Baking spray (Recipe: Lucia's walnut cake)
Baking spray changed my life.
I don't bake often, or very well, and when I do, I can be a bit of a lazy baker.
Up until a couple of years ago, when a recipe said to "butter and flour the pan", I'd drench my cake pans with cooking spray. Then I'd watch little puddles form in the corners as the spray slid down the sides of the pans.
One day my friend Cindy, an executive pastry chef, introduced me to baking spray -- cooking spray with flour added -- "butter and flour" in a single can.
No sliding, no pooling. You spray, and it stays.
Baker's Joy, which has been around for 25 years, contains soybean oil; PAM Baking Spray and Trader Joe's baking spray are canola oil based. They work well, add no calories or carbs to baked goods, don't leave an aftertaste, and have a shelf-life of forever.
Try baking spray in any recipe that calls for buttering and flouring your cake pan or muffin tin (it's especially handy for reaching into all the crevices of a Bundt pan) -- recipes like banana walnut-oat muffins, pear-walnut cake with honey orange syrup, sweet corn coffeecake, and peanut butter and jelly shortbread wedges.
Baking spray will change your life.
Lucia's walnut cake
From Faith Heller Willinger's Adventures of an Italian Food Lover, this dense, richly flavored, not too sweet cake serves 6-8. Add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream to each plate when you serve, if you wish.
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
Pinch of sea salt
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Do not use a convection oven. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8-inch springform pan with baking spray.
Combine 3 egg whites and 1/3 cup sugar in a heavy saucepan and stir over low heat with a wooden spoon until the mixture looks like melted marshmallows, 10 minutes or more.
In a large bowl, with a whisk, beat the remaining 3 egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff.
Mix the walnuts into the cooked egg whites. Stir a heaping spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the walnut mixture, then fold the remaining whites in carefully. Transfer the batter to the pan, sprinkle the top with the remaining 2 Tbsp sugar, and bake 55-60 minutes, until a toothpick comes out dry.