Monthly Archives: February 2011

Blitz Torte with Strawberries

Twice a year my boyfriends’ parents come to visit for a long weekend. It’s become tradition that on Friday night they cook a huge Italian meal (complete with antipasto, bread and baked ziti) and I bring dessert. Well, I made the “mistake” of making this last year. It went over so well that I have not been able to top it. Cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter cake, cookies, lemon pie. Nothing has been as good.

Until now…nearly. I’ve learned that there are certain criteria that really push a dessert over the top for this crowd. Anything too heavy and rich doesn’t do it. Anything with fruit gets bonus points. Also, I like to challenge myself by coming up with something a little unusual and something different from what I’ve made before.

After MUCH searching, I found this. Blitz Torte. It means lightning cake in German. I have no idea how that’s relevant, but this cake was freaking good so who am I to question the name? I have never seen anything like this cake. Two thin layers of yellow cake topped with meringue and baked all at once then filled with cream and berries. You can use any berries that look good. Luckily we’re starting to get beautiful strawberries down here, so I took full advantage of that. It was a hit. A big hit. My only problem now is finding something that will top this.

Blitz Torte with Strawberries
Adapted from King Arthur Flour

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large egg yolks (save the whites for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour

For the meringue:

  • 4 large egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar

For topping:

  • 1 tablespoon sugar

For filling:

  • 1 small box of instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 ¾ cups of cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • About 1 ½ cups strawberries

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 8″ round or 9″ round cake pans.

For the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, salt, and egg yolks. Beat in the vanilla, milk, baking powder, and flour. Divide the mixture in the prepared pans and spread to the edges (the batter will barely cover the bottom of the pans; that’s ok).

Beat the egg whites till frothy. Gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar and continue to beat till the meringue is smooth, glossy and somewhat stiff (not quite to the peak stage, you want it to be sort of marshmallow cream consistency). Spread the meringue on the cake batter, not quite to the edges, and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake the cakes for 30 minutes, until lightly browned. (NOTE: do not put the cakes on the top rack. The meringue will rise a lot on the oven but settle as it cools.) While the cakes bake, chop up the strawberries and keep refrigerated until ready to use. Remove cakes from the oven, allow them to cool for 15 minutes, then loosen the edges and gently turn them out onto a rack to cool completely.

When cakes are cool, whisk the pudding mix with vanilla and cream for about 2 minutes then allow to set up for an additional 5 minutes. Whisk again to make sure the cream is smooth.

To assemble: Place one of the cake layers, meringue side up, on a serving plate. Spread with the pudding mixture then add the berries. Top with the second cake layer, meringue-side up. Devour.

Yields 8 to 10 servings

Blueberry Scones

I love Valentine’s Day. I know some people hate it because they think it’s a holiday invented to sell cards and candy. So what if it is! I like cards. I like candy. Why shouldn’t there be a day designated to giving and receiving them? I also love baking Valentine’s treat for friends, especially the the ones who are particularly grumpy and cynical.

I’m going to let you all in on a little secret: if you make something in the shape of a heart, it is automatically appropriate for Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t need to be red and pink (even if it does look more festive that way). It doesn’t need to be chocolate (although, who ever said “no” to chocolate). All you need is a heart-shaped cookie cutter or heart-shaped mold and you are good to go.

Blueberry Scones
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

I use frozen blueberries in these because they’re always available but if the berries are too big they may not work well if you cut the scones too small. The original recipe called for dried currants so I think dried blueberries could be a nice swap too.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • ½ cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times. (If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps.)

If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Transfer dough to large bowl.

Add berries then stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form. Knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Add a little extra cream if it is too dry. Transfer to a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a 3/4-inch thick circle. Cut pieces with a biscuit cutter, and then gather remaining scraps and continue cutting until dough has been used up. Brush the tops of the scones with additional cream and sprinkle with raw sugar. (You could also cut the disk into eight wedges. If you do this you can brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar before cutting which makes the process, and cookie sheet, a little cleaner).

Place rounds or wedges on parchment lined baking sheet and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 8 wedges or as many shapes as you can cut out