My mother-in-law said it best on the weekend, "Meeta is in baking fever!" It's true, I have found a new liking. I won't call it a passion just yet but I think with Dorie Greenspan's - Baking: From My Home To Yours it might just turn into that.
When Sara contacted me and asked me if I would like to take part in the Spotlight On project, I found it hard to refuse. I was a little intimidated about the fact that it was a baking book. I should not have had any reservations - it is a lovely book. Some might think "OK she's just saying that because it has to look good!" No, I'm not. I even asked Sara what happens if I don't find the book good. Be honest was the decision. And this is my honest opinion of the book.
I am sure there will be a few who place this book as NOT one of their favorites but it will certainly be up there even with the professional bakers among us. It is with me. I like Dorie's style (as I mentioned here). I feel a friend is in the kitchen with me and we are baking up the delicious recipes together. I enjoy her little tips and tricks, making baking actually fun.
While browsing through the cookbook this cake was one of the first that caught my eye. So perfect for this time of year.
Even Dorie says, "I wanted something simple and festive to end the big meal (Thanksgiving) and this was perfect."
My sentiments exactly. I have been looking for a few recipes lately to put my Thanksgiving menu together and this looked like the perfect dessert.
The day I actually made the cake, I did not realize the symbolic nature this cake would take on. After a little downer in my mood lately, I decided to take some time for myself and go into therapy. Therapy for me almost always means going into the kitchen, turning up the music and cooking something up. I brewed some herbal tea and poured myself a large cup. That done, I started with my therapy. As the ingredients came together, I could feel myself relax and slowly but surely I started smiling. As the aromas of the caramelized sugar, butter and cinnamon wafted into the air I started humming. Finally, when the cake was in the oven I pulled up my chair to the oven and sipped my tea, watching the cake bake. It was raining outside and the patter of the raindrops against the window, the warmth of the kitchen and the aromas of the cake worked their magic and I felt my spirits brighten up.
I had been invited to a tea party and the cake was meant to be a little present for my friend. Once again the cake played a big role here too. After a few weeks of nothing but work I had neglected my friends. So, this was my way of saying thanks to them for still thinking of me and not giving up on me. It was a fantastic afternoon.
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4nsticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 chopped walnuts or pecans - I used walnuts this time
2 cups cranberries - I used fresh. If you are using frozen do not thaw)
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1/3 cup cranberry jelly
Preheat the oven at 350 degrees F (180 degrees Celsius).
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. Melt 6 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Sprinkle 6 tablespoons of the sugar and cook, stirring, until the mixture comes to a boil. Pour this over the bottom of a 8 x 2 inch round cake pan. Scatter the nuts and top with the cranberries. Press down gently using your fingertips. If frozen berries were used this might cause the butter to congeal - don't worry as everything will melt in the oven. Set this aside.
Using a hand mixture beat the remaining 8 tablespoons of butter on medium speed until smooth. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and continue until the mixture is pale and creamy. If you used brown sugar like I did - it won't turn pale ;-). Beat for about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each addition. Pour in the vanilla.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the dry ingredients, mixing only until they disappear into the batter. Mix in the milk and then the remaining dry ingredients. Spoon the batter over the cranberries and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until the cake is golden and a thin knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and run a blunt knife between the sides of the sides of the pan and the cake. Turn the cake out onto a serving platter.
Warm the jelly in a small saucepan over a low heat. Gently brush the glaze over the hot cake.
Storing recommendations: The cake is best served the day it is made, but it can be covered and kept at room temperature overnight. It's not such a great idea to freeze this, due to the cranberry topping.
This recipe was adapted from Baking: From My Home To Yours by Dorie Greenspan, Houghton Mifflin Company, November 2006.
This cranberry dream has become an all time favorite for almost everyone who had this cake. As I mentioned, I took this to a tea party and believe me, my girls went wild. The only time I have seen a load of ladies in such a frenzy was at the sight of the new Jimmy Choo collection!
At the reaction I got from them I made the cake the same evening again!! Soeren got a few slices in his lunchbox and as I had expected, when I picked him up his teachers wanted the recipe. "Oh it smells so wonderful!" The rest I took over to my in-laws over the weekend. My mum-in-law is a very good baker and I was eager to hear her opinion. As she bit into it I already saw it in her eyes. This cake is a hit and certainly will have a place of honor at my Thanksgiving table this year. Thanks Dorie.
Also see the Classic Brownies from Baking: From My Home To Yours.
It will be no surprise then, that I use this cake to say a few thank yous to a few people out there. It's been an exciting year for me in almost every way. I rediscovered my passion for photography and seem to be improving my skills. I started blogging back in February and I finally visited my family in the USA after ... well after far too long.
The theme to my Monthly Mingle is Give Thanks. I would like to present this cake and give my thanks.
My list is really huge and I could carry on my thanks forever. But I am going to concentrate it down to a few.
When I started blogging early this year there was one special lady who helped me get things right. She gave me tips and tricks and motivated me. I wonder if she remembers.
Then of course there are all the people over at this brilliant blog. Everyone here just goes out and helps unconditionally. I am always surprised at the brilliant support one gets there.
Another fantastic gal is this one. Without her kind words, I think I would still be down. Thanks sweetie! You know how much that one meant.
In the photography section there are also a few that inspire me to extreme lengths. Since I have been a part of Flickr I have met so many exceptional people and photographers. Each one teaching me something new. I hope that with these lessons learnt I am able to really put them to good practical use. First up is a lady that I will always admire. She was the one who advised me in several aspects of photography. I'll always remember that. Thanks!
Then there is Philippe who's photos are so breathtaking that I am often left speechless. He inspires a novice like me to go out and capture the beauty of nature. Through his eyes I am learning how beautiful the world around me is. Merci Philippe!
Leen and I have a few things in common. Besides a passion for photography she has an adorable son whom she lovingly captures in exceptional portraits.
Then there is my friend Andrew who is never too afraid to take on one of my crazy challenges.
I thank each and every one of you too. There are so many and the space is just not enough. I thank you for your comments, thoughts, mails, compassion and just being around.
The biggest thank you I have to say is to my parents though. As far as I can remember they have stuck by me no matter what. They put up with all my wildness in my teenage years and supported me in every way. Even to date they are there when I need them for advice, love and affection. They patiently lend me a sympathetic ear when I call them screaming at something that bugs the hell out of me or crying when I just feel terribly let down or laughing when I am happy. With them on my side I am stronger and I always know that I will never fall to steep because they will always be there to offer me a net and catch me. I wish you were here so I can share these moments with you in person ... Thank You!
Monthly Mingle: Give Thanks
Deadline: November 16, 2006
Please note: I will require a 75 x 75 picture of your dishes too.
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