a simple easter menu

DSC_0529.jpgIn the past we’ve had more elaborate meals for Easter Sunday. Today, we had a simple Easter meal consisting of a quiche, simple salad, corned egg, and a Jamaican spice cake with malted buttercream frosting.

Bacon and Cheddar Crustless Quiche

1 1/2 cups whole milk
White pepper
1/2 cup prepared biscuit mix (recipe to follow)
1/4 cup melted butter
4 eggs
8 pieces of bacon, crisped and crumbled
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat oven 325˚F/175˚C. Grease a 9″ pie dish and set aside.

In a blender, combine the milk, white pepper, biscuit mix, melted butter, and eggs. Pour the milk mixture into the prepared pie dish.

Sprinkle on top the crumbled bacon, red pepper, and cheddar cheese. Use a fork to press down into the milk mixture.

Bake 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Biscuit Mix
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon all vegetable shortening

Put flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Stir to combine. Add the shortening and cut into the flour mixture until the mixture is the texture of sand. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

Jamaican Spice Cake (adapted from The Cake Bible)

All ingredients at room temperature:
1/4 cup milk
120g or 4 large egg whites
2 teaspoons Jamaican rum
250g or 2 cups sifted cake flour, plus 1 tablespoon
225g or 1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
227+14g (241g) unsalted butter, softened, plus 1 tablespoon

Preheat oven 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter and mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush butter-flour mixture on the insides and bottom of one 8.5 inch loaf pan. Line bottom of loaf pan with waxed paper or parchment. Grease and flour parchment.

In a medium bowl, lightly combine milk, egg whites, and rum.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and cocoa powder. Whisk 30 seconds. Set aside.

In another large bowl, add 16 tablespoons (8 oz) butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, 3-6 minutes. Add one-third flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just moistened. Scrape down the sides. Add half the milk mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add half the remaining flour mixture, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the remaining milk mixture and beat until just combined. Scrape down the sides. Add the rest of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Scrape down the sides.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Tap pan lightly on the countertop to dislodge any air bubbles. Bake 45-55 minutes for loaf pan.

Let cake cool in the pan 10 minutes. Run a paring knife around the edges. Unmold and invert onto a greased wire rack. Turn right-side up so the bottom won’t split. Cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. I frosted it with Malted Buttercream. Then I served the cake with strawberries I had frozen in simple syrup.

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chocolate buttercream frosting

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This is only the second time I’ve ventured into the Italian buttercream frostings, a delicious confection for frosting cakes. Previously I made a malt buttercream for the chocolate malt layer cake: first the egg whites are whipped then hot syrup is added to the whipped egg whites.

I have discovered Italian meringues are well worth the trouble because the so-called “quick” or American buttercreams–whipping butter and sugar– are way too sweet. It’s true that when chilled, the Italian buttercream turns stiff into butter, but at room temperature, it is deliciously light, airy, and doesn’t seem to be as sweet even though a similar amount of sugar has been added to it.

This chocolate buttercream frosting is adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe. It’s different from the traditional method in that the egg whites, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar are heated and then whipped. The addition of espresso coffee and rum intensify the chocolate flavors so I recommend adding them to the frosting. This recipe makes more than 4 cups of frosting because, after frosting 3 seven-inch round layers I had 3 cups left over.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
Prep time: 15 minutes
Active time: 60 minutes (includes frosting the cake)
Yield: 4 cups

Ingredients
1 pound dark chocolate (at least 65% cacao)
12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites, room temperature
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder dissolved in 1 1/2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons dark rum

Set a large pot filled one-third full of water. Heat it to simmering on the stove. Meanwhile, chop the chocolates and put them in a heat-proof bowl over the simmering water. Don’t let the bowl touch the water. Stir the chocolates occasionally to melt. As the melting progresses, stir constantly so all the pieces melt and the chocolate becomes smooth. Set aside. Don’t turn off the heat.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix until frothy. Scrape the mixture into another heat-proof bowl and set this over the simmering water. Stir constantly, warming the egg whites and dissolving the sugar and salt, about 3-5 minutes. Test the mixture by rubbing some of it between your fingers to be sure there is no sugar grit remaining. Scrape back into the mixing bowl.

Cake Baker’s Note: I rinsed out the mixing bowl before putting back the warmed egg white mixture.

Whip the egg whites on high speed until the meringue turns glossy and stiff peaks form, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl. By now the bowl should feel cool to the touch.

Reduce to medium speed. Add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. The frosting will turn yellow and at times will look curdled. The volume will also deflate. Keep going, this is normal. Scrape down the sides.

Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and rum. Beat on medium speed until the chocolate mixture is blended. If the buttercream seems too soft, cool the mixture then beat it again. At the French Culinary Institute in NY, the chef put the bowl of buttercream in an ice water bath.

Frost the cake.