Milk Street Not Your Mother’s Cake (Ep 109)

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Whipped Cream Biscuits

WE TRIED TO SPEED UP the chilling of the dough by popping it in the freezer, but that didn’t give the starch in the dough enough time to get sufficiently hydrated. An hour in the refrigerator was perfect. If we chilled it for more than a few hours it needed a few minutes on the counter to soften before rolling.

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 10 tablespoons salted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream

INSTRUCTIONS

In a small bowl, whisk together the water and cornstarch. Microwave until set, 30 to 40 seconds, stirring halfway through. Chill in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Once the cornstarch mixture has chilled, in a food processor, combine the flour, sugar and salt and process until combined, about 5 seconds. Add the chilled cornstarch mixture and pulse until uniformly ground, about 5 pulses. Add the butter and sour cream and process until the dough comes together and begins to collect around the blade, 20 to 30 seconds. Pat the dough into a 4-inch disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.

When ready to bake, heat the oven to 375°F with a rack in the middle position. On a well-floured counter, roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. Hang the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to a 9-inch pie pan. Gently ease the dough into the pan by lifting the edges while pressing down into the corners of pan. Trim the edges, leaving a ½-inch overhang, then tuck the overhang under itself so the dough is flush with the rim of the pan. Crimp the dough with your fingers or the tines of a fork, then chill in the freezer for 15 minutes.

To blind bake, line the chilled crust with foil and fill with pie weights. Bake until the edges are light golden brown, about 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. Remove the foil and weights and bake until the bottom of the crust just begins to color, another 5 to 7 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 1 hour before filling. (Once baked and cooled, the crust can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.) Don’t be tempted to skip the sour cream. It may seem like a small amount, but it’s key for a tender crust.

Don’t skimp on the pie weights; use enough to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the crust.


Macerated Strawberries with Lime

Start to finish: 20 minutes
Makes about 4 cups

WE FAVORED SMALL to medium strawberries for this recipe. If your berries are quite large, cut them into 1 inch pieces instead of quartering them. Use a wand-style grater to zest the limes, and avoid the bitter white pith. Cold or at room temperature, the berries and their sauce were wonderful spooned over biscuits and topped with whipped cream. Two pounds of strawberries makes enough for eight biscuit shortcakes.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 pounds strawberries, washed, dried, hulled and quartered
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • 4 teaspoons grated lime zest (2 to 3 limes)
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large bowl, use a potato masher or fork to mash 2 cups of the strawberries until few chunks remain. Stir in the sugar, zest and salt. Fold in the remaining strawberries. Cover and let sit until syrupy, at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours.

Don’t hull your strawberries before washing them; they may get waterlogged and lose flavor.


Lemon-Buttermilk Pound Cake

Start to finish: 1½ hours (30 minutes active)
Servings: 8

TO LIGHTEN traditionally dense pound cake, we separated the eggs, a trick we learned from Kathryn King of Atlanta’s Aria restaurant. Beating the whites resulted in a texture reminiscent of angel food cake, while the yolks and butter preserved the rich pound cake flavor. Baking soda made the cake even lighter, and a combination of lemon zest and juice produced a more complex citrus flavor. Begin checking the cake for doneness after 40 minutes and check frequently thereafter. At Aria, slices of the cake are buttered, toasted and served with fresh fruit and whipped cream.

INGREDIENTS

  • 13 tablespoons salted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 433 grams (2 cups plus 3 tablespoons) white sugar, plus extra, divided
  • 312 grams (2¾ cups) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons grated lemon zest, plus 3 tablespoons lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 5 large eggs, separated

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 325ºF with a rack in the middle position. Rub 1 tablespoon of the butter evenly over the pan, then use a pastry brush to ensure it gets into all corners. Sprinkle in a bit of sugar, then turn the pan to evenly coats all surfaces.

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a liquid measuring cup, combine the buttermilk and lemon juice; set aside.

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, whip the egg whites on medium-high until light and foamy, about 1 minute. With the mixer running, slowly sprinkle in 3 tablespoons of the sugar and continue to whip until the whites are thick and glossy and hold soft peaks, about 1 minute. Transfer the whites to a bowl and set aside, then add the remaining 2 cups of sugar and the lemon zest to the stand mixer’s bowl.

Using the paddle attachment, mix the sugar and zest on low until the sugar appears moistened and begins to clump, about 1 minute. Add the remaining 12 tablespoons of butter and mix on medium-low until the mixture is cohesive, then increase the mixer to medium-high and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the mixer to low and add the yolks, one at a time, mixing after each.

Add a third of the flour mixture, then mix on low. Add half of the buttermilk mixture, then mix again. Repeat the process of adding and mixing, ending with the final third of flour. Use a silicone spatula to fold ⅓ of the whipped egg whites into the batter until combined, then gently fold in the remaining whites until barely combined. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until golden brown and bounces back when gently pressed, 50 to 60 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.


Pistachio-Cardamom Loaf Cake

Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (15 minutes active), plus cooling

Makes one 9-inch loaf

WE GOT THE BEST RESULTS from grinding the nuts until they were nearly as fine as flour but still had some texture. If you can’t find unsalted pistachios, reduce the salt in the recipe by half. We preferred the clean taste of regular olive oil to butter, but vegetable oil also worked. If you prefer a stronger flavor, use extra-virgin olive oil. Cooling the cake was essential to maintaining the thick consistency of the glaze.

INGREDIENTS

  • 198 grams (1 cup) white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange zest, plus ¼ cup orange juice (about 1 orange)
  • 185 grams (1⅓ cups) shelled, unsalted pistachios, toasted and cooled 142 grams
  • (1 cup) all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plain whole-milk Greek-style yogurt
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for pan
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 85 grams (¾ cup) powdered sugar

INSTRUCTIONS

Heat the oven to 325ºF with a rack in the middle position. Lightly coat a 9-by- 5-inch loaf pan with oil and flour. In a food processor, combine the white sugar and orange zest; process until the sugar is damp and fragrant, 5 to 10 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add the pistachios to the processor and pulse until coarse, 8 to 10 pulses. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the nuts for topping. Add the flour, baking powder, cardamom and salt to the processor with the nuts. Process until the nuts are finely ground, about 45 seconds.

To the sugar mixture, whisk in the eggs, ½ cup of yogurt, the oil, orange juice and vanilla. Add the nut-flour mixture and fold until mixed. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and bake until golden brown, firm to the touch and a tooth- pick inserted at the center comes out with moist crumbs, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely, about 2 hours.

In a bowl, whisk the remaining yogurt with the powdered sugar until thick and smooth. Spread over the cake. Sprinkle with the reserved nuts. Let set for 10 minutes before serving.

Don’t skip toasting the pistachios. The differences in flavor and texture were significant between raw and toasted. Toast the nuts at 300ºF until they’re quite fragrant and begin to darken, 10 to 15 minutes.

PHOTO CREDIT: CONNIE MILLER OF CB CREATIVES