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Posts Tagged ‘cake’

Sticky Cranoffee Pudding (Cranberry-Date Upside-Down Cake)Some ideas take a long time to mature.

I started experimenting with the idea of an apple-cranberry upside-down cake two years ago. I was intent on this fall flavour combination and tried several variations.

None turned out the way I wanted. Either the cake wasn’t right or the caramelly cranberry bottom/top didn’t work out.

That cranberry season passed.

Last fall I was busy with a new little person in my life. No time for testing recipes.

Another cranberry season passed. But the idea didn’t go away.

In the meantime, I discovered a flavour combination that quickly became a favourite: dates and cranberries. The other day I was flipping through one of my cookbooks, when the recipe for sticky toffee pudding caught my eye.

And then it hit me: forget about apples and cranberries!

Sticky toffee pudding is made with dates and is served with a gooey toffee sauce. Make it like an upside-down cake with cranberries, the sauce becomes part of the cake and the cranberries add a tart twist to the cake’s deep flavour.

Recipe: Sticky Cranoffee Pudding (Cranberry-Date Upside-Down Cake)

The cake recipe is an adaptation of Marion Kane’s Ultimate Sticky Toffee Pudding recipe, while the caramel is borrowed from my tarte tatin recipe. I used a pie plate with an 8-inch bottom, but you could also use a normal cake pan (not a spring-form; the caramel will leak out).

Caramel:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp butter
1/2 cup heavy cream

Date purée:
1 cup roughly chopped dates
1/2 cup water
1 tsp instant espresso powder or 2 tbsp strong coffee

Cake:
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar (not packed)
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups cranberries (or enough to make a layer in the bottom of your baking dish), picked over, washed and dried
Date purée (see ingredients above)
Whipping cream, for serving

Butter baking dish.

Make caramel. Pour sugar, then water into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and place over medium heat. Let cook until it turns amber.

Amber sugar for making caramel. Remove from heat at this stage.

You want the sugar to be this colour before adding the butter and the cream.

[Yes, that means DON’T TOUCH! Resist every urge to swirl or stir the contents of the saucepan – this will prevent the sugar from sticking to and drying out on the sides – and just let the heat do the work. The process may take up to 30 minutes or more. Watch carefully once the sugar starts changing colour, it darkens fast.]

Once the sugar is amber, remove from heat. Immediately whisk in butter and cream. [Expect a lot of frothing and steaming, as the cooler butter and cream hit the sugar. Just keep whisking.] Whisk until completely incorporated and smooth. Pour into buttered baking dish.

Make date purée (you could start this while the sugar is cooking). Place chopped dates, water and coffee in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat. Cook until dates are soft. Blend mixture with an immersion blender or in a food processor until smooth. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350° F .

Caramel and cranberries in baking dishMake cake. Place cranberries on caramel in bottom of baking dish.

In a bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a second bowl, cream butter until light. Add brown sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Beat in egg and vanilla.

Mix in flour mixture alternately with the date purée, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Pour batter over caramel and cranberries. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean and cake is springy to touch.

Remove from oven and invert immediately onto serving plate. [Choose a large enough plate, preferably with a small rim, since the caramel will flow around the cake.]

Serve with whipped cream.

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Almond Zucchini BreadI have my go-to zucchini bread — err, actually cake — recipe, but it’s nice to switch it up sometimes. Now that the zucchini in the garden are finally abundant, I’m stocking up the freezer with this almond zucchini bread.

The recipe is super easy. Like muffins, it’s the mix-wet-ingredients-mix-dry-ingredients-combine method. The resulting cake is moist, with an even texture and a pleasant almond flavour.

Recipe: Almond Zucchini Bread

This recipe is adapted from a blog called Whet Your Appetite. I’ve significantly reduced the sugar, because I prefer my cakes less sweet, and the other flavours can shine through. I make this recipe into two medium-sized loaves, but I imagine you could also bake one large cake.

3 cups flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup yoghurt
2 tsp almond extract
3 cups grated zucchini
1 cup ground almonds
Sliced or slivered almonds for topping (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two loaf pans.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, sugar, oil, yoghurt and almond extract.

Combine wet ingredients with dry; do not overmix. Fold in grated zucchini and ground almonds. Pour batter into prepared loaf pans. Sprinkle with sliced or slivered almonds if desired.

Bake for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown.

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Celebrating Baby's 6-month milestone with Orange Celebration Cake.

Celebrating Baby's 6-month milestone with Orange Celebration Cake. Oops, forgot to light the candle! Chalk another one up to mommy brain.

Usually I pay no attention to half-birthdays, but I think a baby’s first year is different. The 6-month milestone is worthy of celebration for both Baby – even though she won’t get to eat any cake – and the new parents – who will happily eat Baby’s piece.

Baby has come a long way: from practically helpless to a bright baby ready to discover anything within reach and a bit beyond. At birth, her main (and most amazing) skill was knowing where and how to get food. Today she is sitting quite well on her own (with an occasional topple), grabbing objects accurately and passing them from hand to hand, communicating in her own way with a range of sounds, and starting to explore solid food. She’s gone from 3.9 kg and 52 cm out of the womb to approx. 9 kg and 71 cm in six months!

Meanwhile, the new parents have survived the first six months relatively well. We’ve tackled the steep learning curve, adapted our lives, overcome a lack of sleep (not to say we don’t still suffer from it), created strong (and stronger) bonds, laughed and cried. Of course these things are all ongoing, but it’s a lot all at once at the beginning. I think we can be proud of how we’ve managed. We certainly enjoy the company of our happy, thriving baby!

The moment has come to broaden the focus of this blog. I realize that being a mother is an important part of who I am and influences the way I look at things. Motherhood is giving me a new angle from which to experience, and write about, the activities I enjoy.

I’ve decided to rename my blog “Thrive” to better reflect this broader focus (without changing the URL for now). I want my family and me to thrive through healthy, happy eating and togetherness in the kitchen, in the garden and wherever life may take us. I aim for my garden to thrive and provide us with fresh foods we can feel good about eating.

All that to say: I’m baking cake to celebrate!

Orange Celebration Cake is one of my favourites. I have no idea where the recipe came from, just that it was part of my mom’s collection and has been in mine for at least 15 years. Its bright and refreshing flavor and naturally sunshiny colour is particularly appropriate for this time of year.

Recipe: Orange Celebration Cake (Orange Cake with Orange Curd Filling)

Orange Celebration Cake: orange cake with orange curd filling.Baking this cake perks me right up. The aroma that pervades the house while it’s baking (and after) is wonderful and warming. It really sets the mood for celebration! I recommend making this cake the day before you plan to serve it, so the orange aroma has the time to “open up.” Quantities in weight – scale required!

150 g butter
zest of 2 oranges, preferably untreated or organic otherwise washed with a mild soap
175 g sugar
3 eggs
300 g flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
250 mL orange juice

Orange Curd Filling:
125 g sugar
5 tbsp flour
500 mL orange juice
4 egg yolks
50 g butter

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 9-inch cake pan with parchment paper and grease the sides.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. In large bowl, cream butter. Add sugar and orange zest. Continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time.

Mix in flour mixture and orange juice, alternating between the two: flour – orange juice – flour – orange juice – flour. Be careful not to overmix.

Pour batter into cake pan. Bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and cake tester comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pan. Slice cake in half horizontally. Prepare filling.

Orange Curd Filling:

Combine flour and sugar in a saucepan. Whisk in orange juice making sure there are no lumps. Mix in egg yolks. Start heating mixture over medium-low. Add butter once the mixture has warmed up a bit. Continue heating while whisking continuously until the mixture thickens to the consistency of runny jam.

Four layers of orange curd filling.

The four layers of orange curd filling, each one set separately, are visible before replacing the top half of the cake.

Carefully pour one quarter of the orange curd onto the bottom half of the cake and spread to close to the edge. Allow to set slightly (a couple of minutes). Repeat until all the filling is on the bottom half of the cake. Allow to cool and set completely (approx. 30 minutes) before placing the other half of the cake on top. Filling the cake in four steps will prevent the orange curd from oozing out when you replace the top half of the cake and let you make a generously filled cake.

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Quick and Easy Almond Cake

Quick and easy almond cakeI make this almond cake when I’ve volunteered to make dessert, but end up with little time (and/or energy) to make one. By no means though, do I consider it a lesser dessert. It’s just quick and easy to make, has great flavour and texture, and I’m likely to have all the ingredients on hand. It’s also, interestingly, always popular with the men.

Although perfectly satisfying on its own, it would also go well with fresh (sliced) seasonal fruit or a fruit compote.

Recipe: Quick and Easy Almond Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup flour (I use 2/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup ground blanched almonds + 1/2 tsp baking powder + pinch of salt)
1 tsp almond extract
approx. 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds

The easy instructions are:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch pan with a removable bottom (not a quiche pan, but a spring-form pan).

Using a wooden spoon, mix all ingredients (except for sliced/slivered almonds) together in a bowl. Spread batter in baking pan. Sprinkle with sliced/slivered almonds. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until golden.

Or go with the more traditional cake-making method:

Preheat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch pan with a removable bottom (not a quiche pan, but a spring-form pan).

Beat butter with electric mixer. Add sugar and continue beating until light and fluffy. Beat in egg (no need to beat lightly in advance if using this method). Add flour (flour mixture) and mix until combined.

Spread batter in baking pan. Sprinkle with sliced/slivered almonds. Bake 20 – 25 minutes or until golden.

Tell no-one it was that easy! 🙂

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