Tuesday, April 29, 2008

TWD- Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

This week we are baking a honey cake picked by Caitlin of Engineer Baker has chosen…Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake. I am excited to taste this cake. The combination of cornmeal and ricotta and figs should be amazing. I added some thyme to is as per Dorie's suggestion and I think it will add a nice dimension. The batter sure tasted good! I have made a similar cake form one of Lynne Rosetta Kasper's cookbooks. It was a great chewy cake. I am taking this one to my book club tonight and will serve it with a fig compote and creme fraiche and hopefully some Earl Grey tea. Sounds good to me! I will post some pictures of the cut cake after my book club tomorrow. I cant wait to see the figs inside the cake!

Fluted Polenta and Ricotta Cake

About 16 moist, plump dried Mission or Kadota figs, stemmed
1 c. medium-grain polenta or yellow cornmeal
½ c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 c. ricotta
1/3 c. tepid water
¾ c. sugar
¾ c. honey (if you’re a real honey lover, use a full-flavored honey such as chestnut, pine, or buckwheat)
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs

Getting Ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 10 ½-inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom and put it on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.
Check that the figs are, indeed, moist and plump. If they are the least bit hard, toss them into a small pan of boiling water and steep for a minute, then drain and pat dry. If the figs are large (bigger than a bite), snip them in half.
Whisk the polenta, flour, baking powder, and salt together.
Working with a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the ricotta and water together on low speed until very smooth. With the mixer at medium speed, add the sugar, honey, and lemon zest and beat until light. Beat in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until the mixture is smooth. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are fully incorporated. You’ll have a sleek, smooth, pourable batter.
Pour about one third of the batter into the pan and scatter over the figs. Pour in the rest of the batter, smooth the top with a rubber spatula, if necessary, and dot the batter evenly with the chilled bits of butter.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. The cake should be honey brown and pulling away just a little from the sides of the panm, and the butter will have left light-colored circles in the top. Transfer the cake to a rack and remove the sides of the pan after about 5 minutes. Cool to warm, or cool completely.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Jelly Doughnut Muffins

On one cool blog called Taste Spotting I found this recipe there for Jelly Doughnut Muffins. A great one. It only makes 12 muffins so next time I will double the recipe as my family ate them as soon as they came out of the oven.

Jelly Donut Muffins

2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
your favorite fruit jam
sugar for sprinkling over the muffins
1 Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2 Sift the dry ingredients together.
3 Mix in the eggs, oil, butter, milk and vanilla.
4 Grease the muffin pans. Fill the muffin cups almost halfway, carefully place about 1 tsp of jam in the center, and cover with a little more batter.
5 Sprinkle tops with sugar.
6 Bake for about 18 minutes.
7 Cool in pan on rack for about 5 minutes, then turn on out on rack to cool.
Yield: 9 muffins

Monday, April 14, 2008

Foodie blogroll

I have joined The Foodie Blogroll. It is a great site to search for recipes and other blogs! Check it out at The Foodie Blogroll.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

TWD Marshmallows

I was excited when I saw this pick. How cool to make your own marshmallows. I am attending a baby shower this weekend so I decided to make a few batches of different fruit flavors. I made strawberry-rhubarb, raspberry and chocolate. The fruit ones both had a beautiful pink glow. Very subtle but beautiful. I forgot to put the 2T of corn syrup in the first batch but they seem to be fine. I wonder what the benefit or purpose of the corn syrup is, just to sweeten or for elasticity?

Overall a very simple and satisfying recipe. The only part that needs attention is the sugar with the candy thermometer. I sometimes have trouble cleaning the pan but just put water in the pan and boil on the stove for a minute or so and it is clean.

Unflavored gelatin is sorta unappetizing. Weird smell.

Spring in here!

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of my finished cut marshmallows and they were eaten up quickly.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

My Pantry

I just found a new site called The Perfect Pantry:What a Food Writer Keeps in her Fridge, Freezer and Cupboards. I love looking at other peoples pantries. It is like taking a walk at night and looking in peoples windows. But a pantry in very revealing. What kind of flour do they use? Is everything orderly? Do they have a ton of junk food or canned goods? Very interesting.

So for all of you to make your judgements here is my pantry for all the world to see.

This is one of my favorite parts of my kitchen. It used to be a pull down ironing board. I do not iron, ever. So that came out and in its place I put a ton of small shelves to hold my spices and teas. I love this because nothing gets lost. They are at eye level. On the door I keep my calendar and menus and schedule for kids and stuff.

The cabinet next to the spices holds all our breads, cereals, crackers, chips and lunch stuff. It is also were I keep all my oils and vinegars and bottled sauces. This cabinet is much deeper and the shelves are adjustable. This is my main pantry space. It holds all my canned goods, flours, dried fruit, baking supplies, pasta and everything else. It has my pressure cooker and other seldom used cookware on top too. Its not to deep so I don't usually lose stuff.
The last part of my kitchen I would consider my pantry is a tall metal shelving unit next to my stove. It holds cookbooks, my microwave, pancake warmer, trays, a huge bag of rice to big to go some where else. Below the microwave are my pots and pans. In front of the cookbooks are salt and pepper and oil that I use every night to cook.

Monday, April 7, 2008

TWD-The Most Extraordinary Orange Cream Tart

This weeks recipe chosen by http://startingfromscratch-mary.blogspot.com/, seemed straight forward but challenging when I read it. But I ended up having trouble with a few things. First off, I decided to make the orange cream instead of the lemon cause I was feeling lemoned out. I tried to find blood oranges but couldn't so I ended up with Cara Cara navel. They have a very orange almost red flesh and are very sweet. I loved zesting and rubbing the sugar. I think this is an essential step and really imparts a ton of flavor to your finished tart.

The crust came together nicely and was easy to work with. I decided to make mini tarts and put cut our stars on top so I also made tiny cookies. Dorie even mentions that the dough can go from not done to over done in a flash, but I totally burnt the stars and had no more dough, so I guess the tops will be bare. But I watched the mini tarts until they stated to brown and then removed them to cool. they even came out of the pans easily, which I was worried about cause mini pans do not have removable bottoms. But they are beautiful!
Making the cream was a bit challenging. I read about people having trouble reaching 180 degrees F, so I was worried. But mine came up to temperature pretty quickly, about 12 minutes, and smelled like an Orange Julius! I then strained out the zest and put the cram in a blender to cool. After about 10 or so minutes I started adding butter! My mom was over helping me and was shocked at the amount of butter. But oh the taste! I almost forgot to add the gelatin and put it in last, but i don't think it made a difference. the cream was not super thick when I put it in the fridge to cool, but in the morning it was crazy thick. It was difficult for me to put it in the tarts and make it look nice. I really need those cookies now!
Over all a really amazing dessert. the texture and flavor of the cream is amazing. It would make an over the top filling in a cake too. I will definitely be making this again. And the sweet crust. really great crumb and flavor and easy to put together.
The Most Extraordinary French Lemon Cream Tart
1 cup sugar
Grated zest of 3 lemons
4 large eggs
¾ c fresh lemon juice (from 4-5 lemons)
2 sticks plus 5 T butter(10 ½ ounces) unsalted butter,
cut into tablespoon size pieces, at room temperature.
1 9-inch tart shell made with sweet tart dough
(see below).
Getting ready:Have a instant-read thermometer, a strainer and a blender (1st choice) or food processor at hand. Bring a few inches of water to a simmer in a saucepan.
Put the sugar and zest in a large heatproof bowl that can be set over the pan of simmering water. Off the heat, rub the sugar and zest together between your fingers until the sugar is moist, grainy, and very aromatic. Whisk in the eggs, followed by the lemon juice.
Set the bowl over the pan and start stirring with the whisk as soon as the mixture fees tepid to the touch. Cook the lemon cream until it reaches 180 degrees F. As you whisk- you whisk constantly to keep the eggs from scrambling- you’ll see that the cream will start out light and foamy, then the bubbles will get bigger, and then, as it gets closer to 180F, it will start to thicken and the whisk will leave tracks. Heads up at this point- the tracks mean the cream is almost ready. Don’t stop whisking or checking the temperature, and have patience- depending on how much heat you’re giving the cream, getting to temp may take as long as 10 minutes (note: TWD bakers report average of 20-30 and up to 40 minutes for this step…..and sometimes it never got above 160F but turned out ok!!)
As soon as it reaches 180F, remove the cream from the heat and strain it into the container of the lender (or food processor); discard the zest. Let the cream stand, stirring occasionally, until it cools to 140 degrees F, about 10 minutes.
Turn the blender to high (or turn on the processor) and, with the machine going, add the butter about 5 pieces at a time. Scrape down the sides of the container as needed as you incorporate the butter. Once the butter is in, keep the machine going- to get the perfect light, airy texture of lemon-cream dreams, you must continue to bend the cream for another 3 minutes. If your machine protests, and gets a bit too hot, work in 1-minute intervals, giving the machine a little rest between beats.
Pour the cream into a container, press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface to create an airtight seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours, or overnight. (the cream will keep in the fridge for 4 days or, tightly sealed, in the freezer for up to 2 months; thaw it overnight in the refrigerator)
When you are ready to assemble the tart, just whisk the cream to loosen it and spoon it into the tart shell. Serve the tart, or refrigerate until needed.