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"More Great Good Dairy-free Desserts" review | Big orange bundt cake

Posted Jan 05 2011 11:57am

Dessert. I have kind of an awkward relationship with dessert. On the one hand, I love the idea of dessert — it's so appealing to share a rich and beautiful sweet with guests at the end of a meal — but on the other hand, I've never liked extremely sweet or rich foods. I'm fascinated by the voluptuous appeal of a beautiful dessert, but ultimately disappointed by the often too sweet/too rich taste. I know. I know. I'm the odd one out. I've been known to stare into a bakery window, gawking at the riches within, then walk away, sated by the view.

There have been times when I've upped the sweetener in a dessert to what seems to me drastic proportions, to please guests, and then heard comments like, "I really love this — it's not too sweet." Sometimes it seems like my version of "not too sweet" and others' version are from different universes. In spite of this, I never get tired of fantasizing about desserts and making them in real life, and there are more than 50 recipes on this blog to confirm that.

It was with both excitement and worry (mostly excitement) that I agreed to accept two dessert books from The Book Publishing Company, with a plan to review them. Would I want to make any of the recipes? Would I feel compelled to alter them? I decided to try one dessert from each book, and the first book I perused was, "More Great Good Dairy-Free Desserts," by Fran Costigan. The book contains a great first chapter on everything you need to know about ingredients and equipment, as well as tips and techniques for baking success. She answers all the questions about agar agar, and the difference between cornstarch and arrowroot. She covers sweeteners and fats, and lots of other sweet and sticky subjects. The information was thorough and helpful.

The rest of the chapters were filled with so many inviting recipes like mango pineapple mousse, chocolate cranberry bread pudding, better baklava, blueberry slump, good cornbread, dark moist spice cake, tart lemon spread, currant scones, amazing hot fudge sundae cake, lovely light lemon cake, fruit and cream tarts, frozen desserts, fruit desserts, and a New York egg-less cream. It was hard to choose. It would have been nearly impossible to pick a recipe if I hadn't been itching to make a bundt cake, and found a recipe for big orange bundt cake. I made it for a family dinner, and it got eaten right up, with much approval from the diners, including me. In addition to great taste, it had a wonderful texture and rise. I did make a couple of very minor changes, and a more substantial one, but the results were still excellent. Instead of using 2/3 cup of oil, I used 1/3 cup of oil and the rest soy yogurt. You can find this recipe and others on Fran Costigan's Web page. I expect I'll be making many more recipes from this wonderful book.

Big orange bundt cake (reprinted with permission)
1 1 ⁄ 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 1 ⁄ 2 cups unbleached white flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup light natural cane sugar
1/4 cup dark whole cane sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
1 cup orange juice
1 cup soymilk or rice milk
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon orange extract
3 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

1. Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Oil* a 10- to 12-cup Bundt pan thoroughly.

2. Place a wire mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Add the pastry flour, white flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, sugar, and dark whole cane sugar to the strainer. Tap the strainer against the palm of your hand to sift the ingredients into the bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to distribute the ingredients.

3. Combine the oil, orange juice, soymilk, vinegar, vanilla and orange extracts, and zest in a separate bowl, and whisk until well combined. Pour into the dry mixture and stir with a whisk until the batter is smooth.

4. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared Bundt pan. The pan will be two-thirds full. (If you have more batter than that, perhaps a cup or so, bake it in one or two 1-cup baking ramekins or custard cups.) Smooth the top of the batter with a small spatula. Rotate the Bundt pan to level the batter, and tap it lightly on the counter to eliminate air bubbles.

5. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the cake is golden and springs back near firm at the center when touched lightly. A tester inserted in a few spots near the center of the cake should come out clean or with only a few moist crumbs.

6. Remove the cake from the oven and cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes. Place another wire rack on top of the cake and turn the pan upside down. Shake the pan gently to release the cake. Cool the cake completely before serving. Glaze

Simple orange glaze
I made my own glaze for the cake. Whisk 1/2 cup of orange juice into two teaspoons of arrowroot in a small pot. Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of evaporated cane juice, and cook and stir until the glaze thickens and clarifies. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 teaspoon of orange extract OR vanilla extract, and one teaspoon of soy yogurt. Drizzle over the cooled cake.

* I follow the directions for greasing a bundt pan that I found on a baking forum. Use equal parts of Earth Balance (or vegan shortening), oil, and flour. Mix the three together and grease the pan. I've never had a bundt cake stick using this method.

Disclaimer: I received the book for free. I reviewed the book for free. All opinions are my own.


New Years Day dinner

I made Texas caviar , as usual, but with a couple of variations. I added two large grated carrots, and about a cup of chopped parsley instead of cilantro.

We also had baked polenta with smoky tomato sauce and capers, mixed roasted vegetables, steamed kale with garlic, and a big green salad.

Our plates were so colorful and delicious.

For dessert we had a raw pineapple upside down cake from Jennifer Cornbleet's "Raw for Dessert" cookbook, which will be in my next post.

I hope everyone is moving into the New Year with health, happiness and energy.
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