For the March issue of Grow Northwest, I offered to write a cooking piece on Irish food. I cleverly sidestepped corned beef and cabbage and soda bread, and instead used it as an excuse to make a really fabulous Guinness-braised pot roast and a lovely batch of buttermilk colcannon. I also made cake.
From my research (and my parents’ experience), the real Irish version of Guinness cake is a fruity, spiced teatime sort of thing, rather than a sweet dessert. I remembered Jon making a chocolate Guinness ice cream from David Lebovitz’s ice cream book, and wanted to find a good recipe for chocolate stout cake – I eventually found it in Nigella Lawson’s Feast. And what a cake! We’ve made it twice now, and I think it’ll be in regular rotation in our house. It’s chocolatey but not too sweet, dense and moist, and keeps perfectly, wrapped on the counter, for up to a week. I think it might freeze well but so far we haven’t had enough leftover to try it. It’s very good eaten plain, but a dollop of cream cheese frosting is extremely nice. Continue reading
It was all because of the blood orange curd.
My parents gave us a jar of blood orange curd for Christmas (it was a very food-centric holiday all around). I’ve been trying to decide what to do with it – tarts, ice cream, biscuits? Finally I thought of my favorite yogurt cake, a simple dessert that lends itself well to fruit toppings of all sorts. Instead of my usual recipe, though, which is from the blog Chocolate and Zucchini, I thought I’d try Dorie Greenspan’s variation on the traditional cake. The main differences are that it has half as much yogurt, one extra egg, and vanilla instead of rum. She also suggests rubbing lemon zest into the sugar, but I decided not to since I was pairing the citrusy curd with the cake.
The result was marvelous. The cake was perhaps a bit less tangy, but the texture was fluffier and finer-grained: delicate enough to serve for a dinner party, but sturdy enough to eat out of hand over the kitchen sink. It went spectacularly with the tart-sweet curd. It will also go very well with fresh berries next summer, I feel sure. And whipped cream. Just a little.
We were well and truly snowed in last weekend (still are, pretty much), and we did what most people do when stuck at home with a full refrigerator – we threw a dinner party and baked a cake. To be more accurate, my husband baked, and I took pictures and fussed around on the computer and made milk-braised pork and buttermilk mashed potatoes. The pork was good, but it was the tiramisu cake that really got the eye-rolling and moaning reactions from our dinner guests.
I used to be a fanatical cake baker. If we went to a party, I made a cake – the bigger and fancier or more chocolatey, the better. My college friends and I stayed up late, baking things that would then disappear within seconds. It was my cooking signature.
Somehow, though, once I started cooking all my own meals, and discovering the huge world of savory flavors, I sort of lost interest in cake. These days when I bake it needs to be relatively simple, preferably producing something that isn’t too sweet. French yogurt cake (gâteau au yaourt) fits the bill. Continue reading