Sunday, June 27, 2010

My New Favorite Breakfast Treat: Jam Crumb Cake

I’m a recipe clipper. I subscribe to a number of food-related magazines, as well as my local newspaper (yes, I know that is soooo old school) and I regularly cut out recipes I’d like to try. Originally filed separately by category (breakfast, soup/salad, veg/side dish, main, dessert and misc), each file folder had become so fat that I needed to take action. I spent one cold, rainy May afternoon sorting recipes into additional categories, and for the really big files (breakfast, main and dessert) I split them into Tested and Untested. It so made me want to get in my brand new kitchen and cook, and so I did.

I woke up this morning and decided to make something new for breakfast. Butcher Son had pulled an all-nighter the day before, finishing a particularly difficult art project for college. He had slept for almost 12 hours and I wanted to surprise him with a treat. I found a recipe clipped from Gourmet back in December of 2007. No sure what I was waiting for, and after all was said and done I wish I had tried the recipe earlier.

The recipe took 5 minutes to make and another 25 minutes to cook and utilizes staples from the pantry and refrigerator. Couldn’t have been much easier unless I opened a box of muffin mix. While the original recipe called for raspberry jam, I had some lovely Blenheim apricot jam that Brilliant Daughter and I canned last summer. It smells so heavenly every time I open it (and it is just amazing stirred into plain Greek yogurt).

The recipe would lend itself to using any kind of thick jam or preserves and you could add a pop of flavor by stirring in a few drops of almond extract or a tablespoon of liqueur like Grand Marnier, Framboise, or Amaretto.

For cake

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 large egg

1/2 cup raspberry jam or preserves

For crumb topping

3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 400°F with rack in the middle. Generously butter a 9-inch square or round cake pan.

Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Whisk together butter, milk, and egg in a large bowl, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined. Pour batter into cake pan. Dollop jam all over surface, then swirl into batter with spoon.

Make crumb topping:
Whisk together butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt until smooth. Stir in flour, then blend with your fingertips until incorporated. Sprinkle crumbs in large clumps over top of cake.

Bake cake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean and sides begin to pull away from pan, about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes. Serve.

Yield: 6 servings

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Best Use of Lemons…EVER

You may think I’m exaggerating, but I am not and I do not come to this decision lightly. I have the full backing of my lemon-loving family.

As is tradition in our household, the children get to choose to go out on their birthday or stay home and have me cook whatever they want. We’ve had some odd choices over the years, like Butcher Son once asked if we could go to Dennys for his birthday, so he could have one of their Grand Slam breakfasts, and Electrician Son wanted Shake and Bake pork chops, which I had never made in my life. Those are the exceptions, rather than the rule, because let’s face it, these are my children and they know good food.

This year for Brilliant Daughter’s birthday, given the nice weather, she wanted Cowboy Burgers. You might remember this recipe from last summer. My family was so wowed they hardly spoke the whole time they were eating, hence the post tile of Seriously Good Eating.” They really are that good. In fact, it is one of the 100 recipes featured in my cookbook, Eat Drink Merry. She also wanted a lemon dessert made with our Meyer lemons. That meant digging into the archives, the recipe clippings, the downloaded notes, to find just the right thing. And I found a gem. A home run. A grand slam. (Well, it is baseball season after all….) I found a recipe for the. best. lemon. dessert. ever. It was in my clipping file, cut from an April 2005 Bon Appetit magazine.

Simply called Lemon Curd Mousse Cake, it was a creation of light and air, summertime and sunshine, and put a smile on everyone’s face…immediately. We all knew right away that this was a keeper. Fans of lemon meringue pie will especially be wowed with this cake, as it tastes like the culinary love child of the light creamy meringue and the tart lemony custard. It’s refreshing, silky, and above all – heavenly. (I just wish that I could capture that heaven in a picture for you, as the one here just doesn’t do it justice.)

While this cake does take some extra effort and dishwashing, it is one that is well worth the effort – and I don’t say that lightly!

Warning: This recipe really does require lots of pots, pans, bowls, spatulas, and spoons. Set your sink up with warm sudsy water and just drop the used items in as you go along. It will make clean-up much easier.

Lemon Curd Mousse Cake

Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2005


2 cups Lorna Doone cookie crumbs

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted


2 1/2 cups lemon curd (my recipe here)

5 tablespoons water

4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin

6 large egg whites

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream

Lemon slices, cut into quarters (garnish)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 8-inch-diameter springform pan with nonstick spray.

Blend cookie crumbs and butter in small bowl. Press onto bottom of pan. Bake until golden, about 15 minutes. Cool.

Pour 5 tablespoons water into small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin evenly over. Let stand until gelatin softens, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 3/4 cups lemon curd in large bowl.

Stir 3/4 cup curd in another small saucepan over medium-low heat until very warm. Then

stir gelatin mixture over medium-low heat until dissolved and liquid is clear (do not boil). Whisk warm gelatin mixture into 3/4 cup warm curd. Gradually whisk gelatin-curd mixture into curd in large bowl.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar, beating until whites are thick and glossy. Fold whites into curd mixture in 3 additions.

Using same beaters, beat cream in another medium bowl until peaks form. Fold into egg white-curd mixture in 3 additions.

Pour enough mousse over cooled crust to fill pan completely. Pour remaining mousse into small bowl and reserve. Cover and chill mousse cake, reserved mousse, and remaining curd overnight.

Using a long thin knife, cut around cake to loosen. Remove pan sides. Gently spread 3/4 cup of remaining curd over cake. Transfer reserved mousse to pastry bag fitted with small star tip. Pipe rosettes of mousse around top edge of cake. Chill cake until ready to serve. (Can be made up to 8 hours ahead.)

Arrange lemon slices between rosettes. Cut cake into wedges.