apple coconut family cake

I try to maintain a fairly open mind about desserts. I mean, if chocolate and prunes can be great together, who knows what else is out there? But you can’t deny that apples and coconut is weird.

Most pairings are based on geographical and seasonal commonalities – lime and coconut, tomatoes and basil, strawberries and rhubarb. Coconuts are grown in the tropics; apples grow in temperate regions. Apples ripen in the fall; coconuts grow where there are no seasons. You just aren’t likely to find these two trees growing next to each other.

That doesn’t mean they make a bad combination, just an odd one. I didn’t not enjoy it. In fact, the cake was so fluffy and moist that I did enjoy it.  But not as much as chocolate and prunes.

Amber chose this cake for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Sablés
Two years ago: Buttery Jam Cookies

bolognese sauce comparison

(Anne Burrell’s recipe)

Have you ever had a traditional Bolognese sauce? Not just tomato sauce with ground meat mixed in, but one that involves milk and wine and hours of simmering. Just a few ingredients, but when they’re combined just right, the result is a complex, rich blend with incredible depth. Served over a bowl of creamy polenta with a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and a glass of good red wine on the side, there can be no more comforting, warming food.

The first Bolognese I made was Marcella Hazen’s recipe. She is to Italian food what Julia Child is to French food; certainly a trusted source. In her method, a class mirepoix (or, technically, “soffritto” in Italian) of carrots, celery and onions is lightly cooked in butter, then ground meat is added and cooked just until it loses its pink. Stir in milk and let it bubble until only its delicious fat is left in the pot, then pour over some wine and let it simmer away, and only then, finally, after an hour of slow simmering, are the tomatoes (whole, canned) added – and simmered for 3 more hours.

After all that, however, I found Hazan’s recipe to be a little too vegetably. But Cooks Illustrated’s recipe for classic Bolognese is identical except for a smaller amount of vegetables. With only a couple tablespoons each of onions, carrots, and celery, it almost seems like they’re not worth adding, but there isn’t a thing I would change about the recipe.

Bolognese sauce takes a lot of time, yes, but it isn’t a lot of work. It’s my favorite type of recipe, in that it’s undemanding, but if you do happen to be in the kitchen (and I always am) you can stir to your heart’s content. But I suppose the long simmering time intimidates people, because there are a crop of supposedly weeknight friendly Bolognese sauce recipes popping up. In general, I’m not a fan of these types of recipes, because what they save in cooking time they make up for in ingredient prep.

(Cooks Illustrated’s Classic Bolognese)

Then I kept seeing another type of Bolognese with great reviews. This one uses only tomato paste as its source of tomato flavor. And if anything can be identified as authentic in a recipe like Bolognese, it’s the tomato paste version, with a heavier meat influence and just a hint of tomatoes.

(Cooks Illustrated’s Classic Bolognese)

Authenticity aside, I wanted to know which was best. So I baked up three batches – my favorite version from Cooks Illustrated, their weeknight version, and Anne Burrell’s annoying (please don’t yell at me in the recipe, thank you) but well-reviewed tomato paste-based recipe.


(Anne Burrell’s recipe)

The quicker “weeknight-friendly” recipe was, as I expected, the most work, with more ingredients and dishes necessary to mimic the slow-cooked flavor of the other two recipes. However, after all that and a shorter cooking time, its flavor did nicely mimic that of the other, more tomato-rich Cooks Illustrated recipe. I don’t believe Dave could tell the difference. My only complaint was that the meat was slightly tough.

Dave had a few interesting comments about Burrell’s Bolognese. The sauce is simply a classic mirepoix, beef, wine, tomato paste, and herbs, yet Dave detected flavors of mushrooms and possibly Worchestershire sauce in it – two ingredients high in umami, the fifth basic flavor that is best described by “meaty”. In fact, mushrooms are added to CI’s quick Bolognese to increase the meaty flavor that doesn’t have time to develop through a long simmer. One thing that was obvious to both me and Dave was the unusual texture of Burrell’s sauce; to me, it seemed slightly mealy, but Dave was kinder with “fine-grained”.

(Cooks Illustrated’s Weeknight Bolognese)

Dave couldn’t choose a favorite, with his usual “different but good” response, but I’m still stuck on my classic, tomato-heavy slow-simmered method. It’s intensely rich and meaty, but it has a bright balance from the tomatoes. Burrell’s meatier sauce was delicious too, and maybe all those tomatoes aren’t quite as traditional, but, frankly, I like tomatoes. And since Bolognese – any version – is one of those dishes that improves by being made in advance and will suffer no ill effects from being frozen, I see no reason to spend extra time cooking a supposedly quicker “weeknight-friendly” version. Besides, I like watching ingredients bubble away, increasing in intensity as they decrease in volume until they settle into something delicious.

left to right: CI Classic, CI Weeknight, Anne Burrell

One year ago: Thai-Style Chicken Soup
Two years ago: Pumpkin Ginger Muffins

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Classic Bolognese (from Cooks Illustrated)

Enough to top 1 pound of dried pasta

If you double this recipe – and considering how well it freezes and reheats, you should – the simmering times will need to be extended.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 tablespoons minced carrot
2 tablespoons minced celery
¾ pound ground beef chuck
table salt
1 cup whole milk
1 cup dry white wine
1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes, packed in juice, chopped fine, with juice reserved

1. Heat butter in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium heat; add onion, carrot, and celery and sautè until softened but not browned, about 6 minutes. Add ground meat and ½ teaspoon salt; crumble meat with edge of wooden spoon to break apart into tiny pieces. Cook, continuing to crumble meat, just until it loses its raw color but has not yet browned, about 3 minutes.

2. Add milk and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until milk evaporates and only clear fat remains, 10 to 15 minutes. Add wine and bring to simmer; continue to simmer until wine evaporates, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Add tomatoes and their juice and bring to simmer; reduce heat to low so that sauce continues to simmer just barely, with an occasional bubble or two at the surface, until liquid has evaporated, about 3 hours. Adjust seasonings with extra salt to taste and serve. (Can be refrigerated in an airtight container for several days or frozen for several months. Warm over low heat before serving.)

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Bolognese Sauce (slightly rewritten to remove all of Anne Burrell’s vulgarity)

Enough to top 1 pound of dried pasta

1 large onion or 2 small, cut into 1-inch dice
2 large carrots, cut into ½-inch dice
3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch dice
4 cloves garlic
Extra-virgin olive oil, for the pan
Kosher salt
3 pounds ground chuck, brisket or round or combination
2 cups tomato paste
3 cups hearty red wine
Water
3 bay leaves
1 bunch thyme, tied in a bundle

1. In a food processor, puree onion, carrots, celery, and garlic into a coarse paste. Heat a large pan over medium heat; add a slick of oil. Add the pureed vegetables and season generously with salt. Bring the pan to medium-high heat and cook until all the water has evaporated and they brown, stirring frequently, about 15 to 20 minutes.

2. Add the ground beef and season again generously with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15-20 minutes, until browned.

3. Add the tomato paste and cook until brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the red wine. Cook until the wine has reduced by half, another 4 to 5 minutes.

4. Add water to the pan until water is about 1 inch above the meat. Toss in the bay leaves and the bundle of thyme and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. As the water evaporates you will gradually need to add more, about 2 to 3 cups at a time. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 3½ to 4 hours. Adjust the seasoning with salt and serve immediately.

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Weeknight Bolognese (from Cooks Illustrated)

Enough to top 1 pound of dried pasta

½ ounce dried porcini mushrooms
1¼ cup white wine (Riesling, gewürztraminer, white zinfandel, xx)
½ small carrot, peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces
½ small onion, chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces
3 ounces pancetta, cut into 1-inch pieces
28 ounces whole tomatoes with juice
1½ tablespoon unsalted butter
1 small garlic clove, pressed through garlic press or minced
1 teaspoon sugar
1¼ pound meatloaf mix or equal amounts 80 percent lean ground beef, ground veal, and ground pork
1½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons tomato paste
Salt
⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

1. Cover porcini mushrooms with ½ cup water in small microwave-safe bowl; cover bowl with plastic wrap, cut a few steam vents with paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until mushrooms have softened, about 5 minutes. Using fork, lift porcini from liquid and transfer to second small bowl; pour soaking liquid through mesh strainer lined with paper towel. Set porcini and strained liquid aside.

2. Bring wine to simmer in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer until wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 20 minutes. Set reduced wine aside.

3. Meanwhile, pulse carrot in food processor until broken down into rough ¼-inch pieces, about ten 1-second pulses. Add onion; pulse until vegetables are broken down to ⅛-inch pieces, about ten 1-second pulses. Transfer vegetables to small bowl. Process softened porcini until well ground, about 15 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary. Transfer porcini to bowl with onions and carrots. Process pancetta until pieces are no larger than ¼ inch, 30 to 35 seconds, scraping down bowl if necessary; transfer to small bowl. Pulse tomatoes with juice until chopped fine, 6 to 8 one-second pulses.

4. Heat butter in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add pancetta and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 2 minutes. Add carrot, onion, and porcini; cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened but not browned, about 4 minutes. Add garlic and sugar; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add ground meats, breaking meat into 1- inch pieces with wooden spoon, about 1 minute. Add milk and stir to break meat into ½-inch bits; bring to simmer, reduce heat to medium, and continue to simmer, stirring to break up meat into small pieces, until most liquid has evaporated and meat begins to sizzle, 18 to 20 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook until combined, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, reserved porcini soaking liquid, ¼ teaspoon salt, and pepper; bring to simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until liquid is reduced and sauce is thickened but still moist, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in reduced wine and simmer to blend flavors, about 5 minutes.

(Cooks Illustrated’s Weeknight Bolognese)

fold-over pear torte

You didn’t think I’d miss a week of Tuesdays with Dorie, did you? I’ve been in the group for two and a half years, haven’t missed a week yet, and don’t plan to start now. Being late is, of course, a different story. Being late is what I do.

Although if I’d realized how involved this recipe was, I might have procrastinated enough to be even later – pie crust, peeled and chopped fruit, and a custard that involves a mixer. Having overzealously planned my weekend cooking (as always), I jumped in, rushed, without looking at the recipe, with the kitchen counters covered in dinner dishes.

My measurements were imprecise, my rolling was sloppy. While the tart baked, I shaped over-risen bagel dough, realizing too late that the tart and the bagels needed the same oven at the same time but at very different temperatures. The bagels won and the tart (torte?) was under-browned.

But good nonetheless. Pears and rummy custard and dough are such a great combination. Even if it was a lot of steps. It’s worth it to keep my unbroken record of not skipping a week (although not necessarily being on time).

Cakelaw chose this for TWD and has the recipe posted.

One year ago: Chocolate-Crunched Caramel Tart
Two years ago: Lenox Almond Biscotti

steak sandwiches

This is a perfect example of how I eat very differently on weekends than during the week. First, we rarely eat meat on weekdays, especially beef. I love it, but I save it for days that I splurge. Second, mayonnaise. I love it; I save it for days when I splurge. Third: alcohol. I love it. I save it.

This was originally a Sunday dinner plan, until we opted to spend several hours peeling, seeding, dicing, and storing a year’s worth of Hatch green chile on Sunday night instead. I ended up making it the next night, which made for a Monday night treat, although baking bread, caramelizing onions, mixing sauce, cooking steaks, and building sandwiches after working all day and before preparing an exam to give the next day was not such a treat.

Best saved for a weekend, perhaps, but the combination of richly browned steak, spicy horseradish, sweet onions, and tangy mayonnaise was a welcome indulgence for a Monday night. If only every weeknight could be as decadent.

One year ago: Goat Cheese, Pesto and Sun-Dried Tomato Terrine
Two years ago: Lavash Crackers

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Steak Sandwiches (adapted from Ina Garten)

I forgot to buy them this time, but sautéed sliced mushrooms are so good on this sandwich too. We also added some of those freshly prepared Hatch green chiles to our sandwiches, which was a great compliment.

I can’t get good arugula at the stores here so I used shredded leaf lettuce (not recommended; spinach would have been better, or leaving the greens off entirely), and I can’t find strip steaks so decided that boneless ribeye would be a good substitute.

The alcohol mentioned above came into play because after removing the cooked steaks from the pan, I poured in some whiskey and scraped up all the browned bits left behind from the steaks. I transferred the reduced liquor to the onion mixture. (And actually, while I don’t drink alcohol on weekdays – because I need those calories for dessert – I have no rules against cooking with it.)

olive oil
2 yellow onions, halved from pole and pole and sliced ¼-inch thick
kosher salt
½ teaspoon fresh (or a pinch of dry) thyme leaves
1 (12-ounce) 1-inch thick New York strip boneless beef top loin steak
freshly ground black pepper
1 recipe Mustard Mayo, recipe follows
2 sandwich rolls
½ cup baby arugula

1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring very frequently, until the onions just start to brown, 4-5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and golden brown, 15-20 minutes. Stir in the thyme in the last few minutes.

2. Meanwhile, heat a medium not-nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Season the steak generously with salt and pepper; place it in the skillet. Cook without moving for 6 minutes. Flip and continue cooking for 3-5 minutes (depends on whether you want a rare or medium steak). Remove from the pan, tent with foil, and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice thinly across the grain.

3. Assemble the sandwiches by layering Mustard Mayo, steak, onions, and arugula onto the sliced rolls.

Mustard Mayo

I used a lot less mayonnaise and Greek yogurt instead of sour cream. I also stirred in quite a bit of horseradish.

¾ cup good mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons sour cream
⅛ teaspoon kosher salt

Whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl.

whiskey compound butter

I love grilled steaks – who doesn’t? – but I do miss the fond left behind on the pan when you pan-fry steaks. Nothing beats the sauce you can make by adding some alcohol, herbs, and cream to the scraped up bits of meat left on the pan. The grilling equivalent is compound butters, and I won’t say no to those either.

I also don’t say no to whiskey – at least when it’s mixed with butter to top my steak. Between the shallots, alcohol, and herbs, this compound butter has nearly everything my favorite pan sauces do. And unlike a pan sauce, which requires some last minute frenzy, a compound butter can be made hours (days! weeks! months!) in advance. Most importantly, it’s accompanying a beautiful charcoal-grilled steak.

One year ago: Twice-Baked Potato Cups
Two years ago: Banana and Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast

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Whiskey Compound Butter
(adapted from epicurious.com)

Makes enough to top 6-8 steaks

1 shallot, minced
1 tablespoon whiskey or bourbon
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon minced parsley
½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon sea salt
black pepper to taste

Combine the shallot and whiskey; let rest for about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix well. On a 12-by-8 inch square of wax paper, drop butter in spoonfuls to form a log. Roll butter in wax paper and smooth out to form a round log. Refrigerate until hard and easy to slice into round, coin-shaped pieces, at least three hours. Serve with grilled steak.

beer-marinated flank steak

Generally, I’m not a fan of making marinades. I enjoy the flavor, but something about chopping and measuring ingredients just to put them in a bag with some meat for a few hours isn’t satisfying for me. I like the part of cooking that involves heat, when things get soft or crisp, turn golden brown, intensify in flavor. I like the part of cooking that involves eating. The first step of marinating doesn’t include any of the fun stuff.

At least, in this recipe, it involves beer. And very little chopping and not much measuring. This is my kind of marinade.

It tastes like my kind of marinade too. While the beer in the recipe caught my eye first, it was the Worcestershire sauce that reeled me in, because I love the stuff. The combination of the two made for a flank steak that was not just great-tasting, but was a beautiful burnished brown on the outside with the perfect amount of pink inside. My first time cooking flank steak was a definite success, which in retrospect, should have been obvious from the beginning, because beer makes everything better, even making marinades.

One year ago: Quick Baking Powder Pizza Crust
Two years ago: Mashed Potatoes with Kale

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Beer-Marinated Flank Steak (from Bon Appetit via Apple a Day)

Serves 6

2 1⅓-pound flank steaks
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
Coarse kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1¼ cups thinly sliced green onions (about 6)
1 12-ounce bottle dark beer
½ cup Worcestershire sauce

1. Using sharp knife, lightly score flank steaks about ⅛ inch deep on both sides in a crisscross pattern at ½-inch intervals. Place steaks in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Sprinkle steaks on both sides with oregano and cumin and generous amount of coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Drizzle olive oil over both sides of steaks, rubbing oil and spices into meat. Add green onions, beer, and Worcestershire sauce, turning steaks several times to coat both sides. Cover and chill at least 3 hours, turning occasionally. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.)

2. Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Brush grill rack lightly with oil. Grill steaks to desired doneness, 3 to 4 minutes total per side for medium-rare, turning steaks ¼ turn after 1½ minutes to form crisscross grill marks, if desired. Transfer steaks to cutting board; let rest 5 minutes. Thinly slice steaks across grain. Transfer to platter and serve.

penne alla vodka

People keep asking me how my recent vacation was, and I can’t think of any response other “so, so good.” How else do you sum up a week of playing in the waves, drinking margaritas, snorkeling, baking cookies, swimming with sea lions, watching shooting stars, eating shrimp tacos, and just basically everything that is good. I didn’t even get sunburned. I want to go back.

At least I had an easy meal planned for my first night at home. This is my ‘just got back from vacation’ dish. After traveling all day, I don’t want to spend much time cooking. There’s no time to defrost anything. We haven’t been home, so there isn’t a lot of fresh food around. I’ve been eating out all week on vacation, so I don’t want to get takeout.

This dish solves all those problems. It takes as long to make as it takes pasta to cook. There are only a couple ingredients to chop. It’s fairly healthy. And it uses ingredients that I can buy before I leave and trust that they’ll keep until I get back – pasta, canned tomatoes, onion. And of course, it tastes great.

I bet it would taste even better on vacation. Everything is better on vacation.

One year ago: Potato Tomato Tart
Two years ago: Banana Coconut Muffins

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Penne alla Vodka (from Cooks Illustrated)

You can never go wrong following a Cooks Illustrated recipe precisely. I, however, don’t, in this case. Because I almost always make this after a day of traveling, I simplify it wherever possible. Instead of pureeing half of the tomatoes and dicing the rest, I simply stick a pair of kitchen shears in the tomato can and snip away. I don’t separate the liquid and the tomatoes in order to measure a certain amount; I just pour all of the liquid in to the sauce. I like to use 2 shallots instead of half an onion. If I don’t have cream, I use milk. If I don’t have milk, I skip the dairy. If I don’t have basil, I use parsley. If I don’t have parsley, I skip the herbs or use dried. It’s tomatoes, pasta, and alcohol; it isn’t going to be bad.

1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes, drained, liquid reserved
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small onion, minced (about ¼ cup)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
¼-½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
table salt
⅓ cup vodka
½ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil leaves
fresh parmesan cheese, for serving

1. Puree half of the tomatoes in a food processor until smooth. Dice the remaining tomatoes into ½-inch pieces, discarding cores. Combine the pureed and diced tomatoes in a liquid measuring cup (you should have about 1⅔ cups). Add reserved tomato liquid to equal 2 cups.

2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are light golden around the edges, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and pepper flakes; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

3. Stir in the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon salt. Remove the pan from the heat and add the vodka. Return the pan to medium-high heat and simmer briskly until the alcohol flavor is cooked off, 8 to 10 minutes; stir frequently and lower the heat to medium if the simmering becomes too vigorous. Stir in the cream and cook until hot, about 1 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta. Cook until just shy of al dente, then drain the pasta, reserving ¼ cup cooking water, and transfer the pasta back to the Dutch oven. Add the sauce to the pasta and toss over medium heat until the pasta absorbs some of the sauce, 1 to 2 minutes, adding reserved cooking water if sauce is too thick. Stir in the basil and adjust the seasoning with salt. Divide among pasta bowls and serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.

baked french toast

I need to stop doing things like making a complicated braided loaf of bread just to cut it up and put in a casserole. Especially considering that Deb specifically calls for supermarket bread, clarifying that there is no need for super fancy stuff. No! Everything must be fancy! This is why I have no time to clean my house.

Deb suggests a range of flavoring options, but the first time I made this, I happened to have a grapefruit around, so I went a citrus direction, with grapefruit zest and triple sec. I also added vanilla to make, essentially, creamsicle French toast. Highly – highly – recommended.

Like most breakfast casseroles, the big advantage here (besides that it tastes like a creamsicle) is that you can make it in advance and then just bake it in the morning. Furthermore, it’s a simple, easy recipe, with just a few ingredients and simple mixing method. Which is very good thing, because you can spend the time you save making the casserole baking an impractically beautiful and fresh loaf of bread.

One year ago: Vegetable Curry
Two year ago: Grits Cheese and Onions Soufflés

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Boozy Baked French Toast (rewritten from Smitten Kitchen)

Serves 6

This recipe is infinitely adaptable. Use whole milk for extra richness or lowfat milk to cut calories. Mix and match your liqueurs and your add-ins. Skip the liqueur entirely and use a couple teaspoons of an extract.

1 loaf challah, sliced 1-inch thick
3 cups whole milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup liqueur (see note)
other flavorings – ½ cup toasted nuts, 1 teaspoon zest, ½ cup dried fruit

1. Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish. Arrange half of the bread in a tightly-packed layer in the pan. Add the nuts or dried fruit, if using. Place the remaining bread on top of the first layer.

2. Whisk together the milk, eggs, sugar, salt, liqueur, and zest, or flavorings of your choice and pour over the bread. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. Bake at 425 degrees until puffed and golden, about 30 minutes. Cut into generous squares and serve with maple syrup, fresh fruit, powdered sugar or all of the above.

lots of ways banana cake

Dorie calls this a cake, and I was determined to make it a cake and not bread. I baked it in a flat square with the intention of cutting the square in half to make a layered rectangular cake filled with frosting. Much later I realized that I’d confused the issue by forming a perfectly bread-shaped cake. Oops.

Not only that, but I don’t love the brown sugar swiss meringue buttercream I used. I think I would have enjoyed this more without the frosting, as something more similar to, well, banana bread. Oops.

Or you know what sounds really good, is mixing chocolate chips into the batter and then topping the cake (we’re back to cake and away from bread again) with chocolate ganache. Except I didn’t have any chocolate. Oops.

I’m sure there are lots of ways I could love this cake (or bread), and Kimberly, who chose the recipe for Tuesdays with Dorie, has the original – a rum and coconut version – posted.

One year ago: Blancmanger
Two years ago: Cherry Rhubarb Cobbler

rum-drenched vanilla cake

Someone brought a rum bundt cake into work last week, and oh my god, was it good. Tender, extremely moist, and intensely rummy, I could hardly resist grabbing one wedge after another. My officemate, who apparently has far better self-control than I, cut herself a piece and set it aside until the end of the day, six or seven hours later. She regretted the wait as soon as she bit into it and realized that, by then, the rest of the cake was gone. Clearly we needed to get the recipe.

It turns out that the recipe is a doctored cake mix, which just proves that of all the types of prepared, processed foods, cake mix is probably the best at imitating, and in some cases perhaps surpassing, the completely homemade version. And although I can hardly believe this cake I had could be improved upon, and I don’t think the chemicals in one boxed cake mix recipe is going to knock me dead, I’m still too stubborn to use a boxed mix.

A web search yielded nothing but that same recipe, cake mix and oil and rum, over and over. I started thinking of what cake recipe of mine I’d adapt to imitate the recipe I was finding, resigning myself to doing some experimenting.

It took me five days to make the connection that I was searching for a from-scratch rum cake, and I was planning to make rum-drenched vanilla cakes over the weekend. I’m not so smart.

My first impression was that Dorie’s cakes weren’t as moist or tender, although they were fluffy and light with plenty of rum flavor.  Two days later, the cake had ripened, and its texture was very similar to the one I’d eaten at work.  In the future, I might replace the melted butter in the cake with oil, which I think makes cakes moister, but other than that, I think I have my from-scratch rum bundt cake recipe, and I didn’t even have to experiment.

Wendy chose these cakes for Tuesdays with Dorie, and she has the recipe posted. I doubled the salt.

One year ago: Comparison of three white cake recipes
Two years ago: Apple Cheddar Scones