LeSweetThings..

March 11, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie – Russian Grandmpther’s Apple Pie-Cake

Filed under: Cakes, Fruits, TWD — lynettechng @ 5:56 pm

Aaaahhh…. It’s been a while. A while since I followed a recipe, and have it come out a flop. But is it a flop?? 

Once again, I had to fly blind on the latest installment on Tuesdays with Dorie. The Russian Grandmother’s Apple Pie-cake, chosen by Natalie of Burned Bits, was a dessert that I had trouble picturing in my mind, despite reading the recipe over and over. 

Mixing of the dough? No problemo. Mine needed the extra ¼ cup flour, as Dorie said I might, and it went into the fridge to chill overnight.  

On to the apples, my favorite! Any dessert with apples rates highly in my books. Sugar and cinnamon on apples…. yum! The only addition I made was to add a little more sugar, and grated some nutmeg to spice it up a little… this part of the recipe I had no problems with. 


It all went downhill from then on. I got the part about having a thick ‘crust’ at the bottom, it was a cake after all… and so I layered it on nice and thick. The apples on the next layer, and the second half of the dough went on the top. I thought I was on the right track! 
70 minutes into the oven, and there still wasn’t any bubbling from the apples. Yikes! So I gave it another 5, and still nothing. Cue panic mode. By this stage, the crust was getting brown, and I didn’t really want it burning! So that was that. 

Leaving it to rest for a half hour, I wasn’t really holding high hopes for this. You know when you get a bad feeling about something, even though everything looks alright? That’s how I felt. 

It was not good, and the only problem with that is, I have no idea where I went wrong! The upper crust was hard as a rock, and the bottom ‘cake’ layer was so soaked through, and tasted a little uncooked. Bleah! The only saving grace was the apples, which tasted delicious with some homemade vanilla ice cream, both crusts set aside. 

Can someone tell me what went wrong? Please? 

On a completely different note, I will unfortunately be taking a bit of a break from TwD and all sorts of baking for a while. Not because I’m not going to get right back up on the horse after I’ve fallen, but rather that I will be elbow deep in packing (as opposed to being elbow deep in my mixing bowl!). 

I will be leaving the smoggy shores of Hong Kong over Easter, and heading home. Said mixing bowl will be in transit, and I will need to shop for a new oven once I’m back. 

I’m asking my dear fellow TwDers for your full understanding for my absence, but do know that my hands will be itching to join you as you dish out desserts after gorgeous desserts in the following weeks. 

* * * * *
 

Russian Grandmothers’ Apple Pie-Cake 

For The Dough:
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Juice of 1 lemon

3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
 For The Apples:
10 medium apples, all one kind or a mix (I like to use Fuji, Golden Delicious and Ida Reds; my grandmother probably used dry baking apples like Cordland and Rome)

Squirt of fresh lemon juice

1 cup moist, plump raisins (dark or golden)

1/4 cup sugar

1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Sugar, preferably decorating (coarse) sugar, for dusting
 
To Make The Dough:
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
 Add the eggs and continue to beat until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 3 minutes more.
Reduce the mixer speed to low, add the baking powder and salt and mix just to combine. Add the lemon juice – the dough will probably curdle, but don’t worry about it. Still working on low speed, slowly but steadily add 3 1/4 cups of the flour, mixing to incorporate it and scraping down the bowl as needed.
The dough is meant to be soft, but if you think it looks more like a batter than a dough at this point, add the extra 1/4 cup flour. (The dough usually needs the extra flour.) When properly combined, the dough should almost clean the sides of the bowl. 
Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each half into a rectangle. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or for up to 3 days. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and frozen for up to 2 months; defrost overnight in the refrigerator.)
To Make The Apples:
Peel and core the apples and cut into slices about 1/4 inch thick; cut the slices in half crosswise if you want. Toss the slices in a bowl with a little lemon juice – even with the juice, the apples may turn brown, but that’s fine – and add the raisins. 
 
Mix the sugar and cinnamon together, sprinkle over the apples and stir to coat evenly. Taste an apple and add more sugar, cinnamon, and/or lemon juice if you like. 
Getting Ready to Bake:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Generously butter a 9×12-inch baking pan (Pyrex is good) and place it on a baking shee tlined with parchment or a silicone mat.
 
Remove the dough from the fridge. If it is too hard to roll and it cracks, either let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes or give it a few bashes with your rolling pin to get it moving. Once it’s a little more malleable, you’ve got a few choices.  You can roll it on a well-floured work surface or roll it between sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper. You can even press or roll out pieces of the dough and patch them together in the pan – because of the baking powder in the dough, it will puff and self-heal under the oven’s heat.  Roll the dough out until it is just a little larger all around than your pan and about 1/4 inch thick – you don’t want the dough to be too thin, because you really want to taste it. Transfer the dough to the pan. If the dough comes up the sides of the pan, that’s fine; if it doesn’t that’s fine too. 
Give the apples another toss in the bowl, then turn them into the pan and, using your hands, spread them evenly across the bottom. Roll out the second piece of dough and position it over the apples. Cut the dough so you’ve got a 1/4 to 1/2 inch overhang and tuck the excess into the sides of the pan, as though you were making a bed. (If you don’t have that much overhang, just press what you’ve got against the sides of the pan.) 
Brush the top of the dough lightly with water and sprinkle sugar over the dough. Using a small sharp knife, cut 6 to 8 evenly spaced slits in the dough.

Bake for 65 to 80 minutes, or until the dough is a nice golden brown and the juices from the apples are bubbling up through the slits. Transfer the baking pan to a cooling rack and cool to just warm or to room temperature.  

You’ll be tempted to taste it sooner, but I think the dough needs a little time to rest. 

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February 24, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me…. with a ‘Rather Pleasing Carrot Cake’

Filed under: Cakes, Cheese, Themed — lynettechng @ 12:24 am

For my birthday, I wanted to make a cake that I wouldn’t normally do. I was thinking a layered cake, because they are, in my opinion, celebration cakes. Alot of heart, alot of effort and alot of love goes into these cakes, and that’s one of the reasons why I don’t make layered cakes all that often. Special occassions only.

I’d thought about it, and decided on the carrot cake. I know I didn’t want something chocolatey. Don’t get me wrong, chocolate is my life, but I ‘d been working with it so much in the last few weeks, I thought I’d give it a bit of a break. The carrot cake fits this to a tee. It works very well as a layered, tall cake. It has an autumy-feel, which whilst it really is spring, the chill that runs through my bones makes it feel all autumy, plus I really like carrot cake!

Now, the most important question was not which cake to make, but whose cake to make! Almost every book out there has one, and good ones at that, so I had to think long and hard on this…

I finally decided to go to the beginning. To the one that made me truely enjoy biting into a slice of carrot cake. To a pretty unexpected source. I turned to Jamie Oliver this weekend, for his ‘Rather Pleasing Carrot Cake’ from ‘Cook with Jamie‘.

It was a very moist cake, with a light crumb. Jamie suggests a mascarpone cream cheese frosting, but I opted to use that as a fillig instead, and went the way of Dorie for the citrus frosting.

I L.O.V.E.D this cake, and the texture of both the filling (lighter and silkier) and the frosting (citrusy and sweet). Chopped walnuts on the sides, and light sprinkerling on top provided just the perfect crunch and contrast to the moist cake and creamy cheese.

This one’s definately a winner!

* * * * *

Jamie’s Carrot Cake with Lemon Mascarpone Filling
+ Dorie’s Cream Cheese Frosting

Cake:
285g unsalted butter, softened
285g light brown soft sugar
5 large eggs, separated
Zest and juice of 1 orange
170g self-raising flour, sifted
1 slightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
115g ground almonds
115g shelled walnuts, chopped, plus extra for serving (optional)
1 heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
A pinch of ground cloves
A pinch of ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground ginger
285g carrots, peeled and coarsely grated
Sea salt

Filling:
115g Mascarpone cheese
225g full-fat cream cheese (I used Philly)
85g icing sugar, sifted
Zest and juice of 1 lemon, or to taste

Frosting:
225g cream cheese, at room temperature
110g unsalted butter, at room temperature
450g icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice or ½ teaspoon pure lemon extract

To make Cake:
Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF/Gas 4). Grease and line a 22cm/9” round spring form pan with greaseproof paper.Beat the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food processor (I used my trusty old standmixer!) until pale and fluffy. Beat in the yolks, one at a time and add the orange zest and juice. Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, and add the ground almonds, walnuts, spices and grated carrot and mix well together.In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then gently fold them into the cake mix.

Scoop the mixture into the prepared cake pan and baked for about 50 minutes (depending on your oven. Mine only took 45mins) until golden and risen.
You can check if the cake is cooked by poking a cocktail stock into it. Remove it after 5 seconds and if it comes out clean, the cake is done.

Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10mins, then turn it out on the rack and leave for at least an hour. You will want to leave the cake in the tin for not longer than 10 min, as I find that it tends to adhere itself to the paper – not a pretty sight!

To make Filling:
Mix all the icing ingredients together and spread in between layers.

To make Frosting:
Working with the stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the sugar and continue to beat until the frosting is velvety smooth. Beat in the lemon juice or extract. I used 1½ tbsp to cut through the sweetness, but I think this really is up to you. I also threw in some lemon zest , and the frosting is gorgeous with specks of yellow.

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