Hedgehog’s Cake for Daddy

Hedgehog’s Cake for Daddy

I’m a week late with this post (a busy schedule was the reason). This cake was my son’s present to his daddy on the Father’s day. About a year ago Tim brought a book from his kindergarten. He had just started reading on his own and was excited about every new book. This one was lovely. It was called “The Hedgehog bakes a cake” by Maryann Macdonald.

The Hedgehog decided to bake a cake. His friends showed up, everyone with very “useful” tip how to make it better. It’s not difficult to predict what followed next. Yes, with all the “help” of the “experts” the cake turned rather terrible and the kitchen – messy. But not ready to give up (the first moral to be learned) the Hedgehog started all aver again, this time – on its own. This time he followed the recipe precisely and measured the ingredients carefully (another great tip for kids to remember). And, of course, the cake baked beautifully. The Hedgehog threw a tea party and all his friends were invited. Everyone enjoyed a slice of cake believing that the baking success was entirely depended on their participation. The kind and loyal Hedgehog let them think so…(the best part of the story, I think). If you are still here I’m about to conclude. Tim loved the story. But he was absolutely delighted to find the recipe of the cake the Hedgehog generously shared on the last page of the book. Sure, Tim wanted to bake it right away. And he did, with some of my help. I resisted an urge to change the recipe a bit here and there, and we made it as is. It turned out to be delicious. May be the secret is in the little child’s light touch… Tim copied the recipe and the cake became his very own specialty. He really mastered it over the time, the cake doesn’t have an egg-shell crunch anymore.

I found it to be a great project to do with children. The book is definitely worth to read and the recipe is just the right complexity for a little kid. If you have a child of a certain age I encourage you to find and read this story. There is probably a good chance your local library has it available. Below is the typed Hedgehog’s recipe if someone decides to give it a try.

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Strawberries in Chianti with Black Pepper Ricotta Cream

(fragole al vino con ricotta e pepe)

Strawberries in Chianti with Black Pepper Ricotta Cream

I guess I’m not the only one who thinks twice before turning the oven on and baking something when the weather is hot. And I’m not complaining, it’s finally resembling summer here. Until now all we could enjoy was gray cloudy days.

This dessert is wonderful in many ways. It tastes superb. The ricotta cream spiked with cracked pepper is topped with Chianti marinated strawberries. Doesn’t it sound good? I found the combination to be perfect. Make sure though to crack – not grind the peppercorns, or the cream will be too spicy. The dessert components can be prepared in advance and assembled before serving which is another plus. And the presentation is pretty, so summery bright!

The recipe is from Gina De Palma, the pastry chef at Mario Batali’s Babbo.

Strawberries and Pepper

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Zeppoli

Zeppoli

I guess everybody is familiar with classic Italian fritters. These are scented with nutmeg and lemon zest. Sure, they are good (as any food fried, to be honest) and incredibly tender. Fried and still warm zeppoli are divided between the lunch bags and then shaken with some icing sugar to coat. This dish should be very popular among kids – everyone gets his own bag of fritters. Isn’t it appealing? But I would serve it in the backyard for sure, not at home.

I don’t cook them often but occasionally I give my boys such a pleasure. To make the fritters a bit “healthier” I always use organic canola oil for frying and dump it as soon as all the batter is fried. I use rather small high-sided saucepan which requires only about 2 cups of oil, so I don’t feel myself as a squanderer. If it still seems like a terrible waste, the oil can be reused once (I would although try to talk you out of using the same oil more than twice). Let the used oil cool, then drain it into an airtight container leaving any sediment behind and store it in the refrigerator until the next use.

The recipe is from Sherry Yard’s latest book “Desserts by the Yard”. If my description isn’t convincing enough, may be mentioning the author’s name will help…

Zeppoli Inside

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Fig and Almond “Cake” with Rosemary, Anise and Sesame Seeds

Fig and Almond “Cake” with Rosemary, Anise and Sesame Seeds

Well, I wouldn’t call it a “cake”. But the author is the one who decides. I found the recipe in Nancy Silverton’s “Pastries from the La Brea Bakery”. It sounded like a perfect accompaniment for a cheese platter and I wasn’t disappointed in the flavor. The initial presentation was quite impressive but, as I suspected, the “cake” was not easy to cut through the whole almonds in the middle of rather soft layers of figs. We ended up serving it from the bowl. Nobody complained, the flavor was still delicious. But the next time I make this thing (and I will, it’s definitely worth it) I’d use chopped or, better yet, sliced almonds instead to ensure easy and neat cuts. The cake can be made a couple of hours in advance but I would not recommend assembling it a night or so before – the almonds will lose their crunch.

Adapted from Nancy Silverton’s “Pastries from the La Brea Bakery”

Tim and Rosemary

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Lemon Lavender Scones with Clotted Cream and Berries

Lemon Lavender Scones with Clotted Cream and Berries

Scones is probably the easiest and yet very satisfying dessert possible. They take no more than a half an hour to make including the baking time. When filled with cream and berries the scones become a meal on their own. The lavender in these scones is just in the right proportion, fragrant and flavorful without bringing any pharmaceutical associations.

The recipe is adapted from Leslie Mackie.

Lemon Lavender Scones with Clotted Cream and Berries

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Frozen Rhubarb and Strawberry Meringue Torte

Frozen Rhubarb and Strawberry Meringue Torte

I should have mentioned in my previous post that the rhubarb I used came from my dear and very generous friend Olya. She presented me with a huge bag stuffed with beautiful, bright red organic rhubarb stalks fresh from her garden. I’m extremely grateful to her for such a wonderful gift. And below is another recipe using the rhubarb. The sweet and crisp meringue layers contrast nicely with the creamy and tangy rhubarb-strawberry filling. The whole thing is frozen in a ring mold or a springform pan without any ice-cream maker involvement. Serve the torte with some macerated strawberries for a refreshing summer treat.

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