Pineapple Upside-down Cake

pineapple upside cake 2

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

All those upside-down cakes of yore topped with canned pineapple rings with maraschino cherries adorning the centers will seem like a bad memory after you’ve tasted this fresh pineapple version.  Select a pineapple that is fragrant and has a little give when pressed. The subtle tang of the buttermilk and tender crumb are irresistible.    The glistening caramel gives the cake a glorious finish. A dash of dark rum on the finished cake is a delightful touch.

Needed: a 9-inch silicone cake pan, rimmed baking sheet, wide-bottomed light-colored saucepan (such as stainless steel).

Ingredients:

1 cup sugar

1 large ripe pineapple

For the Cake:

1 stick (8 T) unsalted butter, softened

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

½ t pure vanilla extract

1 ½ cups unsifted all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

¼ t salt

½ cup nonfat buttermilk

Procedure— Caramel:

1. To a heavy, wide-bottomed saucepan, add 1 cup sugar.  Don’t use a dark-colored pan as you won’t be able to see the color of the caramel change.

2. Over medium heat let the sugar melt swirling pan but not stirring it.

3. When the caramel reaches a light amber color, remove it from the heat and pour immediately into the silicone pan. Carefully swirl the pan to coat the bottom.  Set aside on a rimmed baking sheet. (This can be done well ahead.)

The Pineapple:

1. Cut the top off the pineapple and a slice from the bottom so the pineapple will sit upright. Quarter the pineapple.

2. Core, peel and slice into ¼” slices.

3. Arrange the slices on top of the hardened caramel, overlapping them with the flat edges pointing upward.  Remember that this will be the top of the cake.

The Cake Batter: Heat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cream the butter in an electric mixer.  Add the sugar gradually and beat until the mixture is light.

2. Add the eggs one at a time and beat after each addition for 15 seconds.

3.  Add the vanilla extract.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together.

5. With the mixer on low speed, add half of the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Mix just until the flour disappears.

6. Add the buttermilk and mix again.

7. Add the remainder of the flour mixture and again, mix just until the flour disappears.

8. Scoop large dollops of the batter over the pineapple taking care not to disturb the arrangement of the slices.  Smooth out the batter.

9. Bake until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake is golden brown (about 50 minutes).

10. Run a knife between the cake and edge of the pan.  Set a serving platter on top of the pan and invert.  Carefully lift off the cake pan.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Adapted from a recipe by Margery K. Friedman

Cranberry Walnut Muffins

muffin

Photo by Bill Brady

Here is a breakfast muffin worth waking up for.  Actually I think of them as anytime muffins.  Inhale them as they come out of the oven and you’ll want to bite into the soft cakelike crumb right away.

Need :  2 muffin tins (not mini)  Fill any unfilled cups halfway with water to prevent over browning of the muffins or warping of the pan. Makes 16 muffins. 

Ingredients

½ cup butter plus more for preparing muffin tins

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 t baking powder

¼ t salt

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

2/3 cup sour cream

Zest from one orange

½ cup chopped walnuts

½ cup dried cranberries, steeped in hot water until plumped and then drained

Procedure

1. Butter muffin tins.

2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt onto a sheet of wax paper and set aside.

3. In an electric stand mixer cream butter and sugar until light and creamy.  Add one egg at a time.

4. Take mixer bowl off stand.  Fold in 1/3 of the flour at a time alternating with the sour cream.

5. Fold in orange zest, walnuts and lastly, cranberries.

6. Fill muffin tins two thirds full.

7. Place in middle of 375 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Check after 15 minutes.  A toothpick inserted in the middle should come out clean. Cool on a rack for 15 minutes.

MuffinsDSCF8664

Puff Pastry with Ham and Cheese

IMAG0542Need a wow of a brunch dish?  This is it!   Ham and cheese encased in crisp buttery puff pastry.  A tart salad alongside goes well.  And why not start with bellinis?

Ingredients

1 lb. puff pastry (See recipe in previous post.)

2 T Dijon mustard

¾ lb. good quality ham, cut into a ½-inch dice

½ lb. Gruyere cheese shredded on large holes of box grater

Egg wash made from I egg and 1 T water, beaten

Procedure

Cut 1 lb. piece of puff pastry in half.  Roll out to fit a 10 X 15 baking sheet. Place parchment paper or a silicone mat on the baking sheet. Transfer pastry sheet to baking sheet.  Spread mustard over sheet leaving a 1-inch border.  Evenly spread ham over mustard, also leaving 1-inch border.  Sprinkle cheese on top of ham.

Roll out the other piece of puff pastry to 10 X 15.  Place on top of cheese layer.  With a small sharp knife cut the edges straight.  Press indentations around the edge with the tines of the back of a fork. Chill for at least 20 minutes.

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Take out pastry and brush with egg wash.  Cut a few decorative slits to allow steam to escape.  Place cold pastry in hot oven. This gives the pastry a sudden burst of heat giving it a good start to its rise.  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden brown and puffed.  Let cool briefly.  Cut into squares and serve.  Makes 6 servings.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

Challah, Glorious Challah!

When I think of homemade challah, the words warm, rich, golden and ambrosial come to mind. I find that baking my own is immensely rewarding.  My house is filled with a wonderful yeasty aroma, the fresh bread is heavenly and, in the unlikely event there is any left over, nothing makes a better French toast or bread pudding.

This lovely golden egg-rich and light-textured bread is prepared much the same as the dough for traditional white bread, but it is a stiffer dough and is baked on a cookie sheet rather than in a loaf tin.

The only trick is in the braiding, but a “trick”, of course, is just knowing how to do something.  Invariably, instructions on braiding bread tell you to lay three ropes of dough on a work surface and braid them horizontally, much as you would braid a pigtail.   This technique is very likely to produce a long skinny loaf as there is a tendency to pull on the ropes as you braid them.

The technique suggested here, which I learned from Chef John Clancy, calls for four ropes rolled out slightly higher in the center and tapered toward the ends.  The braiding is executed in an upward vertical manner and the loaf is then flipped on its side for that picture-perfect plump loaf.

.

Ingredients:

2 packages rapid-rise yeast (about 5 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon sugar

5 cups bread flour

2 teaspoons salt

3 eggs, lightly beaten

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 egg yolk

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Procedure:

  1. Mix yeast, ½ teaspoon sugar, and 1 cup warm water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup.  Set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Mix remaining sugar, flour, and salt in large bowl of electric mixer; add eggs, butter and yeast mixture.  Using dough hook attachment, knead at low speed until smooth and satiny, 6 to 8 minutes.
  3. Form dough into a ball and let rise in a large, lightly buttered bowl covered with a damp towel until approximately doubled in size, about 1 hour.  Deflate to original size, re-form into a ball, cover, and let rise again until doubled in size.
  4. Deflate dough again and turn onto a lightly floured work surface.  Press dough into a rough square and cut into 4 equal pieces, preferable with a blunt object to seal in gases (a wooden spatula works well. Let rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Roll each portion of dough into an 18-inch rope that is thicker in the middle than at the ends, stretching dough as you roll.  Place ropes on a large work surface to form an X and pinch in the center to seal.  To finish the braid, follow the illustrated steps.
  6. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Place braided dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet; cover with damp cloth and let rise until almost doubled, 30 to 45 minutes.  Beat yolk with milk; brush entire loaf with this glaze.  Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake until bread is golden brown and an instant-read thermometer registers between 190 and 200 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes.  Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool.
  7.    Braiding technique:
    Drawing #1

    [Drawing #1]  Make four ropes of equal length and lay them out in the shape of a four-pointed star; pinch them together in the center to seal.  Think of the points as numbered one to four.  Starting with point one fold it directly over the center, so that it lies beside point three.  Then fold point three directly over the center, again creating a four-pointed star.

    1. Drawing 2

    [Drawing #2] Now fold point four directly across the center so that it lies parallel to point two; then fold point two over the center, again creating a four-pointed star. Continue this one-side-to-the-other braiding, making sure to keep the bread upright until all the lengths have been folded.  As you work, give the ropes a little slack when you reach the center and braid a little more tightly toward the ends.  This will give the baked loaf the characteristic high in the middle shape.

    1. Drawing #3

    [Drawing #3] Continue this one-side-to-the-other braiding, making sure to keep the bread upright, until all the lengths have been folded.

    1. Drawing #4

    [Drawing #4] Pinch the end pieces firmly together at the top.

    Drawing #5

    [Drawing #5] Lay the finished bread down on its side on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover with a towel and let rise 30 minutes.  After this third rising brush entire loaf with the egg yolk and milk glaze, dip a finger in the glaze, then in the poppy seeds and gently roll your finger over the loaf for an even topping.  I  just learned this technique from Maya of chaitimeblog.wordpress.com.  As you can see from my photos,  just sprinkling on the poppy seeds gives an uneven finish.  Bake in the middle of a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes until the crust has turned a shiny golden brown.  Place on a rack to cool.  Happy Hanukka!

    Variation:  Add 1/8 teaspoon saffron threads dissolved in one teaspoon hot water in step one for a more golden color.

    My recipe appeared in the March/April issue of Cooks Illustrated, 1994

    Photos by sweetpaprika

Stuffed! Stuffing or Dressing–Spice It Up!

Chorizo Dressing

I admit that stuffing is my favorite part of Thanksgiving dinner.  Well, dressing, if it’s cooked outside the turkey.  I’ve always preferred basic bread dressing, but my blogging teammate, Bill, gave me the great idea of adding chorizo. The result is still those familiar homey bread dressing flavors yet nicely kicked up a bit.

I prefer to bake the dressing separately, so I add a half cup of drippings from the roast turkey to add that “roasted in the turkey” flavor.  What you’re looking for here is a moist, not too compact, interior and a crisp top. Enjoy!

Ingredients

5 T butter, plus 1 for greasing dish

2 medium yellow onions, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1 lb. chorizo, diced

1 tart apple, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and diced

10 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped

3 springs fresh thyme pulled from stems and finely chopped

Salt (preferably sea salt) and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 loaf of quality bread, such as a Pullman loaf, cut into 3/4 –inch cubes and toasted in oven for 25 minutes

2 eggs beaten

1 cup dried cranberries

½ cup chopped parsley

1 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock or low sodium store-bought broth

½ cup drippings from turkey roasting pan

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt 5 T butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions, celery, chorizo, apple, sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Cook,  stirring often for 5 minutes.

2. Transfer to a large mixing bowl and cool. Add bread, eggs, cranberries and parsley. Carefully blend in enough stock (1 to 2 cups) plus 1/2 cup drippings from the turkey roasting pan until the dressing is well moistened. Check for seasoning.

3. Add to a well buttered baking dish.  Bake without a cover for 35 minutes until top is beginning to brown and the interior is moist and cooked through.

Photographer Bill Brady http://bit.ly/9wFYxm

Jambalaya Dressing

Wild Rice Dressing

Holiday Rum Cake

How about a lovely aromatic rum cake for the upcoming holidays?  This is basically a pound cake yet redolent with just the right amount of dark rum to pique your palate.  Should you want a more intense confection, poke a few small holes in the finished cake and brush on a little more rum.  Adorn with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Ingredients

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

½ t salt

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

4 large eggs

3 yolks from large eggs

2 t vanilla extract

½ cup quality dark rum

Whipped cream for topping

Directions

1. Adjust rack to lower third of the oven and heat to 325 degrees.

2. Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and affix paddle attachment.  Add butter and beat on lowest speed until well mixed.

3.  In another bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolks, vanilla and rum, mixing well.

4. Add 1/3 of the wet ingredients to the stand mixer bowl and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes.  Scrape down bowl.

5. Add another 1/3 to the mixer and beat for 2 minutes, scraping down bowl again.

6. Add final 1/3, beat and scrape as before.

7. Scrape batter into a buttered and floured 12-cup Bundt pan, smooth top and place in oven.

8. Bake for about 60 to 75 minutes or until a toothpick inserted between edge and center of pan comes out clean.  There may be a few dry crumbs attached.

9. Let cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then invert  and release from pan to continue cooling.  Add a dollop of whipped cream to each serving.  Store by wrapping in plastic wrap and then aluminum foil.

Photos by Michael Kirigin

Blueberry Buckle

You may have tried blueberry muffins, crisps, cobblers, grunts (yes, grunts), pies and tarts, but how about a buckle?  A buckle not only shows off blueberries at their best but just about any mix of fresh berries. Cakelike under a firm and crispy crust, buckles make great breakfast treats.  Serve a buckle with whipped cream for dessert or as a tasty snack just about any time.

Blueberry Buckle

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 9X13-inch baking pan

Ingredients

Cake

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 t baking powder

½ t salt

½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature

½ cup granulated sugar

½ cup light brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup milk

1 ½ t vanilla extract

2 cups fresh blueberries

Topping

½ cup all-purpose flour

½ cup light brown sugar

½ cup quick rolled oats

½ t ground cinnamon

Pinch of salt

4 T butter, cut into small cubes

½ chopped walnuts or pecans

Procedure

For cake:  Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar mixture in a mixer.  Add the eggs one at a time.  Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk and vanilla. Fold in the blueberries and pour the batter in to the baking pan.

For the topping: Combine all the ingredients with a pastry blender or fork until the butter forms pea-size lumps.  Sprinkle over top of cake.  Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool.  Run a knife around edge. Cut and serve.  Whipped cream makes a lovely addition.

Photo by Michael Kirigin

 

Happy Birthday, Sweetpaprika!

Three years ago today I started my food blog.  As much as I love cooking and writing about food, I wondered if I would be sufficiently resourceful  to post on a  weekly basis.  Here it is three years and 194 posts later and I have averaged well more than a post a week.  It is a labor of love and I have many more ideas I hope you will consider blogworthy.  So stay tuned for more to come.

In honor of sweetpaprika’s third anniversary, I thought I would repost my favorite cake, the  one that  everyone in my family requests for a birthday cake.  It’s rich, decadent and luscious.  Chef John Clancy taught me how to make the buttercream frosting.  I have scoured my cookbook collection and the Internet for the perfect chocolate cake.  This is as close as I have come.

I have made two changes from Christopher Kimball’s chocolate cake in The Cook’s Bible.  First I have substituted an extra ¼ cup of cocoa for ¼ cup of flour to make it more chocolaty.  Secondly,  I have used a technique I learned from cake decorator Scott Woolley for helping to assure a moist cake.  Instead of allowing the cake to cool off when removed from the oven and thereby losing moisture, he wraps the layers immediately in aluminum foil and places them in the freezer.  This also makes frosting the cake easier as there are no loose crumbs.

Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1 ¼ cups cake flour

¾ cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa

2 t instant espresso powder

¼ t baking powder

½ t baking soda

½ t kosher salt

12 T unsalted butter, softened

1 ¼ cups sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 egg white, room temperature

1 ½ t vanilla extract

1 cup buttermilk

Procedure

1. Grease the bottom of two 8-inch baking pans.  Line with parchment paper.  Grease paper (I use butter) and four pans.  Turn pans upside down and lightly tap  to remove excess flour.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place oven rack in the middle position.

3. Sift flour, cocoa, instant espresso, baking powder, baking soda and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.

4. Add butter to the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 1 minute or until light-colored.

5. Add sugar gradually and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes until mixture is very light-colored and fluffy (scrape down 2 or 3 times).

6. Add whole eggs and egg white one at a time, beating for 20 seconds after each addition.  Add the vanilla and beat for 10 seconds.

7. Add the flour mixture in three parts alternately with the buttermilk.  Beat on low speed after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Do not overbeat.

8. Pour batter into pans and bake 25-30 minutes.  Test for doneness by inserting a toothpick.  It should come out clean.

9. Now here’s the part that might surprise you.  Don’t let the cake cool. Instead, wrap well in aluminum foil and place in freezer.  This will help to insure a moist cake that will be easy to frost.

Mocha Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients

¾ cup milk

3 egg yolks

1 ¼ cups confectioners sugar

¾ lb. unsalted butter (3 ticks) softened but cold

2 T instant espresso

Procedure

1. Place the egg yolks and sugar  in a heavy sauce pan and with a wooden spoon, mix them together until well blended.

2. Put the milk in a small saucepan and heat it over medium heat until bubbles form around the edge of the pan.

3. With a wire whisk, beat hot milk gradually into sugar mixture.  Cook on low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon until mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon.*

4. Place the hot yolk mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Beat on high speed until double in volume and down to room t temperature.  Add the instant espresso.

5.Turn the mixer down to medium speed and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time.**

6. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer up to high speed and beat for about 2 minutes until the buttercream becomes light in texture and forms soft peaks.

7. Remove cake layers from freezer.  Place one layer on the pan it was baked in turned upside down.  The cake and the pan will line up perfectly thereby allowing you to frost the sides and transfer the cake to a platter without any mess.  Spread frosting on the top of the layer.  Then place the top layer on. Spread frosting on the top of the cake and then the sides.  Allow the cake to rest in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Optional: Make a syrup of 1/3 cup cold water and 3 T sugar. Stir and cook until sugar dissolves, 4 to 5 minutes.   Add 2 T Amaretto or Kahlau liqueur to syrup and brush on cake layers.

*The way I tell that the mixture is thick enough is that it begins to thicken on the bottom of the pan.  At that instant, scrape it into bowl of mixer.

**At this point the frosting will look gloppy, to use a technical term, but fear not.  It will come together and become glossy when beat at high speed.

Photo by sweetpaprika

Rhubarb Is Here!

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

When I see bins of bright pink spears of rhubarb and baskets of scarlet strawberries, I must sweep them up and make a pie.  I don’t know who first paired the flavors of strawberries and rhubarb, but it is a most compatible marriage.  The combination of sweet and tart works again and again.  If I had to name my favorite pie, this one would be in the forefront along with my “unsinkable apple pie”.

Ingredients

Two recipes for the pie dough in my peerless pumpkin pie recipe.(See Pages in right sidebar).  Refrigerate at least ½ hour.

4 cups fresh rhubarb, cleaned and sliced into ½ pieces

3 cups fresh strawberries, cleaned, hulled, and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 ¼ cups sugar

½ t cinnamon

Zest from one orange

4 T instant tapioca

¼ t salt

2 T unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes

Glaze:

2 T milk

2 T raw sugar

Procedure

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry, leaving a ½-inch overhang.  Chill in refrigerator while making the filling.  Combine rhubarb and strawberries in a bowl.  Add sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, tapioca and salt. Shake and combine well to mix dry ingredients with fruit and let stand 15 minutes.

Roll out the top pastry to a 12-inch circle.  Important tip: drain excess liquid from pie filling.*  Pour filling into pastry shell and dot with butter.  Cover with top pastry folding top edge under bottom.  Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar.  Make three cuts on top of pie to let out steam.  Place pie on an aluminum foil covered cookie sheet and set on shelf in lower third of oven. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, then lower temperature to 350 for 35 to 40 minutes until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling up through cuts on top.  Let cool on a rack before serving.

This pie can be made with a lattice crust  See recipe for cherry pie with seasonal tart cherries ( Pages in right sidebar).

*Draining the liquid from the filling will assure a firm, not runny, filling after the pie is baked.

Maple and Mustard Glazed Easter Ham

A succulent glazed ham is an easy and classic choice for a holiday celebration. And since Easter is right around the corner, why not plan on picking up a half pre-cooked ham, either shank or butt end if you will be serving 12 or fewer people.  For a larger number of people, a whole ham would be your best choice. Providing you’re not going for a smoked country ham, a ready-to-eat ham is an economical choice as it often goes on sale just before Easter.  Even so, look for the best quality. “In natural juices” on the label will assure a better flavor than”with water added”.

Now, which to buy, the butt end or the shank end?  The butt end will provide more meat, although it will be more difficult to slice because of the shape of the bone.

And to accompany your savory entree, how about a batch of Chef David Leite’s airy pull-apart rolls?

Ingredients

½ ready-to-eat, cooked ham, bone-in, uncut (not spiral cut), shank or butt end, 8-11 lbs.

About 50 cloves

Glaze

½ cup champagne vinegar

¾ cup maple syrup

½ cup country-style Dijon mustard

2 T apricot jam

Pinch of kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Directions

1. Remove the ham from the refrigerator still in its wrapping a couple of hours before you’re planning to cook so as to bring it close to room temperature.

2. Make a diamond pattern on the ham by cutting straight lines into the fat with a sharp knife about ½ inch deep parallel to each other.  Score another set of lines at a 45 degree angle to the first to create a diamond pattern. The classic appearance is achieved by inserting a clove at each intersection.

3. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place ham, fat side up in a roasting pan lined with aluminum foil.  Cook ham in oven for one hour.

4. While ham is cooking, make glaze.  In a small saucepan, heat vinegar over medium heat until reduced to 2 T.

5. Add maple syrup, mustard, jam and salt.  Cook, whisking, until well combined, about 2 minutes.  Season with pepper to taste and set aside.

6. Remove ham from oven and brush top and sides generously with one third of the glaze.

7. Return to oven.  Remember that the ham is already cooked so you don’t have to cook to an internal temperature of 140 degrees as is often instructed.  The ham will need about another half hour of cooking to achieve an inner temperature between 110 and 120 degrees.  It will be very warm, if not hot, and is more likely to retain its moisture.

8. Baste every ten minutes with the glaze. Don’t baste ham with its own juices as the glaze might wash off.

9. Take the ham out of the oven, cover with aluminum foil and let rest 15 minutes before serving.

Photographer Bill Brady

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