Friday, December 08, 2006

A frog filled night & a couple of cakes

Went for a bit of a wander about down to the beach yesterday to clear out the old noggin. It's warmed up considerably since last week. By the time I got back home, I had stripped off my windbreaker, sweater and was down to a jersey knit long sleeve shirt. The walk was refreshing and just what I needed to clear all my work chaos out of my head.

I’m still trying to work out the basics for MIL’s sweater. Over this past week, I knitted and frogged and rekknitted several swatches with 2 different size needles in stockinette and in the patterns I’m considering to see how it would work with the yarn. I crunched my numbers (twice). Drew up a several graphs with possible pattern combinations. Decided on a final pattern. Crunched my numbers again. And again. Finally I drew up my final pattern.

After a round of 'slight of hand' housekeeping (now you see it, now you don't), I finally cozied into my chair with a hot mug of tea and casted the sweater body onto my circular needles and knitted while making my way through Season Five of CSI (thanks Karin & Dave). After a dozen rows, something wasn’t quite right so I casted off what I had and measured it. Wouldn’t you know it, I was over 4 inches too wide. Commence frogging. ACK! And now it’s almost 9pm and I haven’t even thought about what to make for dinner.

Thankfully I still had some leftover pasta and moose meat sauce. For dinner, I made a fast & dirty soup by dumping in some soup stock, some leftover butternut squash and some kale and chard from my veggie garden.

From fridge to table in less than 10 minutes!

We had it with some resuscitated homemade tortillas from our moose sausage dinner last weekend and some Hilary’s St. Denis cheese. The hot rustic soup and the flavourful cheese helped soothe my battered and bruised knitter’s ego. A piece of homemade cake also helped ;)

BTW, here’s the parsnip cake recipe I promised. This is a basic dump, stir and bake sort of a cake. For my vegan friends, I worked out a vegan recipe. Even without butter, milk or eggs, this cake doesn’t lack for any richness or moistness. It’s crumb is lovely and loose. I think this is partly thanks to the spelt flour. I haven’t tried it with any other grain flour but it will probably be fine with regular AP flour if you don't have any spelt flour on hand.

Fast & Dirty Parsnip Spelt Cake

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a pot dump in:

1 cup water

1 medium parsnip grated – about 1 cup

6 tablespoons vegetable oil or margarine or butter

1/3 cup honey or 1/2 cup sugar *

2/3 cup raisins or dried fruit chopped

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (optional)

Bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Take off of heat and let cool.

While the wet ingredients are cooling, grease a 9 inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper. Don’t skip the lining. It will make your life a whole lot easier and less crumbier ;)

In a big bowl dump in:

2 cups spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Mix the dry stuff well. Pour wet slop into dry stuff. Stir until the ingredients are just mixed through. Pour into prepared cake pan.

Bake 30-40 mins or until it passed the clean toothpick test.

Let cool on rack.

*If you use vegan sugar instead of honey, you’ll have a vegan cake.

So far everyone that has tried it has asked for seconds! Even a certain raven-haired fella who has been quoted saying that vegetables have no place in a cake asked for the recipe. The parsnip isn’t even noticeable in the cake since they’re so pale. They kinda meld into the cake crumb and it helps keep the cake moist. A great way to sneak some veggies into the a snack. Since it doesn’t have as much added sweetener as most cake recipes, it works great also as a breakfast.

After the raving success of the parsnip cake, I ventured into Christmas cake territory. A dark and, often, dangerous road for bakers. Just kidding. It’s pretty much a dump and bake sort of recipe too. I made mine based on the parsnip cake.

This is not really traditional fruit cake. It won’t double as a doorstop :)

Again, I made a recipe for a vegan cake. I opted to use olive oil because I like the richness and extra fruity kick that olive oil provides for baking. It’s a great fat to use for baked goods that call for a deeper, richer flavour. Don’t use extra virgin olive oil, the regular stuff works better here.

I used baked apples and fig compote to add another dimension of fruitiness. These are baked apples that I already had on hand. The fig compote I canned over the summer. Alternatives would be other fruit compote like peach, pear or plum, applesauce or a dried fruit compote. Dried fruit compote is simply 1 part dried fruit soaked in 1 part boiling water. Soak until the fruit plumps up.

I also used my own dried fruits. These are fruits that I dehydrated myself over the summer and fall. I prefer using my own dried fruits since I don’t add any extra sugar or sulphites or other preservatives like commercially dried fruit. Of course, I used fruits from local farms. My fruit mix includes apples, figs, pears, persimmons, cranberries, cherries, grapes, kiwis, plums and peaches. You can use whatever you have on hand.

Here’s my Fast & Dirty Christmas Cake recipe

Preheat oven to 325F.

In a pot dump in:

1 ½ cup water

2-3 cups dried fruit

½ cup baked apples

½ cup fig compote

½ cup brown sugar (use vegan sugar for a completely vegan cake)

6 tablespoons olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

Bring to a boil for 2 mins. Take off of heat and let cool.

Grease and line 2 pans. Either 8 inch cake pans or a loaf pan. I did one of each.

In a big bowl dump in:

2 cups spelt flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup grated almond paste

Mix the dry stuff well. Pour wet fruity slop into dry stuff. Stir until just mixed through. Pour into prepare pans. I topped the one in the cake pan with some local hazelnuts and left the loaf pan one naked. Bake for 30-40 minutes. I found that the cake pan one was done in 30 mins. The loaf pan I had filled just beyond halfway and that was done in 40 minutes. Full loaf pans may take up to an hour to bake. Test with a skewer or toothpick.

Let cool on rack.

It's sooooo good. Even DH who is views most fruit cakes with distaste, if not suspicion, loves it. It's moist and dense without heavy. These cakes would freeze beautifully. So make one for now and freeze the other for last minute dessert idea.

There you go my vegan friends, two more cake recipes to put into your files.

Happy Eating!

1 comment:

Drew said...

Triple-thanks for the vegan cake recipes. I can't wait to try them.
The soup looks so good.