I’ve always loved a cake that travels well.
For lots of reasons but mostly because I like to send cake to my Dad.
It’s a trade we’ve made for about five years now–
he sends me things he’s made from wood
and I send things I’ve made from butter and sugar and eggs.
That got Tara and me to talking about cakes suited specifically for travel.
Cakes that make our journeys that little bit better. This one is definitely the sort and it’s delicious!
Find the recipe below.
tara’s cherry pecan picnic cake
Elvis Presley’s favourite pound cake called for seven eggs and a full cup of heavy cream. It is one of those recipes that I’ve long wanted to try, like the lemon meringue pie from Toast, for no other reason than its pedigree. The King’s pound cake would have to be a good one, and while that pie was created for looks over taste, what a looker it is.
Now this cake delivers admirably on both those fronts, even if more modestly so. It is sturdily handsome, hinting at richness, and with a dense crumb. The cherries create dark, juicy pockets as they’re baked, and the pecans contribute a subtle, waxy crunch. It is a cake suited for coffee in the morning, and whipped crème fraîche come at night. But really, this is a cake that’s made for for road trips, and plane rides, to be cut in thick slices and wrapped in wax paper. It’s a cake for picnics.
In other words, just the kind of cake Nikole and I like very much.
Makes 2 round cakes, 6-inches each
For the cake
- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (256 g) cake flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1 cup (227 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/3 cups (275 g) granulated sugar, plus extra if not using the glaze
- 4 eggs
- Seeds scraped from a vanilla bean or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 tablespoons thick yogurt or sour cream (not nonfat)
- 1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans
- 1 cup pitted dark cherries, fresh or frozen
For the glaze (optional)
- 1 1/4 cups (142 g) confectioner’s sugar, sifted
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- A pinch of fine sea salt
- Preheat an oven to 300°F/150°C with a rack in the middle. Butter two 6-inch round cake tins, and line with parchment, on bottoms and sides. Butter the parchment.
- Sift flour and salt together in a medium bowl, then set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream butter and sugar for a full 8 minutes on medium-high, scraping down the bowl and beater with a silicone spatula regularly. Knock the speed down to medium, and add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the beater after each, and beating well. The batter may look to curdle, but it’ll be fine. Add the vanilla. With the mixer on low, stir in the flour in two additions, alternating with the yogurt. Do not overmix. Fold in the nuts by hand, making sure to get all the way down to the bottom of the bowl. Dollop one-quarter of the batter between the prepared pans, then scatter with cherries. Continue to layer spoonfuls of batter with cherries until finished. Gently smooth the tops, then sprinkle with granulated sugar if not planning to glaze the cakes later.
- Bake cakes in the hot oven, rotating halfway through, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean, 60 minutes or so. Transfer cakes to a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes in their tins, then unmold. Place, right side up, on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to cool completely.
- If making the glaze, whisk all ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. The glaze should be fluid enough to fall smoothly and slowly from a spoon. If it doesn’t, add more cream, a teaspoon at a time. If it is too thin, stir in more confectioners sugar. Spoon the glaze over the cakes as desired. Let set for at least an hour before cutting.
- The cakes can be kept at room temperature for 3 days, loosely covered or under a dome.
PS: There’s no picture of it here, but I like to decorate this cake with a single maraschino cherry (that you’ve patted dry) in the centre just before the icing is completely set.
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
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PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
We’re officially tinkering around in our not-so-new studio.
The water in the kitchen works (finally!) and we’ve got a fridge and stove.
For now, we’re baking, taking pictures and working on our next shop update.
More on all that soon.
Coco Chanel at Villa La Pausa.
This room looks nice.
Our cloud cutters are back in stock. Find them here.
I’d like to go here and I can’t stop thinking about going to Greece.
This salad is delicious (and Michael and I took the photo).
If you’re in Toronto, the bread at Blackbird Baking is great.
And I’m so looking forward to summer.
PHOTOS: Nikole Herriott
Last year when April was turning to May we went to Montreal.
We spent a few days driving around,
going from one restaurant to the next, taking pictures.
Eating small amounts of this and that,
wishing we could stay longer, wishing there was time to eat more.
The grass was already green by then
and it felt a bit like summer.
We stayed in a friend’s apartment,
quite near to the restaurants we’d planned to visit.
There was a spiral staircase to get to her front door
and a long back deck with a clothesline.
There were blooms outside the windows
and small buds on the trees.
It felt vaguely like we lived there,
vaguely like we could call that place home.
I’d like to go back, I’d like to walk through the neighbourhoods more
and I’d like to eat at nora gray.
On a separate note I’d love to know your thoughts on places to eat, stay and visit in New York City. We’ve stayed at a few different hotels which have been great but we’re curious about airbnb and longer stay options. If you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them!
ice cream cones
i want to go sailing
ballet in nyc
and this reminds me of summer
photos: michael graydon + nikole herriott
I’ve got lots of good things to share in the next while,
including the recipe for this delicious tart by Mimi!
But for now I wanted to share some current work for bon appétit.
(Together with a group of amazing folks we shot the April cover + they created two, see them both below.)
Michael and I been working a lot as a photography team these days
and while it often pulls me away from here, it’s been really great.
Photos: Michael Graydon + Nikole Herriott
Food: Rebecca Jurkevich
Props: Angharad Bailey
More days than not, Tara and I talk about food.
We talk about porridge and grain and how flaky biscuits can be.
We talk about writing a good recipe (She’s working on her first book! With biscuits included.)
and what we’re making that day.
We talk about ice cream and cake and just about everything in between.
And we also talk about making more time to work together.
And so as a start of things to come,
find Tara’s recipe for RASPBERRY APPLE CRUMBLE.
It’s cold here still,
so while we’re actually really yearning for spring,
crumble still seems to fit.
It’s perfect day-of warm, with a dollop of cream
but it’s also great for travelling.
Let it rest overnight before cutting into wide slices
and wrapping snuggly in plastic wrap.
I so like the idea of crumble for dessert and then crumble the next day at lunch.
RASPBERRY & APPLE CRUMBLE by Tara O'Brady
I make a crumble almost every March. Not always with fresh fruit — at this time of year we’re still waiting for the snow to melt and the first forced rhubarb at the market — but often out of frozen berries, in an attempt to conjure up that springtime feeling.
This crumble tucks raspberries with storage apples underneath an intentionally-generous cover of oat streusel. It is without cinnamon, or nutmeg, or any of those wintery spices, instead fragrant with vanilla and drops of almond extract. The filling has a scant amount of sugar and a good amount of lemon juice, so the raspberries retain their twang and keep the whole business bright.
As a bonus while it bakes, the crumble makes the house smell like cookies and jam. It’s a fine way to say goodbye to the cold.
- 3/4 cup / 170 g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
- 1/2 cup / 100 g granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups / 150 g large-flake oats
- 1 1/4 cups / 160 g all-purpose flour
- Juice from half a lemon, about 2 tablespoons
- 2 1/4 pounds / 1 kg mixed baking apples, about five apples, see note
- 1/3 cup / 66 g granulated sugar
- 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon fine-grained sea salt
- 1 plump vanilla bean, split down its length
- 1 1/4 pounds / 566 g frozen raspberries
- Sweetened sour cream, whipped crème fraîche, pouring cream, custard (hot or cold) or ice cream
- Preheat an oven to 375°F / 190° C with the rack in the lower third. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Make the streusel. In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attached, cream together the butter sugar, salt and almond extract on medium-high speed until fluffy, around 2 minutes. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and turn the machine to low. Tip in the oats and flour all at once, and let the machine run until the dry ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is in medium to small clumps, 3 to 5 minutes, scraping down the bowl as needed. Set aside in a cool spot or covered in the fridge while you get on with the filling.
- Grease a 3-quart capacity baking dish with butter. Pour the lemon juice into a large bowl. Peel, core and slice the apples thinly. Add the slices to the bowl as they are cut, turning them in the juice to prevent browning.
- In a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch with sugar, salt and seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, reserving the pod. Sprinkle the mixture over the apples and and toss gently until the dry ingredients look to disappear. Carefully fold in the raspberries. Tumble the fruit into the prepared baking dish and tuck in the vanilla bean. Crumble the streusel over the filling in a fairly even layer. Place the dish on the lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven until the streusel is golden and the juices are bubbling thickly, around 45 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes before serving.
- NOTE: Granny Smith, Honeycrisp, Russet, Pink Cripps, Mutsus are all excellent for baking.
- Crumbles are ideal for using up just-about-overripe fruit or whatever flours are left in the baking cupboard. That said, keep proportion in mind; for this intentionally streusel-heavy recipe that means the topping is almost half the weight of the filling. And for the streusel itself, it is an approximate ratio, again by weight, of 1 part butter to 1 part oats to 1 part flour. Keeping that overall balance in mind, I’ll often add alternative flours to the streusel, say whole wheat, buckwheat or spelt for a portion of the all-purpose. Blackberries or rhubarb can be swapped in for some of the fruit, adjusting the sugar accordingly.
- Enough for 6 to 8 servings.