Category Archives: Cakes

Pear Clafoutis with Coconut Milk

Still looking at ways to get around using dairy with lactose, whether in desserts or main dishes. Coconut milk comes in handy as a substitute in desserts, and I find the coconut taste mild enough that it doesn’t interfere with and can even enhance certain foods. The full fat coconut milk is also a good substitute for cream, as in today’s clafoutis.

Clafoutis is a kind of custard-meets-genoise with embedded fresh fruit, using not too much sugar and not too much flour—those are the two things I’m concerned with, while my husband can’t handle the lactose. I’m starting with Ina Garten’s recipe, leaving out the lemon zest and pear brandy in favor of the coconut flavor. I wish I had a prettier dish for it, but the old Pyrex pie dish will have to do, so I’ll try to compensate with a pretty design of the fruit slices.

I could have wished for pears that were just a little more ripe—probably just waiting until tomorrow would have been enough. It seems with pears they are either too ripe or not ripe enough at any given moment. Still, it came out as planned and is a wonderfully light dessert with which to highlight your favorite fruit, including the traditional cherry.

Pear Clafouti with Coconut Milk

  • Servings: one 10 inch round dessert
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 375°; butter a 10″ round baking dish or pie plate with sides of at least 1 1/2″ and dust with granulated sugar.

1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon sugar for preparing baking dish

1/3 cup granulated sugar

4 large eggs

3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups unsweetened full fat coconut milk—Do not shake the can first. Scoop out the fat at the top of the can and then add enough of the remaining milk in the can to make up the required amount.

2 teaspoons vanilla

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 large, ripe Bartlett pears

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar for about 3 minutes with a hand or stand mixer.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients on low speed. Set aside while you prepare the pears.
  3. Peel, core, and slice the pears, either vertically or horizontally (I did both). Arrange the pears in the prepared baking dish in any design you like or no design at all.
  4. Pour the batter over the pears and bake for about 35 minutes. Let cool a bit, then slice or scoop out with a large spoon. I tried to keep my pear arrangement intact in serving, but that’s not really important. I would just as soon have it in a bowl.

I suppose you will want to garnish it, but I think you get more of an appreciation of the custard-like cake without any further additions.

Cupcakes, Chocolate, Ham, and Peeps

. . . and I didn’t even mention the maple pecan pie from the previous post

Another holiday cooking in someone else’s kitchen. I didn’t take very many pictures, but here are the highlights of the food activities:

The pie!
The pie!

Yes, I took the maple pecan pie, and asked everyone to start eating it on Friday, so all the goodies wouldn’t pile up on one day. I did have one little slice and it was very good, full of nuts, both chopped and whole. Everyone liked it and it was gone before Sunday.

On Friday, my granddaughter and I made “Ultimate Chocolate Cupcakes” from Two Peas and Their Pod—they turned out great. I bought a batter dispenser that you squeeze and she (4 yrs old) was able to help fill the paper liners. Probably 24 were too many, though, so a lot of them ended up going to work with Mommy. I went the easy frosting-in-a-can route, and we decorated with sprinkles, bunny ears, chicks, and candy eggs. It really is a good cake recipe that you should try if you like chocolate. I ate one, even though I am not a chocolate fan. The cake was moist and light, maybe a little spongy, if that’s the right word.

We brought waaay too many chocolate rabbits. My husband returned from the local chocolate store with a cake box full of them—7 lbs, he said! For only 4 chocolate lovers (doesn’t include me). Most of the rabbits were still in the box when we left. Yes, we are the type who pile food on you and then walk away.

We colored and decorated hard-boiled eggs, naturally, so at least there was some protein for snacking.

For the ham dinner,  I had ordered a Broadbent’s dry-cured country ham from Kentucky and it was pretty terrific. I should have taken a photo, as it was definitely the star of dinner, but you can get the idea from their site. Actually, I think ours was more photogenic with the scored fat and glaze. We had biscuits, which is a must with country ham, as well as scalloped potatoes and green beans. Can’t beat country ham in a biscuit.

The only things I brought home were a few yellow marshmallow Peeps, one of my favorite, if forbidden, candies. For some reason, the ones I picked out had lopsided eyes, so I’m not sure whether they are looking at me or at something beside me. And one had the nose pinched off by a sneaky granddaughter. The Peeps are sitting around uncovered waiting to become hard and chewy—that’s when they’re the best, says this Peeps connoisseur.

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Ginger Half-Pound Cake

Because a whole pound of butter and two loaves is just too much for us.

This is the second pound cake I’ve posted here. The first was one from Michael Ruhlman, which we ate with a grilled peach compote. Very summery. On this cold, dry, winter day after 26″ of snow, a simpler cake, but one with a little zing of ginger, seemed like a better idea. Today’s recipe comes from Annie Somerville’s Fields of Greens. It makes a lighter-textured cake than Ruhlman’s, which has a more traditional dense crumb, even though the ingredients are not wildly different. Somerville uses fewer eggs and a little more sugar, plus some milk and baking powder—that doesn’t seem like much, but it makes a noticeable difference. The cake has a light, crisp crust, and the interior is very tender. Although Somerville suggests serving it with a fruit compote, it makes a nice midday snack on its own with a cup of tea.

I did use a couple of shortcuts—I didn’t have an orange, so I used dried orange peel, and I used ginger that is already grated in a convenient tube (I am in love with that stuff). I did use cake flour, but the recipe gives an option for regular flour, which might make a difference in the final texture.

Ginger Half-Pound Cake

  • Servings: 1 nine inch loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 300°; butter and lightly flour a 9″ loaf pan. If you double the recipe, which would be the original full recipe, you can use a tube pan or two loaves.

1 7/8 cups cake flour or 1 5/8 cups all purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature

1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1 1/4 cups sugar

3 eggs, at room temperature

2 tablespoons (1/8 cup) grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup milk, at room temperature

I used a stand mixer to make the batter. It is an incredibly fluffy batter that suggests the texture of the final cake.

  1. Cream the butter and zest at low to medium speed for about 5 minutes, until creamy.
  2. Gradually add the sugar, beating until fluffy.
  3. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated.
  4. Mix in the ginger.
  5. Add in the flour-baking powder-salt mixture, alternating with the milk. The original recipe suggests beginning and ending with the flour mixture.
  6. Spread the batter in the buttered and floured pan and bake for about 1 hour 20 minutes. The original recipe suggests 1 3/4 to 2 hours, but does not distinguish between the tube pan or the loaf pans. I suspect the long time is meant for the tube pan version. I watched mine carefully after the first hour and tested it with a toothpick at 1 hr 20 mins when it was done.

I think this cake would go well with pudding or a creamy custard, as well as with a fruit sauce.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake

I’m not sure where I copied this recipe from, but it’s on a post-it note, so it can’t be older than the late 70s. I just know that this whole wheat cake is an old favorite; it’s dense and moist and full of all sorts of fall flavors. Better yet, it improves with age. I didn’t include the pan size or preparation on the note, but luckily I remember that it fits the 9″ x 13″ pan, and just for good measure I buttered and floured it first.

Today, I used golden delicious apples, but the recipe doesn’t specify a type, so you could try your favorite. I kept the apple chunks and walnuts cut in larger chunks to add to that homey, rustic feeling. Of course, you could gild it with whipped cream or ice cream or hard sauce, but it is great as is. Note that the batter will start out seeming too thick, but keep mixing after the apples are added and they will release moisture into the batter. Trust me. That’s why I use the stand mixer.

Someday, I might try a few changes, like substituting agave syrup for some of the sugar or adding oatmeal for part of the flour.

Chunky Apple Walnut Cake

  • Servings: makes 12 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Preheat oven to 350°; grease and flour a 9″ x 13″ baking pan (I used whole wheat flour here, too)

1 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar (light or dark)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped in large chunks (mine were Golden Delicious)

1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped

  1. Mix the sugars, eggs, vanilla, and oil until combined.
  2. Stir in the dry ingredients. The batter will be thick at this point, but keep stirring until combined.
  3. Stir in the nuts and apple chunks and keep mixing until the apples have moistened the batter.
  4. Spread the batter in the prepared pan.
  5. Bake for about 50 minutes, checking to make sure the edges don’t get too browned (I hate that).
  6. Let cool in the pan on a rack. You can eat it when cool enough to cut, but I find it even better the next day.