Week 3 – Strawberries (Abby)

Oh my, this should have been posted weeks ago. Kari and I are quite behind on things at the moment, due to a few unexpected events. We took a couple of weeks off, and will probably have one more week without a recipe to share, but hopefully after that will be back at it.

Over two weeks ago (yikes) we had decided on strawberries for our weekly ingredient. I have such a long list of strawberry recipes that I have been wanting to try that it was difficult to choose. In the end I went with a strawberry lemonade cake.

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I had never made a cake from scratch before, so this was a bit of an adventure for me. And it didn’t start well. Watching Julie & Julia years ago, and reading My Berlin Kitchen this past winter taught me to expect disasters while I worked on new recipes, but I didn’t expect them so soon. While whisking the butter and sugar (just the first step of the cake) one of the wires on my wire whisk snapped. It shocked me, and needless to say 聽I was not happy. This was all happening at Scott’s house, so he and his roommates had to deal with my ranting about how much I hated this cake already, how awful it was that my wire whisk attachment broke, how there was no way the cake was going to turn out, and I even threatened to throw it all out and scrap the idea (I may have been a bit dramatic). I was not a happy person that night. I warned Scott that though it was the first time I got upset at a recipe, it probably would not be the last, and he luckily was very understanding of this (and kind of made fun of my mini-tantrum about the whisk, which managed to lightened my mood).

My poor broken whisk :(

My poor broken whisk 馃槮

I managed to keep going despite the broken whisk, and only ran into more (minor) problems. I don’t have a stand mixer, so I had to call in reinforcements for adding in the dry ingredients and buttermilk. It ended up alright, but was a pain and just added to my frustration that night. The batter ended up tasting delicious, so I had hope for the cake still. By the time the cakes were done baking I was frustrated and sick of being in the kitchen so I covered the cakes and decided to make the frosting the next night.

It ended up being two nights before I had time to make the frosting, which wasn’t the best situation. But, the frosting was simple, and probably the most delicious frosting I have ever tasted. Once I got that made I was able to throw together the cake, and we were finally able to enjoy a piece. By the time we were able to eat it I think the cake had dried out a bit. The cake seemed a bit dense to begin with, and the slight dryness didn’t help. It was still incredibly delicious though, and the lemon cake balanced perfectly with the strawberry buttercream. If I make it again (which Scott has said is a requirement) I may try to figure out how to lighten up the cake, and I will definitely put it all together on the same day.

Also, photography wise, photographing a whole cake is not very easy, or interesting (at least to me). And I was losing light fast, so I wasn’t able to grab many shots. And, I still haven’t figured out a good way to format my recipes. WordPress automatically changes things around and I can’t seem to figure out a way of fixing it. Does anyone have any suggestions?

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Strawberry Lemonade Cake

Recipe from Heather Christo’s Generous Table

Ingredients

Cake

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 cup (2 sticks) butter at room temp

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 1/2 cups sugar

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽2 tbsp fresh lemon zest

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽2 1/2 cups AP flour

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 tsp baking powder

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 tsp baking soda

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1/2 tsp salt

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽4 eggs

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 cup buttermilk

Strawberry Buttercream

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽5 cups powder sugar

路聽聽聽聽聽聽聽2 tbsp whole milk

路 聽 聽 聽 4 large strawberries, chopped

Instructions

Cake

1.聽聽聽聽Heat oven to 350 and prepare two 9-inch round baking pans.

2.聽聽聽聽聽In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, place the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Beat until light and fluffy.

3.聽聽聽聽聽In a separate bowl, mix together dry ingredients and set aside.

4.聽聽聽聽聽With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, one at a time, combining thoroughly in between. With the mixer still running, add the lemon juice. (batter will look curdled, but its not)

5.聽聽聽聽聽Add one third of the dry ingredients and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape the sides of the bowl. Repeat, adding another third of the dry ingredients and the remaining 1/2 cup buttermilk. Mix, then stop and scrape. Add the remaining third of the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined and the batter is light and fluffy.

6.聽聽聽聽聽Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.

7.聽聽聽聽聽Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool before removing from the pans.

Strawberry Buttercream

1.聽聽聽聽聽Combine butter and powder sugar in a large bowl or standing mixer. Mix together on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add in the milk and strawberries and mix on high speed until the frosting is very fluffy and pale pink in color, with flecks of strawberry.

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Week 1 – Rhubarb (Kari)

Kari here. This past weekend my in-laws were visiting.聽 The smell of rhubarb filled the house.聽 Everyone loved it– we even caught George (my father-in-law) helping himself to a聽piece at lunch time while we were away.聽 Delicious. The parchment paper was a must.聽 Also delicious for breakfast the next day 馃檪

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RUSTIC FRUIT TART

Makes 2 (12-inch) tart crusts.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. When making two tarts, double the filling ingredients.
For the crust:
鈥 21/2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling dough
鈥 2 tbsp. sugar
鈥 1 tsp. salt
鈥 12 tbsp. cold unsalted butter (11/2 sticks, cut in 1/2 -in.pieces)
鈥 1/2 c. cold vegetable shortening
鈥 1/2聽 c. ice water
For each tart filling:
鈥 1/2 c. sugar
鈥 Pinch of salt
鈥 1 tbsp. cornstarch
鈥 2 c. fruit of choice, sliced thin or left whole, depending on the fruit
鈥 Melted butter and sparkling sugar
Directions:
To prepare crust:
Whisk together flour, 2 tbsp. sugar and 1 teaspoon salt. With pastry blender, cut in butter and shortening until well distributed. The mixture should resemble coarse cornmeal.
Sprinkle water聽over flour mixture, blending and sprinkling until all the liquid is used. The dough may seem rather sticky, but that鈥檚 OK.
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, pat it into a loaf shape and cut in 2 equal pieces and flatten into fat disks. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (You can also double wrap 1 disk and store in the freezer for use within 2 months.)
About 30 minutes before you want to bake, remove dough from the refrigerator and place it on the counter to take off the chill. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking sheet and fold over the edges about a half-inch to create a rim, to capture the fruit juices if they should begin to ooze.
On a well-floured pastry cloth or silicone sheet, roll out the dough, working from the middle to the edges, until you have a rough circle about 12 to 14 inches around. Don鈥檛 roll the dough too thin or the fruit may break through the sides of the tart.
Drape half the dough over the rolling pin and use the pin to lift the dough gently onto the parchment paper.
To prepare filling:聽
Mix together the 1/2 cup sugar, cornstarch and pinch of salt. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of the mixture over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border. Toss the remaining mixture with the fruit (1 cup Rhubarb + 1 cup strawberry). Arrange fruit in center of dough circle.
Gently lift the border of dough up and toward the fruit, folding or pleating as you complete the circle. If desired, you can brush the dough border with some melted butter and sprinkle with sparkling sugar.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. If fruit juices have oozed onto the parchment, gently work the tart loose, slipping a knife under the crust. Then slide the tart onto a wire rack to cool slightly (or completely) before serving.

Week 1 – Rhubarb (Abby)

Abby here. For the first week of our recipe challenge Kari and I chose rhubarb. Rhubarb is such a聽quintessential spring item that it only made sense we used it as our first ingredient. I absolutely love the tartness of rhubarb, and when paired with the right things it is completely perfect for those warm spring evenings.

I had found a recipe for an Eton Mess with rhubarb quite a while ago (from the crumb.com) that I wanted to try, so when we decided to go with the stalky fruit I immediately knew what I wanted to make. I had never heard of the dessert before, but it sounded delicious. An Eton Mess, for those of you who like me, haven’t heard of the treat, is a traditional English dessert. It is a mixture of fruit (traditionally strawberries), cream, and meringues. The slightly crunchy meringues contrast the light whipped cream perfectly, and the rhubarb is such a nice compliment to the pair. The three components are combined right at the last minute and are barely mixed together, so it results in a swirly, beautifully colorful treat.

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I had never made meringues before so it was a fun challenge for me. Also, Isabelle Boucher (the author of the recipe) added Greek yogurt into the whipped cream to lighten it up some; it was something I had never tried, and to be honest was a bit nervous about (I really love whipped cream). I was pleasantly surprised, and the yogurt ended up being a perfect complement to the cream and to the flavors of the dessert in general. The recipe was deceptively simple and may be one of my new favorites. I have seen other variations of the Eton Mess as well, with various summer fruits, so I plan on trying those out at some point because my boyfriend and I loved this one so much.

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Rhubarb Eton Mess

Serves 6

Ingredients:

Meringues:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 录 cup white sugar
  • 录 cup brown sugar
  • 录 tsp white vinegar
  • 录 tsp corn starch
  • 陆 tsp vanilla extract

Rhubarb Compote:

  • 2 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 陆 cup orange juice
  • 录 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp orange zest

Yogurt Whipped Cream

  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 陆 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs sugar
  • 陆 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions:

Make the Brown Sugar Meringues (up to 2 days ahead)

  1. Preheat the oven to 250F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. On medium speed with a mixer, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks begin to form. Increase the speed to medium-high and slowly add in both the white and brown sugars, one spoonful at a time. Continue whisking until the sugars have been completely incorporated and the whites have formed stiff peaks. Finally, gently fold in the vinegar, corn starch and vanilla.
  3. Spoon the meringue into twelve large dollops onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  4. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the surface of the meringues feels dry to the touch. Turn off the oven and leave the meringues in with the door closed to cool for at least an hour, or preferably overnight.

Rhubarb Compote (can be made up to 1 week ahead)

  1. In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the rhubarb, orange juice, sugar and orange zest. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and then reduce the heat to low and simmer for around 10 minutes, or until the rhubarb is soft and beginning to fall apart. Set aside to cool off to room temperature.

Make the Yogurt Cream (shortly before assembling)

  1. In a large bowl, whip together the heavy cream, yogurt, sugar and vanilla until it stiffens and soft peaks form.
Assemble the Eton Mess (at the last possible minute)
  1. Crumble the meringues into a large bowl. Spoon the cream and rhubarb compote on top, and fold until just barely combined (the mixture should still look streaky).
  2. Divide evenly between six dessert bowls or martini glasses, and serve immediately, and enjoy!

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