Spiced Ginger Cake: Delicious!

April 19th, 2015

Ginger Cake 1

Ruth Reichl, food critic, former Gourmet Magazine editor, and prolific author has just published her first novel called Delicious!.  This is a “must read” for foodies.  The evocative descriptions of making, tasting and enjoying food is so much a part of the story that it kept me reading long into the night.  The main character is a twenty something gal from California who moves to New York City to interview for a job at a food magazine called Delicious!; think Gourmet Magazine.  Her assets for the job are a perfect palette for discerning flavors and an ability to write well.  One of her tests for getting the job is to cook something for the editor.  She makes this gingerbread cake.  She is hired immediately and all of the staff want her recipe.

Ginger Cake 2V

In the book this is called Gingerbread, but to me it is more like a ginger spice cake.  It is the only recipe in the book and is worthy of its starring role.  The flavor is complex.  You must grind whole spices to achieve the desired flavor.  Whole peppercorns (Yes, peppercorns in a cake), whole cloves, whole cinnamon sticks, and whole cardamom.  There is a generous amount of freshly grated ginger root (1/4 cup) and the zest of 2 to 3 oranges.  Once the cake comes out of the pan it is painted with a bourbon reduction and then drizzled with an orange and powdered sugar glaze.  The cake is moist and so good that it is now my favorite by far.  David is off on a motorcycle trip for two weeks.  I had a dear friend spending the weekend with me since I am still finding it hard to get around.  I have an appointment for x-rays on Monday to determine if I have broken anything in my leg. Jackie and I dug into the cake on Friday night and we both oohed and aahed over it as we scraped our plates clean.  She said “Hurry up and take pictures of this so we can have more”.

Delicious by Ruth Reichl

I highly recommend this book.  The scenes of an Italian Market and different restaurants are a fun look at New York City.  There is also a story line about a girl who writes to James Beard during World War II.  It is an historical look at how Italians were treated during the war.  Many places stopped serving spaghetti because it was considered “Enemy Food”.  All and all, this was a fun read and the recipe is an added bonus.

BILLIE’S GINGERBREAD ( From Delicious! by Ruth Reichl )

CAKE:
Whole black peppercorns
Whole cloves
Whole cardamom
1 cinnamon stick (I used 2)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large pieces fresh ginger root (1/4 cup, tightly packed, when finely grated)
Zest from 2 to 3 oranges (1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter and flour a 6 cup Bundt pan.

Grind your peppercorns, cloves, and cardamom (individually) and measure out 1/4 teaspoon of each (You can use pre-ground spices, but the cake won’t taste as good.)  Grind your cinnamon stick and measure out 1 teaspoon (Again, you can use ground cinnamon if you must.)

Whisk the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a small bowl.

In another small bowl, whisk the eggs and egg yolk into the sour cream.  Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until the mixture is light, fluffy, and almost white.  This should take about 3 minutes.

Grate the ginger root-this is a lot of ginger-and the orange zest.  Add them to the butter/sugar mixture.

Beat the flour mixture and the egg mixture, alternating between the two, into the butter until each addition is incorporated.  The batter should be as luxurious as mousse.

Spoon batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 40 minutes, until cake is golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean.

Remove to a rack and cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

SOAK:
1/2 cup bourbon
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

While the cake cools in its pan, simmer the bourbon and the sugar in a small pot for about 4 minutes.  It should reduce to about 1/3 cup.

While the cake is still in the pan, brush half the bourbon mixture onto its exposed surface (the bottom of the cake) with a pastry brush.  Let the syrup soak in for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack (I used a serving plate).

Gently brush the remaining mixture all over the cake.

GLAZE
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted or put through a strainer
5 teaspoons orange juice

Once the cake is cooled, mix the sugar with the orange juice and either drizzle the glaze randomly over the cake or put it in to a squeeze bottle and do a controlled drizzle.

Printable Recipe

 

Orange Zest Cornmeal Cake

March 9th, 2015

Cornmeal Cake 4

It is strawberry time in Florida.  I wanted to make a simple cake to showcase berries.  This flavorful cake was the perfect vehicle.  It is citrusy with the orange zest and a bit crumbly with the cornmeal.  I really love this easy cake; so much so, that I am going to be making it from now on for strawberry shortcake, a simple tea cake, or served with ice cream.  David ate it last night with chocolate sauce.

Cornmeal Cake 3V

Yummy cake indeed.  Even if baking is not your thing, this is so quick and easy that you cannot fail.

Cornmeal Cake 1 Close

On another note, the light is returning.  It may not be Spring yet, but we bloggers tend to have an eye for the quality of light.  I have been struggling all winter trying to take good pictures in less than perfect light.  The shift in the angle of the Sun has improved my photography.  Spring shows itself in subtle ways.  Some sense it in the smell of fresh soil and the warming air currents.  Some sense it by listening to new bird calls and some, like me, can feel it in the light.  May this returning light brighten your days.

Cornmeal Cake 2 close

This cake will also brighten your days.

ORANGE ZEST CORNMEAL CAKE

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange rind
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 9-inch round cake pan with butter.  Add a round of parchment paper and grease again with butter.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt.  Combine butter, sugar, orange rind and vanilla in a stand mixer.  Blend on medium speed until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and cornmeal alternately with milk, beating just until evenly incorporated.  Scrape into prepared pan, spreading evenly.

Bake 30 minutes or until a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Cool in pan on wire rack.  Invert, remove parchment paper and flip to top side. Slice and serve when cool.

Printable Recipe

Lemon Chiffon Gingersnap Pie

January 13th, 2015

Lemon Chiffon Pie 1

One of the things to love about Winter is that it is citrus season.  Oranges, lemons, tangerines and blood oranges brighten the produce aisles of the supermarkets.  I usually have an orange for breakfast.  But for a bit more decadent way to enjoy citrus try this smooth chiffon pie with a bite from the gingersnap crust.  It brightens even the most gloomy of days.

We are beginning a kitchen project this week.  We have been slowly updating what we found when we bought the house in Florida.  We updated the appliances a few years ago and added new countertops.  The previous countertops were the same faux wood as our cabinets.  Not pretty.  We chose Corian.  We have granite in Lake Lure, but Corian seemed the right choice for Florida.  Our current project is to reface all of our kitchen cabinets, replacing the doors and adding a few pull out shelves.  Here is how the kitchen looks now.

Florida Kitchen 1

The new cabinets will be off white, creamier than what you see here.  The style is Shaker with a beadboard insert.  The installers will be here Thursday and Friday and should be able to finish the job in just those two days.

Florida Kitchen 5

 

The cabinet over the dishwasher will have glass doors.  I am anxious to see the results.  I will give you an update when it is all put back together again.  In the meantime, I will be making a pot of soup before the work begins.  I was told that we could still use the kitchen and it made sense to have soup in the fridge to reheat for dinner each night.

Lemon Chiffon Pie 2

I will also have this tart lemony pie with a hint of orange zest to dig into.  I plan to add this to my list of Florida desserts.  I usually make key lime pie for guests, but this lemon chiffon pie is a good alternative.  By the way, the background for my pie is a Downton Abbey wrapping paper available at World Market.  I was immediately attracted to it before I even knew its provenance. This year’s episodes of Downton Abbey are riveting.  What will happen to Mr. Bates?  Will Lady Mary find happiness?

LEMON CHIFFON GINGERSNAP PIE (Williams Sonoma)

1 1/4 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar divided
1 package unflavored powdered gelatin
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice, strained
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
4 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  In a bowl, stir together the crumbs, butter, and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar until the crumbs are evenly moistened.  Pat the crumb mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom and all the way up the sides of a 9-inch pie pan or dish.  Bake until the crust is firm, 5-7 minutes.

Pour 1/4 cup cold water into a saucepan and sprinkle with the gelatin.  Let stand until the gelatin softens and swells, 5-10 minutes.  Stir in the 3/4 cup granulated sugar, salt, lemon juice, orange zest, and egg yolks; the mixture will be lumpy.  Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously, until the gelatin melts and the mixture thickens, 6-8 minutes.  Do not allow the mixture to boil.  Set the saucepan in an ice bath until the mixture is cool to the touch.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar on medium-high speed until thick, soft peaks form.  Spoon the whipped cream into the gelatin mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until smooth.  Pour into the prepared crust, smoothing the top.

Refrigerate the pie until chilled and firm, 3-4 hours.  Let stand at room temperature for 20 minutes before serving.

Printable Recipe

Sarah Bernhardt Cookies

December 8th, 2014

Christmas Cookies 14 2

I made a new cookie for the holidays this year.  The minute I received my copy of  A Kitchen in France by Mimi Thorisson, I knew that the Sarah Bernhardt cookies would be on my Christmas table.  Sarah Bernhardt cookies or cakes, as they are sometimes called, originated in Copenhagan Denmark in 1911 where a local chef made them for the French actress when she traveled there to promote the publication of her memoirs.  She was purported to have loved them.  Mimi Thorisson shared that she learned to make them from her Icelandic Mother-in-law.  They have now become a Christmas tradition in her household.  I can see why.

Christmas Cookies 14 3

They start with a meringue made from egg whites, confectioners’ sugar and almond flour.  I had to experiment with how large to make these and whether to use two spoons to form them or pipe them through a pastry bag.  I would recommend the bag.  It was much easier to handle the sticky dough that way.  After the meringues have cooled and put in the freezer for a short chill, they are frosted with a coffee and chocolate infused mixture.

Christmas Cookies 14 4

After the frosted meringues go back into the freezer to chill, they are then dipped in melted dark chocolate.  Even though there are a lot of steps to making them, Sarah Bernhardt cookies are well worth the time.  They are a mouthful of crisp meringue, soft frosting and rich dark chocolate.  I think it will take me some time to perfect this cookie.  For instance, I frosted the rounded side and dipped that in chocolate so that the flat bottoms would be stable.  The pictures I have seen were rounder because the frosting was piled on the flat side and then dipped in chocolate.  They are even more beautiful garnished with candied violets as I saw on one post.

Christmas Table 1

I am well on my way to completing my cookie baking.  So far I have made Mexican wedding cookies,  Chocolate and Pecan Shortbread Bars,  and the Sarah Bernhardt cookies.  This year I am wrapping my cookies in clear plastic bags tied with red ribbons.

Christmas Cookies 14 1

I hope you will find the time to make these delicious cookies.  They are worth a relaxing moment and maybe a sigh of satisfaction with a cup of tea or coffee.

SARAH BERNHARDT COOKIES (Mimi Thorisson)

Makes 40 to 50 individual cookies depending on size

For the Meringues:
4 large egg whites
2 1/3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 cups almond flour

For the Frosting:
2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 large egg yolks ( I used pasteurized eggs because the eggs are not cooked)
3 tablespoons instant coffee powder, dissolved in 1 1/2 tablespoons hot water and cooled
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

11 ounces good dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Make the meringue.  Whip the egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until frothey.  Gradually add the sugar, 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue whipping until the egg whites form stiff peaks, about 10 minutes.  Gently fold in the almond flour.  Using two spoons or a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip, spoon or pipe the egg whites onto the parchment-lined baking sheets.  The meringues should be 1 1/2 to 2 inches wide and 1/3 to 1/2 inch high.

Bake until crisp, 10 to 12 minutes.  Let cool on the baking sheets for 8 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  Transfer the cooled meringues to a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and freeze while you make the frosting.

Make the frosting.  With a wooden spoon, in a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the butter until smooth.  Whisk the egg yolks in another medium bowl until pale and thick, then gradually stir into the butter mixture.  Pour in the dissolved coffee, add the cocoa powder, and mix until the frosting is smooth and thick.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate to firm up a bit, 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove the meringues from the freezer.  Use a spoon or a palette knife to spread about 1 1/2 teaspoon frosting over the bottom of each meringue.  Return to the freezer frosting side up for 15 minutes to harden.

Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring an inch or two of water to a simmer in a saucepan, put the bowl on top, and melt the chocolate, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes ( You can use the microwave if your prefer.)  Remove from the heat.  The chocolate should be just warm to the touch; if it is warmer, let it cool a bit.

Dip the frosted side of each meringue in the melted chocolate so the frosting is entirely covered.  Let set on a large piece of parchment paper.

Line a large container with parchment paper and arrange the meringues in it, layering them between sheets of parchment.  Cover the paper and close the lid tightly.  The meringues will keep in the freezer for up to a month.

Printable Recipe

Deep Dish Apple Pie

September 11th, 2014

Apple Pie 1

 

We have been busy with friends recently.  Our Michigan and Nantucket friends were here for a visit.  We had a wonderful time with them.  One of our Michigan friends is a fruit farmer and he has acres of apple orchards.  So it made sense to me that I had to make an apple pie.  David said “You are probably going out on a limb here because Jim is probably a connoisseur of apple pies”.  Since I love to live on the edge, I decided to make Ina Garten’s deep dish apple pie because you can’t go wrong with her recipes.

Apple Pie 3

 

The pastry recipe was very easy to work with.  It had a combination of butter and shortening in it and rolled out like a breeze.  The apple filling was good, but Jim did notice the lemon flavor added to the apples.  I think it was too much and took away from the cinnamon flavor.

Chicken Dinner 1

 

Another meal that we had was rotisserie chicken on the grill with potatoes, onions and carrots roasted underneath them.  I got the recipe from the other Penny at The Comforts of Home.  It was a challenge to get three whole chickens on the spit, but David managed it and they turned out very well; moist and crispy.  I served them with French green beans, croissants and salad.  Very French.

Chicken Dinner 2

 

Moses, our Nantucket friend, even cooked the necks and gizzards to be nibbled as an appetizer.

Chicken dinner 4

 

I think David was really enjoying the neck meat.  Every picture that I took showed him gnawing away.  My kitchen looked messy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Smiling faces, good friends, good wine and good food all conspired to make for a memorable get together.

DEEP DISH APPLE PIE (The Barefoot Contessa)

4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, quartered, and cored
1 lemon, zested
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I will omit this next time)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice (I may omit this next time)
1/2 cup sugar, plus 1 teaspoon to sprinkle on top
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
Perfect Pie Crust, recipe follows
1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg washPreheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple quarter in thirds crosswise and combine in a bowl with the zests, juices, 1/2 cup sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

Roll out half the pie dough and drape it over a 9- or 10-inch pie pan to extend about 1/2-inch over the rim. Don’t stretch the dough; if it’s too small, just put it back on the board and re-roll it.

Fill the pie with the apple mixture. Brush the edge of the bottom pie crust with the egg wash so the top crust will adhere. Top with the second crust and trim the edges to about 1-inch over the rim. Tuck the edge of the top crust under the edge of the bottom crust and crimp the 2 together with your fingers or a fork. Brush the entire top crust with the egg wash, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, and cut 4 or 5 slits.

Place the pie on a sheet pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until the crust is browned and the juices begin to bubble out. Serve warm.

PERFECT PIE CRUST

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) very cold unsalted butter

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/3 cup very cold vegetable shortening

6 to 8 tablespoons (about 1/2 cup) ice water

Dice the butter and return it to the refrigerator while you prepare the flour mixture. Place the flour, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and pulse a few times to mix. Add the butter and shortening. Pulse 8 to 12 times, until the butter is the size of peas. With the machine running, pour the ice water down the feed tube and pulse the machine until the dough begins to form a ball. Dump out on a floured board and roll into a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Cut the dough in half. Roll each piece on a well-floured board into a circle, rolling from the center to the edge, turning and flouring the dough to make sure it doesn’t stick to the board. Fold the dough in half, place in a pie pan, and unfold to fit the pan. Repeat with the top crust.

Yield: 2 (10-inch) crusts

Printable Recipe

 

© Penny Klett, Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen. All rights reserved.