Archive | October, 2011

Framboise Cake Courtesy of my Garden

23 Oct

Recipe slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup framboise
Non-stick baking spray 
Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Serves 8-10 slices. 

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 10″ pie pan with baking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer equipped with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1/2 cup sugar until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in the egg, milk, and vanilla until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary. Add the dry mixture gradually, mixing until smooth.
3. Pour the batter into the prepared pie plate. Place the framboise on top of the batter and sprinkle them with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake the cake for 10 minutes then reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 50 minutes. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan. Lightly sprinkle the top of the cake with confectioner’s sugar.

          Since my family and I planted our garden in early May, humble plants have grown into sprawling bushels of fragrant herbs, rows of crisp, vibrant vegetables, and countless colorful flowers. Fresh herbs have become a staple of my mother’s cooking as she completes every dish with a generous herb garnish snipped directly from the garden. We scour magazines and the internet in search of recipes that incorporate our plentiful supply. Stacks of dried herbs fill the pantry, conserved for the imminent winter months when they will no longer be available fresh. 
          One day, while collecting an handful of ingredients for a meal, I could not help but notice a growing green bush dotted with red. The framboise, a dainty red berry tangier in flavor than a strawberry, had been ignored for several months despite my mother’s and my effort to use up everything the garden had to offer. This simple, charming cake ended the framboise long period of neglect. Moist and barely sweet, the cake pairs perfectly with a cup of afternoon tea or coffee. Serve each slice with a dollop of lightly whipped cream and it transforms into an effortless dinner party dessert. The recipe will work beautifully with blueberries, strawberries, or many other seasonal fruits as well. Though the framboise may have been overshadowed by its attention-seeking neighbors, basil and parsley, the delicate berry has made its mark and is here to stay. 


Moist Chocolate Chip Banana Nut Bread

18 Oct

Recipe slightly adapted from Saveur

1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar 
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2/3 cup pecan pieces
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 large, very ripe bananas, mashed
Non-stick baking spray or butter

Serves 10-12 slices.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″ * 5″ * 2 3/4″ loaf pan with baking spray or grease with butter and set aside. 
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Add the mashed bananas, pecans, and chocolate chips and whisk gently. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the top is golden brown, 60-65 minutes. Let the bread cool for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

This banana bread developed out of necessity. During a weekend packed with non-stop studying, my mind and body needed a break. In a sheer impulse, I stopped what I was doing and determinedly headed down the stairs to the kitchen. This simple recipe required 20 minutes to prepare and spread a fragrant, enticing aroma throughout the house. I tried my first slice with a friend and the two of us single-handedly devoured half the loaf. The bread combines two of my favorite snacks: bananas and chocolate, into a single moist, nutty treat. My piece was slightly warm when I bit into it; the semi-sweet chocolate chips melting on my tongue. Best of all, the baking process provided relaxation and enjoyment during a dull Sunday afternoon and allowed me to look forward to a delicious homemade good as a reward for my hard work.