World on a Plate

Exploring culture. One plate at a time.

Category: Cakes_

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

A tongue twister of the most southern kind…

While rooting around for ideas for a simple summer fruit dessert for a dinner party I came across a peach pound cake in Southern Living.  Frankly, it made me anxious.  Not the ingredients, although peach schnapps is a little out of the ordinary.  It was the methodology. Pound cake is simple but there are small tips that will guarantee success.

All ingredients need to be of the best quality you can source.

Bring all butter, eggs to room temperature–it takes about 30-45 minutes. Really, this makes a huge difference.

Cream the butter and sugar together so the finished cake is fluffy and light.

And the final step that I take is one that will probably make many wonder.  Start the baking time in a cold oven.  That’s right, fill the pans, pop in the oven then turn the oven on. Bake for about an hour, test with a toothpick and when clean pull out from the oven. There are many bakers who say this is true with older ovens or less professional-quality ovens (apartment ovens!) as the heating begins at the bottom.  Others say it forms a better crust.  All I need to know is that since I started using these tips and this technique my results are consistent. It was shared by  Tom Hudgens and his “The Commonsense Kitchen”  during a butter making class.

So while I liked the idea of the original magazine recipe, I needed to make it my own by altering the method, adding honey, pecans (how Southern is that?) and cinnamon. Inspiration arrives in many forms.

peach pecan pound cake

Peach Pecan Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 cups AP  flour
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2 cups butter, softened, cubed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup peach schnapps
  • 6 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups diced fresh peaches (skins can remain)
  • 2/3 cup pecans broken into smaller pieces

Method

Do not preheat oven.  Butter and flour dust 2 loaf pans or a large bundt pan.  Tap the pan/s to remove excess flour.

In a bowl combine flour, cinnamon and mix  together. Set aside.  Take a generous pinch or two of the flour mix and sprinkle and toss over the diced peaches.  This will prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom.

In separate bowl combine peach schnapps, milk, vanilla and honey.

Using an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar together, until the mixture is cohesive, light in color and fluffy.

Using a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon alternately mix in the eggs. Now add the milk-peach schnapps liquids and the flours by hand in 3-4 additions, blending in each addition only partially before adding the next one.  Mix until just combined so as  not to overmix.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, speading evenly. Each pan/s should be filled about two-thirds full.

Place in cold oven.  Turn oven on to 325F.  Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cook in pan for 15 minutes; turn out cake on to a rack.

notes:

~if you don’t have cake flour just use AP flour instead.

~to finish the cake dust with confectioner’s sugar or make a lemon icing and drizzle over the top (mix 1 cup confectioner’s sugar with 2-4 teaspoons lemon juice depending on the consistency sought).

~serve on it’s own or with vanilla ice cream

Apricot-Almond Cake

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1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely ground cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of kosher salt
13 tablespoons butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large egg yolks
2 large eggs
Zest of one lemon
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
2 apricots, cut in half and pitted, then cut the halves again
1/4 cup slivered almonds mixed together with 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Grease and lightly flour with cornmeal an 8″ round cake pan or an 8″ springform pan, tapping out any excess flour. Set aside.

In a small bowl, toss the cornmeal, all-purpose flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the butter and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer, until pale yellow and creamy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula adding the egg yolks, one at a time, beating after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the whole eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in the lemon zest and almond extract. Add the dry ingredients and blend by hand until just combined. Don’t use mixer as that’s will probably cause the batter to toughen. Gentle fold the dry ingredients into the batter.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan. It’ll be thick so use the back of a soon to spread it out to the edges. Place the apricot halves, skin side down, at even intervals on top of the batter. Sprinkle the slivered almonds over the top of the cake followed by the brown sugar on top of the fruit and batter. I placed them just enough apart that when cut into 8 pieces everyone had a piece of apricot. You could leave use more fruit. Bake until the cake is golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.

Notes

Original recipe calls for plums, you could also use peaches with the skins on.

Although I haven’t tried this I am pretty confident that replacing the AP flour with almond meal flour would taste quite good–and gluten free.

 

Eggnog Bundt Cake.

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photo by Sean Timberlake, 2012

Tis the season for eggnog. Creamy, rich and well, eggy.   The origin of the holiday drink varies.  One story says that the word nog derives from an Old English word for strong beer, hence “noggin;” another tale states that the name in Colonial America refers to when colonists referred to thick drinks as “grog” and eggnog as “egg-and-grog”.

Whatever the story may be we drink it once a year mostly in lattés it seems. In Puerto Rico the drink is known as  coquito which involves, baking, cracking and draining coconuts. Ambitious for sure.  Rompopefrom Mexico, features almonds and lots and lots of eggs.

I don’t have a particular desire to drink eggnog but I do like the taste of it–rum, cinnamon, cloves–perfect for holiday baking. Over the weekend I had lunch with friends and decided to surprise them with this holiday cake as dessert. Super easy, and the taste was as seasonal as you need.  Oh, and if you are like me you may need this Leftover Eggnog: 10 Delicious Uses.

PS: Don’t you love the photo? Squiggles on squiggles…

Spicy Eggnog Pound Cake
Adapted from Oxmoor House

Yield: 10 servings in an 8″ bundt pan plus 2 mini loaves

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
3 cups sifted cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon*
1 1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
1 cup refrigerated full fat eggnog**

Glaze
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon whipping cream

30-40 minutes ahead of start bring butter and eggs to room temperature.

Preparation

Generously grease and flour a 10-cup bundt pan and mini loaf pans.

Slice butter into tablespoons and beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer about 2 minutes or until creamy. Gradually add granulated sugar, beating 5 to 7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears.

Combine flour, baking powder, spices and salt. Add to butter mixture alternating with 1 cup eggnog, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla and, if desired, brandy.

Bake at 350° for 50 to 55 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. The mini loaves will take about 7 minutes longer. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan; cool on wire rack.

Place cake on a cake plate; dust with powdered sugar. Combine powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste or extract and whipping cream, stirring until smooth. Drizzle glaze over cake.

*I recently discovered a cinnamon blend from Penzey’s which I think really contributed to the cake’s taste profile.  It’s a blend of four cinnamon barks: China, Vietnamese, Korintje, Ceylon.  Penzey’s

**Note: I substituted 1/8 cup for some of the eggnog to equal the amount called for–so if you want to do that 2 3/4 cup eggnog and 1/8 cup dark rum. You could also use brandy.

Other tasting adventures:

Winter Sunshine

                Sh_orange

I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.

~D.H. Lawrence

I love citrus. A large bright family that includes sweet and sour oranges, lemons, limes, citrons, pomelos, grapefruit, tangerines, clementines (Pixies!) and kumquats (ok technically not but we all think it.) Is there any other fruit that can make you feel so happy? Is there another that can come along and enliven a winter dish of beets or simple pasta.

Over the past month I was lucky enough to receive generous harvests from a friend’s backyard "orchard."  Darn those were good.  Eating them out of hand, fresh squeeze o.j. and then this cake that I made was the perfect compliment to an Easter dinner.

It’s such a simple and efficient recipe using every part of the orange–peel, pith, and flesh and when all is done there is just a hint of almond carried through the very moist and dense cake. Weeks after baking this cake for Easter dinner I learned that it’s very close in composition to a recipe from Claudia Rosen and Nigella Lawson.

What’s even better than the cake is the compote–really a quick route to homemade marmalade.  And really what is marmalade but jam with the peel. Ok that’s a bit offhand but for those that like the bright taste of orange on their toast or crumpets this part of the recipe is worth holding on to–and I promise it won’t be around long enough for it to spoil.

Orange Almond Cake

Adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe. And don’t we all know her recipes are thorough… follow this version you will have success.  Let’s just say her recipes assume a generous base of experience by the baker.

Ingredients

6 navel or other sweet oranges

Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pan

1/2 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for pan

1 3/4 cups finely ground blanched almonds (about 6 ounces)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 large eggs

2 cups sugar

Instructions

Place whole unpeeled oranges in a large pot and cover with cold water. Over high heat bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently for 2 hours. Drain off the water and set the oranges aside to cool.

A few hours later:

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9" springform pan.  Cut the cooled oranges in half; remove any seeds. Place 7 halves into a food processor and pulse until almost pureed but still a little chunky.  There should be about 3 cups.

In a small bowl whisk the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and salt together.  In an electric mixer bowl with the whisk attachment beat the eggs with 1 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Stir in orange puree until just combined.  Stir in flour mixture.   Pour into prepared springform pan.  Bake for about 1 hour or until a knife comes out clean from the center.  Cool completely.

Prepare orange marmalade compote:

Chop the remaining 5 orange halves into 1/2" pieces. Place in bowl.  In a medium sized saucepan combine remaining cup sugar with 3/4 cup water.  Bring to a boil until sugar is dissolved.

Add the chopped oranges and reduce heat to medium.  Simmer this mixture gently until the liquid has evaporated and thickens into a syrup about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

To serve:

arrange chopped oranges and pour any remaining syrup over top of cake. Cut into wedges. Can be stored up to two days in the refrigerator.

Perfect Party Cake

                 Perfect_party_w

I am surrounded by Scorpios. I, too, am a Scorpio and celebrated my birthday in the first few days of this astrological sign. We are a passionate (ok, some say stubborn) and loyal group.  This past weekend I celebrated the birthdays of two friends. When the invite went out she mentioned that they would be buying a cake and further what flavors do we all like. She’s well-mannered isn’t she?  Frankly, this type of gesture goes against my birthday cake philosophy.  Said reasoning is that it’ s your birthday and you won’t be buying that cake and the type of cake and flavor is at your call. I would have none of that.

So I found myself making a birthday cake prior to the bowling party.  Another friend, as we were driving over, cake carrier on her lap said ,"You are setting a dangerous precedent. Now everyone will want a baked from scratch cake for their birthday.

The cake that the birthday boy and girl were seeking fit the description of The Perfect Party Cake from Dorie Greenspan’s new baking cookbook, Baking: From my home to yours.  It’s a four-layer round velvety white cake moist, tight-crumbed, and flavored with lemon extra and plenty of zest. layered with raspberry preserves and a silky, not-too-rich buttercream, topped with coconut.  Quite simply it’s the cake that makers of birthday cards feature.  And also the one that the group in lanes 12 were drooling over.

Perfect Party Cake

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

12 to 14 servings

Cake

Sift together

2 ¼ cups cake flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 ¼ cups buttermilk

4 large egg whites

1 ½ cups sugar

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

4 oz unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 teaspoon lemon extract

Buttercream

1 cup sugar

4 large egg whites

3 sticks/12 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling & Topping

2/3 cup seedless strawberry preserves

1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray or butter two 9" x 2" round cake pans. Line the bottom of each cake pan with a buttered parchment circle.

Whisk the buttermilk and egg whites together in a separate bowl.

Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a stand mixer bowl and rub together with your fingers until the sugar is moist and smells like the lemon.

Add the butter to the mixer bowl and beat together with the sugar for 3 minutes on medium speed until the mixture is fluffy and light.

Add in the vanilla extract.

Add in the flour and buttermilk mixtures in alternating additions, starting and ending with the flour mixtures. Be sure each addition is fully incorporated before adding the next.

When everything is added beat the batter for an additional 2 minutes.

Divide the batter between the two pans and bake for 30 minutes in the oven or until the tops are set and springy, and a cake tester inserted into the centers come out clean.

Transfer the pans to wire racks and let cool for a few minutes, then flip and unmold the cakes (run a knife around the sides of the cakes if necessary). Peel the parchment off and flip the cakes back over right side up on the wire racks to finish cooling.

At this point, the fully cooled cake layers can be wrapped in plastic and kept overnight or frozen for up to 2 months.

For the buttercream:

Combine the sugar and egg whites in a medium heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water.

Whisk the sugar mixture constantly over heat until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture looks smooth and shiny, about 3 minutes.

Remove mixture from heat and pour into a stand mixer bowl. Whisk on medium speed for about 5 minutes until the mixture has cooled.

Switch to the paddle attachment and with the speed on low, add the butter a few pieces at a time, beating until smooth.

When all the butter has been added, beat the buttercream on medium-high speed for about 6-10 minutes until it is very thick and smooth.

Add in the lemon juice and beat until combined. Add in the vanilla.

The buttercream is ready to be used. Place a piece of plastic wrap against the surface until you are ready to use it to prevent it from drying out.

To assemble the cake:

Using a sharp serrated knife, slice each cake layer horizontally in half.

Stir the raspberry preserves until it is loose and spreadable.

Place a layer on a cardboard cake round, cut side up. Spread about a third of the raspberry preserves on the cake layer.

Spread a layer of buttercream on top of the preserves. Top with a second cake layer.

Spread preserves and buttercream on the second cake layer as you did with the first. Top with a third cake layer.

Spread preserves and buttercream on the third cake layer as you did with the second. Top with the last cake layer, cut side down.

Use the rest of the buttercream to frost the sides and top of the cake.

Press the coconut over the sides and top of the cake.

The cake is best served a couple of hours after it is assembled to let the flavors develop. You can refrigerate it for up to 2 days, but be sure it is well covered or the cake will dry out. You should also let the cake come to room temperature before you serve it.

The Baker’s Passport – Sri Lanka

                Sri_collage_2

Sri Lanka, once known as Ceylon, just off the southeast coast of India, is a rich tapestry of cultures which can be experienced today through it’s rich and diverse food. Julia Child was station here during her time with the OSS.

Sri Lanka’s nearness to India has had a strong influence on its cuisine, as did the occupations of the Portuguese, Dutch, and British. Writer Amanda Hesser, in the IHT poetically described its proximity as "…shaped like a fat tear rolling off the chin of India." As time lapsed the majority of defining dishes have been slightly modified. And it took a lot of cooking from many peoples, cultures and religions: the Hindus and Buddhists perfected the vegetarian dishes; the Christians refined the beef and pork recipes and the Muslims put attention to the mutton and lamb dishes. Many of the recipes revolve around rice, the central grain of curry dishes in Sri Lankan cuisine. Notably curries in this country are spicier than those found in  India. Other staple ingredients include coconut (milk, oil, or grated), as well as aromatic herbs and spices such as curry leaf, fenugreek, turmeric, chilies, and cinnamon.

But what about dessert you say?  Given the climate fruits are a plenty–mangoes, pineapple, papaya, woodapple, bananas, rambuttan, and mangosteen. For us bakers there’s kiri pani made from buffalo milk curd and golden syrup; the of Malay origin, wattalappam an egg pudding with jaggary and also kevum made with flour and golden syrup.

Spice traders, specifically the Dutch and Portuguese left behind a meatball curry which is baked in a banana leaf.  Hoppers, a crêpe of sorts with a bowl-shape and crispy edges shows up in many varieties such as honey, milk and the egg hopper containing a poached egg cooked into the center.   The batter is made from from rice flour, coconut milk and then fermented with yeast or the traditonal, and sour tasting, palm toddy liquor.  This favored treat is often found in "bakery hotels" or small restaurants for breakfast or lunch. 

But for me I’d like to try this quaintly named spicey infusion "Love Cake" adapted from Portuguese cuisine, probably around the 16th century, when Portugal dominated the spice trade and controlled a portion of the island. The recipe’s cashews and cardamom are native to the island. The rose water fragrance are a Muslim aesthetic and can be traced to Ceylon Muslims or to the Moorish influence of Spain and Portugal in the Middle Ages. A country’s cultural history all in a slice of cake.  Oh and I’ll have mine with a cuppa Ceylon

PS: I’m coming home with this must-have Sri Lankan kitchen gadget, a coconut scraper, waste not want not!

                Sri_coconutscrab

Bolo d’Amor

Portuguese Love Cake

The traditional recipe, served at graduations and weddings, contains 14 egg yolks. I just couldn’t live with that on my mind. So, I asked around at work, my company has one of the most diverse workforces and adapted the following recipe which comes from her handwritten recipe notebook.  She says she got it from a newspaper but doesn’t know where as she’s moved around a bit. So be it as its too good not to share.  If anyone knows let me know so credit can go where it belongs. The secret is to have a soft texture in the middle and a firm and chewy exterior.  Some say if be slowly bake it and using the right-sized pan is the magic.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups semolina meal (US bakers: Cream of Wheat)
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon ground cardamom seeds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg or cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups raw cashew nuts, finely chopped
4 tablespoons rose water
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla
9 egg yolks and 5 whites
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
4 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Warm semolina in a dry pan over medium heat until fairly hot to the touch, being careful not to let it brown.

Put in a bowl and stir to cool. While still a little warm, mix in softened butter using a wooden spoon. Add lemon rind, spices and salt. Mix well, cover and set aside two to four hours.

Separately, mix cashews with rose water, almond extract and vanilla. Cover and set aside.

Grease 9-by-13-inch pan and line with three thicknesses of wax paper. Butter well the top layer of paper.

In a large bowl, beat yolks and sugar until they have doubled in bulk and become thick, creamy and very light in color.

Beat in the semolina-butter mixture, a little at a time. Add the honey and beat. When well beaten, fold in cashew mixture.

Beat egg whites with lemon juice until they hold firm peaks. Fold into the cake mixture. Spoon the batter into the prepared cake pan.

Bake in a preheated 300 degree oven for 25 minutes. Lower the heat to 250 degrees and bake for another 30 minutes, until the cake is evenly golden-brown and the top feels firm to the touch.

As the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan it should be a bit moist in center (test with a skewer), remove from oven.  If cake is very moist in the center, switch off oven, cover cake with paper or foil and leave inside for another 10-15 minutes.

If the cake begins to brown too much any time during baking, cover with paper or foil.

Cool cake completely. Do not remove cake from pan instead cut into small servings while in the pan.

               

               

Banana Split Cake

Bansplit

Sometimes we are tough on ourselves. We try a new receipe, in a new kitchen in an unfamiliar oven and think ‘eh, it’s ok.’ As I continue to bake my way through recent happenings I came across a recipe in of all places a Better Homes & Garden magazine called Holdiay Baking 2006. The magazine is full of dessert recipes with peanut butter as a feature ingredient. We all know by now how central this ingredient is in my baking including the Gourmet cover girl.

This receipe appealed to me as it has some techniques I hadn’t come across before (perhaps because I don’t read these magazines?). And the other factor was I had a banana and I hate to waste food. I’m also adjusting to moving around a kitchen with a 18″x 12″ workspace. At some point when I feel more settled into my IBK I will share some of my kitchen adaptations. I am continually surprised by how little you really do need.

This marble cake requires about 40 minutes of prep, if you follow my method. Baking time is about one hour. I’m not sure about those kitchen people at BHG. But the recipe gets a bit confusing. I’ve restructured it below as all sense got whipped out of it. The results? I brought it to work–these efforts don’t stay in my cottage–astounding. Workmates came in to my office with chocolate on their fingers and crumbs on their file folders asking “Is there more? I only got two pieces.”

We never know how good something is standing alone in your kitchen. After all isn’t the reward of baking sharing with others?

Ed. Note: A second post in a week purely because of this recipe and the image taken with my new digital SLR! It’s a beauty, eh?

Banana Split Cake

1 cup butter

4 eggs

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups sugar

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (1 large)

1/2 cup dairy sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup strawberry preserves

Few drops red food coloring

1/2 cup preseweetened cocoa powder

Glaze

8 oz. chocolate chips

6 oz. butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow butter and eggs to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, grease and flour a 10" bundt pan.  In a medium bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; set aside. In a separate and small bowl, combine banana, sour cream, milk and vanilla; set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on low to medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until fluffy. Add eggs, on at a time, beating well after each addition.  Alternately add flour mixture and banana mxiture to butter mixture, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

Prepare two small bowls.  In the first small bowl, stir together 1 cup of the batter, the strawberry preserves, and red food coloring.  In the second small bowl, stir together another 1 cup of the batter and the cocoa powder. Spoon half of the remaning plain batter into the preapred 10" bunt pan. Add strawberry batter. Top with remaining plain batter, then chocolate batter. Use a narrow metal spatula to gently swirl the batters.

Bake 55-65 minutes until a wooden skewer or toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes; remove from pan.  Cool comptely on wire rack about 90 minutes.

Glaze

In a small saucepan, heat chocolate and butter together until just melted. Take off heat. Continue stirring until melted and shiny. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Ed. Note: The cocoa powder and batter stage is a bother. The dry powder made for a bread dough consistency. My remedy was to carefully thin with sour cream and a smidge of milk. Be patient, slowly count to 30 as you add these two ingredients in small amounts. Do they really test these recipes in home kitchens?! Recipe adapted from Holiday Baking 2006, BHG.

Mother’s Cake

               Motherchild

The earliest Mother’s Day celebration is often traced back to the spring day celebrations in ancient Greece to honor Rhea, the mythical mother of the gods. However in the 1600s, England celebrated a day called "Mothering Sunday" on the fourth Sunday of Lent. At that time, many of England’s poor worked as servants for the wealthy. Since most jobs were far from their homes, the servants live in the homes of their employers.

On Mothering Sunday, servants were given the day off and many went to spend the day with who else but mom.  Many would bring along a special cake called the Mothering Cake.

As Christianity spread throughout Europe and the rest of the world, the celebration changed to honor the "Mother Church," the spiritual power that gave them life and protected them from harm. Over time, the church festival blended with Mothering Sunday celebration. People began honoring their mothers and the church.

This cake is a simple flourless chocolate cake and was a long-time favorite of the now departed Queen Mum.

Image: Louis Toffoli

Mother’s cake

Yields One 9" Cake

½ c almonds; skinned
6 oz chopped semi-sweet Chocolate
¾ c granulated sugar
6 oz unsalted butter
6 large eggs– yolks and whites separated
1 tsp

fresh lemon juice 

½ c heavy cream
2 ts instant espresso powder
8 oz chopped semi-sweet chocolate

CAKE

Toast almonds in a single layer on a cookie sheet in a 350F degree oven for about 15-minutes or until the almonds are lightly colored and fragrant. Make sure to shake the pan occasionally to turn almonds while toasting.

Pre-heat oven to 375F degrees. Spray the bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan with a non-stick cooking spray. Dust lightly with flour or very fine, dry bread crumbs. Shake out any excess and set prepared pan aside.

Warm chopped chocolate in the top of a small double boiler over warm water set at moderate heat. Cover until partially melted, then stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Reserve 1/2 cup sugar and place the remaining 1/4 cup sugar with the almonds in a food processor or blender and chop until nuts are fine and powdery. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl beat the butter until soft. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and reserve the remaining 1/4 cup sugar for use later. Beat sugar and butter until thoroughly combined. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and continue to beat until smooth. Add the melted chocolate and blend on low speed until combined. Add almonds and continue to beat mixture on a low speed setting.

In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites with salt and lemon juice. Start on low speed and gradually increase until the egg whites hold a soft shape. Reduce speed again and add remaining 1/4 cup sugar. Then on high speed, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate mixture about one-third at a time until blended.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared springform pan an quickly rotate to level the batter. Bake for 20 minutes at 375F degrees, then reduce heat to 350F degrees and continue to bake an additional 50 minutes. Remove cake from pan when cooled, after about 1 hour.

ICING

Prepare the icing by scalding the heavy cream in a saucepan over medium heat until a thin skin forms on the top. Add the espresso or coffee powder and whisk to dissolve. Add the chocolate and whisk to dissolve, for about a minute or two. Remove from heat and continue to stir to finish melting the chocolate. Let icing cool for about 15-minutes, then pour over the top of the cake, starting at the center. Gently push the icing with a spatula over the sides to dribble down the cake.

Top with shaved chocolate, or whipped cream just prior to serving. Strawberries on the side make a nice spring touch.

21-Cake Salute

Don’t ask me how I found this 21 Cake gallery complete with a jazzy music bed.  What a display! I discovered these treats in one of those lost wandering moments we all have from time to time.  But this is so fantastic and impressive.  I think it’s a bakery site in Beijing.  Beautifully decorated cakes–look at the one with a candle in the center, there’s a cheesecake formed as Swiss cheese (why didn’t I think of that?!).  What a concept–21 cakes, 21 fillings. 

It’s primarily in Chinese–there’s not much difference between the Chinese and English versions of the site.  Worth checking out the the small cake captions that are in the windows that open when you click on a cake. Captions that are no less than whimsical and close to haiku:  "The milky baby blue hearts attract you for a quiet distance retreat." Another, "You find her and utter no word. The choking beauty comes from the quietness." For the Green Tea Mousse Cake, "The tea brings a quality time, loneliness has not root here."

Make sure you after you open the secondary window that you click in the upper left hand corner for image two–revealing the cut center of the cake. 

National Chocolate Day – Morton’s

“Nine out of 10 people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies.”  John Q. Tullius

Today is, National Chocolate Day. The candy wizards over at the National Confectioners Association, celebrates it every year on October 28.  And since the most recent SHF #13 is all about chocolate, well what’s one more recipe. 

Morton’s , the temple to steak houses, is well know for their Godiva Hot Chocolate Cake (photo).  The cake is served 31,000 times a month in its restaurants worldwide, proving that everyone does in fact love chocolate.  This cake has 1 1/2 ounces of hot, gooey chocolate hidden in its center.  It is also served with Haagan-Daaz vanilla ice cream and raspberries.  But I promised a recipe didn’t I?  This recipe was torn from a newspaper from some business trip taken long ago so I can’t source it properly. 

Morton’s of Chicago Godiva Hot Chocolate Cake
Source: Morton’s of Chicago, Phoenix, Arizona

Seek out Godiva chocolate liqueur in the small, 3-ounce bottle, it’ll be all you need.

Butter and granulated sugar to coat pan
8 ounces semisweet chocolate squares
1 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon Godiva chocolate liqueur
5 egg yolks
5 whole eggs
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and generously coat an 8-inch soufflé dish with butter, then dust with granulated sugar.

Melt chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Stir in chocolate liqueur. In a large mixing bowl, beat egg yolks and whole eggs with an electric mixer set at low speed. Pour chocolate-butter mixture into bowl while beating.

In a medium bowl, sift the confectioner’s sugar and flour together. Gradually add this to the chocolate mixture. Mix at high speed until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour cake mixture into soufflé dish. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until cake tests done with a wooden pick.

Serve hot with ice cream .