Wednesday, August 26, 2009

When The Single Guy Bakes

I’m obsessed with the Flavor King pluot (a cross between a plum and apricot) ever since I first tasted one at the farmers market in 2007. So every year in the summer when they’re in season, I buy them and snack on their sweet fragrant flesh that’s also quite beautiful in color.

I feel like we’re nearing the end of the Flavor King season because the fruit seems to be a bit more off-shaped when I looked over a batch at the Sunday farmers market near my home. So I wanted to do something other than just snack on them.

I recalled this post from Food Gal, who made a tea cake with peaches. But the recipe was called “Stone Fruit Tea Cake” from the “Rustic Fruit Desserts” cookbook. The Flavor King is a stone fruit, so in it went.

What’s interesting about this recipe, which looked super easy, was that the cake looks more like a tart. (It really reminded me of a “buckle” that I learned to make recently at Two restaurant.)

Food Gal’s version looked so pretty I was really excited about making this, even though I have to say I’m not a big baker. Food Gal is a big baker. I’m not. Mostly because The Single Guy can only eat so much and baking typically means tons and tons of finished baked goods.

Since I don’t bake often, I also don’t have a lot of fancy kitchen equipment for baking. And that is probably why this recipe, which I made on a Monday night after work, turned out to be so stressful despite its simplicity.

As I worked on the dough, one of the frustrations was creaming the butter with the sugar. The butter constantly clumped up in the blades of my hand mixer that I would then have to stop and push it out with a spatula. Anyone have any tips on how to avoid this? Granted, I probably wouldn’t have to worry about this if I had those fancy mixer with the plastic dough attachment, but I just had a hand mixer with the metal blades.

For some reason I thought the dough would look more like bread dough or pie dough because I kept thinking in my mind that I was making a tart. I forgot it was a cake, so the dough was really just cake batter. So I was a bit worried because it was so wet, which made it an ordeal pouring it into some plastic wrap because the recipe calls for freezing the dough for 30 minutes.

I got out my cute little tart pan, which — again because I’m the Single Guy — is only about 8 inches because that’s the perfect size for me. (But the recipe called for a 10-inch pan.) After 30 minutes, I brought out the dough from the freezer and patted it into my tart pan, leaving out a bunch because of my smaller pan.

I felt like I probably needed to leave the dough in the freezer a bit longer because it was still sticky, which made it hard to handle with my fingers because it kept sticking to me. It was really hard spreading it over the pan, and I worried whether I even got the right consistency in the dough. (It was such a mess in the kitchen I didn’t bother taking pictures of the process because my hands were a mess and in my mind I was thinking … this is not going to turn out good. Yes, me of little faith.)

After I placed my cut Flavor King fruit pieces and the remaining dough on top (I still have leftover dough in the freezer), I placed my tart pan into the oven and hoped for the best.

Little more than 30 minutes later, I checked on my tart and I was so surprised. It was so beautiful. The messy dough had risen and filled in all the open spaces, creating this intricate and evenly formed crust on top that was the lattice over the fruit. Bits of the Flavor King fruit popped out in a rich ruby color. I couldn’t believe how perfect it looked!

And when I took a bite, it was so good. The cake wasn’t anything fancy, it was just a nice fresh cake with baked fruit. But it was something I made from scratch! (I have to say, though, that the Flavor King did lose some of its delicate sweetness when baked and instead gave off a more rich plum flavor like jam, but still this was something that was easy to do.) Despite the tortuous and messy process, the reward was so fulfilling. Maybe I can bake after all!

Click here to see Food Gal’s post and get the complete recipe.

Related baking posts:
Non-melting Creamsicle Cupcakes
Peanut Butter Brownies
Father’s Day Grilling Class at Two


David K. and Ann C. said...

Hey Ben,

Thanks for letting us taste your tea cake. Deeeelicious! Loved the big chunks of fruit -- not something you'd usually get in something store-bought. Keep on baking and remember we're always around for samples. ;-)

David & Ann

locicero said...

good deal! it looks beautiful. it also looks like a more cakey version of a clafoutis.

i'm very fond of the pluot as well. one of the local asian markets calls them "dragon eggs" which i really love as a name. pluot sounds like a medical problem to me.

creaming butter and suger shouldn't be too difficult if i remember to take the butter out of the fridge so that it is room temperature when i start the process.

Hungry Dog said...

Single Guy, sorry to hear your experience was so traumatic! I wonder if the butter wasn't soft enough...that can lead to troubles with the hand mixer. I must say the cake looks absolutely stunning. I have a guest coming for dinner this weekend, perhaps this will be our dessert!

Carroll said...

I think it's definitely time to declare yourself a baker, Single Guy! That looks hugely successful to me, and sounds darn tasty. Nice work :-)

Single Guy Ben said...

David/Ann, you're welcome! Thanks for helping me eat it! :)

Locicero, you're right, it's like a clafoutis, but then I guess I should have kept most of the fruits on the bottom of the pan. I did leave my butter out to get it to room temperature, but I guess I didn't wait long enough. I'll definitely bring it out hours earlier next time because I hate the clumping!

HD, you should definitely try it. I was thinking it would be great with a mix of peach and plum, the mix in colors would be beautiful. Try it!

Carroll, thanks. Baking With The Single Guy! It could happen. ;-)

Carolyn Jung said...

Bravo!! Yours turned out beautifully, even if you don't think of yourself as a baker. I think you did a fab job. I should have warned you that the dough is a bit sticky. But if you bake a lot, you get used to the messy hands that usually entails. I think you should bake MORE! Just bring the leftovers into your office, where your co-workers will eagerly devour it. I send my hubby to work with baked goods all the time, because I bake so much and just can't eat it all myself. His crew is ever grateful for the treats.

Palidor said...

Yea! You haven't posted something you baked in a while, so I'm glad to see this. That's a beautiful looking tart. I like my 8-inch tart pan too. I find that the smaller pans (especially a mini-muffin pan) are waaaay cuter.

Mrs. L said...

The cake looks beautiful! I've been looking for Flavor King Pluots since you wrote about them last year, but alas, no such luck in my area.