17 May 2018

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake - A Feeds-A-Crowd Half Sheet Cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake is not something I would have made back in my days of fancy layer cakes.

Ages ago I took a long series of cake decorating lessons and spent many hours converting all of my cake, frosting and filling recipes to work with all the various sized pans I might be using for different numbers of people.

Gradually (quite quickly, actually!) I acquired all the equipment one would need to make all sorts of beautiful cakes for any occasion, including weddings. It was fun, but I am so over all that!

Sure, I'll still do a fancy cake once in a while, if I happen to get in the mood. Usually, I just make a layer cake (homemade, of course) frosted and filled with a buttery icing and maybe do a simple piped border.

But for days when even that is too much effort ... there's always one of my quick and easy sheet cakes that are served right from the pan—a quarter-sheet pan or a half-sheet pan for a big feeds-a-crowd cake like this.

It is quite a flat cake, tender and velvety, and can be cut into about seven or eight dozen 1 1/2-inch squares as a quick and easy stand-in for petits fours (I don't make those anymore either!) at your next large tea party.

I like to spread the frosting on while the cake is still warm so it sort of melts into a smooth, shiny glaze. But in this case, it just looks like frosting because the cake completely cooled while I ran to the store for some powdered sugar.

I know, I know, you’re supposed to make sure you have everything before you start cooking (mise en place). And I did. But what I thought was powdered sugar was actually tapioca flour, so …

You might also like my Banana Sheet Cake and, soon, my Fresh Peach Sheet Cake. Are you for making easy sheet cakes this summer? 

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake - A Feeds-A-Crowd Half Sheet / www.delightfulrepast.com

Meyer Lemon Sheet Cake

(Makes 18x13x1-inch half-sheet, 32 servings)

The Cake

4 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/3 cups (10.67 fluid ounces/315 ml) buttermilk, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 dip-and-sweep cups (12.5 ounces/354 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (12.25 ounces/347 grams) sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 sticks (7 ounces/198 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
Finely grated zest of 3 Meyer lemons

The Frosting

6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
3 firmly packed cups (12 ounces/340 grams) unsifted powdered sugar
1/16 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons (1.5 fluid ounces/44 ml) fresh Meyer lemon juice

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Spray an 18x13x1-inch half-sheet pan with cooking spray; don’t try to make-do with a smaller pan, or the batter will overflow.

2 In medium bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/3 cup of the buttermilk and the vanilla extract.

3 In large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; with electric mixer on low speed, mix for 1 minute to blend (it rather takes the place of sifting). Add the softened butter and remaining buttermilk. Mix on low speed until combined. Mix on medium-high speed for 1 1/2 minutes. Beat in the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition. Stir in the lemon zest by hand; otherwise, the zest gets all tangled up in the beaters.

4 Pour into prepared pan. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool slightly on wire rack, about 15 minutes, before frosting. While the cake is cooling just a bit, make the frosting.

5 In large mixing bowl, beat softened butter. Gradually beat in confectioner's sugar, then salt, vanilla and lemon juice. With offset spatula, apply thinly to the slightly cooled cake. It will melt a bit into a smooth, shiny glaze. Let cool thoroughly, 3 to 4 hours, before serving.


10 May 2018

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird muffins are just the thing to make when you’re craving Hummingbird Cake but don’t want to go to quite that much trouble. Of course, you could slap a little cream cheese frosting on these muffins and call them hummingbird cupcakes, even though they have less sugar than actual cupcakes.

This was one of those days when I was missing a vital ingredient—in this case, eggs—but would rather take a beating than venture out to the grocery store. So I decided today was the day to try something I’ve wanted to try for a long time: “flax eggs." I had the ground flaxseed meal on hand, so why not?

I was really pleased with the results. The muffins seemed no different from muffins made with eggs.

So if you or someone you know is vegan or allergic to eggs, you can make this recipe with “flax eggs" and, for vegans, with an oil in place of the butter. Though flax is certainly no across-the-board substitute for an egg, it should work fine in things like muffins, quick breads and cookies.

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins / www.delightfulrepast.com

Hummingbird Muffins - Banana-Pineapple Muffins

(Makes 12)

1 1/3 dip-and-sweep cup (6.67 ounces/189 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup (2 ounces/57 grams) finely chopped pecans, toasted
6 tablespoons (3 ounces/85 grams) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces/99 grams) sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature OR 2 flax eggs*
2/3 cup (5.85 ounces/166 grams) mashed very ripe banana (1 large 8.25-ounce/234-gram banana in its skin)
1 8-ounce (227 grams) can unsweetened crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice, undrained

* To make 2 “flax” eggs:
In small bowl, gradually whisk 6 tablespoons of boiling water into 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal; let stand for 5 minutes, until gelatinous.

1 Preheat oven (toaster oven is perfect for hot summer days) to 375F/190C/Gas5. In 4-cup glass measure or small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir in finely chopped and toasted pecans.

2 In 2-quart glass measure or bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Beat in eggs, beating well. Stir in mashed banana (a fork works just fine on a very ripe banana) and crushed pineapple. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, and mix just until combined; do not overmix.

3 Spray 12-cup standard muffin tin with cooking spray or line them with paper liners. Using a 1/3-cup measuring cup, divide batter between cups. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a middle one tests done with a toothpick.

4 Turn out onto a pristine kitchen towel, if baked without paper liners. Place on wire rack to cool for a few minutes before serving.

03 May 2018

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake - an easy, hand-mixed cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

My Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake might look Plain Jane, but it tastes wonderful. And, with just 3.5 teaspoons of sugar per serving, it is well within my self-imposed daily sugar allowance of 6 teaspoons.

Since I’m a confirmed tea drinker, I don’t call it a coffee cake. And a coffee cake might call for a streusel topping and drizzle of icing sugar glaze, both of which would significantly up the teaspoons-per-serving of sugar, so Plain Jane it is.

Those willing to throw caution to the wind might up the sugar to 1 cup or add a thin layer of cream cheese icing. But we don’t think this light, fluffy, tender cake with little pinkish pockets of tangy rhubarb needs a thing.

Since the “you might also like” feature at the bottom of each post seems to have disappeared for some unknown reason, … You might also like: Rhubarb Crumble – A British Classic.

I feel right on top of things, getting my hands on some rhubarb in April. Last year I didn’t manage to until July. A small victory, yes, but a victory nonetheless!

What will you be making with rhubarb?

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake - an easy hand-mixed cake / www.delightfulrepast.com

Brown Butter Rhubarb Cake

(Makes one 8-inch square cake, 9 servings)

8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, divided
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
Milk to make 1 cup (8 fluid ounces/237 ml) milk
1 3/4 dip-and-sweep cups (8.75 ounces/248 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup (4.67 ounces/132 grams) sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons non-GMO baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cardamom or ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups (9 ounces/254 grams) diced rhubarb, 1/4-inch dice

1 Preheat oven to 350F/180C/Gas4. Grease an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or tin with butter or cooking spray. Dice the rhubarb into 1/4-inch dice.

2 In a 1-quart saucepan with a shiny interior so you can judge the color of the butter as it browns, melt 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) of the butter over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring or swirling frequently, until butter gets foamy and bubbly and just starts to turn light tan and smell nutty. You cannot take your eyes off it; it can go from brown to black in a flash! Let it cool slightly.

3 In a 1-cup glass measure, stir together cider vinegar and milk; set aside to thicken a bit.

4 In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom or ginger and cinnamon. Take out 2 tablespoons of the flour mixture to coat the diced rhubarb before adding it to the batter. With your fingers, rub the remaining 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) of butter into the flour mixture.

5 Add the soured milk to the brown butter, and whisk in eggs and vanilla extract. Add thoroughly whisked wet mixture to thoroughly whisked dry mixture. Stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the diced rhubarb.

6 Scrape batter into prepared baking dish or tin. Bake for about 40 minutes or until lightly browned and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.


26 April 2018

Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches - New West KnifeWorks Review and Giveaway

Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches - New West KnifeWorks Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Tea sandwiches must look as good as they taste. If you’re an afternoon tea aficionado, you know that tea sandwiches must be cut very cleanly; squished sandwiches and ragged edges are simply not the done thing.

As soon as I received the New West KnifeWorks Deli knife, the first thing I did was whip up a batch of Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches to test the knife. It was fabulous, dahling! And a friend had an afternoon tea party coming up, so …

I took the knife over to her so she could try it out on the six dozen sandwiches she would be making. Knowing she has the dullest knives in town, I gave her the safety schpiel, reminding her that, though a sharp knife truly is a safer knife, it can do some serious damage if she gets distracted.

She called me midway through to rave about the knife! But it isn’t just for cutting tea sandwiches. You can use it for anything you’d use a utility knife for and anything you’d use a serrated knife for.

New West KnifeWorks Review and Giveaway - Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches / www.delightfulrepast.com

Of course, you can’t slice a big loaf of bread with a 5.5-inch blade, but you can slice baguettes and bagels. And Toasted Teacakes! You can make paper-thin slices of tomato and cucumber and cut all kinds of fruits and vegetables. You could even carve a Small Roast Beef

See the giveaway below, which is open to readers everywhere. But first, check out one of my most-requested tea sandwiches. What is your fave?

Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches - New West KnifeWorks Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches

(Makes 24)

5 large eggs, cold
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons chopped fresh dill or 1 teaspoon dried dill
12 slices dill rye bread (1-pound loaf), bottom slices buttered with soft unsalted butter and top slices spread with mayo

1 Place eggs in a single layer in pan. Add enough room temperature water to cover eggs completely and an inch over. Bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as water is bubbling lightly, remove pan from the heat and cover tightly with the lid. Let stand for 14 minutes. Drain and add cold water to pan; repeat twice. Leave eggs to cool for 15 minutes in cold water. Drain, and proceed with recipe or refrigerate until ready to use.

2 In a 1-quart bowl, finely chop the hard-cooked eggs. Stir in mayonnaise, mustard, salt, pepper and dill. Taste and adjust seasoning. Divide egg mixture among the lightly buttered “bottom” bread slices; spread evenly, skipping the edges and round part at the top because they are going to be cut away.

3 Put lightly mayo’d “top” bread slices in place. Trim off crusts and cut each sandwich into 4, arranging on a plate in about 3 layers.

4 Lay a high-quality white paper towel on top of the sandwiches. Wet and wring out well another paper towel; lay the damp paper towel on top of the dry paper towel. (Placing the damp paper towel directly on top of the sandwiches would result in soggy sandwiches.) Wrap snugly with plastic wrap; refrigerate for at least an hour or up to several hours. This makes the sandwiches “hold together” and keeps them from drying out. Uncover sandwiches just before serving.

New West KnifeWorks Deli Knife Review and Giveaway - Also, Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches Recipe / www.delightfulrepast.com

New West KnifeWorks Knife Giveaway

I chose the all black knife, but it comes in 7 other beautiful and unique New West color combinations you must check out. The knife comes with a beautiful leather blade protector.

This giveaway is open to readers everywhere who are 18 years of age or older. Leave a comment below (one entry per person). Tell me the first thing you'd make with the knife and/or which color you'd choose. Please include your email address in the body of your comment. Must enter by 11:59 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday May 2.

Egg and Dill Tea Sandwiches - New West KnifeWorks Review and Giveaway / www.delightfulrepast.com

Winner will be chosen by random drawing and be announced here in the comments before noon Eastern time on Thursday May 3. If I don't hear back from the winner of the random drawing by noon Eastern time Sunday May 6, another drawing will be held and a new winner selected from the original entrants (those who commented before the giveaway deadline). 

Disclosure: New West KnifeWorks provided a knife for review purposes and one for the giveaway. The views expressed here are entirely my own. I always tell my readers what I really think!


19 April 2018

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs / www.delightfulrepast.com

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs hadn’t even entered my mind in recent months. But when I was checking out the meat counter at my local natural food store, I saw two packages of pork back ribs on sale for 30% off as this was their sell-by date.

I always make a point of buying humanely raised, non-GMO, antibiotic-free, etc, etc; and that’s a lot more expensive than supermarket meat, so I always look for the sales. And many times that turns my menu plans upside down!

The two packages each had a little slab weighing about 3/4 pound, perfect for the two of us. Then I just guesstimated how much dry rub and sauce I should make, and it worked out perfectly, with no waste.

The ribs turned out soooo good, I kind of don't care anymore that we haven't gotten around to replacing our outdoor grill. They steamed to tender perfection in the foil wrap and then developed the sticky, crusty finish unwrapped.

Of course, barbecued (oven or otherwise) ribs are like meat candy, so I don't eat a large serving or have them very often. 

Mr Delightful was really happy with these ribs, so I'm going to be making them again. They really call for my Perfect Potato Salad, but that wasn't happening, so I diced some potatoes and fried them nice and crispy. And next time, Daddy's Broccoli Salad instead of peas. Are you a rib fan?

Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs / www.delightfulrepast.com
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Oven Barbecue Pork Ribs

(Serves 2 or 3, but recipe can be easily multiplied)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds (0.68 0.91 kilograms) pork back ribs

The Dry Rub

2 tablespoons (0.875 ounces/25 grams) dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried chiles (I make a little mixture of my own)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne

The Barbecue Sauce

(Makes about 1/3 cup)

1/4 cup organic ketchup
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon country Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
Pinch of cayenne

1 Preheat oven to 250F/120C/Gas1/2. Tear off a piece of 12-inch-wide aluminum foil about 18 inches long, fold it in half and place it in a 13x9x1-inch quarter sheet pan. Tear off a 9-inch long piece for the “lid.”

2 In a small bowl, stir together all the dry rub ingredients.

3 In a small bowl, stir together all the barbecue sauce ingredients.

4 Put the rack(s) of ribs meat side down on foil. Peel off the tough membrane, if there is one, on the bony side of the ribs. Prick the back of the ribs with a knife in several places. Apply dry rub all over. Put the top piece of foil over the meat-side-down ribs and fold the edges to wrap tightly. Place the quarter sheet pan with its package of ribs in the preheated oven for 2 hours.

Note: May be made ahead to this point, refrigerated and finished the next day.

5 Remove from the oven; turn the heat up to 350F/180C/Gas4. Remove the top foil and carefully drain off all the liquid. Brush a third of the sauce on the meaty side, put it back in the oven with the foil open for 15 minutes. Repeat twice, cooking for a total of 45 minutes.

6 Let ribs rest for 5 minutes before cutting apart. 

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