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Sunday, March 30, 2014

How to clean copper

     At the end of 2013 my husband and I moved into a new house.  It was a daunting, albeit highly positive, stepping stone.  Used to living in a small apartment for a number of years, the vastness of our new abode presents new decorating and maintenance challenges every day.  It was also the reason for my two month hiatus from blogging.  I should have plenty of material under my present circumstances.

     I have always been a lover of copper for kitchen utensils.  The material is undoubtedly the best for cooking and baking, copper being the best conductor of heat.  And who can deny the glistening of egg whites beaten in a bowl of solid copper.

     I own several pieces of copper, from saucepans to cookie cutters, so in order to keep them shining I decided to try an idea I once heard from Laura Calder in one of her cooking shows.  It is a paste of all-purpose flour, coarse salt and white vinegar.  The salt works as a scrubber and does not dissolve, while the vinegar works its brightening magic.  The flour is mostly a binding agent.  The results were excellent... at the beginning.

Before...


...and after

     This what they looked like after a few hours:


     So obviously not a good choice.  I came back to my old time favorite Copperbrill, a product created by French copper manufacturers par excellence, Mauviel.  Undoubtedly, this the product to go for.  

One of my mixing bowls.  Results that last.

My coveted KitchenAid got new highlights
     It's worth noting that copper will acquire a slight patina with time.  This is not only encouraged but beautiful.  Nevertheless, a product like Copperbrill will ensure that your copper utensils always look their best.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

A unique mold... and Seed cake

     In continuing with my exploration of kitchen tools the French kitchen, I have come across a unique cake mold, recently offered by Williams-Sonoma.

     This rectangular cake pan offers the peculiarity of a lemon-shaped top, ideal for any citrus-flavoured recipe.  It is made of solid cast aluminum and its non-stick coating ensures easy unmolding.  I like to keep my eyes open for interesting molds to add to my collection, and I just couldn’t resist this one.  Always be on the lookout for accessories to add to your kitchen tools, and in time you will develop a set tailored to your own style of cooking and baking.



     But beyond the ubiquitous citrus loaf, I went a – curious – step further and decided on a classic Victorian recipe – Seed cake.  I became aware of its existence watching an episode of the Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple series, “At Bertram’s Hotel”.  During one of the sumptuous teatimes, Ms. Marple is offered this cake by one of the waiters.  But Jane Marple is hesitant in accepting the offer, until the waiter tells her it is indeed the “true” seed cake, a specialty of the house, for which the pastry chef has had the recipe for years.




     Seed cake was the typical Victorian teacake.  Sometimes it was also eaten as a snack before turning in to help aid digestion, as caraway seeds are known for their soothing qualities.  After some research, I came up with Mrs. Beeton’s recipe, a true testament to the history of British teatime.

Victorian Seed Cake

Ingredients:

  • 225 gr butter
  • 225 gr cake flour
  • 175 gr caster sugar
  • 2 Tbsp caraway seeds
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Tad ground mace
  • Grated nutmeg to taste
  • 50 gr chopped candied citrus peel

Preparation:

     Cream the butter along with the sugar.  Add the sifted flour.

     Add the mace, nutmeg, caraway seeds and chopped candied peel and mix well.

     Pre-heat the oven to 325F and grease the pan.

     Stir in the whisked eggs and then the brandy.  Beat for about 3 minutes, until very smooth and with no lumps.

     Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for about 1 ½ hours, until a skewer comes out clean when tested and the cake is well risen, firm and golden brown.  Once cold, it can be sprinkled with powdered sugar. 


     This is a very moist cake.  It also freezes well, and I can’t think of a better way to satiate bedtime munchies, along with a hot cup of herbal, lemony tea.