August 25, 2013

Orange buttermilk Bundt cake recipe

Orange buttermilk Bundt cake, rich and creamy.

Last week I went to the market with a shopping list for my weekend cooking, and spied an incredibly beautiful bottle -- bottle! -- of buttermilk from my favorite Vermont dairy on the shelf. It wasn't on the list, and I didn't have a recipe in mind, but I had to have that buttermilk. Right away I thought of cake, one a bake-o-phobe like me could pull off. This orange buttermilk Bundt cake, rich and creamy and large enough for a crowd, gets its zing from orange zest in the batter, and orange juice in the glaze. If you love frosting, bake the cake in a couple of round cake pans, and slather the layers with orange buttercream. I like it simple, so I shaved some additional orange zest on the warm sugar glaze, and it was perfect. One tip: If you're using a decorative Bundt pan, be sure to spray every nook and cranny with baking spray. I had a few small mishaps in the unmolding, but a bit of extra glaze covered them nicely.

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May 7, 2013

Mocha sour cream cake recipe

Perfect for tea time or dessert, you could sneak a piece of this mocha cake for breakfast, too.

At 7:15 in the morning, I fired up the mixer to make the batter for this cake. At 7:28, it went into the oven. At 7:45, I finished cleaning up the flour, sugar, butter and chocolate that had sprayed around the kitchen when I accidentally switched the mixer to high speed too soon. Yes, friends, no matter what time of day I bake, and no matter how much coffee I've had in preparation, baking is always a bit of a misadventure. No matter, this mocha sour cream cake is worth the mess, and a last-minute sprinkling of confectioners sugar on top right before you serve hides any little bits that stick to the pan (I'm sure this never happens to you, right?). Even though I baked it, and tasted it, at breakfast time, it's more of a dessert or tea-time cake, topped with a dollop of whipped cream and served with a rich cup of coffee.

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March 31, 2013

Recipe for lemon poppyseed cake with lemonade glaze

An easy lemon poppyseed cake, with lemonade in the glaze.

If you drive around Rhode Island in the summertime, you'll spot a green-and-white Del's Lemonade truck, emblazoned with a bright yellow lemon, on every corner, at every Little League game, alongside every public beach. Hundreds of college students earn tuition money by driving those little trucks, and serving up the famous iced lemonade to thirsty athletes and happy children. In the off season, you can buy Del's in the supermarket, in a cute plastic bucket filled with packets of the powdered mix, and that's the mix I use in the glaze for this lemon poppyseed cake. Sounds crazy, I know, but combined with real lemon juice, powdered lemonade adds a bit of fun, and an extra pop of lemon, to the icing. (You can use your favorite lemonade mix if you don't have Del's.) The basic sour cream cake recipe comes from Lorna, a reader who sent it to me along with a handmade ceramic cake pan. The cake isn't fussy, which suits my lack of natural baking ability, and it freezes well. Serve it with coffee or tea or -- why not? -- a glass of champagne.

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January 27, 2013

Caribbean gingerbread recipe

Real Caribbean gingerbread, sticky and spicy!

When my husband Ted, Cousin Martin and I visited Trinidad many years ago, we spent a week as houseguests of Kathleen, who lived in Arima, an Afro-Caribbean community in the center of the island. An amazing cook, she introduced us to all of the Trinidadian specialty dishes, washed down with her potent homemade ginger beer. It was the first time I experienced ginger in such a vibrant form, and I've never forgotten that taste. True Caribbean gingerbread overflows with the strong flavors of molasses and fresh ginger root, making it both sticky and spicy, and in no way resembles the gingerbread made from a box mix. I'm not usually drawn to dishes with a strong ginger flavor, but I ate a large square of this gingerbread. And then I ate another, and a third one after that, and Ted did, too. Kathleen would approve.

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August 12, 2012

Chocolate chip spice pound cake recipe, for Julia Child's birthday

Chocolate chip spice pound cake, for Julia Child's birthday, from The Perfect Pantry.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking changed the way the world cooked. A more recent collection of recipes, Julia Child & Company, the companion to her 1978 PBS television series, changed the way I cook. In this book, Julia presented French-inspired recipes for American-style entertaining. From coulibiac to corned beef hash, to a chicken melon ball that nearly defeated my husband Ted and me on a weekend cooking date many years ago, Julia encouraged us to try new menus for all occasions. For this occasion, a celebration of her 100th birthday on August 15, I wanted to bake a cake. Not a fancy French gateau, just a simple cake, and Julia herself came to the rescue with a recipe in JC&Co for a chocolate chip spice pound cake, flavored with mace and vanilla, and made with a combination of white and brown sugars. The first time my friends Bev, Christine and I made this cake, we followed Julia's instructions to the letter. When I made it again, I combined Julia's flavorings with the recipe for Lorna's sour cream cake, and I liked the result even better than the original. Here's my version, an homage to Julia, right down to the plating in my photographs, as you can see on page 212 in the book. Bon anniversaire, Julia. (Be sure to check the PBS Julia Child page for more blogger tributes.)

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  • My name is Lydia Walshin. From my tiny kitchen in Boston's South End, I share recipes that use what we keep in our pantries, the usual and not-so-usual ingredients that spice up our lives.

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