Honey Lamb Cake!

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I’ve spent the last 48 hours baking, frosting and decorating three Lamb Cakes for Easter.

Okay, I took a two hour break to hear Carla Hall, my personal favorite Top Chef and co-host of The Chew, speak at our local bookstore, Joseph Beth. I even got to meet her and give her a big hug! She was awesome!

Carla

 

But that’s another story… Back to the Lamb Cakes

I first encountered Easter Lamb cakes when I moved from Louisville to Cincinnati back in the 70′s.  Cincinnati has a large Eastern European population, mostly German. Lamb cakes are wildly popular in the Old Country at Easter Tide, and German immigrants brought them here in the mid 19th century.

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Lamb cakes were traditionally made in heavy cast iron molds manufactured by the Griswold Manufacturing Company of Erie, Pennsylvania. They aren’t manufactured any more, but you can find them on EBay, usually at exorbitant prices.  I was lucky and got mine for cheap. It was worth the hunt!

griswoldlambcake2

Traditionally Easter Lamb cakes were made with honey and ground hazelnuts. Sadly, nowadays hazelnuts are usually omitted and cane sugar is used instead of honey. My recipe leaves out the nuts, but you can always include some almond flour.

I originally planned to only make one cake, but this recipe makes two large and one small cakes. It was fortuitous though because both of my neighbors wanted one!

By the way, I’m starting Culinary School in two weeks.  Wish me luck!!

Cake Ingredients

3  cups sifted cake flour, plus more for mold

1 tablespoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for mold (I used Crisco to grease the pan)

1 1/4 cups sugar

2/3 cup honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup whole milk, room temperature

6 large egg whites, room temperature

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

Directions

Place rack in center of oven, and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the mold with butter or Crisco, making sure to cover all areas.

Dust mold with flour, tap out excess, and freeze until ready to use.

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda,and salt. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed; drizzle in honey. Beat on high until very pale and fluffy. Add vanilla.

Add flour mixture, alternating with milk, beginning and ending with flour. Transfer batter to a large bowl. Beat egg whites until foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold 1/3 of the egg white mixture into cake batter, then fold in the remaining whites.

Pour batter into the “face” side of the mold.  Place  toothpicks or bamboo skewers in the batter to provide support for the head, ears and neck.  Place the other side of the mold on top.  Place on a baking sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes and turn the mold over.  Bake for another 20 minutes. Transfer mold to a wire rack.  After 15 minutes remove the top side of the mold.  After another 15 minutes or so, carefully remove the cake from the other side of the mold. Let cool completely. Wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 day).

Honey Buttercream Frosting

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup honey plus 2 TBSP
4-5 cups powdered sugar
milk as  needed for thinning out frosting

In a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and the honey for 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups of the powdered sugar .
Start on low speed on the mixer, beat until smooth and creamy, about 3-5 minutes.
Gradually add the remaining sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition (about 2 minutes), until the icing is thick enough to be of good spreading consistency.
Use milk to thin out frosting to reach desired consistency.

Tips for Success

1. Grease your lamb pan.  Then grease it some more.

2. Flouring your pan is MUST!

3. Fill your lamb on the “face” side of the mold.

4. Add structural support (e.g. toothpicks and/or bamboo skewers) to your lamb cake before it is baked.

5. Tie your lamb cake mold shut with baker’s twine.

6. Bake cake for the maximum amount of time called for in the recipe.

7. Cool cake properly before removing from mold.

8. Loosen edges on the face side completely before trying to de-pan your lamb.

9. Let your lamb cool completely before trying to frost it.

10. Give your lamb a good base (frosting on plate) to sit on.

Happy Easter To All!!

Springtime Honey Cake And Baby Honey Bee!

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This photo and recipe are reprinted courtesy of my favorite Domestic Goddess Martha Stewart!

The cake recipe is Italian in origin, perfectly sweet and tender, just like my brand new Italiano Grandson Benjamin (“Umberto!”) Michael Aquilino, born Sunday March 30, 2014!

Benjamin Bunny

Baby Honey Bee Benjamin!

In honor of Baby Ben I’ll be posting honey cake recipes this week. Here is Martha’s — it’s delicioso!!

 

INGREDIENTS

(Serves 10)

FIRST GLAZE

  • 1 large lemon, zested into strips
  • 3 sprigs sage
  • 3/4 cup honey

CAKE

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for pan
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed finely chopped fresh sage
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

FINAL GLAZE

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • Sugared Sage, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1. STEP 1

    First glaze: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring all ingredients to a boil in a small saucepan. Remove from heat.

  2. STEP 2

    Cake: Butter and flour an 8-inch hexagonal (or round or square) cake pan. Whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and sage. Beat eggs and brown sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Beat in honey, milk, oil, and zest. With mixer on low, add flour mixture in 2 batches; beat until just combined.

  3. STEP 3

    Spread batter in pan. Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven; poke holes with toothpick all over cake. Remove zest strips and sage from first glaze; brush over top. Let cool completely in pan.

  4. STEP 4

    Final glaze: Whisk together honey, confectioners’ sugar, and lemon juice. Remove cake from pan and brush final glaze over top; continue until all is used. Garnish with sugared sage. Cut into wedges with a serrated knife, wiping knife between cuts; serve.

 

Cooking With Honey – Honey Granola Bars

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Since last summer I’ve been trying to come up with a really good granola bar recipe. I think I’ve found it! 

Yield:  12 to 16 bars

Ingredients

2 cups old-fashioned oatmeal

1 cup sliced almonds

1 cup shredded coconut, loosely packed

1/2 cup toasted wheat germ

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

3/4 cup honey

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup chopped raisins

1/2 cup chopped dried apricots

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional!)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 12-inch baking dish and line it with parchment paper.

Toss the oatmeal, almonds, and coconut together on a sheet pan and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl and stir in the wheat germ.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees F.

Place the butter, honey,vanilla, and salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook and stir for a minute, then pour over the toasted oatmeal mixture. Add the raisins, apricots, and cranberries (and chocolate chips if using) and stir well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Wet your fingers and lightly press the mixture evenly into the pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown. Cool for at least 2 to 3 hours before cutting into squares. Serve at room temperature.

Cooking With Honey – Green Lasagna Bolognese

green lasagna bolognese

It’s unspeakably cold outside. My tiny dog Albert refuses to go outside, and I’m reduced to following him around with a paper towel and a bottle of Nature’s Miracle. It seems as if Spring will never come.

Albert

Albert

The only thing I want right now is a big dish of Green Lasagna Bolognese a la Marcella Hazan. This is her recipe with a few tweaks of my own. Try and find DeCecco Spinach Lasagna. It’s worth the hunt!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

16 ounces Spinach Lasagna Noodles

Bechamel Sauce:

3 cups milk

6 tablespoons butter

4 1/2 tablespoons flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

Bolognese Sauce:

1 Tb. oil

3 Tb. butter

1/2 c. chopped onion

2/3 c. chopped celery

2/3 c. chopped carrot

3/4 lb. ground beef chuck (not too lean)

1 c. whole milk

nutmeg

1 c. dry white wine

1 large can San Marzano-style Italian plum tomatoes, cut up with their juices

2 tablespoons honey

Directions:

Bolognese Sauce:

Put oil, butter and onion in pot and turn heat to medium. Cook until onion is translucent, then add celery and carrot. Cook for 2 min.

Add the ground beef, a large pinch of salt, & a few grindings of pepper. Crumble the meat with a fork and cook until beef has lost its raw, red color.

Add the milk and let simmer gently, stirring frequently, until it has bubbled away completely. Add about 1/8 tsp. nutmeg and stir.

Add the wine, let simmer until evaporated, then add the tomatoes and honey. When tomatoes begin to bubble, turn the heat down and cook uncovered at the merest simmer for a long, long time (no less than 3 hours!). Stir from time to time. If it starts to stick, add 1/2 c. water whenever necessary.

Bechamel Sauce:

Put milk in a saucepan, turn heat to medium, and bring to the verge of a boil.

While heating milk, put butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and turn heat to low. When melted, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook, while stirring constantly, for about 2 min. Do not allow flour to color. Remove from heat.

Add the hot milk to the flour/butter mixture, no more than 2 Tb. at a time. Stir steadily and thoroughly. Once the first 2 Tb. have been incorporated, repeat this process 2 Tb. at a time until 1/2 c. has been incorporated. Then, you can begin adding milk 1/2 c. at a time until all incorporated.

Place the pan over low heat, add salt, and cook, stirring constantly until sauce is like thickened (like the consistency of sour cream).

Assembly:

Preheat oven to 400.

Cook pasta until barely al dente. Place immediately into cold water to stop cooking. Dry noodles before placing into pan.

Spread the bottom of a 9″x12″  lasagna pan with 1 Tb. of bechamel. Line the bottom of pan with one layer of noodles.

Combine the bolognese and bechamel sauces and spread a coating on the pasta. Sprinkle some grated Parmesan, then add another layer of noodles. Repeat the procedure of spreading sauce and Parmesan and noodles. There should be about six layers. Leave enough sauce to spread a thin layer on top at the end. Sprinkle with Parmesan and dot with butter. (This can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated.)

Bake on top rack until golden crust forms on top, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to settle for 10 min. before serving.

Cooking With Honey – Sausage And Potato Gratin

sausage and potato gratin

It’s so cold and snowy in Cincinnati! I want something rich and soothing like this Sausage and Potato Gratin. This is an adaptation of one of Julia Child’s recipes. Make sure to slice the potatoes and sausage extra thin. I use a mandoline!

Serves:  4-6 people

Ingredients:

2/3 cup minced yellow onions

2 tablespoons butter

1 lb. Russet potatoes, sliced very thin

2-3 uncooked mild Italian sausages, cut into thin slices (put them into the freezer for 10 minutes or so before slicing.)

3 large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 teaspoon honey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/4 cup grated Gruyère cheese  (you may substitute Swiss cheese.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8×8 baking dish.

In a medium skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes, until tender but not browned.

In the prepared baking dish, spread half of the sliced potatoes on the bottom. Spread half of the cooked onions over the potatoes. Place all of the uncooked sausage slices over the onions. Top the sausages with the rest of the onions, and then the rest of the potatoes.

Crack the three eggs into a medium bowl, and beat with a whisk just to break them up, about 5 seconds. While still whisking the eggs, pour in the cream. Add the 1 teaspoon honey, the 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and whisk to combine. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the filled baking dish, and shake to distribute the liquid, if necessary.

Sprinkle the Gruyère over the casserole.  Bake for 55 minutes in the upper third of the preheated oven until the top is nicely browned. Enjoy!

Cooking With Honey – Portobello Mushroom Lasagna

mushroom lasagna

I love this recipe for this time of year! Nothing out of season and intensely fulfilling, both in taste and texture. Perfect to have on hand for lunches or late night snacking. Enjoy!

Yield:  6 servings

Ingredients:

Kosher salt

Good olive oil

3/4 pound dried lasagna noodles

4 cups whole milk

12 tablespoons (11/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon honey

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms

1 cup freshly ground Parmesan

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon salt and a splash of oil. Add the lasagna noodles and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and set aside.

For the white sauce, bring the milk to a simmer in a saucepan. Set aside. Melt 8 tablespoons (1 stick) of the butter in a large saucepan. Add the flour and cook for 1 minute over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture all at once. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, the pepper, and nutmeg, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring first with the wooden spoon and then with a whisk, for 3 to 5 minutes, until thick. Add honey and set aside off heat

Separate the mushroom stems from the caps and discard the stems. Slice the caps 1/4-inch thick. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan. When the butter melts, add half the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the mushrooms are tender and they release some of their juices. If they become too dry, add a little more oil. Toss occasionally to make sure the mushrooms cook evenly. Repeat with the remaining mushrooms and set all the mushrooms aside.

To assemble the lasagna, spread some of the sauce in the bottom of an 8 by 12 by 2-inch baking dish. Arrange a layer of noodles on top, then more sauce, then 1/3 of the mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grated Parmesan. Repeat 2 more times, layering noodles, sauce, mushrooms, and Parmesan. Top with a final layer of noodles and sauce, and sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan.

Bake the lasagna for 45 minutes, or until the top is browned the sauce is bubbly and hot. Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and serve hot.

Cooking With Honey – Ina’s Favorite Holiday Appetizer

Ina Garten’s favorite holiday appetizer is easy and delicious. It has only two ingredients.

Guess what?  One of them is honey!

Baked Brie

This picture and recipe are reprinted from The Food Network.

Serves  5-8

Ingredients

1/4 wheel brie

4 tablespoons honey

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the brie on a sheet pan covered with parchment paper and drizzle with the honey. Bake for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it starts to ooze but not melt.

Serve with crackers.

Cooking With Honey – Turkey, Leek, And Mushroom Casserole

turkey leek and mushroom casserole

I had this wonderful casserole minus the turkey and honey over the weekend.  I took my turkey leftovers and made it even better!

Yield:  8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

6 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes from an Italian or French loaf, crusts removed

2 cups cooked turkey (leftover!)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 ounces pancetta, small-diced

4 cups sliced leeks, white and light green parts (4 leeks)

1 1/2 pounds small button mushrooms

1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon leaves

1/4 cup  dry sherry

2 tablespoons honey

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup minced fresh flat-leaf parsley

4 extra-large eggs

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 cup chicken stock

1 1/2 cups grated Gruyere cheese (6 ounces), divided

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the bread cubes on a sheet pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, until starting to brown. Stir in the leeks and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes, until the leeks are tender. Stir in the mushrooms, tarragon, sherry, honey, 1 tablespoon salt and 11/2 teaspoons pepper and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, until most of the liquid evaporates, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, stir in the turkey and parsley.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, chicken stock and 1 cup of the Gruyere. Add the bread cubes and mushroom mixture, stirring well to combine. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the bread to absorb the liquid. Stir well and pour into a 2 1/2-to-3-quart gratin dish (13 x 9 x 2 inches). Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup Gruyere and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top is browned and the custard is set. Serve hot.

Thanksgiving 2013 – Alton Brown’s Honey Cranberry Sauce

Alton Brown is my favorite Celebrity Chef, and this is his recipe for Honey Cranberry Sauce. He likes to mold sauce in a can, complete with ridges. I think it’s hilarious.

He’s my favorite because he LOVES to cook with honey! Also, all his recipes work!

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

Ingredients

1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1/4 cup 100 percent cranberry juice, not cocktail

1 cup honey

1 pound fresh cranberries, approximately 4 cups

Directions

Wash the cranberries and discard any soft or wrinkled ones.

Combine the orange juice, cranberry juice and honey in a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the cranberries and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries burst and the mixture thickens. Do not cook for more than 15 minutes as the pectin will start to break down and the sauce will not set as well. Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes.

Carefully spoon the cranberry sauce into a 3 cup mold. Place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to overnight.

Remove from the refrigerator, overturn the mold and slide out the sauce. Slice and serve.

The Science Of Cooking

what-einstein-told-his-cook

I love the fact that cooking is science!  The above is next on my list of books to read!!

I was reminded of kitchen science yesterday when I made an extra-healthy vegan vegetable stew. It was inexplicably sour.

I fixed it by adding a little honey and a little salt .”Just the scientific facts, Ma’am!”

Here is a handy guide to scientifically “correcting for taste.”

The four (five??) senses of taste are sour, sweet, salty and bitter and way too hot and spicy.

When you increase one taste to counter another, it changes the way your taste buds perceive the flavor.

If you alter one of the tastes, it will affect the others.

If it is too sour, add something sweet or add a little salt (or both!), depending on what you’re preparing.

If it’s too sweet, add something sour,  like lemon juice or vinegar.

If it is too salty, increase the amounts of sweet and sour and it will reduce the saltiness.

If it tastes bitter, increasing the sweet, sour and salty tastes will reduce  the bitter taste.

If it is too hot, adding a dairy product (such as sour cream) will help calm the heat.