Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Taste & Create XVII: A Simple Cake

Every month, as I wait patiently for the Taste & Create partner list to come out, I get more and more excited. I simply love this event, hosted by my friend Nicole of For the Love of Food, in which participants are randomly paired off and tasked with preparing a recipe from their partner's blog. The event not only encourages me to discover and try new recipes, sometimes it also challenges me with new techniques or exotic ingredients.

This month, I was paired with Veronica of La Recette du Jour, who is a Brit living in France. I love her tagline: "All recipes in this blog tested using the most stringent quality controls (French guests)." The challenge for me, in addition to choosing a single recipe from Veronica's many delicious dishes, was converting the measurements from metric to cups. (You may recall my first dismal conversion failure a few months ago).

Among the La Recette du Jour that tempted me were: the Courgette, Cheese & Herb Tart, which I quickly discovered using a French-English translator is a Zucchini, Cheese & Herb Tart. Lamb Tagine, which features a North African spice mix that I did not have the energy to look up. And the classic French Ratatouille , which remains firmly on my "To Make" list, especially since Veronica's recipe is the exact one I have been wanting to try from Mastering The Art of French Cooking. It is simply too labor-intensive for this month; I ran out of time as Veronica did!

Veronica's Simple Cake looked just that, despite the mathematics involved, and with a mix of fresh apples, dried fruit and almonds on top, it looked warm and comforting and perfect for these recent Winter storms that have disrupted my Spring with snow and freezing temperatures. I am grateful for Veronica's link to these conversion tables, which helped me immensely. My measurements are below, follow the link to Veronica's recipe for European/Metric measurements.

This cake lives up to its name in that it is quite simple to make. There are a couple little tricks that I would not have done, but did, and it turned out perfectly. I used a mixture of near-equal parts dried apricots, cranberries and golden raisins, and sprinkled extra sliced almonds on top. I didn't have self-rising flour, so to each 1 cup of regular flour I added 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon baking powder (in addition to the baking powder called for in the recipe). I used a buttered 9x13" pan lined with parchment paper, then buttered the parchment as well.

The cake is light despite all the fruit, and delicious with coffee. I would classify it more as a coffee cake than a dessert, actually. Yum!

A Simple Cake
Adapted from La Recette du Jour

Makes 1 9x13" pan

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 large eggs, beaten
2 cups self-raising flour, or 2 cups plain flour plus 1 teaspoon salt plus 2 teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup mixed dried fruit (golden raisins, cranberries, apricots) chopped if large, or alternative
1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
3 teaspoons cinnamon
heaping 1/3 cup sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9x13" pan, line with parchment paper and butter paper.

Cream together the sugar and butter till pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, then start adding the beaten eggs a bit at a time, beating well. Add about a tablespoon of the measured flour with each batch — this makes the mixture less likely to curdle. Stir in 4 tbs milk. Then mix together the remaining flour and baking powder and fold in. The mixture should drop easily from the spoon — if it doesn’t, add a little more milk.

Toss the fruit, including the chopped apple, with the cinnamon (or use the alternatives). Fold into the mixture. Spoon into the pan, smooth the surface, sprinkle with almonds, and bake for 35-40 minutes; test with a skewer to see if it’s done. The top should be golden brown; cover with foil if it looks as if it’s burning. Cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.

1 comment:

Veronica said...

Oh, I know exactly what you mean about the conversions -- I have the same problem in reverse _all the time_ because my T&C partners always do things in cups! Even with a set of cup measures I have had quite a few failures ...

Glad you enjoyed the cake :)

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