9/27/15

Plum Olive Oil Cake: William Carlos Williams



This Is Just To Say

"I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold"

-William Carlos Williams

This simple poem is one of William Carlos Williams' most famous works. And with good reason. I have always found it completely delightful and vivid, with just a hint of snark. You can almost taste those chilled plums. You can almost hear Williams laughing at his wife.

So for this passive-aggressive poem, I bought a bunch of plums (they're also in season) and placed them in the fridge. Then I had a still-life photoshoot. Fruit is wonderful to photograph, isn't it?

Anyway, with all the fresh plums, I wanted to make a simple cake that is unique and highlights the plums' beautiful colors. New York Times writer Martha Rose Shulman created this Olive Oil Plum cake. Whole wheat, savory, yet with the sweetness from the plums. It sounded perfect. Plus, the colors reminded me of the changing leaves (it's fall btw).

This is one of the few cakes that I've made by weighing only. Weighing ingredients saves a little bit of time and is meant to be more accurate. But is it better? The results were inconclusive. I had trouble getting the sugar on top to melt, so I accidentally left the cake in too long and ended up with a very dry crumb. But this was not the recipe's fault, but my own.

The olive oil flavoring is strange and strong; you have to expect a savory cake, not sweet. I myself am a fan of them (apparently, so are the French). If you want sweet, though, just make a regular vanilla sponge, and add the plums. This reminded me almost of a cheese platter; hearty flavors cut and lifted by the sweetness and acidity of the fruit. If you're feeling adventurous, or just don't like ultra sweet cake, this is the one to try!

Ingredients

125 g (about 1 cup) whole wheat flour
90 g (3/4 cup) all-purpose flour
10 g (2 teaspoons) baking powder
4 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt
60 g (1/4 cup) butter, softened
50 g (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
100 g (1/2 cup) sugar
2 large eggs
5 g (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract
1 g (1/4 teaspoon) almond extract
2-3 sliced, pitted plums
25 g (2 tablespoons) sugar-in-the-raw (turbinado). 

Preparation

1) Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and line the bottom of a 8'' springform pan with parchment paper.

2) In a large bowl, mix together the flours, baking powder, and salt.

3) In another bowl, beat the butter on medium-high with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then pour in the olive oil and continue to beat on medium until well combined. Add the sugar and continue to mix until light. Then add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Mix till smooth. Turn the speed to low, and slowly add in the flour mixture. Blend slowly till smooth.

4) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and smooth with a spatula. Arrange the plums in concentric circles. Sprinkle sugar-in-the-raw on top.

5) Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until it slightly pulls away from the sides. If you (like me) have trouble getting the top layer of sugar to melt, try sliding the cake onto the top wrack of the oven, or use a blow torch, if available.


Happy baking!

9/24/15

Momofuku Milkbar's Cereal Milk Ice Cream


Silver Spork News posted another of my articles! These people are so awesome, I can't get over it. It's great to be able to write for such a smart, welcoming community that's as obsessed with food as I am.
This article is about my trip across town to Momofuku Milk Bar. I have always wanted to visit; it's one of the many places to check off my bucket list. I indulged in the trademark Cereal Milk Soft Serve Ice Cream. Wowza! Gonna have to try and make this one day.

There are lots of recipes out there to make this unique flavor, but I have always trusted the experts at Food 52. Give this recipe a go and tell me what you think!

9/21/15

Bourbon Peach Flambe with Ginger Biscuits: Gone With The Wind:


Today was one of the first days that really felt like fall. The air was crisp, dark clouds were on the horizon, and the sun set earlier than ever. It was a tiny glimpse of the winter ahead.

So in full-out denial, I pretended it was the middle of July, and cooked up some peaches and biscuits. I had snagged some late-summer peaches this weekend, and I wanted to use them while they were still amazing and fresh. And nothing pairs better with peaches and summer, like Gone With The Wind.

While it's usually the iconic film that is thought of, the Pulitzer Prize winning novel has been a staple in southern literature for almost a century. I haven't read it in ages, and the one scene I really remember is Atlanta on fire, and Scarlett and Rhett's mad dash through the burning city (might still be thinking about the film here). So, being oh-so-subtle, I had peaches and Georgia on fire, and I wanted to put the two together:
Peach Flambe.

Plus the fire could represent the burning passion that drives Scarlett. Or the explosive destruction of war that tears the South apart. Bam, symbolism!

Plus, I just wanted to light something on fire.


Because I had to bake something, I also made Ginger Biscuits to soak up all the delicious peach sauce, and to add a little heat of their own.

While I was making the flambe, the peaches were excreting so much liquid that I was worried I'd have peach soup on my hands. So I carefully poured some of the butter, sugar, peach juice liquid into a mug. And it hit me. Peach... gravy? Sweet mama.

Ingredients:

Ginger Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons crystallized ginger, grated
4 ounces butter, cold
1 3/4 cup milk

Peach Flambe

4 oz butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 peaches, thinly sliced
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup bourbon

To make the Biscuits:

1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.
2. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and ginger in a bowl.
3. Then, with two knives or a pastry cutter, mix in the butter until the pieces are smaller than the size of peas.
4. Add the milk all at once, and stir with a spoon until the dough comes together.
5. Dump the dough onto a floured surface, and knead 8-10 times gently. Roll the dough out, about 1 1/2 inches thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the rim of a glass, cut out the biscuits and place on an ungreased cookie tray. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown.
 6. Allow to cool a few minutes, and serve warm.

To make the Peach Flambe:

1. Place the butter and brown sugar in a pan (try not to use non-stick). Melt the two together over medium-high heat, until the sugar has completely dissolved. 
2. Stir in the peaches, making sure to coat evenly with the butter and sugar. Continue to cook on a medium heat until the peaches are soft and the juices are bubbling, about 5-7 minutes.
3. If you'd like, carefully drain or spoon out some of the excess liquid, aka peach gravy. Pour over biscuits later.

Right after the flames died.

To flambe:

BE SAFE! Wear protective gloves and make sure you have a proper fire extinguisher at hand. 
4.  Pour the bourbon into a heat-proof bowl, preferably one with a spout. 
5. Carefully, carefully, light the bourbon and quickly pour over the peaches. The fire will consume the alcohol, and caramelize the peaches (plus, symbolism). 
6. When the peaches have caramelized, take off the heat. Serve hot with the biscuits, or over vanilla ice cream!




It might be late September, but frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.

Happy baking!

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