Saturday, February 21, 2015

Sticky Orange Cake

Sticky Orange Cake (italian version here)
1 1/4 cups self rising flour*
3/4 plus 2 tbsp caster sugar
3/4 cups butter, room temperature
5 tbsp milk
2 large eggs
1 orange, zest grated

*if you don't have it, make your own: 1 1/4 cup flour + 1 tsp baking powder + 1/4 tsp baking soda + 1/2 tsp salt. Whisk together

1/3 cup caster sugar
1 orange, juice

Grease a spring-form pan with butter, 8 inch
Heat oven to 350°F
Pour sugar, butter, milk in a bowl and whisk together
Add eggs and orange zest
Add flour
Mix with a whisk until smooth, then pour in the prepared pan
Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden. Check with a toothpick, if done.

While cake is baking, prepare the glaze.
Pour sugar and orange juice and bring to a boil, then simmer 1 minute

Take cake out of the oven, loosen the sides and immediately pour the glaze over. Cool
Remove from the pan and place on a plate

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Coconut Hummingbird Cake

Coconut Hummingbird Cake (Italian version click here)

1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1/4 cup pineapple juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup oil (I used sunflower)
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup grated coconut

12 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
5 cups confectioners/icing sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp grated coconut

Coat 2 9-inch cake pans with butter
Preheat oven to 350° F
In a large bowl, pour flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and stir with a whisk. Set aside
In another bowl of a stand mixer, pour oil and sugar and beat until smooth (about 3 minutes).
Add the eggs, one a a time beating after each addition (about 2 minutes).
Add the bananas, pineapple juice and vanilla and beat. Add pineapple chunks.
Add the flour mixture, a small amount at a time, beating after each addition, until smooth.
Add the coconut.
Divide the batter in the prepared pans and bake for about 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Take cakes out of the oven and cool on racks for 20 minutes. Take out of pans and cool completely

Combine cream cheese and butter in a bowl of a stand mixer. Beat until smooth (3 minutes).
Add  vanilla and beat
Gradually beat in the confectioners' sugar until well combined. Set aside

Place one of the cakes on a cake stand, brush off excess crumbs with a brush.
Spread about 3/4 cup of frosting over the top and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of coconut
Place the second cake on top, brush off excess crumbs with a brush and spread the remaining icing on the top and sides of both cakes.
Sprinkle top and sides with remaining coconut

Serve at room temperature or store in refrigerator for up to 4 days

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Rosemary Infused Oil Potato Braids for #wbd2014


Rosemary Infused Oil Potato Braids  (italian version click here)
2 medium potatoes
2 cups water, lukewarm
5 cups bread flour
1 tsp dry yeast
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp rosemary honey
1/4 cup rosemary infused extra virgin olive oil*

* Pour the oil to a small saucepan and add 2 rosemary sprigs. Heat until it starts to simmer, then turn off the heat and let infuse for half an hour. Just before using the oil, discard the rosemary

Peel and dice the potatoes.
Pour the water in a pot and add the potatoes. Cook until very tender.
Mash the potatoes in the cooking water. Pour into a big bowl or stand mixer bowl.
Add 3 of the 5 cups of flour, the honey, rosemary oil and start mixing all ingredients.
Add the salt and the rest of the flour to form a rough mass, then beat for about 3 minutes with the dough hook until smooth. If by hand, beat with a wooden spoon and then by hand until smooth.
If still sticky, just add a few sprinkles of flour.
If using a mixer, continue mixing , adding flour if sticky until the dough will clean the sides of the bowl and form and elastic ball that will rotate with the hook (about 10 minutes).
If by hand, turn the dough onto a floured work surface and knead with the push-turn-fold procedure until dough becomes smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a clean cotton dish towel and set aside to rise to double in volume, about 2 hours
Punch down the dough and place on a floured surface and divide in 2 equal pieces.
Then divide the one piece into 3 equal parts
Let rest for a few minutes and then roll each part into a strip about 14 inches long. Braid the 3 parts loosely into a loaf.
Do this for the other piece of dough.

Place braids on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and cover with the towel and leave at room temperature to rise for about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400° F 20 minutes before baking.
Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F
(If using a convection oven, reduce heat to 50° F )
Continue baking until the braids are golden brown, for an additional 20 minutes.
If the braids appear to be browning to quickly, cover with foil.
The braids are baked when tapping the bottom crust and it make a hollow sound.
Remove the braids from the oven and place on a rack to cool


With this bread, I'm participating today to the World Bread Day 2014 #wbd2014


Friday, July 18, 2014

Pan di Ramerino - Vegan Rosemary and Raising Traditional Tuscany Sweet Rolls

I remember when, during Easter, my grandmother would take me to the bakery around the corner during those first sunny and warm days in Florence, and would buy me one of these special rolls. Not so sweet, just right and studded with raisins and sweet rosemary leaves.

Actually, I did not like the rosemary leaves at all and I took them all out before biting into the sweet golden doughy roll. Some bakerys used to sprinkle sugar o glaze on top so the roll would be sweeter and each baker had their own shape.

Considering that I had (have?!!) a wonderful sweet tooth wolfing down chocolate cupcakes with super sweet frostings and candy bars, this roll was something very different and reminded me of the old times, when the only heating system in the house was a chimney or wood stove. When the only treat was prepared and eaten during the holidays or sunday lunch.
Pan di Ramerino can now be found in a few bakeries all year around and in all during Easter.
The shape differ and usuallly are round with a cross cut on top of it (remember hot cross buns?) or braided. I chose the braid
When I announced that I was going to make and bake the rolls, (a part from a roar of laughter) I was told that I could go and buy them at the local bakery.
Instead, I made my own. Vegan too!
These are for you, Nonna!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

First Post - Ode to Root Beer and Panzanella Salad

Welcome to Sundown in the Garden!
Now, I was looking for that last can of root beer! I looked in the fridge, in the pantry, in the cellar and in the garage, but nothing!
I can't believe that I drank that last can!
Sure, I have some delicious mozzarella cheese, Parma ham and pecorino from Tuscany, but I don't have a single root beer can.
You would say: go out and buy a 6-pack and stop complaining!
The problem is, you cannot find root beer in Italy, no way!
I have to buy it online and it is extremely expensive, but then, when I open a can and pour that sweet and foamy delight in my tall glass, ahhh...I am smacking my lips!
I would never dream of sharing my precious can with another one, simply because I was told that root beer tastes like untrue!
The best root beer I ever tasted was in St. Louis, MO and will never forget how good it was
But here? Again, no way!
I'll just have to go to my garden and pick some ripe tomatoes and cucumbers: I will try to forget my lack of root beer with a panzanella salad

Panzanella - Tuscan bread salad 
serves 4 
1/2 loaf dry tuscan loaf (without salt)
2 cucumbers
2 big tomatoes or about 10 small ones
1 medium red onion
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Fresh basil leaves
Water for soaking

Put the bread in a large bowl and cover with water.
Let stand until all bread is drenched with water, about 5 to 10 minutes
Peel off the crust and squeeze the excess water from the bread.
Put in another large bowl and fluff up the bread between your fingers
Peel and slice thinly the cucumber, then add to bread
Dice the tomatoes and add to bread
Slice the onion very thin, then add to bread
Add vinegar, oil and salt
Add torn basil leaves
Toss well and store in the fridge until ready to serve
You may want to add a little more oil
Panzanella can be served as appetizer or main dish