Pecan

All posts tagged Pecan

Cake to keep and cake to eat

Published December 7, 2014 by Storm

Cake to keep (for two or three weeks)

For at least the last 10 years I’ve been using the same Christmas cake recipe, with the only variation being whether I soak the dried mango and pineapple in spiced rum or spiced mead. It’s a nice cake, but this year I felt like a change. We’d enjoyed the Simnel cake recipe I’d baked from Vegetarian Cooking Through The Year so last week I decided to give the Christmas cake recipe from the same volume a try.

My first challenge was finding dried pears; I couldn’t get them anywhere within walking distance of home! I thought about the rest of the fruit in the cake, currants, sultanas, raisins and apricots, then looked at what we had on the shelf at work and decided that dried sweet cherries would do nicely.

The next challenge was to find a vegetarian sherry. I eventually found an amontillado (how suitably Poe), a nip of which will also make a nice companion to cooking Christmas dinner. At this time of year my drinks cupboard gets a bit scary; sherry for the cake, brandy for the mincemeat, rum for stollen, and possibly some kirsch still to add for a dessert I want to make for Christmas Eve or New Year… I might be making up some jars of boozy fruit in readiness for next Christmas.

Making the cake was nice and simple. It smelt lovely getting home the day I’d left the fruit and chopped almonds infusing in the sherry, ready to bake in the evening. Cheating a bit, as usual, I mixed the flour, spices, ground nuts, fat and eggs, in the food processor then stirred the mix through the fruit by hand. It all looked right going into the tin and tasted right when I cleaned the bowl out before washing it; I’m afraid when it comes to cake mix I do take my chance with raw egg. Two hours into the baking time, when I went to check on the progress of the cake, I realised I’d missed an ingredient or two; there on the side was the still sealed jar of molasses with the honey alongside it, too late to do anything about it I shrugged my shoulders and concluded that since the mix had seemed right, and the cake smelt and looked good, the lack couldn’t be too serious.

Now of course it’s waiting time.  The cake is wrapped in baking parchment, securely in it’s tub, being unwrapped to be fed a tablespoon of sherry about every 4 days; the recipe doesn’t actually mention feeding the cake but it’s a Christmas cake, of course it needs feeding! In two weeks time I’ll add marzipan and icing. I’m looking forward to seeing if it tastes as good as it smells.

4.5 out of 5 for well written instructions and ease of baking 

I can’t really grade the tastiness just yet!

And a cake to eat (now)

Having made a cake which wasn’t for immediate consumption I thought perhaps I should make another cake this week. I’d been given a glut of ripe bananas so a banana cake of some description was the obvious choice.  I picked up the Cook’s Encyclopedia of Bread Machine Baking and thumbed my way to the chapter on teabreads and cakes. Banana and Pecan Teabread looked nicely tempting.

I had most of the ingredients in the cupboards but I did need to buy shelled pecans. Again, using the food processor to mix everything, this was a doddle to make. When I’m mixing a fruity cake in the food processor I mix everything except the fruit, then use the pulse option to mix the dried fruit in so as to keep as much of the fruit whole as possible. The only thing I would disagree completely with the recipe about is the cooking time; the recipe suggested an hour’s baking for the size I was making, with perhaps a few minutes more; I ended up giving my cake an extra half hour, which to me is more than a few minutes. Minor grumble aside, the cake is moist, tasty, and moreish; I’m likely to bake it again.

4 out of 5 for ease of baking and well written instructions

4.5 out of 5 for tastiness

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First shell your pecans

Published October 3, 2014 by Storm

This week was one of those weeks where I was trying as much as possible to cook from the larder and freezer and avoid shopping, it was also a week when the Railway Modeller needed packed lunches every day. Given the choice between flapjack and cake, cake was requested so my challenge was to find a cake recipe I hadn’t used before that I had all the ingredients for. The only one I could find which answered the challenge and which I could eat, I wasn’t going to miss out on cake if I was baking, was the Coffee and Pecan Nut Cake in the recipe booklet which came with my breadmaker. 

The only catch was that the pecans, left over from last Christmas, were still in their shells. It took about an hour but I eventually had my three ounces of pecans, it’s just as well the recipe wanted them chopped though as they were nowhere near whole. Using a loaf tin liner to line the breadmaker, no more messing about and making a mess with greaseproof paper, and the food processor to do the mixing all other aspects of baking were a doddle.

I found the pecans a little oily but do like their flavour, maybe pre-shelled ones would be better. In this cake’s favour ground coffee brewed in the percolator gave a much nicer flavour than instant coffee as used in the American Coffee Bread I wrote about in this-bread-is-a-cake. The Railway Modeller said he found the cake slightly dry, I think the texture of the Coffee Bread would probably be more to his taste. Neither of us disliked it but I don’t think either of us would say this was the best cake I’d ever baked. I have ideas though; Turkish Coffee and Hazelnut Cake might be the first recipe of my own devising I try in the breadmaker.

Coffee and pecan cake gets 5 out of 5 for clear instructions and ease of making (most people wouldn’t be idiotic enough to start with pecans in the shell).

It gets 4 out of 5 for flavour but it was let down by the texture.

The Cake That Almost Wasn’t

Published April 23, 2014 by Storm

I missed 2 weeks of my recipe challenge, back to it this week though with…

Somerset apple, honey and pecan cake

I needed to bake a birthday cake, I should have baked a birthday cake a week earlier but we were still eating simnel cake. I happened to have a glut of apples in the kitchen so this tasty sounding treat looked perfect on paper. The recipe is from Vegetarian Recipes From The West Country, which was a gift from a family member in Cornwall.

It was slightly more interesting to make than the chocolate cake I originally planned to bake; a topping had to be made first and set aside, but didn’t seem difficult. At least, it didn’t seem difficult until the very end of baking! I had foolhardily trusted the recipe for cooking times, and after cooling in the tin for the recommended time the cake did seem done, this proved not to be my smartest move. When I came to turn the cake out it looked more like a soggy sandcastle disaster than a cake! The outer inch and a half was cooked all round but the middle was like quicksand, the whole cake started gently sinking through the cooling rack.

After a moment of dismay I decided to mount a rescue operation. I transferred the cake, topping and all, to a casserole dish, broke up the bigger chunks of cooked cake and mixed everything up before putting it back in the oven. Surprisingly, it turned out not just edible but tasty. I was disappointed to lose the beauty of the original cake but at least it wasn’t going to waste.

3 out of 5 for ease of baking: there are places the cooking instructions could be more clearly laid out (the oven temperature is hiding in the last paragraph) and the cooking time was woefully under stated.

4 out of 5 for flavour: if it tasted good with some over done bits after my rescue operation it should be delicious if I get it right next time.

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