I am reminded yearly of how much I love rhubarb when I see that long pinky-red celery show up in the spring. While shopping for groceries last week, I saw the rhubarb and bought it. With no plan. This is not something I do. A storage-challenged kitchen means that nothing comes in without a plan for consumption. But the rhubarb is in, which means all descends into chaos.
The recipe is here and I didn’t change anything. I would bake it for the longer amount of time. The finished product was a little too moist in the middle, and that might be due to rhubarb’s tendency to be juicy as all get-out. This is gorgeous as a coffee cake. And don’t skip the topping: it makes a wonderful texture for the top crust.
1/4 c (50 g) room temperature butter
1 1/2 (315 g) c brown sugar
1 t vanilla
2 1/3 c (322 g) flour
1 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 c (200 g) sour cream
4 c rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 c (52 g) white sugar
1/4 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
In a bowl, blend butter and brown sugar. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In another bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture alternately with the sour cream. Stir in rhubarb. Spoon into a buttered 9×13″ pan. Sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350° F/175° C for 50-60 minutes.
I am not a fruit eater. I’ve always tended to go for sweets involving chocolate, caramel, nuts, etc., but fruity baked goods are often my last choice. This summer, however, the fruit has been looking lovely, so I’ve been trying to involve it in my dessert-making. This cake is a really nice, really simple thing to throw together – not fussy or delicate at all. You could probably use peaches instead of plums, if you like. I’ve altered it somewhat from the original.
1 1/2 c flour
1 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
3/4 t + 1/4 pumpkin pie spice*
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 c + 1 T sugar
1 t vanilla
6-8 plums, sliced into eighths
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line bottom of an 8-9 inch springform pan with baking parchment and grease sides. Sift together dry ingredients and set aside. Cream together butter and sugar in mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and mix until just combined. Mix in dry ingredients in 4-6 additions, scraping sides with a rubber spatula as needed. Spread batter into springform pan – batter will be thick. Arrange plum slices, pressing lightly into batter surface. Mix together remaining pumpkin pie spice and sugar and sprinkle over plums. Bake for 50-55 minutes.
After baking, remove cake from oven and allow cake to rest for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Take off springform ring and allow cake to cool for another 15 minutes.
*Don’t have any pumpkin pie spice? You can make it pretty easily: 2 T cinnamon, 2 T ginger, 1 T nutmeg and 1 t allspice. Put it all in an airtight container, shake it up and use it liberally.
Sarah knows how much I dig clementines. Every year, when the end of November rolls around the clementines fresh from Spain or Morocco are at grocery stores and produce stands, I go nuts and eat a kilo or more at a sitting. I love how sweet and tart they are. I love that I can peel them without any utensils. I love that there usually aren’t any seeds to bother with.
So when she spied this recipe, she knew it would be something I’d have to try. So we did.
We didn’t deviate from that recipe at all, except to use a glass 9×9 square baking dish. Ours didn’t come nearly as pretty as hers, but the flavor is surprisingly citrusy and it goes outstandingly with a cup of hot chocolate…and you know I’m not talking about the likes of Swiss Miss. More on the hot chocolate later, when we’ve perfected the recipe and eliminated the need for a weekly pilgrimage to Angelina in Paris.
Other perks: it’s got neither dairy nor gluten products in it, so great for those friends and colleagues who always have to fall back to their carob rice cakes when everyone else is pigging out on traditional desserts.
Here’s the Clementine Cake recipe, for posterity, with small cosmetic adjustments by yours truly:
4 – 5 clementine (about 375g total weight)
225g (just over a cup) golden caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 generous teaspoon of baking powder
Put the clementines in a pan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a lively simmer. Leave the clementines bobbing away for 2 hours.
Drain and cool the clementines. Once cool enough to handle, cut the clementines in half and remove the pips and then mash everything, skin, pith, fruit into a pulp.
Heat the oven to 190°C (375°F) and butter and line a 21cm (8″) cake tin.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Add the sugar, ground almonds and baking powder and stir everthing together with a metal spoon.
Fold the clementine pulp carefully but firmly into the other ingredients using a metal spoon.
Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake for about 50 mins to 1 hour, when a skewer comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with baking parchment or foil for the last 20mins if looks like the top is browning too quickly.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. When he cake is cool, take it out of the tin.
The cake is without a doubt better after 1 or 2 days, according to her. We’ll see if there’s any left to judge.
Got inspired to try this one after Carolyn and Max sent over some links to the Food Network’s “Good Eats” show on YouTube. I’d read others’ raves about Alton Brown and the show, and I guess it’s a good thing I haven’t discovered the show until now. Neat stuff to be seen, then prepared, then enjoyed.
As usual, there are some recipe fluctuations to be had here, due to availability of ingredients and the particulars of our kitchen. I’m posting our adaptation, but you should compare it with the original if you’re interested in the famous version. Generally we try to stay true to the original, but sometimes that results in less than appetizing results.
There was a learning curve on several fronts in effect. That’s part of the reason why it took us ALL FREAKIN’ DAY to hack up that coconut, make the cake, let it cool, hook up the frosting. And the icing on the cake — so to speak — is that we can’t fit the cake in our cake transporter into the fridge to cool off. It (the transporter, not the cake itself) is too big. So our cake won’t get the chill it richly deserves before we try it out for dessert tonight (and breakfast tomorrow?).
Oh, and speaking of breakfast tomorrow: if you have to tap into a new can of coconut cream just to make this (or another recipe) and end up with some left over, fear not! Substitute it in for cream for a delightfully tropical twist to your morning coffee. On with the show!
1 coconut, see Cook’s Note
For the cake:
14 1/4 ounces flour, plus extra for pans, approximately 3 cups (can’t seem to find any flour with a lower number than 405 at the Edeka near us)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt (kosher salt? I could swear I’ve seen it here in Regensburg, but we couldn’t find it today when looking for it)
1/2 cup fresh coconut milk (we used canned stuff)
1/2 cup fresh coconut cream (we used canned stuff) — not to be confused with Cream of Coconut!
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
16 ounces sugar, approximately 2 1/4 cups
1 teaspoon coconut extract (we couldn’t find anything like this at the Asian market near us, nor the smaller supermarket — maybe Kaufland? The lady at the Asian market broke into her suprisingly good English (not at our request) to explain that she knew what we were looking for but that it’s hard to find in Germany…wonder why?! Anyway, we had to replace this ingredient with vanilla extract entirely.)
4 egg whites
1/3 cup coconut water
For the 7-Minute Frosting:
3 large egg whites
12 ounces sugar, approximately 1 3/4 cups
1/3 cup coconut water
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt (same deal with the kosher salt as above)
1 teaspoon coconut extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (we beefed this up to a whole teaspoon since we didn’t have any coconut extract…hope the coconut flavor doesn’t get overwhelmed by vanilla)
Grated coconut from 1 coconut, approximately 8 to 10 ounces
Cook’s Note: To open a coconut: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place the coconut onto a folded towel set down in a large bowl. Find the 3 eyes on 1 end of the coconut and using a nail or screwdriver and hammer or meat mallet, hammer holes into 2 of the eyes. Turn the coconut upside down over a container and drain the water from the coconut. Store the water in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Place the coconut onto a 1/2 sheet pan and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. The coconut should have cracked in several places. Using an oyster knife or other dull blade, separate the hard shell from the brown husk. Using a serrated vegetable peeler, peel the brown husk from the coconut meat. Rinse the coconut meat under cool water and pat dry. Break the meat into 2 to 3-inch pieces. With the grater disk attached to a food processor, grate the coconut.
That SO didn’t work as planned.
We didn’t get nearly as much coconut water as expected out of ours. The recipe calls for one coconut and 1/3 cup coconut water. I reckon we got a couple tablespoons, max. And that was after selecting the single juiciest-sounding coconut at the store.
Baking the coconut as instructed yielded no cracks to speak of and I absolutely couldn’t wedge a cheap, blunt, old knife into the outer shell. It just wouldn’t work. So we had to resort to the web. Thankfully, Sarah found this guide to bashing open a coconut. Method #1 worked for us; which is good because we don’t really have any concrete steps or curbs to do our prep work on.
The hopper on our food processor lost its plunger a ways back due to mysterious cracks. Consequently we’ve been grating stuff in our food processor with either the weight of the food-to-be-grated as the downward force or by carefully grinding it (carrots for example, when we’re making plov) down as far as we we dare skewered on the end of a fork. That was tricky this time because of the density (lower than a carrot), flexibility (moreso than a carrot) and shape (less fitting to the shape of our hopper) of the coconut flesh pieces. Somehow we managed to get it done, but there was a fair amount of coconut strewn about the kitchen.
For the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour (or just use Baker’s Joy and revel in it!) a 9×13″ baking pan. Set aside.
Place the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Combine the coconut milk and coconut cream in small bowl and set aside.
Place the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and using the paddle attachment, cream on medium speed until fluffy, approximately 1 minute. Decrease the speed to low and gradually add the sugar slowly over 1 to 2 minutes. Once all of the sugar has been added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer back on to medium speed and continue creaming until the mixture noticeably lightens in texture and increases slightly in volume, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the coconut extract.
With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk mixture to the butter and sugar in 3 batches, ending with the milk mixture. Do not over mix.
In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold the egg whites into the batter, just until combined. Bang the pan on the counter top several times to remove any air and to distribute the batter evenly in the pan. Place in the oven on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes or until the cake is light golden in color and reaches an internal temperature of 200°F.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes then remove and transfer to a cooling rack. Once the cake has cooled completely cut across the equator to form 2 layers. Place the 1/3 cup coconut water into a small spritz bottle and spray evenly onto the cut side of the 2 layers. If you do not have a spritz bottle you may brush the coconut water on with a silicone pastry brush. We didn’t have enough coconut water to do this part at all. Allow to sit while preparing the frosting.
Bring 1 quart of water to a boil in a 4-quart saucepan over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium to maintain a steady simmer. In the meantime, place the egg whites, sugar, coconut water, cream of tartar and salt into a medium size-mixing bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and immediately begin beating with an electric hand mixer set to low speed. Beat for 1 minute and then increase the speed to high and continue to beat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat in the coconut and vanilla extracts for 1 minute. Allow the frosting to sit for 5 minutes before using.
Place approximately 3/4 cup of the frosting on the first layer of cake, sprinkle with 1/2 cup coconut and top with the next layer. Repeat until you reach the top layer. Frost the top and sides of the cake and sprinkle with the remaining coconut. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
OK, as mentioned above we couldn’t get our cake to fit in the fridge to chill and with the weather recently an outside chill is also not an option. Maybe this cake is a better winter option for us just for that reason. We could have maybe sliced our single layer rectangle in two pieces to create a layer and use up our extra frosting that way (and why oh why do we habitually have about twice as much frosting as we need?!), but we definitely wouldn’t have had enough coconutty fluffy love to spread around two layers. Therefore: next time TWO coconuts suffer the vengeful wrath of the blunt side of my cheap Chinese cleaver — and maybe we’ll get enough coconut water out that way — and maybe we’ll get someone to smuggle some coconut extract into the country for us (100ml is still carry-on-safe!). And then we can try this whole thing again from the start.
Sometimes, you just need chocolate cake. The German and American concepts of ‘cake’ differ pretty radically – to the extent that getting unsweetened baking chocolate in a store is nigh on impossible. I made a few adjustments, but if you have access to goods available in American grocery stores, you can follow the instructions exactly. I’ll detail my adjustments below. The ingredients in parentheses are metric for our European friends.
2 c flour (275 g)
2 c granulated sugar (420 g minus 8 EL)
1/4 tsp (Teelöffel) salt
4 oz unsweetened cacao chips (110 g)
1 c water (250 ml)
1/2 c butter (110 g)
1 c sour cream, at room temperature (200 g)
1 tsp (Teelöffel) vanilla extract
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp baking soda (Natriumbikarbonat)
2 beaten eggs
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
2 c confectioners’ sugar (300 g minus 8 EL)
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 (Teelöffel) tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c milk (85 ml)
4 oz unsweetened chocolate (110 g)
1/3 c melted butter (75 ml)
Grease or line two 9-inch cake pans or one 9 x 13-inch pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In mixer, combine flour, sugar and salt. Melt chocolate with butter and water (it will look gross). Add melted chocolate mixture to flour mixture and mix lightly. Add sour cream, vanilla extract, baking soda and eggs and mix well for 2 minutes. Batter will be thin!
Pour batter into pans and bake until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean. Bake for 30 minutes. If using round pans, cool on rack 10 minutes and unmold cake to cake rack to cool completely before frosting.
To make frosting: In mixer, combine confectioners’ sugar, salt, vanilla extract and milk. Melt the unsweetened chocolate and add to confectioners’ sugar mixture. Slowly add melted butter and beat to spreading consistency. Frosting will be thin at first, but will stiffen upon standing as the melted ingredients cool. Ice cake using about 1/2 cup of icing between layers.
I had to use semisweet baking chocolate instead of the unsweetened for which the recipe calls. It was mostly a language barrier – the package said ‘zartbitter,’ so I misinterpreted. I decided to check it by taking a nibble before I dove headlong into the baking process and thank goodness I did! I gnawed off what tasted like chocolate chips and my heart sank. Luckily, a Google search for ‘ingredient substitutions’ turned up several nice sites that showed me how to compensate. The conversion I used was to remove 2 T of sugar for every 1 2/3 oz of sweet baking chocolate used. For the cake, I ended up removing 7 T of granulated sugar.
For the frosting, I was leery of taking out sugar since it was powdered and I didn’t want to mess up the texture. I’ve had enough experience screwing up frostings. This time, we adjusted by putting 1 T of unsweetened cocoa in with the dry ingredients. This didn’t work quite as well as the adjustment with the cake did, but the frosting is edible.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch rounds or a 9×13 inch pan.
In a large bowl, beat together eggs, oil, white sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Mix in flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Stir in carrots. Fold in pecans. Pour into prepared pan.
Bake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
In a medium bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Stir in chopped pecans. Frost the cooled cake.
Cliff isn’t a huge fan of frostings. The amount of powdered sugar it takes to make a buttercream that will have that dry-to-the-touch, crisp-outside-creamy-inside texture makes him a little ill. And every time I made this frosting, I had way too much of it, as I always make it in a 9×13. Here’s a less sugar-intensive frosting. It will be harder to transport, as the frosting remains somewhat flowier. But I think the flavor makes up for the extra mess. And I skip the nuts, due to laziness.
85 g butter, softened
175 g cream cheese, softened
2 t vanilla extract
250-300 g powdered sugar
Blend all ingredients on medium until combined, then whip on high until completely smooth. Frost cooled cake immediately.
We adapted this recipe from Honey’s Butter Cake and Fast Blueberry Sauce at allrecipes.com. This’ll work well with all kinds of fruity sauces. We like blueberry and strawberry, but have also tried making the blueberry sauce with raspberries, which was nice (but a little seedy).
Cake: 2 1/2 cups (345 g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (5 ml)
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 ml) salt
1 cup (219 g) butter, softened
2 cups (420 g) white sugar
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1 cup (we use 200 g) sour cream
1 1/2 cups blueberries
3 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Cake: 1. Preheat oven to 325°F (165°C). Grease and flour a 9 inch Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition, then stir in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture alternately with the sour cream; beat well.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Blueberry Sauce: To prepare the sauce, in a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix 1 1/2cups blueberries, honey and 1/4 cup orange juice. Bring to a boil. Mix remaining orange juice and cornstarch in a small bowl, and stir into the blueberry mixture. Stir constantly until thickened.
Strawberry Sauce: Combine all ingredients in a 2 quart casserole; cover with wax paper. Stirring midway through cooking, microwave on high 4-6 minutes, or until the mixture boils and the berries begin to fall apart.
Pour the mixture into bowl of a food processor or blender, or force the berries through a sieve to puree. Chill until serving time.
Mix together thoroughly… 1/2 Cup soft shortening 2/3 Cup sugar
2 eggs Sift together…
11/2 Cups sifted flour
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. soda 1/2 tsp. salt Stir in alternately with…
1 Cup sour milk
Pour into greased and floured 9″ sq. pan. Rub together 1/2 cup sugar, 1 Tbsp. butter, and 1 Tbsp. cinnamon, and sprinkle over batter. Bake. Serve with cinnamon-flavored whipped cream or Lemon Sauce. Temperature: 325°F (slow mod. oven) Time: Bake 40 to 45 min. Amount: 9 servings