Saturday, April 30, 2011

Our Traditional Easter Dessert

For many years now this wonderful cake has been an Easter tradition for our family. We all love this cake and I had the entire family this year for Easter dinner. We gathered in the early afternoon, had our dinner and afterwards had multiple Easter Egg Hunts for the little ones. It was truly a blessed Easter. I am joining Kim at Quit Eating Out for Saturday Swap and am sharing our Traditional Easter Dessert.

I discovered this recipe many years ago in a cookbook called The Heritage Of Southern Cooking by Camille Glenn. In her book  she says, "This is the cake I created when, as a young woman, I catered debutante parties and weddings in Louisville. This cake holds a secret all to itself--it is a magical formula that will fool you". It truly is a wonderfully moist, rich, cake that seems to cry out for special occassions.

Camille's Golden Cointreau Cake

8 large eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons Cointreau
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

 Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

 Separate the eggs. Put the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another large mixing bowl.

 Beat the egg yolks with an electric mixer until they have thickened and are smooth. Beat in the sugar slowly, then continue beating until the mixture turns a lighter shade of yellow and is smooth. Add the orange juice and blend thoroughly.

 Measure the flour, then sift it twice. Sprinkle the sifted flour over the egg yolk mixture and gently fold it in by hand with a whisk or a rubber spatula, or with the electric mixer on a very low speed. Fold in the Cointreau and vanilla.

 Add the salt to the egg whites and beat until they begin to turn white and foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat until the egg whites hold a stiff peak but are not dry and grainy, about 4 minutes more.

 Fold a few spoonfuls of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it. Then add the remaining egg whites to the batter, gently folding them in.

 Spoon the batter into a 10 X 4 1/2-inch ungreased angel food cake pan (a tube pan with a removable bottom). The pan should be no more than three-quarters full. Place the cake pan on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, or until the cake springs back at once when lightly touched, about 1 1/4 hours.

 Remove the cake from the oven, turn it upside down on the tube pan legs, and allow it to rest overnight before frosting.

 Loosen the cake with a thin sharp knife and unmold it. Put the cake on a plate or on a flat surface covered with waxed paper or foil. Spread the frosting over the cake.


8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
6-8 tablespoons Cointreau, or more as needed

 Put the butter in a large mixing bowl.

Add the confectioners' sugar and salt. Beat well with an electric mixer. Add the egg yolk, then slowly add 6 tablespoons of the Cointreau. Continue to beat the frosting until it is smooth, thick, and pliable, 3 minutes. Add more Cointreau as needed; it usually takes at least 8 tablespoons. This frosting must be thick.

 Frost the cake generously in a swirl design. Allow the frosting to firm for 30 minutes and then lift the cake to a serving platter.

Note: This is also lovely garnished with half slices of oranges. It is a delicious cake and I think something really special. There is also a side note that it freezes beautifully even frosted. She also suggests that the frozen slices are quite good served as is with coffee. This I've never tried.

I always decorate this cake with fresh pansy's. Easter came very late this year so I babyed my pansy's along so I would have them to use for decoration. Here in N Fl when our hot weather arrives many of my annuals are ready to be pulled up. Thankfully they were fine.

It is an angel food cake but so much more moist. It is a fabulous cake with that subtle orange flavor of the Cointreau and I hope you will try this recipe for your next special occassion. You won't be disappointed.

There are some wonderful recipes shared at Kim's blogging party so take a look at other participants by clicking here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Garden Dinner Party

I haven't posted on my blog in a couple of weeks. I have been spending most of my time in my garden getting ready for my garden circles End of the Year Party. This year it was to be at my home, we wanted to include our spouses and I decided to have it an in the Garden Dinner Party. It took place last night and fortunately the stormy weather held off so we could enjoy the evening.

I'll share first some of my garden, I think everyone loved the venue. This is my Herb bed and I like to mix old garden roses, poppy's, amaryllis, pansy's and nasturtiums. I always plant nasturtiums because I love using them in salads with their peppery taste and also like to garnish appetizer trays with them. The herbs that I grow are sage, rosemary, several different kinds of thyme, basil, lavender, salad burnet, marjoram, parsley and oregano. There is something so very therapeutic about going out to the garden to cut herbs to go in a dish that I am preparing.

 This is a bed right across from the one above and here I also grow old garden roses with a few herbs and lavender. The lavender is just beginning to bloom.
As you can see my screened porch is behind this bed and when the roses bloom plus the fragrance from the herbs well what can I say the smell takes your breath away. In this bed I have a plant on a plant stand and in it is an unusual fern-leaf scented geranium. It is an heirloom that dates from the late 1700's from South Africa and was very popular during the Victorian period. It has a balsam fragrance and a delicate pink bloom. Any time I come across an heirloom plant I am immediately attracted to it. 
As you walk further out into my garden I have more roses with lots of perennials and annuals.

It wasn't a bad venue for a Garden Dinner Party.
My garden is so colorful so when planning the tables and centerpieces I chose to go with a more neutral palette. I used round tables with burlap tablecloths. My husband cut down a tree at our farm in N GA for my centerpieces. He routed out the center the size I needed so I could place cylinder glass pieces in them and we just used white hydrangeas and at the bottom finessed Spanish moss. I also used plain white dishes on top of woven dark brown chargers. We had a windy day yesterday and last night so the linen napkins had to sit under the dinner plate.

This was our appetizer table, those hydrangeas were gorgeous.

This was our bar and we served only beer and wine.
I enjoy working in my garden, it is therapy for me and I thoroughly enjoyed sharing my efforts. I also dearly love planning a party as well and I think my guests had a wonderful time.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. Remember you can click on to any photo to enlarge it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

I have made this recipe many times using a regular Olive Oil and Lemon zest but I have recently found a wonderful Blood Orange infused Olive Oil so I decided to play with this recipe. In Italy it is quite common to use olive oil in place of butter or vegetable oil and the results are wonderful. I love the texture of this dense cake, it's almost like a cornbread texture and like any plain cake it has numerous possibilites. It's a simple cake that can be eaten at breakfast, with coffee or tea, or even dressed up with fresh berries and freshly whipped cream for an elegant dessert.

Blood Orange Olive Oil Cake

1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
Finely grated zest of one large navel orange
3/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil with Blood Oranges

Place oven rack in center position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-inch spring form pan.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

With an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar in a large bowl on high speed for 5 minutes, or until pale and thick. Add yogurt and zest; beat to combine. With mixer on medium speed, add oil in a quick, steady stream. Reduce speed to low and gradually add flour mixture just until blended. Whisk batter by hand to make sure that all ingredients are incorporated.

Pour batter into pan. Bake, rotating pan once, until cake is golden, center springs back to the touch, and edges pull away from pan, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool in pan for a minute or two on rack, then release from pan and let cool completely on rack before slicing.

My Notes: When I lightly oiled the spring form pan I also place a round parchment piece in the bottom of the pan that was slightly bigger than the pan so it would go up the sides. I also oiled the parchment and it came out of the pan much easier. Also, when you zest the orange, zest it directly into the mixture so you capture all the oils.

I made two of these, one to keep at home but took dinner to a very dear friend whose husband had recently had surgery so I took one to them too. I got an immediate call after dinner and they loved this cake as much as I did. Her husband raised an eyebrow when I told him it was made with olive oil but I think he enjoyed it.

In this pic you can almost see that cornbread like texture. This is truly a yummy cake and like a pound cake it has endless possibilities.

I enjoyed it as it was with just a dollop of freshly whipped cream.

This is the Blood Orange infused Olive Oil that I used and I can buy it here at a wonderful local shop, Simply Entertaining. There are some really good similar olive oils available on the market today.

I have enjoyed this simple little cake so much and I hope you will try it and enjoy it as much as I have. It keeps very well for several days.
It's Friday so I am joining the blogging party at Designs by Gollum, Foodie Friday hosted by Michael Lee West. BTW, Michael Lee has a new book out and is currently on a book tour but you can read about her new book on her blog. It should be an excellent book.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Easter Mantle

It has been such a long time since I participated in Metamorphosis Monday. There are always so many ideas shared at this blog party hosted by Susan at Between Naps on the Porch.

My mantle is most often  seasonal and  it is decked out with my bunnies right now. I found these French candle holders at a local gift shop but they came from Mary Carol Garrity's shop, Nell Hills in Atchinson, KS. Mary Carol is a well known interior designer who has written numerous books and she has a second shop in Kansas City. I highly recommend her books since she is a favorite interior designer.

I have taken some ideas from another fellow blogger Delores at Vignette Design who often uses burlap in her California home. I have finessed some burlap on the mantle. This burlap was a wide ribbon but very soft so it was easy to finesse it on my mantle. Delores always shares some stunning decorating ideas on her blog.

I thought these two bunnies looked particularly good with the burlap ribbon and the Egg Wreath was a purchase  many years ago when my daughter was attending UA in Tuscaloosa.

This is probably one of our most used rooms in our home and I call it the Morning Room. I am enjoying my Easter Mantle especially since it can be viewed from my kitchen as well.
I couldn't help but also share another of my orchids in full bloom right now in this same room. If you look closely there are more blooms that haven't quite opened. Right now all blooms are open and it is a gorgeous orange bloom with a red throat, a cymbiduim. The porcelein plate is a very cherished gift from a dear friend. She doesn't share her art work too often so when she does it is most cherished.

Thank you for visiting my blog and please do come again. Remember, you can click on to any photo to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My oldest son turns 40

My oh my, I do not know where the time has gone but my oldest son has a birthday today and it is his 40th. HAPPY 40TH BIRTHDAY, John.

For his birthday celebration he chose to have just the family at our house for dinner and we celebrated Sunday evening.
After dinner we served his favorite birthday cake, Yellow Cake with Chocolate Frosting. As you can see he had lots of help blowing out the candles.

You have been a JOY and given me those two wonderful grandsons.
All three of my children have been a JOY. John is on the left.