Friday, July 1, 2011

Homebaking, Southern Style 7/1

Dominique Haller / Carly Yuenger

On today's show, Nancie McDermott joins us to talk about Southern homebaking. It's not about being a pastry chef--a cake can make any gathering a party, even if it's a bit lopsided. It's about celebration, ritual, old fashioned hospitality, and then, once you've baked a few, maybe a little showing off.

Below is one recipe from her book Southern Cakes and one from her book Southern Pies. Both are great to start with if you've never given baking a try. And, with a few fresh strawberries, Nancie points out, the Blueberry cake is quite red, white, and blue! Perfect for this weekend's July 4th celebrations.

Key Lime Pie:

Look for Key limes in small net bags in the produce section seasonally, or order Key lime juice by mail. Regular lime juice makes a lovely pie as well. Allow a little time for this pie. While it’s one of the simplest to put together, the filling needs three hours to chill once it’s made.

One 9-inch graham cracker piecrust

4 egg yolks
1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk (1 1/4 cups)
1/2 cup Key lime juice, from 10 to 15 limes, bottled juice, or regular lime juice 1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium bowl, combine the egg yolks and the sweetened condensed milk Usee a whisk or fork to mix them together evenly and well. Add the key lime juice and salt, and stir well until you have a smooth, thick filling.

Spoon the filling into the graham cracker crust. Place the pie on the middle shelf of the 350 degree oven, and bake for 15 minutes, until filling is set. Place on a cooling rack to cool completely. Cover loosely and refrigerate for at least 3 hours and as long as overnight.

To complete the pie, whip the cream in a medium bowl. When it thickens and increases in volume, add the sugar and vanilla, and continue beating until the cream is billowing and thick, able to hold soft peaks beautifully and easily. Pile the whipped cream onto the pie filing. If possible, and refrigerate for 1 hour or more. Serve cold.

Shenandoah Valley Blueberry Cake:

Enjoy this simple, delicious cake for breakfast, a tea party, or a midnight snack. If you can’t pick your own blueberries in the Shenandoah Valley, don’t worry. The cake comes out just fine using fresh blueberries from wherever you are, or even frozen berries from the grocery store.

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (do not thaw)

Heat the oven to 375 F, and generously grease a 9-inch square or round pan.

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and sugar, and beat with a mixer at high speed until well combined. Add the egg and beat well for 1 to 2 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl, until the mixture is smooth and light.

Stir in half the flour mixture, and then half the milk, mixing just enough to keep the batter fairly smooth and well combined. Add the remaining flour, and then the milk, mixing gently. Stir in the blueberries.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan, and bake at 375 F for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the cake is golden, springs back when touched gently in the center, and is pulling away from the sides of the pan.

Serve the cake right from the pan, warm or at room temperature, cut into squares. Or if you made a round cake layer, cool it in the pan on a wire rack or folded kitchen towel for 10 - 20 minutes, loosen it around the edges, and then turn it out to finish cooling on a wire rack, top side up.

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