Tag Archives: cake

Make A Wish…

It’s birthday time again!

This past weekend the family celebrated Smidget’s birthday. For the special occasion, I wanted to make something tasty and different for dessert. We had some apricots that needed to be eaten up, and since they are Smidget’s favorite, I figured it would be great to have a cake that used the fresh flavor of the apricots. Remember that time I made the plum cake that was a Dorie Greenspan recipe? Well, that’s just what I did again, but this time with apricots!

Dorie does say in her cookbook that other stone fruits can be used instead and even gives some directions on her favorite combinations of fruits and spices. Since the plum cake was such a success, I decided to barely mess with the perfection of Dorie’s recipe. One of my favorite parts about the cake was the subtle hint of spice that came from the cardamom. Dorie recommends using cinnamon with the apricots, but I knew it was all about the cardamom.

Needless to say, it was delicious. The cake was moist and sweet, with that hint of spice thrown in. The apricots that delicately dimpled the top were sweet, juicy, and just a tad tart in the best possible way that apricots are. Instead of just leaving the cake un-topped like I had previously, I took some of the mascarpone cheese we had (anybody else tempted by the cheese’s recent appearance on the shelves at warehouse stores?) and whipped it together with a hint of honey for sweetness, creating a delectable and not-too-sweet frosting.

The birthday went well, Smidget seemed to really enjoy the day and her present load. I’m actually listening to one of her presents right now…SMASH soundtrack, anyone? But it was the cake that really ended the whole day on a high note. Plus, with the fresh fruit and cheese and honey topping, it was actually a rather healthy cake! At least that’s what I’ll keep telling myself.

Dimply Apricot Cake with Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 fresh, ripe apricots, halved and pitted

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the apricots cut side up in the batter, jiggling the apricots a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the apricots and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the apricots’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

 

Mascarpone ‘Frosting’

6 oz. Mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp. honey
Splash (about 1 tsp.) of whipping cream

1. Whisk together the Mascarpone cheese and honey, adding a splash of whipping cream to smooth and loosen the cheese. Whisk until thoroughly combined and reached desired consistency and flavor.

Time Keeps on Slipping…

It seems like I keep losing track of time lately. I could have sworn it was barely February and suddenly the month is almost over. My plans for getting my applications to graduate schools in by Thanksgiving took a nose dive as I am still trying to pull everything together. A couple of days this past week I wondered when Mardi Gras was and had been contemplating making a King Cake for such occasion, only to get online today to find out today was, in fact, Mardi Gras.

On occasion, time actually can work in your favor. I woke up to my alarm this morning and a friendly reminder that I had a dentist appointment just before noon. Before long it was time for me to head out the door and after a rather thorough brushing (is it just me, or do you spend more time than usual on your teeth just before a dentist visit?) I grabbed my bag and took off to my car. I slung my bag over to the passenger seat, put my keys in the ignition, and turned.

Silence.

A quick call to my Dad, who knows more about cars than I will ever pretend to, confirmed that the battery was probably dead and in order for the car to start I would need a jump. With no one home to give said jump, my only option was to call the dentist’s office and reschedule.

Suddenly I found myself with a sizable chunk of time free, so what to do? Bake! What did you think I was gonna do? Shine my shoes? Actually…they are looking a little worn…

Although it isn’t the best season for them, when I saw plums at the store this weekend I knew I had to get some and make something delicious with them. This super tasty dream was made true with a little help from Dorie Greenspan. See, I called her up and said “Plum cake?” and she came running over to dance around my kitchen while we made tonight’s dessert and belted it out along with Adele, who had just happened to also stop by…at least that’s how I wish it had happened. In reality it was just me, a bunch of plums, and a pinch of cardamom.

The resulting cake is sweet, succulent, and slightly spicy. It is juicy from the plums, which add their own depth of flavor and offer a bite as well. The actual cake is moist, soft, and intriguing from that hint of cardamom. Dorie mentions having it with coffee as an early morning treat and, after the taste I had tonight, I am looking forward to a slice for breakfast tomorrow!

Dimply Plum Cake

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
Grated zest of one orange
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 purple or red plums, halved and pitted

1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan, dust the pan with flour, tap out the excess, and put the pan on a baking sheet.
2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom together.
3. Working with a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the butter at medium speed until soft and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for a minute after each addition. On medium speed, beat in the oil, orange zest, and vanilla. The batter will look very light and smooth, almost satiny. Reduce the mixer to low-speed and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated.
4. Run a spatula around the bowl and under the batter, just to make sure there are no dry spots, then scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top. Arrange the plums cut side up in the batter, jiggling the plums a tad just so they settle comfortably into the batter.
5. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is honey brown and puffed around the plums and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the cake to a rack and let cool for 15 minutes – during which time the plums’ juice will return to the fruit – then run the knife around the sides of the pan and un-mold the cake. Invert and cool right side up.

Recipe adapted from: Dorie Greenspan’s Baking from My Home to Yours

How is Snowcitygirl celebrating Food Day?

Carrot Cake. I don’t know what else to say about it but that. Oh, maybe also With Cream Cheese Frosting. Yeah.

I guess I can say that we have tons (erm, pounds) of carrots in the fridge thanks to the farm that we get fresh summer veggies from via CSA share. Hurray for locally grown!

What should one do when face to face with pounds of carrots? Probably run. Cause, you know, being face to face with carrots would be a bit freaky. Aside from that though, the answer is really only two words: Carrot Cake. Well, six words: Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

For those who want more in their carrot cakes than just carrots (things like pineapple, coconut, raisins, etc.) this may not be the recipe you want to use. It is only carrot. A carrot purist cake, if you will.

That does not, however, take away from its delicious factor. It is moist, has a beautiful orange color, and tastes positively sinful when topped with smooth cream cheese frosting. I just wish there was more. Frosting, that is. I didn’t have enough cream cheese so it is fairly thinly frosted. Well, I wish there was more cake too, but that’s another story for another time.

No it’s not, who am I kidding? Story is this: Carrot Cake. Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. It is tasty. I want more. The End.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe Originally from: Alton Brown
(recipe makes a single layer)

Unsalted butter, for the pan
12 ounces, approximately 2 1/2 cups, all-purpose flour, plus extra for pan
12 ounces grated carrots, medium grate, approximately 6 medium
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
10 ounces sugar, approximately 1 1/3 cups
2 ounces dark brown sugar, approximately 1/4 cup firmly packed
3 large eggs
6 ounces plain yogurt
6 ounces vegetable oil
Cream Cheese Frosting, recipe follows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Butter and flour a 9-inch round and 3-inch deep cake pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Put the carrots into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Put the flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process for 5 seconds. Add this mixture to the carrots and toss until they are well-coated with the flour.
In the bowl of the food processor combine the sugar, brown sugar, eggs, and yogurt.
With the processor still running drizzle in the vegetable oil. Pour this mixture into the carrot mixture and stir until just combined. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake on the middle rack of the oven for 45 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes or until the cake reaches 205 to 210 degrees F in the center.
Remove the pan from the oven and allow cake to cool 15 minutes in the pan. After 15 minutes, turn the cake out onto a rack and allow cake to cool completely. Frost with cream cheese frosting after cake has cooled completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar, sifted, approximately 2 cups

In the bowl of a stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition.

Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Yield: approximately 2 cups

How are you celebrating Food Day?

Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese

My dad celebrated his 59th birthday last week, complete with a delicious vanilla cake with cream cheese frosting (sorry to all, but I won’t be sharing that recipe. It’s a secret!) And now, a bit about my dad:

Years ago he added a new part to his morning ritual (my dad is both a simple and complex man, but he’s always one to stick to his rituals with only a dash of spontaneity when needed)* which consisted of going on walks to get some more exercise. On his first trip out he could barely walk a mile without being winded and tired. Long had he strayed from his high school and college days on the football field and at the ice rink and while he kept the strength, it took a bit to get back into the swing of things. He also used to walk, from what I can remember, every morning – out the door around 5am and on the sidewalks surveying the neighborhoods and, in the winters, the local school ice rinks with a report back on their condition for skating. These days, thanks to his work schedule, he is only able to walk on weekends but how far he goes greatly makes up for that loss. A typical weekend walk is now up to 10 miles and sometimes he goes even further.

Yet, walking is not the only or even the favorite way he continues to get exercise. As mentioned, my dad played hockey when he was young. It was a sport he grew to love from his father and one that he eventually passed down to me. A few years ago Smidget found that a group of guys at the bank she worked for had formed a team and dad signed up. He has been playing ever since, even though Smidget left the bank years ago. They compete against other teams to try to win the championship (which they did this past year!) in the winter and scrimmage against each other every Thursday night in the summer.

Check out my Dad on the ice!

This means on Thursday nights he doesn’t like to eat too much so he’s not too full to skate, but he doesn’t want to eat anything heavy either so he doesn’t feel weighed down. Hence – Thursday has become our family’s Pasta Night. A bit of a carbo load, plus just really tasty food. Recently I have been trying to mix up Pasta Night a bit so it isn’t the same ol’ pasta and red sauce over and over again. Once we used the parsley we got from the farm share we belong to for pesto, as the farm had recommended to. Then, I decided to try something completely different from our family’s usual: Buffalo Chicken Mac and Cheese.

It was a success! Not only did it taste great, but dad said he even felt better playing that night after dinner. The hot sauce was just enough to be spicy, but not too much and the cheese really pulled the dish together (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk).

Buffalo- Chicken Macaroni and Cheese
Prep: 35 minutes         Total: 1 hour 15 minutes         Makes: 6-8 servings

7 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
Kosher salt
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
¾ cup hot sauce (preferably Frank’s)
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 ½ cups half and half
1 pound yellow sharp cheddar cheese, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 3 ½ cups)
8 ounces pepper jack cheese, shredded (about 2 cups)
2/3 cup sour cream
1 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
½ cup crumbled blue cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

  1. Preheat the oven to 350° and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Meawhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and celery and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the chicken and garlic and cook 2 minutes, then add ½ cup hot sauce and simmer until slightly thickened, about 1 more minute.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the flour and mustard with a wooden spoon until smooth. Whisk in the half and half, then add the remaining ¼ cup hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar and pepper jack cheeses, then whisk in the sour cream until smooth.
  4. Spread half of the macaroni in the prepared baking dish, then top with the chicken mixture and the remaining macaroni. Pour the cheese sauce evenly on top.
  5. Put the remaining 2 tablespoons butter in a medium microwave-safe bowl and microwave until melted. Stir in the panko, blue cheese and parsley. Sprinkle over the macaroni and bake until bubbly, 30 to 40 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, April 2010 issue

*Yeah, figure that out! 😛

Joyeux Anniversaire!

This past week happened to be the Birthday Week of dearest Smidget!

As part of her array of gifts, she was given a classic dessert for her birthday cake as made by Kiwi. Now, I’m not gonna give you the recipe for one simple reason: you should already have it.

Yell and scream all you want. Cry and kick, just please don’t hit the knees, but I’m sure if you go to your cookbook collection you will find that you have the necessary book to make this cake. And if you don’t, get it. Now.

Which classic culinary catalogue did this cake come from? Why, only one of the greatest cookbooks in the world! The one I was able to give to myself as a birthday present! The one that changed the way American women cooked! That’s right: Louisette Bertholle, Simone Beck and Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking!

See? Ya have it, don’t cha?

The cake is Reine de Saba avec Glaçage au Chocola, or for those non-French speakers like me, Chocolate and Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing. I will admit, I used the recipe for the cake, but then made up my own Chocolate Buttercream because I wasn’t energized enough to make Julia’s version. Plus I was getting ready to go to the amazing Sullivan’s Steakhouse with my parents for birthday dinner. Best steak ever. 14 oz, dry aged, New York Strip. With a Roasted Red Pepper Truffle butter. I died.

But I had to come back to life for this:

In case you are thinking to yourself “Scruffs (cause, of course, you call yourself Scruffs), I daresay, I do believe I recognize that delectable delicacy” why then you’d be right! If you recall from that delightful movie Julie and Julia, at one point towards the end both of the ladies are making cakes. They show Julia frosting one and then go back to see what’s going on with Julie. Well, Julie brings out the cake to her husband, begins to slice it, and while she gets her cake server he takes his fork and just digs right in. They end up smearing it all over each other.

This is that cake.  Although that did not happen. Proof, you cry? Here. But if I don’t show up tomorrow morning, you’ll know why. Aka, Smidget will have killed me. And I don’t have a cake to come back to life for this time.

So there you have it. A great cake, for a great Smidget!

And it tasted pretty darn good too!

Also, among the other gifts Smidget got was a small canning pot. Ya know, to can things in. So that should be happening soon, which I believe will prompt this conversation in our house: