Saturday, February 16, 2008

One tablespoon of butter.

I usually get the baking bug on the weekend. Something about being at home with the kitchen to myself and loads of time to potter around just makes me feel like taking out my baking books.... My ULTIMATE baking book is King Arthur. I love browsing through it. And almost the fact that it doesn't have any glossy pictures of gastroporn makes me feel like it's a more honest display of all the baked goods that are out there to try. It's the kind of book I want to give my children when they are old enough to cook and bake. But that being said, not all gastroporn books are meant to be browsed when we want to impress -- I think Nigella's books are an exception. Honest-to-goodness delicious and cooked and cooked again recipes, but still accompanied with amazing pictures.

But back to King Arthur, for a long time now, I have resisted buying blocks of unsalted butter, because I know that means that I will want to bake and bake and bake. So, really, all I have in the fridge is some horribly expensive tub of French unsalted butter that I indulge in occasionally with a huge smear of butter (the kind that your teeth marks show on it) on the delicious rye bread I have discovered recently. It's not enough butter to even make one cake, so I run into a dilemma when I have the baking bug because I simply don't have the ingredients at hand.

The big baking book has proven to me once again that I can find just about anything in there -- including my cake for the week, Hot Milk Cake. This cake, miraculously, has only one tablespoon of butter. Just one. I had to try it to see if it was possible you can make a gorgeous cake with one tablespoon of butter. And you can.

Somehow it tasted buttery and moist, and it is so versatile, you can work with the sponge to make it as fattening and not-good-for-you as you like.Indeed, King Arthur says you can eat this plain, and I think I would because I love plain cakes, but the cake could also be adorned or split into two and filled with cream. I divided the batter into two sandwich tins, and then I made a simple blueberry sauce to go in between the sponges. (Just frozen blueberries cooked on the stove with sugar and a little bit of cornstarch to thicken the sauce -- cooled this sauce is perfect for this kind of cake.)

THIS WAS DELICIOUS! I think this will be my base for birthday cakes to come.

Hot Milk Cake - One cake, 16 servings

3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup (10 1/2 oz.) sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup (6 oz.) milk
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 oz.) all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In a large bowl, beat together the eggs and sugar until very thick; the batter should fall from the beaters in a thick ribbon. Beatin the vanilla.

While you're beating the eggs and sugar, heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan to just simmering. Add the hot milk to the egg mixture in a slow, steady stream as you continue beating.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Fold the dry ingredients in to the wet ingredients, stirring until they're just combined.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased 9 x 9-inch cake pan. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until the cake is a deep golden brown and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the oven and cool it in the pan for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the pan, if necessary, and invert the cake onto a serving plate.


Rosiecat24 said...

Hi Ilana,

I love baking on the weekends, too. I thought you might be interested to know that there is at least one other cake out there with a minimal butter requirement. In fact, this delicious chocolate cake requires NO BUTTER AT ALL. I have now eaten this cake with a decadent chocolate sauce (very tasty indeed) and plain. It is really good plain! It has a nice chocolatey flavor and rich, moist crumb. I was surprised at how good it is. In the future, I'll probably make this cake with the sauce for really special occasions or when I'm trying to impress. I'll make it plain when I just want a little soft sweet something.

Oh, and one more thing. It's super-duper quick to mix up. You can make the batter with lightning-fast speed because it's so simple.

Here's the link (please pardon the title of the blog if you find it offensive):

Sarah Nicole said...

Hey Ilana, if the cake recipe requires just that amount of butter, then by any chance did it come with a recipe with a frosting not requiring much butter either? You've heard of my buttercream dilemma before. Bleh, butter in cooking good, butter uncooked in a cake.... oh gosh my stomach is turning now.

Anyway, your cake looks great and the blueberry sauce you made sounds beyond delicious.


Sandy said...

It looks like a good recipe, and I have the book so I will check it out.
I love plain cakes too.

Anna's kitchen table said...

How interesting that it's only got one spoon of butter in, I'll try and remember that, it looks really good!

julie said...

Great post! Sometimes I have only low-fat spread or a tiny amount of butter left but get the baking bug, so I'm sure I'll try your cake one day!

Paola Westbeek said...

that's quite a healthy cake there compared to what i'm making lately! should give it a try!

(and i know what you mean... no weekend without some baking!)