Saturday, September 20, 2008

Cornmeal Peach Cake

I'm not sure what sparked my interest, randomly on a Friday afternoon. I was walking home from school, and decided I really wanted to make a cake with cornmeal in it. I was pretty sure I had cornmeal at home, had no recipe in mind, and wanted it to include fruit and honey.

I stopped at the grocery store, saw some smelly peaches, and knew what I was going to make.

Then I searched online, found a recipe, and tried to follow it. But the container of yogurt in the fridge turned out to be practically empty. Who puts a spoonful of yogurt back in the fridge? In our house the container usually gets licked clean!

But I wasn't around to see how the cake turned out, and while busy getting ready in my room to head out to the freshmen dance at school, I overcooked the cake. My expectations were low, and I put it on the counter to cool. As soon as my mom came home when the car, I grabbed my camera, told her about the cake, and headed to school.
IMG_4354When I got home with a headache two and a half hours later, the cake was practically all gone, with just a sliver saved for me. Apparently my Dad had to fight to save it. It was a hit with the seven people sitting out on the porch.

I guess those are results that say that my experiment worked.

Peach Cornmeal Cake
75 g AP Flour
78 g cornmeal
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
60 g butter, softened
75 g granulated sugar
30 g honey
1 large egg
55 g plain yogurt
1 to 2 peaches, sliced in segments (though raspberries or nectarines would also be tasty)

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9" round cake pan.

Mix together dry ingredients in a small bowl. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until fluffy. Beat in the honey and egg. Stir in half of the flour mixture, then the yogurt, and then the remaining yogurt until just combined.

Pour batter into cake pan. Top with peach segments arranged in a single layer.

Bake in 350ºF/180C oven for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Extra Egg Whites... Tasty "Flan" For Breakfast


Sometime early in August, I found a tea shop in Chinatown that had green tea powder (or matcha). I've been looking for the powder for over a year now, and was thrilled to finally find it. A few days later, I made the green tea ice cream from David Lebowitz's book for a friend. It was delicious.

But the usual problem with making ice cream: inordinate amounts of egg whites are leftover. And it isn't that egg whites don't have uses, but I just normally don't have the time or the other ingredients to do something with them within a day or two of making the ice cream.

So why not plan ahead? I know, that would be a terrific idea. But it doesn't always work out that way. This time it did. So I made the flans in the morning, ended up with four egg yolks leftover from it, so at the end of the day, I just had two egg white leftover, and they contributed to the chocolate mousse I made a day or two later.

I'd been wanting to try these flans, and not seeing a time when I could make them for dinner with something else, I figured I might as well just make them for breakfast. I used some really tasty tiny red and yellow tomatoes I picked up at the farmer's market and basil I stole from our neighbor's garden. They turned out tasty too.

I also made a single large version instead of individual ramekins of them the next time I had the egg white problem (though I had a LOT of egg whites that time, so this didn't even make a dent in them) since I don't actually own the right size cups. It turned out nicely too.

See original recipe here.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Is four loaves in a month a bit obsessive?

And that's not even including the 48 "muffin loaves."


I've been waiting all summer for zucchini at the market, and when it finally showed up, I'd found the perfect recipe to try. Heidi's Special Zucchini Bread looked a bit different, and, I guess to use it's name, special.

So I gave it a try, almost following the recipe exactly the first time, just omitting the lemon zest because I had no lemons (and could only find the ones with the neon green letter emblazoned on them) and crystallized ginger because, though I had it, am not a big fan of it. I bought what looked like a promising "east meets west" curry powder, and set out to try the recipe. And I augmented the few walnuts I had on hand with brazil nuts.

And it was tasty. At the first bite, I was unsure about the curry powder flavor, but by the second muffin I was sold. I had the two of them for lunch, and froze the rest. They really do freeze quite well.

The next time I made them, I omitted the poppy seeds, and once again used half walnuts and half brazil nuts, and made it with 2 ounces of butter and 2 ounces (in weight) of canola oil, and added some raisins. It was also good this time.

With it looking promising with the oil, I made it once again after my first Friday of school, but this time, used only oil. I beat the sugar with the eggs, and then added the oil. But the batter seemed oily. Before I stirred in the nuts (and after adding all the raisins I had in the house, about half a cup), I split the batter. Into one half, the half that ended up in the loaf pan, I put about 4 ounces of blue cheese that I had a wedge of sitting in the fridge that I feared would go bad. It turned out quite nicely. Different, but not at all unpleasant.
I did the usual thing with nuts in the other half, that became square muffin loaves.
But the all oil ones were a bit more dense. Maybe it was because of the splitting I over stirred them, or maybe it was the oil. Either way, when I made the bread for the fourth time this past Sunday, I started with two tablespoons of butter, beat that with the sugar, and then beat in 1/4 cup canola oil (I almost used walnut, which may have been an equally nice choice), and then continued with the recipe as Heidi had instructed, only sticking with my raisins and brazil nuts.

I think I've finally got it down. And I have a good 15 or so muffins in the freezer still.

Formerly Heidi's Zucchini Bread
makes one large loaf and twelve small square ones, or one normal loaf and twelve muffins

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
210 grams (about 1 cup) granulated sugar
105 grams (about 1/2 cup, packed) brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil, or other neutral oil
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups grated zucchini (about 2 large), with some moisture squeezed out and fluffed back up

385 grams (about 3 cups) whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon curry powder

6 ounces (about 1 cup, 170g) brazil nuts, chopped
3 ounces (about 1/2 cup, 85g) walnuts, chopped
70 grams (about 1/2 cup) raisins

Preheat oven to 350ºF and place a rack in the middle. Line one loaf pan with parchment (overhanging over sides for easy removal) or greased and floured, and grease 12 muffin cups.

In a large bowl or bowl of a mixer, beat the butter about 15 seconds, until fluffy. Add the sugars and beat again for about 30 seconds to a minute, or until the sugar starts to incorporate. Add the oil, and beat until it's incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping down sides between each addition. Stir in the vanilla and then the zucchini.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and curry powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients in two batches, stirring between each addition. Don't overmix the batter, since the nuts still have to be stirred in.

Fold in the raisins, and about 3/4 of the nuts. Save some of the nuts to sprinkle on top of the load.

Portion batter into each of the twelve muffin cups. Pour remaining batter into loaf pan and smooth top. Sprinkle loaf with reserved nuts.
Bake the muffins and loaf side by side, removing the muffins after 15-20 minutes or until the spring back when lightly touched, and the loaf after 40-45 minutes.
Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

Enjoy, or freeze for later enjoyment.