Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Secret Ingredient is Passed Down

Dear Linz,

What beautiful posts! From the ├ęclairs to the croissants to the lemon doberge cake -- it’s all so beautiful! I think my favorite post, however, was about your grandmother's simple, perfect cornbread. Recipes are perhaps one of the best things to pass down between generations. Furniture breaks. Rings are stolen (*sigh*). But recipes last forever.

Sadly, I don’t have any of my grandmother’s recipes to share right now. Her cousin told us about a time when she pranked her playmates by filling cream puffs with cotton balls (ha!), but that was long before she was a grandma with grandma recipes. I hope to find some as my family and I sift through things in the coming weeks. In the meantime, here's her mother’s recipe for apple delight (essentially an apple crisp except for the fact that it’s not)

Great Grandma Jessica’s Apple Delight

¾ cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
1 ½ tsp cinnamon
6 - 10 apples (I typically use Macintosh apples)

Soften butter to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350. Mix flour, sugar, butter, and cinnamon to form crumbly topping. Peel and slice apples to fill casserole bowl. If apples are dry, add 1/4 cup water. Sprinkle on topping. Bake 1 hour, until bubbly.

The last time I made it, I used my new Le Crueset mini-cocottes:

And topped it with homemade cinnamon ice cream:

Cinnamon Ice Cream

1 cup whole milk

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 cup heavy cream

½ tsp pure vanilla extract

½ tsp coarse salt

Prepare an ice-water bath; set aside. Combine the milk, sugar, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture just begins to bubble and sugar has dissolved, 6 to 8 minutes. Add cream, vanilla, and salt; stir to combine. Pour mixture into a medium bowl set in the ice-water bath. Stir occasionally until cooled. Cover and transfer to refrigerator until chilled at least 1 hour and up to overnight. Stir mixture briefly; pour into an ice-cream maker and process according to manufacturer's instructions.

Love you,


P.S. The top photo is of my great grandmother and great grandfather (remind me to tell you about their victory garden sometime). The other two photos are courtesy of my amazing roommate, Daniel Hernandez.

Lemon Doberge Cake

Hi Megs.

This weekend I wanted to try something really pretty, so I decided to make a Doberge cake (pronounced doh-bash), which is a really popular cake in New Orleans. It usually has 6 thin layers, and the most common flavors are chocolate, caramel, and lemon. My choice was obvious. You know I'm a lemon fiend.

Everything was proceeding as planned. Then, while putting the cake in the fridge to set the layers and the filling, I dropped it. Oops. Oh well, it still tasted really good. When am I going to figure out how to make stuff that looks as pretty as it tastes?


Lemon filling:
3 c sugar
3 T flour
juice and rind of 6 lemons
3 eggs, beaten
1 c water
3 T butter

Mix ingredients well and cook over medium heat, stirring periodically until mixture thickens to a custard/jelly. Chill completely.

1 c softened butter
2 c sugar
4 eggs, separated
2 3/4 c flour
1/4 t salt
3 t baking powder
1 c milk
1 t vanilla

Preheat oven to 375. Butter 9 inch cake pans and line with wax or parchment paper. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing thoroughly. Add sifted dry ingredients, alternating with milk. Add vanilla. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Put 3/4 c of batter in each pan, and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Repeat until all the batter is used.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 oz softened cream cheese
1 lb (1 box) powdered sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 t vanilla

Assemble cake by spreading generous layer of cooled lemon filling between each cake layer but not on top of the last layer. Frost top and sides with cream cheese icing. Do not drop.