July 30, 2010

Chow's Ginger Cake

As always, I start to make the recipes from the cOven with some trepidation, and this one as much as any – probably because it was an attempt to recreate a particular dessert from a particular restaurant – and one that had been showered with glowing praise.

And I had decided that I was going to attempt to make it gluten-free, as my partner is a bit wheat-intolerant. Plus, since corn syrup is hard to find in Australia, I was going to substitute golden syrup and use whatever molasses I could find. (In the end, I think it may have been blackstrap after all, after the recipe advised not to use that!).

I had intended to cook this earlier in the week, but when we decided to have a lovely dinner at home on Friday night, it seemed the perfect dessert after home-made prawn cutlets, and roast chicken and vegies for main.

It was easy to make, though I found the order of doing some things intriguing. I had to cook it a bit longer than suggested, possibly because of the gluten-free flour, or the fact that my oven is getting old.

And it was delicious. The two types of ginger and other spices made it a bit sharp, set off by the caramel sauce. I didn’t have the energy for making the special cream (nor does my waistline need it either!) We had it with natural yoghurt – which also worked really well!

It was really great. My partner said that he thought it was really lovely too!

And there is more for dessert tonight & tomorrow!

July 28, 2010

Best of Intentions

Well, there I was, almost 38 weeks pregnant and feeling pretty good. Looking forward to making a fabulous ginger cake to take to a friend's dinner party this weekend. It was going to be great.

...and then...last night...I sneezed. And all my hopes were dashed.

Turns out I pulled a muscle in my back, if you can believe it. Who does that? Apparently pregnant women in their 38th week do that, all the time. And so the ginger cake, I'm afraid, is not going to be made this month. I can barely breathe deeply; never mind trying to whip and mix and bake a 3 component cake. Sigh.

But I've been so very delinquent in my blogging in the last couple months, despite the fact that I've been baking! So I thought that my time recuperating from my fateful sneeze could be spent blogging about baked goods passed. So here we go...

May: Free For All

I made April's recipe for my freebie.
Check out my fruit tart!

This was my very first fruit tart ever. And I was really pleased with the recipe. It was very straight forward and almost fool-proof. What amazed me was how quickly the pastry cream turned from soupy to custard. I looked away for a second, and there it was. Yum.

I was a bit intimidated by the idea of arranging the fruit, but I think it turned out pretty well. And well, as my mom always says, it all tastes the same in your stomach!

June: Crepes

For the first time in a while, Jay and I were able to wake up late on a Saturday morning. And it was a beautiful Saturday morning, for that matter. So obviously, it was the perfect opportunity to make a special breakfast: Spinach, portabello mushroom and gruyere crepes and dessert crepes with varying combinations of strawberries, honey-sweetened ricotta cheese and nutella. Dessert after breakfast--can't beat that.

July 6, 2010

July Recipe: Chow's Ginger Cake

This month's recipe was chosen by Gretchen. The recipe for Ginger Cake below is her absolute favorite dessert. It comes from a great restaurant here in San Francisco, CHOW, and the recipe was published by SF Gate who also admire chef Tony Gulisano's recipe. Gretchen is challenging us to replicate this dessert and "attempt to achieve the gooey, moist, delicious consistency that Chow achieves every time". 

There are three components to the recipe - the cake, caramel and whipped cream. If you read through the SFGate article, it suggests serving it with Vanilla Ice Cream, or Pumpkin Ice Cream like Chow does, but the recipe only calls for whipped cream. Feel free to make your own ice cream in addition to this months recipe if you have the equipment. Try also to stick as close to the original as possible so we can see who makes the gooiest cake possible. Sorry to those of you who don't live in San Francisco and have no frame of reference for this cake (I haven't eaten here yet so I'm just as clueless). But, I have a feeling you will be able to make it.... and possibly even enjoy it. If you need to make adjustments for dietary restrictions feel free. Here is one source for substitutions

Remember to post during the last week of the month and by the 31st. Looking forward to seeing your cakes!

Credit: Craig Lee / Special to The Chronicle; styled by Julia Mitchell

Chow's Ginger Cake with Caramel Sauce and Whipped Cream
SF Gate, courtesy of Chow Restaurant, San Francisco
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The secrets:

Two kinds of ginger: Loads of fresh ginger, backed by the powdered product, gives the cake a fresh spike of flavor. Dark molasses: This adds a rich, earthy element to the blend. Warming before serving: While the cake is good cold, it tastes even better gently reheated in the oven. Caramel sauce: The caramel adds a pleasant dose of sweetness and sets this cake apart. Serves 16
Ginger cakeButter and flour to prepare pan
2 ounces ginger, peeled and finely grated on a Microplane (about 3 tablespoons)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup rice bran oil or other neutral flavored oil
3/4 cup dark molasses (see Note)
4 large eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon baking soda
Caramel sauce1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup heavy whipping cream at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), cut into pieces
Whipped cream1 cup very cold heavy whipping cream
1/4 teaspoon Tahitian vanilla extract
1 tablespoon powdered sugar, + more to garnish
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly butter a 9- by 9-inch cake pan and dust very lightly with flour or line with parchment paper (see Note).
Combine ginger with 1/2 tablespoon water in a mixing bowl; add sugar, oil and molasses. Mix on low speed. Add eggs; continue mixing at low speed until fully incorporated.
Combine flour, cinnamon, cloves, white pepper, ground ginger and baking soda in another mixing bowl. Add dry ingredients slowly to the egg mixture, continuing to beat slowly, scraping mixing bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium for 2 minutes. Scrape; decrease speed to low and slowly add 3/4 cup hot tap water. Mix until just combined, occasionally scraping. (The batter will be slightly thin.)
Pour into prepared cake pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes.
For the caramel sauce: In a medium-size stainless steel pot, combine sugar and 1 3/4 cups hot water, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add corn syrup and cream of tartar; mix. Wipe down the inside of the pot with a wet towel to remove any sugar crystals. If needed, also brush inside of pot just once with a wet pastry brush. Bring to a boil over high heat without stirring, until mixture becomes a deep caramel color or a candy thermometer reaches 335°.
Remove pot from heat and immediately add cream in a slow stream while stirring (be careful - it will pop and sputter). Whisk in salt and the butter, a little at a time.
The caramel sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated. Carefully reheat in a water bath or in a microwave before using. Makes approximately 2 cups.

For the whipped cream: Vigorously whisk cream, vanilla extract and powdered sugar in a cold bowl until the cream reaches soft peaks. You want the cream to be relatively soft so it can slowly run over the sides of the cake. Makes about 2 cups; refrigerate leftovers to use another time.
To finish: (At Chow, the cake is cut into 2-inch squares and reheated 2 1/2 minutes in a 350° oven.) Place the cake square in a shallow bowl, top with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream. Finish with a dusting of powdered sugar.
Note: If you plan to turn the cake out of the pan before cutting, also use the parchment paper, which helps the cake release more easily. Dark molasses (also labeled "full") is more intensely flavored and less sweet than light or mild molasses. Avoid using blackstrap, which is less sweet and has a stronger flavor than dark molasses.

July 1, 2010

My House is a Crepe House

I hope all of you had a nice time making crepes this month. Check out my post on the Lovely Lady Baker blog!