Saturday, June 18, 2016

Golden Vanilla Pound Cake with Fresh Strawberries

There's a danger of not posting recipe soon enough.  One, the season may have passed and that strawberry post is becoming old story when everyone has moved on to apple.  Second, I tend to forget where I get the recipe.  A pound cake recipe could come from fifty different books or one hundred Pinterest ideas.

This forgetting business is scary because as I'm growing older, it seems like one brain cell fades away everytime I'm idling.  Retracing steps has become a bit harder, a tad slower.  That's why I like it when everything is put back in place in the house because then I don't have to worry of not finding it in its usual place.  And it helps to put a bookmark in the book so I can retrace where I get the recipe :)

This is a very simple recipe of a pound cake.  The idea of eating fresh strawberries, pound cake, and whipped cream is one the reasons I bake.  I love the idea of brushing the top of the cake with sugar mixture; it adds sweet crunchiness to the tender crumbs of the cake.  Another way to eat this is to cube the cake and make a parfait consisting of ice cream, whipped cream, and chopped strawberries.

Local strawberries is a distant memory now but surely that will be replaced with different berries or even peaches.  Yes, I can't wait for peach season!

 Golden Vanilla Pound Cake With Fresh Strawberries

Yield 9" loaf cake, 18 servings

For the cake:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons milk
1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour

For the topping:
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon water

Whipped cream
Fresh sliced strawberries

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F.  Lightly grease a 9" x 5" x 2 3/4" loaf pan.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter, cream cheese, salt, sugar, baking powder, vanilla extract, and almond extract until well combined.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition; the mixture may look slightly curdled/grainy.  After you've added the final egg, beat at high speed for 3 minutes.  Once all the eggs are added, stir in the milk.

Sprinkle the flour gradually, with the mixer going at low speed.  Mix just until combined.  The batter will be smooth and thick, but still pourable.  Pour and scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

To make the topping, combine the sugar, vanilla, and water.  Stir until the mixture is syrupy.  At first, it'll seem very stiff, but will become "drizzlable" as you stir.  Set the topping aside.

Set the cake on a baking sheet for easiest handling.  Bake it for 55 minutes.

Remove the cake from the oven, and brush/drizzle with the sugar mixture.  Return the cake to the oven for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the cake from the oven, and set it on a rack.  Insert a toothpick into the center; it should come out clean.  The very top, right under the crust, will still be kind of soggy; don't worry about it.

After 5 minutes loosen the cake's edges and turn it out of the pan to cool completely on a rack.

Eat with whipped cream and sliced fresh strawberries.

Source:  adapted from The King Arthur Flour

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Strawberry-Frangipane Chocolate Tart

As soon as it's the end of May and the start of the month June, I'm looking forward to picking local strawberries.  The tantalizing taste of these strawberries isn't one I can ignore; even with the busy schedule I've to find a time to go u-picking.  U-pick farms are abound in the Portland area and they have berries that ripe almost at the same time.  This year I promise myself to replenish my strawberry and raspberry jam jars.  But of course, eating these berries fresh is the one of the anticipated events of the year.

I soon found out that getting older and choosing to u-pick berries didn't go together harmoniously.  My back would ache every five minutes or so from squatting too long.  I think it's just my age, really.  I saw some people brought kneeling mat, which now I think it's a brilliant idea.  Why didn't I think of that?

When I picked these berries, the day was supposed to be getting progressively hot.  I started in mid morning and finished picking ten pounds worth of strawberries before noon.  The sun was just starting to peek and blazed its hot rays upon the earth.  I told myself, that's enough berries, you really need to stop before it's too hot.  Yeah, I picked the weekend to do my jam making and baking when the temperature hit a record for the year.  There's no stopping back.  I felt like I lost a pound of weight that weekend.

I picked Hood strawberries because I love their taste and smell.  The idea behind making this tart was because I saw an Instagram photo from UK's Delicious magazine.  But I wanted to have a chocolate tart as the base so I turned to America's Test Kitchen for its recipe.  For the frangipane filling, I found that the recipe from Yossi Arefi's blog was a much better proportion.  The finished product is declared a winner by my family.  I'm happy when they're happy.

Strawberry-Frangipane Chocolate Tart

Makes one 9-inch tart

Chocolate Tart Dough:
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
2/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces and chilled

Frangipane Filling:
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 ground almonds
2 eggs, plus one egg white
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
1/4 teaspoons salt

1 1/2-2 cups fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons apricot jam for glaze

To make chocolate tart dough:
Whisk the egg yolk, cream, and vanilla together in a small bowl.  Process the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt together in a food processor until combined.  Scatter the butter pieces over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal, about 15 pulses.

With the machine running, add the egg mixture through the feed tube and continue to process until the dough just comes together around the processor blade, about 12 seconds.  Turn the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap and flatten into a 6-inch disk.  Wrap the dough tightly in the plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.  Before rolling the dough out, let it sit on the counter to soften slightly, about 10 minutes.

Roll out the dough to an 11-inch circle on a lightly floured counter and fit it into a 9-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.  Set the tart pan on a large plate and freeze the tart for 30 minutes.

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 375F.  Set the tart pan on a large baking sheet.  Press a double layer of foil into the frozen tart shell and over the edges of the pan and fill with pie weights.  Bake until the tart shell is set and looks dry, about 20 minutes.  Remove the weights and foil and continue to bake the tart shell until it is fully baked, about 5 more minutes.  Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the tart shell cool completely on the baking sheet.

To make frangipane filling:  In the bowl of the food processor, combine the butter and sugar and pulse until smooth.  Add almonds and blend until well combined.  Add the flour and cornstarch followed by the egg and egg white and finally the vanilla and almond extract, if using, and salt.  Mix until just combined.

Spread the frangipane into the cooled tart shell.  Bake the tart shell while still on the baking sheet for about 40 to 45 minutes or until the filling is set and no longer jiggly when touched.  Let tart cool completely on a wire rack.

To assemble the tart:  Trim the strawberries and cut each into half.  Starting from the outside edge, lay them in neat overlapping circles until the top of the tart is covered.  In a small pan, heat the apricot jam with a bit of water until syrupy, don't boil the jam or the glaze will become cloudy and thick.  Pass it through a sieve back into the pan.  Brush the smooth, clear glaze over the fruit.

Source:  idea from Delicious magazine: Strawberry Frangipane Tart
                 chocolate tart dough from The America's Test Kitchen: Family Baking Book
                 frangipane filling adapted from Yossi Arefi for Food52: Berry and Frangipane Tartlets

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Walnut Coffee Cake with Tiramisu Cream

This is a cake that I made for my husband's birthday just a few days ago.  It is a coffee cake with walnuts and frosted with whipped tiramisu cream; it's a sort of cake that I know he'd enjoy.  And I also know that this type of cake won't last long, it's down to 2 slices tonight and I bet it'll be gone before midnight :)

Note:  The measurement is in metric because it's taken from Delicious magazine, which is based in the UK.  I'm finding I like trying more recipes using metric measurement therefore I'm including it in my blog.

Walnut Coffee Cake with Tiramisu Cream

Serves 10

For the cake:
225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
225 g sugar
4 eggs
225 g self-raising flour
3 tablespoons strong black coffee made from instant coffee and a little boiling water
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
75 g walnut pieces, finely chopped, plus walnut halves, for decorating
1/2 teaspoon cocoa powder, for decorating
1/2 teaspoon confectioners' sugar, for decorating

For the tiramisu cream:
250 g tub mascarpone
142 ml heavy cream
4 tablespoons coffee liqueur
4 teaspoons confectioners' sugar
Few drops of vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Grease 2 8-inch round pan and line them with parchment paper.

Beat butter and sugar in a bowl of an electric mixer until soft and creamy.  Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, continue mixing until it comes together.  Beat in the coffee then sift flour and baking powder over the mixture, fold them in, followed by walnuts.

Divide the cake mixture equally between 2 pans, leveling the tops.  Bake in the center of the oven for about 30 minutes, until they are golden and tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip.  Cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn them out on the rack and let cool completely.  The cakes can then be frozen.  Let defrost completely before frosting it.

Make the tiramisu cream by combining mascarpone and heavy cream in a bowl of an electric mixer.  Beat the mixture, add the coffee liqueur, confectioners' sugar, and vanilla extract; and continue beating until soft and fluffy.

Place 1 cake on a cake stand or a serving plate, straight side up and spread half of the tiramisu cream.  Place the second cake, straight side down, on top and spread the remaining half of the tiramisu cream on top.  Decorate cake top with walnut halves and sprinkle with cocoa powder and confectioners' sugar.

Source:  adapted from Delicious Magazine, April 2008