Thursday, April 7, 2011

Salt-kissed Buttermilk Olallieberry Cake



One thing I'm thankful for is when friends manage to dig me out of my cave and take me on new adventures.  Academia and food-writing/blogging/baking can both sometimes be quite solitary endeavours, so time out of the house to see and do new things is always appreciated.


A week or so ago, my friend Nadeen asked me to go with her to Heidi Swanson's (of 101 cookbooks blog fame) new book signing party at the ever-wonderful Omnivore Books in SF.  I must confess that I don't really follow Swanson's blog, but I have cooked from it before via random Google searches; for example, the apple butter recipe that I used here was from 101 cookbooks, and it was fantastic.  Then, in the week leading up to the book signing, I've started seeing reviews and covers of Swanson's book and recipes exploding onto the blogosphere with very favorable reviews, so I was excited to see what it was all about.


Of course, to best understand someone's idea/philosophy of food, you cook from their recipes, so I scoured through 101 cookbook's recipe index looking for a dessert to try.  The first thing that I realized was that Heidi Swanson is a far more healthy human being than I am.  For one, I don't think you'd ever find anything like this on her blog.  Sure, she doesn't really run away from butter or cream, but she uses far less of it in ten recipes combined than I probably do in a single post here. *makes innocent eyes*  The second thing that I discovered is that Swanson has what I (and Nadeen) would deem a very unhealthy obsession with quinoa.  I mean, quinoa's okay and all, but seriously? it's not the yummiest (healthy) grain out there.  I considered for a moment trying to take quinoa and make the most unhealthy, cream- butter- and sugar- (and bacon-) laden dessert I could think of with it, but Nadeen and I decided we might get expelled from the book signing for bastardizing quinoa in such a manner.

Finally, I stumbled upon this recipe: salt-kissed buttermilk cake.  (Even the name is pretty!)  This is where Swanson and I finally agree on something: that salt has the ability to make dessert even tastier.  Swanson makes her version on the site with raspberries, and the version in her book is with plums, but I dug out my treasured olallieberries (that I hid away last summer) from the depths of my freezer as a special treat.  The olallieberries were perfect against this cake, which is moist and wheaty but not too sweet, with a crunchy sugar and lightly salty crust top.  Swanson even seems to throw me a bone in this recipe--serve with a "floppy dollop of sweet, freshly whipped cream on the side," she says-- so of course, you don't have to tell me twice to use cream.  And it's delicious.  The cake and cream together, I mean!


The book signing was crowded but interesting, very different from the more literary book signings/readings/talks that I, as a former English major and on-going academic, am used to.  Swanson's book is an absolutely beautiful piece of work, with artfully done close-ups of many of her recipes but also gorgeously-toned landscape shots from around the Bay Area, which I really liked seeing.  I didn't actually get to meet Swanson--there were just too many people--but it was definitely a new and fun experience.  I even came across another cookbook at Omnivore that was entirely about quinoa--who knew!


Read on for recipe....



Salt-kissed Buttermilk Olallieberry Cake
adapated from 101 cookbooks
makes one 9" round cake

1/4 cup (4 Tbspn) butter
2 1/2 cups (375 gr) whole wheat pastry flour
1 Tbspn baking powder
1/2 cup (95 gr) lightly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 tspn salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
freshly grated zest of 2 lemons
1 cup olallieberries
1 1/2 Tbspn turbinado sugar
1/2 tspn coarse, large grain salt
freshly whipped, lightly sweetened cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Grease and flour a 9" round cake pan, and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, brown the butter. Strain out the solids and let cool briefly.
3. In a large bowl, whisk to combine the whole wheat pastry flour, baking powder, brown sugar, and salt.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the buttermilk and eggs. Whisk in the brown butter and lemon zest.
5. Pour the liquid over the flour mixture, mixing just until the ingredients are combined. Do not overmix.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, using the back of a spoon to spread the batter to the edges (this is made easier if the spoon is dampened with water).
7. Sprinkle the olallieberries over the cake, followed by the turbinado sugar, and then the coarse salt.
8. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick stuck in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.
9. Enjoy with a generous dollop of freshly whipped cream.

Note: Heidi from 101 cookbooks bakes this in an 11" fluted tart/quiche pan for a flatter cake. I wanted a taller one, so I used a 9" round instead. If baking in a 11" tart/quiche pan, reduce the baking time to 20-25 minutes total. Also, double the amount of raw sugar and coarse salt used on top of the cake.




Enjoy!

16 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh, breathtaking.... I want a huge print of one of these photos....seriously. Sell one to me, please?

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  2. Nice moody photos ;) The way the whipped cream is climbing out of the bowl in the first shot is a nice touch. Also, I think I should tell you that I'm very jealous of your prop collection. They all look so "loved" (well, minus the cake stand, but it's stunning anyway) and work together very well. I have the hardest time finding stuff like that!

    More on topic, I've never had quinoa, but I'm really curious to try it. Perhpas this book would be a good place to start? At any rate, this cake looks amazingly delicious. I like that it uses WW flour.

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  3. Mmmm, I baked this cake with persimmons last fall, and I agree - it's such a nice, not-too-sweet cake, perfect with tea in the afternoon. With olallieberries sounds scrumptious! I may have to bake this this weekend, for a dessert party.
    And I, too, would love prints of these pics!

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  4. @Kristen: thank you! and thanks for reminding me to set up my long-overdue Etsy print shop, too. Maybe this weekend I'll get around to it and add these photos. :-)

    @Kaitlin: I did the moody photos just for you. ;-P To tell you the truth, I actually don't have a very large collection of props--just a few key pieces that I mix and match every which way. I've been finding a lot of stuff recently at antique fairs/flea markets. Try looking there?

    @Andrea: persimmons! that sounds perfect for this cake. Will have to try that again in the fall.

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  5. I haven't heard about these berries before. Thank you for letting me know. This cake is as delectable as it is unpretentious. Beautiful!

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  6. Love the photos, dark, rustic, mysterious... I have to google olallieberries!

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  7. You might be interested to read a recent article in the NY Times about how the demand for quinoa in developed countries has made it too expensive for the residents of its native Bolivia, which helps Bolivian farmers but causes malnutrition for many others. 2 sides to every coin!

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  8. I purchased a copy of the book myself, despite not really following Heidi's blog either (though what I have seen has been truly inspiring). I love her cooking style and I'm so glad that you featured one of her recipes here.

    Definitely want to give this one a try.

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  9. Haha I like your honest reaction to her recipes. Though I must say that Heidi and I have in common that neither of us would probably devote anything to Paula Deen (sorry, she scares me...). But we can definitely all agree on this cake and your photos of lovely!

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  10. gorgeous as usual!

    i've actually been wanting to try this recipe for a while, now you've convinced me!

    i'm not nearly as healthy as she is either -___-, but i've tried some of her 'healthy' recipes and so far they haven't disappointed!

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  11. I wish I had the ability to look through someone's recipes and discern their style. :) I've never heard of these berries! I'll keep my eye out for them.

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  12. Mmmmm, this looks so dreamy... Like coming out of a movie!

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  13. Your photos are just beautiful. I've also made this cake, with raspberries, and loved it. I definitely need to whip some cream for next time, though!

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  14. Mmmmm, this looks so dreamy... Like coming out of a movie!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Oh my gosh, breathtaking.... I want a huge print of one of these photos....seriously. Sell one to me, please?

    ReplyDelete
  16. @Kristen: thank you! and thanks for reminding me to set up my long-overdue Etsy print shop, too. Maybe this weekend I'll get around to it and add these photos. :-)

    @Kaitlin: I did the moody photos just for you. ;-P To tell you the truth, I actually don't have a very large collection of props--just a few key pieces that I mix and match every which way. I've been finding a lot of stuff recently at antique fairs/flea markets. Try looking there?

    @Andrea: persimmons! that sounds perfect for this cake. Will have to try that again in the fall.

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing from you and reading your comments! Thanks so much for stopping by the blog. Happy feasting!

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