Sunday, January 17, 2010

Running Dog Dessert!

Last night my husband chased an elusive Patsy though the fields around the dog park. He had me on the cell phone listening all the way. I was shouting, he was shouting, Patsy was running. Monitoring this whole dog rodeo via my iphone reminded me of watching Avatar last week. I felt as though I was back at the base station trying to get Sully to please respond. He meanwhile was wrestling a saddle onto one of those flying lizard type deals.

Either way we finally got her back and last night got to enjoy the dessert. Alan got plenty of exercise so the side benefit was no guilt over what I'd fixed.
  So, in short here is the dessert. Rather anti climactic perhaps.
 In the fall and late summer when blackberries are plentiful here in Sonoma (our property is filled with them) I make a Tuscan corn meal flour cake from a recipe I got from Bon Appetite years ago. It's a very simple and not too sweet cake which as it cools I baste with a rosemary syrup  infusion. The cake is then served with a dash of the rosemary sauce and topped with fresh blackberries and unsweetened whipped cream. Simple fresh delicious.
  Ok, so there aren't any fresh blackberries to be had now. The rosemary is ok but I was thinking of trying something different.
  Blood oranges are all over our local markets so I thought..hmmm . What  would happen if I made a blood orange infusion? What goes with oranges and looks like blackberries? Olives of course! It's olive season here in Sonoma. What would happen if I candied some olives?? I had to try it. So I did.
  The cake is a simple recipe.
   Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 inch cake pan..or you may try what I did which is, grease and flour small ceramic ramekins for individual cakes.
Preheat oven to 350°F. and butter and flour an 8- by 2-inch round cake pan.
1.) In a bowl with an electric mixer cream 1 stick of  butter and 1 cup of sugar.
Mix it until it's all light and fluffy.
  Then add in :
2.) 1 cup yellow cornmeal
3.) 3/4 cup  flour
4.) 1 tsp baking powder
5.) 3/4 tsp salt
6.) 2 eggs and 1 egg yolk
7.) 2/3 cup of milk

  Blend it all togther with your electric beater set on low. Beat it for about 3 minutes. It will turn a nice pale yellow color.

8.) Pour the batter into whichever pans you decide to use for about  40 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
While your cake is in the oven make your blood orange infusion.
  Blood Orange Infusion:
1.) juice 4 blood oranges
2.) Add about 1 Tbs of sugar, taste and check you don't want it too sweet.
  Boil this mixture down till it is halved.
  Let it cool.
  When the cake(s) are done put them on a rack to cool in their pans  or little cups for about 10 minutes.

After  10 minutes. Unmold your cake (s)  and set it bottom side up on the rack.
  Now here's where I have to make a **Special Comment**
  When I've baked this in a cake pan I've had no trouble unmolding my cake. With the ramekins I did. They didn't unmold cleanly and here I am confessing it. I would have loved perfectly smooth sided even little cakes. It's not what I got. So, I have to look for better molds for these, do a better job greasing, whatever . Let me say taste wise they were perfect, eye wise..not so much.
  We return you to your recipe already in progress.
    While your cake or cakes are cooling you take your Blood Orange syrup and baste the bottom (now the top side) of your cake. Let the syrup sink in, then keep basting. Use about 1/3 of your Blood Orange syrup for this. Save the rest and chill it.
   Now for the Candied Olives!
    I'd been reading up on doing this to olives. Candied Olives have all ones basic food requirement. Sweet, Salty and Fat!!! MMMMMMMMmmmmmm.
   But I digress...
   To have your way with an olive start with some Niscoise Olives..Kalamata will also do just fine. I bought tiny little Niscoise olives which in the pitting and dicing department reminded me of every lab class I ever took. I might recommend larger olives for speeds sake.
   Either way get some olives, eyeball the amount that seems right to you. Pit them and mince them. Place them in a small pan with 1 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp of blood orange may needc to add more juice and more sugar if you're doing a larger number of olives. As I said I eyeballed it and it turned out just fine.
  Bring the olive, juice and sugar mixture to a boil and then turn it all out onto a baking pan and place it in a 200 degree  pre-heated oven to bake for 1 hour or more. Mine took close to 2 hours. You want your olives dried and slightly crispy.
   Set the olives aside.
 Now, for the presentation. 
   Take the basted cakes, drizzle them with a spoonful or so of your blood orange infusion, scatter with the candied olives and topp with unsweeted whipped cream. Toss a couple of those candied olives on top of that too.

Next time, ( of course there is going to be a next time do you think I'm crazy?) I will take these little cakes and halve them horizontally so they will not be as tall. So maybe different molds, shorter cakes  who knows, who cares?  It was after all, delicious.
  Of course we were being observed by The Wolf feigning indifference, hoping for a tab of whipped cream on her nose as a welcome home present.

Did she get it?? To be continued.


  1. never used olives in dessert, great idea and the orange syrup very tempting! can I be a dog in your house?

  2. olives and orange syrup.... I have yet to use olives in desserts. looks so good!

  3. i love making desserts with cakes using corn meal and i can see ow this would work well with blackberries. can't wait to give this one a try :)

  4. Candied olives. I love reading your blog. You make such interesting and delicious sounding dishes. Beautiful dog too!

  5. Your dog is not the only anarchist in the family -- your recipe is really thinking outside the box, and it sounds wonderful. We have individual springforms which solve the unmolding problem. We rarely use them, though, so I'm sure I would recommend the investment. We line our ramekins with a ring of parchment paper, and the cakes come out easily. But, if your cakes taste as good as they sound, who cares if they didn't unmold perfectly?

  6. Blood oranges in your market---the only fresh, local, produce in Vermont is horseradish.

    I'm envious but also off to Sicily for a couple of months at the local market there.

  7. I have spent many hours chasing my own dog, so I am sure that you guys worked up an appetite. I love the rosemary syrup concept!

  8. you've just made a simple dessert look stunningly elegant!

  9. Both your dog & desserts look really cute!



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