Friday, May 20, 2011

This week's amazing discoveries--peach cake and mushroom clafouti

My writing class meets at my house on Wednesday mornings.  It's a small group, a great size for an informal writing class taught by Alex Tinari, a wonderful young teacher.  I enjoy having the group over partly because it gives me an excuse to bake tea breads and cakes.  This week I made a peach cake tI found on (from savour) that was sensationally delicious.  Even though I made a few mistakes with it, the class voted it best of the taste treats I've made so far. 

It calls for fresh peaches, but this is mid-May so I needed a substitute.  Luckily I still have some jars of the finedishly tasty honeyed peaches I put up last autumn.  The recipe called for soaking the cut up peaches in 2 T sugar and a bit of nutmeg, but since my peaches were already soaked in honey syrup, I just sprinkled them with a flick of nutmeg and skipped the sugar marinade.  I should have eliminated 2T of sugar from the recipe, but I didn't think of that until I took the cake out of the oven.  Next time, though, that's what I'll do.

I didn't have any buttermilk in the house so I made some by using 1/2 T of vinegar with 1/2 c milk (I could have used lemon juice instead of vinegar).  That's a nice trick if you don't feel like buying a quart of buttermilk for a cup or less of it.

This was the first time I'd used turbinado sugar, which is a real find.  I just sprinkled it on top of the cake before it went in the oven, and that it made the crust nice and crunchy.

I'd also never used almond flour (or almond meal, as it's sometimes called).  That adds a tasty note to baked goods.  My friend Megan Moore, a seasoned chef, says that when baking tea or sweet breads, muffins, cookies, and some cakes that you can use half almond flour with half regular flour and nothing bad will happen to the texture.  In fact, the result is often a firmer crumb.  After googling almond flour, I looked at a few other flours, e.g., coconut flour, and learned that these unusual flours can be used in proportions varying from 10-40% of the flour called for in a recipe.  But check to see what proportion you can safely use.  For example, when using coconut flour, it's recommended to use it as a substitute for no more than 10% of the total flour.  I feel sure I'll be writing more about the use of alternate flours.  My first try was a winsome success.

Most Wonderful Peach Cake

3 ripe peaches
¾ t freshly ground nutmeg
1 c sugar
6 T softened unsalted butter
1 large egg
½ c buttermilk
½ t vanilla extract
¼ t almond extract
1 c all-purpose flour
½ c almond flour (or finely ground almonds)
1 t baking powder
¼ t baking soda
Turbinado Sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan.

Cut the peaches into bite sized pieces. Toss the peaches with nutmeg and 2 tablespoons sugar. Set aside.

Cream together the butter and remaining sugar with a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the egg, buttermilk and extracts, and stir to combine.

Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add this flour mixture to the butter mixture, mix until smooth (some lumps may remain). Pour into the prepared pan.

Press the peaches into the top of the cake. They can be nicely arranged, but I like to cram as many peaches as possible into the cake. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over the top.

Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce the oven heat to 325 degrees and bake for an additional 45 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

P.S.  You might want to toss the peach pieces in a bit of flour to keep them from sinking to the bottom of the cake.  Or not.

Sherried Mushroom Clafouti

I'm quite the fan of, from which this recipe comes (drbabs).  Years ago, when I took cooking classes at Peter Kump's school in NYC, I first learned about clafoutis and made them frequently.  I always associated them with fruit, so seeing one made with mushrooms caught my eye.  I read the recipe, and knew I'd make it soonest.  Which I did.  Today.  It was most winsome.  Everyone at the dinner table ooohed and aaaahed, and demanded the recipe.  Once you read it, you'll understand why you've got to make it right now. 

For the sherried mushrooms:

1 lb assorted mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed and sliced (about 4 cups)
2 T butter
½ t salt
1 large (or 2 small) shallots, chopped fine
⅓ c dry sherry
1 T chopped fresh thyme
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

For the clafouti:

3 eggs
½ t salt
⅔ c all purpose flour
1½ c milk
2 oz aged Gruyere, grated
fresh ground black pepper

For mushrooms:  In a large skillet, melt butter over medium-high heat and let it brown, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn. As soon as the butter is brown and smells nutty, scrape in shallots, turn heat down to medium, and stir and sauté till they soften. Pour in mushrooms, add ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir shallots and mushrooms together. Cook mushrooms with shallots and browned butter until they are soft and browned, turning occasionally. This should take about 15 minutes. When the mushrooms are browned and most of their liquid has evaporated, pour in the sherry and stir in the thyme, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Continue to sauté the mushrooms until the liquid has reduced and thickened. Taste and add salt and fresh-ground black pepper as desired.

For clafouti: Heat oven to 375. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, blend the eggs with salt until frothy. Add milk and mix well. Add the flour and mix until frothy and thoroughly incorporated, 1-2 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Pour the batter over the mushrooms. Sprinkle the top with the grated Gruyere. Grind a little black pepper over the top. Place the dish in the center of the oven. Bake until the center puffs and turns a golden color, and the clafouti is set, about 30-40 minutes. (Cover with foil if the top browns too quickly.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is every bit as delicious as it reads.  I may have to make another one tomorrow.

No comments:

Post a Comment