Since Cherry Season is in full swing in Southern California it was decided that a second week of baking products with Cherries was in order. So this weeks project was Cherry/Cornmeal Upside Down Cake. The title implies that there is a lot of Cornmeal in the batter, but there was not. However, the Cornmeal was prominent in feel and in taste. Many of the participants like or loved the Cornmeal but I did not. Maybe I was the only one who didn’t like – no one else said anything negative about it. Of course, I am not a Cornbread Lover, so it figures that I would not be too found of the Cornmeal in this recipe. All that being said, it does give a little different feel and taste to the texture of the cake.
One thing that I did like about this recipe was the addition of Balsamic Vinegar. i do love the taste of Balsamic and I for one think that even a little more than the recipe called for could have been used. I do use Balsamic a lot with fruit, especially summer fruits such as berries and melon.
By the way, just because I am not fond of the Cornmeal in the recipe does not mean that I didn’t like it – I did like it – in fact I loved it, probably because of the Cherries which I can’t stop eating when they are in season. They are my ‘All-Time Favorite Fruit’ and there are many fruits which I absolutely love, especially Summer Fruit. My Husband loved the Cake – in fact we ate it for Breakfast at least two times. This cake is a 10″ cake and offers up quite a few pieces. One of my Sons had it for Dessert one night and one of my Stepdaughters also had it for Dessert one night – both on a different night. The Cake keeps well and needles to say everyone who ate it loved it!
With all that Hyperbole out of the way let’s get to the recipe and finished product itself.
The recipe can be found at the web site of Epicurious
The Ingredients that you may not have on hand are 3 cups of Cherries (most of us used Bing), Balsamic Vinegar and Cornmeal. Everything else in the recipe is pretty common in most kitchens. The recipe does say to use an ‘oven-proof skillet’ but if you don’t have one that can be used as a baking pan, just use a 10″ layer pan or other similar container which is what I did.
You will need to wash and pit your Cherries before starting the recipe but everything else in the recipe is pretty straight forward. Below are some photos of the different steps in the process:
Measure and Wash your Cherries, then remove the pits with either a Hand Cherry Pitter or a Multiple Pitter. (See last Weeks’ Post – Cherry Clafoutis)
Pitters can be found at your local Culinary Store or at Amazon.com.
Or you can do as one of our members did and use chopsticks. You can also do it the very ‘old-fashioned’ way and use a darning needle to push out the pits.
The next thing to do is to melt the Butter with the Brown Sugar and then add the Cherries and bring them to a boil. Shut off the heat after about a minute or so – just to give the Brown Sugar a chance to melt.
Now make your Batter – it is easiest to do this in a Food Processor but if you don’t have one then use whatever would be easiest for you. Then whip the Whites in a Standing Mixer or with a portable mixer. DO NOT TRY TO WHIP THE WHITES IN THE FOOD PROCESSOR – They will just get overheated and not whip properly.
Next gently fold the Whites into the Batter. You can do this in the Food Processor but only use the Pulse Button so that you do not over-mix.
After the Whites are folded into the Batter it is time to pour the Batter over the Cherries and finally to bake the cake.
The Cake is baked when a toothpick or cake tester is inserted into the cake and comes out clean.
Allow the Baked Cake to cool for at least 5 minutes before inverting onto a large plate. In the Photo above right, you can see that the Cherries gravitated towards the edges, but it still tasted good and when sliced and served with Ice Crema or Whipped Cream one cannot see that the Cherries are not completely covering the cake.
Serve warm with Ice Cream or Whipped Cream. The Cake also tastes good cold or at room temperature.
MEMBERS PHOTOS – Featured Photo this week belongs to Kristy Gobright
Cherries are a relatively expensive fruit but when you consider that their season is so short you may be a little more inclined to spend the money on them if you can. I can remember when the price was way lower than they are now but things have changed and Farm Workers are now making more of a ‘living wage’ when they were decades ago. And if you think you are paying a lot of money for Cherries just look at what Christine Rola Biskaduros had to pay for them. (Photo above right) Christine lives in Shanghai and I guess the Cherries were imported although I did think that Cherries do grow in China but I may be wrong.
Elizabeth Bernhardt Mockapetris
A Very Berry Torte was the selection for Week Three of our Sunday Baking Project. The recipe was selected from the book – Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan.
The Torte consisted of a Cookie Crust which differs from the traditional Graham Cracker Crust in that you actually make it from a Sugar Cookie Dough. Jam goes on the bottom and the Cheese Cake Filling goes over the top. It is made in a Spring Form pan which allows you to remove the cake without destroying it – this is especially good when the crust is quite fragile due to the ingredients it is made with. A Spring Form Pan has sides that lock on to the bottom and by use of a spring lock can be removed once the baked product is finished. If you don’t have a Springform Pan you can purchase one at your local Culinary Store or on line at Amazon.com.
The Filling was also a little different than the traditional Cheesecake in that in addition to Cream Cheese it also had Cottage Cheese in the Filling. The Cottage Cheese helped to give the filling a little more texture than normal which turned out quite well.
The preparation of the Torte begins with the Crust which is pretty similar to a traditional Sugar Cookie Dough and it certainly behaves like one in that it is not super easy to work with. To roll the Dough out with as little trouble as possible it is best to refrigerate it first. I did this by flattening the dough into a circle between two pieces of waxed paper. When you do roll it out it is best to roll it between the sheets of waxed paper so it doesn’t break up. You can also press the dough into the Springform pan although I don’t think you can get as even a crust as you would like with this method.
After the Dough is rolled out it is then refrigerated for 30 minutes before baking. To bake the Crust it is best to use a ‘Blind Filling’- a sheet of buttered Aluminum Foil placed on the Dough with Pie Weights. The Weights can be purchased or you can use dried beans. The beans can be stored in an airtight container and used again many times as of course the weights can. The Weights come in various forms – some are metal, others are ceramic. They all work in pretty much the same way and whatever you buy would be up to you.
The recipe said to bake the crust for 30 minutes before removing the weights, but I found that to be a little too long. Try it yourself with different times – every oven is a little different so what I tell you may not work in your oven. I would start out with the suggested time and then adjust it from there if you plan to make the torte again.
After the foil and Weights are removed the crust is returned to the oven for about 5 more minutes to brown the surface. I personally thought the crust was over-done and would definitely try it with less time or maybe not pre-bake at all. If I do bake the Torte without prebaking the Crust I will come back here and post the results.
The Jam is spread over the baked crust – to my taste, 1/3 cup of Jam was not enough to cover the bottom of the crust – next time I would use at least half cup or maybe even more. It is supposed a Berry Tart and you do want to be able to taste it.
1/3 cup thick Berry Jam
To make the Filling the the Cottage Cheese and Cream Cheese are first blended together. Then the Sugar, Salt and Spices are blended and then the Eggs are beaten in. This can all be done in the Food Processor or by hand in a large bowl with a whisk. I think the Food Processor (if you have one) is the preferred method. Much faster and the ingredients will be beaten more thoroughly than if you do it by hand.
9 oz. Brick Cream Cheese
9 oz. Small Curd Cottage Cheese
3/4 C. Sugar
1/4 tsp. Salt
Pinch Ground Cinnamon
Pinch freshly Ground Nutmeg
The Torte should bake for about 60 minutes or until the filling no longer jiggles when the pan is moved. Additional cooking will take place after the heat is shut off and the pan is taken out of the oven. In the older methods of making Cheesecake the instructions say to leave it in the oven (after it has been turned off). I haven’t checked my old recipes but I think the actual baking time would be less. i have the bad habit of over-baking my cheesecakes so if I looked up the old method it would probably be better for me to do it that way.
In the Baked Torte photo you can see the clasp that holds the circular sides onto the bottom of the pan. When the Torte is baked and cooled the clasp is opened and should slide right off. Oftentimes you may have to use a straight-edge spatula to completely separate the cake from the pan.
All in all, this Berry Torte Cheesecake was very good – it tasted delicious even if my version didn’t come out looking beautiful. We had it for Breakfast – after all it does contain Eggs, Cheese and Fruit – items that we often incorporate into our Breakfasts. Of course we didn’t eat the whole thing at once, so it was also eaten for Dessert at another meal.
In the photos below are the plated cake and a slice topped with Whipped Cream.
MEMBERS PROJECT RESULTS
This Past Sunday,May 7th was the second week of our Sunday Baking Project. The selection this week was Lemon Chiffon Cake. It was supposed to be a nice contrast to the ‘Decadent Chocolate Cream Pie’ of last week. Indeed, it was a nice flavor contrast to the Pie but it was decadent in its own right. The Cake was light and flavorful and the curd between the layers was very nice and Lemony, but it wasn’t mouth puckering as lemon can sometimes be. I think maybe, it could have been just a tad more tart – in other words- a little less sugar. Will try it that way sometime. The Italian Buttercream Frosting was indeed the decadent portion of this cake as it was quite Buttery and I loved it!
The Recipe chosen was ‘Lemon-Love Chiffon Layer Cake from the Fearless Baker Cookbook by Erin Jeanne McDowell’. If I didn’t mention this last week, the purpose of the club is to try new recipes which none of us has ever made – not specific to the item but specific to the published recipe. In other words, I am sure that most of us have made Lemon Cake before, but not this specific recipe. There were some things that were done differently than the traditional methods – therefore it makes it a new recipe for all of us.
Before going through the procedure for making the cake please take a look at the photos which will show how the final project is interpreted through different eyes.
Thank You Terrie for allowing me to use your photo for the feature image and I have to apologize to Eileen Delcore Bennet and CM Wolkon but I was unable to upload your photos.
MAKING THE CAKE: This recipe actually took several steps to make and gave us the opportunity to hone different skills.
Before even beginning to prepare the Cake, Curd and Frosting, it is best to Juice and Zest all the Lemons and Lemon Product that you will need. The best Lemons to use for Lemon Desserts are Meyer Lemons if they are available. Right now in Spring, they are readily available, at least in the So. Calif. Farmer’s Markets. The difference between Meyer and Eureka is that Meyer are less tart and better for baked products. Eureka are great for cooking and for drinks like lemonade.
You can Zest the Lemons with a fine grater but it is best to have an actual zesting implement.
In this photo the Meyer Lemons are the ones with the orange hue and the Eureka are the ones front and more yellow.
The first Preparation was for the Lemon Curd which I chose to make the day before. It needed to cool for at least 2 hours so making it a day ahead gives you plenty of time to let it chill. The instructions for this Curd are a little off the norm in that all the ingredients are mixed together and then cooked to the desired thickness. Normally, the Egg Yolks are beaten first, then tempered and then cooked to the proper thickness. Using the traditional method gives you a shorter cooking time but definitely more utensils to clean. Even though the clean-up takes a little longer I do prefer the traditional method. In the photo below, the Curd is covered with plastic wrap which you want to cover the curd with to prevent a crust from forming. The plastic wrap should actually be touching the curd.
The second Step was to make the Cake. Making the Cake, in itself was multi-faceted. It involved:
- Separating the Yolks from the Whites.
2. Sifting together the Dry Ingredients
3. Whisking together the Wet Ingredients (other than Eggs)
4. Beating the Yolks for the Cake Batter – once the Yolks were beaten to almost the desired thickness, the Liquid ingredients were added and beating resumed for one more minutes. Next the Dry Ingredients were added in four separate increments.
5. Beating the Whites to add to the almost finished Batter.
6. Next the Whites were folded into the Batter and then the Batter was divided between two greased and floured Pans. I recommend lining the greased pans with parchment paper to allow for easier cake removal.
7. The Cakes were baked and cooled and then brushed with the Lemon Syrup.
8. Making the Lemon Syrup involved only combining the Lemon Juice with the Sugar and bringing to a boil so that the Sugar is completely dissolved. This takes only minutes.
9. Once split in half there are 4 separate layers. Each one should be brushed with the Lemon Syrup before assembly.
The Fourth Step was to make the Frosting – this involved Beating Egg Whites Again and making a Sugar Syrup and bringing it to the Soft Ball Stage (240 degrees F.)
So All in All, there were a lot of skills involved. Of course it is easier for an accomplished baker to do these things but it is also a good recipe for a novice to learn these skills. All in all, the Cake was delicious in every part of it. I do love Lemon and especially Lemon Curd but do also love the Italian Meringue that covered the cake.