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

Hummingbird Bundt Cake

March 9th, 2014

Hummingbird Cake 3 Best

 

There is a new angle to the Sun these days.  Even though spring is not quite here, I can feel the promise of an end to winter.  We will be returning to Lake Lure at the end of the month.  Normally we would find the dogwood trees and the forsythia getting ready to bloom.  I am not so sure this year.  It has been such a brutally cold winter.  One of the things I look forward to at Lake Lure is my hummingbird feeder outside my kitchen window.  I like to believe that the same hummingbird couple come back every year.  In honor of spring and the return of my sweet hummingbirds, I made this hummingbird bundt cake.

Hummingbird Cake 1V

 

The cake recipe first appeared in Southern Living Magazine in 1978.  It is a banana, pineapple and spice cake with a luscious cream cheese frosting.  It is usually presented as a layer cake, but this is a much easier version.  This recipe for a hummingbird bundt cake was in a recent Southern Living magazine.  I found it in a magazine at my hair dresser’s and got her permission to tear it out.

Hummingbird Cake Third Picture

I love this cake.  Since we have company coming, it was a good excuse to make it.  Now if spring would just get the message that winter is over, we would all be happy.  Bring on the robins, blue jays and hummingbirds.  I am linking this to Tasty Tuesday at the Comforts of Home.

HUMMINGBIRD BUNDT CAKE

1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (about 4 large)
1 (8 oz.) can crushed pineapple (do not drain)
3/4 cup canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Glaze:
4 oz. cream cheese, cubed and softened
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoon milk ( You may need more.  My glaze was too stiff )

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.

Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in eggs and next 4 ingredients, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.  Sprinkle 1 cup toasted pecans into a greased and floured 14-cup Bundt pan.  Spoon batter over pecans.

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool cake in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack, and cool completely (about 2 hours).

Process cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and 1 Tbsp. milk in a food processor until well blended.  Add remaining 1 Tbsp. milk, 1 tsp. at a time, processing until smooth.  Immediately pour glaze over cooled cake, and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup toasted pecans.

Printable recipe

 

 

Walnut Gateau Breton

January 17th, 2014

Walnut Gateau Breton 3

I am in love with this cake.  A Gateau Breton is a butter cake from the Brittany region of France.  It is dense, rich and very buttery.  This variation of the cake includes lightly toasted walnuts, ground and incorporated into the batter.  Magnifique!

Walnut Gateau Breton 4

The recipe was in the book On Rue Tatin; Living and Cooking in a French Town by Susan Herrmann Loomis.  This book has been around for a long time.  As a matter of fact I read it years ago.  But on a recent trip to the library, I picked it up again.  Because of our two trips to France, and the time that we spent in Normandy I looked at it with a fresh eye.  Susan’s historic home is in the Normandy village of Louviers.  She currently offers cooking classes in her charming converted convent home on Rue Tatin.  She also has a website.

Walnut Gateau Breton 5

This walnut gateau breton is like no other cake that I have eaten.  It is very similar to shortbread.  The amount of butter in it is astounding.  It is not a light cake.  It is very dense and, did I mention buttery?  It is perfect with red wine or with coffee or espresso.  It is traditionally marked on the top with a criss-cross of fork marks.  The ingredients are few and simple.  No need to get out your mixer.  But I do recommend that you use a good quality butter.

On Rue Tatin

I highly recommend this book.  It is the tale of buying and restoring an historic home and learning to live in a small village while cooking in a picturesque kitchen.  There are recipes at the end of each chapter.  The last recipe featured is, of course, a Tarte Tatin.  The Gateau Breton was made to please and influence the local priest.  You can read the book to see if it worked.  Check out “My Favorite Reads” from Amazon on my sidebar if you are interested in ordering On Rue Tatin. 

WALNUT GATEAU BRETON

1/2 cup walnuts, lightly toasted
1 1/4 cups sugar, divided
7 large egg yolks
16 tablespoons salted butter, melted and cooled slightly
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.  Butter and lightly flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Place the walnuts and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and grind so that most of the walnuts are finely ground but not anywhere near a paste.

In a large bowl, whisk together 6 of the egg yolks and the remaining sugar until the mixture is blended, just a few minutes; there is no need to use an electric mixer here.  It will be thick and yellow but shouldn’t form a ribbon.  Slowly whisk in the walnuts and sugar, then the butter.  Sift the flour over the mixture and whisk it in just until the mixture is homogeneous.  Don’t overmix the batter or the cake will be tough.

Whisk together the remaining egg yolk and 2 teaspoons water to make an egg glaze.

Turn the batter, which will be quite stiff, into the prepared pan and smooth it out.  Lightly but thoroughly paint it with the egg glaze.  Using the back of the tines of a fork, deeply mark a crisscross pattern in the top of the cake, going three times across it in one direction, then three in another. (The marks in the cake will fade, leaving just their trace on the top of the cake.)

Bake in the center of the oven until the cake is deep golden on the top and springs back slowly but surely when it is touched, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.  Using a knife or cake tester isn’t recommended as it always comes out looking slightly damp because of the amount of butter in the recipe.

Remove from the oven, transfer the cake to a wire tack, and let cool for about 10 minutes before turning out of the cake pan.  Let it cool thoroughly before serving.

Printable recipe

 

Apple Bundt Cake with Caramel Frosting

November 15th, 2013

Why not shake things up a bit for Thanksgiving this year.  As much as I love pie, there are some in our family who would rather have cake.  Let them eat cake. This apple spice cake with a caramel frosting would make the perfect alternative.  I found this recipe on a website called Crunchy Creamy Sweet.   Anna has come up with a wonderfully easy bundt cake with an effortless caramel frosting.  I love bundt cakes.  But if you have ever had a problem with them releasing from the pan, worry no more.  Cooks Illustrated has come up with a great tip.  Simply combine 1 tablespoon of softened butter with 1 tablespoon of flour.  Using a pastry brush, paint the whole interior of the bundt pan with the mixture and the cake will pop right out when it is done.


The only thing I would have done differently with this cake, would be to thin the frosting a little bit.  It was suggested in the directions, but I did not feel at the time that it was necessary to add more milk.  But the frosting thickens a little as it cools.  Just be aware of this.

I still plan on making a pumpkin pie and an apple pie for Thanksgiving.  But a cake this easy is well worth your time.

APPLE BUNDT CAKE WITH CARAMEL FROSTING

For the cake:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chopped Granny Smith apples

For the Frosting:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter
3 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
3/4 cups chopped pecans

Prepare the 10 cup bundt pan:  In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon melted butter (cool) with 1 tablespoon flour.  With a pastry brush (or by using your fingers) grease the bundt pan.  Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and salt.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl place granulated sugar, brown sugar, oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla.  Beat with electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on low until combined.  The batter will be thick.  Stir in chopped apples.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan.  Place a large plate over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plate.  Let cool completely.

To make the frosting:
In a medium saucepan, combine brown sugar, butter and milk.  Whisking constantly, bring to a boil.  Remove from heat, stir in vanilla ad cool for 10 minutes.  Add sugar.  Whisk until drizzling consistency.  If the frosting is too thick, add more milk.  Drizzle over the cake.  Sprinkle chopped pecans over the almost set frosting.

  Printable recipe

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