The only Swedish I learned while in Sweden was tack (thank you) and hungrig (hungry). Well, since yesterday was Sweden’s National Day and I was feeling a little hungrig, I decided to make an almond cake with strawberries and whipped cream. It turned out well, but I won’t post the recipe since it had some glaring errors (no mention of what to do with the dry ingredients!).
I should note that Sweden’s National Day is a relatively new holiday, celebrated first in 2005. It’s not popular with everyone there, partly because many Swedes consider Midsummer to be their national day. Even though I am not Swedish, I can’t pass up an opportunity to pull out the herring and aquavit and bake a delicious cake.
Matthew: I was recently looking around in Penzeys Spices at all the interesting spices and seasonings and I decided, on a whim, to buy some cardamom. I had never baked or cooked with it before, but I remembered seeing recipes that called for it. Luckily, I was able to find some really ripe strawberries at the Middleton Farmer’s Market too so that I could make this strawberry cardamom crumb cake. I purchased cardamom seeds already taken out of the pod, but I still needed to grind them for the recipe with my mortar and pestle. The cake itself was really easy to make and turned out really well. The aromatic quality of the cardamom paired nicely with the fresh, sweet flavor of the strawberries. I’ll definitely be looking for more recipes that I can use cardamom in.
Matthew: My goal for Valentine’s Day was to make a very indulgent chocolaty dessert. Last year around this time I made molten chocolate cakes, but this time I went for a more traditional cake. I had some leftover Guinness to use up, so I used this King Arthur’s Flour chocolate stout cake recipe that had a lot of good reviews. I wanted to be indulgent, but when I looked at the ingredient list (4 sticks of butter! 1 pound of chocolate! 4 cups sugar! 2 cups cream!) I decided that half the recipe would be more than enough for me. I just made one 9-inch cake and topped it with a nice thick layer of the ganache. I used Hershey’s special dark cocoa and Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate, so the cake has a very intense dark chocolate flavor. Next time, I might mix in a bit of semisweet chocolate just to add a little more sweetness to the ganache. It is really delicious though and it goes perfectly with a glass of red wine.
Matthew: I had a few leftover apples from apple season, so I decided to make a really easy apple cake recipe that is in my William-Sonoma Essentials of Baking cookbook. I’ve made the cake several times before and it is good just plain or, if you want to be more decadent, with cream cheese frosting. I’m sure the maple syrup frosting recipe that accompanies the cake would be good too, but it calls for 1 cup of maple syrup! That would be expensive frosting. It is also a good recipe to make if you have a little leftover buttermilk. Here’s the recipe:
Preheat oven to 350. Whisk together in a medium bowl: 2 c flour, 1 t baking powder, 1 t baking soda, 1 t cinnamon, 1/2 t nutmeg, 1/2 t salt.
Cream 3/4 c butter and 1 1/2 c sugar for 3-5 minutes. Beat in 3 eggs, one at a time. Fold in 1/3 of flour mixture, then half of the 1/2 c buttermilk, 2nd third of flour, rest of buttermilk, and last third of flour. Fold in 2 c peeled, chopped apples.
Pour into 9×13 in pan and bake for 35-40 minutes.
Matthew: I decided to make a chocolately treat while watching the Olympics the other night. This recipe for molten chocolate cakes from the New York Times was easy enough that I could make it during the commercial breaks and not miss any of the action. I just used enough batter to fill two 3″ ramekins and refrigerated the rest for later. I figured these would be best right out of the oven for fresh eating! And, they were! A perfect pair for an exciting night of competition.