Sunday, March 6, 2011

Strawberries, Apples and Menus.

                                                                                                                                Birthday Cake.

 There have been a lot of cakes made around these parts lately. Two birthdays, lots of rainy days and well, you know, it's winter. What could possibly be better for the soul on a cold day than coffee or hot chocolate than cake.
I know: whipped cream.
But I digress.
Although whipped cream would go very nicely with cakes AND a hot chocolate so everybody wins.
Ok, ok. So, the birthday cake was very very simple: a sponge cake, a syrup so that the cake was moist, whipped cream and strawberries.

                                                               Sponge Cake

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond extract or vanilla extract or orange flower water or anise extract... you get the drift...

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9 inch cake pan with parchment  paper. Butter and flour the paper and sides of pan.

Sift the flour (I almost  never sift  flour but in the case of a sponge cake I do it because there is no baking powder in this cake and the air in the flour will help keep the cake light ).
Whisk together the egg yolks and 1/2 cup of sugar until they are light in color and thick. Mix the extract of your choosing.
Whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks then add the sugar and keep whisking until the whites are stiff and glossy. Fold a third of the egg whites  into the sugar-egg yolks mixture, fold half of the flour, fold another third of egg whites then the rest of the flour. Then what is left of the egg whites until the batter is smooth but don't overdo it.

Bake for 20-30 mns until a toothpick comes out clean. As soon as you get the cake out of the oven run a knife around the edges inside the pan. Put a wire rack on top of the pan, invert and peel off the parchment paper.
Let cool completely and cut in half. With a brush soak both halves of the cake with a syrup:

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
Juice of 1/2 a lemon 
1 tsp of almond extract or whichever extract you choose

Over high heat bring water and sugar to a boil. When sugar is dissolved remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and extract. Let cool.

Make whipped cream with a bit of sugar. Put some in the middle with pieces of strawberries mixed in. Decorate the cake with whipped cream and strawberries.

By the way it looks a lot more lengthy on paper than it was to actually make. I think it took 30-45 mns of putting together the ingredients and decorating the cake at the most.

And now, another very very old cake recipe from France. It's always easy to spot an old-fashioned recipe: there is absolutely no restraint in the amount of butter and sugar used. I love to bake and I have made an extraordinarily high number of cakes in my life and I'm a  chocoholic.... and yet, I think this cake is my favorite. It has a thin crust of butter and sugar on top and the inside is moist, the apples melt away in your mouth and there are little pockets of gooyness on the sides. 

                                                                                                                                Apple Cake.

   With old recipes the proportions are not very exact  on top of me translating from old French but I did my best. 
                                                                              Apple Cake  

1st part:
   10 heaping tbsps of flour (I'm talking about the regular soup spoons used for eating. And Frenh soup                                                      spoons are bigger than american ones so really go for plenty of heaping. I'm not                                              sure this sentence is gramatically correct.)
   8 tbsps of sugar, not level but not heaping either ( I did warn you about about this recipe right?) 
   6 tbsps of milk
   4 tbsps of oil
   2 eggs
   3 tsp of baking powder ( mostly level... yes I know)
   3 or 4 apples

2nd part:
    1 stick of butter
    1 cup of sugar
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 eggs

Preheat oven to 375F and butter and flour a round cake pan. 
Whisk together the flour, sugar, milk oil and eggs until smooth. Pour in the pan and put apple slices all over the surface. Cook in the oven for 20 mns, it should just be starting to color.

In the meantime melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan. When everything is well melted remove from heat and let cool a few minutes. Whisk in the eggs. Pour on the cake after the 20 mns have passed and cook for another 20 to 25 mns until nicely golden.

All right, that was a long post. I'm going to make a separate post today on how to substitute eggs, buttermilk etc...when baking. I think it would be easier to find later that way. 

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