Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Orange glazed plum cake

I feel guilty. If there is a word that can describe me, it is perfectionist. Not because I want to be the best in front of the others, but because I think I always must do my best for me, to feel well with myself. And these last days I have not been exactly working and doing by best. Actually, I have not done anything related to school in the whole week (and believe me, I have a lot to do).

Instead, I have been playing with my camera. As my parents must have suspected, I didn’t have enough with the camera alone, and I demanded too all kind of accessories. Of course, they didn’t buy me an objective for macro shots (which is understandable, because it costs more than 200€), but they agreed to buy a tripod, large cards of all colors (for backgrounds), including a couple of silver cards that I use as reflectors, and my father managed to repair a spotlight (with 500-watt lights!). So for the last three days I have been mainly shooting. Yeah, I am a spoilt child =P

But don’t worry; I have a recipe for you this time. After all, I need to cook if I want to shoot something interesting! I have discovered that reflectors really make all the difference. A softened light makes the food look much better (I did all the shots of the today’s orange glazed plum cake with reflectors and tripod). And you don’t need to waste money! You can use a silver card as I did (which by the way, cost only 0,50€), or paste some aluminum foil on the card and….volià!

I have lots of photos of Barcelona (again), but this time of Barcelona at night. We went to the theater (by the way, we loved the play. The actor did an awesome job playing six characters at the same time), and it finished at 10 PM it was already dark. I think next time I will take the tripod with me : )

Orange glazed plum cake

From: own creation

I baked this cake for my mother’s birthday (although we celebrated it a week later). If regarded as a birthday cake, is not a heavy one. There is no cream (even vegan) or chocolate involved, very common in party cakes. Nevertheless, it is not a very light cake either. The amount of margarine is considerable, as well as the amount of sugar of the icing. If you want a lighter cake, you can omit the icing, but it will lose that sweet touch that combine so well with the sharpness of the plums. You can also play with the amount of fat, trying to substitute it with apple sauce or why not, with homemade plum sauce. I have never seen it and I don’t know if it is available in stores, but I suppose it is possible to make. Just imagine they are apples….but be sure to pit them before ;)  

¼ cup soymilk + 1 Tbspoon sugar
25 g fresh yeast
200 g margarine, softened
150 g sugar
2 Tbspoon corn flour + 4 Tbspoon water
Zest 1 lemon
175 g flour
¼ cup soymilk + about 4 teaspoons coffee
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (any other nuts can be used. Walnuts or almonds would work very well too)

5 dates, pitted and chopped
4-5 medium plums, pitted and thinly sliced
2 Tbspoon margarine, melted

Orange icing

-1 Tbspoon orange juice
- 5 Tbspoon confectioner’s sugar + 2 extra Tbspoons
-1 tspoon soymilk

Heat the ¼ cup of soymilk. It must be warm, but not boiling. Dissolve the sugar and add the fresh yeast. Put it in a bowl, not in a cup, because it will rise a lot. Leave the yeast to stand for about 20 minutes.

In another bowl, beat with a mixer the margarine and the sugar, until it becomes fluffy. Add the two tablespoons of corn flour plus the water, the zest and mix.

Brew a strong coffee with the ¼ cup of soymilk, and add it (filtered,  of course) to the mixture. Add as well the flour and the yeast mixture. Mix it better with a spoon or a fork, not with a mixer (you could over mix it)

Preheat the oven at 170º C (325º F).Leave the mixture to stand for about one hour, in a warm place (I always place the bowl with the dough on the stove, over the heated oven)

Once it has risen, flatten the dough and add the nuts (pumpkin seeds in my case) and the dates (if you don’t have dates, try with dried apricots or cranberries). Mix again, and pour it in pan. I used a 22 cm (8 inch) round pie pan made of silicon. Although silicon pans don’t distribute the heat as traditional pans do (you can finish with a charred bottom and an unbaked top), they allow you to remove the cake from the mould without breaking it in two.

Line the slices of plums over the cake, overlapping them. I did two rows: near the borders and in the center. Push them slightly into batter.

Bake for about 35-40 minutes (depending of the pan you used). Before letting it cool, brush it with the melted margarine.

Orange icing

Mix all the ingredients except the extra confectioner’s sugar. It will make a quite light icing. Cover all the cake with it.

If you want to go creative, leave a little bit of the light icing and mix with the extra two tablespoons of sugar to make a thicker one. I decorated the borders and the center with it.

The theatre was placed in the Raval, the most multicultural are of Barcelona. You can find people of all the nationalities there.

But Raval is one of the poorest areas too. It’s the Barcelona that is not shown in the touristic guides. If you are not used to it, it can be a little bit disturbing walking alone on its streets at night.  Actually, some people that was walking and appeared in my shots (although I was not shooting them, but the street) were upset, and one of them even showed me a very specific finger of the hand =O

The Rambla of Barcelona at almost 11 PM. It’s difficult to believe seeing all this people on the street, isn’t it?

On the top left corner, a view of Catalunya Square and the Corte Inglés which is placed there (El Corte Inglés is one of the biggest departament stores in all the country. Sometimes I go there for a walk, because it is enormous, but I hardly ever buy anything) . On the right corner, Paseo de Gracia and on the bottom the crossing at the beginning of the Rambla, next to Catalunya Square.

On the top, Catalunya Square again. Its fountain is more impressive at night, with all the light, than during the day. I did a shot of it when it was still sunny, but the photo was quite dull. On the bottom, Paseo de Gracia.


renae said...

Thanks for posting the lovely pictures - I'm reading Carlos Ruiz Zafon's books right now so I'm very interested in Barcelona. I'd like to visit there someday. Also, your cake looks delicious!

renae said...

I responded to your comment on my blog but I wasn't sure if you'd go back and read it, so I thought I'd drop you a note here as well. :)

Anonymous said...

Ksenia--I think this is the best thing you have posted, at least since I have been reading--it looks so PERFECT!!!! I can't even believe it....WOW!!!!

Alisa said...

OMG you have been busy with your camera! The pictures are awesome! I love it!

Xiaolu said...

Excuse me while I lick the screen. That looks fabulous!

Jessica said...

I don't think anyone minds you being a perfectionist if you keep coming up with delicious treats like this!