French Pound Cake: Quatre-Quarts

I love all things French! I have always wanted to speak the language. I took four years of French between High School and College but to no avail. I do recognize some words and phrases and enjoy knowing what Christie’s sleuth, Hercule Poirot, says from time to time on the Masterpiece Mystery movies. But, alas, I never was able to immerse myself into a French-speaking environment in order to learn to speak it myself. I can ask where the bathroom is, though, in a pinch!

On a beautiful weekend afternoon I wanted to bake a cake. Well, I wanted to bake a cake and use this new technique of making fluffy frosting with whipping cream in the food processor. But I did not really want to make chocolate cake. I get out various cookbooks and start browsing. I was all set to make a cake with apples and walnuts or walnuts and maple syrup or a pound cake. Hubby likes pound cake. He had suggested a carrot cake but I did not buy carrots when we grocery shopped the previous day. However, I did not have any walnuts in the house either. I searched. So, pound cake it is.

From my French Feasts coffee table-sized cookbook, there is a pound cake recipe.

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

The recipe description says this is a basic recipe that can be personalized by adding apples, pears, banana, fruit conserves, etc. As you can see there is no “flavoring” in the recipe. Also there is probably an assumption that the butter is salted. So I add:

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest from one very small lemon
  • I forgot to add a pinch of salt

We like lemon glazed pound cake so that was my plan. Then I wondered about adding some raspberry preserves…lemon and raspberry is a nice flavor combo!

  1. Whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture is pale and thick. Add the softened butter, sifted flour, and baking powder. So I rarely sift flour anymore. Instead I whisk the two dry ingredients together for about 30 seconds to thoroughly mix.
  2. I lined a 9×5-inch loaf pan with parchment and cooking spray. I poured about 3/4 of the batter into the pan. I then added about 1/4 cup raspberry preserves to the remaining batter. Then, forgetting how to marble a cake, I plopped the purple batter on top and attempted to make a swirl.
  3. Bake in preheated oven 315 F for 45 minutes. In future I will set the oven for 350. I had to leave it in the oven baking for another 15 minutes. But this may be because I added the jam.

I let the cake sit in the pan for about 15 minutes and then took it out and let it cool on a wire rack. I paced paper towels (parchment paper would have been better) under the rack and while it was still warm I glazed it. To make the glaze I added the juice from the small zested lemon to 2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar. That made too much glaze so I poured about 1/2 of that on the warm cake. Then I let it sit to cool a bit more. And then we ate it.

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I served this with some thawed frozen mixed berries and freshly whipped cream. It was yummy. The swirl is evident but the flavor of the raspberry preserves did not come through. The lemon overpowered it. In future, I would add vanilla to the cake itself and more fruit preserves, maybe just dropping the preserve into the batter in the pan for swirling. The outside had a nice crust but the interior texture was not as dense as expected in pound cake. Not a failure! Actually a success!

 

 

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Breton Butter Cake my way!

The weather has cooled down a bit and baking seems like a good idea. I have been going through my magazines and marking the recipes I want to try, one of which is a French butter cake. This I found in January/February 2017 edition of Cook’s Illustratedhttps://www.cooksillustrated.com/articles/368-french-butter-cake?incode=MCSCD00L0&ref=new_search_experience_1.

I forgot to find Californian dried apricots while shopping so had to decide what type of filling to make. I looked into my  French Feasts cookbook and found some tasty sounding fillings for gateau roule. And then I just took out an open jar of lemon curd and decided to use that one. Now also in this book is a recipe for Breton Butter Cake. This one is not filled. I compared the recipes and decided I would try the French Feasts‘ recipe but use the magazine’s techniques. And this would allow me to use my  8-inch cake pan with the removable bottom. Yay!

  • 2 2/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup soft brown sugar
  • 1/4 ounce yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 1 cup salted butter (I used unsalted butter with every intention of adding one teaspoon salt, but forgot to add the salt!)
  • 4 egg yolks (3 for the batter and 1 for brushing on top)
  • 2 tablespoons rum

Yeast in a cake! And no rising time! How will this turn out?

  1. Mix together the flour, sugars, and yeast. Grate the cold butter and add to the mixture along with three egg yolks and knead together. This will be crumbly. Well, I cut the butter into tablespoons and chopped it up a bit and put it in the mixer bowl. I then added all the other dry ingredients and mixed it up in the Kitchen Aid stand mixer. This got crumbly and I added the egg yolks and rum. It then came together into a stiff batter.
  2. Place a sheet of parchment paper in a tart pan than is about 8 inches in diameter and spread the dough over its base. Beat the remaining egg yolk and brush it on the dough. Ridge the dough surface with a fork. So I followed the magazine and spread half the dough onto the base of the pan. I then spread the 1/2 jar (about 6 ounces) of lemon curd on the base to about 1/2 inch from the edges. I placed this in the freezer for about ten minutes. Per Cook’s this will freeze up firm enough to put the second half of the batter on top. I forgot completely that lemon curd does not freeze firmly. Oops! I then attempted to spread the second part of this dough on top. I should have rolled it out into an  8-inch circle and put the whole thing on top all at once. Live and learn. I had to put pieces around the edge to stop the lemon curd from spreading to the edge. I did my best and then brushed the top with egg yolk and ridged it with a fork. IMG_0218
  3. Bake in preheated oven 400 degrees F for about 25 minutes; then lower the temperature to 350 F and continue cooking for 15 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the oven with the door open. I baked it as directed but decided to let it cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes per Cook’s. The cake was ready to have the pan removed right out of the oven, no need to run a knife around the edge to loosen. IMG_0219
  4. When the cake is lukewarm, wrap it in foil. This cake is better when it is not so fresh–the day after, or the day after that. We cut this baby up after the 30 minutes! IMG_0226Actually we waited a bit longer and cut and ate a slice while we were watching a Poirot mystery set in the French Riviera. That seemed appropriate.

I first was concerned that it was not fully baked around the filling but this was hard to tell given the lemon curd was not distinct from the rest of the cake. It was firm on the outside, top, bottom, and sides. it was dense. It tasted delicious!

And how did it taste the next day? Still delicious. A little gummy but that gives it a fudge-brownie type texture. The lemon filling is marvelous in this cake. The outside of the cake gave it a shortbread type of feel. It is definitely not the American butter cakes I grew up baking and eating. But this I will make again.

 

Lemon Pudding Cake

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This dessert recipe I found many years ago on allrecipes.com. In fact it was 2010 when I printed it out so maybe that is not so many years ago. The recipe is still posted here. I did not make too many adjustments so as not to mangle the results.

  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (I juiced one lemon and topped it up with jarred lemon juice to make 1/3 cup.)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (this was 1/2 the zest from the aforementioned lemon; I froze the remainder for future use.)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I did not sift. I figure if I whisk the flour in the container and then spoon it into the measuring cup lightly without packing, that is close enough.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (I did not have cow’s milk except for half-and-half. So I used 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1/2 cup almond milk which emptied the carton, so I topped it up with 1/2 cup cashew milk. I thought it was necessary to use the half-and-half for the fat content.)

Beat together egg yolks, lemon juice, lemon zest, and butter until thick and lemon colored. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Add this alternating with additions of the milk.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Blend egg whites into the batter on low speed of electric mixer. I am so glad I have two bowls for my KitchenAid mixer. I used one bowl with the paddle attachment for the batter and the other bowl with the whisk attachment for the egg whites.

Pour this into an -inch square pan. Heat oven to 350 F. This bakes in a bain marie: place a 9 x 13 inch pan in the oven with hot water. Put the square pan in it and bake for 45 minutes.

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We ate this warm from the oven. The sauce/pudding formed under the sponge thickens up as it cools so it is good warm or cool. The birthday girl had a second helping and declared it good! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Walnut Loaf with Craisins, and some thoughts

Here are some thoughts…

  • Sometimes I think that there are no more unique recipes or ways to prepare ordinary food. And then I read food blogs…
  • I have too many cookbooks so I get stymied in my search for cooking and baking. Too many choices.
  • I was standing over the compost bucket disassembling a k-cup having images of my mother putting all the food scraps in a coffee tin to throw into the garden. She did not have the luxury of a compost service like I have. But there I was “channeling Mom”.
  • How does one simplify the kitchen supplies without giving away something I will need later?
  • Sometimes I don’t feel like cooking even though I am home from work a full hour or more before Hubby. I would like to take a weeknight or weekend afternoon to cook for the week. But I am concerned that I would then not want to eat what has been prepared! And camping season is arriving so my weekends should be spent camping.
  • I need to get three years of pictures off my phone and computer. And organize them in some way. I can’t always remember how to get to the “cloud”.
  • I want to get back to writing my memoirs and organizing them so that my kids can have my thoughts for posterity someday in the future, a long way into the future, when I am gone.
  • Writing is a creative outlet that I need to discipline myself to fit into my daily or weekly schedule. And regular exercise, and meditation, and prayer, and reading, and sewing, and all sorts of things I want in my life…!
  • I also am thrilled that there are those of you out there who read what I write!

Now for cake. This is a recipe that I found in one of my UK published cook books. I made it once before and it broke apart coming out of the pan. The recipe instructed to grease the loaf pan and sprinkle with sugar. Just so you know this does not work well with a stoneware loaf pan. This time I greased the pan, floured it, and put a rectangle of parchment paper in just to be on the safe side. I am pleased to say that the loaf came out of the pan in one piece. Yay!

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The recipe:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 Tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • grated rind of one lemon (I used a 1/2 teaspoon of lemon extract because I did not have a lemon on hand. I did use the zest in the first loaf I made.0
  • 2 Tablespoons currents or raisins (I used Craisins.)
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 3 Tablespoons chocolate chips

Sift the dry ingredients together. Cream the butter and sugar. Add eggs one at a time beating after each one. To this I added the vanilla and lemon extracts. Add the dry ingredients in three batches. Do not over mix. Then fold in the goodies. I used a combination of the three to an equal of one cup, so a little more than what is listed.

Spread in prepared loaf pan, 9 x 5 inch. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before turning out of the pan onto a wire rack.

I never let something like this cool before cutting and eating. It is quite tasty and not too sweet.

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Pound Cake for the New Year: everything is better with cake!

 

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Hubby’s favorite cake is pound cake.I wanted to bake something. We ran our Saturday morning errands, spent a bit of money on pet food, took the dog to a play date at the local dog park, and came home. We will not go out this New Year’s Eve. But I will bake a cake.

The latest King Arthur Flour’s sales flyer has a recipe: King Arthur Flour’s Original Pound Cake. (They probably have it on their website as well, but I did not look for it.) Heat oven to 350 F and grease or cooking spray your Bundt pan.

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar; I use the organic fair trade sugar from Aldi which has a slight caramel color
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature

Beat butter until very light. I softened my butter by putting it in a bowl and in the microwave for 30 seconds. I know this is a cake-baking “no, no”. But that is what I did. Then gradually add the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

  • 2 cups flour; with all respect I changed this up to 1 cup all-purpose and 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour; we had just been talking about adding fiber to our diet. I did notice that the high end pet food we bought features “no grain”
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Sift or whisk these ingredients in a separate bowl.

  • 1/2 cup milk; I did not want to use almond milk so I used 1/4 cup half-and -half diluted with water to make 1/2 cup.
  • 1 Tablespoon your choice liquor such as brandy, sherry, rum; (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Hubby brought home a bottle of Jim Beam maple bourbon, pure Kentucky whisky! I am not much for the drinking of spirits but this has been an exception! Just a finger of this to sip on while watching some good, some bad, TV…yum! But nights kept awake with heartburn (both of us) made us put this back on the shelf. But it sounded like the perfect “liquor of my choice” for the pound cake.

Whisk these three ingredients together in a small bowl. Alternately add the wet and dry ingredients to the egg/sugar/butter mixture, stirring after each addition. End with the flour. Well I stirred quite a bit with the “stir” setting on the KitchenAid. Pour into the prepared pan smoothing the top. Bake 60-65 minutes. You can tent with foil for the last bit of baking if you think it is browning too fast.

Remove cake from oven and loosen the sides. Wait five minutes and turn out onto rack to cool. The recipe says to wrap in plastic wrap and store for a day or two before serving. I’m not doing that! Why bake a cake if you are not going to eat it?

Now my cake does not look as pretty as the one in the KAF flyer. I decide to add a glaze using maple syrup and the bourbon. This is an adaptation of a glaze for the cake I made in September. Take one tablespoon of butter, 1/8 cup bourbon, and 1/8 cup maple syrup and bring to boil. Keep boiling for 5-8 minutes until reduced to syrup consistency. Brush this over the warm cake.

We did not wait for the cake to cool completely before having a taste. I whipped up some cream with a touch of maple syrup for the topping. Delish!

Happy and blessed new year to all. Thanks for reading my food rantings this past year. I plan to keep them coming: I hope you do too! And may God bless us, everyone.

Maple Pound Cake

I have been baking, and cooking, just not writing! We got a late start on camping this summer so are trying to make up with the weekends that are remaining through October. There’s something about camping that makes sitting around doing nothing very productive. This is compared to sitting around at home doing nothing which is just plain laziness.

I am back to using King Arthur Flour recipes. I have not yet taken up their current bake-along challenge but may do so in the future.The catalog flyer they send each month has a few recipes in it along with the promotions of their products for sale. This latest had a Maple Pound Cake with Maple-Rum Glaze recipe which looked and sounded tasty and seasonal. It is definitely fall in New England and the Sugar houses will be full of maple syrup soon. Here is the link to the recipe on their website. http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/maple-pound-cake-with-maple-rum-glaze-recipe

I followed the recipe almost exactly because that is just the kind of baker I am! Mise en place is essential for baking and I failed to pay attention to the recipe and what ingredients I had in the house. What type of baker runs out of butter! I had only some butter so I substituted coconut oil. This was solidified being less than 70 degrees F in my pantry. I also made my own cake flour using the directions from Mark Bittman’s book How To Cook Everything.

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour whisked with 1/4 cup cornstarch (OR 2 cups cake flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons coconut oil and 2 tablespoons butter (OR 3/4 cup butter, softened)
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup dark maple syrup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (the recipe also calls for 1/4 teaspoon maple flavor but this I do not have)

Sift the first four dry ingredients in a bowl. Cream the coconut oil/butter with the brown sugar in separate bowl. To this add and beat eggs one at a time and then add the maple syrup. Now add half the flour mixture followed by the sour cream and vanilla. Then add the remaining flour. Mix just until combined.

You will have preheated the oven to 350 degrees F and lightly greased a 9-10 cup bundt pan. Pour batter into the pan and bake for 45-50 minutes until cake test done. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and then turn out on a cake plate. My cake did not come out cleanly. I had to patch some of the pieces of the top (or bottom, depending on your perspective) of the cake back to the cake like a puzzle. Luckily this does not affect the taste. No Star Baker for me though!

While the cake is baking, or actually when you pull it out of the oven, make the glaze by combining 2 tablespoons butter (I found a partial stick of butter in the camping butter container), 1/4 cup maple syrup, and 1/4 cup rum (or water) in a saucepan. Bring this to a rolling boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 5-8 minutes until thickens to a syrupy consistency. I forgot to check the consistency and just simmered it for 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and pour over the warm cake.

The directions say to let the cake cool completely before serving. What? Why?

I let it cool just a bit while finishing an episode of the current Binge Watch on Amazon!

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This is a flavorful and moist cake. Hubby asked for a piece to put in his lunch the next day. This recipe is a definite keeper. Ice cream or real whipped cream could be added but is not necessary.

 

 

Banana cake: baking season returns!

September has brought cooler weather. At least for a day or two. Never mind that the forecast shows 90s by the end of the week! Meanwhile I turn on the oven and bake a cake.

Ohiocook sends us over to the diabetic living website to check out dessert recipes. And there is this cake first thing: cinnamon banana cake with chocolate ganache: Cinnamon-Banana Cake

I have frozen bananas, cinnamon, whole wheat pastry flour, so here goes. I follow the recipe exactly except for the dark chocolate in the ganache because, for some reason, I don’t have dark chocolate in the house. Oh well, life in my kitchen must go on.

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup mashed bananas; I used 2 whole frozen bananas
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3/4 cup non-fat milk; I used cashew milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all the dry ingredients. Mix all the wet ingredients. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients all at once and mix till combined.

Oh, you would have preheated the oven to 325 F  and have generously greased a Bundt cake pan. Spread evenly in the pan and bake for 45-55 minutes. Mine took 50 minutes. I thought it would take longer because of the frozen bananas but it was a good looking cake at 50 minutes. Let cool completely and then frost with ganache.

I had to rescue the ganache! The ganache was made with 3 ounces German sweet chocolate and 1/4 cup half and half. Melt the chocolate and stir in the half and half. Well, this was a grainy mess. Very unappealing! Somewhere I remember in my cookbook rambling that chocolate could seize and there was something the cook could do about it. The internet is a life saver for modern day cooks. In the olden days one could call up the grandmother or even ask a neighbor over the back fence what to do, but not in these times. So I put “rescue the ganache” into the search engine and voila! First aid arrived. All the sites said the same thing: heat up a low fat milk and slowly incorporate that into the split ganache. Something about water molecules, etc., would solve the problem. And it did!

Here’s the final product. It looks very much like the picture from the recipe website. How often does that happen?

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This cake is not too sweet and Hubby and the ganache complements it well. Yum!