Monday, February 8, 2010
No matter what interests you may have, the internet is never short on inspiration. I tried to put baking on a bit of a hiatus for a while and concentrate on other things, but when I saw this recipe, I thought it was too simple and intriguing to pass up, so I whipped it up, in literally less than an hour. It's the most unassuming looking cake I've ever made. There's no elaborate frostings, just a smear of jam (I used the plum jam I made a few months ago), and a super simple sweetened sour cream cloud on top. I took one to my parent's house for brunch to find out how it came out and both my parents asked for seconds. The cake was perfectly moist and very flavorful, with the jam adding the sweetness and the topping adding a cool, tangy contrast to the cake. Yum! I had to make it again. This time I took it to work to try out on my co-workers. Success yet again! This is definitely a keeper. Thank you Smitten Kitchen.
I did start another little experiment this weekend. Only a day or so after reading this post about these cute little miniature watermelon looking Mexican gherkins, I found them at a European grocery store next to my parent's house and decided to give them a try. I only bought enough for two jars to see how it would come out. I gave one jar to my parents and the other one I'm holding in my fridge and I should know the results in a few days. In the mean time, I've copied the two recipes for you to try below. Try them and let me know what you think.
Walnut Jam Cake
taken from Smitten Kitchen
1 1/4 cups walnuts, toasted (in a shallow baking pan at 350°F for 10 minutes) and cooled
2/3 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup jam or preserves (Almost anything will work, I used plum)
2/3 cup chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, I used the flour-spiked Pam. Less messy and super easy.
- Pulse cooled walnuts and sugar in a food processor until finely chopped. Add butter and process until combined, then add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse just until incorporated. Spread batter in cake pan. See? I told you it was easy.
- Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.
- Spoon jam over cake.
- Beat heavy cream with sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until it holds soft peaks, then spoon over jam.
Basic Pickling Recipe
taken from Tea&Cookies
1 quarts water
1/2 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup canning or pickling salt (I used sea salt, hopefully that was okay)
- In a large enough saucepan, add the ingredients and bring to a strong simmer, stirring until the salt has all dissolved
- Thoroughly wash the gherkins. One of the sites I saw suggested slicing off a tiny sliver from each end of the gherkin, so I did that too. It's up to you if you want to do that as well.
- Place vegetables in an impeccably clean glass container (submerge in a pot of boiling water, or run through a dishwasher and remove hot). Add any garlic or herbs, as desired. I added a 1/4 tsp coriander to each jar along with three large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced. You can add whatever you like to yours.
- Add hot brine until it covers the vegetable entirely. No bit should break the surface of the brine.
- Cover tightly and allow to cool. I waited until the jars were room temp and the lids popped inwards and then I put the jars into fridge. You’ll want to wait a few days for the to flavor develop before eating, so that's what I'm doing now.
- Can be kept in fridge for a few months—so long as no mold, scum, spoiling occurs. Monitor regularly and discard if there is any cause for concern.