Move over strawberry shortcake — there’s a new sheriff in town!
I can’t recall how or when I first stumbled upon the blog Ngan Made It. It could have been in March when Ngan traveled to Portland, because I am a sucker for posts about the food scene here. Or is could have been because of the alphabet food challenge (U for Udon, anyone?) that she partakes in with a few other fellow bloggers. While that mystery will have to remain unsolved, the reasons I enjoy her blog are easy to figure out.
Ngan can be counted on for not only having fantastic sounding recipes but also drool-worthy food photos. Her latest post on Jeremies (how have I not known about these?!) will make you seriously consider licking your screen.
But beyond food, she posts about everything from her travels to good books to Moscow mules, which I appreciate because sometimes I really need some variety in my life in my WP reader. I devoured her posts on a recent trip to Tahoe because I got to see the gorgeous mountains, lakes and greenery. (I love a vicarious vacation!)
Similar to how nose to tail eating utilizes all the parts of an animal, this luscious citrusy cake uses the whole orange, rind and all. Okay, okay, the seeds aren’t used but everything else is. And when the peel and pith come together with enough butter and sugar, magic is made. I promise.
I stumbled upon the recipe for this cake in an old issue of Sunset magazine that my mom gave me (apparently hoarding magazines runs in the family). I was lured in because it sounded easy to put together on a work night — puree, blend, bake — and because it was described as being “not too sweet.”
Despite my weakness for hard candy, I tend to prefer tart and tangy desserts over super sweet ones. And since I was craving something bright and summery in flavor, this recipe wasn’t in my hands for longer than a week before I baked it up.
I followed the directions, even managing not to make a single substitution, and it turned out like a ring of sunshine…
Anyone who’s been around me for the last few weeks knows I’ve been a bit stressed out. Work has been crazy, the summer has been busy and my husband has been cooking for a lot of special events. The last one was to benefit the Portland Fruit Tree Project and between the three of us (my friend DB helped us out) we put out a damn good meal.
One thing I didn’t mention in the first post was that the theme of the dinner was plums. After all, since the meal is for a fruit-based charity it only makes sense to cook with fruit!
Thankfully plums led us to many good things. We made plum preserves to mix with goat cheese and stuff into cheese puffs. There was a tart and tangy plum mostarda to go with a “foiehogbit” terrine (thanks Sean, I’m totally ripping off that name!) and a rich and beefy plum sauce to accompany our steak dish.
However, the abundance of plums also led to me making a whole lot of plum upside down cake. As in two hotel pans worth, or enough to feed a small army.
The baking process was a bit intense and was probably part of the reason I was so crazed that day. When you’re trying to multiply a recipe by 12 and you haven’t had time to take more than a sip of coffee, you might feel like your brain is about to explode.
Mr. Wonderful White Cake with Strawberry Freezer Jam
I made this cake a month ago, but summer is flying by so quickly, it feels like it was just last weekend! Yesterday I was actually surprised to see all the “back to school” stuff at the stores and then it hit me that it’s nearly mid-August. Summer, where did you go?
Luckily in times of crisis (and yes, summer ending is a crisis!), I find it’s best just to enjoy the moment and eat some cake…especially if it’s this cake. I made this berry-licious treat for my family reunion and let me tell you, it was gone so fast I barely got a piece. I think that’s the ultimate compliment, right?
Not only is this cake perfect for a summer get-together, but it’s also crazy easy to make. Seriously. I took the train to Tacoma, not arriving until 9pm and the reunion started the next day at noon. I had an idea of what I wanted to make, something sweet involving the jar of homemade strawberry freezer jam that I had brought along, but I didn’t really have a game plan.
On the trip up, I kept telling myself, just make it easy. Go to the store and buy a cake mix. No one will ever know and, as long as it has sugar in it, no one will care. But I remembered that I had seen a simple white cake recipe (hilariously named Mr. Wonderful White Cake) on one of my favorite blogs, food for fun, so I figured I’d give it a try.
The Background: I’ve been on a bit of a baking kick lately. Since we’d had a break from scorching hot weather, it seemed like a great time to turn on the old oven. High off my success with blueberry baked oatmeal, I decided to try out another blueberry recipe and this one sounded too good to pass up.
This should also be called: where I messed it all up.