Saturday, July 28, 2012

Blueberry Crumb Cake

Last weekend as I baked this blueberry crumb cake I told Lewis to call a friend to see if they wanted to have a 2 family pot luck that night, because we would have cake.  Somehow I did not feel badly about basically inviting ourselves over for dinner, when one of our dinner contributions was a freshly baked cake, warm from the oven, which smelled softly of cinnamon, lemon and blueberries.  Somehow I wasn't phased by the fact this was the first time I had made this cake because sadly I make a practice of serving new dishes to friends.

Happily my faith in this recipe was well placed and everyone who tried it insisting on a second piece.  The genius part of the recipe was the use of bread crumbs to dust the butter on the sides of the pan so the cake would not stick.  I always find the usual flour dusting the pan makes for a white smear on the outside and sometimes the faintest taste of raw flour.  The bread crumbs disappeared visually and the only taste was the cake and maybe a hint of more butter.

Maida's Blueberry Crumb Cake
adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

2 cups blueberries
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used mostly corn bread, with about 2 Tbsp random bread crumbs squirreled away in my freezer)
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, divided use
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup whole milk
finely grated zest of one lemon
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts (Optional, I did not use the nuts because my children do not like nuts in their baked goods)

Wash the berries and drain well in a sieve before drying with a paper towel.  Set aside to dry completely while you make the batter.

Preheat the oven to 375°  Butter a 9 inch square cake pan (I used a pyrex baking pan) and dust with the bread crumbs.

Combine the 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour, cinnamon and 1/2 cup sugar before cutting in 4 Tbsp of the cold butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until it is cut into uniform sized coarse crumbs.  Set aside.

Beat the other 4 Tbsp cold butter with the 3/4 cup sugar in a stand mixer with the flat beater blade or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, unless you are using a self scraping beater blade, Beat in the vanilla and egg followed by the baking powder and salt.  Beat until it everything is completely incorporated.

Sprinkle 2 Tbsp of the flour over the blueberries and toss gently to coat the blueberries in flour.

Stir 1/3 of the flours into the wet ingredients, followed by half the milk, then the next 1/3 of the flours, then the rest of the milk and lastly the remaining flour.  Stir in the lemon zest before spooning the batter over the berries and folding gently with a silicone spatula until just combined.

Scrape into the prepared pan, sprinkle with the nuts if using and then the cinnamon sugar topping.

Bake for 50 minutes until a knife or cake tester comes out clean when inserted in the center of the cake.  Cool the cake in the pan on a rack (or in the back of a car on the way to dinner).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Green Coriander

With the recent hot weather we have been experiencing, chances are some of your herbs are starting to bolt.  When my cilantro goes from lush foliage to flowers to seeds instead of missing the herb I greedily gather the green seeds before they dry out and become brown.  Green Coriander has a softer taste than brown coriander seeds with an herb like freshness.  Its flavor is reminiscent of both cilantro and dried coriander.  My children like to eat it fresh in the garden.  I store as much as I can harvest in the freezer to use all year long.

Some of my favorite uses are in a white wine chicken or pork braise, in a sauce for fish, dressing up extra virgin olive oil to drizzle over fresh tomatoes, and in an Indian curry.  This year I have several cups stored away, so I am sure I will be adding to the list of my favorite uses.

The last time I was in my community Garden Plot I pulled out all of my cilantro plants and brought them home to harvest.  One more day and I would have had fully ripened coriander, missing the opportunity for this gardener's only special ingredient.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Announcing Hippo Flambé's Preserving Index

As the canning season begins in ernest more and more people find my blog looking for answers to canning questions and recipes.  To make this easier for everyone I have created a canning and preserving index for Hippo Flamb&eacute's blog posts.  If you have any canning questions feel free to ask in a comment.

Hippo Flambé's New Preserving Index