Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Little More Lee

Perhaps you read my posts back in February when I wrote about “re-discovering” some of my old Lee Bailey retro cookbooks.

One of my (very observant) friends read those posts also, and when I saw him shortly thereafter, he surprised me with a copy of Lee Bailey’s “Cooking for Friends.” He had noticed from the pictures I posted that this book was missing from my collection, so he (very thoughtfully) went out and bought it for me. Now, that’s what I call a friend – thanks, Kenn!

Oh, and at least I now know that someone reads this blog!

As I read through this newest acquistion, I made note of several recipes I wanted to test, including one that called for yeast in the cake batter. More about that shortly.

Fast forward to this past weekend. It was springtime in Atlanta and I was in one of those “I want to bake” moods. What I wanted to bake was a recipe in my arsenal for Rhubarb-Ginger Cream Cheese Bars (you’re welcome, Henry) but alas, there was no rhubarb to be found. Guess it’s still too early, so I had to go back to the drawing board. That’s when I remembered Lee Bailey’s Gateau Norman and those Granny Smith apples I had recently purchased.

The recipe piqued my interest because it called for yeast, but not in the normal way of proofing it, letting it rise, etc.  Uh-uh, it just called for it to be dumped into the mixture and incorporated without any thought of rising or temperatures between 105 – 115-degrees. Really?

At the end of the day, it was something like a clafouti with a richer “crust.” Suffice it to say Henry liked it. So did I.

GATEAU NORMAN (Adapted from Lee Bailey’s “Cooking with Friends”)

3 tart apples (I used Granny Smiths), peeled, cored and quartered
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
¾ cup all-purpose, unbleached flour
2/3 cup sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
½ cup milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil (I used canola)
½ package active, dry yeast
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten (I used extra-large)
Softly whipped cream or good vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 350-degrees. Butter a 10-inch tart pan and set aside.

Place quartered apples in a small bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and 1/3 cup of the sugar. Stir in the salt, milk, vegetable oil, reserved lemon juice and lemon rind. Sprinkle the yeast over and stir to blend well. Spoon into the prepared pan and arrange apple quarters over, rounded side up.

Combine remaining sugar, melted butter and egg. Spoon this over the apples in the pan. Place into oven and bake until apples are tender and cake is puffy and lightly browned, about 40 – 45 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve with softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

Serves 6 – 8

• Lee served this for breakfast. (Good call, I say. I could eat this for breakfast in lieu of leftovers any day of the week).  Dammit, Lee, why wasn't I one of your good friends?  We would have had SO much in common!

• Of course, this is also pretty good as a simple dessert. It’s not overly sweet and it’s not heavy. If serving as dessert, however, I would recommend adorning it with some softly whipped cream or a scoop of good vanilla ice cream. If you are lazy like me, then a drizzle of heavy cream over the top will suffice quite nicely.

• I will also tell you that this is better served warm. If you need to bake it ahead, have at it. Just cover it with aluminum foil and rewarm in a 350-degree oven for about 10 minutes before serving.

That's it for now.  It was a good spring weekend here in the ATL and we walked our usual 10 miles today.  Anything in my quest to become a skinny cook you can trust.  Haha, that is SO not happening, but at least I try.  Here's to another carb-less week ahead for me.  Cheers!

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