Blood Orange Almond Sponge Cake / Baking with Baylor

b good for me

It is February at Food on Fifth so it is time for another Blood Orange recipe. In past years I have shared “Tiny Blood Orange Curd Meringue Tartlets to Celebrate Lunar Eclipses”, “Blood Oranges, Poundless Poundcakes & a Poem”, “Blood Orangecello & Bootlegging” and “Bloody Sweet Orange Tartlets” all using the crimson jewel of the citrus world, the Blood Orange.

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My grandson, Baylor, was hanging out at our house recently. I suggested we make a cake with the blood oranges piled on my kitchen counter. I had some almond flour and lots of eggs left over from a photo shoot so this is where we started. I zested 2 of the blood oranges, passing them to Baylor who juiced them. I showed him how to separate eggs…yolks from the whites and he was an instant pro. I have to say it is fun to have a “sous chef” around to help out! We talked a lot while we worked, about cooking and life, family and the future.

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The week before was my birthday week and these white roses, which were a gift, looked so beautiful against the dark background and the blood oranges. Baylor also acted as my photo assistant! He has been around studios and photo shoots his entire life so he pretty much knows what to do.

While the cake was baking I sliced 2 additional blood oranges, adding them to a skillet sprinkled generously with sugar set over medium low heat to candy. When ready I placed them on a cooling rack to drain.

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Here is the cake still warm from the oven with the candied blood orange slices added to the top.

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A bit of powdered sugar is always magical.

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A very moist almond cake with the aroma and flavor of blood oranges. Baylor got the first piece and a few other slices to take home. Truly a cake made with love! Really isn’t this what February 14th is all about?

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Blood Orange Sponge Cake topped with Candied Blood Orange Slices

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Print

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1 cup of superfine sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • zest of 2 blood oranges
  • juice of 2 blood oranges
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 additional blood oranges sliced for candying

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease & flour a 9 inch round springform pan.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together using a stand or hand mixer.
  3. Add egg yolk, blood orange zest & blood orange juice & mix well. Scrape down sides of pan when needed.
  4. In another bowl whisk egg whites until soft peaks form. Add to the egg yolk mixture.
  5. Whisk together the almond & all-purpose flours & fold into the egg mixture.
  6. Scrape batter into the springform pan. Bake for 10 minutes.
  7. Turn oven down to 325 degrees & bake for another 35-40 minutes or until middle is set.
  8. Place cake in pan on a cooling rack for 20 minutes. Remove pan sides.
  9. While cake is in the oven place the slices of 2 blood oranges in a flat bottom pan and sprinkle with 1/2 cup granulated sugar over medium low heat to candy the slices. When blood orange slices are candied place on a wire rack over a baking sheet to cool.
  10. Top cake with candied blood orange slices and any syrup left in the pan. Serve as is cut into slices. A sprinkling of powdered sugar is also very nice.

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“Crispy Almond Sea Salt Crackers” Holiday Gift Idea / e.a.t. #12

Almond Crackers with Sea Salt

Not your Mother’s saltines! Not that I am not a fan of those familiar square rather salty stacks wrapped in waxed paper. I grew up on them and whenever I am feeling a bit under the weather a few saltines with a bowl of hot soup just makes everything better.

Here is my all-grown-up version of the saltine…”Crispy Almond Sea Salt Crackers” that make a fine gift for any lover of cheese & wine on your list.

  Made with almond meal they are equally delectable with cheeses both soft & smeary or thinly sliced & hard. Get busy…these are good!

Tin of Buttery Almond Crackers

One recipe makes about 4-5 dozen cookies which can be stored for up to one month in airtight containers. Once the dough is made & chilled it is just a matter of rolling & cutting out, baking & packaging….ready to give & share. It is as “easy as that”.

Ingredients:

1 cup almond meal (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1 1/4  cups white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup light brown sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 stick butter, cut into small pieces

2-4 tbsp ice water

Optional: 1 tbsp orange or lemon zest

1 egg yolk with 1 tbsp water beaten together

Crunchy, Flakey Sea Salt such as Maldon or a Black Hawaiian

It is as “easy as this”:

1. In a food processor pulse together the almond meal, white whole wheat flour, brown sugar & salt just until blended. Add in the butter & pulse just until mixture is grainy looking. (this is when you would add the citrus zest if desired)

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2. With the processor running drizzle in the ice water by tablespoons until a dough forms.

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3. Turn dough out onto a work surface & shape into a disc. Wrap in plastic & chill at least 30 minutes before rolling out.  When ready to bake the crackers preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Remove dough from the refrigerator, place on a lightly floured board & knead a few times to soften somewhat before rolling out.

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5. Roll dough out thinly to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into shapes using cookie cutters.. Gather up dough scraps & re-roll out thinly, cutting out more crackers until all the dough is used. Place cut out dough on parchment lined baking sheets.

6. Use a fork to press holes in the center of each shape. There really is a reason for this other than aesthetics. The holes allow steam to escape from the dough while baking. This makes for a flat cracker crispy cracker. Brush each lightly with the egg-water glaze & sprinkle sea salt lightly over all. Bake 12-15 minutes or until golden brown & crispy.

Cut out Cracker Shapes

Buttery Almond Crackers with Sea Salt

7. Let crackers cool completely before storing.

For gift giving stack in decorative boxes or tins, label & add a ribbon. Simple, melt in your mouth buttery deliciousness & as easy as that!

crispy almond crackers

The Container Store, Target, Michael’s & JoAnn’s all have airtight tins and sturdy boxes made just for edible gifts as well as tons of sites on-line. I also often use brown lunch bags as I like the way they look. Use store-bought or homemade labels. I make mine using card stock & my printer or rubber stamps. Twine, ribbon, old  silk fabric cut into strips all make beautiful ribbons. Just look around your kitchen….cereal boxes covered with paper….coffee tins painted or wrapped with pages from old cooking magazines…so many ways to make a gift special.

Little gallery of gift giving ideas:

Oat boxes & coffee tins
Oat boxes & coffee tins
Cardstock & magazine images collaged labels
Cardstock & magazine images collaged labels
homemade Christmas tree stamp
homemade Christmas tree stamp
Cloth Napkin wrapped candles
Cloth Napkin wrapped candles
Packing material for fragile gifts made by shredding magazines in my shredder
Packing material for fragile gifts made by shredding magazines in my shredder
Tins from The Container Store with see-through top
Tins from The Container Store with see-through top
My favorite rolling letter stamp for making labels
My favorite rolling letter stamp for making labels

Blackberries, A Snake and An Upside Down (Gluten Free) Cake

Fresh Blackberries Please

I will bet most of you do not think of Blackberries and immediately think of Snakes…yes real live Snakes! Let me just say I am pretty crazy about freshly picked Blackberries, but not so crazy about snakes (sorry snake lovers). Why, you might ask, do I think of these two things simultaneously? Let me tell share with you a very short vignette….

….West Tennessee on a dry, dusty, hotter-than-Hades kind of day…lots of years ago when I was around 9 or 10…

I loved doing anything with my Grandmother (Granny) no matter if it was work or play.  I always wanted to tag along. The wild blackberries hung heavy & ripe all around so it was time to go berry-picking, the wild kind not the kind of blackberries planted in neat rows.  We were cautioned to wear “real shoes” &  to take care when blackberry picking as snakes liked berry patches.  This caution, along with many others doled out on such occasions, was met with a certain nonchalance on my part. Before this particular day, not after, nor since.

The sun was relentless as we began to pick around the outer edge of the very dense berry patch. At first reaching what was easy. But so very many large juicy black berries were just out of my reach a few feet into the patch. I wanted those berries. I boldly stepped forward with one foot lifted off the ground when I “felt” something move liquid smooth, quietly, directly beneath where I was about to plant my foot. I froze, foot midair.  Looking down I saw the snake slithering, very large & fat right underneath my berries & my foot. I am convinced to this day that I did levitate, backwards, out of the berry patch. There is something very Biblical about levitation isn’t there? And Fruit? And Snakes?

I did not pick anymore berries that summer.  I have picked since, I have bought many berries that others have picked, I am still pretty crazy about blackberries, but still not so much about snakes.

Here is a really easy not-so-sweet upside down cake that I made last Sunday using fresh local Blackberries picked by others, along with a few Pluots.

Cake

Here is what you will need to make this very dense moist gluten-free cake:

Ingredients for Upside Down Cake

1/2 stick Butter, 1 pint of Blackberries, 2 Pluots (or plums or peaches), 1 cup Raw Sugar/Turbinado, 2 cups Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix, 1 cup Almond Meal Flour, the zest of 1 Lemon, 3 eggs, 2 cups Buttermilk, Sliced Almonds

Here is how you make it:

Skillet with Browned Butter

1. Place a 10-12 inch cast iron skillet with the 1/2 stick of butter over medium high heat until the butter is browned. Remove skillet from heat & set aside to cool somewhat. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Let me take a moment to say that if you do not have an iron skillet get one. A good seasoned cast iron skillet is just the best thing to use for all sorts of cooking. Lodge pre-seasoned cast iron skillets can be purchased very affordably on-line. I have many of their skillets in various sizes that I use daily.  For this recipe I am using my Great Grandmother’s iron skillet which is amazing well seasoned and is one of the reasons this cake will slip right out of the pan after it is cooked with no sticking.

Blackberries & Pluots in Iron Skillet

2. Slice Pluots & arrange in the bottom of the iron skillet over the browned butter. Sprinkle the Blackberries to cover bottom of skillet between & around Pluot slices.

Batter for Upside Down Cake

3. In a large mixing bowl whisk together the cornmeal, almond flour & sugar.  Add eggs & buttermilk & lemon zest.  Blend until batter is smooth. Spread batter over fruit in the skillet. Sprinkle with a generous handful of sliced almonds.

Upside down cake batterUpside down cake batter over fruit

Batter in skilletSliced Almonds over Upside Down Cake Batter

4. Bake in 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes until golden brown &  bubbly around the edges & set in the center. Let cake cool in the skillet for about 10 minutes.

Upside Down Cake Baked

5. The “reveal” of an upside down cake is always the fun part. Place a plate or platter larger than the skillet face down over the skillet & then quickly & carefully invert plate & skillet right side up.

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See how easy that was?

Blackberry Upside Down Cake

The crunch of the cornmeal combined with the browned butter, lemon zest & almond flavors & not too much sugar meld to make a very satisfying breakfast cake. Dust with a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

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Have you ever picked wild berries? Have you ever almost stepped on a snake? Do you connect foods you eat to events  from your past?

After I posted this my friend Diane Stopford, a Dubliner, left me a comment and a link to a poem by Seamus Heaney “Blackberry Picking” which I wanted to share with you. Thanks Diane.

Eat more Cake.

“Oreo, Oreo, O-re-o”

“Happy 100th Birthday Sweet Little Oreo”  

I don’t know about you but this was an important food milestone in my world. Oreos have been a constant in my life. Many, many…too many to even count…things have come & gone & changed. On tearful evenings of regret, cold heartless winters, summers so hot I cursed the sun, when changes occurred in my life that tore my heart apart, whenever I needed just a little lonely comfort the sweet little Oreo has been there for me. When my girls were small we would joyfully eat little piles of Oreos in the only way there is to eat them….twisting them apart, eating the white filling, then the cookie. There are nights I remove a couple of Oreos from the package quietly & stand looking out the kitchen window into the dark savoring every comforting bite. When this sweet little comfort cookie turned 100 this week, for me, it was something to celebrate.

“A Simple Chocolate Tart with an Oreo-Almond Crust”

Ingredients for Crust : (this recipe is for 2 crusts, freeze one for later)

12 Oreo Cookies

1 lb Almond Meal (very finely ground almonds)

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar

8 ozs. good butter, cold, cut into pieces

Ingredients for Filling:

8 ozs. good quality  semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup whole milk mixed with 3/4 cup heavy cream

1 egg, lightly beaten

How to make the crust:

1. Process 12 Oreos in a food processor until finely crushed. Add in almond meal & sugar. Process until well blended. Add pieces of butter to processor. Pulse until well mixed. Drizzle in a bit of cold water if needed until a dough forms.

 

2. Remove dough from processor bowl. Form mixture into two equal size dough balls. Flatten each slightly, wrap in plastic wrap. Put one in the freezer for later use & the other in the refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile preheat oven to 325 degrees.

 3. When dough is chilled using fingers press into bottom  & up side of a springform pan about 1 inch high all around. Dough will be thick, but this is how it is supposed to be. Butter one side of a sheet of foil & fit butter side down into uncooked crust. Fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust for 15 minutes. Remove foil with weights. Bake another 10 minutes. Remove baked crust from oven.

How to Make Chocolate Filling (which can be made while crust is baking):

1. Chop 8 ounces of semisweet chocolate into small pieces. Place in a mixing bowl.

2.   Heat milk-cream mixture over medium high heat just until it starts to bubble around edges. Pour over chopped chocolate in the bowl. Let sit for a few minutes  & then whisk together well until all pieces of chocolate are totally melted. Let chocolate mixture cool for about 10-12 minutes. Whisking vigorously add beaten egg to chocolate mixture until well blended. Pour into baked Oreo-Almond pie crust.

3. Bake tart for 25 minutes at 325 degrees. Edges will be set, but center will still be jiggly. Remove from oven to cool for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour on a wire rack. This tart is delicious eaten still warm with the center somewhat pudding-like. The soft filling is a perfect foil for the somewhat crisp Oreo-Almond crust.

Serving Suggestion:  

A dusting of powdered sugar.

Our very special, long-time friends, John and Liz Shenk, invited us for a quiet Saturday evening dinner at their house. In so many ways when we get together it is a celebration. A celebration of good food, wine, conversation, stories, and long-time friendship. This “Happy 100th Birthday Sweet Little Oreo” Tart was just part of a special evening.

A Little Gallery of Liz’s Pretty Dinner Table:

Beautiful flowers and glowing light.
Papparadelle, Shrimp cooked in coconut milk…a salad of mango, blood oranges & spinach.   
There are always a few good apps before dinner.

Oreo, Oreo, O-re-o.

How do you eat Oreos? Do you have another method?

Have you ever used Oreos as an ingredient? How would you use them?