Archive for the ‘Snack Food’ Category

For some reason recently I remembered Mother, every once in a while, making some sort of spice cake and a pot of warm lemon sauce. As I recall, most of my siblings weren’t too fond of the sauce in particular, because it was quite tart. But it brought back fond memories for me, so I decided to see if I could find a reasonable facsimile.

My normal search starts (and usually ends) with America’s Test Kitchen. It is usually pretty easy to find a blogger who has put their recipe on the web. ATK is helpful because they test each recipe so many times and then explain why they went the direction they did with it. The explanation makes it easy to understand the why’s and wherefore’s of the recipe, rather than just giving a list or ingredients and processes. Understanding makes it easier to personalize.

Anyway, here is the ATK recipe for the Spice Cake. I followed this closely, except the cardamom was $13 for about 2 oz and I just couldn’t justify that expense, so let’s call this Cardamomless Spice Cake.

2 1/4 Cs unbleached all-purpose flour (11 1/4 ounces), plus extra for dusting pans
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
16 tbsps unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp table salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
3 large egg yolks at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 3/4 Cs granulated sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
2 tbsps light molasses or mild molasses
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 C buttermilk, at room temperature

1. For the cake: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 13- by 9-inch baking pan. Combine spices in small bowl; reserve 1/2 teaspoon for frosting.

2. Heat 4 tablespoons butter in 8-inch skillet over medium heat until melted, 1 to 2 minutes. Continue to cook, swirling pan constantly, until butter is light brown and has faint nutty aroma, 2 to 4 minutes. Add spices and continue to cook, stirring constantly, 15 seconds. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.

3. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs, yolks, and vanilla to combine. In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream remaining 12 tablespoons butter with sugar and molasses at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl twice with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add cooled butter and spice mixture, ginger, and half of egg mixture; mix until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining egg mixture; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk, mixing until just incorporated after each addition, about 5 seconds. Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.

4. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Zigzag the tip of a metal spatula through batter, pulling it to pan edges. Lightly tap pan against counter 3 or 4 times to dislodge any large air bubbles; smooth surface with spatula.

5. Bake until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 32 to 37 minutes. Cool cake to room temperature in pan on wire rack, about 2 hours.

Lemon Sauce

I scrounged around on the web and found a number of different recipes before settling on this one, that I then adjusted.

1/2 cup sugar
1 Tbs. + 2 tsp. cornstarch
1 cup water
2 Tbs. butter
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1 Tbs. grated lemon peel
Mix the sugar and cornstarch together in a sauce pan. Gradually add the water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir it for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in the butter, lemon juice and lemon peel.

I bumped up the amounts of everything. Used the juice of one lemon (1/4-1/3C), plus zest of the entire lemon (almost 2tbsp?). Added probably 2 Tbsp lemon juice from the ubiquitous green bottle. Used 1 1/2C water and probably close to 2 Tbsp cornstarch. Only used 1/2C sugar even with the added lemon, but it was still sweet. Alot like thicker lemonaide. I’d like it to be still thicker, especially when warm.

Comments: We loved the aroma of the spices as they bloomed. The cake came together pretty easily and baked up nicely. I was surprised that the spice flavor was not more assertive. I might try adding more spices next time. The lemon sauce needs to be more tart for my taste, so I will likely cut back on the sugar next time.

Jill likes it, which automatically puts it into the winner-make-again category. Aubrey has adult tastes, cuz she won’t keep her hands off the cake. So now I have extra lemon sauce and leftover fresh ginger root…so I guess I’ll have to try a gingerbread cake now. Shucks:)


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Russell Moore has been posting podcasts called “The Cross and the Jukebox: Roots, Music, and Religion” and it has been interesting to listen to his take on various themes in popular music.

Moore is the Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice-President for Academic Administration at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, so his deep affection for country music is, at the surface, odd. But he grew up in Mississippi, so you have to cut him some slack.

Last week he analyzed Don Maclean’s iconic anthem American Pie. At the end he played a parody of American Pie which had me laughing aloud.

Turns out the parody is one of Weird Al Yankovic’s classics, and it is older than dirt. So I’m behind the times musically; that’s not news. Anyway, Weird Al masterfully spoofs both American Pie and Star Wars  in one fell swoop.

And I just had to share it with you.

By the way, Moore’s podcast is well worth listening to.

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World Nutella Day : February 5, 2011!

We had a Dream. And a Spoon.

Nutella Lovers Unite for just One Day – Nutella Day!

JOIN the Official World Nutella Day Fan Page on Facebook!

Hundreds of Nutella recipes submitted as part of the World Nutella Day celebrations and from various bloggers around the world! If you’d like to add your recipe to this list, send an email to nutelladay *at* nutelladay *dot* com with the link to your blog post! (PS: We prefer recipes posted on blogs and do not post links to recipe aggregators or portals).

Nutella is more than just a “chocolaty hazelnut spread,” it is a way of life.

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currently reading

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scott conant & chopped

I have long enjoyed watching The Food Network, though the Network has taken an odd and boring direction. Have you noticed that about half the shows are now some variation of weird competition? Who really cares about pastry chefs making new and bizarre cupcakes? And that Chefs v. City is the most brainless show since Survivor. If this is what they are left to work with they just need to bag the whole idea.

The two competitions that we do enjoy are Iron Chef America and Chopped which pits real chefs in real cooking. The one oddity is the “choice” of ingredients in the Mystery Basket. Do they simply let 3rd graders roam through a supermarket? Or do they throw darts at a list?

Sweet Redemption” was an episode that aired first in January and was memorable because of Chef Chris Burke, a wholly obnoxious personal chef from NY, who thoroughly annoyed everyone on the show from the other contestants to the judges.

It was also memorable for a comment that Scott Conant made to the eventual winner, Chef Amy Roth. During the appetizer round, Chef Amy grated some Parmesan cheese over littleneck clams, and Scott was horrified, I tell you. “Cheese does not belong with seafood,” he stuffily muttered. Chef Amy replied that she cooked what she liked and it seemed to work well in that dish. He stared down his nose in disdain, while she calmly stood her ground.

Who writes these rules? No cheese with seafood? Has he never had a fish stick and cheddar cheese sandwich? Does he not have children? Does he not understand that cheese holds everything together? (If he would like to explain this to me in person, I’d be glad to listen and learn.)

Chef Amy still won the $10K, though I think it was because she was pitted against the most irritating chef ever to have been picked for the show.

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how far, how fast

I am not much of a techie, but this history of computers is pretty fascinating.



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