Plum Upside-Down Cakeadapted from Martha Stewart Living
If this isn't my favorite cake, it's close. Please make it and tell me you love it, too!
10 plums, pitted and quartered
6 tbl unsalted butter
9 tbl sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Melt butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add plums and cook 2 to 3 minutes, until coated with butter and shiny. Add sugar and cinnamon and cook , stirring frequently until soft, 10-15 minutes. Remove plums from pan and transfer to a baking sheet to cool. Reserve syrup.
In a buttered and floured 9" round cake pan, arrange plums in a decorative pattern. Return syrup to medium heat and boil until very thick. Immediately pour syrup over fruit and set aside to cool.
3/4 c flour
1 tsp b.powder
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbl coarse-ground cornmeal
6 tbl unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 c almond paste
3/4 c + 2 tbl sugar
3 lg eggs, separated, room temp.
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c milk, room temp.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift together flour, b.powder, salt. Whisk in cornmeal.
Cream together butter and almond paste. Gradually add 3/4 c sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in yolks, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Pour batter into another container, set aside, and scrub the mixing bowl to remove all traces of fat - swishing the bowl with vinegar for good measure.
In cleaned bowl, whip egg whites until foamy, starting at low speed and increasing to medium. Gradually sprinkle in 2 tablespoons sugar, increase mixer speed to medium high, and beat until soft peaks form. Fold 1/4 of the whipped whites to cake batter to loosen, then gently fold in the remaining whites, taking care that they don't deflate.
Carefully spread the batter over fruit and bake for about an hour, or until toothpick inserted in center of cake is clean when removed.
Cool cake in pan. When ready to serve, place over low heat for a minute, run a knife around the edges of the pan, and invert onto a plate. If any plums remain in the pan, carefully scrape them out and place on cake.
Wild blackberries haven't yet arrived in the Indian Valley, but there were plenty of the cultivated class in Chico, where I sampled my way about the stalls of Saturday's Farmer's Market. I selected some A+ olallieberries, grown by a Hmong family in nearby Paradise.
Three pints of glistening olallieberries, now filling a pie.
Olallieberries are cross between a loganberry and a youngberry, a hybrid of hybrids! Grown mainly in California and parts of Oregon, they resemble an elongated blackberry, a little sweeter, but tart.
If you can't find them, you can -most nobly- substitute standard blackberries or any varietal.
3/4- 1 1/4 c sugar, depending on sweetness of berries
pinch of salt
juice and zest from one lemon
3 tbl minute tapioca
2 tbl butter, cut into small pieces
1 tbl milk
Preheat oven 425 degrees.
Combine berries with sugar, salt, and lemon. Taste for sweetness, adding more sugar if you like. Add tapioca and let sit for 15 minutes.
Line a 9" pie plate with dough rolled out to 14", letting the dough hang over the rim of the plate. Fill with berry mixture, smooth to the edges, and dot with butter. Cover with second piece of dough and with a pair of scissors trim the dough so it extends an inch beyond the rim of the plate. To seal, fold dough under so it sits on the edge of the plate. Pinch into a into a decorative border, or crimp with a fork.
Whisk together yolk with 1 tbl milk, making an eggwash. Brush dough with wash, sprinkle with sugar, and with a sharp knife cut a few vents into the dough.
Bake for 25 minutes at 425 degrees. Reduce heat to 350, place pie onto baking sheet, and bake for an additional 30 minutes, or until crust is dark and olallieberry juice is bubbling through the steam vents.
The first dessert I made with lavender flower- following a meal of green beans with macaroni and cheese (fancy, eh?)- was lavender shortbread and chocolate custards. The mellow-making sweetness of lavender enhanced the floral qualities of the chocolate, making for a romantic finale to a humble supper.
Even more romantic is this ice cream, drizzled with good, homemade chocolate sauce or paired with a slice of dark chocolate cake (I DARE you to try it with a chocolate-cherry shortcake). Or snub the chocolate and top with sliced, juicy peaches, strawberries, apricots, plums, cherries, figs, nectarines, or wine-roasted pears.
Top with whipped cream and you've got one helluva sundae!
Honey Lavender Ice Cream
If you're lucky enough to have have a jar of lavender honey in your cupboard, by all means use it! Just cut the lavender called for in this recipe by half.
2 c milk
3/4 c light, fragrant honey
1 tbl dried culinary lavender (found most places herbs are sold in bulk), or 1 1/2 tbl fresh, chopped
pinch of salt
2 c heavy cream
Combine milk, salt, honey, and lavender and scald over medium heat. Remove from heat, cover, and steep for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk yolks until they've thickened slightly, about a minute. Reheat steeped milk until hot, then stream in 1/4 of the mixture into the yolks, whisking all the while. Return this mixture to the saucepan, still whisking.
Cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heat-proof rubber spatula. When the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon (170 degrees F), strain through a fine-meshed strainer into a bowl containing the heavy cream. Whisk and chill completely. Freeze in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer's instructions.
When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I decided a once-a-week update is just about my speed- frequent enough to hold my (and, I hope, a few readers') interest, but not so much that it becomes a chore. Lately, however, the weather is ridiculously beautiful and I've been slacking. I'm still here, and I'm still baking, but my sunny patio holds much more appeal than the computer room as of late.
That said, this season's cherry harvest has begun and this dessert is so wonderful that I just had to share!
Chocolate Cherry Shortcakefrom Boulevard by Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola with Lisa Weiss
File this recipe under "Something a Little Different!"
2 c self-rising flour
1/2 c dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 c sugar + additional for dipping
1/4 tsp salt
1 c dried cherries, soaked in very hot water to plump, dried
Stir in the cream until the mixture comes together (dough will be stiff).
Turn out onto a cutting board and press the dough into a 6" square about 2" thick. Cut the dough into nine equally-sized squares.
Dip the tops of the biscuits into the melted butter and then into sugar, pressing lightly to adhere. Place 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake 15 minutes or until tops spring back when pressed lightly.
Cherries: Wash cherries, stem, pit, and halve. Toss with sugar and desired flavoring and allow to macerate at room temperature 15-30 minutes.
To Assemble: If biscuits have cooled, split and reheat in a 350-degree oven for 5 minutes, or until warmed through. Place bottom half of biscuit on plate, top with a scoop a softened ice cream (melting a little, it will make a nice sauce), and and a generous spoonful of cherries. Place top half of biscuit alongside or atop dessert, tipped at a jaunty angle!