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wait…. another cake?

October 28th, 2011 | 5 Comments »

Yes. Another cake. Don’t be surprised if I share even more cake with you over time, as I do love a good moist and tender cake.

And I’m partial to a Bundt cake, for nostalgia reasons. It’s pretty easy to work with, that shape. You get a nice substantial cake that is easy to slice and portion out and with the wealth of lovely artistic bundt pans available, you can make something that looks masterful with nary a hint of extra effort.

And besides, bundt cakes make me think of my Mom. And she would have loved this Nutmeg Cake.

Nutmeg Cake. Not Spice Cake, although that would be appropriate, but no, the predominant flavor of this cake is Nutmeg, also known as Myristica fragrans, a spice that elicited so much adoration and excitement that bloody wars were executed over it to protect it’s production, and Emperor Henry VI had the streets of Rome fumigated with it during his coronation. In the 14th Century, a half a kilogram of nutmeg cost as much as three sheep, or one cow. The Nutmeg tree belongs to the Evergreen family, and as everyone knows, it consists of not one but two spices, as the feathery outer layer is ground up for Mace, while the seed itself is the Nutmeg.

The fruit is light yellow with red and green markings, resembling an apricot or a large plum. As the fruit matures, the outer fleshy covering (which is candied or pickled as snacks in Malaysia) bursts to reveal the seed. The seed is covered with red membranes called an aril, the mace portion of the nutmeg. The nut is then dried for up to 2 months until the inner nut rattles inside the shell. It is then shelled to reveal the valuable egg-shaped nutmeat which is the edible nutmeg. Second-rate nuts are pressed for the oil, which is used in perfumes and in the food industry.

Nutmeg is easily ground from it’s whole form, using a microplane, and purists argue that this is the best and only way in which it should be used. Pre-ground Nutmeg can easily lose it’s flavor, and when you need only a small dose of the spice, grating it fresh is simple; a few passes over the microplane and you’re done. But this recipe calls for 5 teaspoons of Nutmeg. I’d be standing with that microplane in hand for an eternity if I tried to freshly grate all that spice. And for me, Penzey’s West Indies Ground Nutmeg is perfect to keep on hand.

I came across this recipe in a recent issue of Saveur magazine and immediately snipped it out. Although I do know that Nutmeg is not a universally liked spice, for me it’s been a favorite since I was a kid, sprinkling my applesauce with cinnamon and nutmeg. I love it’s quick warm bite, the flick of flavor on my tongue that resonates around.

And it isn’t just for desserts, really. A few pinches of fresh ground nutmeg makes a wonderful addition to any dish with squash in it. It’s necessary for Spaetzle and can elevate a simple cream sauce on pasta to ultra-gastronomic levels. Add a dash of nutmeg to a fruit crisp, sprinkle it in smoothies, grate some on top of your oatmeal or other hot cereal (especially if you add blueberries- there is something so delightful about blueberries and nutmeg together) and of course, with cinnamon, cloves and allspice you get none other than perfect pumpkin pie flavor.

 

This cake made two appearances in my life in the exact same week. Two cakes, for two occasions. The first one was just the old standard “I Found A Recipe That I Can’t Wait To Try” deal, and the fact that it turned out so incredibly moist and oh so tender, and it was so darn easy to make that I quickly hit ‘Repeat’ and made another one for a ladies only gathering at our lake home. To be able to take a cake recipe and feed it to eight discriminating palates knowing that every one of them would adore it is a big feather in my cap. I loved watching their faces as they took that first bite. These ladies know their food.

And I know my nutmeg.  So tell me …. do YOU like nutmeg??

 

Nutmeg Cake

3 cups flour
5 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
12 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled
2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 cups sour cream
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (optional)

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a standard bundt pan with cooking spray. You can also use a 9×13 baking pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into cubes and add to the dry mixture. With a pastry blender (or two forks, or for a load of fun, your hands) cut the butter in to the flour mixture until it’s about the size of peas or smaller. Add the brown sugar and walnuts (if using) and blend with a fork.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the sour cream, milk and eggs until very creamy. Add to the flour/butter mixture and gently fold together with a rubber spatula, carefully scraping the bottom of the bowl, until the batter is smooth and completely blended. It will be fairly thick. Pour batter into prepared pan. Run a knife through the batter to remove any air pockets, or you can gently drop the pan on the counter a few times for the same result.

Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes for a bundt pan, 25-35 for a 9×13. Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes in the pan (if using a bundt pan) then run a knife around the edges to loosen and turn over on to a plate.

This cake is phenomenal when served warm.

 

original recipe from Saveur magazine, here with modifications.

15 down, 15 to go

November 15th, 2008 | 5 Comments »

Fifteen posts down for NaBloPoMo and fifteen more to go. So far so good.

Today will be a fun post as it’s National Bundt Pan Day.  In Minnesota, we can boast not just the amazing four-season changes in weather coupled with temps that can range over 130 degrees in a single calendar year, but we can brag that Nordicware’s inspired Bundt pan was built and sold from the non-descript factory that stills resides on the south side of Highway 7 in Minneapolis. The pan, created in 1950 by H. David Dahlquist, was designed as a request by the Hadassah Society’s chapter in the Twin Cities who were looking for a sturdy pan to bake a traditional Austrian/German coffee cake called bundkuchen, also known as kugelhopf, or gugelhupf. The sturdy pan made out of aluminum may have been destined for anonymity had a bundt-style cake not won second place in the 1966 Pillsbury Bake-Off; the be all to end all of baking contests. The winning design prompted a mad scramble for the pans, and in 1970, Pillsbury itself licensed the name for a line of cake mixes. It was a meteoric rise for the pans, resulting in an introduction to the Smithsonian Museum in early 2007 and an estimated 60 million pans in kitchens from coast to coast. The fluted and grooved sides of a Bundt pan are considered one of the most recognizable kitchen items ever, and since the inception of the original design, Nordicware has created a multitude of new designs and functions to this once simple pan, including loaf style Bundt pans, miniatures, pans in different shapes and designs such as Fleur-de-Lis, Cathedrals, Hearts, Spirals, Castles, Stadiums, a Pirate Ship and a new Kugelhopf pan specifically for that first ever bundt cake created. There’s holiday style pans depicting pumpkins, snowmen, Christmas trees, wreaths and Santa Claus all created in heavy duty cast aluminum.

bundt-and-indian-pudding-004

I grew up with bundt cakes and the sight of one always makes me think of my mom. Other than the layer cakes she baked for our birthdays, every cake she made was done in a bundt pan and I can still envision her old dark-orange pan, slightly chipped and worn as she would pull it from the cupboard. After I was on my own and had a decent sized kitchen again, I sought out and purchased a bundt pan for myself as I couldn’t imagine not having one, even if I didn’t use it as much as Mom did. Just being able to pull it out to bake a cake gives me a surge of nostalgia and I always hang on to the bundt cake recipes I come across. I don’t know if it’s just the memories or something else, but no cake tastes quite the same to me like one made in a bundt pan.

bundt-and-indian-pudding-003
This recipe came from Adam at Baking with Dynamite. I like his loose and casual style and he can put up some pretty killer looking posts. What I love about this cake recipe is that it’s not a super overload of oil and eggs and with the addition of apple and carrot it can actually pass for something reasonably good to eat. And of course, it’s just delicious.

Apple Carrot Cake
Recipe by Adam (Baking with Dynamite)

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup AP flour
1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice

Pinch (or two pinches if you’re like me) cloves

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar
3 eggs

1/2 cup canola or neutral flavored oil

1/2 pound carrots, peeled and grated (about 3)

1/2 pound apples, peeled and grated (about 3 small ones)

Preheat your oven to 350*. Grease a large 13×9 pan, or any pan you like. I used a round pan, because I really like round bundt type cakes :) <——my thoughts exactly

In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking soda and powder, and spices. Stir with a spoon so they are all mixed evenly, and set this bowl aside.

In a large bowl, place the sugars together, and stir with a wooden spoon so they are all mixed up. Add the 3 eggs, and mix well, so they form a nice sugary, liquidy type glaze. Pour in the oil and mix by hand or hand mixer for a few minutes, so they emulsify.

Add the dry flour mixture into the wet sugar one, and mix well. If you are using a wooden spoon, you are going to get a workout on this one. I even had to switch hands, and I rarely ever do that :) The resulting batter is very thick, but don’t worry… it’ll be all better soon. Once the batter is smooth, brown, and no lumps remain, fold in the carrots and apples. I think the moisture from the fruit adds a bit more liquid to the batter, and it becomes much easier to work with.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the cake springs back lightly to the touch, and a toothpick comes out clean. Baking times depend on the pan you use. (my bundt pan required an hour of cooking time)

nablopomo21

Bake a Bundt!!