Archives for category: cake

honey cake 2

It is likely impossible that my sweet tooth could ever be lost, but it has definitely been tamed.  After working in a bakery for some time, testing very sweet pastries over-and-over, I no longer rich pastries (read: creme brûlée, eclairs, cupcakes) or fancy layer cakes dressed in buttercream.

What will never get old is a treat that I can enjoy when my pang for second breakfast hits and goes well with coffee.

Oh yes…second breakfast.

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I knew I was in the right place once I realized that, like me, the guys I work with at the bakery pretty much follow the feeding schedule of hobbits.  Just swap the tea and pints with coffee and…yup…pretty much hobbits.

Second breakfast and elevenses are for real and very serious.  To avoid early-, mid-, and late-morning grumblings (and to stay on the guys’ good sides), inevitably we must all take a break for coffee and a not-so-sweet baked good.  Be it cornbread, croissants, muffins,  or some form of coffee cake, we all feel much better after we have taken a moment to re-energize and re-caffeinate (and I am no longer afraid to ask one of them to open that pesky bucket of honey).

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Speaking of honey…  One of my favorite cookbooks from 2012 is Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.  Full of beautiful recipes and photographs, this book really cover the gamut from decadent special occasion cakes to whip-it-together-during-naptime treats.

And, I absolutely cannot get enough of the honey cake recipe.  It fits all my requirements for cake: not too sweet, super moist, naturally beautiful (no fussy decoration required), it is perfect at 9am (second breakfast) or 9pm (because if I were a hobbit I definitely wouldn’t stop at supper), it is easy to make using ingredients you likely already have on hand, and it can sit happily on your counter for several days.

Honey Cake

Makes 1 9-inch Cake

Adapted slightly from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Cake:

Heaping 1/2 cup sliced almonds

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup honey

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, room temperature

1 egg yolk, room temperature

3/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature

Glaze:

1/2 cup honey

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/4 cup unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Spread almonds evenly on a baking sheet and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Set aside and keep oven on.

Grease a 9 by 3-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.  In a bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, honey and vanilla on low speed until blended; increase the speed to high and beat until very light and fluffy 5-7 minutes.  Stop mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and sides of bowl with a rubber spatula.  Beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time until well incorporated.  With mixer on low, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour.   After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.  Stop them mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter.

Spread the batter evenly into prepared pan.  Rap the pan firmly on the counter to release any air bubbles.  Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes.  The cake will turn a deep golden color and be firm on the top, and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle will have moist crumbs attached.  The cake may crack on the top, this is okay because it will be covered by almonds and will allow more of the glaze to be absorbed into the cake.

While the cake is baking, make the glaze in a small saucepan by stirring the honey, sugar, and butter over medium heat until combined.  Bring the mixture just barely to a simmer.  Turn off heat, but leave saucepan on the burner to keep glaze warm.

Remove the cake from the oven and poke holes all over the top of the cake with a wooden skewer or fork.  Pour half of the glaze over the cake, evenly sprinkle the cake with the almonds, and then pour the rest of the glaze over the almonds.

Place back in the center of the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.

Cool cake on a wire rack for about an hour.  Remove the sides of the pan and transfer cake to a serving plate.  Serve warm or room temperature.

Cake will stay fresh up to five days, stored well wrapped at room temperature.

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Besides being a wonderful place to work (and *ahem* having a pretty darn beautiful pastry case if I do say so myself!), one of my absolute favorite things about the gourmet grocery store Central Market, is the produce department.  While you may have to pay a pretty penny, you will come home with (hopefully) multiple bags of high quality, high flavor, fruits and vegetables.

Central Market also offers an astounding variety of different produce and does a nice job of highlighting what is in season.  Come citrus or tomato season, you are bound to be blown away by the abundant and beautiful shrine honoring the prized produce and will likely learn a thing or two about varieties you never knew existed.

Being in Texas, we are fortunate enough to be knee deep in stone fruit season right now and once again the miraculous display stopped me in my tracks one morning while perusing the produce department for berries to top my fruit tarts (can you tell I am like a kid in a candy store every time I go to work?).

In my opinion, nothing is worse than a flavorless, mealy, out-of-season peach.  It’s just one of those things that should never be consumed anytime other than the short, summertime, window, when they are at their peak.   I always know it’s safe to dive in when you walk by a pile of peaches and their sweet smell overcomes you.

In addition to some amazing Texas peaches that I poached and paired with a wonderful tres leches cake, I wanted to share a few of the more unique and eye-catching varieties of stone fruit that we are carrying right now.  Hopefully you learn a little something and are lucky enough to try some yourself.

Texas Peaches. Smaller than the Georgia Peach, but still wonderfully plump and sweet.

Sugar Plums are not just for Christmas stories, these oval stone fruit have a nice bite and a subtle sweetness.

Petite Black Apricots, while dark and brooding on the outside, boast a bright, honeyed flesh.

Like their namesake, Mango Nectarines have a striking green skin and warm yellow meat, but the taste is all nectarine.

Saturn Peaches may look far out, but with their intense floral aroma and flavor each bite brings you back to their familiar cousin.  Interesting note: the skin of these peaches never blushes like a typical peach.

Tropical Plumana Plumcots with exotic leopard skin and sensual tropical taste make you wish you were relaxing on an equally exotic beach.

Black Plums.  Their vibrant red interior, flavor, and firm texture are reminiscent of bing cherries.

Tres Leches with Poached Peaches

Serves 8-10

Cake recipe adapted from May 2011 Saveur magazine.  Poached peaches adapted from September 2005 Gourmet magazine.

For poached peaches:

4 medium ripe peaches

1 1/4 cup sugar

2 cups water

1 (1-inch piece) vanilla

For tres leches:

Unsalted butter, for greasing pan

1 cup flour, plus more for pan

1 cup sugar

6 eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons rum

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 13.5-oz can coconut milk

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

Poach peaches: Cut a shallow X in bottom of each peach with a sharp paring knife and immerse fruit in a 4-quart heavy pot of boiling water 30 seconds, then transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking. Transfer peaches to a cutting board and peel, starting with cut end, then cut in half, discarding pits.

Combine sugar and water in cleaned pot. Halve vanilla bean lengthwise with a paring knife and scrape seeds into pot, then add pod and bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add peaches, pitted sides down, to sugar syrup, then reduce heat and poach, covered, at a bare simmer 6 minutes. Turn peaches over and continue to poach, covered, until tender, 5 to 6 minutes more.  Cool peaches in poaching liquid in pot, uncovered, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

Make cake: Heat oven to 350°F.  Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan; set aside.  In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar and eggs on high speed until tripled in volume, pale, and thick, about 12 minutes.  Add vanilla extract until combined. Add flour and gently fold with a rubber spatula until just combined; pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top.  Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let cool.

In a large pitcher, whisk together rum and condensed, coconut, and evaporated milks.  Pierce cake all over wit a toothpick and slowly drizzle milk mixture over top.  Chill until milks are completely absorbed, about 4 hours.  Slice into wedges and top with sliced poached peaches.

March is National Nutrition Month and Wednesday, March 9, is Registered Dietitian Day.

If you know a Registered Dietitian (RD) give them a hug or at least acknowledge that you even know what an RD is.

In my opinion, RD’s are some of the most undervalued, underpaid, and misunderstood members of the medical community.  Did you know that we too have to go through an internship? That we have to pass a national exam in order to be registered?  That we have a code of ethics?  That we have to take entirely too much chemistry?

Where can you find us?  Roaming the halls of hospitals making sure your loved ones get the food they like, that they are on the appropriate diet, and even determine the appropriate tube feeding and parenteral feedings for them.  We also run hospital kitchens and school/university dining programs making us responsible for understanding and executing hundreds of laws, state regulations, and ensuring that people get safe food on top of managing personal.  We work in community clinics with our nations poor, teaching them how to eat, take care of themselves, and raise healthy children.  We work in doctor’s offices begging reluctant people to manage their diabetes, loose weight, lower their cholesterol, remove gluten from their diet, or simply take a flight of stairs instead of the elevator.  We check on the elderly in nursing homes, children at Head Start, and work in prisons trying to juggle the impossible task of feeding inmates on $.50 or less a day.  Some gyms and grocery stores hire us to guide you to make better food, exercise, and lifestyle choices.

We specialize in nutrition support, diabetes, fitness, bariatrics, dialysis, oncology, breastfeeding, and even culinary arts.

Each and every one of us has had a conversation like this.

To boil it down, I think every dietitian out there would wish, on this day, that all of you just consider the benefit of fruits and veggies, a 30 minute walk, or skipping that third helping at dinner.  Believe me, I have never met bigger food lovers and dessert freaks than dietitians, but we are also ridiculously obsessed with vegetables.  So, even just for one day, join us in loving food of all kinds, treat your bodies well, and amuse this dietitian by making this healthy cake, because you can have your cake and eat your veggies too.

Vegan Beetroot Chocolate Cake

Makes 1 bundt cake

Adapted from The Vegan Table Epicurious June 2009

Note:  I’m not gonna lie, you can taste the beets in this cake, but if you are a beet lover like me, that is definitely a good thing.  Even my husband who hates beets liked this cake!

1/2 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar

2 cups beet puree from 3-4 beets that were steamed or roated

1/2 cup nondairy chocolate chips (or regular chocolate chips if you aren’t vegan), melted and cooled slightly

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly oil a Bundt pan.

In a mixing bowl, cream together oil and brown sugar. Add beets, melted chocolate chips, vanilla, and almond extract and mix well.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder and salt. Add to wet beet mixture, and stir until just combined.

Pour into prepared Bundt pan, and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. Cool completely. Before serving, dust with powdered sugar.