Friday, August 7, 2009

Blueberry Cake

Tacoma's Tuesday afternoon farmers market was a goldmine! It yielded a beautiful bounty of brightly colored berries, tempting tomatoes, and plenty of tiny pretty potatoes. We brought home blueberries, of course, fingerling potatoes--of which the name grossed out J., and other assorted goodies. Bacon flavored hummus by Sound Bites was claimed by me, and a delicious creamy honey lemon goat cheese was claimed by J. He LOVES goat cheese! He's expressed his affinity for it before, but the honey lemon combo was what won his heart and tummy over. I'm slowly learning to appreciate it, so I give him a 'cheesy gold star'. When we saw the berry stand, he quickly spotted the berries and loudly declared, 'we get these, mama, for my blueberry breakfast cake.' How could anyone resist those beautiful brown eyes, the quick thinking, and little hands holding a half pint of breathtaking blueberries?
That night I made his blueberry breakfast cake. It really is an anytime cake.
It's simple to prepare and quite unpretentious. It's not too sweet, has fruit, and I so do not feel guilty for serving this for breakfast with a cup of milk! Perfect!

Blueberry Cake
adapted from Taste of Home

1/3 unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice, orange juice works well
1 teaspoon zest
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
8 ounces sour cream
1 cup blueberries, preferably fresh
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep pan of choice with a light coating of cooking spray or butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, mix sugar and zest, until well incorporated and aromatic. Add butter and combine to sugar mixture. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
Add whisked flour mixture, alternately adding sour cream.
At this point, the cake batter is super thick. Evenly spread batter into pan.
Very gently, fold in blueberries.
(I found it was easier this way, instead of risking blueberry bleed in the transfer of the batter.)
Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Baking time may need to be altered depending on size of pan.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes before removing from pan. Allow cake to cool completely. Dust with confectioners sugar

* The original recipe was a lowfat lackluster caloric waste. Using whole eggs, regular sour cream, and adding the zest and juice gave it a boost in flavor and visual appeal--a fluffy and tasty well risen cake.
* I have tried both lemon and orange juice/zest. Lemon was my favorite.
* I 've also tried frozen berries and it was a relative disaster. The frozen berries made the cake very dense and had a tendency to fiercely stick together.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Mandarin Orange Frozen Yogurt

Hot, hot, hot! This heat is beautifully unbelievable! I appreciate the change, but I do not wish to have it last any longer. As of now, I welcome and am ready for my daytime highs of 65 degrees! Enough said about mother nature's offerings...
To combat the heat, I looked to divine inspiration for something different, creamy, cold, and satisfying. As I waited for an idea to come, I perused the pantry and fridge. Nothing, no ideas. The day came and went, and nothing. Wednesday morning, and it arrived--mandarin orange chunks, in a creamy yogurt sweetened with honey and spiced with cardamom.
Hmmmm, worth a try...I mean, I had to try it. I asked for inspiration, and was given inspiration. I researched some possibilites to increase the creaminess without having to add heavy cream, whole milk, or other sinfully delicious fatty necessaries. One common thread I encountered was using whole milk yogurt, and draining the extra moisture for at least 6 hrs. I tried it, and I liked it!
The end product...a trifecta of exotic summery bliss!

Mandarin Orange Frozen Yogurt

16 ounces plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 cup - 3/4 cup honey
1 cup mandarin oranges, canned and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon orange zest

Pour yogurt into a cheesecloth lined colander and cover with cloth. Let drain at least 6 hours to overnight. This will permit extra moisture to drain, leaving you with a concentrated creamy and dense whey.
Carefully pull up cloth and place yogurt into a medium bowl.
Add honey, cardamom, and zest. Stir. Add oranges. Mix until well combined.
Let mixture rest for several hours to overnight, to infuse flavors.
Place in freezer for several hours until desired consistency.
Makes about 3-4 cups.
* I roughly chopped oranges. If you'd like an uninterrupted oranginess, puree oranges and remaining ingredients.
* I churned yogurt mixture in an ice cream maker for about 45 minutes, and had a rather tough time getting it to a firmer consistancy. After freezing it for a couple of hours it was soft, but firmer