Monday, May 27, 2013

Coffee cake and little cakes

The cherries eventually sink into the batter and disappear.
Last week I bought some cherries at Safeway because they cost $2.99 per pound and looked ok. They were not ok. They had no structure. You bit into one of these cherries and it collapsed. Cherries are my favorite fruit, but even I didn't want to eat these cherries.

Yesterday, Isabel and I went to the farmers' market and bought some Utah Giant cherries ($5 per pound!) that are almost black. You bite into one and it crunches like an apple. I love these cherries so much I would never cook them.

Rather than just throw them to the chickens, I decided to see if the Safeway cherries would improve when baked into a coffee cake and the answer is: YES. I made the cherry-almond coffee cake from Rick Rodgers' Kaffeehaus and it's easy and very tasty. You can use flabby cherries because all cherries, no matter how gorgeous and firm, become flabby after you bake them.  Rodgers writes in the headnote that in Hungary and the Czech Republic cooks don't pit the cherries "so the stones can add their subtle almond-like flavor to the batter; no one seems to mind spitting out the pits." Then he goes on to say that his version calls for pitting the cherries. What? I ignored him and didn't pit the cherries and not even Mark complained. If you feel compelled to pit the cherries or if you have beautiful Utah Giants, don't make this cake. This is a cake for mediocre cherries, unpitted. Recipe here.

Back to Indianers, the Austrian cake that somewhat resembles a cream puff. I've made three batches now. The Rick Rodgers recipe from Kaffeehaus calls for baking them in an aebleskiver pan but that didn't work for me -- they shrunk and got stuck -- so I went back to the muffin tin which does. I know they're not authentic Indianers because according to LizA they need to be made in a pan like this. Oh well. I tried brushing apricot glaze inside each cake as Rodgers does (Flo Braker also does this in The Simple Art of Perfect Baking), but I couldn't taste it so I'm skipping the apricot glaze.
One was my grandmother's, one was my Mom's.
Because someone asked how you eat the cakes without the cream falling out the bottom, I watched the way I and others ate the cakes and there's really no trick it. The cream just isn't an issue. It's very thick and seems to cling to the cake like the "cream" inside a Ding Dong. Eating them is easy. Too easy. These cakes are fantastic and I'm going to eat the last one right now.

Indianers, adapted from both The Food of Vienna's Empire and Kaffeehaus

1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
4 eggs, separated
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Generously butter and flour a 12-cup muffin tin. Sift the flour and cornstarch into a bowl.

2. Beat the egg whites until foamy then, 1 tablespoon at a time, add the sugar, continuing to beat until the whites form stiff peaks.

3. Use the same beater to mix the egg yolks with the vanilla just until blended. Now stir 1/4 of the egg whites into the yolks with a rubber spatula. Pour this yolk mixture over the remaining whites and sprinkle the flour and cornstarch on top of the yolks. Fold the batter gently until no trace of flour remains.

4. Scoop the batter into the muffin cups, using an ice cream scoop if you have one. Divide the batter evenly; each cup will be almost full.

5. Bake for 12 minutes until puffed and lightly browned. Remove from the oven, run a sharp knife around the edges and lift the cake out of the tin. Cool completely. They will shrivel a bit; don't worry.

6. Whip the cream with the sugar and vanilla until it's very thick. Not soft peaks, firm peaks. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

7. Slice the bottom off each Indianer and scoop out the insides. Eat, save, or discard. Fill each shell with cream. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

8. Heat the cream to a boil, remove from heat, add chocolate and stir until melted and blended. Put the chilled Indianers on a rack over a cookie sheet, cream side down. Pour the chocolate over the tops of the Indianers. Refrigerate until cold. They keep for at least 3 days.


  1. Zehr schoen.

  2. I like "They keep for at least three days." From your description I don't think they would last three minutes with my crew (five teen boys).

  3. Oh, grocery store cherries can be so depressing. Glad you found a way to salvage yours! And I too have been eating all the farmer's market cherries without a lick of heat applied. I did make some into a smoothie...but the blender doesn't count as cooking, right?

  4. Yum. I'm going to have to try the Indianers but I think I'll wait until I have a crowd around because they do look quite easy to eat!!
    Thanks for the coffee cake idea for those un-snack-worthy cherries!

    1. Oh, totally agree...I can see eating at least three by myself!

  5. I love farmers market fruits and vegetables. I go there so often that I have become friends with one of the farmers. Yesterday she showed up at my door with a huge bag of fresh tomatoes for free. I think it had something to do with me texting her constantly to ask if the tomatoes were ready yet.

  6. The impulsive-food craving-pregnant part of my brain thanks you very much for this recipe. I would jump up and make them right now if only I had a half cup more heavy cream in the fridge.

  7. Hi Jennifer! I just wanted to let you know how very much I love your blog. Last year I heard you on NPR talking about Make the Bread, Buy the Butter, and immediately ordered the book, which I read cover to cover. Since then I have been following your blog and look forward to every post. I appreciate your realism and sense of humor as much as I do your careful recipes (let's be honest with ourselves, who HASN'T put something tasty in the sink and run water over it to stop themselves from eating it all? I know I have!). Thanks for writing this.

  8. Maggie took the words right out of my mouth!i also love you book and blog and your sense of humor. You have inspired me to stick with cooking even with a 3 year old who is constantly by my side.

  9. really good piece of information, I had come to know about your site from my friend shubodh, kolkatta,i have read atleast nine posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a lot once again, Regards, cornish hen recipe