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Archive for April, 2010

It’s rhubarb season!  And as my friend Susan will tell you, “everyone should eat more rhubarb.”  Why not, when it’s so easy to make this sweet little cake highlighting summer’s best?

I’ve seen this described as rhubarb “tres leches” cake, and although it actually only contains dos leches, the fruit and cream do sink to the bottom and create a delectable custard.  We demolished several slices with friends recently and continued picking at pan scraps and “shaving” off corners to make the rest “more uniform.”  I take that as a good sign.

When the sight of neon pink and green stalks at the market finally proves irresistible, be sure to make this cake.  Enjoy!  And happy summer!

Yellow cake:

-1 1/4 (scant) c. all-purpose flour
-1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-3/4 c. sugar
-1/4 c. oil
-1 egg
-2/3 c. milk
-1 tsp. vanilla extract

Fruit & custard layer:

-2 c. chopped rhubarb (about 3 large stalks)
-1/2 c. sugar
-1 c. whipping cream

1.  In a medium bowl, toss rhubarb with the 1/2 cup sugar.  Set aside.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease and flour an 8-in. round baking pan or large glass/ceramic baking dish.

2.  Prepare cake batter: whisk together flour, salt, sugar, and baking powder in a medium bowl.  In a larger bowl, mix eggs, vanilla extract, oil, and milk.  Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet until thoroughly combined.

3.  Pour cake batter into prepared pan.  Scatter chopped rhubarb and juices evenly across the top.  Pour the cream over top.

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A few weeks ago, I went on an Iron Chef-style mission to empty my fridge by cooking creatively.  With plans to leave town for the next 15 days, I did not want to come home to any nasty (green, fuzzy, smelly) surprises.  And I hate to waste food.

When I found a pint of buttermilk lurking in the fridge, I thought chocolate buttermilk cake might be the answer.  This recipe sounded promising but needed to be scaled down.  Although I was a little nervous about the success of my sketchy mathematics, I forged ahead.

I shouldn’t have worried.  As my husband took his first bite, I asked, “Is it as good as the Guinness Chocolate Cake?”

“Better,” he said with a smile.

Iron Chef: 1; Waste: 0

This buttermilk chocolate cake is moist, dark, and moderately sweet.  Sweet-tart raspberry sauce and a bit of whipped cream are the perfect accompaniments.

(Adapted from “P@perseed)

For the cake:

-1 c. all-purpose flour
-3/4 c. sugar
-1 1/3 tsp. baking soda
-1/4 tsp. salt
-1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process)
-1/3 c. + 1 Tbsp. oil
-1/2 c. buttermilk
-1 large egg
-1/2 c. strong, hot coffee
-1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (more…)

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Yeast can be intimidating.  It’s a living organism, and as such, can be temperamental. Forget a packet in the fridge for a couple months, and it may commit suicide. Mix it with too-hot liquid, and you can kiss it goodbye.  And as I recently learned, if you neglect a batch of yeast dough for too many hours, bad things can happen.

When it comes to rising, bigger is not always better.  Don’t let your yeast go crazy like this.

A good rule of thumb in baking is that it pays to follow the directions.  Yeast is no exception.  Knowing its finnicky reputation, I tackled this honey oatmeal bread with trepidation. The first time I made it, I whipped up a batch shortly before dinner. Since it was my first time, I followed the directions closely. It turned out great, with a lovely loaf shape and a faintly sweet, creamy crumb.   The oatmeal gave it some heft, without making it too dense. Bread nirvana!

The second time I tried the recipe with more time to kill and ignored the specified rising times.  A little longer couldn’t hurt, right?

Wrong.

I ended up with a flat-topped, funky, yeasty-tasting loaf.  Was it edible?  Sure. But pretty—or scrumptious?  Definitely not.  Oh, the disappointment.

I’ve made this bread three more times following the directions and finally have the hang of it.  If I, the baking-challenged, can tame the wild yeast beast, you can too.  So have no fear.

Just be sure to follow the directions.

This is my favorite bread recipe so far.  I hope you love it as much as I do. Special thanks to TrishUntapped for sharing the inspiring recipe.

(Adapted from Kitchen Aid, via TrishUntapped)

-3/4 c. water
-1/4 c. honey
-2 Tbsp. butter
-3 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting (can substitute up to 1 c. whole wheat flour)
-1/4 c. quick-cooking oats, plus more for sprinkling on top
-1 tsp. salt
-1 (1/4 oz.) package active dry yeast
-2 eggs, divided
-1 Tbsp. water

1. Heat the 3/4 cup water, honey, and butter in small saucepan on low heat until very warm (ideally 120-130F).

2. Place flour, oats, salt and yeast in mixer bowl. Mix on low speed 15 seconds or until combined.

3. Using dough hooks, gradually mix in honey-butter mixture. After one minute, add ONE whole egg and mix one minute longer.

4. Continue mixing 2 minutes more, or until dough clings to hook and cleans side of bowl. Mix 2 minutes longer until dough is smooth, elastic, and all ingredients are thoroughly incorporated.

5. Using a spatula, scrape any dough clinging to the sides of the bowl. Shape the dough into a round with the spatula.  Cover bowl with a damp towel (not terry cloth) or plastic wrap.

6. Let rise in warm, draft-free place about 1 hour, or until nearly doubled. The dough is ready when you press two fingers into it, and it holds the indentation (see below).

7. Gently punch down dough. With a rolling pin, roll out into a rectangle on a floured cutting board or counter top. Roll up from the short end like a jelly roll and tuck the ends under.

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