“What do you think of this?” Suzen showed me a picture. Quite an attractive picture.
“You know I’m color blind,” I said.
“Blue-green. Not red. You don’t run red lights.”
“Not with you in the car,” I said.
“So? What do you think?”
“I think it’s spectacular.” Actually, I could barely contain myself. This recipe is called a cake roll but I much prefer the French roulade. So romantic as the syllables roll out of your mouth. So delicious as each bite goes into your mouth. I always want my Buche de Noel, a chocolate roll that adorns many Christmas day tables. To get a roulade in April seemed to be a late holiday miracle.
Suzen was prepping for a family party, one where folks who had not seen each other in a decade would gather. She, and I, wanted something spectacular. To the eye and to the mouth.
Flo Braker ranks in the very top tier of dessert cookbook authors. Personally, she is a charmingly warm woman, intelligent and skilled. Her books are wonders. They are filled with well-tested, clearly written, and sumptuously delicious recipes. Her latest book, Baking for All Occasions, is a seminal work. I’ll write more about the book and incredible spectrum of treats it offers tomorrow.
Today, here is Flo’s Red Velvet Cake Roll that Suzi made and presented at that family party. Good party. Good, great cake. Our thanks, once again, to Flo.
Red Velvet Cake Roll
Yield: 1 15-inch rolled cake, 12 to 14 servings
For the cake:
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon unsweetened natural cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup milk
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar, 5% acidity
- 4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon liquid red food coloring
For the White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Filling:
- One 9-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
- 5 ounces white chocolate, melted
- 2 ounces unsalted butter, softened
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar, sifted
- ½ teaspoon pure almond extract [or vanilla]
- 1 cup red raspberries, picked over for stems or leaves
- Powdered sugar
- More red raspberries
Before baking: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375⁰ F. Coat a small area in the center of a 15 ½ by 10 ½ by 1-inch pan (jelly-roll pan) with nonstick spray. Line the pan with aluminum foil, pressing the foil into the contours of the pan and leaving a 2-inch overhang at each short end (the spray anchors the foil in place to make buttering easier). Butter the foil, then flour it, tapping out the excess flour. Have all of the ingredients at room temperature.
To make the cake: Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper; set aside. Ina small bowl, stir together the milk, vanilla, and apple cider. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-low speed until creamy and smooth, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and add the granulated sugar in a steady stream. Continue to beat until light in color and fluffy in texture, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on medium speed, add the egg slowly, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating after each addition until incorporated and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. On the lowest speed, add the flour mixture in two or three additions alternately with the milk mixture in one or two additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and mixing after each addition only until incorporated smoothly.
Stop the mixer after each addition and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Maintaining the same speed, add the food coloring and mix well to color the batter evenly. Without delay, spoon the batter into the prepared pan, spreading evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake the cake until it is set on top and springs back when lightly pressed in the center, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the pan to a wire rack. If necessary, run a thin knife blade around the perimeter of the pan to loosen the cake sides. Then pull up on the foil overhang and carefully transfer the cake to a wire rack. Without delay, place a sheet of foil over the cake and manipulate the foil to make a shallow tent (a tent holds in the moisture as the cake cools, but prevents the foil from sticking to the cake). Let cool for about 45 minutes, then proceed to assemble the dessert.
While the cake is cooling, make the White Chocolate-Cream Cheese Filling: In a bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium-low speed until smooth. Pour in half of the chocolate and beat until smooth, stopping the mixer occasionally and scraping the mixture clinging to the sides into the center of the bowl. Pour in the remaining chocolate and beat just until combined. Add the butter and then the sugar and almond extract and beat until smooth and creamy.
Use right away, or store in a covered container in the refrigerator. When ready to use, remove from the refrigerator, bring to room temperature, and beat with a rubber spatula, small whisk, or fork until smooth and creamy. You should have about 1 ⅓ cups.
To assemble the cake: Remove the foil from the top of the cake. Transfer the cake on its bottom sheet of foil to a work surface, placing it so that one of its long sides is parallel to the edge of the surface closest to you. Place another long sheet of aluminum foil on the work surface nearby. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 cup plus about 2 tablespoons of the filling evenly over the cake, leaving a ½-inch border uncovered on the long side farthest from you. (The leftover filling, along with a few berries, makes a good kitchen snack for the baker.) Place the raspberries, if using, randomly on the filling along the length of the cake.
Begin rolling the cake by flipping the edge nearest you over onto itself. Then, with the aid of the foil that extends beyond the short sides, roll up the cake lengthwise until you reach the far long side. As you work, wrap the foil around the roll to assist in rounding the shape
(otherwise the cake will stick to your hands). Place the roll in its foil across the bottom third of a 24-inch-long piece of parchment paper. To compress the cake, pull the rest of the parchment paper up and over the cake towards you. Use a long ruler or a sheet pan to press forward towards the cake on the top of the bottom sheet of the paper while pulling forward towards you on the top sheet.
Carefully lift the roll in the aluminum foil and set it, seam side down, on the fresh sheet of foil. Wrap the cake securely in the foil. Transfer the foil-wrapped roll to a baking sheet or shallow tray and refrigerate for about 30 minutes to help set the filling.
To serve: Remove the cake from the refrigerator and peel off and discard the foil. Carefully lift the roll onto a serving plate with the aid of a long, wide spatula or a rimless baking sheet. (If not serving right away, cover loosely with plastic wrap to keep the cake’s surface from drying out and return to the refrigerator to serve the same day.) Dust the cake with powdered sugar. Using a serrated knife and a sawing motion, cut the roll into ½-inch thick slices. Center each portion on a dessert plate. Accompany with the raspberries.
Source: Baking for All Occasions by Flo Braker
Man goes into a bar. [Sorry, for timing reasons it has to be a man.] The bar is in New York City. The man pulls his stool up to the edge of the bar. Sawdust shuffles as the stool legs scrape along the floor.
The bartender, large and flush, says, “What’ll you have?”
The man says, “A shrub.”
What does the bartender do?
The correct answer depends on what time period we are talking about. If the time is now, then the bartender will turn, pick up a cell phone, and discretely call the nearest NYP precinct. A man drinking a shrub, or wanting to, is a sign of psychological disorder that probably calls for a minimum of 48 involuntary confinement.
On the other hand, if the time is two or three hundred years ago, the bartender will simply say, “What flavor.”
A shrub is a fruit-vinegar-sugar based beverage that contains no alcohol, but has powerful intensity. I’ll just say that the note of vinegar as you put your nose to glass can be strong, but the flavor of the beverage itself has just a pleasantly sour note on top of the underlying fruit base.
If you love lemonade, if you want a distinctive beverage with a non-alcoholic punch, then shrubs are in your future. This first recipe comes from Clementine Paddleford’s The Great American Cookbook. This raspberry shrub hails from Maine, in fact from the kitchen of the late Senator Margaret Chase Smith. Her husband raised bushels of raspberries in Skowhegan, Maine – the site nowadays of the famous Kneading Conference. What goes better than bread and berries?
Raspberry Shrub Syrup and Beverage
Yield: 5 cups of syrup, enough for 20 1-cup beverages
- 4 quarts fresh raspberries
- 1 quart of cider vinegar
- 5 cups of sugar
Clean and pick over the berries. In a large bowl, cover the berries with the vinegar. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a cool, dry place for 4 days.
When the berries are ready, strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing gently on the solids and then discarding them. What remains should be clear red raspberry juice with no pulp or seeds.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine the raspberry mixture and sugar and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.
Pour the syrup into a bowl or bottle, cover, and chill in the refrigerator.
To make a shrub beverage: Serve the syrup diluted, with three parts cold water to one part syrup. Fill a tall glass with crushed ice and pour in the syrup. Tinkle it, whiff it, sip it, and smile.
Note: I did cheat at the end, adding a little sugar syrup to just dull the edge of the vinegar. I’m going to be practicing. And, there are other shrub recipes in the mill.
Source: The Great American Cookbook by Clementine Paddleford