Tuesday, October 7, 2008

distraction techniques

It's been more than a week again, hasn't it?

Well, I'm not sick, and I haven't been eaten by my reading (yet), so this time I'm going to blame my absence on my laptop.

I've had the same laptop for five years, and it's starting to make noises that suggest that it's headed to the Great Computer Store In The Sky, so I've been leaving it at home and taking notes by hand in class instead. This may be better for my concentration, but it has turned out to have a rather dismal effect on my blogging.

Mea culpa, mea culpa. Can I distract you from my delinquency with some apple raspberry cake?

"Cake" might not be quite the right word for it, but I haven't come up with a better way to describe what is essentially fruit in a pancake batter with baking powder, a not-quite-clafoutis. It's an easy dessert, the sort of thing that you might whip up when you want more than plain fruit, but don't feel like digging out a cookbook and making sure you have all the ingredients and equipment to bake something from a proper recipe.

The results are anything but fancy. It's served right out of the baking pan, so the presentation isn't elegant. The batter-fruit ratio is skewed in favor of fruit, so the slices tend to disintegrate when you transfer them from pan to plate. And when topped with yogurt and honey, they're a thoroughly unphotogenic mess. Probably not the sort of thing you'd want to serve at a dinner party, but just the thing to follow roast chicken or chili or some other solid, unassuming meal.

Apple Raspberry Cake

The French call this type of cooking au pif, literally, "by the nose." All you need to bake it are a few basic ingredients, a pan, a bowl, a whisk, a teaspoon, and a quarter-cup measure if you really, really insist. You can approximate and eyeball your way to the final result, and it'll come out just fine. This works well with ripe plums and other stone fruit, too.

(Serves one for a long time. Will freeze.)

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Get out a big mixing bowl. Crack in one egg. Add roughly a quarter cup of sugar. You may want a little less or a little more, depending on the sweetness of your fruit. Beat until well combined.

Add a rough teaspoon of baking powder, around three-quarters of a cup of flour, and a big pinch of salt. Beat again until the mixture starts to clump on the whisk.

Pour in a splash of milk. Beat the mixture until it becomes gloopy. Add more milk and keep whisking until the mixture becomes a pourable batter, about the consistency of thin yogurt.

Melt half a stick of butter in a cast-iron or other ovenproof pan big enough to serve as a baking dish.

Meanwhile, take two or three apples, peel them, core them, and cut them into wedges.

Once the butter has melted, swirl it to fully coat the pan, and pour off all the excess into the batter. Beat in the melted butter.

Put the apples into the pan. Scatter a generous quantity of fresh raspberries over the apples. Sprinkle with cinnamon and nutmeg.

Pour the batter over the fruit. Transfer the pan to the oven and bake for thirty-five to forty minutes, or until lightly browned on top.

Serve warm. It goes well with Greek yogurt and honey.


Julie said...

Well, that sounds thoroughly good. As far as I'm concerned there's a greater need for desserts of this sort -- fast, not fussy, the sort of thing you'd actually contemplate making for a regular weekday meal -- than fancy and demanding desserts.

adele said...

I'm glad someone else agrees that we could use more unfussy desserts. I feel like we need dessert more on weekdays than on weekends, anyway. (Mondays in particular.)

Virgin In The Volcano said...

Is this how you would also cook those big savory Dutch pancakes? I think I'd give an arm or something for one of those right now, with ham and cheese and mushrooms. (I'm in class and I'm hungry--can you tell?!)

adele said...

Pretty close. You'd want more eggs and butter in the batter.

Yulinka said...

I make something that's very similar, minus the butter. You mix eggs, sugar and flour, and pour over chopped fruit (apples, usually, but everything from rhubarb to plums works). I fancy this up with a little cinnamon and vanilla, and bake at 375 until golden brown. Super-easy, and very good right out of the oven, especially with ice cream.

Kim said...

This is my kind of baking for sure. Though I like to take my time and measure etc etc "baking by the nose" is how I love to do it all in the kitchen. Will try this soon, thanks Adele!

Katherine said...

Last night, I figured out a vegan version of this recipe: I used a banana instead of an egg, soy milk instead of cows' milk, and margarine instead of butter (and, accidentally, baking soda instead of baking powder. D'oh.) I made it with pecans, pears, and frozen wild black raspberries (yes-- I still have a big bowl of them in my freezer).

It came out marvelously. Finally, a pancake-like thing I can make without it going FUBAR! This has definitely found a place in my repertoire. Thanks, "Adele"!

adele said...

Yulinka - I think it exists in one form or another in most European countries.

Kim - The precise measurements have their place, but as I've said, on Mondays, the sooner it gets done, the better.

Katherine - A vegan version? It never occurred to me to try that. I might have to borrow your adaptation sometime. :)