Month: April 2019

How to Put a Bundt in the Oven

How to Put a Bundt in the Oven

Bundt cakes have a reputation for being tricky, but with the right recipe and technique, you can be certain of beautiful results every time. Read More Source link

Olive Oil Cake Recipe | Serious Eats

Olive Oil Cake Recipe | Serious Eats

4. Cool cake directly in pan about 10 minutes, then run a butter knife around the edges to loosen. Invert onto a wire rack, peel off parchment, and place cake right side up on a serving platter or cake stand. Serve warm or at room…

The Best Olive Oil Cake Is All in the Best Oil

The Best Olive Oil Cake Is All in the Best Oil

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik. Video: Serious Eats Team]

If you’ve dined at a trendy Italian-American restaurant in the last 20 years, you’ve probably seen more than a few olive oil cakes. These rustic tortes are invariably cut from a single layer and served in fat wedges, with an extra drizzle of olive oil and some seasonal fruit or compote on the side.

Olive oil cakes are so ridiculously fast and foolproof, they’re a staple dessert for restaurants without a pastry chef (although, when a pastry chef does put an olive oil cake on the menu, you can be certain it’s a doozy).

This style of cake is favored by amateurs and pros alike because its success reflects only the quality of its ingredients. So long as no corners are cut in that department, it will always be an unqualified winner: tender, impossibly moist, fragrant, and the perfect canvas for fresh fruit at its peak.

olive oil cake with fresh fruit

That’s also why results at home can be hit or miss. Many hobby bakers opt out of using a truly spectacular olive oil, assuming that time in the oven will flatten its nuance and that any ol’ supermarket brand should be fine. Not so!

Because cakes never reach an internal temperature much higher than 200°F (93°C), baking is far gentler on volatile compounds (such as those in olive oil) than savory techniques like sautéing, frying, or even boiling. That means the flavor and aroma of the olive oil will emerge from the oven largely intact, justifying the use of the fancier oils normally reserved for raw applications.

Which is to say, the olive oil itself does the heavy lifting in this recipe. Given an excellent bottle with pronounced flavor—whether grassy and floral or peppery and sharp—this cake can be truly transcendent.

digging in to a slice of cake

At this point, olive oil enthusiasts will probably have a favorite bottle that they’re itching to try in this cake, but those less certain can follow our guide to buying a good bottle of olive oil for tips on shopping and a few of our favorite brands. Online retailers like La Tienda and Gustiamo have a wide selection worth exploring as well.

There isn’t a single “best” olive oil to use in this recipe; rather, the cake is a lens through which to explore the best olive oils—each delicious in its own way.

ingredients for the olive oil cake

I like to make olive oil cake with a neutral base of plain white (or very lightly toasted) sugar, cultured buttermilk for its thick body and complex flavor, and cake flour* for a fine and delicate crumb.

I also include a bit of lemon zest and orange flower water, both in quantities that add aromatic dimension to the cake without making it overtly citrusy.

* This recipe works well, but differently, with bleached and unbleached styles of cake flour. The former give it a higher rise and a finer, more delicate crumb, while the latter produce a denser, heartier, and more rustic cake, with a coarser crumb. Read my article on cake flour for an explanation of why unbleached isn’t my preferred choice for layer cakes.

preparing the cake batter

I whisk together the sugar, leavening agents, and salt until they’re thoroughly homogenized, then combine them with olive oil, buttermilk, an egg, and aromatics.

emulsifying the liquid ingredients

With a balloon whisk, the batter is easily emulsified in just a few strokes, but you may find this takes more effort with ball whisks or other styles. (For more on this subject, read my previous article on choosing the right whisk.) When the mixture looks thick and smooth, it’s time to sift in the cake flour and continue whisking until it’s well combined and free of any lumps, although flecks of zest will be apparent throughout.

finishing the cake batter

Scrape the bowl with a flexible spatula to ensure that no unevenly mixed areas have splashed up the side of the bowl, then pour into a parchment-lined three-inch-deep, eight-inch anodized aluminum pan.

Extra-deep pans can help cakes rise higher and dome less, but rustic, single-layer tortes aren’t as fussy as proper layer cakes, so don’t worry if all you have is a shallower pan. That said, the type of pan involved will affect the bake time, so do keep a close eye on the cake in the oven, and pull it out when it’s well risen, golden brown, and firm but a little puffy to the touch.

before and after baking

While layer cakes need a good deal of time to cool, so as not to melt their frosting, tortes like this need cool only to a comfortable temperature for handling—about 10 minutes, if cooled directly on a heat-safe surface.

removing the parchment

Once the cake has baked and cooled, invert it onto your hand (or a wire rack) to peel off the parchment liner, then transfer the cake to a serving platter or stand.

plain cake on a stand

The cake can be served warm or allowed to cool completely. In either case, a last-minute dusting of powdered sugar is a simple, low-effort way to add visual impact.

decorating the cake with powdered sugar

The subtle sweetness and smooth consistency of organic, tapioca-based powdered sugar will be less intrusive to the cake’s flavor than conventional styles, but when it’s used in such small amounts, the difference isn’t as apparent, so use what you have on hand. (For more, read up on the difference between conventional and organic powdered sugar.)

a slice of olive oil cake with fresh fruit and pistachios

This cake is flavorful and aromatic enough to stand on its own alongside a cup of tea or a nip of vin santo, but those qualities also make it a seamless match for seasonal fruits macerated with just a pinch of sugar. If you really want to gild the lily, give it a finishing drizzle of olive oil.

a bite of cake on a fork

However you go about finishing it, this cake is ready to serve in less than an hour, so the most time-consuming step will be deciding on the right bottle of oil. Choose wisely!

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

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Sheet-Pan Cuban Sandwiches Recipe | Serious Eats

Sheet-Pan Cuban Sandwiches Recipe | Serious Eats

[Photograph: Morgan Eisenberg] In theory, Cuban sandwiches should be a party hit. Packed with both roast pork and ham, melted cheese, pickles, mustard, and toasty, buttery bread, they’re bound to please a crowd. But the reality is their lengthy prep time (including slowly roasting pork…

8 Sandwiches for Your Next Spring Picnic

8 Sandwiches for Your Next Spring Picnic

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik, J. Kenji López-Alt.] It’s finally nice outside—or, if you live in a more fortunate climate than us New Yorkers, it’s even nicer than it is the rest of the year. It’s picnic season! Sandwiches are the perfect food for a picnic, since…

Get 20% Off the ThermoWorks Thermapen This Week Only

Get 20% Off the ThermoWorks Thermapen This Week Only

The ThermoWorks Thermapen has long been our favorite instant-read thermometer. If you’re not sure what you’d do with one, we have a fair number of suggestions. From checking the temperature of poaching liquid to ensuring that your chicken breast is cooked through (but not overdone!), owning a thermometer (and using it correctly) help you to make great food. For those of us who are moderately nervous about accidentally poisoning our guests, a reliable thermometer will also alleviate some of that paranoia.

While the Thermapen usually goes for $99, this week it’s on sale for 20% off. Grab one now for $79.20 before the sale ends on Friday at midnight (EST). If you already have one, you probably already know they make a great gift—just in time for Mother’s Day.

Get your Thermapen today!

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

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27 Egg Recipes That Make Great Dinners

27 Egg Recipes That Make Great Dinners

[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt] More Eggs Buying tips, techniques, and recipes, no matter how you like them. Eggs are an easy-to-prepare, affordable source of protein, which is why they’re so popular for breakfast, lunch, and dinner all around the world. Japanese cuisine includes oyakodon, a…

Citrus Salad With XO Sauce and Meyer Lemon Dressing Recipe

Citrus Salad With XO Sauce and Meyer Lemon Dressing Recipe

[Photograph: Vicky Wasik] So, you’ve taken the plunge and made a batch of XO sauce. You’ve eaten it straight from the jar, and you’ve put it on rice and noodles. But now you want to switch things up and expand your XO-pairing horizons, without creating…

The Best Knives to Have in Your Kitchen

The Best Knives to Have in Your Kitchen

[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]

One of the most important things I’ve learned during my time at Serious Eats is that if you want to be a good cook, you need a good set of knives—and you need to take care of them. You’ll want to sharpen your knives and hone them often, clean them well, and store them safely.

Another important knife lesson: While it may seem convenient, purchasing a whole set of knives in one of those blocks isn’t the best option. As with sets of pots and pans, you’ll generally end up overpaying for less important pieces and under-spending on the ones you’ll reach for most.

This is why our culinary team has taken the time to separately review individual types of knives, testing to see which performs the best at a variety of tasks—after all, you won’t use the same knife to slice bread as you would a terrine, or the same knife to both peel a shallot and carve a turkey. Below, you’ll find our picks for the best-performing chef’s knife, santoku, paring knife, slicing or carving knife, and bread knife.

Because knowing how to properly maintain and store knives is just as important as the knife itself, I’ve also included our favorite sharpeners, honing steels, and accessories. There’s a lot to cover here, so let’s get…chopping.

A Chef’s Knife

There is no knife more essential than a chef’s knife. The ultimate multipurpose blade, it can do just about anything that needs to be done, whether you’re chopping an onion or carving a roast. If, for some reason, you have space for only one knife in your kitchen, this is the one to get.

We tested 27 knives for our review of the best chef’s knives, ranging from $15 to $200. Our contenders included both Japanese- and Western-style knives—Western blades are heavier and more curved than their Japanese counterparts—which we put through an assortment of tests, including slicing tomatoes and cutting pineapple.

Our team came out with six winners—three Japanese-style knives and three Western-style—to suit any budget. We recommend trying out a few if you can, since, like a wand in Harry Potter, a knife is only as good as how it feels in your hand.

Read our full review of the best chef’s knives »

A Santoku

A santoku is the quintessential Japanese workhorse knife. Like a chef’s knife, it can be used for all sorts of tasks, but there are some key differences.

First, santokus tend to have shorter, more compact blades (about six to seven inches) that are flatter than that of a traditional Western chef’s knife. This is ideal for shorter, downward strokes, as opposed to the rocking-chopping and -slicing you’d do with a longer blade. The blade design also falls somewhere between the Japanese chisel and a Western double-bevel. For a helpful visual guide to all those blade styles, head on over to our santoku knife review.

What makes a good santoku? It needs to be razor-sharp, lightweight, and comfortable. As with a chef’s knife, much of finding the best santoku knife for you comes down to personal preference, so the best strategy is to try working with a few and seeing how they feel. But if you want specific recommendations, we did identify three winners in our review, all at different price points, all of them capable of effortlessly filleting fish and breaking down chicken.

Read our full review of the best santoku knives »

A Paring Knife

When he began his paring-knife review, Daniel ran into a tricky situation. Though he considers his paring knife to be the second most important knife in his kitchen, he also doesn’t use it very frequently. For dealing with small or delicate items, though—such as when you’re peeling a shallot or halving a lemon—the smaller size of a paring knife is a huge help. Its narrow blade also lends itself to odd jobs in the kitchen, like testing to see if a roasted beet is tender or if a cake is done.

The main takeaway is that you shouldn’t have to shell out too much for a paring knife. Own one, keep it sharp, but don’t spend so much that you’ll be reluctant to replace it when the time comes. Daniel’s favorite affordable paring knife is the Wüsthof Pro. If you want to spend more and own something a bit different, he suggests choosing a Japanese upgrade, like this Tojiro DP 3.5-inch paring knife.

Read our full review of the best paring knives »

A Serrated Bread Knife

A bread knife is recognizable by its saw-toothed edges, which helps it easily and gently slice through all types of bread without squishing the crumb. But the drawback to a serrated blade is it’s really difficult to sharpen, so once it gets dull, you either need to send it out to be sharpened by a professional or get a new one. For this reason, you shouldn’t spend too much on a bread knife, either.

But you should know which ones are good—the ones that saw as easily through crusty loaves as they do ripe tomatoes and delicate white bread. The knife that outperformed the competition was the Tojiro Bread Slicer. It was so good, Daniel brought it home and got rid of all the other bread knives in his house.

Read our full review of the best serrated bread knives »

A Slicing or Carving Knife

While slicing and carving knives aren’t a necessity, they’re really handy to have around during the holiday season, when you’re serving up big roasts for a crowd. Thinner and longer than typical chef’s knives, they’ll slide right through that family-sized turkey without any mess.

Let’s start first with the differences between the two. A carving knife has a long, narrow blade that comes to a sharp point; it’s especially useful for cutting in and around cartilage and bones. A slicing knife is also long and narrow, but it doesn’t taper like a carving knife. It has an even width from the blade to the tip, which is rounded, not pointed.

A slicing knife is used to make nice, long slices of terrines and delicate cuts of meat; the shallow divots keep the meat from adhering to the blade, and the length ensures that you have plenty of surface area to slice the meat, instead of sawing at it. I think we can all agree that meat that’s been sawn, with all that glorious juice dripping out onto the cutting board, is the lump of coal of the food world.

In our review of the best slicing and carving knives, the Wüsthof Classic 9-Inch Carving Knife came out on top. It’s razor-sharp, it slides through turkey “like butter,” as Daniel puts it, and it’s perfectly balanced. It is on the more expensive side, but if you often find yourself with a roast that needs carving, it’ll serve you well.

As for our favorite slicing knife, that award goes to the slightly odd-shaped Japanese TUO Slicing Knife. Because the handle flattens out and widens toward the base, it tucks pretty well under your fingers, and the angled bolster makes it simple to grasp the blade for better control. It might have been the review’s ugly duckling, but it bested some of its much pricier competition.

Read our full review of the best slicing and carving knives »

Accessories for Sharp Blades and Safe Storage

A Honing Steel

Sharpening and honing a knife aren’t the same thing. While sharpening actually creates a new beveled edge by removing material from the blade, honing realigns the edge of the blade so that all the teeth that make up that edge are all going in the right direction. By running your knife along the ridges of a honing steel, you’ll buff out those microscopic dents that can throw your blade out of alignment. Now when you see chefs on cooking shows honing their knives, you can at least know why they’re doing it (though how they can do it so fast is still beyond me).

For everyday use, we recommend a Winware Sharpening Steel. Once you have the steel, check out our instructions on how to hone your knife—but do yourself a favor and start slow.

A Whetstone

A whetstone actually sharpens your knife, whisking off microscopic material from the blade for a newly beveled edge. While the technique may take you a few tries, using a whetstone is by far the best way to get your knife sharpened, and it’s more affordable than sending out your knives to a professional. (We also don’t recommend using electric knife sharpeners; they simply remove too much material at one time and degrade your knives faster than necessary.)

Now that you know what to do, which whetstones should you get? In his guide to knife sharpening, Kenji notes most home cooks only need a medium-grit (800) stone and fine-grit (at least 2,000) stone. He says ultra-fine grit (8,000 and above) are mostly for professional use. If you buy a whetstone or two, you will also want to pick up a stone fixer, which you can use to even out the whetstone surface.

A Knife Rack

There are many ways to safely store your knives. I personally prefer to hang them on a magnetic knife rack, which saves precious counter space and creates some nice wall decor for the kitchen at the same time. If you like to keep your knives hidden away, try using a cork-lined box that’ll fit right into your drawer.

Blade Protectors

If you often transport your knives, blade protectors are a necessity. You don’t want blades just dangling willy-nilly in your bag, do you? Consider your safety! Or, at the very least, consider the blades’ safety. Rubbing against everything in your bag will make them dull. Blade protectors are the way to go.

A Knife Case

Whether you have limited kitchen space or you’re taking your knives to a dinner party or work—hey, for some of us here, taking knives to the office is a real thing!—a knife case is a great way to keep them safe and organized. Slip on those blade protectors, then slide them into the case so they don’t poke out and cut you. (It’s happened to Daniel!)

This post may contain links to Amazon or other partners; your purchases via these links can benefit Serious Eats. Read more about our affiliate linking policy.

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Ratterwick Punch (Sparkling Gin, Aperol, and Grapefruit Cocktail) Recipe

Ratterwick Punch (Sparkling Gin, Aperol, and Grapefruit Cocktail) Recipe

[Photography copyright: Kelly Puleio © 2019] Reprinted with permission from Batch Cocktails: Make-Ahead Pitcher Drinks for Every Occasion by Maggie Hoffman, copyright © 2019. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House. It’s easy to welcome warm weather—and warm-weather entertaining season—when you…