Monday, October 20, 2008

SHF #48

This is my first time submitting post to SHF. Anita from Dessert First chose spice for this month’s theme. I like spice cake. It's perfect for October when the weather is cold, the sky is grey and the leaves are turning yellow. Nothing is better than sitting by the window, having a slice of warm, rich, aromatic spiced cake in a lazy afternoon and listening to your neighbours raking the leaves.

I made a Spiced-Quince Butter Cake from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course. Unlike most of the spice cake which normally are sticky, dark and dense, this cake has a very light, fine crumbs. The poached quince in the cake tasted like honey. It’s sweet, fragrant and somewhat chewy. The different texture between the cake and the poached quince is very fulfilling. I served it with candied walnuts as suggested by Claudia Fleming and Vanilla Bean Ice-cream and the combination of the three is magical. :)

The other dessert I made for this month's SHF is Regan Daley's Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake with a Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce. This one is a combination of tart & sweet, sticky & crunchy. A few different spices were used in this recipe but the taste is very subtle. It sure did save room for the flavour of the apple & brandy to shine. On top of the cake is the brandy sauce which gives this cake a different layer of coziness.

I can't choose one cake over the other. These two cakes are very different from each other. The quince cake is very elegant and unusual as for a spice cake. Daley's apple cake is everything you are expecting for a fall dessert. Try them both. They are both very easy to make and are perfect to make ahead in the morning for your dinner party at night.

End note: As much as I like spice cake, making one at home is a real challenge. The reason is that Frank is not a big fan of spice cake. (He loves spices in cooking but not too familiar with spices in baking) It took over an hour to poach the quince. And Frank asked me, "When is this spice project going to be ended?". Thankfully, he likes both of the cake, especially the quince cake. Otherwise, it will be hard for me to make them again at home.

Spiced-Quince Butter Cake

Serves 6 to 8

1 large quince, peeled, cored, and cut into 16 slices
1½ cups sugar
1 cup dry white wine
1 whole clove stuck into a 2-inch strip of orange peel
½ cinnamon stick
1 star anise
3 cups water

½ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1-1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
½ cup almond flour
1/3 cup cake flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
4 large egg whites (1/2 cup)
½ tsp grated orange zest
Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan

1. To prepare the quince, in a large saucepan, combine the quince and all the ingredients. Cut a round of parchment paper slightly smaller than the pot and lay it on top of the quince (this will keep the fruit submerged; you can also use a sturdy, heatproof plate). Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the quince is tender and spongy, about 1¼ hours. Let the quince cool in the poaching liquid. Drain the quince pieces on layers of paper towel. Discard the liquid.

2. To make the cake, preheat the oven to 400oF. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to let the butter cook until the white milk solids fall to the bottom of the skillet and turn a rich hazelnut brown. Strain the browned butter through a fine sieve into a clean bowl, discarding the solids.

3. Sift together the confectioners’ sugar, almond flour, cake flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom. Place the sifted ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. On the lowest speed, add the egg whites and orange zest; mix until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase the speed to medium and beat until very smooth. Decrease the speed to low and stir in the browned butter, then increase the speed to medium and beat until smooth.

4. Butter a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom or a springform pan. Pour in the batter and smooth the top. Arrange the quince slices on the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely. Remove the sides of the pan before serving.

Candied Walnuts

Yield: 2 cups

2 cups walnuts
3 tbsp simple syrup
¼ cup turbinado (raw) sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350oF. In a large bowl, toss the walnuts with enough of the simple syrup to coat them well. The nuts should be sticky and well coated with enough syrup so the sugar will stick.

2. Add the turbinado sugar to the walnuts, tossing well. Work quickly so that the sugar doesn’t melt. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, stirring the nuts after 5 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Sticky Spiked Double-Apple Cake

Serves 10 to 12

1 cup Lexia, Muscat or sultana raisins
1/3 cup brandy
1 cup unsulphured dried apple slices
½ cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1½ tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves (preferably freshly ground)
1½ cups tightly packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
¾ cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
2 medium-sized tart cooking apples, one peeled, one unpeeled, both cored and cut into ½ inch pieces
Additional unsalted butter, at room temperature, for greasing the pan

1. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the brandy for 45 minutes. Add the dried apple slices and macerate for a further 15 minutes. Do not drain!

2. Preheat the oven to 325oF. Butter a 9 x 13-inch pan and line the bottom and up the two long sides with a sheet of parchment paper, letting the paper hang over the edges by an inch or so. Lightly butter the paper. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, blend both sugars. Add the eggs and beat on medium speed until thickened and pale, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to blend. Fold in the dry ingredients in two additions, mixing just enough to moisten most but not all of the flour. Add the dried fruit and brandy mixture, chopped pecans and diced fresh apple, then fold them into the batter with long, deep strokes. Don’t fret about the ratio of fruit to batter – there is a remarkable amount of fruit but it bakes into a wonderfully chewy cake.

4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and set in the centre of the oven. Bake until the centre springs back when lightly touched, a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan (about 1 hour and 10 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack and cool. Serve warm or at room temperature with the warm Brown Sugar-Brandy Sauce.

Sugar-Brandy Sauce

Yield: 2¼ cups

1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup whipping cream
2½ tbsp brandy

1. Combine the butter, sugars and cream in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir this mixture over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then increase the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a very gentle boil, stirring all the while. Cook 5 more minutes, then remove from the heat and stir in the brandy.


Lisa said...

Both cakes look amazing! Nice photos.

San-Yuan Chen said...


Winnie said...

Thank you. These two cakes are very easy to make. Try it out.