Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free’

Two chocolate cakes

17 April 2015

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I only just recently happened upon these two chocolate cakes, and already they are indispensable.

Until now I had little need for chocolate cake. I rarely make it, because I rarely crave it; when, about once a year, I do long for a chocolate dessert, I bake these really good brownies. For years my children didn’t care much for chocolate cake. Until Louise.

In this decidedly un-chocolatey family, Louise loves chocolate. Worse things happen. So for this little one’s birthday, I needed a chocolate cake recipe. I found two.

One is an intense though surprisingly light dessert; the faultless chocolate touch at the end of a lingering meal. The other is cakey and moist but not too crumbly; slices hold together well in clumsy little hands. It could be stacked into layers with cream or cherry jam. A flawless tea-time cake.

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The flourless, almond olive-oil chocolate cake, which I discovered via the same friend who pointed me toward the revelatory date cookies (food-obsessed friends are the best kind), beat all expectations. It is light and predictably nutty, perfectly moist with a bare hint of olive. Also ridiculously easy to make. The recipe, by Nigella Lawson, also happens to be wheat and dairy free, which bears mentioning. The recipe is here, as I have not altered it one bit.

I found the second cake in a cookbook from which, until now, I had never actually cooked. Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food. It is the perfect party cake. Pointedly described as ‘moist and versatile,’ and which ‘can be made in any format from cupcakes to a multitiered wedding cake.’ I had intended an extra chocolatey frosting, but time ran out so it was just a dusting of icing sugar and plenty of smarties.

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Chocolate cake for a party by Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food

115 g (4 ounces) unsweetened (or very dark) chocolate

2 cups flour

2 tsps baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsps (unsweetened) cocoa powder

115 g (8 Tbsps) butter plus more to butter the pan

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

2 tsps vanilla extract

3 eggs

120 ml (1/2 cup) buttermilk

300 ml (1 1/4 cup) boiling water

Preheat the oven to 170°C (350°F) and take the butter, eggs, and buttermilk out of the refrigerator to soften and bring to room temperature.

Line the bottom of the cake pan with parchment paper. Butter both the pan and the paper, and dust the paper with flour or cocoa powder, shaking out any excess.

Heat some water in a large frying pan/skillet. Roughly chop up the chocolate, place it in a heat proof bowl, and slowly melt it over the water bath (bain marie), stirring occasionally, until just melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. Set aside.

In a large bowl (or stand mixer), beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and continue beating until light and fluffy. Whisk in the eggs one at a time and stir until fully incorporated.

Stir in the melted chocolate. Add half of the dry ingredients and combine. Stir in the buttermilk. Then add the other half of the dry ingredients.

Finally, gradually pour in the boiling water, until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared bake tin, slide carefully into the preheated oven as the batter will be fairly liquid, and bake for about 45 min, until a knife of skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean with just a  crumb or two attached.

Allow the cake to cool completely before turning it out of the tin. (The cake keeps well. If not using immediately, leave in the tin and cover tightly with aluminum paper.)

Orange almond cake

27 January 2012

It’s a tantalizing cake. It has taunted me since Malou posted the recipe in a comment last April; the season of oranges had passed.

As winter came again the cake was on my mind. I meant to bake it for a skiing weekend; then didn’t. This week, finally, I did.

It is a cake for snowy days. When the light is low, the trees are bare, and the cold air breathtaking. The cake, by contrast, is light, spongy, melting. The sunny flavor of oranges with more than a hint of bitter from the pith.

It’s surprising, addictive, and leaves you wondering how the score might be played a dozen other, slightly different ways.

I love it. With tea.

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With many thanks to Malou for the recipe

2 large untreated oranges

6 large eggs

1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar

2 generous cups (250 g) ground almonds

2 tsps baking powder

Candied orange slices for decoration (optional):

1 untreated orange

1 cup (200 g) sugar

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Place 2 oranges in a small saucepan, cover with water, and simmer slowly for 2 hours, adding water if necessary.

Remove the oranges from the water and let cool. Cut the oranges in half, then each half again in two. Remove pips if necessary. Purée the oranges in a food processor. (The orange purée can be made a day in advance.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C) and line a 9 inch (24 cm) baking tin with parchment paper that should be buttered generously.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the orange purée, the ground almonds, and the baking powder, and mix well until thoroughly combined.

Pour the batter into the tin, slide into to oven, and bake for 1 hour, until a knife or skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean.

For the candied orange slices:

In a small saucepan, make a sugar syrup with 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.

Slice the orange as thinly as possible. Add the slices to the syrup, and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the slices carefully one by one, and place them on a rack or parchment paper to dry for about half an hour. Return the orange slices to the syrup, and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes. Let the slices dry for at least 1/2 hour. Reduce the syrup until it thickens and reserve.

When ready to serve, place a few orange slices on top and drizzle with a little syrup. **The cake gets even better after a day or two, so it should ideally be made in advance.**

Note: The candied orange was not in the original recipe, but I thought they looked nice and added a little something. However, the cake being very soft it is difficult to cut through the candied orange on top of the cake, so it is best cut on the side as the cake is served.

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Related posts

Poppy seed and almond cake

Cake with pear and toasted hazelnuts

Heritage turkey with apple chestnut stuffing

29 November 2010

Back from a lazy long weekend here is the recipe for our Thanksgiving turkey – with plenty of time until next year, or a head start for Christmas if turkey happens to be on your menu.

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Apple chestnut stuffing

I am not bound by tradition when it comes to stuffing, so I don’t consider it essential to include bread. This recipe was initially inspired by a goose stuffed with lady apples but has evolved quite a bit.

For a 16-18lb (7-7.5 kg) turkey:

1 large bunch parsley

2 handfuls fresh thyme

2 handfuls fresh sage

10 thick slices bacon

800 g (5 cups) whole peeled cooked chestnuts

8 medium-sized tart apples

5 medium-sized red onions

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Pick leaves from herbs and discard stalks. Set aside.

Place half the slices of bacon in a large skillet over medium heat. Once it is brown and crispy on one side, turn over until brown and crispy on the other. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan.

Peel, core, and cut apples into quarters, then cut each quarter in half crosswise. Brown apples in bacon fat for 3-5 minutes over high heat.

Crumble 2/3 of the chestnuts, leaving about a third whole, and add them all to the apples. Stir to combine and remove from heat. Chop the thyme and sage and add to the apple/chestnut mixture. Transfer to a bowl.

Place the remaining slices of bacon in skillet over medium heat and repeat browning process. Remove from skillet and set aside, keeping rendered fat in the pan. Slice onions and cook them in bacon fat until translucid and just starting to brown. Add to apple/chestnut/herb mixture.

Chop bacon, chop parsley leaves, add to the rest of the stuffing, season generously with salt and pepper, and mix carefully.

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Heritage turkey

I don’t make turkey often enough to have acquired proficiency in roasting the birds, but they have usually turned out anywhere from quite fine to fairly spectacular. I am refining the technique, one turkey a year at a time, to hit the high moisture marks every time. These are the steps I followed this year, with decent, though improvable results. 29 November 2010

Note from 25 November 2011: I edited the recipe slightly and reduced cooking times after another Thanksgiving turkey cooking adventure this year.

16-18 lb (7-7.5 kg) heritage turkey

Butter

Coarse gray sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Stuffing

Take turkey out of refrigerator well in advance (for example before you start making the stuffing), so it has time to come to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 475°F (245°C).

Once turkey is at room temperature, separate skin from breast meat and rub softened butter onto breasts. Season inside of turkey, then spoon stuffing into the two cavities, front and back, and sew shut with kitchen string. Rub skin on all sides with generous amount of coarse sea salt and black pepper, and tie legs together with string.

Place turkey in a roasting tray, breast side down, and roast for 10 minutes. Turn turkey breast side up and roast for another 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F (175°C), add a little water at the bottom of the pan, and roast for about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, or until a thermometer* inserted in the inner thigh registers 150°F (65°C). While the turkey cooks, place a wet muslin cloth over the breasts and baste over the cloth and legs regularly, adding water to the juices if needed. Remove the cloth after about 3 hours to allow the skin to become very crispy.

Let the turkey stand for 45 minutes. Meanwhile reduce the juices and make the gravy, but I won’t tell you how because I prefer to just reduce the juices, keep them piping hot, and pour them over the meat before serving. (Full disclosure: I have asked willing guests to make gravy in the past couple of years, and I must admit it was very good – maybe next year I will tackle the sauce myself).

Check at the joints of the thighs and legs. If they are still uncooked (juices running bloody), remove from the turkey, return to the oven, and cook for another 25-30 minutes or until the juices run clear.

Carve and serve breasts, thighs, and legs.

*I acquired a thermometer unintentionally when the owner of Flying Pigs Farm gave me one at the market one day. He was obviously nervous I might overcook the beautiful loin roast I had just bought from him. I must admit the thermometer came in handy for the pork, and is very useful for turkey.


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