Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rhubarb Upside-Down Brown Sugar Cake

I wouldn't normally harvest my rhubarb for another 3-4 weeks, but the Tuesdays With Dorie online baking group was making a rhubarb upside-down cake, so out I went with my knife.  The rhubarb grows under a lilac hedge which smells heavenly right now.  The rhubarb stalks were not very long yet, and I cut off half the plant to get the 1 1/4 pounds of rhubarb for the recipe.  I hope the plant will keep growing larger so that I can use more rhubarb later in June.

The recipe was fairly straightforward, except for caramelizing the rhubarb.  I melted the butter and stirred in the sugar as directed.  As the mixture was heating the sugar started to make clumps.  I was concerned about this and also not sure what exactly "just starting to color" should look like, so I dumped in the rhubarb and carried on.  The rhubarb never browned but did reach a nice soft but not mushy consistency.

The cake batter came together quickly and I slowly and gently spread the batter over the rhubarb.  I added three minutes to the 25 minute baking time listed in the recipe.  The cake came out of the pan easily and cleanly.

It is kind of a homely looking cake.  If I make it again I will do the apple jelly glaze and perhaps add the optional grated orange peel to enhance the flavour.   Instead of whipped cream I will serve with vanilla Greek yogurt.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Nutella Buttons

Nutella Buttons, from Dorie Greenspan's Baking Chez Moi, are mini vanilla cupcakes with Nutella in the centre.

When I first looked at the recipe last week I wondered about making home made Nutella, which doesn't look very hard.  With no hazlenuts at hand and little time I proceeded with a jar of Nutella from the supermarket.

I ran into some trouble with the batter towards the end of the recipe when it seemed lumpy  You've got sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, egg yolks, and vanilla and almond extracts mixed together, supposedly looking like a paste.  My mixture seemed thicker than that.  Next you add melted butter.  Perhaps at that point I didn't beat it enough?  I wasn't sure how the batter should appear.  I mixed in the beaten egg whites trying to be gentle, but perhaps I overmixed?

The next problem came after baking, when only six of the cupcakes came out cleanly.  I got the other eighteen out, leaving little bits in the pan.  If there ever is a next time with this recipe I will be more generous with buttering the pans.

I didn't ice them because I was transporting some to a function (only six, the nice ones), some to a friend, and stashing some in the freezer.

One taster said they were delicious.  I wished they were more tender, probably my fault, not the recipe.