Kirsch Kuchen (Sour Cherry Cake)

Cherry Cake 1

While I was shooting the photos for this post, my production assistant, Cloudy had a few ideas of his own.  I didn’t even realize he made it into this photo until I started processing.

Cherry Cake 3

This is what I would call a tea cake. It’s the perfect snack on a cloudy Sunday afternoon. I’ll be having mine with a cup of tea while I thumb through a couple of new books and procrastinate about doing the laundry. Perfect!

Cherry Cake 2

This is a very popular cake in Germany. It’s made with a variety of different fruits, depending on the season. The first time I had this cake was at a café in downtown Stuttgart in the fall. It was made with the same small dark plums that grew in our backyard in Herrenberg.

Cherry Cake 4

Many German pastries are not very sweet, this one included. If you are looking for something really sweet and rich, you would be better off with Black Forest Cherry Torte, one of my personal favorites. It consists of layers of decadent chocolate cake filled with whipped cream and cherries and topped off with more cherries and chocolate shavings. I love German pastries, so I was thrilled when I received a copy of Luisa Weiss’ “Classic German Baking,” for Christmas. The book contains all of my favorites, including the Black Forest Cherry Torte. A tour through the book is not quite a trip to Germany, but a close substitute.

Served plain, the cake is especially good for breakfast with a cup of coffee. You can also dust it with powdered sugar or top it with a dollop of whipped cream.

Cherry Cake 5

Kirsch Kuchen

8 Servings

I made this with canned sour cherries. However, you can also use fresh pitted sour or sweet cherries. Feel free to experiment with the fruit. Chunks of fresh plum are good as are any of the summer stone fruits. I am providing both metric and U.S. measurements. However, if you have a kitchen scale, I recommend using the metric measurements.

130 grams/9 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon butter, room temperature

180 grams/1 cup minus 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3 eggs

Zest of 1 lemon

180 grams/1 1/2 cups minus 1 tablespoon flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

500 grams/2 cups fresh or canned sour cherries,

powdered sugar for dusting or whipped cream for serving

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper.

Pit the cherries if fresh or drain them if canned. Set aside.

Place the butter and the sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula when necessary. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the lemon zest.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the butter mixture and beat until just combined. Remove the bowl from the mixer and gently fold in the cherries. The batter will be fairly thick.

Spread the batter in the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes until golden brown and starting to pull from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes, then release the sides of the pan and place the cake on a rack to finish cooling. Dust with powdered sugar when completely cool or serve with whipped cream.

Adapted from Classic German Baking by Luisa Weiss

 

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day – Guinness Chocolate Cake

Guinness Cake 1st

This Nigella Lawson recipe came “across the pond” from a friend of a friend in England. When I received the recipe, I immediately thought it would make a great dessert for a Saint Patrick’s Day dinner. Not only does it taste rich and chocolaty, but it incorporates one of my favorite beverages:

Guinness

It even looks like a pint of Guinness.

Guinness Cake 2nd

Other than drinking green beer from 7:00 a.m. on, a LOOONNNGG time ago my first year at college, Saint Patrick’s Day has always been sort of hit or miss for me. There have been some nice dinners over the years, or we might make something special at home, such as soda bread with lamb stew or corned beef. But, generally Saint Patrick’s Day is usually just another workday.

Guinness Cake 3rd

This year; however, is entirely different. Since Saint Patrick’s Day falls on the 17th of March, that means it’s only 4 days away from the official first day of Spring on the 21st. That’s right, you read it here first, Spring starts next week. Hot diggety dog! And that’s after one of the, if not the coldest winters ever in the Washington, DC area. So pour yourself a pint, make this cake, and enjoy both while going though a stack of gardening catalogs, as I did. We’re almost there.

Guinness Cake Recipe

Guinness Chocolate Cake

12 Servings

You will achieve the best results if you use a kitchen scale and the original metric measurements. However, I realize not everyone weighs their baking ingredients so I have included the U.S. measurements as well.

250 ml (1 cup) Guinness

250 grams (18 tablespoons) butter

75 grams (1 cup minus 1 tablespoon) cocoa powder

400 grams (2 cups) caster or fine sugar

142 ml (2/3 cup) sour cream

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

275 grams all purpose flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

300 grams (10 ounces) cream cheese, softened

150 grams (1 1/4 cup) powdered sugar

125 ml (8 1/2 tablespoons) heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 and butter and line a 9-inch spring form pan.

Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter, and cook over medium heat until melted. Off the heat, add the cocoa and the sugar to the pan and whisk to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the sour cream and the vanilla and add to the pan. Whisk in the flour, soda, and salt.

Pour the batter into the lined pan and bake for 45 minutes until a toothpick or cake tester comes out clean. Cool the cake completely on a cooling rack, before removing from the pan.

Once the cake is cool, place it on the platter or cake stand you plan to use and make the icing. Place the powdered sugar in a food processor and pulse to break up any lumps. Add the cream cheese and cream and process until smooth and spreadable. Ice the top of the cake, making swirls with the spatula to resemble a frothy pint of Guinness.

Guinness Cake 4th

Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Pound Cake 1

“And now for something completely different.” Unlike many of my previous recipes and probably many more to follow, this cake is not gluten-free nor is it Paleo or Primal. It’s a lovely treat we enjoyed on a holiday weekend. If your diet allows it, I hope you enjoy it as well.

Pound Cake 2

Why pound cake? Quite honestly, I’ve never been a real fan. “Pound cake” conjures up thoughts of some icky sweet cake-like substance you buy at the gas station. That pound cake comes in a crinkly plastic wrapper with an ingredient list you can’t pronounce.

Pound Cake 3

So, when I found myself with some leftover buttermilk from making Ranch dressing I decided to do some baking. I wanted something easy that wouldn’t require hours in the kitchen, and I wasn’t really in the mood for making biscuits.

Pound Cake 4

I came across this recipe and decided to give it a go. I’ve had really good luck with Alton Brown’s baking recipes. I never really cared for his show, Good Eats, but then I’m like that. I tend to like the material that comes in print, but then find it doesn’t translate to my taste in television. Okay, I guess I’m weird that way. Anyway, this recipe is from one of Alton’s first cookbooks, I’m Just Here for More Food. It was the book that I turned to for a refresher course in baking when I was hired as a baker for a catering company and needed to become a maestro baker overnight. A quick perusal of each chapter’s techniques was enough for me to get through my first day of baking what seemed like hundreds of wedding cakes and keep me employed.

Pound Cake 5

My husband absolutely loves this cake. The first slice disappeared in seconds. I think he had told me in the past that he loved pound cake, but I had no idea how much.

Pound Cake 6

I like this cake too. The buttermilk really gives it a nice depth of flavor that’s not too cloying. It has infinite possibilities. I’m imagining it as a base for any kind of summer fruit with piles of whipped cream on top, or maybe with a pile of blueberries and a drizzle of maple syrup. We tried it toasted with jam this morning. It was nice, but I believe the best way to eat this cake is just plain, with a cup of tea.

Pound Cake 7

Happy Independence Day everyone!

Pound Cake 8

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Yield: One large cake

I greased the pan with shortening and floured it. That’s a little difficult to do with a tube pan, so I recommend using Baker’s Joy spray. I ended up baking this pound cake at 325 convection bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. I started testing it at 1 hour, at which time it was still pretty jiggly. If you don’t use convection bake, it might only take an hour.

Baker’s Joy spray or shortening and flour for preparing pan

3 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 ounces (2 sticks) butter, softened

2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 325. Prepare a 12-cup tube or Bundt pan with Baker’s Joy spray or by greasing and flouring.

Mix flour, baking soda and salt by whisking in a bowl.

Place the eggs and the vanilla extract in a small bowl.

Place the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer and beat at medium speed with a paddle attachment for one minute to spread fat in bowl. Add the sugar and cream with the butter, scraping down with a spatula as necessary, until the mixture is lightened and fluffy.

Reduce the speed on the mixture and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down between each addition. Alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk in three installments, beginning with dry ingredients and ending with buttermilk.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester comes out clean.

Allow the cake to stand in the pan for 15 minutes then carefully turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.

This cake will keep tightly wrapped at room temperature for 1 week.

Adapted from I’m Just Here for More Food by Alton Brown

Pound Cake 9

 

  

Raspberry Dessert Sauce

Raspberries 1

Is it Spring yet?  As residents in the Washington, DC area batten down the hatches for what I hope will be the last winter storm this year, I have to wonder if Spring will ever come.  The signs are there – the tulips and other Spring bulbs are starting to poke out of the ground and the robins are building nests.  The lawn mowers and other yard tools are even in stock at Lowes and Home Depot as we found out yesterday when we foolishly tried to find a snow blower.  Don’t dig out your shorts and flip-flops yet, however, the forecasted low for Tuesday is 1 degree Fahrenheit.  I don’t know about you, but I’ve had just about enough of this winter stuff.

Raspberries 2

Normally, I am a big fan of cooking whatever produce is in season.  It’s cheaper, but more importantly, it just tastes better.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who has been really disappointed with tomatoes in winter.  But, considering the forecast, I believe emergency measures are now necessary.     

Raspberries 3

Looking ahead to warmer times I decided to make a raspberry dessert sauce. I’ve recently decided to make my own fruit sauces to add to my Greek yogurt rather than buying the sugar-laden premixed varieties at the grocery store.  This raspberry sauce is a perfect choice.  It’s got just the right mix of fruit, sweetness and just a little touch of sour.  Although it’s great mixed into yogurt, don’t limit yourself to just that.  It’s fabulous over ice cream, and I imagine it would be pretty good over pound cake, if you are so inclined.

Raspberries 6

Raspberry Dessert Sauce

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

Raspberries 4

You can use any kind of berries or a mixture of berries for this simple sauce.  The sauce can be frozen, simply thaw in the refrigerator the night before you plan to use it.

 3 6-ounce packages raspberries

4 tablespoons evaporated cane juice (turbinado sugar)

2 teaspoons cornstarch

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Place 2 packages of the raspberries in a saucepan with 1/4 cup water and the sugar.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the fruit falls apart.  Use a little of the liquid from the pan to make a slurry with the cornstarch, then pour the mixture into the pan with the fruit.  Continue to simmer until the mixture thickens.  Strain the sauce through a mesh strainer into a bowl.  Add the remaining 6 ounces of raspberries and the lemon juice and stir gently to cover the whole berries with the sauce.

Adapted from La Tartine Gourmande by Béatrice Peltre