Lemon Ginger Pound Cake {ModBak}

It’s day five of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages & King Cakes. And today’s theme is a simple one — strawberries make everything better.

Case in point:

This is Lemon Ginger Pound Cake from the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. In the recipe notes, Nick Malgieri states that this cake needs no accompaniment. And he’s right. It’s a great cake on its own. But with height-of-the-season strawberries and freshly whipped cream, it’s sublime.

This is the second recipe in the Cakes section of The Modern Baker. After starting this section with the delicious but fussy Perfect Pound Cake, I was looking forward to trying this simple, quick recipe. Other than grating lemon zest and ginger (I used pregrated ginger), this cake takes almost no time to throw together.

This cake is baked in a bundt pan, which is buttered, dusted with fine bread crumbs, and then sprayed with cooking spray. The bread crumbs seem like a strange addition, but they bake into the cake without a trace.

To mix the batter, I began by combining flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the bowl of my stand mixer. I added butter and beat it with the paddle attachment until it formed a heavy paste. Then I added the remaining ingredients: eggs, egg yolks, milk, lemon zest and juice, and ginger, and beat the batter until it was light and fluffy.

I scraped the batter into the prepared pan and smoothed the top.

I baked the pound cake at 325°F for about 50 minutes, until it was firm, golden, and baked throughout. After cooling the cake in the pan for five minutes, I turned it out onto a rack to finish cooling.

I dusted the top of the cake with powdered sugar and served it for dessert. The lemon and ginger combined to give this pound cake a wonderful flavor.

We ate it plain the first night and really enjoyed it. But when we topped it with strawberries and whipped cream the next evening, we realized we had really hit on something.

Check out the other Strawberry Week entries, starting with Monday’s Real Strawberry Shortcakes.

Man, I can’t wait until strawberry season next year.

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Chicken Breasts Diable {AMFT}

If I’m ever tormented by a devil, I want it to be a French one. With a name like chicken breasts diable, I expected a firy dish with a spicy kick. In fact, I was afraid that I might have to tone it down a bit for the kids.

So I had to laugh when I read the recipe (on page 217 of Around My French Table) and realized that the “fire” in the dish came from Dijon mustard, and only 3 tablespoons for 4 servings, at that. In addition to the chicken breasts and Dijon, the recipe called for butter, olive oil, shallot, garlic, white wine, cream, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper.

This was a simple dish that came together quickly. My chicken breasts were quite thick, and even though I pounded them a bit, they took longer to cook than the recipe called for. After browning the chicken on both sides, I put them in a baking dish and slid them into the oven while I made the sauce in the pan. Then I poured the sauce over the chicken and finished baking it in the oven.

I served the chicken with Garlicky Crumb-coated Broccoli and mashed sweet potatoes.

This was an amazing dish. Spicy (not hot) and very flavorful. Even my Dad, who doesn’t like spicy food, loved it.

Maybe he was French in a previous life.

Swiss Walnut Crescents {ModBak}

For some reason, I had a mental block when it came to making this recipe for the Modern Baker Challenge. I’d decide to make it, then decide I didn’t want to, then change my mind again. On and on it went over the course of several weeks. I must have moved the puff pastry from the freezer to the fridge and back again half a dozen times. I even jumped ahead and made Danish Cheese Pockets while trying to motivate myself to finally get to this recipe.

It wasn’t until I started putting the recipe together that I finally realized why. Even though he calls these “Swiss” pastries and describes both their Swiss German and Viennese heritage, these crescents reminded me of kifli (or “keeflee”), a Hungarian pastry that my aunt makes every year around the holidays.

Now, don’t get me wrong (especially you, Aunt Dar, if you’re reading this); I don’t dislike keeflees. They’re fine. Sweet, nutty, and perfect with a cup of tea. But a few of them go a long way for me. And, like most treats that are only made once a year, no one ever makes only a few of them. No matter whose house you stop by over the holidays, there are plates of them everywhere, and they are offered to you all day long. So, even though I enjoy them well enough, by the middle of December, I would swear I never want to see another keeflee as long as I live.

Nonetheless, this was the next recipe in the Challenge, so I would make it, like it or not. The recipe wasn’t difficult, and the ingredients and method were interesting. I began by making a paste of sorts out of ground walnuts, bread crumbs (I used crumbs from the less-than-stellar maple walnut scones recipe I had recently made), milk, sugar, butter, and spices.

After cooking the nut paste, I spread it out on a plate to cool while I prepared the pastry dough.

For the pastries, I rolled the puff pastry dough out to a large rectangle, then cut it into triangles. I plopped a spoonful of nut filling on the end of each pastry, rolled them up crescent-style, then put them on a baking sheet. I chilled the dough for a few hours, then baked the crescents at 375°F for about half an hour, until the pastry was puffed and golden.

The recipe called for an egg wash before baking the crescents, but I forgot that part. After tasting a few of them and realizing that they really were a lot like keeflees, only better (sorry Aunt Dar), I decided to finish them keeflee-style by shaking them in a bag with powdered sugar.

Like keeflee, these crescents beg to be enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee. They are sweet, nutty, buttery, and just a tiny bit crunchy. The powdered sugar was great with the puff pastry, although J thought it distracted a bit from the buttery flavor.

In the end, I was glad I overcame my keeflee-block and finally got around to making these crescents. I made a full recipe, and they were gone within a few days. And while I can’t say for sure that I’ll make these again, I may change my mind when keeflee season arrives.

Garlicky Crumb-coated Broccoli {FFwD} {AMFT}

I’m not sure what I was doing back on April 8, 2011. Around that time I was finishing up the last of the savory tarts and pies for the Modern Baker Challenge and getting started on the sweet tarts and pies. And I was Twitterbaking recipes from Bake! with some friends.

What I wasn’t doing was making this recipe with the rest of the French Fridays with Dorie members.

So the other evening while I was making Dorie’s chicken breasts diable and looking for a side to serve with it, I thought I’d play a little catch up and make garlicky crumb-coated broccoli.

This was a very simple recipe. I put the broccoli in the rice steamer to cook while I prepared the crumb coating. I melted butter, and sautéed garlic in it. Then I added bread crumbs and toasted them for a few minutes. Finally, I stirred in lemon oil and parsley, then added the broccoli and tossed it all together.

This was a great side dish, as delicious as it was simple. As for how it went with the chicken breasts diable, well, you’ll have to check back next week.