Savor The Earth

eat tastier, eat greener, eat cheaper

tomato paste cake January 19, 2010

Filed under: cake,dessert,easy,leftovers — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:04 am

lookin' for a burnt orange "hook 'em" cake?

So you used a couple tablespoons of tomato paste for a recipe and now what?  Make a cake of course!  After all, Campbell’s canned tomato soup is the “mystery” ingredient in the recipe for “Mystery Cake,”  popularized during the Great Depression, so the practice isn’t without precedent.  Tomato adds tang and depth, and there ain’t nuthin wrong with a little umami in your dessert.

For the topping, I took a cue from Sally and Martin Stone’s fun and clever cookbook Desserts with a Difference, filled with ingenious recipes for vegetable laden sweets.  The coconut/tomato combination unleashes a tasty synergy, certainly familiar to Indian food aficionados.

This recipe also utilizes those egg yolks I had leftover from making “Frito Meringues” (still in beta testing phase) with game night’s surplus Central Market organic corn chips.  Plus I finished up the last of that bag of frozen shredded coconut.  Sweet way to clean house!


  • 6 ounces organic butter, softened.  I recommend Organic ValleyClick for a coupon.
  • zest of one Texas lemon, orange or tangerine, or a combination
  • 4 egg yolks, from local eggs
  • ¼ cup organic sour cream, regular or light (Organic Valley is great), or homemade ½-n-½
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract or homemade vanilla rum
  • 200 grams (2 cups) sifted King Arthur cake flour blend (unbleached!).  Best price at Central Market.
  • 200 grams (1 cup) organic sugar.  Whole Foods and CM sell this in bulk for $1.79 a pound.
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder,sieved.  I like Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • ½ teapsoon salt.  I use Real Salt.
  • ½ cup organic tomato paste.  CM organics is the best value I’ve found.

Preheat your oven to 350º.  Grease and flour a 9″ round pan (2 ½” to 3″ tall) and line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment (Natural Value and If You Care are environmentally friendlier brands).  I like reusable pan liners—I throw them in the (clothes) washing machine for low maintenance cleaning.

Place the butter and zest in the bowl of a standing mixer.  Combine egg yolks, 3 Tablespoons sour cream and vanilla in a small bowl.  In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and next four ingredients.  Add dry ingredients and tomato paste to butter and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 1 ½ minutes.  The batter will be thick.  Scrape the bottom and sides with a flexible spatula.  Beat in the yolk mixture in three parts, mixing for 20 seconds after each addition and scraping the bowl well (be sure to get at the bottom).

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Because the batter is thick, I like to place a rose nail (metal!) flat side down into the middle of the batter, all the way to the bottom.  This is a nifty trick that Rose Levy Beranbaum revealed in her newest book, Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. I recommend using cake strips if you don’t have a rose nail (check out this cute DIY video).  The nail is handy and cheap though.  Buy one at Michael’ s craft store when you get a 40% OFF coupon in the mail or newspaper.  Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—a toothpick or bamboo skewer inserted into the middle will come out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before unmolding.  Make this easy glaze while the cake cools a bit:

Whisk together the sugar, milk and vanilla until smooth.  Mix in the coconut.  Glaze will be thick and chunky.  Spread on top of the cake (a warm cake is ideal) right away.


Windy Pies—Coffee Cake December 23, 2009

Filed under: cake,dessert,easy,pizza — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:31 am

pizza version of Chicago-style pizza recipe

Windy City coffee "pie"

all drizzled up and someplace to go!

spreading the butter

rolling up the dough

flattening the roll

dividing the dough

balling up the dough

smoothing ball

dough in the pan

applying the filling

laying on the topping

cooling off before glazing

The current issue (January 2010) of Cook’s Illustrated magazine offers a couple of terrific recipes to get you bakin’.  I started with “Chicago-Style Deep Dish Pizza,” which CI tells us consists of a buttery,cornmeal enhanced flaky and biscuit-like crust supporting a cheese-first, tomato sauce topped filling.  Having cut my pizza teeth on Conan’s (what kind of Cook County native am I?), I wasn’t aware that the Windy City’s famous crust sported buttery layers (I was only 8 when I left for the south.)  But I’m not at all surprised to learn that the Midwestern take on Italy’s precious pie boasts butter and lamination.  Now that’s cooking from the Heartland.

Chicago’s version of pizza, like its Italian inspiration, is all about the crust, apparently.  But second city cooks really give the dough a 180.  I don’t mind a bit!  If I can find a way to put butter together with starch (we’ll get to sugar shortly), I’m gonna!

Of course I modified the dough some.  I enjoy whole grains so I worked in a little white whole wheat flour and that necessitates additional liquid.  Filled on the fly with an entire 10-ounce bag of Cora Lamar’s legendary Texas-grown spinach (Central Market, $2.99 a bag, triple-washed and ready to wilt), roasted piquillo peppers, black olives, basil, oregano and just enough organic canned tomato to qualify as a “sauce,” plus a half pound of organic cream cheese blended with a dollop of South River’s organic sweet white miso and plenty of black pepper (we were all out of Full Quiver Farm‘s melting mozzarella—but who am I to stick with tradition anyway?) and adorned with the requisite red onion (anointed with a touch of olive oil) and reggiano, these scrumptious pizzas reminded me of a more refined savory kuchen (see Tongue-in-kuchen).

And kuchen reminds me of butterkuchen, which brings us to this somewhat kringle-y (another Midwestern favorite) coffee cake.  I swapped the water for milk, doubled the sugar and added a touch more yeast to yield a cakier bread base.  Then I sweetened up my filling and drizzled the finished “pies” with an easy glaze.

WINDY PIES makes 2 9″ cakes

  • 3 Tablespoons organic butter, melted, plus 4 Tablespoons organic butter, softened to spreadability. I love Organic Valley and Whole Foods has it on sale right now for $4.99 a pound.  Get cakin’  and bakin’!
  • 262 grams organic all-purpose flour.  Whole Foods 365 brand in the 5# bag generally goes for the lowest price.
  • 192 grams organic white whole wheat flour.  I buy King Arthur brand in the 5# bag at WF.
  • ½ cup organic yellow cornmeal.  I usually use Arrowhead Mills.
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt.  I like Real Salt.
  • 4 teaspoons turbinado sugar.  I buy this in bulk at Central Market. .I bring my own container and have the staff tare it for me.
  • 2 ½ teaspoons (1 packet or envelope) instant yeast (bread machine or rapid rise)—NOT active dry
  • 1 ½ cups local milk.  I use either Swede Farm Dairy or Wateroak Farm goat milk.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces local or organic cream cheese, softened.  Light “neufchâtel” style is fine.  Full Quiver Farm makes several sweet (as well as savory) flavors plus plain.  Organic Valley makes great organic cream cheese and now Central Market sells their own brand of organic cream cheese, regular full-fat style, for only $1.99 for a half-pound block.
  • 2 or 3 Tablespoons local honey.  I usually use Good Flow wildflower, available in bulk at CM. Don’t forget to bring your own container.
  • zest of 1 Texas tangelo, tangerine or orange (plus maybe a  touch of lemon), preferably organic
  • 4 ounces Texas pecans, about a heaping cupful
  • 154 grams (¾ cup) packed organic light brown sugar.  Wholesome Sweeteners brand is on sale right now at Newflower Market for only $1.99 for a 1½ pound bag.
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons cold organic butter, cut into 4 or 5 pieces
  • about a Tablespoon melted butter or ghee


  • 3 ounces (¾ cup) organic powdered sugar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoons local milk
  • scant ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer—this dough’s a little loose for hand-kneading—and whisk together.  Be sure the yeast and salt to do not come into direct contact.  Sans buffer, salt is toxic to bare yeast.  Using the dough hook, start the mixer and pour in first the melted butter (not hot) and then the water.  Get the ingredients combined, then raise the speed to nearly medium and let the machine knead the dough for about 5 minutes, until the dough amasses, looks smooth and feels slightly sticky.  Turn out into a buttered bowl, cover and let rise until almost doubled.  A cooler rise promotes more flavor development, so go ahead and put the bowl in the laundry room or garage while you go pick the kid(s) up from school—wait,  school’s out!

Press the dough down and turn out onto a flat surface for rolling out.  I prefer using a silpat or other rolling mat so I don’t have to incorporate any more flour into the dough.  Roll the dough into a 15″ X 12″ rectangle and spread the softened butter over the surface to within about ½ inch of the edges.  Starting at a short end, roll up the dough tightly, jellyroll-style.  Pat the roll out into about an 18″ by 4″ rectangle and divide this strip into 2 pieces (cut across the spiral, not lengthwise).  Take each strip and fold the ends towards the center, approximately folding into thirds, and smooth each piece into a ball, seam side down.  Place the balls back into your buttered bowl and refrigerate for about 50 minutes for the second rise.

For the filling, blend the cream cheese, honey and zest.  For the topping, combine the pecans and next 3 ingredients in a food processor and pulse to chop the pecans a bit.  Then pulse in the butter just until cut in.  Don’t overprocess the topping into a mass, keep it crumbly.

Pat each ball down and roll out (separately) into a 13″ circle.  Fit each circle into a well-buttered, parchment lined 9″ X 2″ round cake pan.  I recently bought a set of two such pans by Wilton at Michael’s craft store using their 50% OFF coupon.  Many cakers already know about Michael’s weekly 40% OFF and occasional 50 % OFF coupons and take advantage of the savings on decorating supplies.  But even if you don’t cake or decorate, if you bake, you can score some sweet deals on supplies such as pans, spatulas, whisks and cooling racks.  And you might find yourself inspired to embellish your creations on the cheap!  So be on the lookout for the Michael’s weekly flyer in your mail or check the Statesman (Sunday or Wednesday, typically) and save a buck.

Spread the the cream cheese filling over the dough and top with the pecan mixture.  Bake in a preheated 400º oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350º, until browned and set in the center.  Let cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening sides with a metal spatula and unmolding.  Brush with the melted butter or ghee and continue to cool until warm, then whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over the cakes.  Serve with hot chocolate on Christmas Day!


Glittereati—Frosty Flakes December 14, 2009

Filed under: cake,glittereati — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:13 pm

sparkling snow

flickering flurries

winter sliced


Glittereati a Go Go December 5, 2009

Filed under: cake,glittereati — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 12:55 pm

Sometimes circumstances call for expediency in technique as well as execution.

I'm seein' stars!


Sweet on Sweet Potatoes November 21, 2009

Filed under: cake,dessert,easy,glittereati,vegetables — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 7:23 pm


Texas sweet potatoes are on sale this week (through Tuesday) at HEB for only 19¢ a pound.  I got mine’s!

I don’t know how anybody can eat that marshmallow-coiffed concoction, by the way—a Thanksgiving standard, I know.  But there are so many delicious and respectful ways to handle a sweet potato, that to me, to mash up such a farce is to commit an injustice to this most tasty and nutritious of vegetables.  I don’t usually go turning my nose up at tradition (well, actually, I guess I mostly do), but as much as I enjoy sweet potatoes, I can’t eat that casserole.  And I love casseroles.  And marshmallows!

I am sweet on sweet potatoes, I insist.  So get your dessert on!

SPIRITED SWEET POTATO CAKE: makes one 10″ layer

  • 252 grams (1 cup) mashed Texas sweet potato
  • 2 local eggs
  • 150 grams (¾ cup) organic sugar.  Central Market’s Organics two-pound bag is still $2.99.
  • 52 grams (¼ cup) organic light brown sugar.  I buy CM Organics two-pound bag for $2.99.
  • ¼ teaspoon salt.  I use Real Salt.  You can purchase this in bulk at Whole Foods.  Bring your own container and have them tare the weight at the info desk.
  • ½ cup neutral flavored 0rganic oil or pecan oil
  • 3/8 cup yogurt.  I use homemade.
  • 2 Tablespoons dark rum or homemade vanilla rum, or your favorite bourbon (or homemade vanilla bourbon)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or an additional teaspoon of homemade vanilla booze
  • 1 Tablespoon Texas orange zest.  Use a rasp or your box grater.
  • 182 gams (1 ½ cups) organic all-purpose flour.  WF 365 brand usually sells for the best price.
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder, sieved.  I recommend Rumford, aluminum-free and non-GMO.
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda, sieved
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ cup toasted chopped Texas pecans.  You’ll find the new crop at our farmers markets now.  Or check out Navidad Farms on your way to the Austin Zoo.

The weather’s just right for turning up the heat, so set your oven to 350º and get it goin’.

Line a 10″ X 2″ round cake pan with parchment or waxed paper and grease and flour the interior.  I advise using a baking strip for this larger layer.  If you don’t have one, check out this cute tutorial on DIY strips.  I also recommend using a new technique I learned recently from Beranbaum‘s Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. Place a greased rose nail pointy end up (flat end touching the bottom of the pan) in the center of the batter to conduct heat to the middle and help the cake bake more evenly.  Genius!  If your kitchen lacks these helpful tools, just mound  the batter up around the sides of the pan a bit so the center is shallower.  That will help.

Mixing up the batter is more straightforward.  First, whisk together your dry ingredients (flour through the nutmeg) in a bowl and set aside.  Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment (my preference) or a hand mixer, break up the eggs and then whip them up on medium high speed with the sugar and salt for a couple minutes, until very light in color and fluffy.  Quickly beat in the sweet potato, then beat in the wet ingredients and zest.  Add the dry ingredients and mix them in, pouring in the pecans as you go.  Give the batter a final blending with your flexible spatula, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl, and turn the mixture out into the prepared pan.

Bake for about 35 minutes, until the cake tests done—stick a bamboo skewer or toothpick between the rose nail and the sides of the pan, slightly closer to the rose nail.  Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes before loosening the sides with a butter knife or metal spatula and unmolding.  Push out the rose nail from the bottom.  If batter collected underneath the flat end, carefully peel the thin cake piece off and either replace it onto the baked layer or eat it.  You can disguise that shallow pock with icing or just let it be.  Depends on the occasion!

I can eat this cake (and practically anything else) with butter, but you’ll find a range of glazes and frostings to be complementary.  From a quick lemon juice/powdered sugar icing (perfect this time of year), to a vanilla or orange buttercream or cream cheese frosting, or even a light chocolate glaze or ganache.  Savory to dulcet, marvel at the endless versatility of Texas sweet potatoes!


Glittereati–Another Sparkling Gateau

Filed under: cake,glittereati — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 6:43 pm

Glittering in circles


disco daze glaze


Cake Time! November 15, 2009

Filed under: cake,glittereati — Austin Frugal Foodie @ 11:16 am


hoot! hoot!

german chocolate cake