I think in some strange parallel universe, I’ve become a superhero. Well, maybe not exactly a superhero. Whatever is sub of that. A semi-superhero? A demi-hero? Whatever it’s called, several times in the past month, good friends in mild to elevated degrees of culinary distress have summoned me to help save the day. Surely that’s the definition of hero, right? No, there wasn’t a giant rolling pin symbol projected into the night sky, nor red “bundt-phone” with a direct line to my oven. And other than a dishtowel thrown over my shoulder, I was cape less. But if a good friend calls with a houseful of guests in 4 hours and no dessert, or “Kaaa-rin” is called with mild urgency from the kitchen, SUPERBAKER springs into action.
When I’m invited to friends for dinner I’m not exactly planning on cooking. But when it’s what you do, and everybody knows it, there’s no avoiding it. I supposed it’s no different from being a plumber and asked to opine on a host’s leaky faucet. And my friends know as long as I’ve already been handed my glass of wine or cocktail, I’m happy to jump in when the need arises. After all, who doesn’t want to be a hero, and as one of the people eating, I’ve a vested interest in a tasty outcome.
Sure the cape of culinary superhero is a lofty mantle, but it’s one I was born to bear. My mother can make the best pan gravy you’ve ever had pretty much out of thin air. My brother can create delicious geographical phenomena and related topography from meatloaf. My dad could make a killer Sunday breakfast and clean out the refrigerator simultaneously. And of course, my grandmother was the Wonder Woman of potato salad. So if you need someone to run faster than a weeping meringue, leap tall souffles, or whip stiff egg whites with a single hand, look no further. It’s a springform….it’s a spatula…IT’S SUPERBAKER!!!
A few weeks ago, I was called into action when a dear friend needed a dessert for a Rosh Hashanah dinner she was hosting. I immediately knew what I would make – an apple honey cake a friend had sent me from a favorite blog. But, it being fall in the land of orchards, my hostess in distress was tired of apples and pears, so my honey cake had to be free of both. Fear not kids! With SuperBaker on the job, the day would be saved! (Cue the dramatic music….)
Anyway, after a cup of coffee’s worth of time on the internet I found an intriguing version of the traditional holiday cake. It included a good hit of spice, some late season plums, and with a good glass of red wine in the mix too, how could it possibly be anything but wonderful. So here it is, courtesy of the New York Times and one of my culinary heroes, Melissa Clark.
Red Wine Honey Cake With Plums (Melissa Clark, NYT, 8/23/13)
Makes 10-12 servings
NOTE: I didn’t make the plums as Clark describes in her original recipe. Instead I took about 2 cups of Damson plums, a few tablespoons of sugar (amount depends on the ripeness of the plums), a teaspoon of cinnamon, and a little pinch of cloves, and cooked it all over medium heat until the plums broke down and juices thickened a little. Serve the plum compote alongside the cake.
- Grease or nonstick spray, for the pan
- 300 grams all-purpose flour (2 1/2 cups), more for the pan
- 10 grams baking powder (2 teaspoons)
- 3 grams baking soda (1/2 teaspoon) 3 grams salt (1/2 teaspoon)
- 2 grams cinnamon (1 1/2 teaspoons) 2 grams cardamom (1 teaspoon)
- 2 grams ground ginger (1 teaspoon) 3 large eggs
- 200 grams granulated sugar (1 cup) 1 1⁄4 cups olive oil
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good quality honey, more to taste
- 3⁄4 cup dry red wine
- Plum compote to serve along with the cake (see NOTE above)
Place a rack in the middle of the oven; heat to 350 degrees. Generously grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan, including center tube.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In another large bowl, whisk eggs well. Whisk in sugar, oil, 1 cup honey, the wine and the fresh ginger until well combined. Whisk in dry ingredients until smooth. (Ok, at this point you will likely get a little alarmed at the color of the batter. Yes, it’s sort of, well, armadillo grey. Don’t worry. I promise it will be gorgeous golden brown when it comes out of the oven. Trust me.)
Pour batter into pan and bake until springy to the touch and a cake tester comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool for about 20 minutes, then unmold the cake and let cool completely.
Recipe note: Measurements for dry ingredients are given by weight for greater accuracy. The equivalent measurements by volume are approximate.