The website Food52 is a resource that you simply must visit. It’s a site beautiful both for its recipes and its visualizations. Suzen made this cake, and began boasting to me. As the family dessert maven, I took no offense. But I wondered if she had changed medications, or even doctors.
After all, my wife is not a dessert person. But here she was: “You won’t believe… Everyone tasted it and loved it… Wait until…”
She’d made this cake in the city while I was upstate. I had fashioned a rather good cookie, but she had outdone me with this cake. She really had. Look at that picture. You know how the word “mahogany” connotes richness and wonder? Well, that mahogany cake is a wonder, both visually and to the palate.
I cannot outdo the description of the cake’s author, indieculinary:
“Balsamic vinegar and strawberries are a classic pairing. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil are a classic vinaigrette. Surely, I thought to myself, all three must come to sweet-and-sour harmony in a cake. This recipe came together in my head as I thought about the theme of this contest. I knew I wanted to take the vinegar idea in a sweet direction. Vinegar caramels came to mind, and then I thought of a tartly sweet caramel sauce.
“That made me think of upside-down cakes, and all at once, the recipe came together. I decided to build on the usual technique for making an attractive upside-down cake: spiral your fruit or toppings at the bottom of the pan, pour over a caramel-based glaze prepped on the stovetop, pour your batter over that, bake, cool, and invert to oohs and ahhs. In order to make sure the flavor of the vinegar was heightened and emphasized, I wanted to include it in both the glaze and the cake. Olive oil cake seemed an inspired pairing with the balsamic vinegar, and so I adapted an olive oil cake recipe I’d worked on previously, swapping in balsamic vinegar for the rosewater I’d previously featured. To keep the aesthetic of the cake spring-like, as a match for the season and the strawberries, I used golden balsamic vinegar instead of its darker, thicker sibling. This cake comes together quickly. Dense and moist, with an intriguing tartness to offset the jam-like quality of the strawberries, it is rich with eggs and not too sweet. Oh go on, make it for breakfast.”
I have never met indieculinary but anyone who suggests cake for breakfast is a star in my book. This cake will astonish you and put a smile on your face. For the rest of the day. If you make it for breakfast.
Lunch and dinner are okay, too!
Strawberry Balsamic and Olive Oil Upside Down Cake
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
For the balsamic vinegar glaze and strawberry spiral:
- 1 pound fresh strawberries
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup golden balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
For the cake:
- 1 cup sugar
- ¼ cup golden balsamic vinegar
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 3 eggs
- 1 ¾ cup cake flour
- 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ⅔ cups olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray an 8-inch cake pan with olive oil spray. Line the bottom with a circle of parchment paper (this is an important step — it will help your cake release from the pan after baking without disturbing the arrangement of your strawberries). Spray again with olive oil.
Remove stems and slice strawberries vertically. Arrange them in a spiral, starting with the outside layer and overlapping slightly at the bottom of the cake pan.
Combine the brown sugar, golden balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and honey in a stainless steel pan and whisk to emulsify. Bring to a boil and stir frequently until thickened enough that it drips more slowly from your stirring spoon. Remove from heat and pour carefully over the arranged strawberries.
To make the cake batter, start by whisking together in one bowl the sugar, buttermilk, vinegar, and eggs.
In another bowl, whisk together your dry ingredients: the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Add your wet ingredients to your dry ingredients in three stages, stirring to incorporate each time.
Add your olive oil in 3 stages, folding and stirring to incorporate each time.
Slowly and carefully pour the batter over the strawberries. Don’t pour too rapidly, or you’ll displace your carefully-arranged spiral.
Bake for approximately an hour. The cake is done when the top is golden and it has pulled away slightly from the edges of the pan.
Cool for 10 minutes, and then run a knife between the cake and the pan to make sure it is completely loosened.
Put a flat plate atop the pan, and then, using potholders to protect your hands, quickly flip the cake while holding the plate tightly to the pan.
Slowly lift the pan, and the cake will be sitting, covered in parchment paper, on the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and be greeted by a beautiful spiral of sweet-tart fruit atop a golden cake.
Source: indieculinary at Food52c
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55mm lens at F/4.5, 1/50 second at ISO 3200 [no flash]
Thanks to Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson this discussion was lengthy and productive. In tomorrow’s post, I’m going to review Vintage Cakes in detail to give you and overview of the entire book. And why you should definitely go out, but it, and start baking away.
But today, I thought I would give you a specific example of why this cookbook should be on your shelves. No, it should be open on your countertop.
This cake give you an education in baking techniques. I was about to say “new” techniques but this book is Vintage Cakes. This dish is actually called a Blitz Torte and reflects a sturdy history of torte development and baking.
There are two reasons to bake this cake. First, each layer has “two” parts: a bottom of regular cake batter topped with a lovely meringue. Those two layers are “glued” together with an incredible honey custard. The whole wonder is topped with fresh berries. And, we had some leftover custard so we put it on the top layer as base for berries there.
The cake itself is a tender brown sugar treat. The meringue is baked until it is firm, but not crunchy dry. The honey custard is a miracle. It’s lovely here. But I can imagine making it separately and using in a multitude of ways. This custard would be a perfect on pound cake or with strawberry shortcake. It hurts to say this, but whipped cream can be replaced. This custard is the replacement.
We made this cake for that dinner party. We got the “oooh” and “aaah” response we expected. I expected to have left overs to take home the next day for breakfast. I was completely disappointed in that hope. Silly me. Never, never underestimate the power of honey
Berry Crème Fraîche Cake
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
For the honey custard:
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 2egg yolks
- ⅓ cup ( 4 ounces) honey
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted
For the cake:
- 1 cup (4 ounces) sifted cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ ( 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ½ cup (3 ¾ ounces) firmly packed brown sugar
- 4egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 3 tablespoons whole milk
For the meringue topping:
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 egg whites
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ cup toasted and coarsely chopped hazelnuts
- 2 teaspoons Turbinado sugar
First, make the honey custard. Heat the milk over low heat in a small saucepan until hot but not boiling. Meanwhile, thoroughly whisk together in a small bowl the egg yolks, honey, and salt, and then whisk in the cornstarch. Slowly whisk one third of the hot milk into the yolk mixture. Pour this mixture back into the saucepan with the hot milk and gently cook over medium-low heat, whisking steadily, until the mixture begins to thicken and has been bubbling for roughly 1 minute. You will need to stop whisking for a moment to check if it is bubbling. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and whisk in the butter until melted.
Place a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the custard and refrigerate at least until cool, about 1 hour, or keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
To make the cake, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350⁰F.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt and then whisk the ingredients by hand to ensure they are well mixed.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar together on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg yolks two at time. blending well between additions. Combine the milk and the vanilla in a separate cup. On low speed, stir in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.
Divide the thick batter between the prepared pans (there will be approximately 7+ ounces per pan) and spread it evenly out to the edges of the pans. The batter will just barely cover the bottom of each pan. Set the pans aside while you prepare the meringue topping.
To make the meringue topping, put the egg whites and salt into the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whip on low speed until frothy. Gradually increase the speed to medium-high, whipping until the whites forms soft peaks. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Raise the mixer speed again to medium-high peaks. Fold in the vanilla. Spread even amounts of the meringue on top of the cake batter (approximately 5 ounces per pan) and sprinkle with the hazelnuts and Turbinado sugar.
Place the cakes in the middle of the oven and bake until the tops are lightly browned and the cakes have shrunk just slightly away from the sides of the pan, 30 to 35 minutes. Removed the cakes to cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes before removing them from the pans.
To assemble the cake, place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, onto a cake plate. Don’t be nervous about the peaks and valleys of the meringue; this is part of the allure of the cake. Spread the honey cream onto the cake. Place the second layer on top, meringue side up. Serve promptly or refrigerate until ready to serve. This cake is great served with fresh berries either on the side, in the middle, on the top, or all of the above.
If you choose to sandwich this cake with jam [instead of the honey custard] it can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature. If filled with the honey cream, it needs to be kept in an airtight refrigerated container. Either way, the cake is best the day it is made but keeps for up to 2 days.
Source: Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson
Photo Credits: Canon T2i, 18-55mm lens at F/5.0, 1/60 second at ISO 1250 [no flash]