Monday, January 25, 2010

Praise the Cake

Some days nothing seems to work out the way you planned. With food, however, different can be surprisingly pleasant. And today it worked out to become the highest-praised cake I have made so far. It was described as an adventure through all the different tastes and textures. It has fresh cranberry's and pear, toasted walnuts (from our own tree!) and a nice tang made by adding some orange zest. The balance of things is just great. A soft and moist cake, with a slightly crunchy top, and the cranberry's and nuts each adding their own flavours to chew on. Deffinately a keeper!

As to the mistake I spoke about: Double the amounts in the recipe were supposed to be baked in a 9" x 13" baking pan. So I recalculated it to fit a 20 cm round springform. Which is, as we all know, 4 forms of 10 cm. So then, how would that fit if you only have two, like I do? It does, but just. But the result is even better.

Orange infused Cranberry and Pear-cake

60 g all-purpose flour
60 g whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
130 g brown sugar
55 g butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 Tbsp orange zest, fresh if possible, really
1 pear, corned and thinly sliced
100 g cranberry's, fresh or frozen, roughly chopped
35 g chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease the forms and cover the bottom with baking paper, if you have it.

Sift the all-purpose flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, and whisk it together with the whole wheat.
In another bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and zest.
Add flour mixture and stir just until combined. Gently fold in pears, cranberries and walnuts (As far as you can possibly be gentle with a batter this thick! Don't worry, it will be fine. Just be carefull not to overmix.)

Scoop the mixture into the forms, and smooth the top. Bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Leave it for 15 minutes. Remove and place on a wire rack to cool.

Should serve 8, but that's without people taking second's (and third's...)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter in Holland

Definitely Cupcakes

Just day's before Christmas I went to this big wholesale trader up in Groningen. There, they have a very succesfull tactic to make you buy much more than what you came for. They let you try everything! (If I ever need a free lunch again...)

So... besides all the extra stuff I served at christmas, I needed a purpose for a family-size bag of Amaretti- cookies. Here it is:

Pumpkin and Amaretti cupcakes

with a vanilla-buttercream frosting, and a cookie on top (or two, if you like. I still have enough of the darn things to last untill next christmas...)

You'll need:

240 ml pumpkin puree, you can make your own or buy it
2 eggs
115 g butter, room temperature or you'll have a hard time mixing ;)
50 g granulated sugar
50 g brown sugar
small pinch of salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
120 g flour, I used all-purpose and patent-flour, 2:1
3 Tbsp finely ground Amaretti cookies

Preheat oven to 190 C (375F). Do whatever you need to do to prepare 12 muffin baking-forms.

Sift the flour, baking powder and soda, and add the Amaretti cookies.
Whisk the sugar with the butter, untill it all looks creamy and fluffy. Add the eggs, one by one. Mix in half of the flour, the pumpkin puree and the remaining flour. It should come together fast and easily, so try not to overmix.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin-cups, and bake for about 20 minutes. Leave to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire-rack.

Vanilla Buttercream

50 g butter, room temperature
130 g powdered sugar, sifted
1 Tbsp milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream the butter until soft. First add the sugar, than the milk and vanilla. Mix untill everything is well incorporated.
You should get a nice spreadable mass. If not, add some more sugar or milk.

Now that I'm writing everything down, it's hard to imagine how much went wrong making these. After pureeing the pumpkin, I realised I had only half of the amount required. Luckily there was also some pumpkinbutter (or "jam"), so I used that instead, and held back a bit on the sugar.
Then I forgot to take the buttercream out of the fridge again, which gave me a very hard time decorating. (it shows, doesn't it?)
And when I was finally ready to deliver them to the waiting crowd, my car got stuck in the snow... and is actually hanging over a ditch right now(!)

That left me with way too many cupcakes, feeling very sorry for myself. But they are good, definitely good. So do I really need to say that now all I have is a smile on my face, and a little less cake to share...?