Tuesday, February 21, 2012

eating out

Months ago, my landlord put these bulbs in little jars of water. As I watched them freezing into solid ice-cube bulbs in December, I had my doubts.

I shouldn't have.

Spring does always come – even if you're a little narcissus bulb straining to bloom in a little jar of ice.

Now it's February and they've had just enough shelter in our foyer to grow way, way up and blossom right out. They were a nice treat to come home to after working and visiting friends in Vancouver last week. (It was ever so rainy, but that's Vancouver in February for you.)

All this travelling means I have new Vancouver restaurants to recommend: one Chinese and one with a cozy ski lodge feel. I'm also making up for lost time, and I've added favourite spots in Edmonton and up Vancouver Island. Hop on over to hop & go fetch it to read about them.

I'll be back with a new recipe soon – although I'm back on the road again this weekend. I did make a nice little eggplant parmesan for Valentine's Day, but it wasn't quite perfect. When it's up to snuff, I promise to share it with you. In the meantime: here's to eating out and not doing dishes!

One February ago: turnip puff to the rescue!
Two Februarys ago: lemon loaf, little lemon cakes and olympic nanaimo bars

Thursday, February 9, 2012

gumdrop cake and turning 2

Last night, I dreamed of gumdrop cake.

I saw a slice of cake, close up. It was white and fluffy and the gumdrops were perfectly distributed throughout the cake – you know, almost suspended in the air of the cake. It was a beautiful thing.

In fact, if you make this cake with regular wheat flour, that dream can be your reality.

If you make this cake with gluten-free flours, your pretty gumdrops will drop (ooh, foreshadowing!) to the bottom half of the cake and give you a gumdrop layer cake.

I have given this a great deal of thought today and I believe that, according to the laws of physics, that is just the way things are meant to be. I mean, with no gluten to hold up the gumdrops in the cake, what can they do but drop?

Anyway, all that to say: it doesn't matter! Because whether you have gumdrop studded cake or gumdrop layer cake, you still end up with a rich, buttery cake that is just right for celebrating.

Yes, this little blog is turning two and I thought rainbow gumdrops were appropriate for celebrating this toddler achievement. I am also celebrating with a new plum and star anise header and – coming very soon – a print button so you can quick-as-a-snap print just the recipe you want.

You might say, "Stephanie, my goodness, two years! You have posted 84 recipes in that time! What are your favourites?"

And I would say:

* grand forks borscht
* salmon with sugar-salt rub
* loganberry jelly
* chocolate raspberry horse turds
* sophisticated marshmallow squares
Or maybe you wouldn't say that at all and you would like me to get back to the gumdrop cake, please. Certainly.

 Mrs. Doucet strikes again!

I first tried this cake days – days, I tell you! – after New Year's when I was visiting Angela in Halifax many years ago. Her mom had sent this cake home with her after Christmas.

I had never eaten gumdrop cake before and I was entranced. I do believe I ate a small slice every day of the four or five days I visited. The cake was dense and soft, and the chewy gumdrops provided pockets of chewy, gummy love.

This cake has a somewhat indecent amount of butter. Do not be tempted to cut it. I repeat: do not. I do believe the butter – and the milk and the sugar – gives it a lovely buttery flavour and helps it have a long, stable shelf-life. (Which is perfect, since this cake is rich and you will be happy with just having a little slice every day.)

After all, it's birthday cake. It should have lots of butter and milk and sugar – and gumdrops.

One February ago:  whisky marmalade and bacon-wrapped dates with olives and almonds
Two Februarys ago: creamy celeriac soup and muesli
Related: gumdrop cookies

gumdrop cake

If you'd like to scale the recipe down to half – which I highly recommend if there is only one or two of you in the house – use a 6-inch pan and bake for about one hour and 15 minutes. If you use an 8-inch or 9-inch pan with half a recipe, bake for about 35 minutes.

2 c. regular gumdrops or jujubes*
1 c. butter
3 eggs
2 c. sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. + 2 1/2 c. wheat flour
     Or gluten-free flours:
     98 g. uncontaminated oat flour
     98  g. sweet white sorghum flour
     98 g. sweet rice flour
     98 g. tapioca or arrowroot starch
     98 g. potato starch
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 c. warm milk

Cut gumdrops into thirds and sprinkle with 1 cup of the flour. Cover them, and leave them to sit on the counter overnight.

When you're ready to start baking, preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter a tube pan. Dust with flour.

Beat the butter, eggs, sugar and vanilla together until somewhat fluffy. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the flour(s), baking powder and salt together well. Alternately add the milk and the dry ingredients to the butter mixture. Fold in gum drops. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until golden brown and your cake tester comes out clean. Let cool fully before eating. Keeps well in a sealed container on the counter for quite a while.

* Use regular gumdrops or jujubes, not the baking ones. Take out any that are black or clove-flavoured.