Sunday, August 30, 2015

Karidopitta (Honey walnut cake)

Karidopitta is a popular Greek preparation of a honey walnut cake. I've made it several times using a Nancy Harmon Jenkins recipe but thought I'd try this one from Paula Wolfert's Mediterranean Cooking as an alternative. To tell the truth I wasn't having high hopes as I worked through the recipe so didn't think to take photos. However the result was pretty amazing so I've included one from after we tried it. I'll update this post later once I've made it again which I'm sure won't be too far into the future.
One of the big keys of the creaming method I've been using lately, which has been performing so well, is adding leaf lard, butter, sugar, eggs in stages in that order. Although butter provides a wonderful flavor, I'm finding that using leaf lard in a roughly 1-to-1 ratio with the butter as the fat in the creaming adds an absolutely fantastic texture without any loss of that butter flavor. And so it was with this cake.
One thing that the Jenkins recipe had was a variety of spices so I may tweak this one to add more in subsequent tries.

Ingredients
Syrup:
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
3/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1/2 lemon

Cake:
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 3/4 cups chopped walnuts, divided
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons leaf lard, plus more for to grease the pan
4 eggs, separated


Directions
Syrup:
Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan and bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the honey, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Return to boil then lower the heat again to simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat to cool completely.

Cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.
For the dry mix, combine 1/4 cup of the chopped walnuts, cinnamon, flour, and baking powder in a large bowl.
For the wet mix, in a stand mixer, cream the lard, then add in the butter to cream together with the lard. With the mixer still running, add the sugar in small increments beating well until combined. Add the egg yolks one a time beating well until combined.
Add in the dry walnut-flour mix to combine into a crumbly batter.
Beat the remaining egg whites to a stiff peak then gently fold into the batter until combined. Add the batter into the prepared pan then top with the remaining chopped walnuts. Put the pan into the heated oven and cook until it tests done, roughly 30 minutes. In other words, a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out dry.
Remove the cake from the over, cut into diamond shapes (diagonal to the pan), the pour the cooled syrup over the cake letting it soak in. Although it is best to allow the cake to sit covered overnight, I found it ok to serve once the cake has completely cooled.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Oat and Brown Sugar Coffee Cake

This is a recipe I got from Deborah Madison's The New Vegetarian Cooking For Everyone, one of the basics in my kitchen library. The recipe for the cake is followed by the recipe for the topping, a pecan streusel.







Ingredients:
1 cup rolled oats (not instant)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons leaf lard
1 cup brown sugar packed
2 eggs (at room temperature)
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9 x 12 inch baking dish.
Pour 1½ cups boiling water over the oats and set them aside. The water will be completely absorbed by the oats within 10 minutes or so.

To cream the lard, butter, and sugar, first add the lard alone to a stand mixer until well-softened. Then add the butter to mix thoroughly also until well-softened. Then add the brown sugar a little at a time until it is completely absorbed and 'fluffy'. Great reference for this technique at craftybaking.com.

Once the creaming is done, add the eggs into it one at a time making sure each is well-blended in the mix. Scrape down the bowl and continue beating until the resulting batter is smooth. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and oats into the batter mixing in by hand with a wooden spoon.

Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl then stir them into the batter. Once blended pour into the prepared baking dish, cover with the Pecan Streusel and bake until a skewer or toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes.

Pecan Streusel Topping:
1 cup brown sugar packed
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon grated whole nutmeg
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1⅓ cup chopped pecans

In a food processor, mix everything but the pecans until a crumbly mix. Pour into a bowl then mix the chopped pecans in with a wooden spoon.