Mango Upside Down Cake

Mangoes are everywhere now! Every year, around this time, I have been buying mangoes every week; there are so many varieties of mangoes out there, but we particularly like Champagne mangoes.¬† My children have been taking sliced mangoes for lunch snacks almost daily and they don’t get bored ūüôā¬†¬† Aside from eating fresh mangoes, I also have been baking them and incorporating them into our dinner entrees.¬† Today’s recipe comes from “Saved By Cake” by Marian Keyes;¬† I have been waiting for this cookbook to be published in America, so back in April when it finally came out I purchased it!

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Serves: 6-8

Topping:

3-1/2 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup light brown sugar

16 ounce can of sliced mango in syrup, drained (reserve 2 Tablespoons of the syrup).  **I used fresh ripe mangoes instead; enough to cover the top (1 large mango or 1-1/2 mangoes Рdepending on the size and variety you use).

Cake:

7 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup superfine sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup self-rising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

Liberally grease an 8 inch cake pan.  I would discourage using springform pan because the syrup will leak out as the cake bakes.  Preheat the oven to 350F.

For the topping, beat the butter and sugar together, then spread it over the base of the cake pan – it will be a very thin layer so don’t worry.¬† Then arrange the mango slices on top of the topping (you can cut some slices to fill in the gaps).

Make the cake by creaming the butter and sugar together, adding the eggs and the 2 Tablespoons of reserved syrup (if you are using fresh mangoes don’t worry about this syrup).¬† Sift in the flour and baking powder and fold through.

Spread the cake batter over the sliced mangoes, covering them, then bake for 35 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes on a wire rack, and invert the cake out onto a serving plate (without burning your fingers!).  Serve warm with a dollop of fresh cream.

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My¬†opinion:¬† First of all, I was a bit surprised when my children didn’t like this cake; they said it wasn’t bad tasting, but not for them.¬† Maybe their taste buds haven’t grown into sophisticated palates¬†yet ūüôā¬† On the other hand, my husband and I quite enjoyed this cake.¬† I was never into pineapple upside down cakes (I think they were too sweet for my taste), but this mango upside down cake had enough sweetness to qualify as a cake and a very adult flavor.¬† I also think that not using canned mangoes helped the cake not to be overly sweet.¬† I think next time I may add a little bit of freshly ground cardamom!

Pineapple Coconut Oil Banana Bread

Summer is not my favorite season; yes, you heard me correct, I don’t like Summer, in fact I actually hate it. ¬†I don’t like the intense sun, I don’t like the humidity, I don’t like how the heat and humidity drain my energy; I don’t like it because I have to temporarily halt major cooking and baking (unless I blast my air conditioner) and I don’t like walking around like a zombie waiting for the Fall to come. ¬†Maybe I will feel differently if my house had central air and a pool in the backyard (but with this 100 plus year old house I strike out on both counts). ¬† However, there is one thing I like about Summer… ¬†(yes, just one thing) I like all the variety of fresh fruits and vegetables I find at the Farmer’s Market and at my local organic markets. ¬†They look so vibrant and alive! ¬†Many of these produce can be purchased throughout the year, but nothing compares with the taste of seasonal produce.

Ironically today’s recipe will remind you of a tropical island with pineapple, coconut and banana. ¬†Pineapples you get at the market now are definitely sweeter than the ones you can get in Winter (I don’t even try to buy tropical fruits in the Winter, seriously, I don’t like how they taste). ¬†I found today’s recipe¬†here¬†and so glad I tried it!

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Makes: two 8-by-4-inch loaves

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted (canola or vegetable oil, or browned or melted butter may be substituted)
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk (1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream may be substituted)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, optional but recommended
  • pinch salt, optional and to taste
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups mashed ripe bananas (2 large or 3 small ripe bananas)
  • 1 cup pineapple, diced (I used frozen; mango, peaches, nectarines, strawberries or blueberries may be substituted)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray two 8-by-4-inch loaf pans with floured cooking spray; set aside. (I have not tried it but I suspect you could bake as muffins, mini loaves, or in a Bundt pan, adjusting baking times accordingly).
  2. In a large bowl combine the eggs, coconut oil, buttermilk, sugars, vanilla, and whisk to combine. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, optional salt, and stir to just incorporate; don’t overmix because the gluten will overdevelop and bread will be tougher. Stir in bananas. Stir in pineapple (if using frozen, just add it frozen, no need to thaw it first. If using fresh or canned, make sure it’s well-drained or it could water-down the batter).
  3. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes, or until top is golden and set, a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean (banana bread is gooey and it may not come out perfectly clean). If bread is browning too fast on the top, you may wish to lower your oven temperature to 325F in last 15 minutes of cooking, or tent the pan with foil; although I don’t suspect this will be an issue. Allow bread to cool in pan for about 15 minutes before removing and transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Bread will keep for up to 1 week in an airtight container or large Ziplock at room temperature (I wrap my fully cooled bread in Clingwrap, then I place it in a gallon-sized Ziplock). Second loaf may be frozen for up to 3 months.

My opinion: If at all possible, I highly encourage you to use coconut oil and fresh pineapples (even though substitution options are given) – coconut oil gives mild, rounded and deep note (doesn’t taste like coconut so don’t worry), and fresh pineapples give authentic sweetness and texture to this wonderful bread. ¬†I don’t think any ingredients or flavor compete against each other, they kind of all blend really well together. ¬†I didn’t have to worry about storing the second loaf ¬†because we polished off pretty quickly!!

Pear and Chocolate Cake

You will hear me still saying “I’m still so behind¬†with my posts!!”;¬† unfortunately, this will be a common phrase for the next couple of posts (alas, oh! alas…).¬† I am still continuing with a post from our wonderful Downton Abbey finale dinner from few weeks ago – I’m kind of feeling this heart constriction, the kind that you feel when you are past your deadline handing in your essay or a project.¬† I’m wondering if my college and grad school¬†life was ¬†that stressful for me that I’m experiencing PTSD type syndrome?!¬† Well, all jokes aside, I am feeling a bit disappointed with myself for having this many posts “late”.¬† I don’t think it’s the issue of disappointing the blog readers, but it’s more about¬†meeting my own expectations… yes, I guess I am a perfectionist in many ways.

Well, let me introduce to you a wonderful gluten-free chocolate cake I found on this site.¬†¬†At first I was a bit hesitant trying this because it didn’t have any reviews.¬† Also, reviews on other recipes on this site weren’t¬†¬†all that good; but I took a look at the recipe for this cake and thought it would work.

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  • 100g unsalted butter (slightly less than 1 stick of butter), plus extra for greasing
  • 100g¬†caster sugar (1/2 cup), plus extra for tin
  • 100g bar dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 4 ripe pears (choose smaller sized pears)
  • 100g (1 cup)¬†packet ground almonds
  • 2 Tbsp apricot glaze or sieved apricot jam
  • Icing sugar, for dusting
  • 23cm deep, fluted flan tin (9 inch tart pan)
  • Baking parchment

**Note: I used “almond meals” from Trader Joe’s and it worked out perfectly; you can also grind your own almonds too.

  • Set the oven to 180¬įC/350¬įF/Gas Mark 4. Butter the flan tin and put a disc¬† of baking parchment in the base. Spoon in a little sugar and use it to coat the¬† inside of the tin, then tip out the excess.
  • Melt the butter and chocolate together, in a bowl over a pan of hot water or¬† in a microwave oven. Leave it to cool slightly, but don‚Äôt allow it to¬† reset.
  • Whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick and creamy¬† and a trail can be seen in the mixture when the whisk is lifted up. This is¬† easiest done using a tabletop mixer, as it can take 5-10 mins, so it‚Äôs a long¬† time to be holding a hand-held whisk.
  • To prepare the pears, peel them with a vegetable peeler¬†and then halve¬†them.¬† Use a melon baller, or a teaspoon, to scoop out the pips in the centre.
  • Fold the melted chocolate mixture and ground almonds into the whisked¬† egg-yolk mixture.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they‚Äôre stiff. Fold a couple¬† of tablespoons of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, to loosen it.
  • Pour the chocolate mixture into the bowl with the egg whites; pour it to one¬† side of the egg whites rather than in the centre, to avoid knocking out too much¬† of the air from the egg whites.
  • Fold both mixtures together, using a large metal spoon, or a spatula, taking¬† care not to overwork it or the air will be lost and the sponge won‚Äôt rise as¬† much.
  • Pour the mixture into the tin; hold the bowl just above the tin while¬† pouring ‚ÄĒ again, so that the air isn‚Äôt lost from the mixture.
  • Arrange the pear halves on top, with the cut-side down. Bake cake in the centre of the oven for 45 mins to 1 hour, or until it‚Äôs set in the centre and the mixture doesn‚Äôt wobble. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for a few minutes before transferring it to a wire rack.
  • While the cake is still hot, warm the apricot glaze or jam and brush it over¬† the top. Dredge the cake with icing sugar just before serving. It may be served¬† warm or at room temperature.

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My opinion: I was in a rush so I didn’t get a chance to ripen my pears, but it turned out very well, however, I can imagine the cake tasting heavenly with ripe pears.¬† I also used 70% cacao dark chocolate – I thought this was perfect for adults, but maybe use lower percentage cacao if your child(ren) aren’t into dark chocolates (fortunately mine will eat up to 80% cacao).¬† All in all this was an easy, simple and elegant dessert – just make sure you read the recipe and know the steps (ie. planning when to whip the egg whites so you can time combining ingredients).

Brunsviger

I have a very dear childhood friend living in Denmark.¬† In 2009 my family went to visit my friend and her family in Odense, Denmark;¬† Odense is on an island of Fyn (pronounced “foon”- also known as Funen¬†for us¬†English speakers) and is well known¬†as a birthplace for Hans Christian Andersen (in fact they have a really nice Hans Christian Andersen museum in the city center of Odense).¬†¬† Another famous Odense specialty is a pastry called “Brunsviger” – roughly pronounced “brons-we-ahr” but you have to say it a bit fast.¬† Danish is a language I don’t think I can master at all – a grave mistake if you try to pronounce words based on English pronounciation because they sound very VERY different!!¬† Anyhow, I learned how to make this even before I went to visit my friend in Denmark.¬† A year before my visit my friend and I were exchanging recipes and she gave this recipe to me, so basically I have been making¬†this since 2008.¬† It is something like a flat version of sticky buns, but much better; it has caramelized¬†brown sugar and butter topping (and many times custard cream blended into it).¬† You can literally find brunsviger¬†at every bakery (and believe me there are tons of wonderful bakeries in Odense!!) and you eat this for breakfast and/or afternoon tea time.¬† Instead of typical birthday cakes many children will have brunsviger¬†(shaped into gingerbread girl/boy, etc) with toothpicks with Danish flags all over brunsviger.¬† Unfortunately, outside of Fyn it is difficult to find brunsviger¬†so I took full advantage and ate my share of authentic brunsviger!!

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I have no idea how many times I made this since 2008; it’s one of our family’s favorites and we don’t get tired of eating this at all!¬† It’s a special recipe because it was given to me by my friend and we have¬† very fond memories of Denmark (seriously awesome food there!!).¬†¬† I took quite a few photos to explain various steps so I arranged the photos differently for this post, and I hope they make sense to you.

I usually put custard cream into the brown sugar/butter topping – I like to make the topping beforehand and keep it aside.¬† I like to make custard cream, but you can always use the instant vanilla pudding, but I do have to say the homemade one is very delicious and it’s not difficult to make at all:

Custard Cream:

2 Tablespoons flour

1/2 cups sugar

1 cup warm milk

2 egg yolks

1 Tablespoon unsalted butter

Mix egg yolks and sugar in a saucepan; all sifted flour and mix well.¬† Gradually add warm milk as you mix; place the saucepan on a low heat and add butter, ¬†and stir until the mixture thickens (once it comes to a bubbling boil it’ll thicken soon after).¬† Let it cool completely.

Brunsviger

Brown Sugar/Butter Topping:

4 Tablespoons brown sugar

4 Tablespoons granulated sugar

2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Add all the ingredients in saucepan on a low heat and bring to a slow simmer.  Take off the heat once everything has melted.  Slightly cool and combine with the custard cream.

**This dough recipe requires you to make fresh yeast¬†dough, it’s quite¬†easy, but if you feel intimidated you can substitute with store bought bread/pizza dough.

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Dough:¬† enough for 9×13 inch pan

1-1/2 Tablespoons dry yeast (or 2 yeast packets)

1 cup lukewarm water (divided into 1/2 cup each)

9 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 teaspoons sugar

4 cups all-purpose flour

Mix the yeast and 1/2 cup lukewarm water (dissolve the yeast and let it stand for few minutes until the yeast looks bubbly and spongy).   Mix melted butter and remaining 1/2 cup luke warm water and add to the yeast mixture.

In a standmixer¬†add the yeast/butter mixture (I usually add the yeast mixture and butter mixture in the standmixer first) and add the eggs, sugar and flour.¬† Let it mix for less than a minute and with a dough hook knead the dough for about 3-4 minutes (scraping the sides).¬†¬† Transfer the dough into a large glass or stainless bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for about 30-40 minutes¬†(either on top of a radiator, inside an oven (that’s turned off) or in a microwave (just heat about 2 cups water in the microwave and add the bowl inside the microwave along with the hot water).

Once the dough has risen, punch it down and transfer it to a lined & greased 9x13inch baking pan with an aluminum foil.  Let the dough sit for about 15 minutes; then with all your fingers make indentations in the dough all across the pan (except for the edges) so that it looks like the dough has crater-like dents.   Spread the topping mixture evenly and bake in a 350F oven for about 30-35 minutes.  Let it slightly cool and dig in!!

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**Sorry, photo #9 should at #7 (oops)…

My opinion:¬† I always smile when I take this first bite and taste the brown/butter topping with custard cream… oh my… I am so glad I don’t live in Fyn, I will be frequenting the bakery daily for brunsviger.¬† If you want a little taste of Fyn, brunsviger is calling your name!

Red Bean Mochi Cake

I finally caught a cold ūüė¶ ¬†I was doing really well during this Fall/Winter, but I finally succumbed to a cold passed to me from my first progeny. ¬† ¬†It’s not fun being sick at any age, but it’s doubly not fun being sick as a “middle-aged” woman! ¬†You know, when my husband gets sick he gets to sleep in, mope around and act like he is at death’s door, but not with me; not with the mothers all around the world!! ¬†I still wake up early to get everyone’s breakfast ready so that they can maximize their time in the morning. I still cook, clean and take care of the household, I still endure ¬†hearing everyone whine¬†and groan about their days at school and work and I still have to take care of mundane tasks that no one wants to deal with. ¬†Anyway, in the midst of this I got this massive craving for mochi cake I used to make; in fact, this recipe was given to me by one of my mother’s friends about 20 years ago!! ¬†I searched and searched but couldn’t find it (of course this craving came late last night so I gave up searching because I got too tired). ¬†This morning I searched again and finally found it!!

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This is a really simple recipe, only involving 4 ingredients!!

Makes 1 – 9×13″ pan :

1 box (16oz) 454g  Mochiko (sweet rice powder)

1 teaspoon baking powder

3 cups milk

1 can (170z) 475g  sweetened red bean

Sift mochiko and baking powder well;  add milk and mix until well blended.  Fold in the red bean until well incorporated.

Line your 9×13″ pan with aluminum foil and grease it. ¬†Pour the mixture into the pan and bake in a 350F¬†oven for approximately 40 minutes (this will vary with your oven so in about 35 minutes check the cake with a toothpick or a bamboo skewer. ¬†Insert the stick in the center of the cake and if it comes out clean the cake is done).

Let it cool completely and slice.

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I think this is the most common brand of mochiko you will find in Asian markets. ¬†I have tried many different kinds of red bean, but I like the Japanese kind the best (also, I would discourage you from using the red bean paste, it’ll still come out fine, but I prefer having the beans in my cake).

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My personal opinion: ¬†this is not sweet at all (like we’re¬†used to in America or Europe); it has subtle sweetness and tastes like Japanese and Korean style mochi. ¬†If you want the Southeast Asian style you can substitute milk with coconut milk ( the canned variety). ¬†I personally have not experimented using almond, soy or coconut milk (drinking variety) so I can’t say if it’ll taste good, but if you do try let me know! ¬†

There are other mochi¬†recipes online, but most of them use butter, eggs and sugar; ¬†nothing wrong with that (I did try baking it long time ago, definitely tasted more like a traditional cake), but I prefer this simple recipe much better.¬† By the way, after a day or so this cake may harden a bit, no problem! just microwave the slices for a few seconds (ok, maybe 10 seconds or so) and it’ll be good as the day you baked it!¬†

Downton Abbey, anyone?

Yes, I am one of them… I am one of those dedicated American fan of this bigger than life British period drama.¬† Please don’t hate or judge me for this; seriously after all the trashy reality shows we have here in America this is such a beautiful welcome change.¬† Few months before each new season starts I wait in anticipation, and after just a mere month or so of watching the season I go into mourning stage; then another very long months of waiting… sigh…

Anyway, past Sunday was the premier of Season 3 here in America.¬† My youngest daughter (age 12) caught up with all of Season 1 & 2 and we wanted to do something special for this premier.¬† I wanted to make some dishes from the Edwardian era and start this season with a bang. Did you know that there’s a Downton Abbey cookbook? I had to restrain the urge to buy it, but instead¬† I found this very addicting website called Downton Abbey Cooks.¬† There are tons of Edwardian recipes including the menus served on the Titanic.¬† I decided to choose handful of recipes from here to make my dinner.

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For this post I will not write down the recipes, but I will add the recipe links to Downton Abbey Cooks.

Here, I have Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding, Creamed Carrots, Parmentier Potatoes, Treacle Tart and Mincemeat Cake.  For those of you from the UK, please forgive me for my feeble attempt at re-creating these Edwardian style dishes, but they tasted delicious!

Roast Beef & Yorkshire Pudding:  http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/01/15/sunday-roast-beef-dinner-with-yorkshire-pudding-downton-abbey/

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Creamed Carrots & Parmentier Potatoes: http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/04/02/downtontitanic-cookery-vegetables-should-be-seen-and-not-heard/

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For Roast Beef, instead of making the sauce from the beef fat from the pan, I made Rosemary Cream Sauce – Rosemary Cream Sauce: Drain fat from the roasting pan. Place pan over medium heat and add 1 tsp (5 mL) EACH olive oil and butter; add 1 shallot (minced) and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until softened. Stir in 1 cup (250 mL) beef or chicken broth and 1/4 cup (50 mL) dry white wine, stirring up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Heat until liquid is reduced by half. Add half a sprig fresh rosemary; heat through. Stir in 1/4 cup (50 mL) whipping cream; heat until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste; remove rosemary to serve.

Treacle Tart: http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/09/25/tea-tuesday-downton-abbey-season-3-launched-with-treacle-tart/

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Mincemeat Cake: http://downtonabbeycooks.com/2012/12/11/tea-tuesday-enjoy-simply-mincemeat-cake-for-the-holidays/#more-5011

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My opinion:¬† This was such a decadent Sunday dinner meal!!¬† It was like preparing a Christmas meal!¬† Was it worth going through all the preparations and effort?¬† YES!!¬† Roast beef was tender and juicy (I really liked the Rosemary Cream sauce); Yorkshire pudding was delicious served like a muffin!¬† I made this in a larger pan before, but I think I’ll use the muffin tins from now on.¬†¬† Creamed carrots reminded me of pumpkin pie, except the sweetness came from the carrots, and Parmentier potatoes were a huge hit with the kids; Treacle tart will not be treacle tart without our favorite Golden Syrup (we dab this syrup on our breakfast toast and it is yummy!) – with a hint of lemon and ginger this sure is a sweet winner!¬† Mincemeat cake was moist and another delicious reminder of Christmas.¬† All in all a very wonderful meal, and I cannot wait to make another Edwardian style dish!¬† I am waiting in anticipation for the next episode of Downton Abbey coming Sunday!!

Mini Persimmon Cakes

Growing up in Japan I have very fond memories of eating, I mean gorging tons of persimmons in the Fall season.  I used to eat fresh, dried and pureed persimmons until the persimmon season ended.  Oh, such sweet memories!!

The other day I received quite a lot of persimmons from different people.  After enjoying eating them fresh I still had quite a lot left so I started researching if there were any persimmon cake recipes.  I didn‚Äôt want heavy persimmon pudding kind, and I also didn‚Äôt want to add typical Fall/Winter spices (ie. nutmeg & cinnamon).  I found this recipe and it seemed like what I was looking for. 

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Makes 12-14 cupcake tins or 6-8 mini bundt cake tins:

3 cups chopped Fuyu persimmons, about 4 fruit
2 tsp. flour
¬Ĺ cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
2 Tbsp. Tea Spice blend (recipe follows)*
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Butter or line 12-14 mini cake/muffin tins, or 6-8 mini-bundt cake tins. Preheat oven to 350¬įF.

Blend 2 tsp. flour with Fuyus; set aside. Whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and tea blend; set aside.

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, followed by lemon juice, and vanilla and beat until fluffy. Add in flour mixture and blend until just incorporated. Stir in persimmons and nuts, if using. Fill prepared muffin cups/skillets ¬Ĺ full with batter. 30-35 minutes or until cakes spring back and until toothpick tests almost clean. Do not over bake. Remove from oven. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning onto rack.

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Tea Blend

¬ľ cup raw sugar (regular, granular sugar would work)
2 Tbsp. Loose floral-flavored tea (or preferred flavor/blend)
¬Ĺ tsp fine sea salt
In a spice grinder, finely grind the sugar, tea and salt. Transfer the powder to an airtight container and set aside. (You will have more than you need for this recipe.)
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My opinion:  I think what makes this cake so light and fresh tasting is the tea blend!  I used pomegranate & blueberry green tea.  Loved the smell after I ground the ingredients.  Anyway, this cake was exactly what I was looking for.  Persimmons kept its shape and the cake didn‚Äôt become soggy.  Persimmon is such a mild tasting fruit it was perfect for this cake!

Jewish Apple Cake

Have you ever tried Jewish Apple Cake?  I grew up in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, and supermarkets and Jewish bakeries will always have this cake.  My mom always loved breads and pastries.  Being a Korean and growing up during the Korean War my mom was very progressive for her time.  She always had toast and coffee for breakfast (where other Koreans were having traditional Korean rice breakfasts).  Even living in Japan we were very fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful French, German and Japanese bakeries.  So, it came as no surprise when my mom found different Jewish bakeries in our neighborhood in Philadelphia and started buying Jewish Apple Cakes. 

The other day, my wonderful neighbor friend went to our local Farmer‚Äôs Market and bought us a bagful of apples and Asian pears!!  I do not deserve this kindness & generosity, but I gladly accepted the gift.  I started to think what I can make with these apples (aside from eating them raw).  Then I thought of Jewish Apple Cake and it brought back good memories.  Today‚Äôs recipe came from The Washington Post.  I just adjusted a little bit with sugar, but the rest is the same. 

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16 servings

MAKE AHEAD: The cake can be made a day or two in advance. It freezes well.

3 cups unsifted flour, plus more for dusting the pan
5 medium apples of your choice, preferably those that are good for baking
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 4 Tablespoons sugar for the apples
1-1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to grease tall tube pan, then dust lightly with flour.

Core the apples, cut them into wedges and slice them.   Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the cinnamon and 4 tablespoons of the sugar, tossing to coat evenly.

Beat the eggs in the bowl of a stand mixer or hand-held electric mixer, on low speed, until well blended. Gradually add sugar, then the oil, orange juice and vanilla extract.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt on a piece of waxed or parchment paper. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture to form a smooth batter.

Pour one-third of the batter into the pan. Create a second layer using one-third of the apples. Repeat to create a total of 6 layers, ending with apples on top. Bake for 1 1/2 hours or as needed; the top should be golden brown, and a toothpick inserted into the cake should come out with a few moist crumbs.

Let the cake sit for at least 20 minutes before unmolding.

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My opinion:  I almost died smelling the incredible aroma wafting through the house as the cake was baking!!  Tasted delicious, and even better the next day!  I think I could have added more apples, but oh well, I‚Äôll do that next time.  If you love apples you‚Äôll definitely love this cake!  Here’s the collage of the cake, I’m kind of playing around with collages so bear with me.

Upside Down Lemon Pudding Cake

It‚Äôs been pretty dreary here in Philadelphia for the past few days.  After cleaning the house I settled in to organize my recipes (1x/year I go through my recipes to weed out what I will not be using anymore).  About 2 years ago I bought America’s Best Lost Recipes (kitchen tested and approved by the good folks at the America‚Äôs Test Kitchen).  I started flipping through the book and realized there are couple of recipes I wanted to try.  One of the recipes I found was this Upside Down Lemon Pudding Cake (original name is ‚ÄúGreat Aunt Ellen‚Äôs Upside Down Lemon Pudding Cake).   It looked simple enough and I wanted something for after dinner dessert tonight. 

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Serves 6 (Makes 6 ‚Äď 6oz ramekins or 2 quart baking dish):

2 large eggs, separated, room temperature
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons grated zest plus 1/4 cup juice from 2 lemons
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
**boiling water to fill the baking pan

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350F.  Grease 2 quart baking dish or six 6 ounce ramekins. 

With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat the egg whites to soft peaks.  Transfer to a bowl and set it aside.

Beat the butter, sugar, and zest together on medium high speed until fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the egg yolks, mixing until incorporated.  Add the flour and salt and beat until combined.  Add the lemon juice and milk and beat until incorporated. 

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the egg whites.  Pour the batter into the baking dish, or use the ladle to pour the batter into ramekins (for ramekins, if you don‚Äôt use the ladle the first few cups get all the froth and later cups get all the batter). 

Place the dishes in a large baking pan and add enough boiling water to the pan so that it reaches halfway up the sides of the dish or ramekins.  Bake until the top is golden and the center springs back when gently pressed (35-45 min for a baking dish; and 25-35 min for ramekins). 
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Transfer the dishes to a rack and cool completely, at least 1-1/2 hours (these can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; allow to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)  To serve, run a paring knife around the edges of the dish and invert onto a plate. 

My opinion: Delicious, delicious, and delicious!!  As this bakes in the oven, the egg whites float to the top and turn into this spongy cake, and the rest of the batter settles to the bottom and creates a pudding like layer. 
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Do you see what I‚Äôm talking about??  This has delicate lemon flavor you will love!!  This is so easy, it‚Äôs a must try!!

Zucchini Chocolate Cake

After a busy, yet fun-filled Summer my family and I ate plenty of delicious foods in Peru and good ‚Äėole Southern foods in South Carolina.  Now that we are getting back to our usual routine and my children will be starting the new school year soon I wanted to eat plenty of home cooked vegetarian meals.  I don‚Äôt know about you, but after eating rich foods for most of the Summer, I started craving for some fresh vegetarian foods.

 My dear cousin has been supplying me with fresh CSA vegetables so I made my ‚Äúpower pasta sauce‚ÄĚ today.  I usually dice plenty of onions and lots of sliced/minced/crushed garlics and saut√© until onions are softened; add plenty of diced multi-colored bell peppers, zucchini/squash, and beets ‚Äď saut√© for few minutes and add little of crushed basil and oregano; add chopped greens (I usually use kale, but today I used beet greens) and spinach.   Saut√© until the greens cook down and add 2 jars of your favorite pasta sauce ‚Äď simmer for 30 minutes and it‚Äôs done!!  Cook up your favorite pasta and dig in!  I love squirting some sriracha and grated parmesan ‚Äď so delicious!! 

I still had plenty of zucchini left over so I decided to make a zucchini cake.  This is quite different from zucchini bread and it definitely satisfied my cravings for a cake!  This is an old recipe I had and it is a ‚Äúhealthier‚ÄĚ version of regular cake recipe. 

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Makes 1 ‚Äď 9x13inch pan

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup Splenda
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
4 eggs
1 cup oil ( I usually use safflower or sunflower oil)
3 cups grated zucchini
1 banana (grated with the zucchini inside the food processor or mashed)
1/2 cup dried sour cherries

Mix all the dry ingredients; add the eggs and oil and mix well. 

Fold in the grated zucchini, banana, and dried sour cherries until blended well. 

Grease the 9×13 pan, pour in the batter, and in a pre-heated 350F oven bake for about 50 minutes.   Check with the bamboo skewer to see if it‚Äôs done (no batter should stick to the skewer; if it sticks leave the cake in the oven for 5-7 more minutes). 

My opinion: This is a very moist cake.  You won‚Äôt even know that this is the ‚Äúhealthier‚ÄĚ version, unless you are used to eating pound cake all the time‚Ķ    This recipe is very versatile, if you want richer cake, just add butter instead of oil (omit the banana), all granulated sugar instead of Splenda & brown sugar.   Instead of dried sour cherries you can add chocolate chips and/or nuts.   I decided not to make any frostings, but you can easily use your favorite frostings on this cake.