Monday, October 16, 2017

Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake

Being a part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party has pushed me to try more new recipes than I think I normally would during my busy time of year. Cook Beautiful is enticing because it is divided into seasons, contains beautiful photography, and contains suggestions for decorating a seasonal table. I was also impressed how many recipes did not contain meat, helpful when you are married to a vegetarian!



When I encountered this recipe in Cook Beautiful, I decided this would be a great candidate for recipe modification. I like to modify recipes to be lower carb and grain/gluten free so that everyone in my household can consume them. Recipes like this, that are baked and served out of the same pan, are prime candidates because there are fewer concerns about structure. Just the same, my end result had a satisfying enough structure that it would have stood on its own.



I will start by posting the original recipe as it appears in the cookbook, and then go on to discuss the changes I made and why.



Cardamom-Cognac Apple Cake
(from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone)

Serves 8-10

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
3 tbsp cognac (Calvados, rum, or bourbon work well, too)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup (75 ml) well-shaken buttermilk, at room temperature
3 medium Honeycrisp apples
1 stick (4 oz/115 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus more for greasing the pan
1 tbsp turbinao sugar
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C.) Nestle a piece of parchment paper into an 8- or 9- inch (20- or 23-cm) cast-iron pan and grease it with butter.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, cardamom, baking powder, and salt. In a separate large bowl, beat the eggs until foamy. Whisk in the granulated sugar, cognac, and vanilla extract. Pour in the buttermilk and whisk to combine.

Peel, halve, and core 2 1/2 of the apples, then cut them into 1/2-in-thick (12-mm-thick) cubes. Reserve the remaining half apple, unpeeled, and cut it into 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices, for the top.

Add half of the flour mixture to the wet ingredients, stirring until just combined, then gently fold in half of the melted butter. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and melted butter. Gently fold in the cubed apples, reserving the slices. Transfer the batter to the pan and arrange the apple slices in a circular pattern on top of the batter. Sprinkle with the turbinado sugar. Bake until the cake turns a deep golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 55 to 65 minutes. Transfer the skillet to a cooling rack and let it sit for 5 minutes. The cake may be served warm or at room temperature, directly from the skillet; whichever you choose, make sure to dust it with confectioners' sugar before serving.


I have learned through years of experimentation and recipes (both good and bad) that the key to gluten/grain-free baking is never to use just one flour. Since I have all these flours on hand already, it isn't a big deal for me, but if you are starting from scratch, you might even consider just buying a gluten-free flour mix like King Arthur Flour. Per cup of all-purpose flour, I used 1/3 cup sorghum flour, 1/3 cup brown rice flour, and a heaping 1/3 cup tapioca flour. For the granulated sugar, I used 1/2 cup coconut sugar. Now this was a crap shoot, and I tasted the batter before baking, because coconut sugar is not as sweet as granulated, but too much of it can really alter the color and texture of the batter. It makes it appear as though molasses had been added. As sugar substitutes go, we prefer natural substitutes over chemical, even though they are higher calorie. As sugars go, coconut sugar is very low on the glycemic index, which suits our purposes.

Other changes I made to the recipe - I had bourbon so I used that in my cute little OXO cup as pictured. I had Mutsu apples from the local NC orchards, but they are huge: I used 1 1/2 diced in the batter and 1/2 unpeeled on top. I did not sprinkle with confectioners' sugar for presentation, nor did I use a cast-iron pan, just a pie plate.

This was a successful modification, and I'm sure the original recipe is a delight, and would be a quick dessert to stick in the oven while dinner was consumed. I did make dinner that same night from the cookbook: Meyer Lemon Ricotta Toasts with Blistered Grapes and Roasted Pumpkin and Brussels Sprouts with Poached Eggs. Everything was a success!


 
This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, October 09, 2017

Morning Loaf from Simple Fare: Fall/Winter

Usually when I get a new cookbook, I look for baked goods and sweet treats to make. While Simple Fare: Fall/Winter is full of savory dishes and beautiful photography, I was pulled in by this simple vegan chocolate bread, one where I would have the ingredients on hand on a typical day. I brought it to work and some people snatched second servings, praising it for its taste and texture. I believe the word "silky" was used. I found myself just a little sad that I'd decided to share.


The recipe includes one version plus two variations. The original encourages serving with crème fraîche and cyprus flake salt. I couldn't find crème fraîche at the store, and looking for recipes online sent me down a rabbit hole where I discovered that technically one could never make crème fraîche that could truly be like the French version. Later I discovered that the earlier volume of this cookbook, Simple Fare: Spring/Summer has a recipe for a homemade version. Regardless, I did not have this on hand. Variation 1 says to use mascarpone and sel de guérande to replace the two ingredients, both also difficult to find (although I have made mascarpone from scratch before.) Inadvertently I used Variation 2 without realizing it, (butter/cinnamon) because my husband had picked up a small round of cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger butter. The slices of this loaf are fine without any topping, if I'm being honest, but any one of these combinations truly takes it over the top.  (Also I should note that while the loaf recipe is vegan, none of the suggested toppings are. The cookbook does not tout it as a vegan recipe, it was just something I realized as I went along - I triple checked that I didn't need eggs.)


Morning Loaf

1/3 cup (75 ml) coconut oil, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup (25 g) unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 cups (190 g) all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups (250 g) sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup (60 ml) brewed espresso, cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp distilled white vinegar

For serving
3/4 cup (180 ml) good quality store-bought or homemade crème fraîche
Cyprus flake salt

Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C.) Lightly grease a 9x5 inch (23 x 12 cm) loaf pan with coconut oil and line it with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with more coconut oil and lightly dust the pan with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a medium bowl, combine the coconut oil, espresso, vanilla, vinegar, and 1 cup (240 ml) water and mix until incorporated. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs, but not raw batter. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once cooled, remove the loaf from the pan. Cut into slices, and dollop each slice with crème fraîche and sprinkle with flaky salt to serve.

Variation 1
Replace crème fraîche with mascarpone and cyprus flake salt with sel de guérande.

Variation 2
Replace crème fraîche with butter and salt with cinnamon.

This post is sponsored by ABRAMS Books, as part of the ABRAMS Dinner Party. All experiences and opinions are my own!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Quark Pancakes

A few weeks ago, I made quark for a German recipe. I needed to do something with the leftovers so I found a recipe for quark pancakes. I would imagine, lacking quark, you could use ricotta. These are light and fluffy, and highly recommended. The blogger that provided the original recipe served them with peaches and thyme, which would be even better. I just ate them with butter and syrup.


Quark Pancakes
(Recipe by Sarah Coates on The Sugar Hit)
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup quark
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (185ml) milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2oz (50g) butter, melted
Instructions
  1. Place the quark, egg yolks (place the whites in a separate bowl), milk and vanilla into a mixing bowl and whisk together.*
  2. Stir in the flour and baking powder until just combined (don't stress about lumps) and then fold through the butter.
  3. Throw the salt in with the egg whites, and whisk until they're foamy - don't worry about peaks or anything. Fold through the batter and put a large, heavy based non-stick pan on to heat.
  4. These pancakes cook fine without any oil in a non-stick pan, but I like to add a little butter (your call), and then ladle in heaping spoonfuls of the batter into the pan (about ¼ cup). Cook until bubbles appear on the surface of the pancake, and then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown.
  5. Continue until all the batter is used.
JennyBakes' notes:

* - I did not separate the eggs nor did I whisk anything separately. As you can see from my photo, they are still the fluffiest. You might like them even more with these steps but I just dumped and mixed and cooked.