Rhubarb Almond Cake

Rhubarb Almond Cake
This cake tastes even better than it sounds. I turned to this recipe because I had rhubarb on hand, but didn’t want to go to the trouble of a pie, and it turned out just as pretty as the magazine picture, and tasted just summer-perfect. I’ve been waiting so long to have a rhubarb plant and it’s so wonderful picking it. Aaah, summer. This recipe comes from the April 2015 Bon Appetit.

Rhubarb Almond Cake

  • 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 3/4 c. plus 3 T. sugar, plus more for pan
  • 1 lb. rhubarb stalks, trimmed
  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 c. blanched almonds
  • 1 t. baking powder (3/4 t. if at high altitude)
  • 3/4 t. kosher salt
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. plain Greek yogurt or sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter tart pan and sprinkle with sugar, tapping out excess. Slice rhubarb in half lengthwise (quarter if very large). Set 8 of the prettiest pieces aside for the top of the cake; chop remaining rhubarb into 1/2″ pieces. Pulse flour, almonds, baking powder, and salt in a food processor until almonds are finely ground (texture should be sandy).

Place 1 cup butter and 3/4 cup sugar in a large bowl. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; reserve pod for another use. Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to blend first egg before adding second. Beat until mixture is pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes.

Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, followed by yogurt. Beat, scraping down the sides of bowl as needed, just to combine (batter will be thick). Fold in chopped rhubarb and scrape batter into prepared pan. Smooth batter and arrange reserved rhubarb over top; sprinkle with remaining 3 tablespoons sugar.

Place tart pan on a large rimmed baking sheet (to catch any rogue juices) and bake, rotating once, until cake is golden brown and rhubarb on top is soft and beginning to brown, 70–80 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cake cool before removing from pan.

Do ahead: Cake can be baked 3 days ahead. Keep tightly wrapped at room temperature.

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Rustic Plum Cake

Rustic Plum CakeI’m surprised that my kids don’t just love eating plums. I love them, and I remember loving them when I was little, too. But, my kids don’t. So, I yesterday many, many Italian plums from a big basket I bought at the farmer’s market that were starting to wrinkle, and the only solution, of course, was to make them into a cake. This recipe I’m just a fan of–of course, the almond meal and almond extract make it delightful, and I love the color that the plums seep into the cake. Incidentally, I have also used non-Italian plums in this recipe. I adapted it (just a little!) from the 2009 America’s Test Kitchen Annual. 

Rustic Plum Cake

2 T. red currant jelly or seedless raspberry (I used a Cherry, Raspberry, Rhubarb jam)
1 lb prune plums halved and pitted (about 10-12)
3/4 c. sugar
1/3 c. almond meal (which you can now buy at Costco! Hooray!)
3/4 c. flour
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
6 T. butter, softened
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 t. vanilla
1/4 t. almond extract

Melt jelly in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until just loosened and bubbling. Add the plums face down and cook until they shed juices and thick syrup is formed (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool while assembling the cake.

Grease and flour a 9″ springform pan. Preheat the oven to 350.

Mix almond meal and sugar until combined (in a food processor or by hand). Add flour, salt and baking powder and pulse or whisk to combine. Add the butter, and mix until batter resembles coarse sand (I usually do this by hand, also!). Finally add the eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and process until the mixture comes together, but the batter will be thick.

Spread the batter in a thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Arrange the plum halves skin side down on the surface of the batter.

Bake until cake is golden brown and wooden skewer comes out clean, about 40-50 min. Allow cake to cool in pan on wire rack for 30 min. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Chocolate-Coconut Pound Cake

Chocolate Coconut BreadI had this recipe clipped, and I finally tried it two weeks ago. Though not nearly the hit that its companion of the afternoon was (French Lemon Yogurt Cake–I’ll be posting that recipe soon!), I love that it uses coconut oil and has quite a nice, tender crumb, and that the texture even becomes silky the next day. Definitely keeps well, and freezes well, too. You’ll also note by my photo that I didn’t take the time to put in parchment, and it was fine. (I’m also posting it by request. Hope you enjoy it, Mom!). Taken from Bon Appetit, March 2014.  

Chocolate-Coconut Pound Cake

  • 1/4 c. unsalted butter, plus more
  • 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour [I used whole wheat]
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 3/4 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 c. virgin coconut oil, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 c. plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I cut this down to just 1 c.)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. buttermilk
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened coconut flakes

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8×4″ loaf pan; line with parchment paper, leaving a generous overhang on long sides. Whisk flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl; set aside.

Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat oil, 1/4 c. butter, and 1 1/2 c. sugar until pale and fluffy, 5–7 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating to blend between additions; beat until mixture is very light and doubled in volume, 5–8 minutes. Add vanilla.

Reduce mixer speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients (do not overmix; it will cause cake to buckle and split). Scrape batter into prepared pan and run a spatula through the center, creating a canal. Sprinkle with coconut and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake cake, tenting with foil if coconut browns too much before cake is done (it should be very dark and toasted), until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 70–80 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack; let cake cool in pan 20 minutes before turning out.

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

626-52_choco_zucchini_cake_300This cake has become a favorite this season, after Henry, my son, grew his first zucchini (in our neighbor’s garden, I should add. Our patch did not do so well). He wanted to eat the zucchini, but frankly hates the vegetable, so I made this for him instead. He loved the cake, but suggested we just call it “Chocolate Cake,” because calling it “Zucchini Chocolate Cake” freaks him out. This recipe comes from May 2004 Saveur. It’s not a difficult recipe, even though the first step is a bit unusual (but makes for a great cake), just make sure to allow for quite a long baking time. 

Chocolate Zucchini Cake

2 medium zucchini, trimmed and
grated on large holes of box grater
9 T. butter, at room temperature
2 3/4 c. flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. salt
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. corn oil
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. confectioners’ sugar

1. Working in batches, put a small mound of zucchini in center of large square of double-layer cheesecloth. Gather corners together and squeeze out as much water as possible. Transfer zucchini to a bowl and set aside.

2. Preheat oven to 325º. Butter a deep 9″ cake pan with 1 tbsp. of the butter. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together into a mixing bowl and set aside. Beat together remaining 8 tbsp. butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy, 3-4 minutes.

3. Add oil, beating well. Beat in one egg at a time, add vanilla, reduce speed to low, and beat in flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 alternate batches. Stir in reserved zucchini.

4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour and 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to let cool. Invert onto a plate and dust with sugar.

Dad’s Best Peach Cobbler

I know it’s hard to be discerning about foods you grew up with, but I’ve always loved my dad’s peach cobbler. I’ve never seen anything like it in recipe books until recently in a Cook’s Country they had a similar cobbler that they described as a “pancake-like” batter from Texas. Well, I don’t know how our family came upon this recipe, because we have no ancestral ties to Texas, but  it’s a winner, and it really makes a plethora of peaches much more fun.  Another reason to love September.

Dad’s Best Peach Cobbler

1/2 c. butter
1 c. milk
1 c. flour
1 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. baking soda
1 c. sugar
sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg
1 quart canned peaches with juice (we always had these growing up)
or 4 c. fresh peaches, with juices, peeled, sliced and macerated in 1/2 c. sugar for 20 minutes
[I actually use frozen peaches with their juices, defrosted a bit)

1. Heat oven to 350. Place butter in a glass 9×13 baking dish, and place in the oven for the butter to melt (this happens quicker if you slice the butter into eight pieces first). Pull the pan out of the oven before the butter has a chance to brown (about 5 minutes).

2. Combine the soda, powder, salt, flour, and sugar in a medium bowl. Then, whisking, add the milk.

3. Once the butter has melted, remove the pan from the oven and pour the peaches over the butter. Then, pour the batter over the peaches. Sprinkle with cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg, if desired. Place into the preheated oven and bake for 40 minutes.

4. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream hot from the oven. Or cold the next morning for breakfast.

peach-cobbler-1

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

Two Tres Leches Cakes on one blog? Yes! This one is quite different from the other. I’ll explain. I was browsing the internet for some Brazilian desserts, and came across one entitled, “Brazilian-style Moist Coconut Cake” from

Allrecipes. Well, I didn’t know this was a Brazilian Cake, but it sure sounded like a great idea. Now, I’ve made it several times, both like the original recipe instructs, and also with some of my own variations. I’ve come to prefer my own variations, I have to admit 🙂 Here’s my version of a Tres Leches, coconut added. Deee-licious. So when you’ve made the other one enough, and need a little variety, I suggest this one.

Coconut Tres Leches Cake

3 c. all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. coconut oil (optional–but I love the flavor it gives the cake. Surprisingly, the cake works fine without any fat added, though)
2 c. white sugar, divided
3 eggs, yolks and whites divided
1 cup milk
Tres Leches:
1 can evaporated milk (1 c. milk works fine, too)
14 oz. coconut milk
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
Topping:
1 c. flaked coconut
1 c. whipping cream
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9×13-inch pan. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then continue beating while slowly adding 1 cup of the sugar until stiff peaks have formed.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat coconut oil and the remaining cup of sugar together until blended. Beat in egg yolks until evenly mixed, then incorporate the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the 1 cup milk. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter (it will be a little stiff). Pour batter into the prepared pan.

Bake cake in preheated oven until the top has turned golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, coconut milk, and sweetened condensed milk. Set aside.

When the cake is done, remove from the oven, and use a the back of a skewer to poke all over the top of the cake, in 1 inch intervals. Evenly pour the milk mixture over the cake, and let it sit at room temperature for one hour. Meanwhile, spread coconut onto a baking sheet, and toast it in the 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, or until fragrant and browned. Remove and set on a rack to cool. Once the cake has cooled for an hour (the milk mixture should all be absorbed), cover the cake and refrigerate for at least three more hours.

Right before serving, whip cream until soft peaks form, adding the powdered sugar and vanilla. Spread the whipped cream onto the cooled cake, and sprinkle with the toasted coconut. I’m sure you will enjoy it!

Toucinho do Ceu or Heavenly Portuguese Custard Pie

There were many culinary winners from my trip to Lisbon this summer, but this one was just a wonderful surprise. We had it in a small family restaurant. In order to accommodate me, the waiter was speaking English, and he kept telling me that this pie was made of “prosciutto, onions, and sugar” and that it won some sort of city-wide dessert award. I was so baffled that I ordered it, and my husband laughed when he finally read the name and understood what the waiter meant. The literal translation of this custard pie is “Heavenly Bacon,” only because historically it was made from leftover pork fat, but not anymore. And we think the English word for “almond” somehow got confused for “onion” in the waiter’s vocabulary. Needless to say, this custard pie has nothing to do with onions or bacon, but it is a slice of delightful marzipan-y custard.  I got this recipe from a site called Chef Leticia.

Toucinho do Ceu or Heavenly Portuguese Custard Pie

½ c. water
1¼ c. sugar
1/8 t. salt
1¾ c. (250g) ground almonds, skinless (This is easily done by submerging almonds in water and microwaving for 5 minutes)
4 T. unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the pan
5 egg yolks
2 whole eggs
1 t. almond extract (or Amaretto)
1 t. orange zest, finely grated
powdered sugar, for dusting

One 10-inch round cake mold, with parchment paper on the bottom, buttered and floured.

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

In a big sauce pan, boil together the water, sugar, and salt. As soon as it comes to a boil, add the ground almonds. Using a wooden spoon, keep mixing, over low-medium heat. Stir constantly until it starts to thicken, leaving a trace after the wooden spoon in a way that you should be able to see the bottom of the pan (about 2 minutes). Do not over mix. You are looking for a soft almond paste.

Remove the pan from the heat and add butter cut into pieces. Mix well with a wooden spoon.

In a different bowl, lightly beat together the yolks and eggs. Incorporate the egg mixture into the almond mixture with a spatula. Add the amaretto and the orange zest and pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 30- 35 minutes or until the cake is firm, and the center is not jiggly. The top should turn a medium golden brown. Let it cool inside the mold, then remove it from the mold, peel the parchment paper, and dust with powdered sugar. Cut the cake into wedges and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

Such a homely name for such a wonderful cake! I tried this cake the other night when everyone was asking for a dessert, and I wanted something I could make

Not the greatest picture, but hopefully it gives you an idea of how dense and moist this great chocolate cake is.

fast. I’m so happy with it! What a wonderful, simple cake. The author, Amanda Hesser, adapted this recipe from her mother, and published it in The Essential New York Times Cookbook. For her family, it was the birthday cake. She calls it “bouncy” and “moist;” I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a cake called bouncy before, but you know, it actually fits! The recipe calls for a frosting, but our family devoured the whole thing before I made the frosting–this is one cake that doesn’t require frosting at all (just a dusting of powdered sugar would be fine), although I can’t wait to try it, too!

Chocolate Dump-It Cake

2 c. sugar
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 c. unsalted butter (1 stick), plus more for greasing the pan
1 c. water
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 c. milk (whole is best)
1 t. cider vinegar [gives the cake such a beautiful hue!]
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla extract

For the Frosting
1 1/2 cups Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sour cream, at room temperature

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees, and place a baking sheet on the lowest rack, to catch any drips when the cake bakes. Put the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Place over medium heat and stir occasionally until all of the ingredients are melted and blended. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly, 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a small bowl, stir together the milk and vinegar (it’s okay if it curdles). Grease and flour a 9-inch tube or bundt pan. (If you prefer, you can grease it, line it with parchment and then grease and flour it. This is not necessary, but parchment does make getting the cake out easier.)

3. When the chocolate in the pan has cooled a bit, whisk in the milk mixture and eggs. In several additions and without overmixing, whisk in the dry ingredients. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla and whisk once or twice, to blend. “Dump” the batter into the tube pan and bake on the middle rack until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool on a rack. (This can be tricky, so if someone is around, enlist them to help. Place a ring of wax paper on top of the cake so you have something to grab onto when turning it out–it may break in half.) Let cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, for the frosting, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler, then let cool to room temperature. It is very important that the chocolate and sour cream be the same temperature, otherwise the icing will be lumpy or grainy. (Test it by stirring a little of the sour cream and chocolate together in a bowl; if it mixes smoothly, it’s ready.) Stir in the sour cream, 1/ 4 cup at a time, until the mixture is smooth. Taste some! It’s good.

5. When the cake is cool, you may frost it as is or cut it in half so that you have two layers (when I do this, I use 2 cups chocolate chips and 2 cups sour cream). My mother uses any leftover icing to make flowers on top. She dabs small rosettes, or buttons, on top, then uses toasted almond slices as the petals, pushing them in around the base of the rosette.

Makes 10 servings. (My mother kept it in the fridge, and it is sublime even when cold.)

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

hot-fudge-pudding-cake

I admit that I made this recipe two nights in a row last week, and it was gone before I could take a picture. This recipe whips together in about 10-15 minutes, and then comes out of the oven quite heavenly–like a brownie, but up a notch. We served it with whipped cream and vanilla ice cream, and both went well with it. I love how rich and dark and gooey it is. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll make it again today. This comes from Cook’s Illustrated Fall 2010 Entertaining.

Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

1 c. sugar
1/2 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. milk
4 T. unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg yolk
2 t. vanilla extract
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. boiling water

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 350 degree. Spray 8-inch square glass or metal cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk 1/2 c. sugar with 1/2 c. cocoa in a small bowl.

2. Whisk flour, remaining 1/2 c. sugar, remaining 1/4 c. cocoa, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Whisk milk, butter, egg yolk, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. Stir milk mixture into flour mixture until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips (Batter will be stiff).

3. Using rubber spatula, scrape batter into prepared pan and spread into corners. Sprinkle reserved coca mixture evenly over top. Gently pour boiling water over cocoa. Do not stir.

4. Bake until top of cake looks cracked, sauce is bubbling, and toothpick inserted into cakey area comes out with moist crumbs attached,  about 25 minutes (do not overbake or the cake will be dry. Better underdone than over). Cool on rack for a least 10 minutes before serving. To serve, scoop portions of warm cake into individual serving bowls and top with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Enjoy!!

Apple Pecan Kuchen

A friend of mine came over on Halloween and we had an Autumn cooking party.  We made butternut squash soup,Tennessee pumpkin bread, apple pockets and Apple Pecan Kuchen.  This recipe is from the Apple Lovers Cookbook, which I bought at an orchard shop after apple picking one year because I LOVE apples.  So, basically, this cookbook was made for me.

This would be a perfect Thanksgiving dessert.  It is very rich and tastes kind of like a blend of apple and pecan pies, with a little cake thrown in.

Apple Pecan Kuchen

3/4 C. sugar
1/4 C. butter
1 egg, slightly beaten
1/2 C. milk
1 1/2 C. flour
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/8 t. ground cloves

1/2 C. brown sugar, firmly packed
2 T. flour
1 t. cinnamon
2 T. melted butter
2 C. peeled, sliced apples

3 T. butter
4 T. honey
3/4 C. chopped pecans

Cream together sugar and shortening.  Add egg and mix well.  Stir in milk.  Sift together flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Stir dry ingredients into creamed mixture until smooth.  Spread half of the batter in a greased 9″ square baking dish.

Mix together brown sugar, 2 T. flour, 1 t. cinnamon and 2 T. melted butter.  Sprinkle over batter; then arrange sliced apples over crumbs.  Cover with remaining batter.

Mix together 3 T. butter, honey and pecans.  Sprinkle over top layer.

Bake in oven at 375, 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.  Technically makes 9 servings, but is so rich, you can probably get 12-18 servings.