Monday Reviews- Baked Explorations

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I realized I haven’t talked about my dad much yet. This is mostly due to the fact that the man is never in the kitchen. His idea of gourmet is to fry some bologna in a pan and add “decorative mustard swirls”. One day I caught him eating a sandwich with as much gusto as one would an expensive steak, saying out loud, “this is amazing”. Curious what could garner such a response from a man who has dined all over the world I walked over to find him eating, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Jif and Welch’s respectfully).

He is easily impressed by the simple things in life.

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One of his favorite desserts is pound cake-this apparently goes back to a distant Aunt who used to make it for him when he was little. The first bundt cake I made for my dad reminded him of the cake from his childhood and came from “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented”. This cookbook along with their first cookbook has quickly become my go to for everything from breakfasts to birthday cakes. It was written by the owners of the Baked Bakery in New York and it is my goal to get there before I turn 30. The whole premise of the book was to take classic American desserts and bring them back to life (strawberry jello salad anyone?) or in some cases make them better (black and white cookies).  Something to keep in mind is that many of these recipes have a lot of steps and some are a little trickier for a beginning baker. Others just take time, like the Mississippi Mud Pie cake. However no matter how many steps they take, each recipe consistently yields delicious desserts that will impress anyone you serve it to. What I love most about both this book and its predecessor is the passion the authors have for baked goods. From the photographs to the paragraphs before each recipe, you can’t help but be inspired to make something delicious for someone you love.

This is the cake I made my dad, I’m pretty sure he liked it even more then PB&J.

Olive Oil Orange Bundt Cake

Recipe from “Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

Makes one 10-inch bundt

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • ¾ cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly grated zest of two oranges
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup confectioners sugar, sifted for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously spray the inside of a 10-inch Bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the egg yolks until they are pale and light; slowly pour in the sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add the yogurt and olive oil and mix until thoroughly combined. Add the orange zest and vanilla, and mix until just incorporated. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients in two parts, beating after each addition until just combined (this will take about 10 seconds). Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 5 seconds. In another large bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peas form. Scoop 1 cup of the egg whites in the batter. Use a rubber spatula to gently fold them in. After about 30 seconds of folding, add the remaining egg whites and gently fold until they are almost completely combined. Do not rush the folding process. Pour the better into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, or until a small sharp knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Gently loosen the sides of the cake from the pan. Just before serving, dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar. The cake can be stored at room temperature, covered tightly, for up to 3 days.

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