1 Apt. 2B Baking Co.: May 2013

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy Birthday

birthday cake birtday cake

birthday cake

birthday cake

Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake with Roasted Strawberry Frosting

oreo cake


birthday cake 

Ombre Cake

birthday cake-

I hope you all don't mind if I take a brief break from the rhubarb extravaganza today because today is P's birthday (mine too!) and I haven't yet added a rhubarb cake to my repertoire. We never make a big deal out of celebrating because frankly, being the center of attention in any circumstance makes me nervous, but I always like to dust off my turntable to make us a cake. This year, I think I am going to keep it simple with an angel food cake covered in the first strawberries of the season and billowy mounds of whipped coconut cream. I think I'll probably pick up some donuts too, for good measure. I'll make sure to report back if it's good.

Here are some cakes from the archives that would all make excellent birthday treats

A Chocolate Cake Fit For Celebrations: Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Almond Cake with Cherry Filling and Ombre Frosting
Brown Sugar Buttermilk Cake with Roasted Strawberry Meringue Buttercream
Vanilla Poundcake with Vanilla Buttercream and Raspberries
Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Swiss Meringue Buttercream

And a bonus tip:

Try adding crushed Oreos or Newman O's to vanilla buttercream for cookies and cream frosting or a hefty dose (4 tablespoons or so, dissolved in the milk) of instant espresso powder for coffee frosting. Better yet, add them both and call it Cappuccino Cookie Frosting, delish.

birthday cake

Friday, May 24, 2013

Buckwheat Shortcakes with Roasted Rhubarb

buckwheat shortcakes with roasted rhubarb

roasted rhubarb

It took me about 5 years of owning Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert before I got around to making these buckwheat shortcakes. I somehow convinced myself that I didn't really like shortcakes of any varitey, but I think it's more that I didn't like the memory of spongy and dry store-bought "shortcakes" topped with bland berries and cream. I probably don't have to tell you that these are anything but bland and boring.

buckwheat shortcakes with roasted rhubarb

I've been itching to share this recipe for weeks now, but due to a few photographic mishaps I've had to be patient. I first made these shortcakes months ago for a photo shoot, but only took a couple of photos with black and white film (which simply wouldn't do), then I made them again when I had some lovely ladies over for lunch, but my camera was being fussy and it turns out I lost a whole roll of photos because of it. After that lunch, I received the generous gift of rhubarb (Camille, this is still yours!) and I decided to bake these shortcakes again and roast up my last few stalks of rosy-red rhubarb to tuck inside them. 

buckwheat shortcakes with roasted rhubarb-1-2

These shortcakes would pair well with just about any spring or summer fruit you like. So far, I've tried them with strawberries and rhubarb (separately, of course) and it is safe to say that "piled on top of a buckwheat shortcake" has been added to my list of favorite ways to consume fruit as dessert. I am already dreaming of the peach shortcakes I plan to make in a few months.

buckwheat shortcakes with roasted rhubarb

Buckwheat Shortcakes
yield 9 shortcakes
adapted from Alice Medrich's Pure Dessert

Not only are these litte shortcakes incredibly delicious but they are so, so easy to put together. They are a one-bowl affair that take all of 5 minutes to put together. You don't even have to bother with cutting in any butter, easy.

5 ounces all purpose flour
1 3/4 ounces buckwheat flour
1 3/4 ounces granulated sugar, plus a bit more for sprikling
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces heavy cream

Preheat oven to 425º and line a baking sheet with a slipat or 2 layers of parchment paper. The double layer of paper is to prevent the bottoms from scorching.

1. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients except the heavy cream.
2. Make a well and pour in the heavy cream. Stir gently to combine, making sure to not overmix.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times to make sure the dough is well mixed. Pat the dough into a 6'' square about 3/4'' thick, then cut it into 9 equal squares.
4. Put the shortcakes onto the prepared baking sheet about 1'' apart and brush the tops with the dregs of heavy cream left in the measuring cup. Sprinkle the tops with a bit of sugar and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden and the shortcakes are baked through. Cool before filling.

Roasted Rhubarb
This is more of a loose formula than a formal recipe, feel free to play with the flavors here.

1 lb rhubarb
2 ounces sugar (or more to taste)
2 strips of lemon zest
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
a tablespoon or so of water or orange juice

Preheat oven to 375º

Cut the rhubarb into 2'' lengths and in a glass baking dish, toss with the sugar, lemon zest, vanilla bean seeds and pod and the water or juice. Set it aside for about 5 minutes to macerate while the oven heats. Cover the dish with foil. Bake the rhubarb until it is soft and has begun to release its juices, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly and remove the vanilla bean pod and lemon zest before using.

To Assemble the Shortcakes

You'll need the shortcakes, roasted rhubarb, and a generous amount of whipped cream (creme fraiche would also be delicious here).

Slice the shortcakes in half, top with a generous spoonful of roasted rhubarb and top with whipped cream. Enjoy immediately.

buckwheat shortcakes with roasted rhubarb
buckwheat shortcakes with strawberries-1

Monday, May 20, 2013

Small Batch Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

rhubarb jam-1
rhubarb jam-1-3
rhubarb jam-1-2

I didn't really plan it this way, but May is shaping up to be rhubarb month here at Apt. 2B so I hope you'll forgive me for another (few) rhubarb recipe(s). Today, I am sharing my favorite, very simple rhubarb preserve. I usually make this a few times throughout the season to enjoy stirred into my morning yogurt, but I always end up eating a lot of it straight from a spoon. The natural sweetness of vanilla is the perfect match for rhubarb's natural tartness and the heat from a bit of fresh ginger livens up the whole mess. Most rhubarb jam recipes call for equal parts rhubarb and sugar, but I really enjoy the tart pucker of rhubarb so I cut the sugar down to almost half of that amount. Feel free to add a bit more if you like things on the sweeter side.

Small Batch Rhubarb and Ginger Jam
yield, about 16 ounces 

1lb rhubarb stalks
7 ounces sugar
2'' piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated finely
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
juice of one lemon

1. Chop the rhubarb into 1/2'' pieces and place it in a bowl. Add the sugar, grated ginger, vanilla bean seeds and pod, and lemon juice. Stir to combine well, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the mixture rest for 4 hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.
2. After a bit of rest the rhubarb mixture should be nice and juicy. Transfer the mixture to a non reactive pan and cook over medium high heat, stirring occasionally until the jam begins to boil and the rhubarb starts to break down.
3. Raise the heat to high and boil for 10-15 minutes or until set, being careful not to let the bottom scorch. Begin checking the jam for doneness at about 10 minutes. I generally use the wrinkle test to check for doneness with this type of jam, but if you like numbers you can cook it to 220ºF.
4. Remove the vanilla pod and save it for another use.Transfer the jam to clean jars and store in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Alternately, process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for shelf stable jam.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Almond Ice Milk with Strawberry and Rhubarb Salad

almond ice milk with rhubarb salad

This combination of frosty almond milk and tart, fresh rhubarb is raw, gluten free and vegan (for honey eating vegans, of course). I know to some that sounds totally boring, but for as much as I like buttery treats, I also crave a bit of lightness (especially when the weather warms up) and this dessert totally has that going on. I am usually not a fan of the classic strawberry and rhubarb combo, but the pucker of raw rhubarb (still Camille's batch!) is nicely mellowed by the addition of sweet strawberries, a bit of honey, and some fresh mint to make an utterly refreshing, cool, and crisp salad. The almond ice milk is a pretty neutral, granita base that will work well with a number of different fruits and I imagine fresh or roasted stone fruit later in the summer would be delicious here, so feel free to give this recipe your own spin. Oh, and you could certainly make this dessert richer by adding some whipped coconut cream on top (for dairy avoiders) or a bit of whipped cream (for dairy fans).

Almond Ice Milk
yield about 3 cups
I like the bit of texture that adding some almond pulp back in to the ice milk gives the mixture, but if you'd like a smoother icy-treat leave out the pulp. This would also work well with cashews. If you've ever made a granita like this, then you know that it is just about the easiest frozen treat to put together, save the "popsicles" I used to make out of orange juice poured into in ice cube trays and stuck with a stick (tell me you made those when you were a kid too).

5 1/2 ounces raw almonds
24 ounces filtered water (plus more to soak the almonds)
2 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup (or to taste)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
pinch salt

1.  Add almonds to a large container and cover with filtered water. "et the almonds soak for at least 4 hours or overnight then drain the almonds and add the 24 ounces of filtered water and blend thoroughly. Strain the mixture through a nut milk bag (a phrase that makes my inner teenager giggle) or through a strainer lined with cheesecloth. If desired, add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the nut meat back into the strained milk for texture.
2. Add the sweetener of your choice, vanilla, almond extract and salt to the almond milk and blend to combine.

3. Pour the mixture into an 8x8 or 9x9 baking dish. Taste the mixture and if you find it to be not sweet enough add in a bit more sweetener and stir to dissolve. Cover the dish with plastic.
3. Slide the dish into the freezer and chill for 1hr. Remove the dish from the freezer and scrape the milk with a fork to break up the crystals, cover and place back in the freezer. Scrape the milk every 30min or so until it is frozen and crystals have formed.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Salad
yield about 2 cups
This salad is sweet-tart and utterly refreshing thanks to a dose of fresh mint.

2 medium stalks rhubarb
1 pound strawberries
2 Tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup(or more to taste)
3 Tablespoons mint leaves, thinly sliced

Dice the rhubarb and strawberries into 1/4-1/2'' pieces small and even pieces are key here. Toss the chopped fruit and honey gently to combine. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes and taste. The fruit should soften slightly and release some of it's juices. Adjust sweetness if necessary then add in the sliced mint right before the salad is served.

To Serve

Layer the ice milk and the rhubarb and strawberry salad in clear glasses. Top with fresh mint leaves. Serve immediately. Try not to spill mint leaves all over the place like I did, what was I thinking ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Rhubarb and Rye Scones

rhubarb rye scones

These simple scones are a riff on this recipe from last summer and have a similar sweet-tart vibe going on. In this variation, the rhubarb is lightly coated in sugar before being incorporated into the dough, ensuring that it bakes up into little jammy pockets. Who doesn't love a jammy pocket? 

rhubarb rye scones

The addition of slightly sweet and nutty rye flour ups the wholesomeness of these scones, but they aren't quite health food, (considering they are loaded with butter, heavy cream and a bit of sugar) but they are a wonderful morning treat for those days when you need one. They'd also be a nice way to surprise your mom this weekend if she is a rhubarb fan, just sayin'.

Yes that is me up there, brandishing my rhubarb triumphantly like an Olympic torch. What can I say, I am crazy for the stuff.

Rhubarb Rye Scones
yield 8-12 scones

4.5 ounces rye flour
6 ounces all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 ounces unsalted butter
3 ounces granulated sugar (a bit less if you really like tart rhubarb flavor)
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
4-6 ounces heavy cream
2 medium stalks rhubarb, cut into 1/2'' pieces
2 Tablespoons crunchy sugar like turbinado or demerara (for sprinkling)

Preheat oven to 400ºF

1. In a small bowl, toss the rhubarb pieces with 2 tablespoons of the sugar. Set aside while you prepare the other ingredients.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, remaining sugar, salt and lemon zest. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture is crumbly. Gently stir in the rhubarb and it's juices if any have accumulated in the bowl.
3. Slowly and gently stir in the heavy cream until the mixture holds together, being careful not to overmix. The dough should be very soft. I usually end up using close to 6 ounces of cream.
4. For small scones, divide the dough into two pieces. On a lightly floured surface pat each piece into a round about 1'' thick and cut each round into 6-8 triangles. Alternately, pat the whole disk into a round 1'' thick and cut into desired shapes.
5. Transfer the scones to a parchment lined baking sheet about 1'' apart and brush the tops of the scones with the dregs of heavy cream leftover in the measuring cup, sprinkle the tops with crunchy sugar and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the freezer and warm before eating

rhubarb rye scones

Monday, May 6, 2013

Rhubarb and Gin Sorbet with Rose Cream

rhubarb gin sorbet with rose cream

When Spring finally arrives every year I don't get worked up about ramps or spring onions when they hit the market. I enjoy sunshine and magnolia blooms and dogwood trees and cherry blossoms just as much as the next gal, but the only thing I really get excited about every May is rhubarb. It is my very favorite vegetable disguised as fruit to cook with and it is so welcome after a long winter of apples and pears.

rhubarb and gin sorbet with rose cream

We get plenty of delicious rhubarb in NYC, but I can never seem to find locally grown barb that is as vibrant in color as the stuff I used to find in the Northwest. I hear it is because those deep red plant starts are hard to find in the Northeast, but thanks to an online friend turned real-life friend I recently found myself with a glut of the most perfectly rosy red stalks of homegrown rhubarb. Camille to the rescue! With gorgeous rhubarb! Maybe I'll just have to keep my eye out for a deep red rhubarb start next time I am visiting my family to bring back with me.

rhubarb gin sorbet with rose cream

This year, to start off my rhubarb extravaganza (and there will be an extravaganza) I bring to you this wonderfully complex dessert that is surprisingly simple to put together. It is cool and tart, floral and herbal, creamy and sweet all in one. If I was Southern I might say, y'all gotta try this one. Instead I will say, seriously you guys, if you have an ice cream machine this should be the first thing you make with it this Spring.

If you peek over at the sidebar you may notice something new and very exciting. I am so happy to announce that this here blog was featured as one of Saveur's Sites We Love. You can check out the post here.

Oh, and sorry for the extended break between my last post. I'll be back soon, with more rhubarb! More rhubarb recipes from the archives of this blog can be found here.

Rhubarb and Gin Sorbet with Rose Cream

Rhubarb and Gin Sorbet 
yield, roughly one quart
The herbal flavor of gin complements the sweet-tartness of this rhubarb sorbet wonderfully and the small amount of alcohol makes the frozen sorbet perfectly scoopable. If you don't like gin, feel free to substitute vodka or leave the booze out entirely for a more family-friendly treat. Just make sure to thaw the sorbet for a few minutes before scooping.

8 ounces water
7 ounces granulated sugar
1 lb rhubarb stalks, the rosiest red ones you can find, chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 Tablespoons lime juice (or the juice of one juicy lime)
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
2 Tablespoons gin, plus a bit more to serve (I used Hendrick's)

1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium sized saucepan and heat on medium high, stirring occasionally until  the sugar dissolves. Add in the rhubarb and simmer until the rhubarb is very tender and beginning to fall apart, about 10 minutes.
2. Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender (or use an immersion blender) and blend until smooth. Add in the lime juice and corn syrup. Chill thoroughly.
3. Just before churning, stir in the gin. Freeze the chilled mixture in an ice cream machine, according to the manufacturer's instructions. Store in the freezer in an airtight container.

Rose Cream
The soft perfume of rose water goes beautifully with tart rhubarb sorbet, but if you don't like the idea of flowers in your food feel free to leave it out. The sorbet is wonderful on its own. For vegan rose cream, try whipping chilled coconut milk. Instructions can be found on this post from the archives.

4 ounces chilled heavy cream
4-8 drops rose water
2 teaspoons granulated sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it)

Whip the cream to soft peaks then add in the sugar, followed by the rose water (one drop at a time) until desired flavor is reached.

To Serve

Top scoops of sorbet with a few drops of chilled gin and a spoonful of rose cream.

rhubarb gin sorbet with rose cream
rhubarb and gin sorbet with rose cream rhubarb gin sorbet with rose cream