Orange & Cardamom Ricotta Loaf Cake

 

_MG_4684

You’ve gotta make this cake. It’s lush and sweet and citrusy and everything nice. I opened the fridge to see a tub of ricotta cheese unused and unloved sitting on the shelf and remembered reading how perfect it is to put in cakes for moisture. It’s true, every last bit of it. Trust me.

I’ve been seeing all of these citrus upside down cakes on Instagram and I’ve been waiting for a good cake recipe to do my own on. Voila! Citrus cakes are, let’s say, not my favorite thing. BUT, when you combine it with something as warm as cardamom, it’s magic.

Cardamom is exotic and warm and it happens to pump up the flavor profile of oranges. When you finally have the pleasure of eating this cake, you won’t necessarily notice the cardamom, but you’ll just get an intensified orange flavor. I guess you could say it’s sort of like adding coffee to chocolate cake.

_MG_4696

 

CAKE:

1/2 c. brown sugar

2-4 T. water

1 c. cake flour

1/2 c. almond flour (if you prefer you can use 1 1/2 c. cake flour and omit the almond flour all together.)

2 1/2 t. baking powder

12 T. softened butter

1 1/2 c. full fat ricotta cheese

1/4 t. almond extract (or vanilla)

1 1/2 c. caster sugar

3 eggs

1 t. cardamom powder

1 t. grated orange zest

1 orange

350 F / 190 C

  1. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and water to make a paste. Spread it along the bottom of your loaf pan evenly.
  2. Zest your orange for the batter and then slice the fruit into paper thin slices and layer them over the brown sugar mixture in whatever fashion you’d like and set aside.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, cardamom, zest and salt and set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cheese, butter, extract and sugar together for about 2 minutes until light and fluffy.
  5. Then, beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Once mixed thoroughly, add the dry mixture and continue to beat until fully combined.
  7. Pour the batter into the loaf pan so that it’s about 3/4 of the way full and bake 40-50 minutes. The middle should spring back when you push it. Note: depending on the type of loaf pan you’re using (metal/glass/ceramic) it will bake at different times. If the crust is getting too dark, place some foil over the top and continue baking until it springs back.
  8. Once baked through, turn the loaf out on a plate almost immediately by running a dull knife around the edges and flipping it over being careful not to upset the design on the bottom. If you wait until it is cool, you risk the bottom sticking.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Sweet Clafoutis with Summer Berries

_MG_4616

Kind of like the French version of a Dutch pancake, this custardy fruit clafoutis is perfect for those of you who don’t love really sweet desserts. The custard is as light as air and about the closest to cloud 9 you’ll be getting this week. It’s delicate enough to serve with afternoon tea or even for breakfast.

I used to have an obsession with making Dutch pancakes in college because they were attractive, easy and impressive for a college kid. You can make them savory or sweet and, if you’ve read any of my other posts, you know that I love a one-size-fits-all type recipe. So when I was browsing my cookbooks and found this, I knew it was just up my ally.

If you don’t like sweet things at all, omit the sugar when making the custard and add some cheese, vegetables or herbs. Everybody’s happy and that’s what baking is about, right?!

_MG_4615

MIXED BERRY CLAFOUTIS:

1/4 c. cream

3/4 c. milk (not skim)

3 eggs

1/2 c. caster sugar

1 t. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean

1 pinch of nutmeg

2 T. butter, melted

1/2 c. AP flour

2-3 c. fresh mixed berries

325 F / 165 C

1. in a blender blend all of the ingredients for about 5 seconds. It should be just enough time to combine the ingredients, mainly the flour.

2. Pour into a greased pie dish or anything similar in size. Arrange the berries over the top. They’ll sink, but that’s fine.

3. Bake 35-45 minutes until the sides have puffed and are golden.

4. For best results, serve immediately.

Creamy Macaroni & Cheese

_MG_4661

I have no control when it comes to macaroni and cheese. I would gladly hold my mouth open wide, giant spoon in hand, as you dumped a truck load of it into my mouth. Screw the repercussions of eating 100 pounds of cheese and pasta, I’m there!

Unfortunately, if I took that attitude to the kitchen with me every day, I’d be really really fat. I’m personally a fan of the creamy kind and that’s probably a result of overdoing it on the Velveeta as a kid, which looking back is the equivalent to eating melted rubber. I might as well have been gnawing on a Stretch Armstrong or something. Consider this your all natural savior to the rubbery stuff.

_MG_4630

CREAMY MACARONI & CHEESE (serves 2):

2 T. butter

1 t. corn flour or AP flour

1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. shredded cheddar or whatever cheese you prefer + 1/4 c. for later

1/2 t. salt

1/4 t. pepper

1/4 t. ground mustard

1 1/2 c. cooked elbow pasta

  1. In a small saucepan on medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour after it melts completely.
  2. Add the milk and 1/2 c. cheese until the mixture comes to a simmer/boil and thickens.
  3. Add seasonings.
  4. Pour over cooked pasta and pour into ramekins and sprinkle remaining cheese over the top.
  5. Place nuder broiler for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden.

Chocolate Cake w/ Vanilla Bean Icing and Pistachios

_MG_4591

I’ve been craving cake. I tried to avoid the situation with hot chocolate, oatmeal, chocolate milk, but nothing worked. Today while the students were doing their reading I was sneaking a little research session and found a chocolate cake recipe I wanted to adapt. As it turns out, I didn’t adjust a thing because it was that good. Really. Total perfection. The link to the original is below and she deserves full credit. Just talking about it now makes me feel the need to go to the kitchen and shove my face directly into it. I’ll try to resist, but probably not. Actually, definitely not.

This cake is perfection all on its own, but I had to make it mine somehow. So, I whipped up a vanilla bean buttercream frosting and garnished the sides with some beautifully green crushed pistachios. The crunch of the nuts, sweetness of the icing and richness of the cake is sort of enough to make you want to commit to this cake. I’m already married to mine.

_MG_4608

CHOCOLATE CAKE: (from here)

1 3/4 c. AP flour

1 3/4 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. cocoa powder

1 t. baking powder

2 t. baking soda

1 t. salt

1 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. vegetable oil

2 large eggs

1 t. pure vanilla extract

1 c. coffee

350 F / 180 C

  1. In large mixing bowl, combine all wet ingredients ACCEPT coffee.
  2. Next, sift in dry ingredients and mix until combined.
  3. Add coffee.
  4. The mixture will be very wet, almost watery.
  5. Bake 20-25 minutes in two 9″ round cake pans until the middle springs back.

BUTTERCREAM

3 c. icing sugar

1/2 c. room temperature butter, unsalted

2 T. whole milk or cream

1 1/2 t. vanilla or the seeds of on vanilla bean

1/2 c. finely chopped pistachios for garnish

  1. Beat butter and sugar together.
  2. Add milk and vanilla until it comes together.
  3. If you desire a mixture that is thicker or thinner adjust the sugar or milk amounts.

Date & Walnut Cinnamon Rolls

_MG_4531

Running this blog, there isn’t a day that goes by when the kitchen isn’t loaded with baked goods. That started out as a good thing, but now my cravings lean more towards the savory side rather than the sweet and I’m up to my eyes in cookies, brownies, pasta, pies and marshmallows. Finding someone to pawn it all off on is getting to be a challenge since they’re all on to me by now. Anyway, steady on. Here comes some rolls.

When it comes to bread, there’s nothing better than a warm stretchy, gooey, sweet roll. Then you add dates, nuts and cinnamon to the mix. You’re welcome. I turned to the bread god that is Paul Hollywood again for my brioche dough because who else?!

_MG_4546

CINNAMON ROLLS: (from Paul Hollywood’s recipe)

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

7g salt

50g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

140ml warm full-fat milk

5 medium eggs (or 4 large)

250g unsalted butter, softened

  1. In a stand mixer with the dough hook attachment, add the flour to the bowl. On one side, add the salt and sugar and the yeast to the other.
  2. Then, add the milk and eggs and mix until combined.
  3. Knead 6-8 minutes on medium speed or by hand for 10 until glossy and elastic.
  4. Add the butter and continue to knead for 4-5 minutes with the dough hook. At this point, the dough is barely able to be kneaded by hand.
  5. Once butter is fully incorporated, dump the dough into a plastic bowl, cover and chill overnight for at least 7 hours.
  6. Once the dough has chilled, roll the dough out into an 18 x 12″ rectangle. The dough should be about 1/4″ thick.
  7. Make the filling (below) and sprinkle it evenly over the top of the rectangle and then sprinkle the brown sugar over that.
  8. Roll the long side towards you into a tight spiral. Cut the ends off and begin slicing 1″ pieces. Place them in greased muffin tins and let proof for another 2-3 hours.
  9. Bake 20-30 minutes. They should be brown, but not burnt.

DATE WALNUT  FILLING:

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. pitted dates

1 T. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. nutmeg

1/2 c. softened butter

1/2 c. chopped walnuts

1/2 c. brown sugar (SET ASIDE)

  1. In a food processor, pulse all of the ingredients but the remaining brown sugar together until combined.

 

 

Tomato Basil Pasta

_MG_4481

I’ve been at it again since my pumpkin ravioli.

Every time I make pasta I feel so accomplished. After a life of store bought shells and ziti, making your own is miles, no, worlds ahead of any boxed impostor. As if there were any more reason to convince you, I’ll do it anyway. It takes some love and time, but once it’s made, it cooks in a flash, makes a very impressive gift and screams perfection when you throw it some homemade sauce. If you use store-bought sauce on homemade pasta, just consider yourself lucky that there isn’t a pasta police. You’d be jailed.

It’s best to do with a pasta machine, but using rollers works just as well too with a little more elbow grease. I use a pasta machine off of Amazon that wasn’t all that expensive to begin with and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Worth every last penny.

TOMATO BASIL PASTA DOUGH:

1 1/3 c. ap flour

1/3 c. semolina

1 T. dried basil

2 T. olive oil

1 egg

2 T. tomato paste

  1. Combine the flours on a counter top in a pile.
  2. Making a well in the center, add the wet ingredients.
  3. Use your hands or a bread spatulae to bring the mixture together.
  4. Knead for 2-5 minutes until the dough is smooth and gives little room to push it down. It will loosen up after it rests.
  5. Rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
  6. After resting, using a pasta machine or a rolling pin, roll the pasta as thin as you desire. On my machine I started thick at a 7, rolling it three times through and then moved down to a 5, still rolling 3 times, and then moved to a final setting of 3.
  7. Using a scalloped circle cutter, cut circles from the sheets of pasta and carefully bunch it up by pinching the middle and folding the top and bottom on top of that to create a bow. It’s your blank canvas so, any shape will do!
  8. Either boil right away for 1-2 minutes, refrigerate in air tight container or let dry on a wire rack for longer storage.

**You might be tempted to add some more moisture to the dough, but resist. The semolina gives it a crumbly feeling, but don’t be fooled. It’s just right

 

 

Chocolate Raspberry Brownies

_MG_4471

I normally don’t dare cross fruit with a brownie because I take my brownies very seriously. I guess you could say that I’m a brownie purist. In fact, there are rules. One, it must be gooey. Two, it must be nut free (because gross). And, three, there must be multiple elements of chocolate involved.

Well, check, check and check.

Since Valentine’s Day is this weekend I wanted to make a sexy little combo with these and what better than a fresh raspberry jam to do the trick?!

So here it is. It’s ooey, gooey, chewy, make your heart skip a beat good.

_MG_4430

RASPBERRY JAM:

1 c. fresh raspberries

1 c. caster sugar

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and berries on medium heat. As the berries begin to release juice, turn to medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until mixture becomes thick and jam-like.
  2. Run through a sieve to remove seeds and set aside to cool.

BROWNIES:

3/4 c. salted butter

1 c. caster sugar

3/4 c. good quality DARK cocoa powder

2 eggs

1 egg yolk

1 t. vanilla

1 t. instant expresso

1/2 c. flour

1 T. rice flour

1/4 t. sea salt

raspberry jam

optional: bittersweet chocolate chips as desired

325 F / 160 C

  1. Melt the butter over medium heat in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add sugar and stir until the mixture begins to combine
  3. Then add cocoa, stir for about 30 seconds more.
  4. Remove from heat and transfer to a cold mixing bowl.
  5. Beat in the eggs followed by the vanilla and espresso and then by the dry ingredients.
  6. Transfer to a greased and lined 9″ tin (circle or square)
  7. Randomly drop little rounds of the jam on top. Swirl around with a toothpick.
  8. Bake 30-35 minutes until you get a clean knife from the center.

 

Apple, Marzipan and Mascarpone Galette

_MG_4387

I would call this a bit of a recycled project because I made it my mission to use up ingredients from past posts. If you have leftover crust in the freezer from a pie you made last week, this is the way to go. Even if you don’t, you can start from scratch. A galette, which is just a flat round cake of pastry or bread, is simple and attractive. It has that homemade sitting on a country window sill to cool look about it that I love.

The mascarpone is the last bit left from the polenta cake and the marzipan is what was left after making the mini Battenburg cakes. It’s lemon flavored, but luckily, a compliment to the apples. I did make the crust from scratch, but I’ve done it just as good from leftover pie crusts I’ve kept in the freezer too.

_MG_4397

CRUST:

1 c. ap flour

1/4 c. semolina flour

2 T. caster sugar

8 T. unsalted butter, very cold

1/2 t. sea salt

1/4 c. ice cold water

  1. In a food processor, pulse all the ingredients except the water until the butter has broken down into a crumb like texture with the dry ingredients.
  2. On the pulse function, slowly add the water until the dough forms a ball. You may not need all of the water.
  3. Dump onto floured surface, pat into a disk and chill for 30 minutes

APPLE FILLING & ASSEMBLY:

2 large granny smith apples, peeled and sliced

1 T. lemon juice

1 t. corn starch

1/4 t. salt

1/4 c. caster sugar

1 T. cubed cold butter

2 T. dark brown sugar

2 T. milk

caster sugar for sprinkling

—–

1/2 c. or fist sized marzipan, softened

2 oz. mascarpone cheese

350 F / 180 C

  1. Mix apples with lemon juice, starch, caster sugar and butter. Set aside.
  2. Roll dough out on a floured surface into a 14 x 14″ circle.
  3. Roll the marzipan into a circle half the size and place in the center of the dough circle.
  4. Spread the mascarpone cheese on top of the marzipan disc.
  5. Assemble the apples into a flower shape or just pile them on top, whatever works!
  6. Sprinkle brown sugar on top.
  7. When finished, fold the dough that hangs beyond the marzipan over on top of the apple mound.
  8. Brush the pastry with milk and sprinkle with caster sugar.
  9. Bake for 50 minutes.

 

 

Candied Ginger Molasses Cookies

_MG_4356

I’ve taken up being a substitute teacher again here in the states to save for school and between remembering how magically weird kids can be sometimes and then remembering how quickly it can wear off, I’ve managed to make these cookies. They’re spicy, soft, chewy, and pack a punch when you add candied ginger gems to them. If you don’t like the spice of ginger in large quantities, maybe take a rain check on candying your ginger and just add freshly grated or powdered ginger in your dough instead.

_MG_4337.JPG

CANDIED GINGER:

1:1 parts water and sugar

cubed bits of peeled ginger

  1. Peel the ginger roots and cut it up into small bite size bits. A half size of your pinky nail is a good measurement.
  2. Bring the water and sugar mixture to a boil.
  3. Add ginger. Reduce to a simmer.
  4. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. With a slotted spoon, dish them out onto parchment paper and let dry a bit. Roll the pieces in caster sugar and set aside.

MOLASSES COOKIES:

1 c. dark brown sugar

3/4 c. unsalted butter, softened

1/4 c. molasses

1 egg

2 1/4 c. ap flour

2 t. baking soda

1 t. ground cinnamon

1/2 t. ground cloves

1/2 t. cardamom

pinch of salt

1/2 c. candied ginger pieces

caster sugar for rolling dough in

350 F / 180 C

  1. Cream the wet ingredients together (egg, butter, sugar, molasses).
  2. Add the dry ingredients, but not the candied ginger.
  3. If using a stand mixer, mix the dough until the flour combines and the dough becomes dark and wet again. Might take a minute or two. If using a bowl and spoon, work it until you get the same result.
  4. Once your dough is fully combined, mix in the candied ginger with a spatula or wooden spoon.
  5. Roll into teaspoon size balls and then roll in sugar until evenly coated. Stick a few more pieces of candied ginger into the tops if you want and then gently press them into thick disks.
  6. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Just until dry and spongy.