Posts Tagged ‘butter’

I would like to take this moment to say “yum”.  YUM!

…and this is why…

I made this cake this morning.  And yes, I had a piece for lunch.  Well pre-lunch, really.  But it was after noon.  Not that cake before noon and alcohol before noon have the same connotation.  Because they don’t.  Unless you’re referring to the addictive tendencies of those who partake in such substances before noon.  And in that case, I’ll plead guilty.  Without will-power.  But for the next 5 months, I’ll just go ahead and plead pregnant. That works, right? Umm…

Anyhoo.  I just felt like making a cake.  I don’t know why.  There’s no rhyme or reason to it.  I have nothing more to say on the subject.  Except that I highly recommend that if you ever find yourself wanting to make a fabulously moist, extra-super delicious butter cake, this here is the one to try.  The recipe has been dog-eared in one of my favorite cookbooks for ages.  And on a whim, I just decided to take the plunge (into heaven).

Butter Cake with Milk-Chocolate Ganache Frosting barely adapted from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
This recipe yields one 9-inch layer cake.  You may double it to make two layers.

As with all recipes with few ingredients, it’s especially important to use the best ingredients you can find…so shell out the money for some really great butter- after all this is a butter cake!

For the Butter Cake

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • rounded 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 pound (one stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place an oven rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with a circle of parchment.  There is no need to butter and flour the pan.

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt.  Stir to mix well and aerate.

Place the room-temperature butter in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on medium speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until the butter is lighter in color- about 45 seconds.  With the mixer still on medium speed, add the sugar in a steady stream.  Once all the sugar has been incorporated, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue to mix on medium speed until the mixture is very light in color and texture- 4 to 5 minutes.

Slowly pour in the eggs, about 1 Tablespoon at a time,  allowing each addition to be fully incorporated before adding more.  The whole process should take at least 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the vanilla and milk in a small bowl or measuring cup.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in four doses, alternating with the milk in three doses.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl in between additions.

Pour the batter into the cake pan and place in the oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Remove from the oven and set on a rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Invert onto a plate and remove the parchment paper.  then put the parchment back on the cake, with the sticky side up.  Re-invert the whole thing back on to a rack until fully cooled.

To use the next day, simply wrap tightly in plastic.  To be frozen, wrap tightly in plastic and then wrap again in foil- freeze for 2 weeks.  OR ice it and eat now!

Milk-Chocolate Ganache Frosting
Yields about 3 cups of icing.

You’ll get a little more frosting than you’ll need for this cake, however, it’s delicious dolloped into your morning coffee!  This icing turned out great and I loved it, but next time I’d like to try a different ratio using a little less cream and a little more chocolate for a slightly denser result.  Also, you’ll need to start this frosting at least 4-6 hours before you’re ready to use it.  I recommend melting the cream and chocolate together the day before so that’s it’s ready to whip when you are.

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 6-1/2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside.  Heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until bubbles begin to appear around the edges.  Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about 15 minutes.  Stir with a rubber spatula until the mixture is smooth and the chocolate is fully dissolved.  Cool completely and chill for at least 4 to 6 hours, or overnight.

Just before using, pour the mixture into the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Whip on medium-high speed until the mixture holds stiff peaks and is spreadable.  Use immediately.


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Crunchy Chewy WowzersYes.  It was really that good.

A few nights ago we had our lovely friend Big Dan over for dinner.  Not that he’s big.  It’s just that he’s bigger than his roommate, Little Dan.  And since they are roommates, and both named Dan, and since we never knew Little Dan’s last name, we renamed them.  And plus, referring to Big Dan as such, is much easier than referring to him as: my husband’s sister’s husband’s sister’s son.  Which he is.

He showed up for our little mini-gathering sans Little Dan but avec his fancy-shmancy, super-expensivo camera in order to document our lives (or at least a few hours of it).  And rather than take pictures of our faces, he took pictures of dinner!  And made me drool over the things that his fancy-shmancy, super expensivo camera can do.  But then he proceeded to show me how to use my pretty-darn good, not-nearly-as-expensive camera.  I got a whirlwind tutorial of aperture settings, f-stops and shutter speed, which totally thrilled me.  And it made me realize that my pretty-darn good, not-nearly-as-expensive camera truly is pretty darn good.  And then, seeing my new-found satisfaction with my own camera, he declared, “Look Scott, I just saved you money!”  And that’s why we love Big Dan.

But back to that lovely picture, taken by the truly talented Big Dan.  That was dessert.  I used Crimson Baby nectarines, and David Sun peaches from Blossom Bluff Orchards.  They grow some of the tastiest stone fruit all summer long, and I just can’t keep away from their stand at the farmer’s market.  If you ever attend the Berkeley Farmer’s Market, be sure to find them and taste their wares.  Seriously.  Don’t miss out.

So I’ve had this tart on my “to make” list for a few months now, and have been waiting for the fruit to come in to season and really hit it’s stride.  And finally, the opportunity presented itself.  The galette turned out really well.  The crust was buttery, flaky, and nicely crisped, even on the bottom.  And the fruit just melted right into the crust with a nice balanced acidity and sweetness.  Be sure, when you’re baking, to choose fruit that has nice acidity.  The sub-acid, or low acid fruits are great for eating out of hand, but are not so great for baking.  I personally prefer the higher-acid fruit, even for eating out of hand.  And remember that high-acid doesn’t mean under ripe.  The acidity and sweetness should balance each other out, complementing the overall flavor of the fruit.  Think about these things next time you’re tasting peaches, nectarines, apricots and plums, and you’ll see what I mean.

The recipe for the crust as well as for the whole galette, came from one of my favorite books, The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook.  It’s contributors include Flo Braker, Julia Cookenboo, Marion Cunningham, David Lebovitz, Lindsey Shere, and Peter Reinhart.  And the recipes are just great.


Peach-Nectarine Galette from The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook, recipe by Lindsey Shere

Basic Tart Dough (Pate Brisee)
makes enough dough for one 9-inch tart or 10-inch galette

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon-and-sweep)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup cold water, or as needed

Combine the flour and salt in a bowl.  Cut in half the butter with a pastry blender (or run it between your fingertips) until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. (above picture #1)  Cut in the remaining butter until it is in pea-sized bits. (above picture #2)

Sprinkle the water in evenly, tossing the flour mixture with a fork as you do so, adding just enough water so that the mixture is completely moistened and holds together when pressed between your fingers.  (above picture #3) Gather up the dough and press into a 1/2-inch-thick disk.  Wrap tightly in plastic wrap.

Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.  (The dough can be prepared up to 2 days ahead, wrapped, and refrigerated.  It can also be frozen, overwrapped with aluminum foil, for up to 2 months.  Defrost the frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.  If the dough is very hard and well chilled, let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Then pound the dough, vertically and horizontally, with the rolling pin until it is pliable but still cold.)

Note:  The two-step process of cutting in the butter has a double purpose.  The small butter “crumbs” waterproof the gluten in the flour, keeping it from forming the invisible strands that will toughen the dough.  The larger pieces of butter separate the dough into layers as it bakes and provide flakiness.


To make the galette
makes one 12-inch galette, 8 to 10 servings

  • tart dough (see above)
  • 2 Tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 7 Tablespoons sugar
  • 4 each, medium ripe nectarines and peaches (8 pieces total), unpeeled, pitted and cut into 1/3-to 1/2-inch wide slices

Position a rack in the center of the oven.  If you have one, place a baking stone on the rack, and preheat to 400 degrees.  Line a rimless baking sheet with parchment paper.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a very thin (no more than 1/16-inch thick) 14-inch-diameter round.  Roll out the edges a bit thinner than the center so that when the edges are folded over to make a border, it won’t be too thick.  Transfer to the baking sheet.

In a small bowl, combine the flour and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar with your fingers and sprinkle over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border.  Arrange the nectarines and peaches in concentric circles on top on the sugar, leaving a border.  Sprinkle the fruit with 4 Tablespoons of the remaining sugar.  Fold the border of dough over onto the nectarines.  Lightly brush the dough with a little water and sprinkle with the remaining 1 Tablespoon sugar.

Bake until the edges and bottom of the pastry are quite brown (lift up an edge of the galette with a spatula to check), 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Immediately slide the galette off the pan onto a large wire cooling rack.  Let stand for 5 minutes.  If the nectarines and peaches have given off syrupy juices that have collected in the galette, brush them over the fruit to make an instant glaze.  Let the galette stand for at least 10 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature.

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