It’s been just too hot to cook or even bake. It’s been so hot I haven’t needed to bring butter to room temperature for creaming. I just put it straight from the fridge in the mixing bowl and let Gracie (my Kitchenaid mixer has a nickname) aerate the butter! The temperatures here in Thailand have been in the 40s as mid-summer scorches on. We’re in the middle of a drought, too.
So when I came across this recipe in Detoxinista for whipped pineapple, it sounded so cool and refreshing, and since fresh pineapple is no trouble at all here–I decided to give it a try. All you need is one whole fresh pineapple, cored and chopped. Freeze the pineapple. Put frozen pineapple with a cup of whole milk (you can substitute non-dairy milk), and honey to taste in a food processor. Process the ingredients until smooth and eat at once. I liked it with little bits of pineapple still in it. It didn’t come out as yellow as Detoxinista’s, probably because of the whole milk (and it’s melting already!) but it had a wonderful sweet-tart flavor of fresh pineapple.
No dome, no crisp edges, even browning and baking all over! So easy to use–just soak a strip in water then pin it around the sides of the cake pan, pop it in the oven, and wait for cake. Today, I made a Cocoa Layer Cake for Lek’s birthday.
170g or 3/4 cup butter at 60˚F
281g caster sugar or 250g (1 1/4 cups) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
150g or 1 1/2 cups cake flour
4 oz or 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (volume)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup milk
Preheat oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Butter and flour two 9 inch round cake pans.
Cake Baker’s Notes: To prepare the pans I melted 1 tablespoon butter and mixed in 1 tablespoon flour. I brushed this mixture all over the bottom and sides of the pans. You can also use two 8 inch round pans or one 13×9 inch oblong cake pan.
In a large bowl, beat butter 10 seconds on medium high speed. Scrape down the bowl. On medium speed, gradually add sugar (1 minute). Increase speed to medium high and continue beating 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl once halfway through. Slowly (1-1 1/2 minutes) beat in eggs and vanilla until blended.
Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl. Add flour mixture to egg mixture alternately with milk, starting and ending with flour. Beat until blended. Pour batter into prepared pans. Gently tap on the counter-top to eliminate air bubbles. Smooth tops.
Bake in preheated oven 25-35 minutes or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes. Remove from pans. Cool completely on wire racks. Fill and frost as desired. I recommend half a recipe of Ina Garten’s chocolate buttercream frosting.
It’s mango season, and our backdoor neighbors had given us 6 green mangoes from their tree. I decided to ripen them in a paper bag with a large apple. It took about 3 days for them to turn a greenish yellow. At that point I decided they were ripe enough and began preparations to make chutney. Then I found I’d forgotten to get raisins so I substituted dried cranberries instead. The chutney did not set after the 20 minutes stated in the recipe. I increased the cooking time in 20 minute increments then checked that the chutney had set. Altogether it took an hour. The result is sweet yet tart with an interesting top note of curry. If I made this again I would reduce the curry powder by half or leave it out altogether.
3 medium apples, peeled, cored and chopped
4-5 medium half-ripe mangoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped (optional)
1 1/2 cups (375 ml) granulated sugar
1 cup (250 ml) finely chopped onion
1/2 cup (125 ml) golden raisins (I used dried cranberries)
1/2 cup (125 ml) white vinegar
1/4 cup (50 ml) ginger root, finely chopped
1 tablespoon (15 ml) lemon juice
2 teaspoons (10 ml) curry powder
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) each: ground nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt
1. Pour hot water into half-pint (250 ml) jars and put lids in a pan and cover with hot water. Set aside.
2. Combine apples, mangoes, red pepper (if using), sugar, onion, raisins, vinegar and ginger root in a large pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer and boil gently, uncovered, for 20 minutes or until fruit is tender and mixture is reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.
Cook’s Note: It took 1 hour for the liquid in the chutney to reduce and thicken. Apple is a natural pectin so it takes time to set the chutney. To check that the chutney has set, put 2 or 3 metal tablespoons in the freezer. Take one out and dribble some liquid on the surface. Draw your finger through it. If it leaves a track, then the chutney is set. If the liquid runs back together, it needs to cook some more.
3. Add lemon juice, curry powder, nutmeg, cinnamon, and salt; boil gently for 5 minutes.
4. Pour out hot water from the jars and ladle chutney into jars to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of the rim (this is head space). Screw the lids on tight. Eat within a week or freeze until ready to eat.
accompaniment for Jamaican curry lamb, roast chicken, and pork roast
This is a cool treat on a hot summer day: freezer banana cream pie with whisky sugar topping. It’s sweet and crunchy but also cold and refreshing. Creamed frozen banana is like eating ice cream–it’s smooth with that melt-in-the-mouth feel.
Freezer Banana Cream Pie (adapted from Shine Food and Everyday Food)
For the base:
1 1/2 cups crushed digestive biscuit crumbs (can use graham crackers)
1/4 cup butter, melted
For the filling:
3 small-medium bananas
1/3 cup condensed milk
1/4 teaspoon Maldon sea salt or coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream whipped until stiff peaks form
For the topping:
3 small-medium bananas, sliced
Whisky sugar or plain demerara sugar for sprinkling
1. In a 9-inch pie plate, mix the crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom and sides of the dish. Bake in a 350˚F/180˚C oven for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool.
2. In the work bowl of a food processor, process the bananas, condensed milk, salt, and vanilla. Fold in the heavy cream. Pour into the cooled crumb base.
Freeze 12 hours.
3. Layer the sliced bananas on top of the frozen filling. Sprinkle whisky sugar on top or just plain demerara sugar. Slice and serve. Keep leftovers in the freezer.
Lately, my cakes have tended to be over mixed and dense, with unattractive tunnels. I guessed the problem had to do with the butter being too warm. So I looked up the subject in the book The Science of Good Cooking (Cook’s Illustrated, 2012). Apparently room temperature should not really mean “room temperature” in baking. The temperature of the butter should be a cool 60˚F. Once I corrected for this, the cake’s texture improved. This is because the sugar in the butter helps to incorporate air into the butter during creaming. If the butter is too warm, the butter will be over creamed and the cake’s texture will be dense.
I tried applying this knowledge to Martha Stewart’s German Apple Cake. I learned not to follow the times for creaming too closely and instead to watch for changes in the color and texture of the butter-sugar mixture. I really didn’t need to beat the batter after the addition of the egg-vanilla mixture because the mixture already had a curdled appearance. The cake did not rise remarkably but the texture had improved immensely.
German Apple Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 cup All Purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
113g or 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (@60˚F on an instant read thermometer)
1 1/3 cups sugar, divided
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon
4 small Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, sliced
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F/180˚C. Butter an 8 inch square pan.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter at medium-high speed 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides. Reduce speed to medium and gradually add 1 cup sugar. This should take 1 minute. Once all the sugar is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl once half way through. Reduce speed to medium and stir in the eggs and vanilla in a slow steady stream; this should take another minute. Scrape down the bowl. Beat on medium-high speed 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. The batter should look slightly curdled.
4. Sift the flour mixture on top in 3 additions. Fold in after each addition, scraping along the bottom of the bowl. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.
5. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar with the cinnamon. Squeeze lemon juice into a medium bowl. Peel, core, and slice the apples into the bowl. Toss to coat.
6. Arrange the apple slices on top of the batter in overlapping rows, pressing lightly into the batter. Sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar mixture over the apples. Bake 35-40 minutes until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
7. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serve with crème fraîche. To make a quick crème fraîche, put 1 1/2 cups heavy cream with 1/2 cup plain yogurt and 2 tablespoons sugar in a mixing bowl. Whip until stiff peaks form.
I regretted instantly buying the Red Delicious apples at the store because they weren’t crisp. So naturally, I googled my predicament and found How to Make Oven-Dried Apple Chips on The Kitchn. It required very little sweat investment on my part and I could just pop the apple rings in the oven and forget them. Well, not quite.
Making apple chips is a lazy way to use up apples that are too soft to eat. But it’s the middle of summer here in Bangkok, and though an apple pie would have been more delicious, standing in the heat of the kitchen sweating over a pie crust is very unappealing at the moment.
To core the apple, I used a corer, a tube-like instrument for removing the apple core without slicing open the whole apple. (See the picture below)
Oven-Dried Apple Chips (from The Kitchn and Allrecipes.com)
1 apple, cored and sliced thinly on a mandoline
Preheat the oven to 225˚F/125˚C.
Arrange the apple slices in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with a silicone liner. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the apple slices are dried and their edges curl up. Let them cool on a wire cooling rack to become crisp.
A cross between a crustless quiche and an egg pie, this savory pudding has a mild herbal flavor and a delicate custard-like consistency. Parboiling or pre-cooking the potatoes is an important first step in ensuring that the potatoes cook at the same time the egg custard sets.
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half (half cup milk and half cup heavy cream)
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup heavy cream
2 medium potatoes, thinly sliced (can be peeled or not)
2 tablespoons finely chopped tarragon
2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon finely chopped dill
2 tablespoons unsalted butter plus more to grease the pan
2 medium leeks, halved lengthwise and then sliced crosswise, white and pale green parts only
2-4 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1. Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375˚F/200˚C. Grease a 2 quart baking dish generously with butter and set aside.
2. In a blender jar, combine the flour, half of the half-and-half, the eggs, and the egg yolk. Pulse several times until smooth. Add the remaining half and half and the cream. Season well with salt and white pepper to taste. Pulse to combine. Set aside.
3. Slice the potatoes thinly with a mandoline. Put potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Drain the potatoes and put them in a large bowl. Add the chopped tarragon, parsley, and dill. Season with salt and white pepper. Toss to coat.
4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter. Sauté the leeks and the garlic 5-6 minutes or until wilted. Mix the cooked leeks with the potatoes and herbs. Season with additional salt and pepper. Evenly spread the potato mixture in the prepared baking dish and then pour the egg mixture on top.
5. Bake until the egg custard is puffy and golden. It should set in about 30-35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven. Let the pudding rest 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature with a few twists of Himalayan pink salt and black peppercorns.