Tuesdays With Dorie: Vanilla Pound Cake

It is officially summer in Western Washington. All of the 40F degrees and rain of (especially) November, February, and March are a distant and hazy memory. The gardens are relentless in their demand for water, raspberries ripen daily, hollering “pick me! pick me!”, dinners cooked and served al fresco, Junior entertaining us in the small but useful above-ground pool.

The cusp of this glorious summer had my sister getting married, and me working to make the after-party happen. While the caterers handled the delicious and very authentic taco bar and sides, I and some others worked magic for the dessert table. The varied array looked lovely and yummy! One of my offerings was to turn this flourless chocolate cake into pretty 3-bite morsels. I found the pan I wanted, but needed to test it on something here at home. As the Vanilla Pound Cake from Baking With Julia suggested using a tube or Bundt pan, I baked the cake as minis.

When I think pound cake, my mind  jumps to lemon. I love lemon pound cake, every sugary, dense, buttery bit of it. I had never made nor tasted any pound cake other than lemon. (OK-I may have had some Sara Lee from the freezer case at a potluck during a past life but that could never count.) This recipe is a straight-forward, everything at room temperature butter cake. Here’s what I did!

Mise en place
Mise en place
Sifted
Sifted
Sugar waiting to join butter
Sugar waiting to join butter
Eggs waiting to join sugar & butter
Eggs waiting to join sugar & butter
Flour taking turns with milk while vanilla looks on
Flour taking turns with milk while vanilla looks on
Cute cakes cooling
Cute cakes cooling
Just-picked raspberries and a powdered sugar dusting
Just-picked raspberries and a powdered sugar dusting

My new pan worked beautifully. Recipe formulation always takes into account the size of pan a cake will bake in. As I veered greatly from the pan size for this recipe, I had to guess on bake time. I stayed close to the oven and was happy with the result. The recipe calls to cut the cooled cake into slices, but the mini cakes were perfect to serve whole. The cakes were sweet, sturdy and tender, only lacking a dollop of whipped cream to keep the berries company. Rather than send all the extras to Spouse’s break room, I have several cakes Ziploc’d in my freezer, waiting to serve summer guests on the patio. As for the wedding chocolate cakes, they were light, moist, very chocolately, and the first thing to disappear from the buffet. Cheers!

Vanilla Pound Cake • Baking With Julia • Contributing Baker: Flo Braker • pages 251-252

Tuesdays With Dorie: Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches

TWD’s first June recipe was for Savory Wheat Crackers, pages 163-164. I love making crackers, make crackers often, but with the end of May and beginning of June slammed with birthdays, kids baking, work travel, and preparation for the next karate belt test, I hoped that June’s second recipe would be doable.

This dessert was fairly simple, though I did make a few substitutions. The recipe calls for vanilla ice cream and raspberries to be the main players. I happened to have some brown sugar vanilla, as well as some strawberry ice cream, both homemade in the freezer, so opted for 2 versions, and, as I had just used the day’s raspberries, pulled in strawberries instead.

The structure of the sandwich comes from phyllo dough ribbon nests, baked with a bit of clarified butter and a sprinkling of sugar. I left the berry-mint salad unsweetened, figuring, rightly, that sweet from the ice cream would be sufficient for the entire dessert.

Here are the steps:

Thawed phyllo dough
Thawed phyllo dough
Phyllo sliced like noodles
Phyllo sliced like noodles
Phyllo noodle nest, splashed with clarified butter, sprinkled with sugar
Phyllo noodle nest, splashed with clarified butter, sprinkled with sugar
Strawberry puree to mix with berries & mint
Strawberry purée to mix with berries & mint
Baked to golden brown
Baked to golden brown
Whipped cream anchor
Whipped cream anchor
Nest on cream
Nest on cream
Berry/mint salad on nest, topped with icecream Right: strawberry Left: brown sugar
Berry/mint salad on nest, topped with ice cream
Right: strawberry
Left: brown sugar
Nest on icecream, skewered by fruit, whipped cream on side
Nest on ice cream, skewered by fruit, whipped cream on side

While my first impression visually was “Mid-90’s Circus Dessert,” the taste of this dessert was delicious. The slightly less sweet, homemade Brown Sugar Vanilla Ice Cream was a great balance for the berries and the barely sweetened crunch of the phyllo nests. This would be an easy, but “fancy” dessert to pull off for any dinner party.

 

Phylloccine Ice Cream Sandwiches • Baking With Julia • Contributing Baker: Gale Gand • pages 405-406 

Tuesdays With Dorie: Mocha Brownie Cake Rewind

With the first assignment being scones I had baked for years, starting Tuesdays With Dorie in March was easy. So easy, it felt like cheating. March’s second assignment was Mocha Brownie Cake. The cake looked delicious, but I was emerging from 3 weeks of cake research and testing for Wednesdays, and, subsequently, Junior’s birthday. I had to admit that I was actually sick of cake and would NOT be doing a second TWD blog post for March. I *gasp* didn’t want to think about cake!

The Fates showed mercy, though, (I’m not sure The Fates do mercy, being fate and all) and gave April three Tuesdays in which I could work with Dorie. The occasional third Tuesday in any given month is a Rewind week: one can revisit a previous favorite or  pick up a recipe that had otherwise been skipped. This wildcard week would give me two entries for the month, since I had no intention of doing April’s 2nd project: lefse. I grew up in a Lefse Household, and while I appreciate it for the heritage tag, and while I could have borrowed the electric skillet gizmo to bake them on, the cloth-lined rolling-pin to roll them with, as well as the special stick to flip them from my Mom, I don’t like lefse enough to have squeezed the project into my early-April life.

Needing the TWD projects to remotely fit into my IRL existence, I decided the Mocha Brownie Cake would be perfect for the Spring (aka Birthday) Dinner I make yearly for my lovely Mother-in-law. This cake did not disappoint.

Here we go!
Here we go!
Eggs, vanilla, & sugar
Eggs, vanilla, & sugar

The recipe calls for 5 eggs which should be beaten until a bit thickened and doubled in volume. This step highlights one of my favorite metamorphoses of the humble egg.

Thicker & doubled in volume: sheer beauty
Thicker & doubled in volume: sheer beauty
Before
Unsweetened, bittersweet, milk chocolate, & butter before
During
during
Being added
then being added

As always, the better the chocolate you start with, the better chocolate tasting the whateveritis you’re making will be. The recipe instructs to use 4.5 oz semisweet plus 2.5 oz unsweetened chocolate; I used something closer to 50/50 Scharffen Berger unsweetened and Cordillera Milk Chocolate. Intense!

Called for 1 pan; I used 3. Didn't want to hassle with slicing
Called for 1 pan; I used 3. Didn’t want to hassle with slicing
Ganache step 1
Ganache step 1

The mocha element for this cake comes from strong coffee (I used a shot of espresso) added to the chocolate and cream of the ganache. The chocolate I had on hand was almost equal parts: 70% Cordillera Dark Chocolate and 65% Sunspire Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.

Ganache Step 2
Ganache Step 2
Oh My Ganache!
Oh My Ganache!
1st layer to springform
1st layer to springform
Cover with 1 cup of ganache; chill
Cover with 1 cup of ganache; chill
Repeat with 2nd & 3rd layers, spreading ganache between, then chilling
Repeat with 2nd & 3rd layers, spreading ganache between, then chilling
Cover the top, chill, then unmold
Cover the top, chill, then unmold
Do final coat of ganache over top & sides, then celebrate spring!
Do final coat of ganache over top & sides, then celebrate spring!

The cake was a little dry from guessing on the baking time for 3 thin layers rather than 1 thick layer. Next time, I would bake for 18 minutes rather than 20. While I followed the recipe closely, measuring each cup of ganache for the filling, I barely had enough left for the final coat, so had to spread a thin layer rather than pour a smooth one. Next time I will increase the ganache quantity. That being said, this cake was delicious! It was not overly mocha-y, while being a very sincere hit of chocolate. Most important, the guest of honor found it beautiful and delicious. I look forward to making this cake for many Springs to come!

The last piece
The last piece

Mocha Brownie Cake • Baking with Julia • Contributing Baker: Marcel Desaulniers •       pages 282-283

To Go

Sometimes the best dinners are never eaten at home. For my niece’s birthday, we met at Edmonds Beach and picnicked on oven-fried chicken, green bean/cherry tomato/shallot salad, cold sesame noodles, carrot sticks, just-baked sourdough bread with grass-fed butter, crisp not-too-sweet walnut sandies, and Theo’s 85% cocoa chocolate. The company, the beach, the sunset, ferries and freight trains made it a lovely way to celebrate this beautiful human I’ve known since the minute she took her first breath.

IMG_2649
My niece dining with a dino
The T-Rex is still enjoying the chicken
T-Rex still enjoying the chicken
Cozy
Cozy
Farewell!
Farewell!
Edmonds Beach
Edmonds Beach

Walnut Sandies

2 sticks butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Annie’s bourbon vanilla extract
9 oz emmer flour
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

In a medium bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and salt at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Beat in the vanilla, then beat in the flour at low speed, scraping the side and bottom of the bowl, until the dough just comes together.
Add the walnuts and beat just until they are incorporated and lightly broken up. Divide the dough in half and form it into two 2-inch-thick logs. Wrap tightly in plastic and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350°.
Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Working with 1 log at a time and keeping the other one chilled, cut the dough into scant 1/4-inch-thick slices, arrange them on the baking sheets and sprinkle them with sugar(optional).
Repeat with the second log of dough.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the cookies are lightly golden around the edges and on the bottom, shifting the baking sheets halfway through.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then transfer them to a rack to cool completely.