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Archive for April 20, 2017

FOOD 101: History Of The Upside Down Cake & Cake Pans

If you’ve never had an upside-down cake, today’s the day: April 20th is National Pineapple Upside Down Cake.

With an upside-down cake, fruit is set on the bottom of the pan, topped with cake batter.

When the cooking is complete, the skillet is inverted onto a plate, such that the fruit is now on top, although it was baked upside-down.

SCION OF THE SKILLET CAKE

This cake was originally made on the stove top in a skillet, and called skillet cake (photo #4). Today, it’s the same process, but with the benefit of cake pans and ovens.

(Want to be authentic with a skillet and the stove top? No one will stop you! Those who want to go really authentic should try cooking it over a campfire or wood fireplace.)

To make a skillet cake, fruit is set on the bottom and the batter poured on top. When the skillet or pan is inverted, the fruit that was once at the bottom forms a decorative topping. Any fruit can be used.

When canned pineapple rings became available in the first half of the 20th century, Pineapple Upside Down Cake became the rage—often with maraschino cherries in the center of the pineapple rings.

As the recipe evolved, cooks put their skillets in the oven to bake. Nordicware, creator of the bundt pan, created a special round pan with indentations for the pineapple slices (photo #6), guaranteeing a perfect presentation.

To show how popular the cake became, they also make mini pans for individual Upside-Down Cakes.

Check out these upside down cake recipes:

  • Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (photo #2)
  • Upside-Down Ginger-Pecan Peach Pie
  • Upside Down Irish Whiskey Cake
  •  
    Upside Down Cake is related to Tarte Tatin, an accidental upside-down pie from 1880s France.

    Also check out the different types of cakes.
     
    THE HISTORY OF CAKE PANS

    Why are cakes round?

    Generally, the round cakes we know today are descended from ancient breads, before there were baking pans of any kind.

    Yeast-risen breads and cakes were made by hand, patted into balls and baked on hearthstones, griddles, or in low, shallow all-purpose pans.

    By the 17th century, cake hoops made of metal or wood were placed on flat pans to shape cakes.

    According to food writer Elizabeth David, in the seventeenth century, tin or iron hoops (photo #4) were increasingly used and to shape cakes, and are frequently mentioned in the “cookery books” (think of the modern flan ring, but much deeper).

    The hoop was placed on an iron or tin sheet, with a layer of floured paper on the bottom (think of today’s parchment paper). The sides of the hoop were buttered to ease removal of the baked cake.

    You can find “these or similar directions offered over and over again in Eliza Smith’s The Compleat Housewife, first published in 1727 (which has recipes for 40 cakes, the large ones being yeast-leavened).

    In the preface of her book, Mrs. Smith says that her recipes reflect some 30 years of experience, so it is likely that her methods date back to the previous century.

    Some recipes direct the reader to bake the cake in a paper hoop (oiled so not to burn), which was used in kitchens of the 1600s [source].

    Wooden hoops were also fairly common. Some cooks preferred them to tin, perhaps because they didn’t rust and thus were easier to store. Wood also didn’t overheat, so were less likely to burn the sides of the cake in those primitive ovens.

    Over time, baking pans in various shapes and sizes became readily available to the general public. Molded cakes in fancy shapes reached their zenith in the Victorian era (commencing with the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1831).

    Today, fancy cake molds can still be had; as well as animal molds, action figures, beehives, sports equipment and football fields, vehicles and other popular culture shapes.
     
     
    LIKE FOOD HISTORY?

    Check out the history of more than 180 foods on THE NIBBLE.

     

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake

    Blood Orange Upside Down Cake

    2 Layer Apple Upside Down Cake

    Skillet Cake

    Wood Baking Hoop

    Pineapple Upside Down Cake Pan

    [1] A Pineapple Upside-Down Cake (here’s the recipe from King Arthur Flour). [2] A Blood Orange Upside Down Cake (here’s the recipe from Good Eggs). [3] A two-layer Apple-Whiskey Upside Down Cake (here’s the recipe from Betty Crocker).[4] A skillet cake. Here’s the recipe for a Pineapple Upside-Down Skillet Cake from King Arthur Flour. [5] An old-fashioned baking hoop (photo courtesy Creeds Direct). [6] Nordicware’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake pan (here it is on Amazon).

     

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Spring Peas, Use ‘Em Or Lose ‘Em

    Green Pea Potstickers

    Spring Peas

    Edamame

    Spring Tartine

    [1] Recipe #1, Spring pea dumplings (photo courtesy Hannah Kaminsky | Bittersweet Blog. [2] Spring peas (photo courtesy Good Eggs). [3] Edamame (photo courtesy Burpee). [4] Recipe #2, a tartine (open face sandwich) with spring peas and other spring ingredients from Chef Alain Ducasse (photo courtesy All My Chefs).

     

    Spring pea season is fleeting. Enjoy as much of the tender green nuggets as you can: raw in salads or for snacking; or lightly steamed in recipes.

    Spring peas are also known as English peas and garden peas.

    At breakfast—the meal least likely to include spring peas—you can use them to garnish eggs, avocado toast, or a bagel with cream cheese.

    You can toss raw or cooked peas into plain Greek yogurt. Use them as a garnish, or mash them and stir them in as you would preserves.

    Moving on to snacks and appetizers: Here are three tasty recipes for appetizers, first courses or snacking. For a special main course, check out this innovative approach to surf and turf: Squid With Bacon & Spring Peas.

    Here are more ways to use spring peas, and the history of peas.
     
     
    RECIPE #1: SPRING PEA OR EDAMAME POTSTICKERS

    Hannah Kaminsky adapted her easy edamame potstickers recipe to showcase spring peas. She mixes the legumes with hummus for extra protein, although you can skip the hummus and just fill the dumplings with peas).

    Hannah notes:

    “General folding advice still stands as a good guideline to follow when wrapping things up, but once you get those papery thin skins to stick, you’re pretty much golden.

    If you’re less confident in your dumpling prowess, cut yourself a break and fold square dumpling wrappers in half instead. You’ll still get neat little triangles.”

    If celebrate Purim, you can serve these as savory Haman’s Hats.

    Ingredients For 15 Dumplings

  • 1 cup shelled spring peas or edamame
  • 1/3 cup edamame/pea hummus (mash them into regular hummus, to taste)
  • 1 scallion, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce, plus more for dipping
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Savoy cabbage
  • 15 (3-inch) round wonton skins or gyoza wrappers*
  •  
    Plus

  • Steaming basket or rack
  •  
    Preparation

    1. SET UP the steaming apparatus: Line a bamboo steamer or metal steam rack with leaves of savoy cabbage to prevent the dumplings from sticking to the bottom (and eat it afterward). Place the steamer in a large pot with water and heat the water to boiling; then reduce to simmering. Meanwhile…

    2. MIX together the shelled edamame, hummus, scallion, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, and cumin, stirring thoroughly. Lay the dumpling wrappers on your work surface and place about 1 tablespoon of filling in the center of each. Run a lightly moistened finger around the entire perimeter and bring the sides together, forming a triangle. Tightly crimp the corners together with a firm pinch.

    3. PLACE the dumplings on the cabbage leaves and cover the steamer or pot. Steam for 2 to 4 minutes, until the wrappers are translucent. Serve immediately, with additional soy sauce for dipping if desired.

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    *You can typically find these either in the produce section near the tofu, or in the freezer aisle with other Asian ingredients.
     
    RECIPE #2: SPRING TARTINE

    This recipe, courtesy of All My Chefs, is from the great Alain Ducasse.

    It requires no particular cooking technique…or even cooking, except for blanching the asparagus and green beans. Otherwise, you just slice and assemble.

    Serve them as a snack, a first course, or with a glass of wine.

    Here’s more about tartines, French for open-face sandwiches.

    This recipe was originally published in “Nature By Alain Ducasse” (Éditions Alain Ducasse).

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 16 small green asparagus
  • A good handful† peas
  • About 10 radishes, washed and peeled
  • 1/4 fennel bulb, rinsed
  • About 20 cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
  • A handful wild arugula, rinsed, patted dry, stalks removed (you can save them for salads)
  • 4 slices multigrain or whole wheat bread
  • 5-1/2 ounces (100g) Saint-Moret** or similar cream cheese
  • 1-1/2 ounces (40g) grated parmesan cheese
  • Sea salt or flake salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. BRING a saucepan of salted water to a boil, and prepare a bowl with water and ice cubes.

    2. CUT the tips of the asparagus into approximately 2 inch (5-6 cm) pieces. Rinse and immerse in the boiling water with the peas.

    3. DRAIN and immediately plunge them into the ice water to keep their color. Leave for 2 minutes, then drain with a slotted spoon and lay on a dry tea towel. (TIP: We put the vegetables into a strainer. It’s easy to lift the strainer to drain, then plunge it into the ice bath.)

    4. SLICE thee radishes into fine rounds (about 3 mm) with a mandoline (we used a knife). Slice the fennel into thin slivers of the same size.

    5. ASSEMBLE: Spread the bread with cream cheese and arrange the vegetables on top. Sprinkle with parmesan, a bit of crunchy salt and some pepper.

    ________________

    **Saint-Môret is the leading natural fresh cheese in France. While it has a different flavor and texture from American cream cheese, it is the closest comparison. We actually used spreadable goat cheese: We love the extra tang.

     

    RECIPE #3: SPRING PEAS & BURRATA SALAD

    We adapted this recipe from Julie Andrews, The Gourmet RD. It takes just 10 minutes to prep. We could eat it every day.

    Her recipe uses sugar snap peas. We added spring peas as well.

    You can eat the pods (shells) of sugar snap peas, but it depends on the age of the pea. Older sugar snap peas tend to be more fibrous, making the pod hard to chew. Eat one, then decide.

    Unlike sugar snap peas or snow peas, the fibrous pods of English peas cannot be eaten—although they can be saved and used in a vegetable stock (freeze until needed).

    TIPS:

  • Shell spring peas immediately before cooking. Break off the stem and pull the fibrous string down the length of the pod.
  • If you can’t find burrata (we get ours at Trader Joe’s), use a mozzarella ball. And…we serve 1/2 ball with each salad.
  • If you have fresh tarragon on hand, toss in some leaves.
  • As a change, we like to substitute balsamic vinegar for the honey.
  •  
    Ingredients For 4 First Courses

  • 1 medium lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cups fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cups fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, trimmed, strings removed
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup carrots (thinly sliced
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • 1 ball burrata (substitute fresh mozzarella)
  • 1/2 cups pistachios (roughly chopped
  • For serving: toasted sourdough bread
  •  
    Preparation

     

    Spring Peas Salad

    Burrata

    [5] Recipe #3: burrata salad—note that you can’t eat the shells of spring peas (photo courtesy The Gourmet RD). [6] Be prepared when you cut open a burrata: The creamy insides will spill out (photo courtesy Murray’s Cheese).

     
    1. WHISK together fresh lemon zest and juice, honey, olive oil and a dash of salt and pepper in a large bowl. Taste and adjust the seasoning, as necessary.

    2. ADD the peas, green beans, carrots, arugula, basil and mint to the bowl, and toss with the dressing.

    3. QUARTER or halve the ball of burrata and arrange on a platter. Top with salad, sprinkle with additional coarse salt and ground black pepper, and garnish with pistachios.
     
     
    MORE BURRATA

    Here are two more burrata salad recipes and a dessert burrata recipe.

      

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