08/31/12 - 0 Comments
Late Summer Baking
Save your chocolate for winter, because now is the time to utilize what nature gave us. Fresh fruit and vegetables are available in abundance at this time of the year and it’s easy to bake something delicious and seasonal with very little effort. Whether it’s sweet or savory, make the most of this year’s harvest by trying out a few of the recipes below.
Simple and fuss-free, a great Victoria Sponge is hard to surpass as a tea-time treat. Feel free to play around with jam flavors, add seasonal fruits and, if you’re a sponge purist, you might opt to leave out the cream in the middle. Those with picnics in mind can make mini versions of this using a mini sandwich tin. This recipe is taken from Lorraine Pascale.
200g butter, at room temperature
200g caster sugar
Seeds of half a vanilla pod or 2 drops of vanilla extract
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbsp warm water (if needed)
For the filling
5-6 tbsp good strawberry jam
300ml double cream
30g icing sugar, plus extra for decorating
Seeds of half a vanilla pod or 2 drops of vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease two 20 cm loose-bottomed sandwich tins and line them with baking paper. Beat the caster sugar and eggs. Add two of the eggs, vanilla and half the flour and beat together. Next, add the 2 other eggs, the rest of the flour and baking powder and beat together. Divide the mixture between the 2 tins, making sure the tops are level with the back of a spoon. Bake for 30 minutes.
Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow the sponges to cool in the tins. When the sponges are completely cool, remove them from the tins and place on a serving dish. Spread one sponge with jam. Whip together the icing sugar, cream and vanilla until thick and then dollop the cream onto the jam. Place the other sponge on top of the cream and sprinkle the top of the cake with icing sugar.
Rhubarb Snacking Cake
Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen is a pro at creating seasonal food that delivers a taste of summer even if you’re stuck in wet and gloomy climates. This year, we’re particularly taken with her recipe for Rhubarb Snacking Cake (anything that includes the words “snacking” and “cake” can only be a force for good), perfect as a late morning/afternoon nibble or, accompanied by a scoop of ice cream, as an al fresco pudding.
565g rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1/2-inch lengths on the diagonal
265g granulated sugar, divided
1 tbsp lemon juice (zest it for the cake before you cut it)
115g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
2 large eggs
165g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp table salt
1/4 tsp ground ginger
80g sour cream
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Coat the bottom and sides of a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with butter or a nonstick cooking spray, then line the bottom with parchment paper, extending the lengths up two sides. Stir together the rhubarb, lemon juice and 2/3 cup sugar and set aside.
Beat the butter, remaining sugar and lemon zest with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at at time, scraping down the sides after each addition. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon table salt and ground ginger together in a small bowl. Add 1/3 of this mixture to the batter, mixing until just combined. Continue, adding 1/2 of the sour cream, the second third of the flour mixture, the remaining sour cream, and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing between each addition until just combined.
Dollop the batter over prepared pan, then use a spatula (offset, if you have one, makes this easiest) to spread the cake into an even, thin layer. Pour the rhubarb mixture over the cake, spreading it into an even layer (most pieces should fit in a tight, single layer).
Stir together the crumb mixture, first whisking the flour, brown sugar, table salt and cinnamon together, then stirring in the melted butter with a spoon or fork. Scatter evenly over rhubarb layer. Bake cake in preheated oven for 50 to 60 minutes. The cake is done when a tester comes out free of the wet cake batter below. It will be golden on top. Cool completely in the pan on a rack.
Cut the two exposed sides of the cake free of the pan, if needed, then use the parchment “sling” to remove the cake from the pan. Cut into 2-inch squares. The cake will keep at room temperature for a few days or you can keep it in the fridge, covered tightly.
French Tomato Tart
David Lebovitz’s tomato tart makes a fantastic summer lunch. By not using custard or cream, David’s recipe allows the focus to remain firmly on the deliciously ripe tomatoes and, at this time of year, it’s easy to pick up tomatoes that will deliver the flavor you need. Do as David suggests and serve this with a leafy green salad and an icy glass of rosé.
One unbaked tart dough (see recipe below)
Dijon or whole-grain mustard
2-3 large ripe tomatoes
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Two generous tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, chives, chervil or tarragon
250g fresh or slightly aged goat cheese, sliced into rounds
Optional: 1 1/2 tbsps flavorful honey
125g unsalted butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
2-3 tbsps cold water
Start with a 23 x 25 cm tart tin. Make the dough by mixing the flour and salt in a bowl. Add the butter and use your hands, or a pastry blender, to break in the butter until the mixture has a crumbly, cornmeal-like texture.
Mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of the water. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten egg mixture, stirring the mixture until the dough holds together. If it’s not coming together easily, add the additional tablespoon of ice water.
Gather the dough into a ball and roll it on a lightly floured surface, adding flour only as necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the counter.
Once the dough is large enough so that it will cover the bottom of the pan and go up the sides, roll it around the rolling pin then unroll it over the tart pan. “Dock” the bottom of the pastry firmly with your fingertips a few times, pressing in to make indentations.
Preheat the oven to 218ºC. Spread an even layer of mustard over the bottom of the tart dough and let it sit a few minutes to dry out. Slice the tomatoes and arrange them over the mustard in a single, even layer. Drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with some chopped fresh herbs, then arrange the slices of goat’s cheese on top. Add some more fresh herbs, then drizzle with some honey, if using.
Bake the tart for 30 minutes or so, until the dough is cooked, the tomatoes are tender and the cheese on top is nicely browned. You might want to check halfway through baking and turn the oven down a little if the top is getting too dark. Conversely, depending on the heat of your oven, if the cheese doesn’t brown as much as you’d like it, you might want to pass it under the broiler until it’s just right.
Ice Cream Cake
If the thought of standing over a stove during the hottest month of the year makes you feel faint, then this is the recipe for you. A case of assembling rather than baking, this ice cream cake is an impressive spectacle, ideal for summer celebrations. You can either use shop-bought or homemade meringues, but it is vital than they are slightly smaller in size than your tin. You can also use whatever fruit or flavor of ice cream you wish. Here, we’ve kept it simple with vanilla ice cream and raspberry compote.
For the cake:
Large tub of vanilla ice cream
For the coulis:
Handful of raspberries
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
Take a large springform cake tin. To start, remove the sides and place one of the meringues on the base of the tin. Then, place a layer of ice cream on top of it, followed by the second meringue. Freeze for an hour to firm up. After that, add another layer of ice cream on top. With a palette knife, make sure the rest of the cake is covered in ice cream. Gently places the tin sides back on and freeze for at least two hours.
Half an hour before you’re ready to serve the cake, remove it from the freezer to soften a little. For decoration, you can pipe small dots of whipped cream on top of the cake, adorning each of them with a raspberry. Make the coulis in a food processor, blitzing the fruit and icing sugar together. Serve alongside the cake.