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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Fruits Make Sweet Desserts

Happy hump day during the longest week ever! Maybe it's because January 6th is known as the most depressing day of the year or maybe it's because it's my last week in my current job. Who knows? Either way it doesn't stop me from dreaming about delicious desserts (I can't help myself) and today's thoughts have drifted to baking with winter fruit. Usually we top delicate pastries with berries and kiwis and we forget the "harsh" fruits of the bitter cold and dreary months. However, these recipes might just remind you that an apple a day doesn't just keep the doctor away - it also tastes delicious in a cake.

Nadia's Morning Coffee Cake with Winter Fruits
Marcella Hazan

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • grated peel of 2 oranges
  • large pear, about 1/2 to 3/4 pound, or 2 smaller ones
  • 1 crisp, juicy apple
  • 1 banana
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter for greasing the pan
  • 10-inch springform pan
  1. Turn on the oven to 375°.
  2. Choose a mixing bowl that can subsequently contain all the ingredients. Put in the eggs and sugar and beat them until they are foamy and form yellow ribbons.
  3. Add the salt, olive oil, and grated orange peel — making sure you haven't grated any of the bitter white pith beneath the orange skin — and mix thoroughly.
  4. Peel all the fruit. Core the pear and apple and cut them into thin 1/2-inch pieces. Slice the banana very thin. Put the fruit into a separate bowl and toss with the lemon juice.
  5. Combine the flour and baking powder and mix them into the beaten eggs, incorporating them thoroughly.
  6. Add the fruit to the bowl with the eggs and flour, mixing well to distribute it evenly.
  7. Smear the bottom and sides of the springform pan with butter, then pour into it the fruit batter. Level off by shaking the pan from side to side; do not press down on the batter.
  8. Bake on the middle level of the preheated oven for 50 to 55 minutes, until the top of the cake becomes colored a light gold.
The finished cake will keep fresh for about 5 days, wrapped with foil and refrigerated.

Cranberry and Orange Pavlovas
Wendy Boys

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
  • 2 large navel oranges
  • 1 1/2 pounds cranberries (6 cups)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
  • Mint sprigs, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 250°. Arrange racks in the lower and middle thirds of the oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt at medium speed until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat in the sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, until the meringue is stiff and glossy, about 6 minutes.
  3. Using a large spoon, dollop 6 mounds of meringue onto each baking sheet; spread the mounds into 5-inch squares and make an impression in the center of each. Bake the meringues for 1 hour and 45 minutes, until the outsides are firm but the insides are still slightly soft; shift the pans from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Transfer the baking sheets to racks and let the meringues cool completely.
  4. In a large saucepan, combine the granulated sugar and water. Scrape the vanilla seeds onto a small plate and add the pod to the saucepan. Using a vegetable peeler, remove 2 long strips of zest from one of the oranges and add them to the pan. Halve the orange and squeeze the juice into the saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the cranberries and cook over low heat just until the berries are softened but still intact, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely. Discard the vanilla bean and orange zest and refrigerate until chilled.
  5. Finely grate the zest of the remaining orange and transfer it to a food processor. Using a sharp knife, peel the orange, removing all of the bitter white pith. Working over the food processor, cut in between the membranes to release the orange sections into the food processor. Pulse until chopped.
  6. In a clean bowl, using clean beaters, whip the cream, confectioners' sugar and vanilla seeds until firm. Add the chopped orange and its juice and beat just until combined.
  7. Arrange the meringues on plates and spoon the orange whipped cream into each one. Using a slotted spoon, top with the cranberries. Drizzle with some of the juices, garnish with mint and serve right away.
MAKE AHEAD The cooked cranberries can be refrigerated overnight. The meringues can be made up to 8 hours ahead (on a dry day) and kept at room temperature.

Flour's Famous Banana Bread
Joanne Chang

  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 3 1/2 bananas, very ripe, mashed
  • 2 tablespoons creme fraiche or sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
  1. Set oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Beat sugar and eggs with a whisk until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Drizzle in oil. Add mashed bananas, creme fraiche, and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients and nuts. Pour into a lined loaf pan and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Happy baking!

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