Posts Tagged fruit

Italian Orange and Almond Cake

    Sometimes it’s just destiny – a recipe appears on your radar from several directions in a very short time. It was a very unusual recipe. Simple ingredients, all of them already in the house, a very traditional recipe it seems, there was no flour in it, never had been, and first, you boil oranges – intriguing! It immediately went on the make-it-soon list.
    Fresh fruit is about to overwhelm me. When a season hits here, it hits hard enough to overwhelm. You can’t just pass up those bargains at the grocery – blueberries for 88 cents a carton? Between the strawberries, blueberries, and figs I was already making and freezing fruit puree so why not oranges? Except that I would use those oranges to bake this cake.
    Just to make sure I wasn’t heading up a blind alley I did an internet search on the ingredients and came up with several variations on the same basic recipe. Here is the way it worked out and even as I write about it my taste testers are confirming that it is a winner.
    One very curious note though. Does anyone remember a couple of years ago when Starbuck’s introduced their gluten-free orange cupcake nationwide? And then within months it disappeared never to be mentioned again? This cake tastes something like that, cake with a definite orange tang, only WAY better.

Italian Orange and Almond Cake
Ingredients:
2 oranges (about 12 ounces – oranges vary greatly in size)
6 large eggs, separated
1 cup granulated sugar (I used Lakanto, sugarless & no-cal, no-carb)
3 cups ground almonds (I used Bob’s Red Mill)
1 tsp baking powder

Oil, spray and/or parchment to keep things from sticking

Prepare the oranges:
   This process takes several hours so I ended up doing it two days before putting together the cake. Wash the oranges really well. Place them in a pot and add enough water to cover them (but they will then float). Bring the water to a boil, turn it down to a gentle simmer, put a lid on the pot, and set the timer for two hours. One of my oranges split but the other one did not.
   After two hours drain the water off the oranges and set the pot with the oranges aside to cool. When they are cool enough to handle cut the peeling off across the top and bottom. Cut the oranges into about eight sections and remove any seeds. Also remove the white string down the center. The oranges are really mushy. Toss all of the orange pieces into the jar of your blender. Process briefly on ‘puree’ – it becomes smooth very quickly. The puree is now complete so either begin the cake or store the puree, covered, in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

Prepare the cake:
   Set the eggs (and puree) on the counter to lose the refrigerator chill. If the almond meal has been frozen to keep it fresh (a really good idea) then set it out as well – it is horribly clumpy when frozen but un-clumps very nicely when defrosted. Choose your sweetener. You need the equivalent sweetness of one cup of sugar.
   Measure the almond meal into a prep bowl, whisk in the baking powder, and set aside. Separate the eggs and place the yolks in the larger bowl where you will mix the batter while the whites go into a smaller bowl.
   Prepare your pan(s). This recipe fits an 8” or 9” springform pan. I used the batter to fill a variety of smaller pans and silicone cupcake forms. Even with non-stick pans and oil spray some cake parts stuck. Next time I will also use parchment paper. The cupcake forms actually did the best. However, wait until the cake(s) have completely cooled before trying to pull them out. This is not a quick, in-a-hurry recipe. Set your oven to 350*F.
   Beat the egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer until the yolks turn a slightly lighter shade of yellow. I added 6 drops of liquid stevia just to be sure that by using the no-cal stuff the cake would still come across sweet enough. Add the orange puree and continue beating. Add in the almond meal mixture and beat until completely incorporated. You may need a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
   Rinse off the beaters and use the mixer to whip the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the whites to the almond batter and combine gently but completely – no stray bits of egg white!
   I used a large (50 ml) ice cream scoop to measure batter into the cupcake forms. A ripple-edged tart pan received about 1 1/2 inches of batter. And a 5 inch springform pan held the remainder.
The cupcakes and tart pan were both done in 30 minutes. The spring form pan held a thicker layer of batter so it baked for 45 minutes total. The cakes should be toasty brown on top.
   This cake is very moist and tasty. It does not require embellishment. However, these were several nice serving suggestions from various sources.
1) Sprinkle with powdered sugar
2) Brush with honey or syrup and garnish with toasted, sliced almonds
3) Top with plain whipped cream and garnish with dark chocolate shavings
4) Add poppy seeds to the batter; then serve with sour cream

Only a Few Cupcakes Remain

Only a Few Cupcakes Remain

    You would think that with Don being such an avid fan of Italian food that I would have come across this recipe long ago. Now I’m wondering how it would translate for my egg-allergic friends.

    When I stopped by The Caring Place and shared some of the cupcakes we had a discussion about how much the Lakanto costs. It certainly is a superior no-cal sweetener for baking but it works out to somewhere around $20 a pound including shipping charges.  And although it is a staple at our house I rationalize the expense by using it sparingly throughout the year. Treats are treats and not our daily bread. Instead I feed my notorious sweet tooth with a variety of densely nutritious carbohydrate foods to keep it under control.

Gretchen (Mom)

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Coconut Milk Panna Cotta

Those Neglected Bananas
   Those four-week-old over-ripe bananas finally were rescued. I love bananas but Don does not. Consequently it took me awhile to get around to preparing a recipe that could not go into the freezer to be used up gradually.

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

Those Poor Neglected Bananas

   I had been dreaming about trying something like this but now it was time to buckle up and go for it. Unflavored gelatin, a can of coconut milk, Mexican vanilla, stevia, and those four bananas went through the blender. The creamy result was poured in a mold and put in the refrigerator to set up. The liquid tasted a bit astringent – bananas and coconut milk each have a bit of that quality. By the time we returned from the fitness center it had set up and was ready to unmold. The astringent quality had mellowed.
   By the next morning (Panna Cotta for breakfast is like having ice cream for breakfast – decadent but still healthy enough) the astringency had mellowed even more. But then I thought I noticed the bananas in the panna cotta were causing it to darken and change color as if the bananas were continuing to ripen even more!
   Never-the-less it is still retains a good flavor – but I’m thinking along these lines:
1) Plan ahead – if it is made with bananas then you really need at least six or more people on hand to share it with.
2) Or, make it with apples – sautéed with a bit of coconut oil, sweetener, and cinnamon so that there is about 1 1/3 (a bit more or less) cups of apple to pulse in the blender. I’m going to try it this coming weekend when we have another cold front coming through (the kitchen will be a warm, cinnamon-scented refuge). My beloved husband loves apples so I can depend on him help me evaluate an apple version.

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Banana Coconut Panna Cotta

Ingredients:
4 very ripe bananas, peeled (or about 1 1/3 cups prepared fruit of your choice)
2 packets gelatin (I have agar but haven’t played with it yet to make it totally vegan)
1/4 cup water
1 can coconut milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Do this first:
Assemble and plug in the blender. Place the prepared fruit into the container. If you plan to use a mold you need one that will hold 3 cups of liquid and give it a very thin coat of Pam or coconut oil to help the panna cotta to unmold. You will still need to dip the mold in hot water for it to release neatly onto your serving plate.

Prepare the gelatin mixture:
Add the water to a small stainless steel saucepan. Sprinkle on the gelatin and add in the vanilla. Allow the gelatin to absorb the liquids and swell up. Then place the pan on the stove and turn the heat on very low. Slowly melt the gelatin. Pick up the pan occasionally and tilt to move the grainy bits around so they will melt more evenly. When all of the mixture is nearly melted use a metal spoon to gently pull any remaining unmelted grains out from the edges into the center of the pan (this IS tedious but essential). The gelatin must be completely melted before it will blend with the remaining ingredients. Unmelted gelatin will not congeal and the panna cotta will not ‘set’.

When the gelatin is entirely melted then quickly pour in the entire can of coconut milk, set down the can and stir the mixture to distribute the gelatin throughout the coconut milk. Scrap any remaining milk and solids from the can into the pan. Turn off the heat but leave it set for a few minutes.

Turn on the blender and pulse gently to puree the fruit. It doesn’t take but a few moments. Too much will oxidize the fruit, turn it brown, and degrade the flavor. Pour the warm mixture from the pan into the blender jar with the fruit. There should be about 3 cups of liquid altogether. Blend the mixture for about 30 seconds before pouring into a bowl or prepared mold. Chill for several hours until it is completely set.

Mom

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Sunsweet Ones – Individually Wrapped Dried Plums

   These Sunsweet ONES are one of my ‘emergency food’ selections. Heading out the door for a round of errands I grab my bottle of water and throw a few of these in my pocket or purse. They are a sweet treat in a naturally healthy package of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and anti-oxidants. Each one is about 25 calories so you can choose to have one or a handful. They do not melt or ooze a sticky mess in the bottom of your pocket or purse. These ‘ONES’ became a favorite after several individually wrapped chocolate mints melted into the bottom of my good summer bag. ‘Emergency food’ saves time, is gluten-free, healthy, and usually more economical than grabbing something at a convenience store when you are having one-of-those-days.

Mom

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Apple Cobbler

    The apples came from a tree in our neighborhood which amazes me given the trouble that we have with the deer eating much of the landscaping. Pat says that the leaves get nibbled but that it is the birds that go after the fruit. She turns a lot of her fruit into fruit-only sauces such as apple-pumpkin-golden raisin or apple-pear-orange juice (fresh oranges, not condensed juice!) and those are wonderful as spreads or dessert. As of last week she is donating her fruit overflow to the local food pantry which I will pick up and deliver on her behalf. Sorting through the fruit to remove the ones with the more severe bird damage left enough pieces of good fruit to make a dessert. So I adapted my husband’s favorite peach cobbler and made apple cobbler that we both could eat.

    This was good! The top was like a light cake with a sugar crust. I’m thinking about reducing the sugar again. I had already cut it from the peach cobbler recipe but it seems that GF flours require less sugar. This definitely makes up for my pique over last Thursday’s bread disaster.

Apple Cobbler

Apple Cobbler

Ingredients for 4 – 6 servings:
2 tablespoons butter, non-hydrogenated margarine, or coconut butter
4 cups fresh tart apples, washed, cored, peeled, and sliced (4-5 large)
1/2 cup raisins

3/4 cup sugar (this produced a very SWEET, sugar crusted top, try 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 cup milk, dairy, almond, or coconut (omit butter if using whole dairy milk or coconut milk)

Set the oven to 350*F. This recipe can be baked in a small round soufflé dish or an 8” or 9” square pan. Put the butter in the bottom of the pan if you are using it. Put the raisins and apples into the pan.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together. The sugar can be white, Sucanat, Lakanto or whatever you prefer. Whisk in the milk. Beat until all of the dry ingredients and liquid make a thin batter. Pour the batter over the fruit and move the pan into the oven.

Bake the cobbler for about 30 minutes; less if you are using a larger pan and the result is a thinner layer of fruit and batter in the pan. It should turn light brown on top and pull away from the sides of the pan – gluten-free flours do not brown so much. Turn off the heat and leave in the oven for another 10 minutes. This allows the batter to cook completely through using residual heat and without scorching the cobbler.

Remove from the oven to a cooling rack or hot pad. Allow to cool somewhat before serving as the fruit is very hot.

Mom

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