Hint of Spring Orange Raspberry Cakelets

There are so many things to love about being a food blogger. Chief among them is all of theIMG_4560 discoveries you make almost daily, of other bloggers, artisanal makers, baby brands, established brands you’ve never heard of. And of course the endless falling in love, over and over, with recipes, tastes, and photos. Food porn is real as you. well. know.

In the past year, I’ve discovered many delicious things going on in the UK and Down Under. You’ve all been there, you Like one thing on FB and then see something it Likes and you’re down a rabbit hole of Eat Me and Drink Me discovery. This particular journey started with the Great British Baking Show (on Netflix and then on PBS). Not only was each guest lovelier and more adorable than then next, but the judges were rigorous and the challenges significant. Plus I learned (learnt?) a lot of new terminology, including “checking the bake” which is the quality/crumb of the finished product.

From there, I somehow ran into delicious.magazine, also from the UK, that has a terrific social media presence and great recipe links/photos on FB (from which I made the Chocolate Molasses Buttons holiday cookies). And from there, I encountered Dish magazine from New Zealand – more lovely recipes for things I never heard of like Caramel IMG_4557Slice (aka Millionaire Shortbread) and this week’s delicious little bites.

The great thing about these orange raspberry mini loaves is how easy they are to make, which was key this past weekend because, as you likely know, we in the US “sprIMG_4546ang forward,” losing an hour of sleep. I also always seem to crave citrus and berries on spring forward Sunday, so the recipe was perfect. The extra special bonus was that I had an excuse to buy silicone financier pans – my first time baking in silicone and in that shape. The fun never ends!

The pans were terrific to work with, the perfect little loaves just popped out. The results are delicious, wonderful with tea. I don’t normally go for glaze but it adds a nice note here. If you look at the picture accompanying the recipe via the link above, you’ll see they have a pristine white glaze. I do not know how OJ and confectionery sugar would ever be snow white. C’est la vie. They taste terrific.

Note: You have to love nutmeg. I used powdered, jarred nutmeg which might have a stronger flavor than fresh. If you do the same, I suggest you halve the amount if you’re not a nutmeg fan. Also, the poppy seeds don’t add much to the result so don’t run to the store for them if you have everything else.

Next time I make these, I’m going to try lemon instead of orange. I just love lemons and raspberries together.

Happy spring!

Raspberry Orange Cakelets

Adapted from a recipe by Dish Magazine

Ingredients

2 sticks plus 1 Tbs unsalted butter, room temperature

1¼ c granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 large eggs, room temperature

2 c flour

1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg (or ½ tsp powdered nutmeg from a jar)

½ tsp baking powder

½ tsp sea salt

2 Tbs poppy seeds (optional)

2 Tbs plain yogurt

Juice of half medium orange

Finely grated zest of one medium orange

2 cups frozen raspberries

Glaze

1½ cups confectionery sugar

Juice of 1 orange

Preparation

rasp batterPreheat oven to 350. Arrange two 12-hole silicone financier pans on baking sheets and set aside.

Combine the flour, nutmeg, baking powder, salt and poppy seeds in a medium bowl and set aside.

Whisk the yogurt, orange juice and orange zest together; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla together until very light and pale. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Stop the mixer and add both the dry ingredients and the yogurt/OJ mixture to the butter. Mix on low until just combined.

Add the raspberries and, using a large rubber spatula, gently fold into the batter. Note: if you use raspberries right from the freezer your batter will rasp pansharden a bit around them.

Use a #20 ice cream scoop to drop scant scoops of batter into each section of the pans. (You’ll get 15-18 cakes.) Smooth tops with a small offset spatula.

Put the cookie sheets with the financier pans into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes. A skewer inserted into the center should come out clean.

IMG_4558Cool in the molds for 30 minutes before removing to a rack and cooling completely.

Glaze: Stir enough orange juice into the confectionery sugar to make a thick but pourable glaze. Drizzle over the cakes.

Store the cakes in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Makes 15-18 cakes.

 If you don’t have the mini loaf tin you can use standard muffin tins. You will probably get 14–15 cakes from the mixture as the tin capacity is smaller.

Enjoy!

 

When Food Is Love

5715_10153882448957375_7877712364016207751_nI’m a person who, let’s say, has more rainy days than most people. I’ve managed my depression for decades with medication, but I still occasionally have moments when the clouds gather. Then, as with any other occasion really, I head to the kitchen. Because what I want is to feed myself.

I’m not talking about compulsivity or “eating your feelings.” I’m saying feel the feelings and eat anyway. But take the time to discover what really feeds you in those low moments. It took some years of trial and error before I really accepted that your typical “mood food” doesn’t help me: I don’t want chocolate, I don’t want lots of sugar or anything overly sweet, I don’t want junk food that forces my body to work extra hard to process.

I want things that are super soothing and easy to eat. Things that are easy to prepare and redolent of comfort, familiarity, and warmth. “Easy to prepare” is key, because I’ve learned that what makes the biggest difference in feeding – and lifting – my depression is the act of cooking. Because what I want most is, quite literally, to feed myself. If preparing food for others is an act of love, then preparing food for yourself is, in my opinion, the ultimate act of self love.

So when the storm clouds gathered recently, I headed to the kitchen to prepare a tried-and-true comfort food and to discover a new one. I offer you both. Because both made me feel better. As did my animals, my blankets, my art, and lots of British TV via acorn.tv.

Baked Custard

IMG_4462

Note the moussey top and silky custard bottom!

Another favorite from the gingham Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. I’ve been making this since childhood. I’ve modified the recipe a bit to use roughly equal parts heavy cream and whole milk. Why? Because, for some reason, it results in a layered custard. The top is mousse-like while the bottom is the shiny, silky traditional custard. It’s just wonderful at room temperature or straight out of the fridge. It is a lot of dairy and eggs, so clearly not meant for every day.

Rainy Day Baked Custard

Adapted from the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook

 

Ingredients

1 c heavy cream

1c whole milk

½ c sugar

4 large eggs

1 Tbs vanilla

Ground nutmeg to taste

Preparation

Set oven to 350 degrees. Set aside a 1.5 quart baking dish and a roasting pan large enough to hold the baking dish.

Pour cream and milk into a large bowl. Whisk to combine. Whisk in sugar, followed by the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk in the vanilla. Pour into the baking dish. Sprinkle with nutmeg to taste – I like a generous coating.

Set the dish into the roasting pan and add hot water to come halfway up the side of the baking dish.

Bake for 45 minutes. Custard should be set. If it’s still quite liquid, nudge the heat up to 375 for another 10-15 minutes. It should be set by then.

Remove from oven, and remove baking dish from water bath, and let cool on rack.

If you want to eat it warm, let it sit for about 15 minutes. Otherwise cool to room temperature and enjoy, or refrigerate and enjoy some more.

Comfort Cake

A few months ago I bought The Rustic Italian Bakery by Veronica Lavenia. When I was in Italy, I noticed the traditional sweets were not all that sweet. And that little slices of something were often served in the afternoon with coffee. I’ve got a favorite ItalianIMG_4500 cornmeal cake recipe and “rustic” is the perfect word for it. It’s homey, flavorful but not sweet, and utterly delicious. So naturally I wanted to possess an entire book of such recipes!

Levinia’s book is a lot more than that. She has a “real” food ethos so her recipes often call for alternative flours and grains, varied sweeteners, and organic ingredients. When I bought the book, I didn’t have a pantryful of alternative flours. Since I began baking from Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours, though, my stock has increased. And so, on a gloomy day, I leafed through Levinia’s book in search of something appealing I could make with ingredients on hand. Torta Paradiso was invented by a priest and made famous across Italy in 1878 by pastry chef Enrico Vigoni (says Lavenia). I had to modify the recipe slightly because I was out of brown sugar and lemons. The original recipe, on Alimentari, also calls for cornstarch which the recipe in the book does not.

Paradiso Cake – Gluten Free

Adapted from The Rustic Italian Bakery, note most ingredients measured by weight

Ingredients

3 fl oz mild extra-virgin olive oil

3.5 oz turbinado sugar

4 large eggs, separated

5 Tbs heavy cream

Scant 1/4 cup whole milk

9 oz rice flour

1/2 oz baking powder

Zest of 1 medium orange

Powdered sugar to taste

Preparation

Set oven to 350. Lightly grease a 9-inch cake pan (with 2 inch sides), lining the bottom with parchment. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine the rice flour, baking powder and orange zest. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the olive oil and sugar, mixing on medium until sugar dissolves slightly, about 3-5 minutes. With the mixer running, add the egg yolks, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the cream, followed by the flour mixture, mixing thoroughly.

batterNote: At this point, my batter looked more like cookie dough. I couldn’t imagine folding beaten egg whites into it. So I added enough whole milk to make a smooth cake batter. If you find yourself in a similar situation, gradually add the milk, up to a 1/4 cup, until your batter looks right.

Pour the batter into a large mixing bowl. Clean your mixer bowl, attach the wire whip, and whip the egg whites until stiff. Fold them into the cake batter using a large rubber spatula or balloon whisk, pulling the batter from the bottom up.

IMG_4499Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.

Bake, in preheated oven, for 30 minutes. A tester should come out clean. My cake was done, but very pale in color.

IMG_4510Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes. Unmold and cool on rack completely. Dust with powdered sugar to taste.

This cake is not sweet and has a lovely soft but hearty texture. It’s even better the second day when all the powdered sugar has sunk in adding a touch more sweetness to the cake.

Enjoy!

And if you find yourself struggling with difficult emotions, there are a number of ways to get help: Call the Employee Assistance Program offered by your employer to access short term counseling, look for a good therapist, join an online community like To Write Love on Her Arms – just do something. Depression is common and can be managed. Blessings!