Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

Caramel Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake
Lately, I find myself wandering through the house, doing chores, taking care of the little people and cooking and I think, “I should be doing something more.”  And not more in the sense of extra stuff, but more…grand? Important? I am not sure.  I haven’t quite been able to put my finger on just what it is I’m feeling.  I think I remember this feeling from when Olive was a baby.  There’s a certain amount of monotony to taking care of a baby in that first year.  Every day it’s the same feedings, the same breakfasts, the same play time, the same nap schedules, the same dinners, the same bedtime routines, etc.  It’s all the same thing, every day, for months.  And when they get a bit older, you can start shaking up the routine because they don’t have to eat and sleep every 3 hours.  But for a few months, there’s a bit of a Groundhog Day effect and I have felt it even more in the winter as we’re cooped up from the cold.

Each morning I pray that God will show me what needs to be done in His kingdom.  Who needs served?  Who needs a kind word or an encouragement? Who needs a meal or maybe even just a smile in the store?  I believe, although I don’t follow through with this belief far enough, that seeking God’s kingdom FIRST, really will cause everything else in my life “to be added to me.”  I get it so backwards.  I become so self-seeking.  How can my children or my husband make ME happy today?  When I seek God’s way of serving others first, I immediately feel content.  Enough.  Important. Working for self and for the approval of others is a bottomless well. It will never be filled and neither will I.  But flip the equation around and see to it that others’ bowls are filled before my own and God will see to it that my cup is running over.  It’s not always going to look like material wealth and health, but more importantly, it will start to look like real joy – from the inside out.

This cranberry cake was made for a few sweet ladies at a ministry our church helps out with from time to time called Family Promise. It’s a program that helps families who find themselves on the brink of homelessness to live and save up their income for rent while they live in the Family Promise house.  Our church volunteers to help a couple times a year by bringing dinners, having activities for the children and staying overnight. Last week was our week to serve so Matt and I signed up to take a meal and hang out with the families for a while after we ate.  There were two single mothers with infants and one single mother with a sweet, twelve year old girl living there, whom we’d met before and were so happy to see them, again.  We brought take-out from our favorite Hawaiian BBQ joint (I didn’t get my homemade meal-act together this time) and I brought this cranberry upside down cake.  We ate and watched TV together and played and I felt blessed by them.  We just brought the food – they brought perspective and showed us real joy – from the inside out.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake with Orange Zest Upside Down Cranberry Orange Cake

 

Cranberry Orange Upside Down Cake

For the fruit layer:
8 oz frozen cranberries
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons orange juice
zest from 1 orange

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup sour cream (or Greek plain yogurt)

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  I like to do this to ensure all the fruit filling comes off the pan.

Pour the cranberries on top of the parchment paper and sprinkle with orange zest.  In a medium-size sauce pan, melt the butter over medium-low heat.  Add the brown sugar, orange juice and cook, stirring, until the sugar melts and boils gently.  Pour the mixture over the cranberries in the pan.

In a small bowl, stir together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar on medium until well blended.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla and almond until combined.  With the mixer on low, mix half the dry ingredients into the batter until just combined.  Mix in the sour cream and then the remaining dry ingredients until just combined (in other words, don’t over-mix).

Scoop the batter into the pan (it will be thick) and then spread it around evenly with a spatula.  Place cake pan on a rimmed baking sheet to catch drips.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Place the pan on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the cake and invert onto a serving plate.  Serve warm.

*recipe adapted from the Bonne Femme Cookbook’s recipe for Pear Cake Reverse

Cranberry Orange Cake Cranberry Upside Down Cake

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Strawberry Pots de Creme

Strawberry Pots de Creme

Here’s a beautifully simple dessert that is silky and rich and bright with the last memories of summer strawberries.  Fresh is always best if you can find good ones, but if they’re out, or have already sky-rocketed in price, frozen would work just fine.  It’s a custard kind of week here on the Family Meal blog.  I get good use out of my cute little ramekins and I have really embraced them as they are a perfect little size for toddler hands.  Oh yeah, and that spoon is part of this set, which I really just couldn’t resist.  I love them for Olive and for dips and jams and even my morning coffee.  Plus, what little girl wouldn’t feel excited to get to eat her oatmeal in the morning with a gold glitter spoon?  Olive couldn’t really care less.  It’s for me.  🙂

Strawberry Cream Pots

 

Strawberry Pots de Creme (pronounced: poh-duh-crem)
makes 4-6 depending on your vessels

  • 8 ounces strawberries (7 or 8 large berries), hulled
  • 3 tablespoons superfine sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or extract)
  • 1 tsp Cointreau (I left this out for Ollie)

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. In a tall cup or blender, combine strawberries, sugar and egg yolks. Process with your handy immersion blender (or regular blender) until pureed.

Bring a kettle of water to a boil. Pour the strawberry mixture into a large bowl.  Add 1 cup cream and the vanilla and Cointreau if using. Mix well. Divide mixture evenly among four 1-cup ramekins. Place ramekins in a baking dish, and add enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of ramekins.

Place baking dish in the oven, and bake until the custard is just set, about 1 hour. Check by jiggling the pan – if they still look pretty liquidy in the center, rotate the pan and let it go another 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven; place ramekins on a rack, and cool. Cover with foil or plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours. To serve, top with diced strawberries or whipped cream and enjoy with your sparkle spoons!  🙂

 

Pavlovas with Black Cherry Syrup

Cherry Pavlova with Greek Yogurt

 

While we were on our trip last week, Matt and I stole away, left the kid with our friends, and had a little adventure in Seattle.  After a ferry ride and a crazy time trying to catch the bus in the midst of 300,000 people watching a parade downtown, we finally made it to Delancy – a pizza place that’s out of this world.  We seek out pizza in nearly every town we visit.  Okay, okay, we seek out FOOD in every town we visit, but more often than not, that will include a pizza joint.  Matt has been perfecting his pizza crust for the past few years and I can safely say after hundreds of pizzas made at home and hundreds we have tried out and about, Delancy is the best out and about and Matt’s is just as good – only it’s in our own kitchen.  Score one for Palmsey.  

This is beginning to sound like a pizza post, but it’s not.  I already did that a few months ago and the recipe hasn’t changed!  This is a post about how awesome Delancy was, and how you should go there, and when you do go there, go next door to get a drink because you’ll have an hour wait.  Next door is an extension of Delancy’s kitchen called Essex and they have wonderful appetizers and desserts.  One of which we ordered at the end of our perfect pizza experience – a pavlova with Greek yogurt and raspberries.  I’d had pavlova (baked meringue) with other fruits and it’s traditionally served with creme anglais or ice cream, but the Greek yogurt was such a wonderful way to cut the almost-too-sweet combination of a sugary meringue and raspberry syrup.  This desert was gone in about 5 seconds and went immediately on my list of recipes to recreate once I got home.

So here we are.  I got home on Tuesday and went shopping.  Raspberries were $3 for a half pint.  No thank you.  Cherries were $1.50 for a whole pound.  Sold.  I cooked the cherries down in a little brown sugar and let the juices bubble away and form a syrup and whipped up a little full-fat, plain Greek yogurt to place in the meringues once they were baked.  When Matt got home, I had two portions set out and while Olive napped, we ate.  Before dinner.  The joys of being an adult.  Matt even exclaimed, “This is EXACTLY RIGHT” which, if you know Matt, really means something.  I was proud of the recreation and I’ll definitely make it, again.  Maybe next time with apricot preserves…the options are really endless!

Pavlova with Black Cherry Syrup and Greek Yogurt

 

Pavlovas with Cherries and Yogurt*
makes 8-10 pavlovas, depending on size

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
5-6 (about 6 oz) large egg whites, room temperature
Pinch salt

Place rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 275°. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  Stir the cornstarch into the sugar in a small bowl.

In a large bowl of a heavy-duty mixer, fitted with whisk attachment, whip egg whites, cream of tartar and salt, starting on low, increasing to medium speed until soft peaks start to become visible, approximately 2 to 3 minutes.

Increase speed to medium-high, slowly and gradually sprinkling in the sugar-cornstarch mixture. A few minutes after these dry ingredients are added, slowly pour in the vanilla.  Increase speed a bit and whip until meringue is glossy, and stiff peaks form when the whisk is lifted, 4 to 5 minutes.

Pipe or spoon the meringue into 8-10 large round mounds that are 3 inches wide on the parchment-lined baking sheet.  With the back of a spoon, create an indentation in the middle of the mound for holding the filling once meringue is baked.

Place baking sheet in the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 250°F. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until the meringues are crisp, dry to the touch on the outside, and white — not tan-colored or cracked. The interiors should have a marshmallow-like consistency. Check on meringues at least once during the baking time. If they appear to be taking on color or cracking, reduce temperature 25 degrees, and turn pan around.

Gently lift from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for a week.

*recipe adapted from Simply Recipes

Black Cherry Pavlova

Cherry Compote
makes about a cup

2 cups pitted cherries
1/4 cup brown sugar
Squeeze of lemon

Put the cherries and the brown sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and let it come to a simmer.  Let it cook for about 20 minutes, mashing the cherries a bit as you go.  When the syrup starts to thicken a bit, take it off the heat and squeeze a lemon over it all and stir it up until incorporated.  Let the sauce come to room temp before topping the pavlovas.  

To Assemble:

Take one meringue shell and place it on a plate.  Scoop out a generous 1/4 cup of full-fat Greek yogurt and place on top of the meringue.  Top the yogurt generously with the chunky cherry syrup and serve!  Modify as you wish with whipped cream, creme anglais, frozen yogurt – whatever you like!  And if you can’t make a fruity compote, I suppose warming up some preserves wouldn’t be too shabby 🙂