Saturday, August 8, 2009

OOOOHHHHH Blueberries!!

I have had a wild hair to bake lately. All I want to do is bake bake bake. Don't ask me why because it's a zillion degrees outside and turning the oven on in my wee kitchen is like going to a sweat lodge. Never the less, I cant' fight the urge. So, I decided to whip up a most delicious cake when I cleaned up on a blueberry sale at my local market. Something crazy like 4 pints for $5. Nuts, right? Anyway, blueberry cake it is. So I decided to see what I had on hand to make this blueberry cake with... and the pickings were slim. I've been away a lot this summer and haven't really shopped for the regular pantry staples. But upon closer inspection to the fridge... I have buttermilk, flour, eggs, lemons, blueberries (did I mention that?), and sugar. So, I'll whip up a cake. You know buttermilk makes rockin' cakes. And since I always seem to make these grand things... my super always gets to benefit. Welp, here's the recipe.. and it's a recipe that I've modified a bit from Epicurious. They like to use orange zest, but I'm not a fan of orange flavoring, unless it's a Diet Sunkist, but that's a whole 'nother obsession of mine.... so, I use lemon zest - and a lot of it - and also a splash, yes, a splash, I didn't measure it but I'm guessing about a teaspoon(?), of pure lemon extract. Also, my idea of 2 cups of blueberries might be grand... I tend to add extra. And I obviously, use fresh. I have tried frozen, once. I found the cake to be just as delicious, but with an increased baking time. There's a few more adjustments simply because I didn't have enough of this or that. The end result? Lets say my super came knocking and begging me to make another...

One final note on baking time of this cake: I have a gas oven. I realize that gas can be a more moist heat than an electric oven and can make baking more difficult. Add to the fact that I live in South Florida where the humidity is treacherous, and you've got a real tricky situation on your hands. I read somewhere that if you put a pizza/bread stone in your oven, it helps keep the oven hot and a bit drier. Since I've added this, I have seen better results. Still, I am more of a person who feeeeellls when it's done. I just manage to know when it's finished. So, I hope you can bear with me and the baking time for this one!

Blueberry Cake

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 heaping giant tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure lemon extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

*** Remember: if you use frozen blueberries,I've found it will increase your baking time. Fresh will not increase the time, but you still have to keep an eye on it!

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 10 inch Bundt pan.

Mix together: flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl, then set aside.

Using electric mixer, beat 1 1/2 cups sugar and butter in large bowl until light and fluffy and pale yellow. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Beat in lemon peel and vanilla being careful to scrape all bits of lemon peel off the beater, they tend to stick. Next, mix in dry ingredients in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions. Fold in blueberries gently. This batter will not be super thick, it's more like a yellow cake batter and a bit thinner. If you put frozen blueberries, the batter will get thick due to the cold berries.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 1 hour 10 minutes, to 1 hour 30 minutes for frozen berries. Watch your oven carefully, use that toothpick! When the cake starts to look golden-y, you are done!

Cool cake in pan on rack 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack or plate and cool completely before putting in the refrigerator. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap to keep out any food odors.

Warning: If you make this cake for a group? Don't plan on having any left. This cake is great for brunch, for snacking and also, makes a great no-icing birthday cake! Or... if you're just hungry and have a lot of blueberries around....

Friday, August 7, 2009

Why the Name?

Hello to all who will read this! I hope you'll visit here for updates... I've never done this before, and I'm not sure what will set me aside from the millions of you out there who blog daily. Perhaps just something funny? Or a great recipe? Or even a political view? Who knows?! I can't say that I'm always politically correct, or that my punctuation is always perfect - or even that my language is without blemishes...but, I hope everyone will comment and visit often! Fair warning... I am not without opinion and I'm not afraid to share it!

First, I think I should tell you that the blog name is for cake domes. Those glorious glass cake domes that tower in fantasy books for children, and sit on counter tops in diners and cafes everywhere. I love them and find them incredibly beautiful. It is my mission to collect lots of them! I just don't have the space in my small apartment! I have an idea to build a shelf around the top of the ceiling and place them up there... yeah, add that to my list of things to do. But also, the domes to me represent the scrutiny of life. When there's a cake under one of those domes, everyone stares at it. We look carefully, we examine it, we choose which slice we want. And for me? It's sort of an analogy to life. Shouldn't we all being thoughtful, mindful humans - take time out daily to look carefully at our lives? I know it's hard with the busy lives we all lead, but lately, I've been trying to be more thoughtful about mine!

The name actually came from a brainstorm between my boyfriend and I when I asked him what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. He said chocolate. He always says chocolate. And he said he wanted more than one chocolate cake. A whole room full. So, I said I'd make them and he would come home to a chocolate cake grotto. All of them under glorious gleaming glass domes. He was happy and salivating at the thought. I haven't yet gotten to that chocolate cake grotto... but his 40th is coming up and I'm planning to bake my ass off! At any rate, until we get to that chapter, I hope that something here will catch your eye - steal your heart - make you laugh or even curse me (it's OK, I don't mind) or just give you reason to check back in here with a cup of coffee and say 'Hi' here goes!

Ok.. so today, I was looking mindlessly in my cabinets at the 400 cans of chipotle chilies that I purchased on sale somewhere - yeah, can you say stock up? Maybe not 400, but 4 anyway. Who needs 4 cans of chipotles? As it turns out, I might. I have a confession to make: I LOVE mayonnaise. Love love love love it. I love it for my fries, I love it on my veggies, my sandwiches, my burgers - you name it, if I can put mayo on it, I'll try. For me? It's the sixth master 'sauce'. Mayyybeee even better than the others, tho, I've never met a bechamel that I didn't, back to the chilies... there they were in all their hotness staring at me from their little cans on their perch in my cabinet.... Gleaming and shiny and ready to show me who the boss was. What to do with them? Ahh well....back to my love of mayonnaise. I love mayo - did I mention that? - but not that horrid stuff called salad dressing that they stock on the shelves near my coveted mayo. That's NOT mayo. Mayonnaise - just say it with a french accent and it sounds impressive and like a wonderful guilty pleasure. And yes, this simple emulsion of eggs and oil is one of the greatest most versatile creations out there. And you can do anything with it. Trust me. People put it in cakes - breads - and on just about everything else. I always stock up! Though, I've always meant to make my own, I've just never gotten around to it. Today? Different story. I got a crazy notion and a craving for that fresh mayonnaise I often get in Paris and was thinking how wonderful the creamy coolness of it would be with the fire of the chipotles, and alas, with no Hellman's to substitute in my fridge - decided to make my own. So, here's what I did and how I did it:

Creamy Chipotle Mayo

2 organic egg yolks
3-4 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp Coleman's dry mustard powder
pinch of sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup olive oil
4 tbsp hot water
1 canned chipotle chili in adobo sauce, with seed and juice
1tbsp honey
1 tsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

In your food processor, put the egg yolks and 3 tsp of the vinegar. Start your engine and spin it for about a minute or so, until it gets a bit frothy and lighter yellow. Add the mustard powder while its spinning and keep motor on until the egg mixture is foamy, about 1-2 minutes. Turn off your engine and add your salt and pepper and sugar - I used ground sea salt and fresh ground peppercorn mix. Then while your motor is on again, add part of the oils in a slow steady stream, alternately add the hot water one tbsp at a time and add the last tsp of vinegar while again, adding the rest of the oil in a sloooowwwww stream. Voila! Mayonnaise. You could stop here, but why? Add that whole chipotle chili in there - more if you like it hotter, but beware, they are HOT. And run your engine again. With the motor going, add the lime juice and the honey thru the feeder tube and continue processing it for about 2 or 3 minutes. This will help the emulsion get really creamy. Adjust your seasonings after the engine is off... and enjoy! And if you're so inclined, you could do this by hand... all you need is a strong arm and an assistant to help you pour the oil.

I plan to use mine on some grilled bacon burgers with avocado. And of course, for a veggie dipping sauce. It would be great with french fries. I imagine I'll find a lot to use it on this weekend. It's a great combo of cool and spicy. Feel free to comment, tweak or even add to it! And once I figure out how to put photos up.. look out!!!