Thursday, February 12, 2009
Spice Cake and the Great Cheese Platter
What a food-busy week! In the midst of various other plots, I also created my first cheese platter for a vegetarian friend of mine. I thought that cheese would be a lavish treat for the non-vegan vegetarian, but I never imagined that my lactose intolerant self would fall so in love with it.
I raided Trader Joe's for Gorgonzola, light Havarti, smoked Gouda, herbed goat, medium cheddar, and mild creamy Brie, accompanied by Gala apples, D'Anjou pears, mango ginger chutney, sun-dried tomatoes, green olives, toasted baguette, and this lovely spice cake (stacked behind the baguette slices in the photo above). I was unsure of the spice cake's pairing with the cheese, until I started gorging myself on spongy cubes of spice cake with Brie...
Apparently this cake also worked with the cheddar, and it's quite nice on its own. Soft, moist, and springy, warmly spicy, it's a relatively healthy cake option with simple ingredients. Next time I may try this with all whole wheat flour, as it seemed light and moist enough to handle it.
Make the cake a day prior to serving it in order to let the spice and honey flavors bloom.
(Pain d'Epice, from the Chocolate and Zucchini cookbook)
1 1/2 C nonfat milk
2/3 C honey
1/3 C mild-flavored dark molasses
1 C flour
1 C whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
optional: 1/4 C finely diced soft candied ginger OR candied orange peel
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the bottom and sides of a 9x5 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
Combine the milk, honey, and molasses in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and heat the mixture without boiling, stirring with a spatula until dissolved. Set aside and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Optional: In a small bowl, combine the ginger or orange peel with 2 teaspoons of the flour mixture.
Form a well in the center of the flour mixture. Pour in the milk mixture slowly and whisk in a circular motion, starting from the center, until all the flour has been incorporated - the batter will be thin. Fold in the ginger or orange peel, if using. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until the surface is brown and a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Transfer pan to a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pan to loosen the loaf, and unmold. Let cool completely, wrap in foil, and let rest at room temperature until the next day.