Tuesdays With Dorie: Savarin

This week’s assignment was to make a Savarin. A cake I’d never heard of. Brillat-Savarin famously said: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” He also has a cheese named after him. Outside of that I had very little information, or the proper cake pan to make this cake in. I almost rigged up a round pan with an empty can of tomatoes in the center. But, luckily, my parents were coming for a visit and my mom agreed to bring a bunt pan for me to borrow. A traditional Savarin is baked in a smooth ring mold (like a shallow, metal, jello mold) mine would not be so traditional. But, it was fine, and I didn’t have to buy a piece of kitchen equipment that wasn’t going to be used again.
The batter for this cake is a runny yeast batter. Just water, yeast, a drop of sugar, an egg, butter, and flour….and not a lot. Only 3/4 of a cup. I had serious doubts that it would fill the bottom of the pan. It did–barely. It rose once in the bowl, and then again in the bundt pan.

I left the house to get Dorothy from school and my mom put it in the oven while I was out. It sank.
It was very concave. Not a whole lot of cake there. But we pressed on. Luckily it came out of the pan without any problem, and when we were ready to eat it, I soaked it with a vanilla simple syrup and a tiny bit of dark rum.
I skipped the whipped cream completely. David is lactose intolerant, and it was nice to have a practically fat free dessert. I filled the center with macerated strawberries, raspberries, and some chunked up mango.
The dessert got gobbled up, it was plain, but tasty. The fruit may have stolen the show.

For more tasty examples, visit the Tuesdays with Dorie page!

If you want to make a Savarin yourself, here is the recipe:


6 Tablespoons lukewarm water
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry east
1 teaspoon sugar
1 large egg at room temperature
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

soaking syrup
2 cups water
1 cup sugar (I used vanilla sugar)
dark rum
whipped cream

pour the warm water into a bowl and sprinkle over the yeast and sugar, stir and allow the yeast to ‘bloom’

add the egg and stir briefly, add the flour and mix well, for about 8 minutes (I did this by hand) and then add the butter. Mix until the butter is encorporated

cover the bowl and let rise in a warm place for about 15 minutes. it will rise, but not double.

Butter your pan (I used a bundt pan) and pour the batter in. Let rise for about 30 minutes

Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

remove from pan and let cool.

make syrup: combine water and sugar and let boil until sugar is dissolved

when you are ready to serve, soak the savarin completely with the syrup (you’ll have leftover syrup. save for iced coffee!) and sprinkle with a small amount of rum if desired.

Serve with macerated fruit and whipped cream!

Tuesdays With Dorie: Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

I made this on a big baking and food day. I had been to my favorite blueberry farm to pick berries–I got 8 lbs. when I got home, I immediately threw together the dough for a batch of challah and then got to work on this cake.

It looked for baby cake pans, but couldn’t find any, so I decided to make it in my largest spring form pan–which is almost 11 inches across. And it worked out perfectly.

I made the caramel poured it into the bottom of the pan and then carefully laid the sliced rhubarb in concentric circles inside the pan. I set it aside and got to work on the cake.

The recipe makes sure tell the baker to cream the butter and sugar together for much longer than I normally would. Clearly, the next time I cream butter and sugar together, I’ll be doing it for much longer. I added the eggs and vanilla, and then I folded in the flour and sour cream. By the way, I used King Arthur White Whole Wheat flour in this recipe–you could NOT tell, but it did make me feel a little less guilty when I had a slice for breakfast.

I carefully put it in the pan over the caramel and rhubarb, and into the oven it went. Not difficult at all. About 50 minutes later, it came out of the oven and I upended it on a rack over a plate and then put it on my favorite cake plate.

i’ve never eaten anything with rhubarb before, and I’m sorry that it took 38 years for me to get my first taste. It was delicious. The cake was perfect, and the rhubarb gave a slightly tart flavor to the topping.
I know the next picture is blurry, but I had to put it in the post. When Dorothy heard that this was an ‘upside down’ cake, she turned it over, so the caramel was on the plate and only ate the cake. Foolish child–she left the best part behind! Not to worry, David and I were happy to finish it for her
UntitledThis recipe is hosted by When in Doubt, Leave it at 350, and also be sure to check out the Leave Your Link post at Tuesdays With Dorie. I know there will be lots of delicious examples from my fellow bakers.

Baking with Julia: Gingerbread Baby Cakes

Can you believe, I’ve never made gingerbread before?

Not the little men, or cake. Never. I guess there’s a first time for everything–even the easy stuff
I halved the recipe because I was pretty sure that my crew of tasters might not be that thrilled with it. I ended up with a loaf and three tiny cakes baked in silicone cupcake cups. I should have done the whole batch that way–they turned out absolutely adorably.
I mixed up the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder, instant espresso, black pepper, and ginger. It felt like I was putting the kitchen sink in that bowl. Then the wet ingredients: butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, molasses and fresh ginger. Dry got folded into wet and into the oven it went.

My sous-chef, Adam was very excited to help me out with the mixing and pouring.
Adam mixing the dry ingredients
Adam pouring in the molasses. He was absolutely fascinated.
Adam painting cake release into the pan. Cake release is pretty awesome, and very easy to make yourself. Here’s a link to the recipe I used to make it.

Did you know that a little oil in the measuring cup helps molasses (or honey or anything else that’s very sticky) come right out of the measuring cup?
The pepper and ginger combined to make it a very spicy cake. It was dense and pretty good…though I have nothing to compare it to. The loaf went to school for the teachers, and I heard a few compliments.
Here’s one of the tiny cakes. I had to bring it outside to get a decent picture. Dark brown cake just doesn’t photograph that well in the dying light…
In case you want the recipe, you can find it at Karen’s blog, or in the book. As always, take a look at the Leave Your Link (LYL) post on the Tuesdays with Dorie blog.

Tuesdays With Dorie: Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake

This week’s assignmnet was to make the Nectarine Upside-Down Chiffon Cake from page 241 in the book. I’ve never made a chiffon cake, nor have I ever had any variety of an ‘upside down’ cake–pineapple or otherwise.

This wasn’t a terribly difficult recipe, but there were multiple steps. First to cut and arrange the slices of nectarine
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Tuesdays With Dorie: a Blueberry and Peach Birthday Galette

I know, I know, I’m a little late with this post.  Today is Thursday, and these posts are supposed to go up on Tuesdays. But we’re visiting my parents, and today is my dad’s birthday. He’s 62. So I baked a few days late. So sue me…..

I made the dough yesterday (Wednesday) and the dough came together easily enough. I didn’t need to add the full amount of liquid in the recipe to get the dough to hold together. Though, the method of mixing the ice-water and yogurt or sour cream together is definitely odd in my opinion. Once again, there are no photos of the dough-making because my hands were covered in it. I need to employ a photographer….which I did do for the galette-making. My dad was happy to help (for the blog)

The dough was easy to roll out…maybe a little too easy, and then it stuck to my parchment paper and saran wrap. Into the freezer it went so that it could firm up enough to fold over the fruit. I wet my hands and got the crust a little wet and sprinkled a bit of sugar on it for a little crunch. And into a 400 degree oven it went.
The rolling pin is a little narrow for my tastes, but it was made by my grandfather for my grandmother out of a broom handle a long time ago. I figure the rolling pin is at least 65 years old, if not older.
I filled the galettes with peaches and blueberries, even though our last assignment was nectarine/blueberry. I’m in New Jersey, and it is peach season. I just couldn’t help myself. This morning I also preserved 11 1/2 pints of peach butter, I made them with peaches we picked yesterday at Giamarese Farm in East Brunswick, NJ
I’m 99% sure that it’ll be delicious, but I’m also 100% sure that this is one of the ugliest things that I’ve ever made. The first galette’s dough ‘broke’ while I was folding it, and is bubbling away in a most unattractive way in the oven. The 2nd one seems to be doing better.

you should visit the Tuesdays With Dorie page to see more beautiful gallette’s than mine. The hosts for this week are Lisa and Andrea, they both have the recipe up on their sites–in case you’re interested in attempting to do this on your own.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Blueberry Nectarine Pie

This week our assignment was to make Blueberry Nectarine Pie, and make our own crust. I never make my own crust. Usually I buy a premade crust from the freezer section because they’re parve (contain no dairy) and easy. This wasn’t difficult, and it was delicious, and when I need a crust for a dairy meal, I promise I’ll make it again.

I have no pictures of the crust-making process because my hands were covered in flour and butter and shortening. So, sorry about that. I actually made it twice. The first time I made it I put in 1 1/2 times the water called for. I was trying to halve the recipe and forgot to halve the water until it was too late. I kneaded in some more flour and put it in the fridge. And then I made another one, this time with the correct amount of water. It still ended up sticky and I still had to add more flour, and it turned out fine. So I probably could have used the orginal crust. Its in the freezer waiting for its time to shine.

The filling is a cooked blueberry and nectarine filling. Its got a little lemon juice, sugar and some flour to thicken things up. Its delicious. That’s really all I can say about it.

I made the crust and filling and put it all together and left it in the freezer until we came back from vacation. Two days after we got home, I preheated the oven, lined a sheet pan with aluminum foil, brushed the pie with a beaten egg and sprinkled a little sugar on top. I put it in the oven, and it needed to stay in there almost an hour–probably because it had started out frozen. It came out looking BEAUTIFUL. it smelled AMAZING. and tasted GREAT. I put it in the car, still warm, to bring it to an evening of wine and art that was hosted by my friend Charlene.IMG_0699 IMG_0701
The girls at the dinner party enjoyed it throroughly, and I pulled off a slice to put in Dorothy’s lunchbox today. She helped make the filling, so I hope she tastes it. (as it turns out, she did not. it got a little smooshed in her lunchbox, and she did not like the way it looked. it tasted great though–I ate it! Children really don’t have any taste buds.)

Check out some other beautiful examples of this pie by visiting our hosts for this week at Hillary’s blog: Manchego’s Kitchen and Liz’s blog: That Skinny Chick Can Bake, as hosts, they’ll have the recipe on their blogs. As always there will be a LYL (Leave your link) post at Tuesday’s With Dorie

Tuesdays with dorie: Hazelnut Biscotti

This week’s assignmnet was to make Hazelnut Biscotti, page 315 in the book. Its a pretty easy thing to make, not unlike the mandel bread that I’ve been making for years…which reminds me, I need to find a reason to make that again. yummmm

Back to the topic at hand…hazelnut biscotti. The only change I made to the recipe was to replace 1/3 cup of the flour with 1/3 cup of cocoa. I love the hazelnut/chocolate flavor of nutella or Gianduja  and everything else hazelnut + chocolate. I figured it couldn’t turn out too badly.

The ‘hardest’ part of making these was toasting and then rubbing the skins off the hazelnuts. Dorothy helped with that part and even though she kept on saying how much she doesn’t like nuts, she tasted one, and then another. I guess they weren’t too bad.

They got chopped up and added to the eggs, sugar, flour, cocoa, vanilla extract and baking soda. Dorothy thought that the eggs looked like a face. Could be the influence of the googly eyes I bought as part of our craft closet update/upgrade.

Dorothy was the designated photographer, so here you can see me stirring the hazelnuts into the chocolate dough:
and shaping the dough into logs:
Having wet hands for that part really helped. I popped the dough into the oven for precisely 35 minutes, as directed by Alice Medrich. they came out of the oven and cooled for 10 minutes and then I sliced them, and back into the oven they went. Putting them on a cooling rack for this part was very smart…I thought, because then you don’t have to flip them. While they baked for the 2nd time, I snacked on the scraps. They were good.
And out they came from the oven. Dorothy tasted them and said they were very hard. Which they are. David had one too, and he said they were good. I’ll probably send a bunch with him to work tomorrow.

For more biscotti goodness, you should check out our hosts for the week: Homemade and Wholesome and Baking and Boys! There will be lots of hazelnutty goodness at the Tuesdays with Dorie page, the LYL (leave your link) post will have everyone’s results, which I’m sure will be beautiful and delicious.

Birthday Baking: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was David’s birthday.

Its tough to decide on a birthday cake around here, especially for the grownups. You want to make all the children happy, but still have a cake you want to eat yourself. I was going to make the French Strawberry Cake, which is my next Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia assignment, but Dorothy informed me that she doesn’t like whipped cream. Foolish child. So, we decided on this, a flourless chocolate cake. I think everyone would have eaten the strawberry cake, and only 2/3 of the children will eat this. Reid is my resident chocoholic, and Dorothy likes chocolate too; but, Adam does not enjoy chocolate at all. So, he’ll get a bowl of strawberry sorbet. Can’t please everyone, I guess.

This cake is not complicated to bake. It does require a little fearless-ness, especially if you’re new to the world of separating eggs and whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. I use a hand mixer for this and two bowls–one for the whites, and one for the yolks. Separate the eggs using a third bowl so if you break one yolk, you haven’t lost all the whites–just that one. Whip the whites first, that way you don’t have to wash your beaters, just go right over to the yolks and get to work on them.
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This was my sous-chef’s first time beating egg whites. Dorothy did just fine. She was very serious.
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Don’t get excited when you take it out of the oven. The top is very dry and crackly, and perhaps some of it did crack and collapse. This is supposed to happen. Just put some damp paper towels on it and gently press down.
I don’t know where this recipe came from. Its in the ‘cookbook’ that my mother compiled about 15 years ago, but she didn’t give credit to anyone. No matter. Its a damn good cake.

Flourless – Good for Passover. This extremely rich cake would be delicious with whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or even a glass of ice cold milk

Flour (I use unsweetened cocoa)

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup lightly salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
6 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
2 tsp. crème de cacao, Kailua or dark rum (I used rum)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipping cream well chilled (optional)
2 1/2 to 3 Tbs. powdered sugar (optional, but makes the cake look prettier)

Place oven rack in lower third of oven; heat oven to 375. Butter and flour (or cocoa) and sides of an 8 inch spring form pan; reserve.

Melt chocolate with 1/2 cup butter (in a double boiler, over, not in the water). Or, use a microwave in short bursts so you can stir the chocolate in between. If using a microwave, be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Beat egg whites in medium mixer bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup granulated sugar into whites; continue beating until stiff but not dry peaks form.

Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.

Fold whites gently but thoroughly into chocolate mixture. Pour batter evenly into reserved pan; smooth top.Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350, bake another 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250, bake 30 minutes longer. (Total baking time is 1 hour.) Turn off oven, prop open oven door and allow cake to remain in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cake from oven and cover top with damp paper toweling; let stand 5 minutes.

Remove toweling and cool cake completely. Dome of cake will crack and collapse; this is normal–press top of cake down lightly to smooth top. Remove spring form and transfer cake to serving platter.

Whip cream in chilled mixer bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding 1 ½ Tbs. of the powdered sugar, until stiff peaks form. Dust top of cake with remaining powdered sugar just before serving. Serve cake at room temperature with whipped cream.

easy summer dessert: key lime pie

I first tasted key lime pie when I was a kid. We came to Florida for winter break, and drove down to the Keys from Ft. Lauderdale. My mother convinced me to taste key lime pie, no small feat, I’m sure, and it was love at first taste. For the rest of the trip, we tried key lime pie at almost every place we ate–we were trying to find the best one in the Keys.

Years later, when I was living in Dallas, I discovered this recipe. I printed it out from the Food & Wine website, and its been in my recipe binder since. This was about 10 years ago. I’ve tried it with bottled key lime juice and with fresh. Take my advice, it is just as good with bottled, and you’ll save yourself a lot of pain and suffereing of juicing the teeny-tiny key limes. Unless you have a tree, or your friend with a tree gives you some, don’t be seduced by the cute little limes in the market. They’re nothing but trouble. I use Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice, and I’ve never had trouble finding it in the market.

The recipe includes directions to make your own crust. Do it at least once. It is ridiculously easy. And it is so much better tasting than a pre-made crust. In a pinch, I’ve used the pre made crust, but I’ve always regretted it. You don’t have to grind your own crumbs, but I ran out of pre-ground crumbs….I was lucky that I had a box of graham crackers. Use one bowl for the crust and while it bakes use the same bowl to make the filling. One bowl, one whisk, one spatula and one fork. Could it be any easier?
Key Lime Pie
I’ve not changed a thing about this recipe. It is perfect.

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 7 oz)
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 large egg yolks
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar (I almost always forget to put this in)
2 14-oz cans sweetend condensed milk
2/3 cup Key lime juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 350. In a bowl, stir together the crumbs, melted butter and cinnamon. Evenly press mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet and bake for about 12 minutes, until firm. Remove the crust from the oven and reduce the temperature to 325. Leave the plate on the cookie sheet.
  2. While the crust cools slightly, mix the filling in the same bowl. Whisk the egg yolks and cream of tartar until frothy. Stir in the condensed milk, and then whisk in the juice until fully encorporated.
  3. Pour the filling into the crust and bake for about 15 minutes, or until set.
  4. Cool on a rack and refrigerate once cooled.

Baking for the teachers: Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Sometime last week I volunteered to make dessert for the faculty and staff at Dorothy’s school. It is teacher appreciation week and someone is bringing in lunch, and I thought, “Dessert! They must have dessert!” And then I asked how many people I’ve been baking for. 55. Fifty five people. Gulp.

I spent one evening brainstorming. And then I started baking–or rather, mixing.) I have already made several slice and bake cookies. Lemon Poppyseed CookiesWorld Peace Cookies, and Margarita Cookies (yes, they taste like a margarita. I swear.) Those are all in the freezer waiting to be sliced and baked on Monday. I have also built a small stash of eggwhites in the freezer, so I’ll be making merengues, and today I’m baking brownies. And they’ll live quite happily in the fridge until tuesday.
When I was home for Passover, I stole my mother’s copy of Baking Illustrated. Its an encyclopedia of baking, by the Cooks Illustrated people, so you know you can trust the recipes.

This brownie recipe is super easy. You melt some chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Whisk up some eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the chocolate. Then stir in the flour. That’s it. Two bowls.
Chewy, Fudgy Triple-Chocolate Brownies (with espresso)
From Baking Illustrated. Makes 64 1-inch brownies

5 oz bitersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetend chocolate, chopped
8 oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder (optional)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. spray with cooking spray

Place the chopped chocolates and butter into a glass bowl and set that over a pot of simmering water. Stir occassionally. when melted, whisk in the cocoa and espresso, if using. Let cool.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt, and then whisk in the chocolate

Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour into prepared baking dish

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until puffed slightly and a toothpick comes out with some crumbs on it. Cool on a wire rack (still in pan). Cut into 1-inch squares.

Can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days. Do not cut brownies until ready to serve