Monday, March 8, 2010

A Lady Cake for Yvonne

Well, apparently yesterday was grandmother's day in France. Nicolas shared this news with us Friday (having learned it from his girlfriend) and so I got to work preparing the cake and vegetables for the family meal on Sunday at the winery.

And, for reasons unknown, a favorite cake from my childhood browsings of Joy of Cooking (1960 edition) came to mind. As we all know everything is findable on the internet, and so not having the book on hand, I was still able to find a good copy of the recipe:

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup milk
3 cups flour (I believe this is for pastry flour, as I had 65 grade meant for breads, I ended up using 2 1/2 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 beaten egg whites
and I added a pinch of salt...

Without a proper electric beater (the winery is only minimally equipped for those who enjoy cooking and baking) I had to use a fork to mash the softened butter (I'd left it out on the counter, happily) into the sugar. I then added some of the milk, then some of the flour, etc., etc., till I got to a thick paste. I then mixed in a third of the egg whites, followed by the rest. Not having a spatula, I simply mixed gently, but no doubt lost some of the lightness and air the egg whites might have conveyed if treated more gently.

The cake baked up easily in the mini-oven -- though it took over an hour. A. because the oven is pretty dinky, and B. because the batter is quite heavy. A light sponge cake this is not.

While the cake baked, I made an orange syrup to pour over it with the juice of two oranges and a cup plus of sugar. I also prepared the ingredients for my ganache topping: 200 grams finely chopped dark baking chocolate, 100ml light cream and three pats of sweet butter.

Once the cake was out of the oven, flipped onto a plate and dowsed in syrup, I got to work heating my cream for the ganache. I poured the hot cream over the chopped chocolate, blended it together to "faire une mayonnaise" as they say here, and then added the butter till blended as well.

In the past I've used lemon juice/orange juice and powdered sugar to make a simple glaze for this cake with very good results.

The ganache went on smoothely, and the cake awaited the next day partly in the fridge, and partly on the dining table. Yum!

Oh yes, just to keep things amusing, I made a crême anglaise to accompany the cake: 2 cups milk, 5 egg yolks and a 1/3 cup sugar. Heat the first, blend the sugar into the egg yolks, add some of the heated milk to the egg yolks, whisking, then pour the egg yolks into the milk in the sauce pan (heavy bottomed, stainless recommended). Whisk and whisk and whisk, -- as the milk is already quite hot, this goes very very quickly. In a couple of minutes the milk had thickened. I removed the cream from the stove, poured it into a cooler and shallower recipient, whisked some more, and let it cool. Perfect to dollop atop the cake the next day.

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