Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Glory and the Gory

Easter Sunday was spent mostly in the kitchen preparing foods for the grand Easter buffet at “Shirley mom's” house. This recipe is one I rescued that morning from an old New York Times headed for the trash. Incredibly I had all the ingredients on hand to make it for the Easter dinner. This is a relatively easy cake that is rich and satisfying. Oh, and about the peep, don't feel bad that was a stale peep saved from last year. As we lingered around the table my niece, Lauren who is an extremely talented jewery and accessory designer could not contain her busy fingers for one more moment. The peep's demise is actually a performance piece made with strawberry sauce. No one need cry.
Adapted from the New York Times Magazine article titled "The Way We Eat" March 5, 2006

Lemon-Frosted Pistachio Cake
For the cake:
  • 8 ounces butter
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup finely ground unsalted pistachios
  • 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • Juice and finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 teasoon rosewater
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

    For the icing:
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • crystallized rose petals and shelled pistachios, for garnish (optional).
    1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of an 8-inch nonstick cake pan with parchment paper.
    2) In a mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter and superfine sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, then add the ground pistachios and almonds. Add the orange juice, orange zest and rosewater, and mix well. Using a
    rubber spatula, fold in the flour; do not overmix.
    3) Scoop the mixture into the cake pan, and bake until the top is firm and a light golden brown, about 40 minutes. Lightly cover the top of the cake with foil and continue baking until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out dry, about 10 minutes. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for several minutes, then remove and cool on a rack.
    4) When the cake is cool, make the icing: mix the confectioners' sugar and lemon juice together in a small bowl, and pour over the cake. If desired, decorate with crystallized rose petals and pistachios. Allow the icing to set for 30 minutes before serving.
    Serves 12. Adapted from "The Kitchen Diaries," by Nigel Slater.
    Cooks notes: Instead of using the rosewater I used one teaspoon of vanilla extract (the rosewater reminds me of the perfume worn by old ladies in church) I also replaced this icing with a seven minute boiled lemon icing based on a Fanny Farmer recipe. The cake improved with age and could be made one day ahead of time. If making a day ahead I would wait to ice and decorate before serving. Fresh pansies from our garden were used in place of the crystalized rose petals. If you are really energetic I believe pansies can also be crystalized. We did not eat the fresh pansies. Keep your eye on the baking cake! My cake was well done in 35 minutes, his recipe bakes for a total of 50 minutes.
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