Exceptional. Elegant. Ecumenical.
I am not a raisin fan. Suzen is not big on walnuts. Yet we saw this picture and agreed to temporarily set aside our culinary differences. We would agree to raisins and walnuts. [Yes, we did put pecans on the edge!] I had no problem with the blackberry jam in the cake. And the coconut caramel glaze is something Suzen would kill for. You think I’m joking, don’t you? Who do you think licked the pan? Who licked the spatula? Who would not share?
For the first time in our marriage, I considered giving her a timeout, but I settled for a second piece of cake. This combination of raisins, nuts, spices, jam, and buttermilk produces a flavor that you simply have not had before. It’s not a “jammy” cake at all. It does not have the sour factor that buttermilk can inspire. No, this cake is just so carefully balanced in flavor that you will enjoy every single bite.
This recipe comes from a dessert book by Alisa Huntsman of the Loveless Cafe in Nashville. Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe will become a famous cook. You turn each page, and you just drool a little, mop up the page, try to establish some semblance of self control and proceed to drool on the next page. Forthcoming tests by Suzen and me, and therefore posts here, will include:
- Brown Sugar Buttermilk Pound Cake
- Double chocolate Fudge Cake
- Lemon Icebox Pie
- Mocha Pound Cake
- Root Beer Float Cake.
Come on. Summer is here. Those long Saturday and Sunday dinners deserve a wonderous ending. So do you!
Big Momma’s Blackberry Jam Cake
Yield: one 9-inch triple-layer cake serving 12 to 16
For the Cake:
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 1 cup walnut halves or pieces
- 3 cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 ½ cups packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup blackberry jam, preferably seedless
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Coconut Caramel Glaze [recipe follows]
For the Coconut Caramel Glaze
- 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
- ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease three 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and grease the paper.
Put the golden raisins in a small saucepan. Add water to cover and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool completely; drain well. Meanwhile, spread out the walnuts in a small baking pan and toast in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant. Let cool, then chop evenly.
Sift the flour, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and baking soda into a bowl and set aside. With an electric mixer, cream the butter with the brown sugar and salt in a large bowl at medium-low speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping the bowl once. Add the jam and mix it in completely. Add the reserved dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk, scraping the bowl once or twice. Fold in the raisins and walnuts. Divide the batter among the pans.
Bake for 28 to 32 minutes, or until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then invert them onto a rack, remove the paper, and let cool completely.
To assemble the cake, place one layer bottom side up on a cake stand or dessert platter. Spoon one-third of the glaze over the cake, leaving a Winch border around the edge. Top with the next layer and repeat with more glaze. Set the last layer on top and pour the remaining glaze onto the cake. Spread just to the edge, letting the glaze drizzle down the sides. Let set for about 1 hour before cutting.
For the Coconut Caramel Glaze:
Yield: 3 ¼ cups
Place the brown sugar, butter, half-and-half, coconut, and flour in a large shallow, heavy saucepan. Set over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the mixture is completely blended and just begins to boil.
Continue to boil gently, whisking occasionally, until the glaze thickens slightly, 7 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and pour the glaze into a bowl. Let cool slightly.
Press a sheet of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming and refrigerate until tepid and thickened but still runny enough to drop from a spoon like a thick sauce, about 1 hour.
Source: Desserts from the Famous Loveless Café by Alisa Huntsman
Berry lemonades are eye opening. The sweetness of the berry is matched by the that tart lemon flavor. All tempered with sugar of course. This recipe, from Sips and Apps by Kathy Casey, is a nice variation. A berry syrup is combined with cold soda water. You can alter the syrup contribution to intensify or mute the overall flavor. This beverage is a great afternoon pick-me-up when you’ve started that spring gardening and are wondering where all those dead leaves came from. Let the breeze blow some leaves away while you sip away.
In the recipe for the syrup below, I persoally opt for a full cup of berries to create a stronger flavor. For the lemon juice, take a look at my earlier blog for quick lemon juice: http://www.cookingbythebook.com/blog/recipes/brians-quick-lemon-juice/.
Yield: 1 drink
2 ounces chilled blackberry-lemon syrup
4 ounces chilled soda water
Fill a tall glass with ice. Measure in the syrup and soda water. Stir. If you wish, garnish with a lemon wheel or a few fresh blackberries.
Blackberry Lemon Syrup
Yield: 1 ½ cups or enough for about 6 lemonade servings
1 cup water
½ cup sugar
½ cup fresh blackberries
1 tablespoon thinly sliced lemon zest.
1 cup fresh lemon juice
Combine the ingredients is a small heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Strain through a very fine strainer, pressing out as much liquid as possible. Discard the solids and let the syrup cool to room temperature. If not using immediately, cover and refrigerate for up to 7 days, until needed.
Source: Sips and Apps by Kathy Casey