weekend baking

February 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

I tried four recipes this past weekend: walnut jam cake, cardamom & honey griddle scones, coconut macadamia cookies,  and mini French macarons. (At this point, with everyone snowed in, every single bit of my weekend baking is gone. Now I have to make some other things…)

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The walnut jam cake was the five-star winner of the weekend. It made a very dense, velvety cake with a slightly nutty flavor that was truly delicious. I put jars of jam and a bowl of whipped cream on the table so that everyone could decorate theirs the way they liked. (I was worried it wouldn’t be finished in one sitting and thus would get soggy if I left it with jam on top.)

Walnut Jam Cake
Adapted from Gourmet.com via smitten kitchen

Cake
1 1/4 cups walnuts (4 1/2 ounces or 130 grams), toasted (in a shallow baking pan at 350°F for 10 minutes) and cooled
2/3 cup (150 grams) sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (4 ounces or 113 grams), cut into pieces
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces or 65 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) salt

Topping
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (optional)
1/2 cup (150 grams) jam or preserves (apricot or raspberry are recommended; I used black currant)
2/3 cup (160 grams) chilled heavy cream
1/4 cup (60 grams) sour cream
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan, or hit it up with the butter-and-flour spray of your choice.

Pulse cooled walnuts and sugar in a food processor until finely chopped. Add butter and process until combined, then add eggs and vanilla and process until combined. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and pulse just until incorporated. Spread batter in cake pan.

Bake until cake is just firm to the touch and a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 15 minutes in pan, then turn out onto a rack and cool completely.

Whisk lemon juice (if using) into jam. Spoon jam over cake.

Beat heavy cream with sour cream, sugar, and vanilla until it holds soft peaks, then spoon over jam

Do ahead: Cake (without topping) keeps, well-wrapped, at room temperature for 4 days. With topping, it has kept so far in the fridge quite nicely for over a day.

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The griddle scones tasted fine, but weren’t anything special. Regular scones are much more satisfying despite the extra amount of work. More than likely these will not be made again.

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The coconut macadamia cookies were the second-best dessert item of the weekend. At first I thought they would not be eaten because of the lack of white chocolate chips, but on retrospect I think they would have been too sweet. These were chewy, a little salty, and altogether tasty.

Coconut-Macadamia Cookies
Yields: about 30 cookies
1 cup margarine or butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup flaked coconut
1 jar (3 1/2 oz.) macadamia nuts, coarsely chopped
Preheat oven to 375 F. Mix butter, sugars and egg. Stir in flour and baking soda, dough will be very stiff. Stir in coconut and nuts. Drop dough by heaping tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet (I suggest rolling into a ball, then flattening to about 1/2 inch thick with your two palms). Bake until light brown, 8 – 10 minutes (centers will be soft). Cool slightly, remove from cookie sheet and cool completely.
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Mini-macaron-wise, I had a little less luck. I made vanilla batter and filled it with three fillings: bittersweet chocolate custard, hazelnut spread, and blueberry paste. The cookies had pied but came out a bit too toasted (though they tasted fine); the custard was lumpy; the hazelnut was fine; and the blueberry paste was too buttery. I definitely need to work on my fillings.

Recipe from I <3 Macarons by Hisako Ogita (my lurvely Christmas gift!!!!). If you’d like me to post it, let me know. It appears that the book is not available on Amazon?

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