Easter dinner redux . . .
I thought I might post a few details about the recipes for preparing our Easter dinner in the previous post.
The carrot-orange cake is one that I have made for decades. One April Fool’s day long ago, I iced a brick with cream cheese frosting and served it to one of my daughters. She was rather non-plussed at the time that it wasn’t a real cake, but her sister remembers it with glee. I thought again about doing it because today IS April Fool’s day in addition to it being Easter. But I didn’t. I searched for our old recipe because the current one on the internet is different. It calls for buttermilk and dark rum of all things. Ours has fresh Navel orange juice and zest in the cake and zest on top of the cream cheese frosting.
Here’s the recipe:
Bon Appetit’s Carrot-Orange Cake Recipe (November, 1995):
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- With a mixer, beat together: 1.5 cups of vegetable oil; 1 cup of packed medium brown sugar, 1 cup of sugar.
- Add four eggs, one at a time and beat well in between each one.
- Add 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed Navel orange juice and 1 tablespoon of zest.
- Add 2 cups of flour – not packed (be careful) and 2 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
- Add 1 teaspoon cinnamon (Penzey’s Indonesian cinnamon), 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- HAND-GRATE on medium hole side of a box grater, 3 cups of fresh carrots. I leave the skins on and cut off the tops and bottoms. This is a lugubrious task and tiring to do. Don’t be tempted to run them through a food processor because it grinds the carrots too small. When they are ground too finely, they are heavy, believe it or not, and sink to a thick layer on the bottom of the pans. The hand-grated carrots “float” in the batter –which I found out the hard way one year. BTW, I also add a handful of golden raisins because we like them but you don’t have to – walnuts are sometimes nice too.
- Stir the carrots in by hand, lightly folding them in the batter until they’re mixed in.
- I used two aluminum foil 8.5 inch cake pans because it makes 2 layers – 8 inch is too small and 9 inch is too big (sad but true!)
- Bake on middle rack for almost an hour – start testing with toothpiks around 45-50 minutes in and don’t be tempted to take it out until the toothpicks come out clean.
- I turn off the oven, pull the cake shelf halfway out of the oven and let them cool.
- Take them out and let them set on the counter for about 15 minutes and turn out the cakes onto plates. Let them cool COMPLETELY before frosting them.
- CREAM CHEESE FROSTING: In a bowl, combine 2 large Philadelphia cream cheese to 1.5 sticks of unsalted butter. Let them come to room temperature. Beat with a mixer and add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice. Beat and then add about 1/2-1 cup of confectioners sugar. We like it not too sweet so if you’d like it sweeter, add a little more confectioners sugar to taste. You won’t be able to resist tasting the frosting as you go along. It’s the best part of making this recipe!
- When the cakes are completely cooled, they are inverted so spread some frosting on the first layer; then gently turn the other one over and put flat side to flat side down. Frost the top and sides of the cake so that it will absorb the frosting while it rests.
- Put the cake into the refrigerator and cover with plastic wrap. I like to sprinkle on some fresh orange zest in a circle on the top. Hope you will enjoy it as much as my family has for over 20 years!
It’s traditional to have popovers with our holiday meals. Couldn’t be simpler to make if you follow a couple of tricks: Mix 2 cups whole milk at room temperature; 4 eggs at room temperature – beat them in; add 2 cups lightly packed flour and 1 teaspoon of salt. Mix by hand until blended – no problem if there are lumps in the batter. Heat the oven to 375 degrees and put in your popover pan (I have one with 12 cups) DRY. When heated, take it out carefully with a potholder and spray with Pam inside the cups and around the edges of the top. Fill the popover pan cups with batter almost to the top. Place a sheet of aluminum foil underneath the popover pan to catch any drippings that might smoke up the oven (!). Bake for 40 minutes exactly without opening the door of the oven. Even though they may look like they’re popped and ready to eat, the insides of the popovers still need time to cook. 40 minutes it is. If you sprayed it well enough, they should come out easily just by lifting them. If you didn’t spray enough, then they may need to be cut out with a sharp knife. We like to eat them with unsalted butter and honey drizzled on them.
JULIA CHILD marinade/prep for roasting leg of lamb:
This recipe can be found in her classic book, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” It consists of combining Grey Poupon Dijon mustard, crushed garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, soy sauce and olive oil. The leg of lamb is inserted with small pieces of garlic and then covered with the mustard glaze. I use her method of roasting also: sear by roasting at high heat 425 degrees for about 20 minutes and then roast slowly at 325 degrees until a meat thermometer registers around 135 degrees (20-30 minutes per pound.) It will continue to cook after it’s taken out and we like to take a cut to see if it is medium rare when we take it out. Most of the time, I err on the side of it being too rare rather than over-cooked. But it’s easy to put it back in the oven to cook longer when that happens.