Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

One of my pet peeves is how early product commercialization for the winter holidays begins. Just last week, when I walked through the electronic doors of a grocery store, the potent artificial scent of cinnamon pine cones accosted me. These pine cones were prominently on display at the entrance of the store. Why now? Is there really going to be a run on scented pine cones that you need to start selling them in August? I did not see pumpkins for sale, so why are scented pine cones available now? Instead of pine cones, grocery stores should feature the best produce that is in season now, like figs.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe
Fresh Mission Figs

I am pushing figs for several reasons, they are delicious, can be prepared for any type of meal, and I believe they are exquisite. In the Northeast US, figs have two short seasons in early summer and in late summer. In places like California, the season extends over the course of the summer. So, get them while you can because they will disappear soon.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

Eat them ripe and fresh as is, or serve with any number of cheeses. Figs and cheese are a classic pairing. I particularly enjoy figs with blue cheese or goat cheese. The sweetness of the fig mingles nicely with the sharp flavors of each cheese. Another great pairing is fig jam and brie. Figs are also delicious for dessert in cakes and pastries like an almond and fig tart. Or, make figs for a savory sauce for pork.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.
Figs with blue cheese and chopped walnuts.

I wanted to make an easy and elegant dessert and decided to simmer the figs in a simple syrup with warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, ginger and black pepper. Along with the spiced figs, I made a yogurt panna cotta. Together, the figs and panna cotta created an exquisite dessert with creamy, tangy and warm flavors. The silky texture of the panna cotta is so smooth and nicely contrasts with the vivid pink color and warmth of the spices in the sauce. I realize I complained about the cinnamon scented pine cones earlier, but this sauce has a natural cinnamon infusion along with other spices. It has just enough spice for the early fall.  What is great about this simple syrup recipe is you can use whatever spices you like. Freshly grated nutmeg, allspice, star anise, thyme, and rosemary are all wonderful choices to infuse this light fig sauce.

Figs and Prosciutto Salad Recipe

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe

Along with the fig sauce, panna cotta is one of the easiest desserts to make and has a luscious silky texture. My recipe is based on one from Food and Wine magazine. There are no eggs, just cream, yogurt, sugar and gelatin. You can adjust the flavor of the panna cotta with a number of sweeteners and spices. Because sugar is not important to the structure of panna cotta, it is easy to vary the amount of sugar when you make it. You can adjust the amount depending upon how sweet your sauce or fruit is.

I am always looking for ways to use my homemade yogurt, so I included yogurt in my recipe. If you do not like yogurt, you can use a mixture of whole milk and heavy cream. I have also seen recipes for using goat cheese, yogurt and milk. Or, use a plant based milk product such as almond or coconut milk. I have read from TheKitchn, that unflavored Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts works very nicely for panna cotta. Currently, Vegan Jel by Natural Desserts is unavailable on Amazon. However, other vegan gelatin alternatives are available. Also, I read Whole Foods carries Vegan Jel. If anyone has used it I would love to know how you like it.

 

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

The most difficult thing when making panna cotta, is unmolding it from your ramekins or cups. I recommend a ramekin with smooth sides as it is easier to run a knife around the edge. Also recommended, is a light coating of canola or vegetable oil. The oil, and a quick dunk in a warm bath will eventually release the panna cotta from the dish to present on a plate. Or, forget about unmolding it and serve it directly in the container you set it in.

Save the scented pine cones for when it is cold enough to build a fire in the fire place and threatening to snow. Now is the time to set our sights on fresh produce, recently harvested and ripe. Fresh figs are a real treat so get them while you can.

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta recipe.

 

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Prep Time: 3 hours, 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 3 hours, 42 minutes

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: Italian American

6

Serving Size: 1- 4 ounce panna cotta with fruit and syrup

Spiced Figs with Yogurt Panna Cotta

Spiced fresh figs in a simple syrup is the perfect pair with creamy and tangy yogurt panna cotta. Season the simple syrup with any spices you prefer, or use the ones suggested in this recipe. This dessert is so easy to make and gives an elegant presentation that defies its simplicity. Panna cotta with fresh figs simmered in a spicy syrup is a real thing of beauty to look at and eat.

If you do not have ramekins, small coffee cups will work. Or, use wine glasses and serve them straight from the glass without unmolding them. If you serve them in glasses or cups, make sure there is plenty of room to add the fruit and spiced syrup.

The panna cotta recipe is adapted from Food and Wine Magazine, Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey-Glazed Apricots. The spiced figs recipe is adapted from, The Spruce, Figs in Spiced Syrup.

See notes for ingredient substitutions.

Ingredients

    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  • Canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin 2 1/4 tsp (7 g)
  • 2 TB cold water
  • 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup (68 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp real vanilla extract, or 1 vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
  • 1- 17.6 oz (500 g) tub Greek yogurt, about 2 cups
    Spiced Figs
  • 1/3 cup (36 g) walnuts halves
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 cup (250 ml) water
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1/2 stick cinnamon
  • 1-inch (2.54 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
  • 3 black peppercorns
  • 1/8 tsp anise seed
  • 12 fresh figs

Instructions

    Yogurt Panna Cotta
  1. If you are planning to unmold the panna cotta, lightly grease the sides and bottoms of 6 - 1/2 cup (4 oz /125 ml) ramekins. Set aside. No need to do this step if you are keeping the panna cotta in the serving container.
  2. Add the gelatin and 2 Tb cold water to a small bowl. Let the gelatin rest to soften for 5 minutes.
  3. In a small sauce pan add the cream, sugar, vanilla or vanilla bean, and bring to a slight simmer Once the sugar is completely dissolved, turn off the heat and add the gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is melted.
  4. Pour the yogurt into a medium mixing bowl and whisk out any lumps. If using, remove the vanilla bean. Slowly add the cream into the bowl with the yogurt. Stir, or whisk, as you add the cream to help temper the yogurt.
  5. Once combined, pour the yogurt mixture into the greased 1/2 cup ramekins, or other serving containers and refrigerate, uncovered, at least 3 hours until set. It should look and feel solid with a little bit of jiggle. Once the panna cotta is set, cover each dish with plastic wrap until ready to serve.
    Spiced Figs
  1. Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) skillet over high heat. When the pan is nice and hot, but not smoking, add the walnut pieces and toast until the oil releases. Keep the walnuts in motion, by stirring them or flipping the nuts in the pan like a pro. You will know the walnuts are toasted when you see a slight sheen on the pan’s bottom surface and on your walnuts. Also, the aroma of the walnuts will be slightly more pronounced. Be careful not to burn the walnuts, or they will taste bitter. Remove the walnuts immediately from the skillet to cool.
  2. Add the water and sugar to a sauce pan just large enough to fit all the figs. Turn the heat to medium high and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the spices and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Clean and trim the figs. Clean the figs by wiping them gently with a damp cloth. Remove the stems and discard. Add the figs and walnuts to the syrup and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the figs and place on a plate and turn off the heat. Cool the figs and syrup separately so the figs do not fall apart. After 15 minutes or so, strain the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl and add the figs. Serve warm or chilled.
  5. Store the figs in the syrup in the refrigerator in a covered container. They will last for two weeks, covered in the refrigerator.
    Assemble the panna cotta and spiced figs
  1. Remove the panna cotta from the ramekins. Run a thin sharp knife around the inside edge of the ramekin. Dip the container into warm water for 10 seconds. Remove the ramekins and place upside down on your serving dish. Tap the sides and top of your ramekins and jiggle them to encourage the panna cotta to slide out. If no movement occurs, dip the ramekin right side up in the warm water again. Try again. Repeat until the panna cotta are all unmolded.
  2. If you are not serving them right away, loosely cover each panna cotta with plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Just before serving, spoon the spiced syrup over and around the panna cotta. Arrange the figs and walnuts on top or around the panna cotta and serve.

Notes

Use any spice combination you like. Cinnamon, clove, ginger, cardamom, freshly grated nutmeg, allspice berries, vanilla bean, black peppercorns are all good suggestions. The spices in the simple syrup are subtly blended and not an overpowering taste experience.

I realize not everyone likes yogurt, so substitute the yogurt with 2 cups (500 ml) whole milk. and continue as directed. Any ratio of yogurt, to heavy cream, to half and half, to milk will work if you use the specified amount of gelatin for 3 cups (750 ml) of dairy.

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Cheese and Chive Herb Bread

Each year as my garden matures, the herb garden expands as well. Slowly, the herb bed has inched deeper into the precious sunny real-estate and has started replacing my lawn. I add one or two more herb plants a year and build my dream herb garden. One herb plant that is thriving is my chive plant. Fortunately, it is not growing out of control, but remains nicely contained in a tall spiky mound.

Cheese and Chives Herb Bread

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

The plant grows without a lot of disturbance because I rarely use fresh chives in my cooking. However, it needed a thinning and removal of all the spent flowers before they spread their seeds. Afterwards, I was left with a large bundle of chives and a new challenge, how to use up all the chives before they go bad. This is the type of challenge I enjoy, and inspires me to look for new ideas.

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

I wanted to make something different, yet easily prepared and quick to finish. What I dreamed of was a recipe from Season 3 of The Great British Baking Show, Ian’s quick bread with wild garlic. While watching the episode, the smell of the wild garlic and bread traveled across the ocean and through my television, and I have craved it ever since. Unfortunately, I could not find his recipe. Rather, I came upon a recipe, which although is not British in nature, has that oniony-bready fix I was looking for.

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

This recipe is a savory bread with chives and cheddar cheese by Dorie Greenspan on the website, Serious Eats. It was exactly what I was craving, a savory quick bread to unload my bundle of chives, and give me some immediate satisfaction. I slightly adapted her recipe, and used Gruyère cheese, chives, garlic chives, lemon thyme and nixed the walnuts.

Dorie explains in her recipe; the French refer to just about everything made in a pan as a cake. A loaf such as this, is called, “cake salé” (meaning, salty or savory cake). This is a very light and cake-like bread that is perfect as a snack or appetizer paired with wine, beer or any cocktail. Like cake, it is light and airy in texture, but it is rich in flavor from the cheese and herbs. I also enjoyed this herb bread for lunch as avocado toast with lemon thyme and a drizzle of olive oil.

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

As Dorie recommends, this is a bread recipe to play around with. Use the dough as your foundation and switch up the cheese and herbs as you wish. A traditional cake salé recipe from France uses Emmentaller, Gruyère, or a mixture with Parmesan. She made her recipe with cheddar cheese and chives for a local US inspired loaf. She also recommends other add-in substitutes like nuts, diced ham, olives, pesto and cooked vegetables.

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

More appetizer ideas:

Crispy Potato Skins- 2 ways

Spinach Artichoke Dip with Bacon

Asparagus with Orange Mayo

Making this cheese and chive herb bread is an amazing sensory treat. Every time I snipped, spread and stirred the chives, their scent came forward like an herbal wave engulfing the dough. Once in the oven, the smell of the baking herb bread filled my house with comforting aromas of melting cheese, bright onions and baking bread.

I love it when I discover something new and it turns out to be a smash hit. This recipe is so easy, I am sure to make it several times and continue to personalize it. I know something is delicious when every 5 minutes my husband and son kept repeating, “Oh, this is soo good. This is really good”. This is no exaggeration. It was all I could do to keep them from eating the whole loaf.

Cheese and Chive Herb Bread recipe

Cheesy Herb Bread

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Category: Snack or appetizer

Cuisine: French - American

About 12-14 slices

Serving Size: 1 slice of bread

Cheesy Herb Bread

A savory quick bread filled with cheese and fresh herbs makes for a wonderful snack or appetizer. This pairs exceptionally well served with chilled wine or cold beer.

This recipe is adaptable to suit any mood or taste. Cheddar, Swiss, Parmesan or other hard cheeses are great fillers with a variety of fresh herbs. I like chives with lemon thyme, but basil or any combination of herbs will taste great. Anything goes with this bread.

The recipe is slightly adapted form Savory Cheddar-Chive Bread by Dorie Greenspan on www.seriouseas.com

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup (268 g) All-purpose flour
  • 1 TB Baking powder
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp Kosher salt (amount of salt depends on the cheese and other add ins)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground white pepper
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) whole milk, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 oz (75 g) coarsely grated cheese like Gruyere or cheddar
  • 2 oz (50 g) diced cheese like Gruyere or cheddar
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) minced chives or other herbs
  • 1 - 2 TB chopped lemon thyme

Instructions

  1. Set the oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat the oven to 375˚F / 190˚C / Gas Mark 5, and generously butter a loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and pepper until evenly combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl add the eggs, then whisk until well combined and somewhat frothy. Add the milk and olive oil and whisk together.
  4. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Mix until everything is just combined. You do not want to over work the dough and there is no need for the dough to be thoroughly mixed together. Stir until everything is just mixed, it won't be smooth.
  5. Stir in all the cheese, herbs and any other add ins you have, like chopped walnuts. The dough is thick, but carefully work in the cheese and herbs until evenly distributed. Don't overwork the dough.
  6. Scrape into your prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 to 45 minutes. The bread is done when it has a golden brown crust, and a cake tester inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean.
  7. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge of your pan and remove the bread from the pan. Cool the loaf on the rack until it is at room temperature.
  8. Best eaten the day it is made, but it will keep for a day, wrapped in plastic wrap and stored on the counter.
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Nifty Cake with Strawberries Peaches and Cream

A tribute to my father for his many gifts and love. Dad gave me my first photography lesson and encouraged me to continue with it along the way. Included with this tribute is a cake recipe for Nifty Cake. An updated version of the birthday cake I baked for him when I was a teenager. This cake recipe features his favorite fruits, strawberries and peaches.  GS

Over the past few weeks my dad and his memory has filled my thoughts. His forward presence came around for no other reason than it is strawberry season. Dad loved strawberries, especially strawberries and cream. I can clearly see him sitting at the head of the table with a bowl of strawberries, pouring heavy cream all over them and then add a sprinkle of sugar. Whenever strawberries were in the house, this was his impromptu dessert.

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Whipped Cream cake recipe

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Whipped Cream cake recipe

I would watch his strawberry and cream routine with a raised eyebrow and a sideways smirk, “Really Dad? You’re drinking heavy cream.” I could not see how heavy cream, even adorned with strawberries, was worthy of such attention. Eating sweetened whipped cream I understood, but cream straight out of the container was gross. Ignoring my smirky adolescent attitude, Dad would dive into his bowl of strawberries and cream like a seasoned athlete, ever so focused and determined to savor every drop. Eventually, he would look up seeing my adolescent stare and say, “What? It’s great. Do you want some?” He was always eager to share the things that brought him joy.

It amazes me how random and small instances, or thoughts, can bring out strong emotions and memories. Once the strawberry trigger hit me, memories of my life with Dad filled me with his spirit, and it hasn’t left. I am not sad with these memories, it is nice to feel his presence since I can no longer see or talk with him. He gave me many gifts over our lifetime together, and I am grateful for the precious time we spent together.

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Cream cake recipe

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Cream cake recipe

One common interest we shared is still very prominent in my life. He gave me my first photography lesson. I can’t remember if I initiated it or not, but when I was around 12 years old he took me out to the dry grassy hills above Old St. Hilary Church and taught me how to use his Tele-Rolleiflex camera and his light meter. Tele-Rollei is a 120mm camera that required the photographer to look down into a viewing box to see the image. Also, a separate hand-held light meter was needed to determine the exposure. There was a lot to learn, and each photograph took extra time to set up and capture.

One of Dad’s favorite activities was taking pictures of wildflowers. So, on my first day I wandered along the Tiburon hills photographing wildflowers with apt attention and a new-found love. That day is as vivid to me like a bright California summer day. I wonder if Dad initiated this outing because the two of us were just sitting around the house and he thought we both needed something to do.

I recently found the photographs I took on our day together. Dad saved them filed with his slides as, “Jennifer’s Pictures.” Seeing my slides organized with his, made me feel that day was as important to him as it was to me. After all these years I never knew he had them. Ever since that day on the Tiburon hills, photography has been a significant part of my life. Thanks Dad.

Father’s Day BBQ recipe ideas to serve with Nifty Cake: 

Grilled Sherry Marinated Flank Steak

Garden Vegetable Pasta Salad

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Cream cake recipe

Nifty Cake Recipe for Dad

When I was in middle school I started making birthday cakes for my family. I would ask my brothers what cake they wanted and set out to bake it for them. For Dad’s birthday I did not ask him what he wanted, I knew. I created a cake overflowing with his favorite fruits: yellow butter cake (from a mix), layered with strawberries, peaches and whipped cream.

This was my first “original” cake recipe. I piled the middle layer with whipped cream and fruit, then frosted the entire cake with more whipped cream and decorated with strawberries and peaches. It was a miracle the cake did not topple over. This cake is a strawberry, peaches and cream lover’s dream come true, and I made it for him every year until I went away to college.

Dad often used the expression “nifty” when he described something fun. In his honor, I decided to recreate my cake recipe I made for dad and call it Nifty Cake. When I first developed this cake recipe for Dad I used a cake mix. Now, I make cakes from scratch and had a lot of fun figuring out the type of cake to make. After testing several cake recipes, I decided on a Buttermilk Cake from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s book, The Cake Bible. I slightly adapted her cake recipe and substituted all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, because it is an ingredient people can easily get.

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Cream cake recipe

This buttermilk cake recipe with strawberries, peaches and sweetened whipped cream can be dressed up or kept simply adorned. If you are a person who does not like frosting, this is the cake for you. This is a delicate cake with slight tang and prominent butter flavor. It is delicious all by itself, or covered with any type of frosting. This cake is a blank canvas for endless varieties of frosting and toppings. It is the perfect cake for the strawberries and cream lover in your life.

Love and miss you Dad.

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Whipped Cream

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Category: Dessert

Cuisine: American

8-10 servings

Nifty Cake: Buttermilk Cake with Strawberries, Peaches and Whipped Cream

Nifty Cake is a buttermilk cake with strawberries, peaches and sweetened whipped cream. It is a delicious and simple cake that is appropriate for any occasion. The buttermilk cake can easily be eaten plain, topped with whipped cream and fruit on the side. It is the perfect cake for those who do not like frosting, as well as served with any variety of frosting you wish.

The buttermilk cake recipe was slightly adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum recipe, "Buttermilk Country Cake" in "The Cake Bible Cookbook".

Ingredients

    Buttermilk Cake
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup / 5.5 oz / 160 g buttermilk
  • 1/2 tea pure vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tbls / 7 oz / 200 grams sifted all-purpose flour (see note)
  • 1 cup / 7 oz / 200 g sugar
  • 1 TB / 15 g baking powder
  • 1/2 tea / 3.5 g Kosher salt
  • 8 TB / 4 oz / 113 g unsalted butter - softened
    Fruit Filling
  • 8 oz / 225 g Fresh Strawberries
  • 1/2 Fresh Peach
  • 1/3 cup / 75 ml best quality strawberry or peach jam
    Whipped Cream Frosting
  • 2 cups / 16 oz / 500 ml heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tea pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tea sugar
  • Decorate the top of the cake with additional peach slices and strawberries.

Instructions

    Buttermilk Cake
  1. You will have more success if all your ingredients are at room temperature when you begin mixing the cake batter.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit /175 degrees Celsius/ Gas Mark 4
  3. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch (23cm) springform cake pan. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper, then butter the paper. Lightly flour the bottom and sides of the cake pan. Shake out excess flour.
  4. In a medium bowl lightly mix together the egg yolks, 1/4 of the buttermilk, and vanilla.
  5. In a mixing bowl of a stand mixer add the sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix together for a few seconds on low speed so they are all fully blended. Add the butter, cut up in tablespoons pieces, and the remaining buttermilk to the mix. Mix the ingredients together on low speed until the dry ingredients are incorporated with the butter. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 1.5 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and scrape the batter off the
  6. paddle/beaters.
  7. Add the buttermilk/egg mixture to the flour in 3 intervals, beating the batter for 20 seconds between each addition. After mixing the batter, scrape down the sides of the bowl and paddle attachment.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and smooth out the surface with an offset spatula. Bake the cake for 30-40 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean and dry.
  9. Take the cake out of the oven and let it cool for 10 minutes in its pan on a cooling rack. Run a knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake from the sides. Turn the cake out of the pan and remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake. Turn the cake over, right side up, and place on the cooling rack. The cake should be completely cooled before frosting and serving.
  10. This cake is best eaten the same day it is made, but will last wrapped airtight in plastic wrap, for 3 days on the counter, 5 days in the refrigerator, and for 2 months in the freezer.
    Fruit Filling
  1. Clean and remove the stems from the strawberries. Dry with paper towels. Cut the strawberries into bite size pieces and put into a small bowl.
  2. Peal the skin off the peach, then slice into thin segments. Cut each segment into bite size pieces and add to the bowl with the strawberries. Gently mix the fruit together until well combined. Set aside.
    Whipped Cream
  1. Chill the bowl you will use to make whipped cream and the beaters in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Take the bowl and beaters out of the freezer and add cold heavy cream and vanilla to the chilled bowl. Beat the cream mixture on high speed until the cream forms soft peaks. Add the sugar and beat on high until stiff peaks are formed when the beaters are lifted from the cream. Be careful not to over mix and turn the cream into butter. If you are planning to frost the cake with the cream, you will want the stiff peaks. If you are planning to have the whipped cream only for the middle and top cake layers the whipped cream can be softer and not whipped as stiff.
    Putting the cake together
  1. Divide the cake in half horizontally to make two layers. (See Note) Put the bottom layer on a serving plate and the top layer on another plate or rimless pan or tray. (Cardboard cake rounds are perfect if you have them)
  2. Evenly spread the strawberry or peach jam across the top of the bottom cake layer. Spread 1 cup of the whipped cream evenly across the jam.
  3. Add the mixed fruit then spread the fruit. Press the fruit evenly into the cream so that there is a flat and smooth fruit/cream layer.
  4. Slide the top cake layer on top of the bottom cake layer, lining up the notches on the side, (see note). Add the remaining whipped cream and spread it over the top of the cake. Decorate the cake with additional peaches and strawberries as you wish.
  5. The cake is best served the same day it is made. Add the fruit and whipped cream to the cake as close to serving time as comfortable. Store the cake in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Take the cake out of the refrigerator 15 minutes before serving.
  6. After 24 hours the cake will get soggy and the whipped cream will loosen.

Notes

I find I have more consistent results when I weight my dry ingredients whenever I bake. The original recipe was calculated using cake flour. I decided to use all-purpose flour because the cake made with cake flour was very delicate and did not hold together well. 200 grams of cake flour is about 2 cups of cake flour. 200 grams of all-purpose flour is shy of two cups of flour. You do not want to add a full 2 cups of all-purpose flour, or the cake will be too dry. If you switch up any flours or dry ingredients it is always better to follow the weight vs the volume measurement for accuracy.

There are many ways to slice cake layers in half horizontally and different tools you could buy. I cut cake layers using a ruler, toothpicks and a long serrated knife. I am not brave enough to cut it in half without a guide. First, cut a small vertical mark on the side of the cake. This mark will be your guide to evenly line up your layers. Measure with a ruler the middle point around the circumference of the cake. Mark the middle with a toothpick every 3 inches all the way around the side of the cake. Put one hand gently on top of the cake with the other hand working the knife. Place the middle of a long serrated knife against the top of the toothpicks and make a cut, or score, around the circumference of the cake. Use the hand on the cake to turn the cake as you cut. Continue to cut in a circle around the edge of the cake, focusing your eye on the tip end of the knife. It helps keeps the knife level. Cut your way around the cake, gradually cutting toward the middle and then all the way through.

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Nectarine and Blueberry Galette

There is nothing like eating a fresh ripe nectarine or any ripe fruit for that matter. Its sweet perfume and the soft give of its’ flesh, informs me that I am holding a delicious and ripe nectarine. I love the warm colors. Each nectarine has a unique and variegated mosaic of rich sunset colors. No two nectarines are the same. The bright perfume and one bite will tell you just how ripe the nectarine is. As the juice drips down my chin and elbow I forego all good manners just to get every drop of its sweet juice. To eat a fresh ripe nectarine, is tasting the fruit at its brightest and sweetest. I am in awe of Mother Earth and her many nourishing gifts.

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette reicpe

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette recipe

Fresh fruit is refreshing and delicious, but sometimes extra preparation and cooking will reward you with a sweeter and more concentrated fruit-filled flavor.  A simple baked fruit tart is an easy and delicious choice for a summer dessert.  One of my favorite baked fruit dessert is a galette. The free form structure of a fruit galette is just my style. I love pie, but I am never satisfied with how mine look. I feel a lot of pressure to present a pristine and detailed pie crust without any flaws. Whenever I try to make a pie, I feel like my fingers just get in the way and I lack the extra-fine motor skills to perform such neat and detailed work. I know practice makes perfect, but the simplicity and informality of a galette appeals to me.

Nectarine and Blueberry Galette reicpe

 

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Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing

Every time I walk around the Farmers Market I feel like I am on a treasure hunt. There is an element of familiarity with each vender, but also curiosity as the seasons transition from the sparse offerings of early spring to the abundant fall harvest. At every visit, I anticipate the changing produce and new discoveries.  Fortunately, this past week was no exception for I discovered sorrel.

Potato Salad with Sorrel Dressing Recipe

In my area, sorrel is only available at Farmers Markets. It is a green leafy vegetable with a bright lemony flavor. It is a hardy plant but for some reason does not have wide appeal. However, every vegetable centered cookbook I own has a few sorrel recipes.  Therefore, it must have some appeal. If Deborah Madison and Alice Walters took the time to highlight this vegetable, it is worth bringing home to see for myself.

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