help of my internet savvy husband, we figured out the surface area of the quiche pan to see if it would be compatible with my recipe. With 6 inches of left over crust, the quiche pan was a perfect fit. In all the tart had a nice balance of creamy almost sherbert like lemon flavor and tiny chunks of nuts in the crust. This one’s a keeper.

Confection at One Girl Cookies

Fennel Cake

So every Friday or Saturday night, we make our way over to One Girl Cookies for their special dessert nights. As always, I had the tasting of three desserts. The first, was a ‘cornmeal zeppole with rosemary creme fraiche gelato and drunken raspberries’. The zeppole was dry and a bit dense (though it gave me a great idea to make cornmeal beignets…mmm). Next was a ‘chocolate and port pudding tart with spiced whipped cream and a toasty nut crust’. The crust, had a nice mix in texture of flakiness and crunchiness from the hazelnuts. Last was ‘candied fennel cake with fennel ice cream and orange marmalade’. I would love to try this as a frosted cake with orange buttercream. As for the cake, pictured above, there was a great combination of fennel seed and other spices including ginger, cinnamon, and possibly a pinch of ground cardamom. Going to One Girl to experience the unique and flavorful desserts has become a weekly ritual. So check back next week to see what’s in store.