Category:Cakes’

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing

 - by Elizabeth

I found this on the web, by a librarian who was having her own personal Bundt Cake Pan challenge: a new cake a day made in her much, un-used bundt pan.  I think I happened on her post right on this day, downloaded the recipe, which originally came from Gourmet Magazine in November 2005.  It is a very moist cake, mild on the spices and it is good for fall baking, leaving a delicous aroma of pumpkin in the air.

For cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-ounce can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
For icing
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 quart)

Preparation

Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and reinvert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Cooks’ note: Cake can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.  I used the 2 1/4 cups flour it called for, but I believe 2 1/2 cups would be better.  I substituted in 3/4 whole wheat flour for a like amount of the white flour.

Summer Strawberry Cake

 - by Elizabeth

Oh, YUM!

Okay, now get to work and make this light and delicious strawberry cake.  I found it on Smitten Kitchen, a blog with great recipes, who had adapted it from Martha.  I changed it again, substituting 1/2 cup whole wheat white flour for part of the regular flour.  The interesting thing about this cake is how long it cooks: about one hour, although it’s very quick to make.  The strawberries become jam spots, the sugar caramelizes, and it all is a wonderful summer dessert.  While it is best served on the day it is made, it is still really good the next day.  For breakfast, maybe? And while the recipe suggests a dollop of soft whipped cream, my husband thought that ice cream was a great topping.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pie plate
1 1/2 cups  all-purpose flour (can swap 1/2  cup all-purpose flour with 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch deep pie (or cake) pan or 9-inch deep-dish pie pan (what I used). (Smitten Kitchen notes that this cake would also work in a 9- or 10-inch springform or cake pan. The 10-inch would make a thinner cake than pictured.)

Whisk flour or flours, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, beat butter and 1 cup sugar until pale and fluffy with an electric mixer, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg, milk and vanilla until just combined. Add dry mixture gradually, mixing until just smooth.

Pour into prepared pie plate. Arrange strawberries, cut side down, on top of batter, as closely as possible in a single layer (though I had to overlap a few to get them all in). Sprinkle remaining 2 tablespoons sugar over berries.

Bake cake for 10 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake cake until golden brown and a tester comes out free of wet batter, about 50 minutes to 60 minutes.  Let cool in pan on a rack. Cut into wedges. Serve with lightly whipped cream, or ice cream, if desired.

Chocolate Ganache Frosting

 - by Elizabeth

Yield: Makes about 4 cups, published by Bon Appétit, March 1999 (with some changes).  Originally made to go with Orange-Almond Cake.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch cocoa)
4 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (scant) almond extract

Preparation

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to simmer. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate and both extracts. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.  I glazed my single layer cakes while it was still warm, but if doing the triple-layer cake, refrigerate frosting until slightly thickened but still spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Note: the original recipe called for 16 ounces bittersweet, but in reading the comments from the reviewers, they all said to go with a mixture.  I did.  Yummy!  You’ll be fighting over who gets to lick the pan.

Orange-Almond Cake with Chocolate Icing

 - by Elizabeth

How did I learn about this recipe? My friend Andrea made this cake for her birthday.  She’s a remarkable woman, always making some new delicious confection for her birthday.  She tries a new one each year, and I love reading on her Facebook posts what she’s chosen for that year.  The reason this cake intrigued me?  She wrote about this right as I was asked to be in charge of the food for our Women’s Conference (300 people!).  I hit on the idea that instead of making a three-layer cake, I’d keep the layers single, and glaze them with the chocolate ganache and serve them that way. Instead of serving 10 with one recipe, I could serve 30 (although they may all be fighting over any leftovers on the table).

To prepare, I made them last night.  I wasn’t too sure about this, until I had brushed on the “orange jam” and coated them with the chocolate ganache.  Oh, my!  Another cooking friend, Wendy, agreed to be my partner in desert-crime and help me make batches and batches of this for the conference.  So, thanks, Andrea for the idea and thanks, Wendy for always including me in your food adventures.  Here’s one for you.

Yield: Serves 10  Originally published in Bon Appetit, March 1999.  My changes are listed below.

Ingredients for Cake
3 large oranges
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 cup whole almonds
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Ingredients–Orange “Jam
1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice–approximately 3-4 oranges.  Use the juice from the three peeled oranges (above).  I had to add one more orange to get the juice I needed.
generous 1 tablespoon sugar

Chocolate Ganache Icing (click on link, or see below)

Additional whole almonds, small orange-slice triangles and mint leaves for garnish

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Place pan on waxed paper, and using scissors, trace around the pan.  Cut out three layers of wax paper on the circle line.

Grease (or butter) the bottom and sides of three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2-inch-high sides. Place the wax paper circle in the bottom of the pan and grease that.  Dust with flour; tap out excess. I say to grease the sides, because a) it comes out easier, and b) it’s prettier if you are using the cake as a single layer.

Using vegetable peeler, remove peel (orange part only) in strips from oranges.  Coarsely chop enough peel to measure 1/2 cup.

Combine flour, 1 cup almonds, baking powder and salt in food processor; blend until finely ground. Transfer to medium bowl.

Place 2 cups sugar and orange peel in processor (left); blend until peel is finely minced (right).

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until blended. Add sugar mixture and beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs 1 at a time. Mix milk and both extracts in small bowl. On low speed, beat flour mixture into egg mixture alternately with milk mixture in 3 additions each.

Divide batter among prepared pans. It’s pretty thick.  Smooth it out.

Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 25 minutes, and cakes begin to pull away from sides (touch test with finger didn’t work).Don’t overbake. Cool cakes in pans on racks 8 minutes. Loosen cake around edges with narrow spatula, then turn cakes out onto racks, remove wax paper from bottom, and cool completely. They are a bit fragile when warm.

Boil 1 1/2 cups fresh orange juice and remaining generous 1 tablespoon sugar in small saucepan until reduced to 1/2 cup, about 15 minutes (watch carefully and stir occasionally). Brush warm juice mixture over tops of cooled cakes.

For the Women’s Conference, I poured about 1/2 cup warm ganache over the cake and using an off-set spatula, smoothed it over the cake, letting it run down the edges (I had them on a rack to do this, although not that much dripped over that you couldn’t just do it on a plate).  If you need more icing on the edges, smooth some on with the spatula.  It makes a silky-looking glaze, but who cares how it looks?  It is delicious, and sets up after about 30 minutes.  Transfer to plate, decorate with almonds and oranges, or whatever you choose.

Their photo, in a three-layer cake version:

Place 1 cake layer, orange syrup side up, on cake platter. Spread 1 cup Chocolate Icing over. Top with second cake layer, then 1 cup icing. Top with third cake layer, syrup side up.

Spread remaining icing over top and sides of cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and store at room temperature.)

Arrange additional almonds, orange triangles and mint leaves around top edge of cake. Slice cake and serve.

Chocolate Icing also from Bon Appétit, March 1999

Yield: Makes about 4 cups–enough for two batches of cake.  If you are only making one cake, I advise you to double-glaze it, or else cut the ingredients down by at least 1/3.

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups whipping cream
3/4 cup unsalted butter
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Dutch cocoa)
4 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) chocolate chips (I used Guittard)
8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon (scant) almond extract

Preparation

Whisk first 4 ingredients in medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts and mixture comes to simmer. Remove saucepan from heat. Add chocolate and both extracts. Whisk until chocolate is melted and smooth.  I glazed my single layer cakes while it was still warm, but if doing the triple-layer cake, refrigerate frosting until slightly thickened but still spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes.

Note: the original recipe called for 16 ounces bittersweet, but in reading the comments from the reviewers, they all said to go with a mixture.  I did.  Yummy!  You’ll be fighting over who gets to lick the pan.

Old-fashioned Gingerbread Cake

 - by Elizabeth

Merry Christmas to all!

Perhaps there is no more evocative scent for Christmas than that of ginger–specifically baked into shaped cookies, houses and cakes.  I’d always made a gingerbread using oil, but this year I took on the challenge to make it without oil.  It was a switch I should have made a long time ago, and I was glad for the chance to try a new recipe.  As you can see, we haven’t cut into it yet, but the batter was yummy (yes, it’s true that I come from a long line of beater-lickers).  Serve with Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce, and maybe a dab of soft home-made whipped cream?  I wish you visions of sugarplums dancing in your head.

This is from the yellow Gourmet Cookbook, edited by Ruth Reichl.  It’s a winner to have in a collection.

Old-fashioned Gingerbread

Ingredients
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
2/3 cup hot water

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Sift together flour, baking soda, spices, and salt into a bowl.

Beat together butter and brown sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at moderately high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition, then beat in molasses. (Batter may look separated.) Mix in flour mixture at low speed, then water, mixing until batter is smooth, about 1 minute.

Pour batter into a buttered 9-inch square metal baking pan (2 inches deep). Bake in middle of oven until a tester comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes, then serve warm with Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

Cook’s Note: When I doubled it, I put it into a greased 9″ x 13″ x 2″ pan and baked it for 45 minutes, or until it tested done with a toothpick.  There will be a slight sinking in the middle, but it’s not pronounced.

Peach Upside-down Cake

 - by Elizabeth

Once again, Dorie Greenspan writes a winner recipe.  This time it is a recipe for a peach upside-down cake, but it’s lighter than usual, and uses a granulated sugar mix for the fruit, rather than a brown-sugar mixture.  We had a few extra peaches (okay–confession–I bought extra just so I could make this), a few raspberries and when it came out of the pan, Dave and I couldn’t resist taking a small slice.  (Okay.  Confession.  We each had one more right then, promising to save the rest for later on tonight.)  I like the lightness of this–not so gooey, sicky sweet like that old pineapple standby.  (But I confess I liked that too, in its day.)

Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks (14 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature (mine was neither unsalted nor room temperature)
granulated sugar, divided into 6 Tablespoons (part I) and 1/2 cup (part II)
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (we only have skim milk around here, so I poured in about 1 Tablespoon cream into a measuring cup and filled up the rest with skim milk)

3 large peeled and pitted peaches, sliced
a few raspberries for color (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Put an 8×2-inch pan on a baking sheet.  Warning!  This is taller than the usual pan we have in our cupboards.  I bought mine at Michaels last time they included a coupon in the newspaper.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

Melt 6 TBLS of the butter in a small saucepan.  Sprinkle in 6 TBlS of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil.  Pour this evenly over the bottom of the cake pan, then scatter the raspberries over the butter mixture.

Beginning at the outer edge, ring the pan with the peach slices, ending at the center, fitting the raspberries in and around as you go.  (I had to take a picture of this step–it looks very pretty just sitting there.)  Set aside.

Working with a stand mixture, fitted with a paddle attachment (or with a hand mixer in a large bowl), beat the remaining stick (8TBLS) of butter on medium speed until smooth.  Add in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue to beat until pale and creamy, about 3 minutes.  (Don’t fret if yours doesn’t do this–mine didn’t either, but I think it was because the butter was cold.)  Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed.  Pour in the vanilla/almond extract.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk, then the rest of the dry ingredients, scraping the bowl as needed.  Spoon the batter over the fruit, and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove it from the oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the pan and cake.  Let sit for at least 15 minutes to allow the peach juices to absorb into the cake, then invert on a serving platter.

Yum! This is one of those recipes that isn’t terribly glamorous, but that will disappear very quickly, as you can see by our photo above.  Very quickly.  Greenspan, who wrote the book from which this recipe was taken (Baking From My Home to Yours), made this first in a cranberry-nut version.  You can bet I’m going to try that come fall, when the cranberries hit the shelves.  Check back for that one, but in the meantime, go buy Dorie Greenspan’s book.

Angel Food Cake

 - by Elizabeth

The first time I made this was when my parents were visiting.  It was summer and we needed a light dessert for a hot day.  Gale Gand’s recipe seemed to fit the bill: it’s a from-scratch angel food cake speckled with fresh blueberries with a bit of lemon to freshen the flavors.

Dave has requested it often for his birthday, preferring this to his other old favorite of German Chocolate Cake (I never could make that one very well–his mother did it better than I, I’m sure).

The taste of the homemade angel food cake is different than the store bought, although that one has its merits.  It’s like the difference between any manufactured object and something that has had a human touch.  Try it and see what you think.

I’ve included a lot of photos to show how the mixture begins to peak; my apologies to those who find photos tiresome.

Blueberry Angel Food Cake–yield 8 servings (although we always get more out of it)
Gale Gand, from Cooking Light

Cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
1 cup sifted cake flour (I used regular)
12 large egg whites (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 1/4 teaspoons cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
2 Tablespoons sifted cake flour
1 Tablespoon grated lemon rind

Note on grating rind: you want to just skim the yellow rind off the lemon, leaving the white pith behind (it can be bitter).  If I have a whole crop of lemons, I grade the rind onto a square of wax paper, then fold it up to the inside, place the packet into a small ziploc sandwich baggie and label it with the date.  I’ve used frozen rind for as long as 9 months without noticeable drop in quality.

Glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Sift together 1/2 cup sugar and 1 cup flour (I just whisked them together).

In a large bowl, beat egg whites with a mixer at high speed until foamy.

Add cream of tartar and salt; beat until soft peaks form.

Add 1 cup sugar, 2 Tablespoons at a time, beating until stiff peaks form.

See the tip of the peak bending over like a wave?  Not quite done.

This peak stands straight up–it’s done.

Sift flour mixture over egg white mixture, 1/4 cup at a time; fold in.  Here’s a video on folding egg whites into another mixture; it’s the same technique.

Fold in vanilla. . .

. . . and blueberries. If you’ve never seen an angel food cake pan before, it has three tabs sticking up from the sides, and a removable bottom (to which the center tube is attached).


Combine 2 Tablespoons flour and lemon rind; toss to coat. Sprinkle over egg white mixture; fold in.

Spoon the batter into an UNGREASED 10-inch tube pan, spreading evenly. (Note:the recipe says to smooth out the top, but I like mine with more peaks and valleys, as shown here.  But I was a good girl, and smoothed it out so you could see what the end result looks like in a later photo.)

Break air pockets by cutting through batter with a knife. Bake at 375°F for 40 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched.

Invert pan; cool completely.  Yes, turn it upside down and balance it on those tabs until it is REALLY COOL to the touch.  No warmth anywhere.  That’s why it’s best to make this in the morning, if you plan to serve it that night.

Loosen the cake from sides of pan using a narrow metal spatula.

Invert cake onto plate. (I re-invert it so the top will show.)

To prepare the glaze, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a small bowl; stir well with a whisk. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Calories: 297 (1% from fat)
Fat: 0.2 grams (sat. fat 0g, mono 0.1 g, poly 0.1 g)
Protein: 6.6 grams
Carb: 68.2 grams
Fiber: 1 gram
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Iron: 1.1 mg
Sodium: 232 mg
Calcium: 8 mg

Glazed Lemon Cake

 - by Elizabeth

I remember the first time I ate this cake.  My brother’s wife, Rachel, served it for one of her parties.  Rachel is the consummate hostess, always perfectly dressed complete with accessories, her house spotless, her children well-mannered, and the table set like you were in a House Beautiful spread.  It was an Occasion–a birthday celebration–and we were invited.  The food was amazing, but when this cake came out, I wanted to drop all pretense of manners and have another piece.  And another.  I think I did eat two.  I could have eaten more, but then I wouldn’t have been a good guest.

Rachel, while formal and gracious, is warm and inviting.  I always glean ideas for decorating from her house, pick up a new recipe or two, and this was one of those.  I phoned her after we got home and she sent me a copy of the recipe.  It’s from the Silver Palate cookbook, and in her notes at the top, she writes: “Worth owning.”  So I went out and bought a copy.  So should you.

We use a fancy bundt-style pan we call “The Cathedral Pan.”  It makes for a wonderful presentation and no one knows how easy this was to make.  We bought ours from Williams-Sonoma, but I noticed that Sur La Table had some last time I was there.

Be sure to use fresh lemons and real butter for the full effect.  (Of course.)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) sweet butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour, stirred or sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 tightly packed Tbls. grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
2 Tbls. fresh lemon juice

Lemon Icing (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt (I just stir them together).  Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternatively with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients.  Add lemon zest and juice.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan.  Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from side of pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10-15 minutes, then gently loosen top edge of cake from pan all the way around.  Invert onto a rack, then spread immediately with the Lemon Icing, using a pastry brush to smooth out if needed.  Below is the cake, fresh from the pan.  At the very top is the cake with the lemon glaze all over it.

Lemon Icing

2 cups (1/2 pound) confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar)
1/2 stick (4 Tbls) sweet butter, softened
2 Tbls. packed grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Cream butter and sugar thoroughly. Mix in lemon juice and zest; spread on warm cake.  It helps to lay down some wax paper underneath the rack where the cake sits.  This catches the drips from the frosting.  You’ll definitely have some run-off.

Chocolate-Almond Cake, or Reine de Saba

 - by Elizabeth

For my birthday, I wanted to try this cake from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking.  No big culinary reason, other than it looked really good in the movie (however, their cake frosting is different than this one).  Usually every year Dave makes my cake for me; it’s one reason why I married him, but he’s working on a big project and I didn’t think it was fair to spring a scratch cake on him at this time.

The first thing you have to do is buy a new cake pan.  Yep.  Our American cake pans–the kind we all use on those double-layer cakes, are too short.  The pan has to be at least 1 1/2 inches deep. I had a coupon for Michael’s and went over there and bought one, but it’s lightweight aluminum.  If you want a heavier one, try Sur La Table, or a good cooking store.  With my coupon, however, the price was right.

Butter the pan, using soft real butter and a corner of a paper towel, then dust it with flour, shaking out the excess.

Ingredients:
4 ounces (squares) semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 stick, or 1/4 pound softened butter
2/3 cup granulate sugar
3 egg yolks
3 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 Tbs. granulate sugar
1/3 cup ground almonds
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sifted cake flour (confession: I stirred mine up to lighten it, and used regular flour)

Method:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate over almost simmering water.  Julia says to add 2 Tbls rum or coffee–a problem, because in this house, we have neither. So I flipped to her page about “melted chocolate” and it says I can use water as well.  So I did.  Don’t have a double boiler?  Get creative.  I ended up using the bottom half of my juicer.  You could also throw some forks or something in the bottom of pan, bring the water just to below them, then set a metal bowl over the water.  Kmart also sells double boilers for $40, which is why I was improvising.

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until the form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.  Beat in the egg yolks until well-blended.

Beat the egg whites and  salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

Blend the melted chocolate mixture into the butter/sugar, then stir in the almonds (Julia calls them pulverized–I call them: through them into your food processor and whirl along until they are finely ground.)  Don’t overmix.  Remove the beater, and then, with a spatula, immediately stir  in one-fourth of the stiffly beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.

Then, delicately fold in a third of the remaining egg whites, and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding.  Alternate rapidly with more egg white and more flour until all the eff whites and flour are incorporated.

Folding In Egg Whites Have You Nervous?
As one website described the process: Using a large spatula, cut a path down the middle of the mixture with the edge of the spatula. Then gently turn half the mixture over onto the other half. Continue cutting down the middle and turning a portion over. Don’t stir. The purpose of folding is to retain the air you have beaten into the whites. Be careful to only work the batter enough to incorporate the whites, and never use an electric mixer for this step.  You can Google “folding egg whites” to find videos on this process, if you are the type of person who likes to thoroughly understand a step before attempting it.

Julia says the whole process should “not take more than a minute and do not attempt to be too thorough.  It is better to leave a few unblended patches than to deflate the egg whites.” Okey-dokey.

Back to the cake:
Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula.  Lick the bowl clean, because you can’t help yourself.

Bake in middle level of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes.  Cake is done, she says, when it has puffed and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a tester plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken and a tester comes out oily.  We had the latter, but not the former (it didn’t move slightly).

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge. and reverse the cake onto a rack.  Allow it to cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cool if it is to be iced.

Chocolate-butter icing, or Glacage au Chocolat
1 ounce semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 Tbls. rum or coffee or water
3 Tbs. unsalted butter

Melt the chocolate with the water, over a double boiler until chocolate has melted into a very smooth cream.  Remove from the hot water, and beat the butter into the chocolate, a tablespoon at a time.  Then beat over cold water until chocolate mixture is cool and of spreading consistency.  Spread it at once over the cake and garnish with almonds.

I have no idea why I decided to try this one.  After watching the movie where the actors ate this cake so heartily that they’d smeared the frosting all over their faces, I assumed it would be the simplest version.  Although this frosting was good, it was not so good that we wanted to smear cake all over ourselves.  I’d double the frosting amounts, for sure, or even try her Butter Cream frosting I, with powdered sugar.  Dave kind of looked funny when I told him there was no powdered sugar in this icing.

According to the Boston Globe, Julia Child writes in ‘‘The Way to Cook’’ that this was the first French cake she ever ate, prepared by her coauthor Simone Beck, ‘‘and I have never forgotten it.’’

This cake is also known as the Queen of Sheba cake, apparently in some allusion to the opera, and there seems to be a billion posts of this recipe online, some much fancier than mine.  Have fun looking. . . and baking.

Baked Cranberry Pudding

 - by Elizabeth

(photo to come later on–I know, I know.)

Jake, one of my blonde nephews, married Katie, a lovely dark-haired young woman, and she had a double reception with her sister?  Her cousin?  I can’t remember, but I do remember that it was in a huge house, with a balcony overlooking the main entry hall, lots of small cozy rooms off of the main living room area and many, many guests.  The bride’s mother had enlisted the help of her friends in staging this reception, and besides the usual wedding treats, they passed trays filled with cups of this warm, soggily-delicious pear-cranberry cake.  It took me a while, but I finally tracked down the recipe.  I think of Jake and Katie every time I make this.  Serve with Elizabeth’s Lemon Butter Sauce.

Baked Cranberry Pudding

2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 and 1/2 cans (about 14 oz size) pears, juice and all
2  cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 cups fresh cranberries, washed and sorted
2 Tablespoons REAL butter

In a stand mixer, beat together the eggs and sugar until well-blended, about 3 minutes.  Add pears, then dry ingredients mixed together.  Stir in cranberries.  It will be slightly sloshy.

Melt butter in 9 by 13-inch pan.  Pour batter into pan.

Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  (It will be slightly moist in center.)

Note: If there appears to be more juice than pears in your canned pears, hold back about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of pear juice until you see if it’s the right consistency.  Yes, I know.  You may have to guess a little the first time, but like any good recipe, this one become familiar the more you make it.