Hummus {FFwD}

Part of what I enjoy about French Fridays with Dorie is making something completely new and unfamiliar to me, like last week’s Endive, Apples, and Grapes. It’s fun exploring new flavors, trying new ingredients, and learning new techniques.

But there’s also something enjoyable about a trying a recipe that’s a new version of an old favorite. And that’s what this week’s offering was for me.

I love hummus, and I never go to a Middle Eastern restaurant without trying the house version. And I’ve made lots of hummus over the years. One of my favorite recipes is from the Moosewood Cookbook, but I’m always game to try a new one.

This was a good, solid hummus. Not remarkable in any way. But quite tasty. And it was especially good served on flatbread that I made with this recipe from King Arthur Flour.

I don’t know if I’ll make Dorie’s version of hummus again, but I’ll definitely make the KAF flatbread to use as a base for hummus and other dips and spreads.

Viennese Raisin(less) Coffee Cake {ModBak}

The fourth recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge is Gehrueter Gugelhupf mit Rasinen (beaten coffee cake with raisins), or, more simply put, Viennese raisin coffee cake. Although I don’t have a traditional gugelhupf pan, my Wilton pan is just fancy enough to work for this recipe.

It’s fitting that this recipe comes right after the pound cakes in the book, as it is quite similar to a pound cake in ingredients, mixing method, and flavor. After beating butter and sugar until light and fluffy, I added lemon zest, vanilla, and egg yolks. Then I alternated adding a mixture of flour and baking soda with more egg yolks, mixing each into the batter. Finally, I folded in egg whites. (I omitted the raisins.)

The cake baked up beautifully. The lemon flavor was reminiscent of both the Perfect Pound Cake and Lemon Ginger Pound Cake, as was the somewhat dense texture of the cake. I wonder if the raisins might have made it seem more coffee cake-like. I’ll have to try adding them next time to find out.

If you want to see this cake made in a true gugelhupf pan, along with some stunning pictures of Vienna, check out Sara’s post. And if you want to make this and more amazing baked goods in your own kitchen, pick up a copy of The Modern Baker. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

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.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt {Recipe}

Sometimes the simple things in life are the best. Like a simple, delicious strawberry frozen yogurt.

Or a simple post with a simple recipe for strawberry frozen yogurt.

This recipe was inspired by David Lebovitz and adapted by me.

Fresh Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 pint peak of the season strawberries, stems removed and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Kirsch
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (whole fat, if you can find it; can also use Greek yogurt)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions

  1. Cut the strawberries into 1/2-inch slices and place in a bowl with sugar and Kirsch. Stir to mix well, then set aside to macerate for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Put strawberries and their liquid, yogurt, sour cream, and lemon juice in bowl of food processor. Process until mixture is smooth. Press mixture through fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.
  3. Refrigerate mixture for 1 hour, then process in ice cream maker per manufacturer’s instructions.
  4. Enjoy immediately, or freeze to desired consistency.

Makes about 1 quart.

My family loved this frozen yogurt. In fact, my wife pronounced it “too good”, meaning it won’t last long around here. It was sweet, slightly tart (my 8-year-old picked up on the lemon juice), and tasted like fresh strawberries.

Everyone was surprised when I told them it had sour cream in it. I added it because the only yogurt I had was low-fat, but I ended up liking the smoothness and tang it lent to the frozen yogurt. From now on, it will be a regular addition to my homemade frozen yogurt.

This post is part of Strawberry Week here at Of Cabbages and King Cakes. Check out my other posts to find out what else I did with fresh strawberries while they were in season this year.

Perfect Pound Cake {ModBak}

The first entry in the Cakes section of The Modern Baker is a recipe that Nick Malgieri got from his aunt. Even though I don’t bake the recipes in each section strictly in order, I do at least like to start at the beginning. And this time, that was easy to do, as I love pound cake.

I have made two of Nick’s other pound cake recipes — New Orleans Praline Pound Cake (pralines being another love of mine) and Vanilla Bean Pound Cake. Both of these recipe were from Nick’s more recent book, Bake!, and both were easy and delicious. This recipe was a bit more complicated, but promised to be worth the effort.

What makes this batter more work to make is the mixing method. First, egg yolks are whisked by hand, then sugar is whisked in slowly, followed by vanilla and lemon extracts.

This mixture is then beat with a stand mixer until it is light and well-aerated.

While the egg yolk mixture was whipping away, I mixed the dry ingredients — cake flour and baking powder. Or I would have, if there had been any cake flour in the cupboard. But there wasn’t. So I made my own.

If, like me, you ever find yourself lacking cake flour for a recipe, don’t despair. And don’t run out to the store. It’s easy to make a perfectly acceptable substitute for cake flour using all-purpose flour and cornstarch. For every cup of flour in the recipe, measure 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into a 1-cup measure. Fill the rest of the way with AP flour. That’s it. Just use it in place of 1 cup cake flour, and you’re all set.

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. We just finished beating the egg yolk mixture. I scraped the mixture into a large bowl, then, without washing the mixing bowl, beat the butter for a minute to lighten it. Then I added the flour mixture to the butter and beat until it made a smooth paste.

I scraped the butter-flour mixture over the egg yolk mixture and stirred it all together with a rubber spatula.

Then, I had to wash the mixing bowl in hot, soapy water, as the next step was whipping egg whites, which wouldn’t work unless the mixing bowl was perfectly clean.

I beat the egg whites to a firm peak.

Now. to the tell the truth, I don’t really understand the whole whipped egg whites thing in this recipe. After carefully beating the whites to just the right consistency, you usually continue to treat them with care, folding them gently into the batter and being careful not to break them. Not so with this recipe. After beating the whites, they are unceremoniously stirred — not folded, stirred — into the batter.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, the whole thing is then returned to the mixer and beat — yes, I said “beat”, sir — for 5 minutes. This seemed to completely destroy the integrity of the egg whites. But I have to admit that the resulting batter was light, airy, and beautiful.

I baked the pound cake for about an hour, which, incidentally, was about how long it took to wash all the dishes this masterpiece created.

It smelled great baking and came out of the oven looking great. I cooled the cake in the pan for about 5 minutes, then unmolded it and let it cool before slicing into it.

Many people will tell you that pound cake is best if it is allowed to dry out for a day or so. That may well be true, but I’ve never put it to the test. I’m doing well if I can wait until it cools. Or mostly cools. Or cools to the point that it won’t burn my fingers and tongue.

So, how did this fussy pound cake stack up? It was good. Really good. No, it was delicious. Rich, buttery, with a moist crumb and just a touch of lemon flavor. I ate it warm, cold, and toasted the day it was made and over then next several days. I thought about serving it with crème anglaise on the third or fourth day, but it didn’t last that long.

However, even though this was a great pound cake, I don’t see myself making it again. As delicious as it was, it wasn’t that much better than other pound cake recipes that are half the work. I might use the ingredients and proportions from this recipe with a more modern, quicker mixing method. Now, that could be a winner.

This post is the first recipe in the Cakes section of the Modern Baker Challenge. Check out the Challenge page to see what the other bakers are up to this week.

Blackberry Jam Sandwiches with Lemon Icing {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge recipe was, indeed, a challenge for me. Although Kayte, the official baker for this recipe in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section, reported great success with these cookies, mine didn’t work out so smoothly. I’m sure at least part of the problem was my attitude going into it. I’m not a fan of fussy cookies, and with the mixing, chilling, rolling, cutting, filling, and icing required, these definitely fall into the fussy category.

My problems began with the dough. It only has six ingredients — butter, sugar, vanilla extract, lemon extract, egg yolks, and flour — and I mixed it precisely according to the instructions. The dough came out OK, although it seemed a bit on the dry side. It had to be chilled for at least an hour or two before rolling, although the recipe notes that it can be refrigerated for up to three days.

My dough sat in the fridge for about two days until I was ready to roll it out. Kayte reported that the dough was easy to work with and rolled out without tearing or breaking. As soon as my dough hit the board, I knew I had a problem. My dough was dry and crumbly, and neither pressing it nor letting it rest at room temperature seemed to help. I managed to press out enough dough to cut nine cookies.

The cookies baked up nicely, and while they were in the oven, I melted and reduced the blackberry jam to use as filling for the finished cookies. By the time the cookies were cool enough to assemble, the filling had set and needed to be rewarmed. In reheating the jam, I overreduced it. It was liquid enough to spread on the cookies, and the assembly was easy enough. Unfortunately, when the filling cooled, it was gummy and slightly bitter from having been overcooked.

The final piece to these cookies was a simple lemon icing made of confectioner’s sugar, lemon juice, and water. Easy enough to make, it is then drizzled over the top of the cookies. Because I ended up with fewer cookies than the recipe called for, I cut the icing down quite a bit. In doing so, it came out too thick to drizzle. After trying, and failing, to make nice streaks of icing on the cookies, I spread it on with the back of a spoon. It turned out to be a bit too much icing, although it did counter the gumminess of the jam a bit.

Overall, these were good cookies. And while I know what I did wrong with the jam filling and lemon icing, I’m still not sure what happened to the cookie dough. I’ll be making the chocolate sandwich cookies and raspberry linzer disks in the next few weeks, both of which employ a very similar dough and the same chilling-and-rolling method. It will be kind of like getting a do-over on the cookie dough and a chance for me to see if I can figure out what went wrong this time around.

Lemon Loaf Cake {TWD-BWJ}

This is the second April recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie. Unlike the pizza rustica, which involved mixing and rolling crust, making filling, and shaping a lattice topping, the lemon loaf cake was a quick batter that went from bowl to oven in about 5 minutes. In fact, the most complicated part of the whole thing was denuding the lemons.

The cake baked up beautifully and smelled fresh and lemony when it came out of the oven.

I served the lemon cake for dessert after a dinner of the pizza rustica. Both were big hits with my family.

Our hosts for this week were Truc of Treats and Michelle of The Beauty of Life. Visit their blogs for the recipe. And check out the TWD main page to see what everyone else thought of this recipe.

Lemon & Almond Tuiles {ModBak}

The next recipe in the Cookies, Bars & Biscotti section of the Modern Baker Challenge is a classic French cookie with a bit of classic French fussiness to it. In case you’re wondering, tuile is pronounced “tweel” (rhymes with “feel”).

Or in my case, rhymes with “fail”.

I love my Roul’Pat for so many things. Nothing sticks to it. It’s reusable and prevents wasting parchment paper. It keeps pans clean and wipes right off.

Unfortunately, it also keeps tuiles from spreading when they bake.

The tuiles are supposed to spread paper-thin in the oven. Then when you take them out, you drape them over a cylindrical form so they take on a Pringle-like shape.

As you can see, my tuiles didn’t spread. At all.

So, what did I do with this colossal tuile failure?

I told my family they were lemon almond cookies. And they loved them.

I might try these again someday, this time on buttered parchment instead of Roul’Pat. Although to be honest, the thought of shaping all those cookies when they come of the oven doesn’t thrill me. And my family was right — they tasted fine the way they were.

Lemon Poppy Seed Drops {ModBak}

This week’s Modern Baker Challenge recipe is a simple, but kind of odd, little cookie. At least I’ve never made or eaten anything quite like it before. The main flavor and texture ingredients are lemon, poppy seeds, and almonds. The dough also contains eggs, sugar, butter, vanilla, flour, baking powder, and salt.

The poppy seeds were the ingredient that seemed a bit strange to me. Other than keeflees, kolache, and lemon bread or muffins, I’m not familiar with using poppy seeds in sweets. And they had a strange effect on the dough — they turned it rather gray. So much so that I was a bit skeptical about making these cookies. After all, who would want to eat a gray cookie?

But I pressed on. After all, with the dough mixed up and ready to go, it was just a matter of rolling hunks of dough in chopped slivered almonds, flattening them, and baking them. I found that the amount of almonds was almost perfect. My last few cookies didn’t have quite as many almonds on the outside, but I also didn’t have a bunch of chopped almonds left over.

I flattened the cookies with the bottom of a drinking glass.

Once they were all rolled and flattened, they were ready for the oven. I was still a bit worried about the color, but I had come this far, so I had to finish them.

I baked the cookies in a 350°F oven for about 15 minutes, until they were golden, slightly risen, and baked through. The poppy seeds were still quite evident in the cookies, but they lost their gray pallor in the oven and actually came out looking pretty nice.

Despite the appearance of the dough, these cookies were quite good. They weren’t too sweet and reminded me a bit of shortbread. The lemon gave a bright flavor to them, and the almonds and poppy seeds lent an earthiness that worked well with the other flavors. And even though they weren’t overly sweet, I found myself reaching for them again and again, as there is just something “morish” (as my mother-in-law used to say) about them.

These cookies would be great for a holiday tray, as the flavor is quite subtle and wouldn’t overpower the other cookies on the tray. Of course, they’re not bad on their own, either.

This recipe can be found in the Cookies, Bars, & Biscotti section of The Modern Baker, by Nick Malgieri. If you want to add a great baking book to your library, this one has everything — from cookies and cakes to pies, tarts, and breads. And the recipes are clear, concise, and easy to follow.

Spiced Squash, Fennel, and Pear Soup {FFwD}

When I posted the Twenty-minute Honey-glazed Duck Breasts this morning, I wasn’t planning on writing this week’s French Fridays post until next week. In fact, I hadn’t even made the soup yet, so posting it today seemed out of the question. But with the girls at school, J resting on the couch, Bailey napping wherever he could find a comfortable spot, and me off work for the day, it just seemed like a great time for some cooking. Add to that the fact that we got our first snow overnight, and soup was the perfect choice for the afternoon.

I started out by roasting a pumpkin.

It was only a 3-pounder, so I was surprised by how much meat I got from it.

Next, I did my mise en place. I’m a big proponent of using mise en place for cooking and baking, and I always employ it for soups, which tend to require a lot of measuring, peeling, and chopping but come together quickly once you start cooking. With all your ingredients in front of you, most of the work is behind you.

I sautéed onions in olive oil over low heat, then added fennel, celery, and garlic and cooked until the vegetables softened.

I added spices, the roasted pumpkin, homemade chicken stock, pear, and orange peel to the pot, brought it to a boil, then simmered for about 20 minutes, until the pear was mashably soft.

I pureed the soup with my immersion blender, then adjusted the salt and pepper. Most soups are oversalted for my tastes, so I had used very little salt while preparing the soup. I stirred in a little at a time until the balance was perfect. As I tasted the soup, I thought it might benefit from a little honey to help bolster the sweetness of the pears, so I stirred in about 2 tablespoons of clover honey.

I served the soup with a squeeze of lemon juice and crème fraîche.

The soup was creamy, savory, a little sweet, and spiced just right. The acid from the lemon juice gave it great balance, and the crème fraîche added a nice tang. I could just barely taste the orange peel, and it seemed like the soup would be really good with just a bit more orange flavor, maybe from some zest or a bit of juice.

But it was pretty close to perfect just the way it was.

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