Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Blueberry Upside Down Cake

Several years ago while searching for a blueberry dessert, I found this recipe for blueberry upside down cake. It comes from Thibeault's Table, a wonderful blog from Canada with lots of great recipes. Ann, the blogs author, and her husband also make and sell gorgeous hardwood cutting boards. They are truly one of a kind works of art and I really want one!
Anyway, the first time I made this cake I fell in love with it. Since then it's become one of my favorite go-to recipes for a quick, but really delicious fruit dessert. I've made it so many times over the years that I was positive that I had already shared it here. After looking through my archive it appears that I some how overlooked posting about this wonderful little cake. Well let me just fix that right now!

This cake is so amazing served warm, right out of the oven, especially with a little vanilla ice cream. However, as great as that is, I love it equally as much the next day with a cup of hot coffee. For me adding the cinnamon to the cake, gives it more of a coffee cake flavor. If you leave the cinnamon out it's more a vanilla cake. Either way you can't go wrong, but with the cinnamon, this cake and cup of coffee are a match made in heaven!

Blueberry Upside Down Cake
Source: Thibeault's Table (slightly adapted)

1/4 cup melted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 cups blueberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
3/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees  Combine melted butter and brown sugar. Spread evenly on bottom of a 9 inch round cake pan with at least 2 inch sides. Spread blueberries evenly over the brown sugar mixture and drizzle the lemon juice over the berries.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar together, beating until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beat in egg, almond extract, and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon (if using). Mix in one third of the dry ingredients. Add in half the milk. Mix in another third of the dry ingredients, when just mixed, add in the rest of the milk. Add the remaining dry ingredients, mix until just incorporated. Spread batter evenly over blueberry layer. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let the cake cool 10 minutes in pan, then invert on to large flat plate or cake plate.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Rosemary and Olive Focaccia

Hubs and I are enjoying some much needed R and R at the beach this week, so this will be a quick post. This focaccia is easy to make, most of the time involved in making it is rising times.  Even if you find working with yeast a little daunting, give this bread a try.  It's a very forgiving and pretty much fool-proof recipe. I found it to be about like making homemade pizza dough. It smells so good baking and tastes delicious, definitely worth the effort!

Rosemary and Olive Focaccia
source: Bon Appetit-May 1995 (slightly adapted)
2 cups warm water (105°F; to 115°F)
2 teaspoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups (about) bread flour, or all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons (plus enough to coat baking pan) olive oil
1/3 cup black olives (such as Kalamata),pitted, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon sea salt


Put the warm water in large bowl or in a electric mixer bowl, such as a Kitchen-Aid, stir in the dry yeast. Let this stand until yeast dissolves and begins to "bloom", about 10 minutes.

Mix 4 1/4 cups flour and the salt to yeast mixture and stir to blend well (dough will be sticky). Using the dough hook attachment, turning the mixer on low speed, knead for about 5 minutes, adding in flour a few tablespoons at a time, if needed. Alternately, knead the dough by hand on floured surface until smooth and elastic,about 10 minutes, adding more flour by tablespoonfuls if dough is sticky. 
Lightly oil a large bowl. Forming the dough into ball, place the dough into the oiled bowl.Turn the dough once or twice to to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down dough. Form dough into ball again and return to same bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm area until doubled, approximately 40 minutes, it may take less time than that.

Coat 15x10-inch baking sheet with olive oil. Punch down dough, and place onto the prepared baking pan. Press out dough to 13x10-inch rectangle. Let dough rest 10 minutes. Drizzle 2 tablespoons oil over dough. Sprinkle olives and chopped rosemary evenly over. Let dough rise uncovered in warm area until it puffs slightly, about 25 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475°F. Press fingertips all over dough, making indentations.Sprinkle the top of the bread with the sea salt and bake. It's done when it is until brown and crusty, 18-20 minutes. Let bread cool at least 10 minutes before cutting.

This focaccia is fantastic right out of the oven with a drizzle of olive oil. It makes for killer sandwiches too!
Greeting from Florida's Forgotten Coast. Last night's sunset ( that little black dot in the center of the sunset is a dolphin!) ....we've got a few more to go till it's back to reality!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Strawberry Cake

Strawberry cakes are a Southern cake staple. However, almost every recipe I've found are made with a cake mix and strawberry flavored jello. I have been looking for strawberry cake recipe that's made from scratch,for quite sometime. I was thrilled when I found this recipe by I Made That using pureed strawberries in the batter. No cake mix or jello required! 

A couple of weeks ago, I was drooling over the keyboard browsing King Arthur's website, and came across a product they sell called cake enhancer. It's supposed to make cakes, and other baked goods, lighter, fluffier, and last longer. It can be used in almost any type of baked good from cakes to bread. I was intrigued and ordered a box to try. I decided to use it in this cake and see what happened. My cake did have a really nice light fluffy (almost box mix like) texture. I can't wait to use the cake enhancer in some of my other recipes. 
Cake enhancer was not in the original recipe so don't feel that you need to have it to make this cake. 

Strawberry Cake
Source: I Made That, ( slightly adapted)

2 1/2 cups cake flour
2 Tablespoons King Arthur cake enhancer (optional)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla paste or extract
1/2 cup butter (one stick), room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature, lightly beaten
1 cup pureed strawberries (put berries in the food processor or blender to puree)
1 teaspoon lemon zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 9" (or three 8") cake pans with rounds of parchment and butter well or spray with a non stick baking spray.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cake enhancer, if using. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla and almond extract. Set aside.
In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar for 3-5 minutes until it forms a paste like texture.  Scrape the bowl down well, and gradually add the eggs in a slow stream, beating  for about 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture. Mix for 1 minute at medium speed. Reduce the speed of the mixer to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the lemon zest.
Divide the batter equally into the prepared cake pans and bake 20-25 minutes or until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Allow the cakes to cool before removing from the pan.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting
8-ounces cream cheese
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 Tablespoons strawberry preserves
1  teaspoon vanilla extract 
4  cups confectioners' sugar
1  pinch salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and butter at medium-high speed  until smooth. Add strawberry preserves and vanilla, beat until combined. Add confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat at medium/low speed until the sugar is combined and the icing is smooth. If necessary, add in a little milk to get a smooth consistency.