12
Mar

Tartine Baking Project: #48 Zucchini and Orange Marmalade Tea Cake

Yesterday we walked around our neighborhood, SANS COATS!, and soaked up some serious Vitamin D.  As always, the warm weather brought out the kiddos, the runners, the walkers…and the crazies of our lovely neighborhood.  My day was equally parts outside, and in the kitchen.  I must say that I cannot wait for the bounty of food that spring and summer promise.  I try hard to shop in season as best as I can, so I am just yearning for fresh fruit and veggies!!!  There aren’t enough exclamation marks in the world to punctuate that sentiment.  I cannot wait to bite into a peach from my favorite local farm, to go blueberry picking, and to bring baskets of veggies home from the farmers’ market.  I had a dream where I was hoarding raspberries under my bed in the summertime.  That says a lot about me on so many levels.

Zucchini!  I cannot wait to get this from our community garden!  Well, I have to wait, but I really don’t want to.

Orange marmalade!   Wasn’t it Paddington Bear that would unstuff his plush family members to get at that stuff? 

I’ve made many of the tea cakes in this cookbook, and it’s honestly one of my favorite things to make.  (Don’t ask me to pick a favorite.  Like children, they’re all special to me in different  ways.)  Tea cake is  just so simple and delivers an amazing, moist and delicious cake.  It’s the perfect thing to slip away into the kitchen, whip up, then get back outside and enjoy the pleasant shift in the weather.  The sugary crust is at the top of my list of favorite things, and I always save it for last when I’m eating a slice.  I am definitely trying to pawn off share as much of these goods as I can these days.  No one needs to eat an entire tea cake, but if I didn’t have friends to share with it with, I totally could.  And with sunny weather and days spent at the beach right around the corner, that’s just not something I want to be doing.

Oh!  I’m just about half way through this cookbook now.  I am looking forward to writing a mid-journey assessment, and I’ve been jotting down little notes to make sure I touch on.  If you have a question that you’d like me to address, please ask away!

3
Feb

Tartine Baking Project: #38 Banana-Date Tea Cake

I’ve never used dates for any baking quest.  Come to think of it, I don’t even think I’ve had dates before.  Maybe they’ve been inadvertently smuggled into a muffin or some sort of quick bread without my knowledge, but I stand by my aforementioned statement: I’ve never, knowingly, eaten a date.  I found these dates in the bulk section at our local co-op.  I felt like I was bagging cockroaches or some moth larvae, and it just felt wrong.  They’re just not very appetizing.  Turns out, they’re delicious!

My new measuring cups are perfect for measuring stuff like dates. 

I love bananas.  I will never be sick of them, and it will never not be shocking to hear that people don’t like bananas.  This just blows my mind, although I’m not sure why.  Baking with bananas in the winter months quite often means I am constantly confronted with banana haters.  Don’t get me wrong – there are many things I don’t like, so I am okay with people not liking bananas.  I never knew bananas were so controversial.  Just walk around the street, look people in the eyes, and know that they probably secretly hate bananas.

Those sneaky fingers! 

We’ve hit a crossroads in the nap world.  I used to bake while Jack napped in the afternoon.  He’s at this point where he fights a nap with all his toddler power, but he still sort of needs the nap.  There is some serious multitasking happening as I juggle baking, taking photos, and keeping the little guy busy.  While this tea cake should be quick and easy to whip up, it took double the time. Just like Jack snuck his way into my brioche video, he did the same thing as I was taking this shot.  He’s a little ninja!  I really didn’t hear him coming!  Come to find out, he loves dates.

It bakes for about an hour, and I found myself just standing in the kitchen letting the aroma of the tea cake work its magic.  I haven’t met a tea cake I don’t like.  The last step, right before it goes in the oven, is to sprinkle a layer of sugar on top.  The crunchy layer of sugary bananas on top of this tea cake is the sort of thing I day dream about.  You take a bite and nothing else matters in the world.  As I was trying to convince Jack at 3 am that it was in fact still nighttime, I drowsily just thought about the banana-date tea cake that I was going to eat for breakfast, and all was (almost) right in the world.

You need a go-to dessert that is quick, simple and a real crowd pleaser?  Two words: Tea cake.  Your friends may lift you on their shoulders like you’re some sort of hero.

11
Oct

Recipe #5: Almond-lemon tea cake

From the moment I opened the almond paste, I knew this was going to be amazing.  It was as if someone crushed up a bunch of almonds and put them in a can.  In fact, that’s exactly what they did, ensuring to punch the consumer in the face with the intense almond aroma.  A wallop in the face never felt so good. 

Is it weird that I want to spread almond paste all over my face?

When it came to breaking up the almond paste in the mixer, I wasn’t sure if the bigger problem was due to my Kitchen-Aid mixer that smells like burning when mixing anything thicker than eggs, or the fact I had bought almond paste in a can.  Not sure if canned almond paste is the norm, having never bought it before, but that’s all I found.  Regardless, I was concerned the almond paste wasn’t breaking up as it was supposed to do.  The directions read “it might take a minute,” but it’s like a teenager reading a text and trying to decipher meaning – when he said he’d talk to me later did he mean he’ll call me?, or that I should call him?, or that we’ll just talk later, like when we bump into each other somewhere???  I was that analytical girl, and I’m that analytical baker.  When she said it may take a minute, did she mean it may take a little while, or does she mean it should literally take one minute?  What if it’s taking, like, five minutes?  Is this going to be detrimental to my beloved tea cake?  Note: There is no fault with the sender of the message, just us dramatic interpreters of information. 

Stubborn almond paste.

Once I slowly incorporated the sugar, we were back on track in the arena of sheer excitement.  The vast amount of butter and sugar that goes into the final product of this tea cake ensures that whatever this is going to make is destined for glory, and certainly makes life worth living.

One cup of butter.

Two of my favorite baking moments: buttering and flouring a pan, and sifting the dry ingredients.  Have you ever tried to take a picture of yourself sifting flour?  It’s nigh impossible, folks – like patting your head and rubbing your belly is to a child, or an uncoordinated adult.  I honestly have twelve pictures in the effort to capture the beautiful sifting process on film.  I would be shaking the sifter, then I couldn’t take the picture.  Once I clicked the button, I wasn’t shaking it any longer.  This resulted in me laughing so hard that I’d be shaking the sifter and would end up with a blurry picture.

I did it, this is the best one of the bunch, which includes the beer bottle in the window.  Classy.

Perfectly fluffy stuff.

The zest, coupled with the almonds, nearly set my heart on fire. 

Every last morsel of almondy-lemony goodness making its way into the pan.

Lemon juice + orange juice + sugar = true love (Well, technically, this is the glaze that goes over the warm tea cake and crystallizes into a sugary crust)


And the final result.  The cookbook doesn’t include a picture for every recipe, as the perfectionist side of me would like to have.  Also, the pictures in the cookbook are beautiful, so one for everything would be a treat to the eye as well.  But, when there are pictures included I love comparing my final product to the way “it’s supposed to look.”  This, looks very much like the picture, which is always very exciting to behold.

As far as taste goes, I’m not exactly sure how this one ended up.  After indulging in many caramel apples, croissants, and at least half a pan of apple crisp, I’m realizing some of these goodies must be shared more.  And it was a message verified from above, sent through Khloe Kardashian as I was watching her sister’s “fairytale” wedding.  (Yeah, I  watched it, stop judging me already.  I already feel bad enough after being scolded by Martha Stewart’s tweet this morning, “I am curious-what have you learned by watching the Kardashian wedding??”  Yeah, I follow Martha Stewart on Twitter.  What of it??!)  I’m thinking it may be one of my analytical interpretation hangups again, so maybe Martha really wants to know what I learned.  Well, Khloe K prophetically reminds us “a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” as she warns her brother the bad fortune of eating a dozen tacos in one go. 

Seriously though, what a perfect day to bake this tea cake – I heard amazing news today that a friend successfully defended her dissertation (she’s a doctor now!), and another oh-so-talented friend got published!  So, this tea cake got split in two and sent away as congratulatory gifts.  Almost better than eating it myself.  That is, only if it tastes good.


10
Oct

This may look like an ordinary loaf, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be magic. Yup, th

This may look like an ordinary loaf, but I’m pretty sure it’s going to be magic. Yup, th