Monday, August 29, 2011

Rhubarb Pudding Cake

I’m always looking to expand my arsenal of simple fruit cake recipes (more on fruit cakes—not the Christmas kind). This recipe is a fast contender for a summer favorite. You beat together some butter, sugar, an egg and flour, and plop the batter over chopped fruit. The recipe calls for rhubarb, but this would work just as well with apples.  The batter spreads as it bakes, creating a cake layer to cover the jammy, pudding-y fruit.

Here’s the recipe, via the Journal Sentinel’s Sunday food section, with a few modifications.

Cube rhubarb or apples into ½-inch chunks—you should have about four cups. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine 1cup flour, 1 ¼ tsp. baking power and 1/8 tsp. salt; set aside. In a big bowl, beat 5 tablespoons unsalted, room-temperate butter with a mixer until smooth. Add 2/3 cups sugar, beat well. Add 1 tsp. vanilla extract, ¼ tsp. cinnamon and 1 egg; beat well. Add the flour and ½ cup milk alternately to the sugar mixture; combine until just smooth.

Butter an 8-inch baking dish and spread the fruit in the dish. Sprinkle with about 2/3 cup sugar (less, maybe ½ cup, if you’re using apples, especially if they’re on the sweeter side). 

Spoon batter over the fruit—don’t worry if it doesn’t cover all the fruit; the batter will spread and plump up while baking. Bake about 45 minutes, and let cool before eating.

Good with whipped cream or ice cream…but who am I kidding, perfect when eaten with a spoon right out of the pan.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Finds in the Fridge

It still surprises me that after nearly 20 years in the U.S., my parents and I keep distinctly Russian food in our
respective fridges.

Like thrifty Soviets, we store it all in recycled plastic containers. (There's no Container Store in Russia, you know.)

Case in point:

What's this? Yogurt, you say? Oh, no.

It's homemade pickles!

And what's this? Iced tea, you guess? Nope--it's homemade kvass.

I doubt we're the only immigrants who do this sort of thing. What "native" food do you have in the fridge? Tell me on the Yulinka Cooks Facebook page. (Like my cross--*caugh* self--promotion?)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

A Different Kind of Fruit Cake

I’ve never made a layer cake with frosting in my life, but I do like baking fruit cakes. Not the kind you make for Christmas (though I suspect they get an undeservedly bad rap), but simple cakes that involve fruit covered in batter. They’re easy to make, reasonably light, work for breakfast or dessert, go well with coffee, tea, milk, etc.

Sour apples like Granny Smith work really well in these cakes, but so do rhubarb, strawberries, peaches, blueberries--anything that's tart. You don't need to do anything with the fruit besides cut it into chunks, and frozen berries work great. It doesn’t hurt to add a bit of vanilla or cinnamon to the batter. See the recipes below for details.

These are the variations I like:

The classic Russian charlotte: 3 eggs, 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, ½ tsp. baking powder; mix; pour over fruit chunks; bake 60 minutes at 370. Here's my old apple charlotte recipe.

Yogurt cake: Similar to the above, but with 1/2 cup of  plain yogurt and sour cream, and a bit of oil for extra richness.A few weeks ago I made this cake using peaches for the fruit; recipe here.

Buttery cakes with a bit of yogurt or kefr for richness and moisture. See this rhubarb cake recipe for details.
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