Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chef Number Five

Yep, I’m still here.  It’s just that in between stints of helicopter parenting and multi-city events involving moving boxes, UHaul trucks and runaway dogs, there hasn't been a lot of extra time for blog posts recently.  I’ll do my best to mend my evil ways.

Oh and then there was also the Chef Number Five thing…..

If you take a look at this, you can probably figure out the identity of Chef Number Five.  Mum’s the word though, at least until the Southern Foodways Alliance holds their annual symposium in October.  Here is a synopsis of the subject they will be exploring.  That’s all I’m sayin’……

Segue into the hot milk cake which Charlotte references in her writing.

When Watershed on Peachtree opened its doors in May 2012, hot milk cake with caramel and sea salt showed up on the dessert menu.  As far as I know, the cake recipe dates back to at least the 1940’s and it was a favorite of many of our grandmothers.  In fact, the Watershed recipe for it comes from Ross Jones’ (one of the owners) grandmother Bebe.  I wrote about this previously:

Of course Watershed’s incredible pastry chef, the very talented Cynthia Long, elevated it to nirvana by giving it a caramel topping and a sprinkling of Maldon sea salt.  Speaking of Cynthia, she needs to be recognized and applauded for her amazing creations.  I am not a fig fan (unlike that silly old man I am married to), but the other day she made an amazing fig and orange sorbet that took my breath away.  So did her “fig newtons.”  And then there were her cookies with whole roasted almonds with olive oil and sea salt.  Oh, the texture and crunch!  No wonder I love working at Watershed!

The upshot is that I tweaked the cake recipe for home use, mostly so I could send it to my new found friend, Charlotte Druckman.  I’m not sure I did myself any favor by doing so, as it will not help me in my quest to become a skinny cook.  Oh, but who cares –  this just might be my favorite dessert EVER!


6 eggs
3 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
3 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350-degrees.  Butter a 9 X 13-inch rectangular pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.  Butter paper.

In an electric mixer, beat the eggs until foamy.  Slowly beat in sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick and glossy.

Place milk and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until butter melts.  In another bowl, sift together the flour, salt and baking powder.

Fold the dry ingredients into the egg/sugar mixture.  Add the milk all at once and stir just to combine.  Add the vanilla extract.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake for 40 minutes, or until cake springs back in the middle and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove to a rack to cool for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a baking rack and remove parchment paper.  Cool completely.

Cut the cake into desired pieces.  I like to split in in the middle lengthwise, then cut into rectangles. 

Spoon caramel glaze over each piece, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt (preferably Maldon).

Caramel Glaze:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients into a saucepan over medium heat.  Cook and stir until mixture is blended and smooth.

*  If you ask me, this is a perfect blend of old (hot milk cake) and new (caramel with sea salt).  
*  And if you ask me again - it doesn't get any better than this.
*  Trust me!

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