Friday, August 20, 2010


Hi! I'm finally back! There's nothing like the day before your sixth move in less than 4 years to bring you back to food blogging after over a year's absence. Shouldn't I be packing right now? Pfft, I say. Pfft!

First, just to catch you up on the past year:
  1. We moved back to the U.S. from New Zealand (Los Angeles, if you must know.)
  2. We had another baby boy. He's lovely and cuddly - what more could a gal ask for?
  3. We're moving to Burbank tomorrow. Well, Saturday morning. But tomorrow sounds a lot more urgent, doesn't it?
And now you're caught up! On to more important matters! Like this:

Monkey bread! I didn't know that was the official name for it until adulthood. When I was a kid I used to go to Betty Damron's house every Sunday afternoon and play Scrabble and bake "petals." Turns out petals are monkey bread in little old lady terminology. However you call it, monkey bread is soft balls of dough surrounded by ooey, gooey caramel. It's the cinnamon roll's less fussy cousin. It's breakfast and dessert. It's really hard to eat less than the entire thing in one sitting. Also, it doesn't keep well so you may as well eat it all in one sitting. And Deb at Smitten Kitchen made an especially delicious one with a cream cheese glaze. Oh, mercy!

I used her recipe this time and it's wonderful. I've also recently used a different recipe from the Scharffen-Berger book (which, incidentally, is a very good read) that involves chocolate. I think next time I would combine the two for a lightly chocolatey, cream cheesy bit of awesomeness. If you happen to beat me to it, please drop me a comment and let me know how it went!

Monkey Bread
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons softened, 2 tablespoons melted)
1 cup milk, warm (around 110 degrees)
1/3 cup water, warm (also around 110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons rapid rise, instant or bread machine yeast
3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for work surface
2 teaspoons table salt

Brown Sugar Coating
11/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick or 4 ounces), melted


Chocolate Coating Alternative
1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cream Cheese Glaze
3 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Get oven and pan ready: Adjust oven rack to medium-low position and heat oven to 200°F. When oven reaches 200, turn it off. Butter Bundt or tube pan with 2 tablespoons softened butter. Set aside.

Make dough: In large measuring cup, mix together milk, water, melted butter, sugar, and yeast.

To proceed with a stand mixer, mix flour and salt in standing mixer fitted with dough hook. Turn machine to low and slowly add milk mixture. After dough comes together, increase speed to medium and mix until dough is shiny and smooth, 6 to 7 minutes. (The dough should be sticky but if it is too wet to come together into anything cohesive, add an additional 2 tablespoons flour.) Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and knead briefly to form smooth, round ball.

To proceed by hand, mix flour and salt in large bowl. Make well in flour, then add milk mixture to well. Using wooden spoon, stir until dough becomes shaggy and is difficult to stir. Turn out onto lightly floured work surface and begin to knead, incorporating shaggy scraps back into dough. Knead until dough is smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. Shape into taut ball and proceed as directed.

Coat large bowl with nonstick cooking spray or a tablespoon of neutral oil. Place dough in bowl and coat surface of dough with more cooking spray or oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in warm oven until dough doubles in size, 50 to 60 minutes.

Make brown sugar coating: Place melted butter in one bowl. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a second one. (If making chocolate coating, combine chocolate, sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until chocolate is reduced to fine crumbs.)

Form the bread: Flip dough out onto floured surface and gently pat into an 8-inch square. Using a bench scraper or knife, cut dough into 64 pieces.

Roll each piece of dough into ball (don't spend more than 2 seconds on each piece or you'll be rolling forever). Working one at a time, dip balls in melted butter, allowing excess butter to drip back into bowl. (I found a fork to be helpful for this process.) Roll in brown sugar (or chocolate) mixture for a generous coating, then layer balls in Bundt pan, staggering seams where dough balls meet as you build layers.

Cover Bundt pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in turned-off oven until dough balls are puffy and have risen 1 to 2 inches from top of pan, 50 to 70 minutes.

Bake bread: Remove pan from oven and heat oven to 350°F. Unwrap pan and bake until top is deep brown and caramel might begin to bubble around edges, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan for 5 minutes (no longer, or you’ll have trouble getting it out) then turn out on platter and allow to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Make glaze: Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk and vanilla. If consistency is still too thick, add more milk by the teaspoonfuls until you get something pourable but not runny.

Drizzle the glaze over warm monkey bread, letting it run over top and sides of bread. Serve warm.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Something for your Cuisinart

So you got this fancy-schmancy food processor for your wedding from a wealthy uncle. Glowing with all the excitement of a newlywed you tear through the packaging, ripping through plastic sleeves and throwing large chunks of styrofoam asunder until you've freed that lovely piece of machinery. Cradling the pristine contraption on your lap, you even bother to read through the instructions cover to cover. Can all those recipes really be made with just one glorious machine? Why yes, the owner's manual tells you, they can.

Fast forward to three years later: Your Cuisinart is sitting on a cabinet shelf by itself, gathering dust. You take it out occasionally when you have 5 pounds of cheese to shred or need to chop large quantities of food. Those owner's manual recipes remain unmade, mostly because you can't be bothered to lug that behemoth out of its resting place more than once a month; it's just too heavy and clunky and takes too much effort to clean. The only time you can justify using it is when you have to really use it. Well, dear reader, have I got a recipe for you to really use your food processor!

Cabbage and chicken salad, otherwise known as Chinese chicken salad, is something I grew up eating at family pot lucks. Only it wasn't the bastardized version served by the likes of The Cheesecake Factory with heaps of fried vermicelli and mandarin oranges (though I enjoy those as well). It was the authentic dish from Vietnam that my mom made growing up and passed on to me. It was simply green cabbage, shredded chicken, carrots, and green onions, all dressed with fish sauce. I could eat several bowls of that stuff in one sitting, and usually did. But, hypocrite that I am, I'm giving you a slightly different recipe that will likely appeal a little more to the masses. In fact, I've yet to serve this to someone who wasn't pleasantly surprised with the flavor. Don't let the raw cabbage fool you - it's completely delicious and refreshing on a sunny day.

If you are lucky enough to own a food processor, it's a snap to put together. Just use the chopping blade to mince the ginger, garlic, jalepeno, and cilantro together first for the dressing. Then replace the blade with the 2mm slicing disk and go to town with your cabbage. Once the cabbage is done, replace the slicing disk with the fine shredding disk and have at you with the carrots. Now that everything is prepped and your full arsenal of processor attachments exhausted, dump everything in the dishwasher and call it good. If you are relying solely on knives, just make sure to slice everything thinly like you're making cole slaw and embrace the mess that ensues.

Chicken and Cabbage Salad
Use all green cabbage if you can't be bothered to get red cabbage, too; I just like the extra color.
Serves 6

1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (coriander)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce (nuoc mum)
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons minced jalapeño chili (with seeds), optional
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon sugar

5 cups thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 head)
4 cups thinly sliced red cabbage (about 1/2 head)
3-4 large carrots, finely shredded
1 1/2 pounds (750 gr) cooked shredded chicken
2 cups green beans, trimmed to 1-inch pieces
1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, then add the green beans. Return to boil and cook for 3-4 minutes until beans are crisp-tender. Immediately remove green beans to an ice bath (or just run with lots of cold water. Drain and set aside.

In a bowl, combine the red wine vinegar, soy sauce, fish sauce, bouillon, cilantro, ginger, garlic, jalapeno (if using), sesame oil, sugar, and 1/3 cup of water. Stir dressing until sugar and bouillon are dissolved.

In a large bowl or 9- by 13-inch cake pan, mix the cabbages together, then layer the rest of the ingredients in the following order: carrots, chicken, green beans, green onions. Serve salad with lots of dressing.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A difference of opinion

Collin and I usually like the same things, gastronomically speaking at least. Unfortunately, we differ greatly on our love of this Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli dish that I got off The Wednesday Chef's blog. It's so simple and so delicious that I felt a little foolish using an actual recipe for it. Still, all culinary insecurities aside, I feel the need to share it with you all.

It's a good idea, combining sweet-briny shrimp with slightly bitter broccoli and finishing it all with a generous squeeze of lemon. The part where I can't seem to agree with my husband is the recipe's use of whole spices. Coriander and cumin seeds, to be exact. I prefer them whole; I love the pleasant little pop each coriander seed makes when you bite into it, along with the tiny burst of concentrated flavor that follows. Those darling seeds of deliciousness wedge themselves happily into the broccoli florets, awaiting my eager teeth to seek them out. They give a nice savory balance to the shrimp, too. Heaven!

Collin does not see the joy I've just described. Instead, he finds the seeds a nuisance, spending more time than necessary picking each and every little seed out of his food. It's sad. Just sad. He prefers it when I use ground spices, claiming that the more even and subtle distribution of flavors is a better complement to the dish. I think we all know who is in the wrong here (hint: it's Collin). I have made it his way a few times, and it's still good that way, but why not try for a little excitement once in a while? I mean, really, how often do you get to use whole spices in your cooking? That's what I thought. Nevertheless, if you insist on wimping out, just substitute ground spices and your taste buds will still thank you.

Oh, and I serve this with basmati rice. The aromatic rice goes perfectly with the dish. Collin prefers it with jasmine rice. Where did I go wrong?

Roasted Shrimp and Broccoli
adapted from The Wednesday Chef (who got it from Melissa Clark)
serves 4

2 pounds (1 kg) broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
4 tablespoons (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons whole coriander seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds (or 1 teaspoon ground)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound (500 g) large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large lemon, zested

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 C). In a large bowl, toss broccoli with 2 tablespoons oil, coriander, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. In a separate bowl, combine shrimp, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, lemon zest, remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

2. Spread broccoli in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast for 10 minutes. Add shrimp to baking sheet and toss with broccoli. Roast, tossing once halfway through, until shrimp are just opaque and broccoli is tender and golden around edges, about 10 minutes more. Remove from oven. Squeeze lemon juice (from your zested lemon) all over shrimp and broccoli and toss. Serve immediately.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I love a good running gag

We celebrated Collin's birthday a few days after returning from Japan. Tough act to follow, so we just kept things very low-key. As for birthday cakes, anything elaborate was out of the question. How could I hope to compete with the kinds of treats we had in Tokyo? I couldn't. Not yet, anyway. And I'm okay with that. Really, I am. Instead, I embraced the simplicity theme and made him lemon bars for his birthday dessert. Why lemon bars, you ask? Oh, I feel a story coming on...

I'm a sucker for grocery store sales - you know the kind where you get an additional discount when you purchase sale items in sets of 10? The kind where, if you do it right, you actually save more than you spend? I kind of get a thrill from those. Anyway, somewhere near the beginning of our marriage, I fell prey to one of these amazing sales and brought home a box of Krusteaz Lemon Bar Mix.

I don't like lemon bars. Not sure why, since I love everything else lemon-flavored. Every few weeks Collin would (half) jokingly remind me that there was a box of lemon bar mix in the pantry waiting to be made, especially when I would complain of a sweet tooth. They never got made while we were in L.A., so we brought the box along when we moved to Utah for a few months. Again, every few weeks that box would become the topic of conversation. Again, it simply languished on the pantry shelf. Just 8 short months after moving to Utah, we found ourselves with an unexpected offer to move to New Zealand for work. It was time to finish all the food in our pantry or else let it go to waste. I took a deep breath and brought out The Box late one night, determined to make my husband happy. As fortune and the FDA would have it, the lemon bar mix had long since expired. What were we doing schlepping that silly thing all over the country, anyway? I'm still not sure, but somewhere in a landfill, there's a sad little box of lemon bar mix that never fulfilled its destiny.

To you, dear box of lemon bar mix, I dedicate these far superior freshly made ones. Oh, and to my darling husband as well. Happy (now belated) birthday, and may all your lemon bars come true!

For the record, I still don't like lemon bars. But Collin loved them.

Lemon Bars
from Rose's Christmas Cookies, by Rose Levy Beranbaum

Shortbread Base
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (142 grams)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar (14 grams)
2 tablespoons superfine or caster sugar (granulated also works) (25 grams)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (180 grams)

Lemon Curd Topping
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar (150 grams)
3 fluid ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 2 1/2 large lemons) (90 mL)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened (57 grams)
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest (4 grams)
2 tablespoons powdered sugar for dusting (14 grams)

Line an 8x8-inch aluminum or glass pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugars. In a large bowl of an electric stand mixer, cream the butter with the sugars until light and fluffy. With your fingers or with the electric mixer, mix in the flour until incorporated. If using the mixer, add the flour in 2 parts.

Place oven rack in the middle of the oven.

Preheat oven to 325°F (300°F if using glass)/160°C (150°C)

Pat the dough into the prepared pan. Use a fork to prick the dough all over.

Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned and the top is pale golden (do not brown).

While the shortbread is baking, prepare the Lemon Curd Topping.

Have a strainer, suspended over a bowl, ready near the range.

In a heavy non-corrodible saucepan, beat the egg yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the lemon juice, butter, and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes, until thickened and resembling hollandaise sauce, which thickly coats a wooden spoon but is still liquid enough to pour. (A candy thermometer will read 196°F.) The mixture will change from translucent to opaque and begin to take on a yellow color on the back of a wooden spoon. It must not be allowed to boil or it will curdle. (It will steam above 140°F. Whenever steaming occurs, remove the pan briefly from the heat, stirring constantly to prevent boiling.)

When the curd has thickened, pour it at once into the strainer. Press it with the back of a spoon until only the coarse residue remains. Discard the residue. Stir in the lemon zest.

When the shortbread is baked, remove it from the oven, lower the temperature to by 300°F. (275°F if using a glass pan), pour the lemon curd on top of the shortbread, and return it to the oven for 10 minutes.

Cool the lemon bars completely in the pan on a wire rack. Refrigerate the pan for 30 minutes to set the lemon curd completely. Place the powdered sugar in a strainer and tap the strainer with a spoon to sprinkle a thick, even coating, entirely covering the lemon.

Use the foil overhang to lift out the lemon bars onto a cutting surface. Using a long, sharp knife to cut the shortbread into bars, wiping the blade after each cut.

In an airtight container at room temperature, or in the refrigerator or freezer. Keeps 3 days at room temperature, 3 weeks refrigerated (individually wrapped in plastic wrap to prevent drying), or 3 months frozen.

Friday, July 10, 2009

No reason

We spent the past 10 days in Japan, going from one delicious food to the next and catching a few sights in between. We had sushi fresh from the big Tokyo fish market at 6:00AM

A few treats from Monsieurs Hermé and Ladurée (among others). How I've missed macarons!

We also managed to pick this little baby up in Tokyo. Pretty...

But enough of our gallivanting about the world. This isn't a travel blog! This is about senseless baking! Collin's birthday was on Tuesday. I made him lemon bars (more on that later) and had 5 egg whites left over, begging me to do something with them. Having just consumed an inordinate amount of macarons like the ones above, I didn't feel the need to make my own just yet. Plus, it had been raining on and off all week - very bad news for anything involving a meringue. Then again, there was that pavlova that I've been wanting to make for ages, and it wasn't raining today, and it was Friday...

Okay, so maybe there was no real good reason for making a pav today, especially given the high likelihood of failure from how humid it was. But you know what? I did it anyway. And you know what? It was good! The thin, delicately crisp outer shell yielded to a slightly chewy in-between area that finally gave way to a soft, pillowy marshmallow inside. The whipped cream was only lightly sweetened, so it balanced the sweetness of the meringue beautifully with the sweet-tart fruit. It took three people just a few hours to eat the whole thing, mostly because we just couldn't stop. I regret nothing.

adapted from Gourmet, April 2009

1 cup superfine (caster) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3 large egg whites, room temperature
3 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

1 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
2-4 cups fresh fruit (any berry, kiwifruit, mandarins, etc.)

Preheat oven to 300°F (150 C) with rack in middle. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Whisk together superfine sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl.

Beat whites with a pinch of salt using an electric mixer at medium speed until they hold soft peaks. Add water (the peaks will disappear) and beat until whites again hold soft peaks.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat in sugar mixture 1 tablespoon at a time. After all the sugar has been added, beat 1 minute more.

Add vinegar and beat at high speed until meringue is glossy and holds stiff peaks, about 5 minutes (longer if using hand-held mixer).

Gently spread meringue in a 6-inch (approx.) circle on parchment, making edge of meringue slightly higher than center (the "crater" is for cream and fruit). Bake until meringue is pale golden and has a crust, about 45 minutes. The outside will crack and be solid while the inside will remain marshmallowy.

Turn oven off and prop door open slightly with a wooden spoon. Cool meringue in oven 1 hour.

Beat cream with sugar until it just holds stiff peaks and spoon into meringue. Mound fruit and/or berries on top. Take lots of pictures, because this will likely become a scary mess once you cut into it - enjoy!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Worthy of no pictures

This is just embarrassing. Here I commit myself to a food blog, get off to a great start, then instantly fizzle out. In my defense, it's been a madhouse in my life these past few weeks. We moved house last week and are taking a trip to Japan this week. Blogs (and cooking) have not been at the top of my list of priorities, sadly. I haven't even taken any pictures of, well, anything! What have I been feeding my family all this time, you might be wondering? I'm sad to report that an inordinate amount of fish 'n chips have been consumed. At least I varied the fry shacks from which we ordered. Sigh. My head is hanging in shame. I did manage to make something of some nutritional and gustatory value last week, though: French onion soup. I apologize for the lack of pictures, but like I said, the camera has been laying dormant amidst the packing frenzy. I'll hopefully make it again soon this winter, so will post pictures when I do. Hey, I'll take any excuse to make delicious onion soup again!

Many of you may roll your eyes and gag yourselves and call me a heretic when you see that my recipe does not use any sort of red wine or sherry. But, as previously mentioned, we are an alcohol-free household and have had to be creative in finding adequate substitutes. Onion soup has been an especially difficult substitute to find, because the flavor of the wine is so integral to the flavor of the onions and soup. I shied away for years because of this, but no more, friends! No more! While it's nowhere near as good as the one I had in Paris (but come on, it's Paris!), it's still perfectly delicious.

Soupe a l'Oignon au Fromage (French Onion Soup)
Adapted from Gourmet, Jan 1991
Yield: 6 servings

6 large onions (about 5 pounds/2.25 kg), sliced thin
1/4 cup (2 oz/50 gr) unsalted butter
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 quarts (1.5 ltr) beef broth
twelve 1/2-inch-thick slices of French bread, toasted
3/4 pound (350 gr) coarsely grated Gruyère

In a large heavy-bottomed pot cook the onions in the butter over moderately low heat, stirring often, for 45 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Add vinegar and sugar and cook until absorbed, 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle the onions with the flour and cook the mixture, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add the broth slowly, stir the soup constantly until it comes to a boil, and simmer it, covered, for 20 minutes. Season the soup with salt and pepper. Put 2 slices of the toast in each of 6 heated soup bowls, top each toast with 1 tablespoon of the Gruyère, and pour the soup over the toasts.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

In between

Sometimes you just need to have a baking day with a girlfriend. My friend Chevon came over this afternoon with her Big Book of All Things Chocolate. After poring through the pages and drooling over the many delectable recipes, we finally settled on making brownies.

I know, right? Of all the things we could have attempted in its gourmet catalog, we chose perhaps the most humble of all chocolate recipes. But can you blame us? What a pure and simple way to showcase chocolate! Besides, we both hadn't had brownies in far too long. Then the real debate began: should we make cakey or fudgy brownies? With or without walnuts? We are both chocolate purists, so without walnuts was an easy decision. Cakey vs. fudgy, on the other hand, was a bit more difficult to decide; the book had one recipe for each. The cakey recipe seemed a little too cakey, while the picture of the fudgy recipe just looked like fudge. Is it too much to ask for something in between? We ended up chickening out of using the book's recipes and turned once again to my trusty old for inspiration. As luck would have it, there was a brownie recipe that claimed it could be cakey or fudgy, depending on how long you cooked it. Well, thought we, it looks like we can get the best of both worlds after all! We'll only baked them 5 minutes longer than the minimum time to achieve brownie nirvana. And off we went...

Sadly, brownie nirvana will have to wait for another day. The brownies, while completely delicious, perfectly rich (but not gaggingly so), and chocalatey, were quite cakey. They got a bit fudgier after fully cooling down (but who wants to wait for that, honestly?), but the end product was still a very cakey brownie. It was with much sorrow that we all gobbled up the brownies with several glasses of milk and had seconds and thirds. I think I've uncovered a new mission in life: The Quest for the Ultimate Brownie, or, if you prefer, Brownie Nirvana.

Cakey Brownies
adapted from "Gourmet" magazine, Oct. 2003
Don't let my sad tale of woe deter you - these brownies are still quite amazing. Bake them the minimun amount of time (or slightly underbake them) if you want to try for fudgier results, and let me know how it goes.

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
8 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan (2 inches deep) and line bottom and sides with parchment paper, then butter paper.

Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl, then pour in chocolate mixture, whisking until combined well. Whisk in flour mixture, then stir in walnuts and transfer batter to baking pan.

Bake until top is shiny and set and sides have begun to pull away slightly (a wooden pick or skewer will not come out clean), about 35 minutes, for fudgy brownies; or until wooden pick or skewer comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour total, for cakey brownies.

Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack. Invert onto a cutting board, remove paper, and cut into squares.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lazy baking

Sometimes you want something dessert-y without all the hassle of making a dessert. Sometimes you just want a snack that won't fill you with self-loathing for slipping on the diet yet again. Sometimes you don't have a whole box of butter or a whole bar of chocolate or anything terribly fancy, for that matter. Here's your answer: Lemon and Honey Cake.

lemon cake

It's moist, it's substantial but not dense, it's perfectly zingy, and it's perfectly (read: not too) sweet. What's not to love? The best part is: it's completely easy to substitute most of the ingredients for whatever you have on hand. Oh, and it's moderately virtuous. Praise indeed!

lemon cake slice

Lemon and Honey Cake
adapted from Orangette

1/2 cup plain yogurt (or fruity yogurt, preferably lemon flavored, or even sour cream)
1/3 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar (a little less if you used sweetened yogurt)
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 2/3 cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
zest from 1 large lemon
1/2 cup oil

juice from 1 large lemon (or use 2 if you really like your lemon flavor)
1/3 cup powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Butter a 9" round cake pan, then line bottom with parchment paper and butter the parchment.

In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, honey, sugar, eggs, and vanilla until well blended. Sift in the flour and baking powder, then add lemon zest, and mix with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. Add oil and mix until incorporated. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. It will be a little dark because of the honey - that's okay. Remove to a rack and allow to cool completely in pan.

While cake is cooling, whisk together the lemon juice and powdered sugar. When cake is fully cooled, remove from pan and drizzle glaze over top. It will be very thin and will soak into the cake. Enjoy!