Plum-side down cakes

Nothing is sweeter than a ripe plum. Alas, winter plums are not very juicy, but I have just discovered a recipe which uses under-ripe plums, and it is quite delectable.

Dad always buys plums, and when I visit we go for a drive, eat plums, and talk. Eating a plum while you are driving is harder than you might think, and the passenger is in charge of  the Napkin Brigade, in order for both occupants of the car to enjoy a peaceful, plum-filled scenic trip

This recipe comes from KitchenAid 3 cookbooks in 1: pies & tarts, cakes & cupcakes; breads, which is available on Amazon.com if you’re inclined to check it out.

Time required: 1 hour

Yields: 8 cakes

Cost per portion: $4.37

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $35.00

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • Nemo the KitchenAid
  • muffin tin
  • baking pan

Ingredients:

  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2-3 plums, underripe
  • ½ C granulated white sugar
  • 2 TBSP white shortening
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C flour
  • 1 TSP baking powder
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ⅓ C milk

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 176.6°C / 350°F.  Set muffin tin on top of a large baking tray (to catch runoff) and grease 8 of the cups.

2. Wash the plums, and slice into narrow pieces.  The recipe said to use 3, but I only had room for one and a half.

3. Melt butter in the microwave and stir in brown sugar.

Spoon into muffin cups, and layer plum slices on top of butter. I placed 2 slices in each cup.

4. Beat white sugar and shortening in mixer until fluffy.

5. Combine in a bowl: flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir into shortening mixture.

6. Add milk and beat on medium until smooth.

7. Spoon into muffin cups, and shake to settle. (The book said to fill the cups about two thirds of the way, but my muffin pan is shallow so I just tried to divide the batter evenly and this is what I got. Hope this works out!)

8. Bake for 20 min, until a toothpick inserted comes out cleanly.

See how the brown sugar mixture bubbled up? That’s why we put a tray under the pan.

9. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 10 min, then run knife around edges to loosen the cakes. Invert onto the rack and…

…is this normal??  Use tongs to pick up the fruit pieces and drop them on top of the cakes.

10. Cool another 5 minutes before eating:

Verdict: Plum cake is delicious. Now I see why it says to use 3 plums,you are not trying to evenly line the bottom, just put several slices in each cup. I know for next time.  I think you have enough batter to make more than 8, they would just be thinner. These were great.

Playlist: Florence + the Machine

Pumpkin roll

“Pumpkiny goodness.”

(That’s what Boyfriend came up with when I said I didn’t know how to introduce this post.)

This recipe comes from Nestlé’s Chocolate 3 Books In 1 which is available from Amazon.com.

Time required: 2.5 hours

Yields: 10 slices

Cost per slice: $4.43

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $44.34

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • baking pan: 15″ x 10″
  • sifter
  • wax paper and plastic wrap

Roll ingredients:

  • ¾ C flour
  • ½ TSP baking powder
  • ½ TSP baking soda
  • ½ TSP ground cinnamon
  • ½ TSP ground cloves
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • 3 eggs, room temp
  • 1 C white sugar
  • ⅔ C pure pumpkin

Frosting ingredients:

  • 8 oz block of cream cheese, room temp
  • 1 C icing sugar, sifted
  • 6 TBSP butter, room temp
  • 1 TSP vanilla extract

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 190.5°C / 375°F.  Prepare baking pan by greasing it, then line with wax paper, then grease and flour the paper. Then place a large piece of wax paper down on a flat surface and dust it with icing sugar for later.

2. Combine: flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.

3. In a mixer, beat eggs and sugar until it thickens.  Add pumpkin.

4. Stir flour mixture into wet, adding about one third at a time.

5. Pour into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake 13 min, when it’s done if you press lightly on the top with a spoon it should bounce back up.

6. Invert pan onto flat piece of wax paper.  Carefully peel the paper off the back (the bottom) of the cake.

7. Start at the end closest to you, and using the piece of wax paper on the bottom, gently roll the cake up onto itself, and place on wire rack to cool.

8. Meanwhile, make frosting by combining all ingredients in mixer and beat til smooth.

9. Unroll the cake, and remove the wax paper.  Spread frosting across it, and roll back up. Good luck with this part.

10. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour.

To prevent roll from spreading out, creatively ram it into a pan and put other items in the pan to hold it against the side.

11. Slice and serve!

Verdict:

“I don’t know how to classify this post.”

“How about delicious?”

“You liked it that much eh?”

This turned out really well. I’d recommend less frosting, the amount you get from the recipe is really too much, it was oozing everywhere.  A thin layer of frosting would be fine.

Playlist: enjoying the silence!

Candy cane crème brûlée

My affection for custard is well-documented. I made this on Sunday, for no particular reason aside from the fact that I just wanted some. It’s still winter (faux-spring if you live in Toronto) which means it is still candy cane season and adding crushed candy canes to my crème brûlée seemed like a good idea.

Good to know before you start:

If this is your first time making crème brûlée, fear not! I have covered this before. Read my earlier posts about my first time making it, and my pumpkin flavoured variety to see the technique in action. You’ll need to make a water bath, and a kitchen torch.

Time required: 2 days

Yields: 6 portions

Cost per serving: $4.59

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $27.59

Special kitchen implements I used:

  • mesh strainer
  • 6 ramequins
  • baking pan: 9″ x 13″
  • a dish towel you don’t mind getting wet
  • fire-proof surface (ie: marble slab or glass cutting board)
  • awesome kitchen torch™

Ingredients:

  • 2C heavy cream, room temperature
  • 5 egg yolks, room temperature
  • ⅓ C granulated white sugar
  • half of one vanilla bean, split & scraped
  • ⅛ TSP fine sea salt  (normally I use table salt but I was out)
  • ⅛ TSP ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 TSP demerara sugar per portion (do not add until serving)
  • 1 crushed candy cane

Instructions:

1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F / 162°C, using centre rack.  Fill kettle with water and simmer for later.

2. In a heavy-bottomed sauce pan, add cream, cinnamon, and vanilla bean (pods and shell). Heat on LOW until scalded then remove from heat.  When scalded, the bubbles have just started to form and break the surface.  (It’s normal for a skim to form.)

splitting like mad!!

Watched pots never boil and all, but the instant you turn your back it’ll burn. Not that I burn anything, by the way. Just observing.

3. In a medium bowl, mix sugar and salt together.

4. Separate the yolks from the egg whites, and gently whisk yolks into sugar mixture until just combined.

5. Pour the hot cream through a strainer as you temper it into the egg mixture; add about a third of the cream, gently stirring between each pour. (Doing this slowly prevents the egg from scrambling.)

6. To prepare for the water bath, fold a dish towel until it sits evenly in the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan, and place your ramequins atop the towel. This will prevent the cups from slipping.

7. Use a spoon to scrape the bottom of bowl, where all the vanilla bean has sunk, and make sure each ramequin has a fair amount of the bean; then pour the liquid into the ramequins.

8. Place pan in oven, and create your water bath by carefully filling the pan with hot water from the kettle, until the water reaches at least halfway up the sides of the ramequins.

9. Bake for 35-40 minutes until the edges of the custard are set. Test for doneness by shaking, the centre should wobble like Jell-o. If the whole surface shakes give it 3-5 more minutes. If nothing shakes it’s overdone.

10. Remove from oven, and carefully remove ramequins from pan. Set them on a rack to cool for at least one hour.

11. Cover each ramequin with plastic wrap, and chill overnight.

12. Remove from fridge 30 minutes before you want to eat them.  After 20 minutes, remove the plastic wrap, and use a folded piece of paper towel to gently blot the surface to remove any condesation.

13. Add the topping, sprinkling the demerara sugar on top, tilting and tapping each ramequin to cover the entire surface, and then repeat with the crushed candy cane.

14. Place the ramequin on a fireproof surface  and torch that sucker, using a low flame held 1-2 inches from the surface. Start in the middle and slowly go in clockwise circle to the edges. Oooh, pretty!

15. Return to fridge for 10 minutes, then eat.

Verdict: Father forgive me. It had been 90 days since my last crème brûlée and I was helpless to resist the siren song of the heavy cream in the fridge. I succumbed.

Christ, I’m glad I did. I love this stuff. It’s delicious.

This was good. Objectively speaking, you couldn’t really taste the candy canes. Boyfriend says he couldn’t taste them at all, but I distinctly remember tasting candy cane in two bites. (The cane I used was from last year, maybe it went stale?)

I had planned to add a drop of peppermint oil but decided against it, not wanting to overwhelm the cinnamon, which had a gentle hint of flavour.

Heavy cream and vanilla beans are expensive, but if you wait until the cream goes on sale and get the beans in bulk, making crème brûlée does not cost you much. Buying it in a restaurant can start at $8.00 for one tiny bowl, so when you think about it, making it at home is the fiscally responsible thing to do. Canadians are in record levels of debt, so… you’re welcome!

Playlist: Barenaked Ladies – Call and Answer