Saturday, December 28, 2013

Apple Rum Cake

Since I work in the produce department of a grocery store, people often ask what we do with "old" items. It's simple. We donate them to a soup kitchen. Most grocery stores do--from dairy to bakery to market. Volunteers usually arrive in the late morning after we have "culled" the shelves to discard dated/bruised items. Even so, there is still much "throw away." There have been times when taking out the trash that I've stumbled upon "dumpster divers" carrying away food. It breaks your heart.

Lately, I've been "rescuing" apples. The bruised. The dented. The split. The misfits. How could anyone throw away anything named Honey Crisp or Pink Lady? Don't even get me started on dated, fresh-cut flowers . . . . 

But, back to food . . .

This is a beautiful cake with a delicate, moist crumb. Use a crisp apple, such as Honey Crisp. Or Jazz. The rum is nuanced, not pronounced, and it complements the white-wine savor of pure apple flesh.

And, please, use the required 8-inch spring-form pan. You want your cake high, not flat.

Next time, I will chop some of my apples into chunks larger than the one-half inch dice I used here and maybe increase the amount to almost two cups instead of the 1 2/3 cups (8 oz.). I used McCormick's Apple Pie Spice. If you don't have it, just use cinnamon or mostly cinnamon with a bit of allspice/nutmeg thrown in.

The addition of cream cheese makes this cake stand apart from other apple cakes. And White Lily Flour, the flour of the South as opposed to the North here in the United States. Cake flour works as well. Both will give a noticed tenderness to crumb texture. If using either, pay close attention to substituting all-purpose flour with it. The recipe below is for all-purpose flour.

As difficult as it may a seem, a cake such as this is best left uncut for a day to allow the flavors and the moisture from the apples to absorb into the cake. I like the top "crunchy," so I leave it uncovered but wrap a piece of foil around the circumference.

About 30-60 minutes before assembling the cake:
  • Peel, core, and dice two-three large crisp, tart apples into a 1/2 - 3/4-inch dice. You want at least 8 ounces or 1 2/3 cup. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons rum and 1 teaspoon flour. Set aside. Stir every-once-in-a-while to macerate flavors.

Meanwhile .....
  • Mix two teaspoons apple pie spice with four tablespoons white sugar. Set aside.

  • Butter/spray an 8-inch spring-form pan. Heat oven to 350 F.


Whisk the following and set aside:
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
In a medium bowl, beat together the following:
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup light brown sugar (depending on sweetness of apples)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time.

Take two tablespoons of the cinnamon/sugar mixture and mix into the flour mixture. Reserve the rest.

Blend the flour mixture into the butter/egg mixture to create a smooth batter. Mix in apples.

Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the top with the rest of the cinnamon/sugar mixture. 

Baking time will depend on moisture in apples. Bake until cake pulls aways from sides a bit anywhere from 55-75 minutes.

*If using cake flour or White Lily Flour, adjust amount of flour according to package directions.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Year-Round Cherry Pie

One of the easiest pies I ever made!

A proper cherry pie is always made with sour cherries, not sweet. But sour cherries have a short season, indeed. Hello, canned sour cherries!

I was a bit skeptical that something so easy would end up so good. But it did! This is a recipe my mother gave to my sister who proclaimed it great. My mom died in January, and I've been going through her recipes, so I decided to give it a try since I can now readily find sour cherries where I live.

I did a number of searches for this recipe. Some use corn starch. Some cook the cherries on top of the stove before adding to the pie shell. I stuck with the original recipe and may give the others a try. But, for now, I'm quite satisfied with the results of this. The only things I would different is to add a bit more cinnamon, a bit less sugar. I also added a few drops of red food coloring and a bit of vanilla. Go easy on almond extract--a little goes a long way.

I used canned, Oregon Sour Cherries packed in water, and I used pre-made refrigerated pie crusts. My pie plate was a bit smaller than nine inches, but it made for a higher pie.

If you need a quick dessert for a dinner or gathering, this is it. And don't forget the vanilla ice cream.

  • 2 cans tart cherries, drained well (about 2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups) 
  • 3/4 - 1 cup sugar, depending on tartness of cherries
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla (optional)
  • Cinnamon--a few shakes (optional)
  • 2-4 drops red food coloring (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons butter
  • Bottom and top crusts to line a 9-inch pie plate

Preheat oven to 375 F degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, cinnamon (if using) until well combined, breaking up any lumps. Add cherries and flavorings. If using, add food coloring and gently mix to combine. Add cherry misture to lined pie plate. Dot with butter. Add top crust. Flute and vent.

Place foil around edges of pie to prevent burning. Bake 50 - 55 minutes. Allow to cool before slicing.

NOTES: I used White Lily All-Purpose Flour which is akin to cake flour. It mixes nicer than regular flour. Don't throw away the juice from the cans ... It's good to drink or to add to cola or ginger ale. Or vodka!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

How a Food-Blog Recipe Works. Sausages with Sauerkraut, etc.

I have now forgotten how many times I have made this particular dish in the last month or two. I call it a "dish" because it is not yet a "recipe." I think this is #4. If you are a food blogger, this is just what we do .... A recipe is like math: add/subtract/multiply/divide. Erase. Start over.

I love this particular version because I added mushrooms, onions, and thyme. I also added some bacon, but it's flavor was lost. Still, why didn't I add chunks of ham?

In all my trials, there is one thing I have learned. The sauerkraut is not that important. In fact, it is what is most left behind after it is cooked and eaten. It is an ingredient that is constantly masked by other ingredients to lessen its flavor. Brown sugar. Caraway. Apples. Wash. Drain. Maybe it's something that should be prepared as a "side" and not as a main ingredient to a dish like this.

As a child, I have fond memories of sauerkraut. For my maternal grandmother and her German husband, it was ubiquitous. Pork Chops. Ribs. Sausages.

I will get it right, yet.

And thanks to the THOUSANDS of YOU who continue to visit Kitchen Bounty even tho I have not had the time to regularly post new recipes. You humble me. Really. And by YOU, I mean those from all over the world. Just incredible.

It's cold here, even in the South! Here's a few pics from my cat, Chalk, enjoying warmth where he can find it!

New linens and sheets. Chalk is always the first to enjoy their freshness.

Once night settles in, Chalk curls next to the portable heater.
I'm kind of jealous!