she was celebrating her 80th birthday, with a concert for around 60 friends, and asked me to make appetizers. I choose a Slavic theme because Helen spent time as a citizen diplomat in Russia in the 90’s. She couldn’t find anyone locally to make her birthday cake, so I signed on for a cake for 60 on top of everything else. Yikes. I’d never made a cake that large, but oh well. It was an intense week of cooking, and I hope to post the lovely recipes that came out of it. Everyone loved the cake. I was also quite happy with how it turned out, and thought you’d appreciate the recipe.
Some notes of interest about the cake
Equal parts of rye and potato starch make an excellent cake flour.
The freshly ground spices are important and are carried well with the honey.
Acid, i.e. Apple Cider Vinegar awakens the flavors. It's surprising what you can’t taste until you add acid and salt. This goes for baking as much as for soup.
Real Buttercream that isn’t too sweet makes the cake.
I liked the simple decorations of candied orange peel, blanched almonds and buttercream.
The big cake was three times this recipe.
Helen’s Honey Apple Cake
makes one 10 inch round or square cake serves 10 A balanced cake, not too sweet, spicy yet demure with tart apple. It’s moist yet light. The secret to its texture are equal parts of rye and potato starch, plus the boiling water. Because it uses honey, it’s a long keeping cake and improves with age. I must say, it’s a favorite and the European style buttercream a good addition.
Ingredients 1 ¼ cup /175g rye flour 1 ¼ cup /185g potato starch 2 teaspoons baking soda ½ teaspoon sea salt all of the spice mix ½ cup soft unsalted butter 1 cup /320g local raw honey 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons flax meal + 5 tablespoons water) 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar 1 cup /237 ml boiling water 1 cup /125g /one tart apple peeled and cut into a small dice
Spice Mix for Helen’s Honey Cake 1 teaspoon coriander seed 5 green cardamom pods ½ teaspoon allspice berries 4 whole cloves Scant ¼ teaspoon black peppercorns 1 teaspoon fennel seed 2 teaspoons cinnamon 2 teaspoons powdered ginger
Instructions Preheat oven to 350F/180C Ready a 10-inch round springform buttered with parchment on bottom Gather all ingredients together Make the flax eggs by adding 5 tablespoons water to 2 tablespoons flax meal Grind spice mix and sift through a sieve Measure out dry ingredients including spices and sift into a large mixing bowl Heat water, cut up apple, measure honey Whip honey and soft butter together using a mixer until light and fluffy Add flax eggs and continue to whip Add vinegar to boiling water Alternating boiling water with dry ingredients, mix both into butter honey with mixer on low speed until completely combined Pour into springform and bake immediately on a middle rack for 30 minutes A toothpick will come out clean inserted into the center Let cool for 15 minutes and then release from springform and completely cool before decorating with buttercream.
The recipe will make a cake this size.
makes about 2 cups Buttercream should be served at room temperature. Ingredients 1/2 cup/115g sugar 1/4 cup/60 ml of water 2 eggs plus 2 egg yolks 4 softened sticks (1 lb.) 454g unsalted butter 1 vanilla bean pinch of sea salt
Instructions In a heavy bottomed sauce pan– Measure out sugar and water Add the scraped out insides of a vanilla bean to it. Cook to the softball stage 240°F/ 115C on medium low. Take off heat Beat eggs and egg yolks together until frothy and thick Slowly Add the sugar syrup to the beaten eggs while whipping in a standing or handheld mixer Add butter pats plus salt and whip until light and fluffy
Super easY Way TO start with the WHOLE PUMPKIN for Pie
It’s a crisp October day, I’m walking down the road to Colinwood Farm where they have pumpkins I’ve eyed for a week. I meet up with a friend and her young step-daughter, both eager to pick out a pumpkin so they can bake a pie. We choose our perfect pumpkins weighing them on a hanging scale and paying on the honor system. We’ve been taught to open a can of pumpkin if we want to bake a pie, but it’s time to update that habit so we won’t miss an enjoyable seasonal tradition. Red Dog Farm, the first tent on the right entered the Uptown Farmer’s Market, had nine varieties of winter squash last Saturday. Their names inviting serious consideration: Acorn, Black Futsu, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Keri, Baby Pam Pumpkins and Spaghetti. I bought a 2.5 lb Baby Pam Pumpkin from Alice for $3.75 and headed home to slow cook it. Our local winter squash have such outstanding flavors. I like to mix and match squashes in a pie, or feature one I’ve never tried. I have the world’s laziest way to process winter squash. I stab it a couple of times, like you would a baked potato, add 3 cups of water in the bottom of a large oval slow cooker, put the whole pumpkin in and set the cooker on high for 4 hours. When it’s done it’ll be soft enough to slice open, scoop out the seeds, peel off the skin and puree the flesh. That’s it. You can use the puree right away or freeze it for pies, breads or soup for winter. And remember, don’t throw out those seeds, guts or skin! Put them right back in the slow cooker, add a quart a water, maybe some ginger slices and set on low for 10 hours. You’ll have some incredible stock to use for soup.
Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Date Crust
Featuring an easy delicious press in crust. Delicious and Easy Pecan Date Crust 1 ½cup/200g pitted deglet dates 1 ½cup/170g pecans ¼ cup/30g ground flaxseeds 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted 2 tablespoons maple syrup ¼ teaspoon sea salt
Pie Filling 1 1/2 cups/400g pumpkin puree (from 2 ½lb pumpkin) 1 ¼ cups 10 fl oz/300 ml unsweetened canned coconut milk 1/4 cup brown sugar 1/8 teaspoon powdered white stevia (or 1/2 cup/50g brown sugar without stevia) 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 1/2 teaspoon whole allspice berries 1/4 teaspoon whole peppercorns 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 1 whole clove 1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste 3 large eggs
Instructions Pierce a 2.5 to 3 lb pie pumpkin several times, like for baking a potato and roast in a large oval slow cooker on high for 4 hrs with three cups water. The skin will be soft and easily cut open when done.
Spice Mix Grinding fresh whole spices is fast and well worth the effort! Grind whole spices together in a coffee or spice grinder with cinnamon, sugar, salt and stevia Grate fresh nutmeg add to spice mix Sift spice mix through fine mesh strainer and set aside
Liquids Measure coconut milk and eggs into a bowl add ginger paste refrigerate until ready to use
Crust Measure ingredients into food processor run machine until a sticky mass forms Press dough evenly into bottom and sides of a removable bottom tart pan or a regular pie plate Chill crustuntil ready to blind bake
Baking the Pie When whole pumpkin is soft remove from slow cooker, and cool enough to handle. Slice it open scooping out the seeds and reserve them to roast or for use in stock. Scoop out flesh for pie and reserve leftover peel for stock. Measure out pumpkin and puree with coconut egg mixture and spices. Preheat oven to 425F /220C Blind bake chilled crust for 10 minutes (put pie plate on a baking sheet) Reduce heat to 350F/180C and pour filling into hot crust Put foil guard around edge of crust to keep from getting brown Bake for 45 minutes or until set Cool to further set EnJOY!
Both are delicious, but completely different from each other. Together they make a unique carrot pie supper
I’d bought a bag of local Nash’s Farm carrots. They were big, like they’d had a good summer underground. I wondered why I’ve never heard of anyone making carrot pies? We make carrot cake. My son wanted a sweet pie, but we needed to put lunch on the table. I always like to play while cooking, so I made a sweet and savory version and they were both hits. Using my Vitamix to get the carrots absolutely smooth was key. I didn’t even bother to peel them and they were still velvety. I appreciated not having to run them through a food mill to get the right consistency, and it was a breakthrough using the flavorful carrot boiling water for the custard liquid instead of milk. It worked wonderfully. The seasoning for the savory was inspired by the preserved lemons put up last winter. The sweet, by my love for carrots with anise and orange . The sweet version was the guy's favorite but they ate them both in one sitting. The crust: my new and improved gluten free--loving it.
Perserved Lemon Carrot Pie
Ingredients 1 ½ cups pureed carrots 3 large eggs ½ cup carrot water leftover from boiling carrots ¼ cup preserved lemon 2 teaspoons toasted cumin 2 teaspoons dried thyme 1 tablespoon black mustard seed 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 tablespoon butter 1 teaspoon olive oil
Instructions Toast cumin, grind and sift. Add to preserved lemon and puree until smooth with olive oil. Heat butter and cook mustard seeds on a medium until they pop. Add all ingredients except mustard seeds to a blender and blend until absolutely smooth. Add mustard seeds and butter. Blend briefly. Put into a partially blind baked 9-inch crust, still hot. Bake at 350F/176C for 40 minutes or until set.
Sweet Carrot Pie with Anise and Orange
Ingredients 1 ½ cups pureed carrots 3 large eggs ¼ cup brown sugar ⅛ teaspoon stevia powder ½ cup carrot water leftover from boiling carrots 1 tablespoon anise seed 2 teaspoons coriander seed 1 teaspoon sea salt 1 ½ teaspoons good quality orange extract or 1 tablespoon orange zest
Instructions Grind anise and coriander together and sift Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until absolutely smooth Put into a partially blind baked 9-inch crust, still hot. Bake at 350F/176C for 40 minutes or until set