I made that!

Introducing the Strawberry Cake

Posted in All Sugar All The Time, Celebrating with Cake!, Southernness by brandi on September 26, 2011

There’s no getting around the fact that strawberries make things pink, which given my obsession with all things strawberry flavored, inherently makes me a sucker for pink food. But there’s one pink food that totally beats all the other pink food out there: strawberry cake. It’s a southern staple, a cake I hunt for every time I’m in Alabama. I’ve been perfecting my recipe for several years, but was waiting to share it until after teaching it in my Southern Cakes class at The Pantry (so much fun!). And it was hard keeping it to myself. Especially after a certain magazine that shall remain nameless (shame on you!) printed a particularly icky version (strawberry extract? gross!). But the truth is, like most southern cakes, this cake comes from a humble place. Try finding a great recipe online and it’s easy to be turned off by the miles of recipes calling for yellow cake mix and strawberry jello. Hence the several years… But alas! I can now have my pink cake and eat it too.

It starts with a bright batter flecked with puréed strawberries.

And ends with layers of perfect strawberry cream cheese frosting.

Now go find yourself an 8 year old girl’s birthday party, while there’s still one more week of strawberries at the market!

SOUTHERN STRAWBERRY CAKE:

Yield: 1 three layer 8″ cake

10 ounces (2 1/2 cups) cake flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/3 cup buttermilk

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 vanilla bean

4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature, beaten

1 cup pureed strawberries

1 teaspoon lemon zest

- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter three 8” cake pans and line with rounds of parchment. Set aside.

- In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

- In another medium bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, and almond extract. Set aside.

- Split and scrape out the seeds from the vanilla bean. Rub the seeds into the sugar. In an electric mixer, beat the butter and vanilla sugar with the paddle attachment until it forms a paste. Add the eggs in a slow stream, beating well after each addition. Beat for 1 minute at medium speed. Gradually add the buttermilk mixture and beat for 1 minute at medium speed.

- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture. Mix until just combined. Stir in the pureed strawberries and the lemon zest.

- Spoon into the prepared cake pans and bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center. Cool before removing from the pan.

STRAWBERRY CREAM CHEESE FROSTING:

1 pound cream cheese, room temperature

6 ounces unsalted butter

1 cup powdered sugar

6 tablespoons strawberry jam

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons∑ lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth.

- Sift in the powdered sugar, and beat on low speed until incorporated. Add the strawberry jam, vanilla, lemon juice and salt, and beat well to incorporate. If the frosting is lumpy from the sugar, bump the speed up to medium-high continue beating until smooth.

Homemade Hot Sauce!

Posted in Don't BUY it, MAKE it!, I Like Salt Too, Southernness by brandi on September 7, 2011

Sunday night we had our first Down South dinner at The Pantry. Boiled peanuts, homemade saltine crackers with pimento cheese and smoked ham, succotash, fried chicken, buttermilk biscuits. I have to admit, it was kind of amazing. Maybe I’m biased to Southern food in general, but there was something beautiful about watching complete strangers sit around the table and get in there with their fingers. The thing that threw it over the edge for me?

Homemade hot sauce.

You know the stuff. It’s pretty. It’s hot. It’s usually that  awesome shade of orange that I can never find a paint chip to perfectly match. It makes me drool a little just to think about it. I’ve been buying this one brand, Youk’s, for years. The problem is that they only sell it online or in San Francisco, at this restaurant called Maverick. Needless to say, carting it back to Seattle after every trip got a little tedious. And once you’ve had the good stuff, it’s just hard to go back to Tabasco or Tapatío. If you’re as much a fan of the stuff as I am, then this is a very good day. I made it with my friend Brandon one day, a couple of weeks ago. It was kind of a shot in the dark, involving us poking around on the web for Southern-style recipes, then just winging it. It actually surprised me with how good it is. Who knew I had such little faith in myself? Anyhoo, get yourself to the farmer’s market before the peppers are gone, you’ll thank me.

We started by tossing some fresno chiles in olive oil and then roasting them in the wood-fired oven at Delancey for a bit. After they got nice and browned, we pureed them in a food processor with just enough vinegar to make them move around in there comfortably.

Then we placed the whole blob of pepper paste in a strainer and smashed it through. We took the liquid that came through and adjusted it with more vinegar, some water and lots of salt. And that’s it. So darn simple.

And crazy good. We made about 6 cups of it and have already gone through a quart. In two weeks. There’s been a lot of heartburn at The Pantry this month, but no one’s complaining.

Hot Sauce Recipe:

1 lb Fresno chiles

15 TBSP distilled vinegar

1 TBSP water

1 3/4 tsp kosher salt

- Trim the stems off of the chiles, leaving the base that the stem attaches to. Rumor has it that that part gives great flavor. Who am I to challenge a good culinary rumor?

- Toss the chiles in enough olive oil to coat them. Then roast them in a broiler, or grill them if you can. The goal is to get a nice char on them.

- Puree them in a food processor or blender with enough vinegar to keep them moving.

- Strain them through a fine sieve, smashing the whole time to get as much of the pulp as possible.

- Add the water, salt and the rest of the vinegar and pop in the fridge to chill for a few days. You can certainly eat it immediately, but it only gets better with time.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 689 other followers