Wednesday, February 19
I don't always acknowledge happiness as it wisps and curtsies in front of me on a daily basis. My distracted mind keeps a wary eye on the cloud inside the silver lining. It's me. I worry, I over-analyze, I talk myself out of beautiful happenings and cling to the cold and damp, even as I rail against their tyranny. But I'm hopeful. Also. And I find inner peace in the midst of things I thought would be my undoing. Basically I'm an unhinged wicker basket case over an empty paper towel roll and a red raspberry stain but when life throws actual snowballs (like a site not loading properly), I'm a Boss.
When Better Homes and Gardens contacted me last week and said I was a nominee in their Blogger Awards, I was absolutely floored! Blithe thoughts all 'round. (An elephantine Thank You to everyone who tossed my name into the hat!) It's cosmic to see une gamine among bloggers I idolize.
Voting went live today and...well, my site suddenly decided it wanted to be a magician. A dramatic, angsty pseudo magician (think Gob Bluth). For a seemingly endless amount of time this morning it stubbornly refused to load on my iPad. *Hopefully* the issue has been squelched. When it came back online we had a little heart to heart, shared a few memories, laughed at some of my too up close & personal food photos, and thought about the future. If anyone is having problems, please try clearing your browser cookies. Sometimes crumbs and chocolate end up in places where they don't belong.
I am calm. I have cake and gin and the Boardwalk Empire soundtrack on repeat.
This is a recipe I made several years ago when I was a member of Tuesdays with Dorie. A pie masquerading as a cake, or a cake going incognito as a pie - it's jaunty. Since I took a few weeks off from baking, I turned to something I knew I was already infatuated with. The affair was just as lush and sweet as I remembered.
I wouldn't call the surrounding pastry a "pie crust," it's more akin to a voluminous sugar cookie. The filling is a jammy mix of assertive cranberries and demure clementines. Everyone plays together beautifully. If you can't find fresh cranberries, feel free to use frozen (don't thaw, use them straight from the freezer). Or switch things up a bit - I think blueberries would be dreamy!
Again, Thank you Thank you!! I still can't wrap my head around the fact that this little blog caught the attention of Better Homes and Gardens, but it could not have happened without you. I'm so happy and, aside from the trip at the entrance this morning, I'm actually okay with being happy. xoxo
Cranberry Clementine Shortbread Cake
makes one 9-inch cake
for the filling
grated zest of 2 clementines
1/4 cup clementine juice (about 4 clementines)
1 12-ounce bag (2 cups) fresh cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
for the cake
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 stick + 5 Tablespoons (that's 13 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened to room temp.
1 cup + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
Prepare the filling: In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the clementine zest, juice, cranberries, and 3/4 cup of sugar. Stirring frequently, cook over medium heat until boiling. Turn the heat down slightly and, stirring often, continue cooking until the cranberries pop and you're left with a lush thick jam. Scrape the jam into a heatproof bowl. If it tastes too bitter for your liking, stir in the remaining sugar. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Prepare the cake: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.
In stand mixer bowl, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until soft and cream (about 3-5 minutes on medium speed). Add 1 cup of sugar and beat on medium for another 3 minutes, or until sugar dissolves into butter. Add egg and egg yolk - beat on low speed until combined then beat in the almond extract. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add flour mixture and mix on low speed - just until the flour disappears into the batter (don't overmix!). The dough should be thick and malleable.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather it into a ball. Divide the ball in half amd form each half into a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan.
Remove one dough disk from fridge. On a lightly floured surface, or between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll the dough out until it's big enough to cover the bottom of the pan. This particular dough is easy to work with and if you prefer, you can probably get away with simply pressing it into the pan with your fingers (without rolling).
Spread the cranberry clementine jam over the dough.
Grab the second disk out of fridge and press/roll it until it's just the diameter of the pan. Gently lift the dough and place it on top of jam filling. If necessary, use your fingertips to carefully pinch and pry it so the jam is completely covered. Lightly brush the cake with water and sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar on top.
Place cake pan on top of a thin cookie sheet. Bake 35-45 minutes or until cake is light golden brown and a thin tester inserted through center comes out clean (save for red cranberry stains). :) Remove cake from oven and place onto cooling rack. Cool for about 30 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan. Cool to room temperature.
adapted from Dorie Greenspan