Thursday, August 13, 2020

Lemon Cake

For the Cake:

2 /4 c. cake flour, sifted

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter

2 cups sugar

4 large egg yolks

2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup sour cream

4 large egg whites

zest of 2 lemons

1 1/2 tsp. almond extract

1 tsp. lemon extract (opt).

Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare 2-8 inch cake pans.    Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add yolks, one at a time.  Add extracts and lemon zest.  Add flour mixture in fourths alternately with sour cream in thirds. Beat egg whites till soft peaks.  Gently fold into batter and pour into pans.  Bake 45-60 minutes or until done.  

For the Lemon Curd filling:

3/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. lemon zest

3/4 c. sugar

3 large eggs

4 Tbs. butter

Whisk all ingredients except butter in a saucepan over moderately low heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 5-10 minutes, till curd is thick and pudding-like.  Strain into a bowl and whisk in butter a little at a time.  Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

(So this is delicious lemon curd, but it was a little too soft as a cake filling.  I would recommend some extra thickening, such as 1-2 Tbs. corn starch, but I haven't tested that yet.)

For the Lemon Buttercream:

5 large egg whites (for food safety you can also sub meringue powder + water as in instructions on pkg.)

1 1/4 c. sugar

1/2 c. + 2 Tbs. corn syrup

2 c.  butter, at room temperature

1 Tbs. lemon zest

1/4 c. + 2 Tbs. lemon juice

Place the egg whites in the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whisk on medium high speed until foamy.  Sprinkle in 6 Tbs. of the sugar and beat on high speed to medium peaks (the whites should be smooth, full, shiny, and the peaks should curl a little.  Turn off the mixer.

Combine the remaining 3/4 c. plus 2 Tbs. sugar and the corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium high heat, stirring briefly to dissolve the sugar.  Cook just until it comes to a rolling boil.  

Immediately remove the syrup from the heat, turn the mixer onto medium-high speed, and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the bowl in a steady stream, being very careful not to let the syrup hit the whisk.  

Reduce the speed to medium and continue whisking until the whites are barely warm, 5-7 minutes.  Add the butter 1 Tbs. at a time.  (I think the original recipe had too much butter, so I've reduced it here by 1/2 cup. Taste after you've added the first 1 1/2 cup and then add the remaining butter as desired) Add the lemon zest and juice and continue beating until the frosting is smooth and creamy.

This makes a LOT of buttercream.  I might recommend you cut the recipe by half, especially if you're going to do a semi-naked cake.

To Assemble:

Fill the cooled (or better yet, frozen) cake layers with the lemon curd. Frost with the buttercream. Garnish with candied lemon peel.

Batinjaanbizayt (Roasted Eggplant and Tomatoes)

 I got this recipe online once a long time ago, but now a google search for the name reveals no hits, so I have no idea what the real name is, or where this recipe is from.  I do know, however, that it's delicious.

1 eggplant, cubed

2 small onions, sliced

1 1/2 ripe tomatoes, chopped

1 1/2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt


1/4 c. olive oil

1 cup water (stovetop version)

Stovetop version:  Saute onions and eggplant in oil until softened.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer until caramelized and tender and sauce is reduced.  

Oven roasted: toss the vegetables with seasonings and oil, then spread out and roast on baking sheets at 400 degrees, stirring occasionally, until soft and caramelized.  

Serve cold with bread or crackers.

Walnut Double-Decker Brownie Bars

 I adapted these slightly from a recipe by Abigail Johnson Dodge in Fine Cooking, Issue 89.  The original recipe calls for macademia nuts, and that's delicious, but given how hard they are to come by, I thought I'd try it with walnuts, and I like the texture and flavor of the walnuts a little better in this recipe.  I also used salted butter, since the walnuts are unsalted.  They freeze very well.

for the brownie layer:

·        Cooking spray

·        6 oz. (12 Tbs.) salted butter, cut into large chunks

·        1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

·        2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch processed)

·        1/4 tsp. table salt

·        2 large eggs

·        1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

·        3-1/2 oz. (3/4 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

For walnut coconut layer:

·        1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

·        1-1/2 oz. (1/3 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour

·        2/3 cup light corn syrup

·        1-1/2 oz. (3 Tbs.) salted butter, melted

·        1-1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

·        2 large eggs

·        1-1/2 cups roughly chopped walnuts

·        1/3 cup sweetened coconut flakes


Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 325ºF. Line the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan with foil, leaving some overhang on the sides, and spray with cooking spray.

Make the brownie layer:

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk the butter until it is melted. Remove the pan from the heat and add the sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Whisk until well blended, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the flour and stir with a rubber spatula until blended. Scrape into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until the top is shiny and dry-looking and the brownie springs back very slightly when pressed with a fingertip, about 20 minutes. (The brownie should not be completely baked.) Remove from the oven and put on a rack.

While the brownie layer is baking, make the walnut topping:

In a large mixing bowl, combine the brown sugar and flour. Whisk until well blended, breaking up any large clumps. Add the corn syrup, melted butter, and vanilla. Whisk until blended, about 1 minute. Add the eggs and whisk just until combined, about 30 seconds. (Don’t over mix or the batter will be foamy.) Add the nuts and coconut and stir with a rubber spatula until evenly blended.

Pour the walnut topping over the warm, partially baked brownie layer. Using a spatula, carefully spread the mixture into an even layer. Return the pan to the oven and bake until the top is golden brown, 37 to 40 minutes. Transfer the pan to a rack to cool completely.

Using the foil as handles, lift the rectangle from the pan and invert onto a work surface. Carefully peel away the foil. Flip right side up. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2x2-inch squares and then cut each square into triangles.

Make Ahead Tips

After both layers have been baked and cooled, the brownies can be cut, wrapped tightly, and frozen.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Orange-Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies

Orange-Hazelnut Shortbread Cookies
This recipe comes from Carolyn Weil Fine Cooking Issue 61
Yield: Yields about 3 dozen 2-inch cookies.

If you can’t find blanched hazelnuts, buy them with the skin on, toast them in a 425°F oven until fragrant, and then rub off as much of the skins as possible by rolling them in a damp towel. (I toasted them and skipped rubbing off the skins and it turned out great)

·        8 oz. (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
·        1/2 cup granulated sugar
·        1/2 tsp. table salt
·        10 oz. (2-1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
·        2-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) blanched hazelnuts, toasted and ground very finely in a food processor
·        2 tsp. (loosely packed) finely grated orange zest (from 1 orange)

·        Line two baking sheets with parchment. Combine the butter, sugar, and salt in a stand mixer bowl (use the paddle attachment) or a large mixing bowl. Mix on low speed until the butter combines with the sugar but isn’t perfectly smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the flour, ground hazelnuts, and zest; mix on low speed, scraping the bowl frequently, until the dough has just about pulled together, about 3 minutes; don’t overmix. 
·        On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. Aim for a uniform thickness to ensure even baking.

·        Cut the dough into bars or squares with a sharp knife or, using cookie cutters, cut out shapes as close to one another as possible. Press the scraps together, roll them out, and cut out more cookies. If the dough becomes sticky, refrigerate it briefly. Arrange the cookies on two parchment-lined baking sheets and refrigerate until chilled, at least 20 minutes.
Position oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 300°F. Bake the cookies until golden on the bottom and edges and pale to golden on top, 30 minutes to 1 hour. (After 15 minutes, swap the position of the baking sheets and rotate them 180 degrees for even baking.) If the cookies are done before 30 min., reduce the oven temperature to 275°F for the remaining batches; if they take longer than 1 hour, increase the temperature to 325°F.

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling

Blueberry Streusel Bars with Lemon-Cream Filling

I don't think I made any changes. These are a lot like lemon bars, and fairly simple to make.

Yield: Yields 24 bars.

·        8 oz. (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened; more for the pan
·        13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) all-purpose flour
·        1-1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick oats)
·        1-1/3 cups packed light brown sugar
·        1 tsp. table salt
·        1 tsp. baking powder
·        1 large egg, separated
·        14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
·        1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
·        2 tsp. grated lemon zest
·        2-1/2 cups room-temperature blueberries (about 13 oz.), washed and drained on paper towels

·        Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with foil, leaving a 1-inch overhang on the ends. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of the foil.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, oats, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Using your fingers, blend the butter completely into the flour mixture. Transfer 2 cups of crumb mixture to another bowl and reserve for the topping. Blend the egg white into the remaining crumbs and then press the mixture into the bottom of the pan to form a level crust. You can tamp it with the bottom of a measuring cup to even it out. Bake the crust until it starts to form a dry top, 10 to 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk, lemon juice, lemon zest, and egg yolk. Let this mixture stand for 5 minutes; it will begin to thicken.
Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the hot crust and then drop spoonfuls of the lemon mixture over the blueberries. Spread gently with a spatula to distribute a little more evenly, but take care not to crush the berries; it’s fine if the lemon mixture isn’t perfectly even. Bake until the lemon mixture just begins to form a shiny skin, 7 to 8 minutes.
Sprinkle the reserved topping over the lemon-blueberry layer, pressing the streusel between your fingers into small lumps as you sprinkle. Bake until the filling is bubbling at the edges and the topping is brown, 25 to 30 minutes.
Let the bars cool in the pan on a rack until just warm, about an hour. Carefully lift them out of the pan using the foil overhang and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Remove the foil and cut into 24 bars when cool. The bars may be stored at room temperature for a few hours but otherwise should be kept in the refrigerator.
Be sure to use room-temperature berries. Cold fruit straight from the refrigerator will prevent your dessert from baking evenly.

Chocolate Chip Cookies with Smoked Salt

Chocolate Chip With Smoked Salt

Adapted from a Jacques Torres recipe that I got from a friend.  It calls for the dough to be refrigerated overnight, which does actually make a difference in the shape and texture of the cookies.  I've made this recipe often enough to test that.  The original recipe calls for a mix of cake and bread flour, but although I could tell the difference between the cookies when I compared cookies made that way with cookies made with all-purpose, I didn't necessarily prefer one over the other, and it's just easier to not keep so many kinds of flour around.  I find it very difficult to scoop out the dough when it's been refrigerated overnight, so I usually scoop the cookies into a large flat rectangular pyrex storage container (go ahead and layer them, they can touch) when it's freshly mixed and then refrigerate the dough balls overnight before baking.  I also often freeze half the dough balls to bake another time, since this is a very large recipe.   

17 oz (3 2/3 minus 2 Tbs) all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
10 oz. (1 1/4 cups) light brown sugar
8 oz. (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips
Smoked salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop the dough out into balls about one inch in diameter, cover and refrigerate overnight.  Dough can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Place the chilled dough balls onto baking sheet lined with a silicone sheet (it helps the cookies bake more evenly as well as not stick to the baking sheet).  Sprinkle lightly with smoked salt.  Bake until golden brown around the edges, but still soft in the middle, 8 to 10 minutes.  The center should be slightly puffed up, and still look soft, but not raw.  I like these better slightly undercooked rather than slightly overcooked, because they stay nice and chewy.  Let sheet cool about 5 minutes then remove cookies to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

Almond Macaroons

Almond Macaroons

These look kind of dry and unappealing, but they have a wonderful soft chew and delicate almond flavor.  I started with a recipe from Epicurious.  I substituted almond flour for the whole blanched almonds because it’s just easier.  I also used sliced almonds to press into the top, rather than whole. A small dough scoop speeds up the shaping and rolling.

Makes 16 Macaroons

·        1 cup almond flour
·        2/3 cup granulated sugar
·        1 large egg white
·        1/4 teaspoon almond extract
·        confectioners' sugar for dusting
·        about 16 almond slices

1.     Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly butter a baking sheet.
2.     Mix together the almond flour, sugar, egg white, almond extract, and a pinch of salt.  Roll mixture into 16 balls, about 1 inch in diameter, and arrange about 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Slightly flatten balls and dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. Gently press 1 almond into each cookie.
3.     Bake macaroons in middle of oven 10 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer macaroons to a rack and cool completely. Macaroons keep 4 days in an airtight container at room temperature.