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Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes

YAY!! These cakes were voted on to FoodBuzz Top 9 on 13 Jan 2009!!!! :))))

butternut squash & apple cake

Good Morning everyone! Ok, I know it's afternoon even in this part of the world but hey, it's still morning on the West Coast! So, I am covered. Anyway, I consider morning as the few hours that follow my waking up, irrespective of when that falls in the traditional day cycle. hehe..

Ah well, I blame the cold for this out-of-the-box thinking ;-). NYC is at its coldest, of the last five years I have been here, and it really makes it more appealing to stay tucked in warm and cozy. Then, once up, it's time to browse my favorite food blogs and drool over the photos, learn of a new recipe that needs to be tried out very soonly and then perhaps actually getting around making it. Besides, I have had a lot of catching up to do on blog reading since my vacation days.

So, when I came across Meeta's call to make something of Winter Vegetables and Fruit for her Monthly Mingle, I was super thrilled. You see, I had made mini cakes with squash and apples sometime back and had not found the opportunity to post about them. And here was the perfect time to talk about them. This month's mingle is being hosted by Sudeshna of Cook Like A Bong.

apple & squash cake

And what a close call?! Just a day before the doors closed! I can just hear them slowly closing and me just about wiggling through like in the movies. ok, yes yes, hyper active imagination and all, I know .. :)

Ok, so without further ado, let me introduce my Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes. Why mini-cakes? Well, I went to the baking supply store and saw these cute 3 inch shallow paper molds and just had to use them! :) And, the squash because I like the sweetness that roasting brings out of it and thought it would add great flavor and moisture to the cake itself.

butternut squash and apple cake

Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Mini Cakes

(makes about five 3-inch cakes)

1 small butter nut squash, peeled and diced, about 1-1/2 cups
1 golden delicious apple, peeled and diced + a few thinly sliced to arrange on top
1 cup all purpose flour
6 T melted butter
2 eggs
1 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 T for roasting the squash
4 T milk
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Toss the diced squash in 2 tablespoons of brown sugar and roast for 20-30 minutes until caramelised. Remove the squash and keep the oven on.

Sift the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda) together. Add the butter, milk, sugar and eggs and whip to a smooth batter. Fold in the roasted squash and apples into the batter.

Pour into buttered molds and bake for 30 minutes. Let cool to room temperature, dust with powdered sugar and enjoy!

Leek and Prosciutto Tart with Warm Apple Cider for Fall Brunch

Yay! I made it! You wondering what? Well, I have been planning this brunch for the past three weekends and something or other just kept pushing it on to the back burner. This weekend, I finally decided to tell my Google calender whoz boss! I put my foot down, cleaned out all the scribbles in my schedule and got down to the baking....

Now, you wonder, why all this fuss to get this done. After all, brunch is my favorite meal of the weekend especially because it has such a leisurely note to it! Well... the thing is, Meeta of What's for Lunch Honey is hosting a Brunch today and I don't want to be late for it. It isn't polite, is it?; to RSVP yes and then show up after the party! Very very not acceptable in my hostessing and guesting book....

Anyway, I do get like that when I have to host or cook something by a deadline. I frazzle about and worry till the table is all set and ready. Even then, I can think of just a few more garnishes and little stuff that would make it better and more so... The never ending quest for perfection, ain't it?! :)

Anyway, I have made the typical brunches / breakfasts at home; pancakes and bacon, over easy eggs with Mornay Sauce, Eggs on Toast with Fruit Sauce and more. I love brunching at home. It is my favorite meal, as I said, but I do not particularly relish standing in a line for hours to get it (as inevitably happens at any decent brunch place in the city on a weekend.. New Yorkers' discretionary patience just amazes me sometimes :)))..

This time, I wanted to make something different but still brunch-y. I wanted to play with eggs, cheese, ham and fresh fruit, all typical brunch items for me.

So I thought, why not bake? And, ofcourse, quiche immediately popped into my head. That's a bit more lunch-like for me and quite heavy. So I went with a lighter tart and to bring in that bacon/ham angle, I chose the delicate and flavorful prosciutto paired with mild leeks and goat cheese. And the fruit; well, it's Fall and you guessed it.. Apples!! I made fresh warm spiced apple cider with a hint of citrus...

So, that is the lovely brunch I plan to take to Meeta's - Leek & Prosciutto Tart with Arugula Salad and Warm Apple Cider....

Let's toast!

Leek & Prosciutto Tart
(makes 2 six inch individual tarts or 1 9inch tart)

1 butter crust (Recipe here)
4 oz goat cheese, room temperature
2 T sour cream
2 eggs, room temperature
1 small leeks, sliced fine
1/4 lb prosciutto
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp pimento sauce or other hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Chop the prosciutto into squares, reserving a slice or two for garnish. Cream goat cheese and sour cream together to get a smooth, creamy mixture (this is why, it is important to bring the cheese to room temperature). Add the eggs one at the time and whisk to incorporate fully. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

If you are making individual tarts, cut the tart crust accordingly. Blind bake for 10-12 minutes at 400 degrees. Cool the tarts a little, so the eggs don't scramble. Fill and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes until cooked and the center is set.

Rest for a few minutes till cool enough to handle. Serve the tarts, garnished with the reserved prosciutto and a few leek rings..

For the salad, I dressed the arugula simply with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and topped with toasted pignolis.

Fresh Spiced Apple Cider

4 Macintosh apples, cored, peeled, diced
1 tsp lemon juice
2 slices of lemon
1 tsp sugar
2 cups water
1 stick cinnamon
5 cloves
1 star anise
2 cloves cardamom

Puree the apples with the lemon juice to as fine a consistency as you can. Add a little water if needed to get the blades working. In a sauce pan, add the apple puree with the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes with lid on. Cool for a few minutes and let the flavors steep. To serve, strain the cider through a fine sieve. Garnish with a slice of lemon or some mint.

Celebrating Fall with Apple Angel Cake

There is usually a story inspiring my posts? Some have a good plot, with attention arresting twists and turns while quite a few eh not much to write home about. Still, there is the story.

I really don't have any for this one. It is just Fall and that means apples and pumpkins and all things warm and cozy; Freshly baked just fits the theme and has an all-new allure. I mean, you just can't let Fall and the fresh nip in the air go by without saluting it with a warm baked apple, can you?! Nooo...

I still had apples from the nice big bucket we picked up at the farm. So, I was thinking, pie, but then, it just seemed too cliched. I know, it is a cliche only coz it works... everytime! But, still, I am thrill seeker and I wanted a new rush. So I thought, cake. Yes I know, nothing imaginative in that but with the twist of making it light and airy with a nice caramalised top of apples, the idea really appealed.

And, so it came to be; Angel Cake with Apples,Nuts and a hint of spice.

Traditionally, angel cakes are made in tube pans, which, I don't own. I made mine in a nice tall souffle dish over a bed of marinated apples and then just turned it over.

I really love the cake. It is fluffy and angel-like as intended and has a deep seductive spice note to it and ofcourse the apples... they are indeed the star and they shine .. shine on like a crazy diamond... isn't Fall just the mood for some Floyd?!

And, now if you'll excuse me, am off for another slice.. It is tea time! :)

Apple Angel Cake

I used a souffle dish to bake. If you have a tube pan, go for the traditional look.

If the apples don't look caramelised enough when you turn the cake upside down, stick it in the oven for 5 minutes at the highest temperature on the top rack.

4 macintosh apples
1-2/3 scant cups of flour
1 cup sugar
1 T honey
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
2-1/2 scant tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup oil
6 T apple sauce
1/2 tsp + 1/2 tsp cinnamon
juice of half a lemon
1/2 cup of toasted almonds, chopped

Peel, core and dice the apples. Toss them in a mixture of honey, 1/2 tsp of cinnamon and a teaspoon of lemon juice. Set aside and let marinate until ready to bake.

Sift together the dry cake ingredients except sugar. In another bowl, cream the yolks and sugar. Add in the oil and apple sauce and whisk to incorporate well. Add the dry flour in three parts, whisking the batter each time to mix completely.

In a clean bowl, whips the whites till they form stiff peaks. Gently fold in 1 tablespoon of batter into the whipped whites to loosem them. Add whites in two parts to the batter, gently folding just enough to mix and until there are no streaks of the whites visible in the batter.

Quickly fold in a third of the apples and the nuts into the batter in just 3 turns. Do not over mix; the cake will lose the fluffiness.

To assemble, place the remaining apples in one layer at the bottom of the baking pan. Pour the batter over the apple layer. Bake at 350 degrees for an hour and a half or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.


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