The Weigh to Cook – Raspberry Buttermilk Coconut Cake

July 29th, 2010 / comments 8

It’s birthday season in our neighborhood. Last week, we celebrated Michael’s New Decade Birthday. Michael is a foodie and one of the best cooks I know and I like to make over-the-top cakes. Michael asked for a cake with berries and cream. I decided to make a not-too-sweet, white cake that would show off bright pink raspberries.

pt cake c egbert 02  The Weigh to Cook   Raspberry Buttermilk Coconut Cake

The magic of science in the kitchen is why I like to bake. I have always been fascinated by chemical reactions–vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, milk curdled with lemon juice, sugar changed to an amber solid with enough heat. Cake recipes must be followed much more carefully than recipes for soups or salads because, when you bake a cake from scratch, you are a chemist in the kitchen. Substitutions are possible but they must be made with an understanding of the role each ingredient plays in the cake. Precise measurement and proportion are even more important to consider when baking cakes.

My kitchen is well equipped, I have a stand mixer, an oven with an accurate thermostat and timer, a dependable refrigerator, measuring cups and spoons, and, assorted pots and pans. Until last week, my kitchen was lacking a user-friendly kitchen scale. I found a measuring cup with a built-in scale at my favorite kitchen supply store and bought it. This was just the tool I needed to turn my American kitchen into an international one. Except in recipes written for the United States, measurements are given in weight rather than by volume. Not only is it a more precise way to measure, but with the right scale, it’s much easier. The scale I bought measures in ounces and grams as well as by volume. The Raspberry Buttermilk Coconut cake I made for Michael is the first recipe I have written using this scale. Here’s how I made it: … read more

Raspberry Jam – Sunshine in a Jar

July 21st, 2010 / comments 5

We couldn’t ignore Ken’s special announcement in the Order of Service at church on Sunday. It said “Raspberry Emergency – Help!”

 Raspberry Jam   Sunshine in a Jar

The announcement went on to say that Ken had many more raspberries than he could possibly pick. Although I wasn’t dressed for raspberry picking, I was willing to help. Charles and I followed the directions, drove up a bumpy, country road, dappled with sunlight and found Ken’s house.

The enormous, overgrown, raspberry patch was behind an equally large vegetable garden. Raspberries, the fruit of perennial plants whose name comes from a European variety called Rufus ideaus, (which translates as “with red fruit”), need lots of sun and water. From the look of his raspberry patch, this hot, Vermont summer has been perfect for the berries. When Ken planted the raspberry canes 20 years ago, he was told that he had planted them too close together and that they would die. The canes are more than five feet tall and loaded with berries that are as big as the tip of my thumb.

We shouted, “Hello!” to our fellow, emergency raspberry helpers, found a shady, bug-free place to pick and got started. In almost no time, my small basket was filled and I transferred the berries into a large flat box so that the berries on the bottom of the pile wouldn’t get squashed. After half an hour, we had eaten our fill and harvested about eight cups of berries.

I froze all of the berries, except for what we planned to eat that evening. I lined two rectangular cake pans with aluminum foil and filled them with a single layer of raspberries. After half an hour in the freezer, the berries were frozen enough to be transferred to a resealable plastic bag. It took two batches to freeze all of the berries. Freezing the berries before packing them in plastic bags makes it easy to use a few berries at a time.

Raspberries, high in vitamin C and a good source of natural fiber and antioxidants, come in many colors: red, black, purple and gold. They are expensive to buy because they are soft, bruise easily, spoil quickly and don’t ship well. It’s much better and more fun to pick your own.

Having ruby red, homemade, raspberry jam waiting patiently on a shelf in my pantry is like having summer sunshine in a jar. Here’s how I made it: … read more

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