Sunday, November 20, 2016
Several years back while considering my next trip to Italy, I came across a wonderful cookbook in my local bookstore.
Naples at Table by Arthur Schwartz turned out to be one of those books I treasure not only for it's delicious recipes but also for his inclusion of food history for the region of Campania.
One of those recipes which I have returned to time and again over the years, is his delightful lemon cake not to be missed by true citrus lovers! It`s one of those marvelous cakes that gets a good soaking of lemon syrup while it`s still warm penetrating the tasty crumb making it moist while adding another layer of mouth-puckering sensuousness.
The original recipe calls for the zest and juice of 4 large lemons but you may only need 2 or 3 depending on how large your lemons turn out to be. In any case, you want enough to make a half cup of juice.
Italian Lemon Cake
12 tbs (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 or 3 large lemon juiced (enough for 1/2 cup of juice) and rinds grated
3 cups all-purpose flour, measured after being sifted
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9-inch bundt or tube pan.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl when necessary.
Beat in lemon zest.
In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder.
Fold half the flour into the butter, sugar and egg mixture, then stir in half the milk. Fold in the remaining flour then stir in the remaining milk.
Pour into prepared pan and bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean
While the cake is baking, make the lemon syrup.
In a small pan combine the 1/2 cup of sugar with the 1/4 cup of water and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Let the syrup cool for a few minutes and then add the lemon juice.
When the cake is done, let cool on a rack for 15 minutes.
While the cake is still warm but not hot, make holes in the cake with a skewer or toothpick and slowly pour the syrup over it letting absorb after each addition. Save about 1/4 cup of the syrup.
When the cake is cool, invert onto a serving plate.
Boil the remaining syrup until it thickens a bit. Brush the syrup on top and sides of cake and press slivered almonds onto the sticky surface.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
It seems that behind many a recipe there lies a story....this is no exception.
In 2014 I went to visit some online friends in Belém, Brazil. While there we went to the famed Ver-o-Peso Market where I spotted huge bags of Castanha-do-Pará (Brazil nuts) for next to nothing. Never being able to pass up a bargain (thanks to my late father...lol) I bought a big bag to bring home...
Okay...the only time I ever saw Brazil nuts growing up was at Christmastime when they would be sitting there, like an oversized member of the nut family, amongst the almonds, pecans and walnuts. Being the most difficult nut to crack, they wouldn't be eaten as often as their cousins. So, I had little idea as to what to do with so many of them! I stashed the bag in the freezer and set about looking to see what people did with them in their native region.
If there is anything I love more than baking it's baking something that is new and different, so I was very happy to find recipes for Brazil nut cakes! After playing around with the recipes, I came up with one that I was satisfied with. Be sure to toast the nuts to bring out the flavor of these South American gems!
Brazil Nut Cake
200 gr butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup coarsely ground Brazil nuts
1/2 cup ground Brazil nuts
Preheat oven to 350°F and roast 1 1/3 cups whole Brazil nuts on a rimmed baking sheet for 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly toasted shaking the pan half way through to assure uniform toasting.
Remove pan from oven and let nuts cool.
Pulse cooled nuts in a food processor until coarsely ground and set aside.
Increase oven heat to 375°F
Generously butter and flour a tube or bundt cake pan and set aside.
Whisk together flour, salt and baking powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time incorporating completely after each addition. Add vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl as needed.
Alternately, add flour mixture and yogurt beginning and ending with flour mixture.
Scrape into prepared cake pan and level off.
Bake at 375°F for 10 minutes. Lower heat to 350°F and bake an additional 40 to 45 minutes or until an inserted cake tester comes out clean.
Cool on a rack and unmold cake.
Sift powdered sugar on top followed by ground Brazil nuts.
Serve plain or with whipped cream.