Chocolate Cake


Rosh Hashana is approaching and as usual there is a feeling of anticipation and excitement about what the New Year will bring.  Pouring over tattered recipes, trying to decide between making a traditional meal or trying something new, choosing which Challah recipe to use and do we want a sweet chicken or savory.  Will I make my mother’s apple cake, not because it is the best, but because it was the apple cake that she made, and when I make it I am reminded of her.  Of course, there are the guests, because what would a Yontif celebration be without guests.  For me that is the best part, the pull of the holidays to bring the family and friends home.  Not sure who will be here, but hopefully some calls will trickle in, and I will be grateful to share my table.

This recipe was given to me by my friend Susan T.  who raved about the results.  She was right, the cake is light and chocolaty and not too sweet.  It is a perfect cake for a birthday celebration.

Happy Birthday Shira!

Susan’s Chocolate Cake

3 cups all purpose flour

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2 cups cold water

1 cup oil

1 tbs vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour three 9″  round pans or two round pans and one loaf pan.  Sift together first five ingredients.  In another bowl, mix water, oil and vanilla.  Mix in dry ingredients and combine.  Add chocolate chips and divide batter into pans.

Bake about 25-30 minutes, till toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  Serves 8-10

Enjoy,

Irene

Gingerbread Cake

When we were growing up, it seemed that someone was always dropping in to visit with my mother.  They would sit at the kitchen table and talk, usually over a cup of coffee.  My mom’s closest friend, Fanny, would nibble on a spoonful of  jam instead of  a cookie.  Our lifestyle is not really conducive to dropping in on friends in such a casual way,  and so I was thrilled when my friend Lori came by last Sunday afternoon with a warm cake,  just out of the oven, and a book that she knew I would love.  We sat and chatted, and I was reminded of what we have lost in the shuffle of our busy schedules.  I miss dropping in on friends and I miss having friends drop in on us, but the sad part of the story occurred to me afterwards,  and that was that I never even offered her a cup of coffee.

Lori sent me the recipe along with a little explanation.

The recipe is called “Gingerybread” and is adapted (by me) from a lovely little breakfast/brunch cookbook from the Grant Corner Inn, a bed and breakfast located in a 106 year old Victorian house in Sante Fe, New Mexico.  It makes a large 10 x 14 inch cake that can easily serve more than 12 people.
Gingerybread
1 cup butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 cup dark molasses
1 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP strong coffee
1 3/4 boiling water
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup chopped candied ginger
Preheat oven to 325 and grease a 10 x 14 inch baking pan.
Cream shortening and sugar until fluffy.  Blend in eggs, coffee, vanilla, molasses and honey.  Stir in boiling water and set aside.
In a medium bowl sift together dry ingredients and then mix into liquids, blending well.
Fold in candied ginger. Bake at 325 for about 45 minutes or till top springs back when touched.
PS – The cookbook states that this recipe is similar to the way gingerbread is made in Scotland – dark and substantial.  My adaption was to omit the zest of an orange and substitute vanilla and coffee for 2 TBSP of brandy.
Note: This cake would be perfect for the holidays as an alternative to honey cake.  Lori halved the recipe without a problem and is experimenting with oil to make a pareve version.
Enjoy,
Irene

Olive Oil Cake

Having recently read The Girls From Ames, I have been thinking about women and their friendships, and how important those relationships are.  My mother had a habit of sitting at the windowsill looking down over the Concourse, where there were always women strolling arm in arm.  Sitting with her, I would imagine myself as an adult, walking with a friend, our arms intertwined. Unfortunately it is no longer in fashion for women to lock arms as they stroll, and the art of strolling has all but disappeared. What has not changed is the importance of female companionship.

This weekend my daughter came to visit us from NYC.  It just so happened that several of her oldest friends were also in town and were able to join us for various meals.  In different configurations, they came for dinner, lunch, and afternoon tea.  They laughed, talked, rolled their eyes (mostly at their mothers), shared confidences, and exchanged glances that clearly only they understood.  All very accomplished young women, each one passionate and full of life, I loved sitting back and watching them.  We have known two of the girls since birth and one since she was six.  Three now live in NYC and one in Los Angeles but the distances don’t seem to matter, or the time apart.  Having my daughter come home is always special, but knowing that this particular group of friends would be in Los Angeles at the same time, and that we would get to see them, turned the weekend into a celebration.  So, I baked the girls a cake, in the shape of a rose.

I found this recipe on one of my favorite food blogs, The Kosher Scene.   Norm said it tasted like a glazed buttermilk doughnut. Moist and delicious.

Olive Oil Cake

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups orange juice

5  eggs

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1  1/2 tsp kosher salt

3 c. granulated sugar

zest of  3 oranges

Glaze

1 cup confectioners sugar

Approximately 4 tsp of orange juice  (Mix juice with sugar until you have the consistency of a loose glaze, slowly, add more juice if needed)

Mix eggs in a large bowl.  Slowly add sugar, beating till egg mixture is light in color.  Add orange juice and stir till fluffy.  In a separate bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt.  Alternating, slowly add olive oil, and then flour,  to egg mixture, and beat until batter is smooth.  Mix in orange zest.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a Bundt pan. Add batter and bake for about 1 hour or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack for about 20 minutes and remove cake from pan.  Combine ingredients for glaze and drizzle over cake.

Enjoy,

Irene

Rena’s Cheesecake

Shavuot is approaching and the tradition is to serve dairy meals, stemming from a description of Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” What a wonderful opportunity to create meals with ingredients that I love.  Sweet butter, heavy cream, farmer cheese, cream cheese and sour cream will be transformed into vichyssoise, blintzes, cheesecake, and one of my childhood favorites, warm broad egg noodles tossed with butter, farmer cheese, cinnamon, and sugar.  Sweet and comforting.

Of course the quintessential dessert for Shavuot seems to be cheesecake and my friend Rena H. is the local Cheesecake Queen. She has been making this recipe for years, and although she has recently “lightened” it up, I prefer the original. Growing up, my son David always anticipated having Rena’s cheesecake during the holidays, as did we all.  I recently asked Rena to share this recipe and she told me it was originally adapted from a recipe by Dinah Shore!  Who knew!
On Wednesday Rena brought over this delicious cheesecake, made with the original recipe.
Here is the original recipe.

Rena’s Cheesecake

Crust:

1 and  3/4 cups Graham Cracker Crumbs

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 stick melted butter

Mix all ingredients together setting aside 3 tbsp for topping.  Press remaining mixture into bottom of 9″ spring-form pan.

Filling

3 eggs

2-8 oz. packages cream cheese (Rena uses Philadelphia brand)

1 cup sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

3 cups sour cream

Combine eggs with cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Blend in sour cream. Pour on top of crust and top with reserved crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for one hour. Chill for 4-5 hours or overnight.

Serves 12

Enjoy,

Irene




Sponge Cake


Almost there.  The kitchen is converted, not a speck of Hametz to be found.  It is only Friday afternoon and now in addition to planning for Passover, I am trying to figure out what we will eat tomorrow.  Tonight we are going to our synagogue for Shabbat dinner so one less meal to worry about.  Breakfast will be cheese and fruit but the real concern was afternoon tea.  A group of us have been getting together every Shabbat afternoon for many years but the Shabbat before Pesach is a challenge.  At first I cancelled,  but quickly reconsidered  knowing the day is long and, besides, what would  Shabbat afternoon be like without our friends gathered around.

So, last night I went to the Farmers’ Market and bought beautiful strawberries, a cherimoya, golden beets, purple kohlrabi and purple cabbage.  I came home this afternoon and made a Sponge Cake to serve with the strawberries.  I cooked a pot of quinoa to turn into a cold salad with roasted yellow beets, dried cranberries and mango.  I have no idea what I will do with the purple cabbage but I still have some time.

Truth be told the sponge cake looked beautiful when it came out of the oven (see photo).  It was high and golden and I inverted it and allowed it to cool and guess what? As it does every year, it fell.  I will slice it up and serve it with the strawberries on top and nobody will care. Here is the recipe I used which is pretty simple and I know that others have made with success!!!

Sponge Cake

7 eggs, room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tbs Meyer lemon juice

3/4 cup potato starch

dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Beat yolks till they are light and fluffy and turn a creamy yellow color. Slowly add sugar and lemon juice and beat till blended. Add potato starch and mix well.

Beat whites with salt till stiff peaks form. Fold into egg mixture and bake in ungreased tube pan. Invert and allow to cool.

Serve with strawberries.

Enjoy,

Irene

Essia’s Apple Cake

I wrote this last night in a state of exhaustion but I was determined to post a  recipe. I don’t know Essia very well but I wanted to add that I have reliable sources who say she is a very good cook.  Essia, thank you so much for sharing this recipe with me. I am definitely going to make it but I might take the liberty of using strawberries and rhubarb as the filling, for color contrast and because I love rhubarb!

A recipe from a member of Temple Beth Am’s Library Minyan.

Essia’s Passover Apple Cake

Batter

6 large eggs

1 cup oil

2 cups sugar

2 cups cake meal

2 Tbs potato starch

Combine ingredients in food processor for several minutes.

Apple Filling

4 large apples (Granny Smith)

1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tsp cinnamon

Peel and thinly slice apples,  toss with other ingredients. Allow to sit for several minutes.

In a 9 x 11 pan, alternate  batter and apples,  beginning with a layer of batter and ending with a layer of apples.

Topping

Combine 2 Tsp cinnamon with 1 Tsp sugar and 1/2 cup ground almonds or walnuts.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  NOTE:  Essia sent me an e-mail saying she used a springform pan which worked beautifully.

Enjoy,

Irene