Friday, January 25, 2013

Oranges and Lemons: St.Clement's Cake

One of the many cookbooks to join my bookshelf recently is Jamie Oliver's Great Britain. Any review I give will be biased, because of my big chef-crush on the adorable guy, but the photography is gorgeous (David Loftus, the photographer behind a wagon-load of aesthetically pleasing books), and the recipes are things you picture yourself eating in an old stone cottage, accompanied by tea and softly falling rain.

This week I made this citrus-full cake. It's a simple batter cake, and after it comes out of the oven, you stab it all over and drench it in orange syrup. I can get behind that.

A few notes - Jamie's recipe isn't gluten free, but it's so close. I substituted all-purpose gluten free flour (Bob's Red Mill brand) for the all-purpose flour. The cake is so moist and flavourful, you won't notice the difference. Also, Jamie says to make it in a 8-inch springform pan, but I used a well-greased bundt pan, and the cake came out of the pan just fine. Finally, try and use organic oranges and lemons - the zest of commercial citrus is coated in wax, and full of pesticides. You don't want to zest that into your system.

Jamie's Nan's St. Clement's Cake
4 1/2 oz unsalted butter (1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp), softened
(plus more for greasing the pan)
1 cup and 2 tbsp sugar
4 large eggs
1 large orange
2 cups ground almonds
3/4 cup all purpose flour (or gluten-free all purpose flour)
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
2 cups icing sugar
1 lemon

Preheat oven to 350. Butter a bundt pan, or a 8-inch springform pan, lining the bottom with parchment.

Beat the butter with 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of sugar until light and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Add the zest of the orange (keeping back a little for decorating, in a covered bowl). Fold in the almonds. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, then fold into the batter, until everything is just combined. Spread into the prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes, until golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup sugar and the juice of that orange you zested in a pan. Simmer, until sugar is melted. Poke the cake (still in the pan) all over with a fork. Pour over syrup, and leave cake to cool completely in pan.

While the cake is cooling, make the icing. Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, and add the zest and juice of one lemon (keep back a little zest for decorating). Mix until icing is smooth. Transfer the cooled cake to a serving tray, and drizzle with the lemon icing. Sprinkle with reserved citrus zest.

PS. Did you know a 'St.Clement's' is actually a lemonade-orange juice combo served in pubs in England? It's something my great-great granny probably ordered.

PPS. This cake (and the drink) are named after the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons: "oranges and lemons, sing the bells of St. Clements." The line refers to a church in London that was near to the docks, where produce would have been unloaded.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

December: eating my way through the christmas season

I disappeared for a month. Where did I go? More importantly, what did I eat? First of all, there were waffles. Lots and lots of waffles. (There was an exciting waffle iron purchase.) 

Next, there were board games. Scrabble, Catan, Euchre, Game of Thrones, so many games. 

Then, I made spaghetti tacos with some very talented chefs. (Don't believe me? Look at the link. If it made it into the NY Times, it's a real thing.)

There was also a huge cookie, made in a cast iron skillet. 

Biscotti, anyone? You can never have too much, especially if it's stuffed with chocolate chunks, orange zest and toasted almonds. Quick, make some coffee!

There was a trip to Florida, where I visited a farmer's market: they had pumelo, habanero peppers, boiled peanuts and orange blossom honey (just a little different from our Toronto markets).

Then I went to Prince Edward County to visit these lovely friends. We love food. We ate a lot of food. 

Plus, we found this awesome tattooed apple - how? HOW?

 There was a brunch waffle feast, complete with pomegranate mimosas.

 And, I veganized this awesome ice cream bomb recipe from Jamie Oliver.
Then we made Jamie's mulled wine recipe. Did I mention we like Jamie Oliver?

I love christmas! Now back to the real world. (But it was a great way to finish off 2012.)

fannie farmer waffles

I've been away from my computer for a while. There's a few explanations for the absence: a trip to Florida, a trip to Prince Edward County, Christmas celebrations, too many holiday parties, re-reading the Song of Ice and Fire books, re-watching the entire series of Friends and a broken internet connection (wow - some of those excuses are very weak).

Back to regularly scheduled programming! One of my 2013 resolutions is to get up early and eat breakfast with my favourite boy every morning. So far, we've covered pancakes, french toast, oatmeal and lots of eggs. I've written about my love of breakfast before, and I'm finding my obsession is being fed by this awesome cookbook: Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book.

As a side note, I started reading The Breakfast Book because of this other awesome book - not quite a cookbook, but a compendium of great cookbooks of the last century. 101 Classic Cookbooks is a goldmine of the best American Cookbooks of the last 100 years - everything from turn of the century cookbooks like Fannie Farmer and The White House Cookbook to books from some of my favourite female chefs, like The Splendid Table (by host of The Splendid Table podcast, Lynne Rossetto Kasper) and The Moosewood Cookbook (from Mollie Katzen, one of the pioneers of whole foods and vegetarian cooking).

Here's one of my favourite recipes so far. These waffles are crispy on the outside, light and fluffy on the inside, and have a great flavour (I attribute it to the yeast and melted butter). Don't be put off by the overnight wait - they take 10 minutes to prepare at night, then in the morning, you just stir in some eggs and soda, heat up your waffle iron, and tuck in!

fannie farmer waffles
Makes 8 to 10 waffles.

1/2 cup warm water
1 package dry yeast
2 cups milk, warmed
1/2 cup melted butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (or all purpose)
2 eggs
1/4 tsp baking soda

Use a large mixing bowl (the batter is going to rise and double in size overnight). Put warm water in the bowl, and sprinkle yeast on top. Set aside to proof for 5 minutes. Add the warm milk, melted butter, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast mixture. Whisk together until batter is smooth and lumps are gone. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature overnight.

In the morning, beat two eggs in a small bowl. Add beaten eggs and soda to waffle batter. Stir to combine. Cook on a very hot waffle iron, using about 1/2 cup batter per waffle.

Guess what? The batter keeps a few days in the fridge, so you can satisfy your waffle craving all through the week.