A tea cake is a tea cake is a tea cake — until Tartine gets its hands on it.
Like a basic little black dress that turns extraordinarily chic with the right broach or necklace, this sweet-potato loaf cake goes from fundamental to fancifully froufrou enough to be the life of the party, thanks to a halo of torched meringue.
It’s a revised edition to their original book that came out 13 years ago. Of the 122 recipes, 67 are new, including one for Tartine’s ever-popular “Morning Bun.” There are also more recipes that use less sugar and more global flavors, as well as more gluten-free ones.
A few of these recipes are indeed for ambitious bakers, including a sleek, contemporary “Buche de Noel.” The majority of them, however, shouldn’t intimidate most home-bakers. “Black Tea Blondies with Caramel Swirl,” “Cranberry Upside-Down Cake,” and “Brioche Jam Buns” just entice you into the kitchen.
Imagine your favorite pumpkin bread, but made with sweet potato instead. That’s what this moist, tender loaf cake is like. But it goes one better by getting a cloud of meringue on top that gets swirled with the cake batter to produce pretty streaks in it.
Tart cherries make this streusel-topped yogurt cake extra delightful.
It is not easy to find sour cherries — unless you have a friend with a backyard tree who takes pity on you. In fact, just the other day on Facebook, I saw someone blasting out a plea for a source that sells them, where you don’t have to buy a ton at a time.
The Willamette Valley fruit company sells canned and jarred locally grown fruits. As luck would have it, I was recently sent samples of its jarred Red Tart Cherries. They feature hand-picked, pitted, non-GMO Montmorency cherries, a tart cherry variety that some studies have found may help lower blood pressure and muscle soreness, and improve sleep.
What’s especially great about these cherries is that they are packed whole in their own unsweetened cherry juice. That’s right, there’s no added sugar. What’s more, you can use that juice. Drink it straight from the jar or add it to cocktails, a glass of sparkling wine or smoothies. Or freeze it for a granita or popsicle.
Tart cherries packed in their own juice — with no added sugar — from Oregon.
The cherries and their juice have a measured sharpness, nothing too wincing and definitely less sour than cranberries. The flavor makes for a nice sweet-tart balance. Plump and juicy with a softer texture than frozen ones, these cherries make a great topping for yogurt, oatmeal or ice cream. They would also be fantastic spooned over roast pork or duck.
The taste of sesame galore in this tea cake made with a new artisan tahini.
Just as all peanut butters aren’t created equally, neither are all sesame seed pastes.
Otherwise known as tahini, the vital ingredient in hummus, now’s there’s one that not only makes you sit up and take notice with its robust flavor, but also its mission to cross cultural divides.
New York-based Goni Light and husband Yonatan Sela created SoCo Tahini a year ago. The two are no stranger to business endeavors — or to tahini. They both grew up in Israel. Sela received an MBA from the Wharton School of Business, and worked for a venture capital firm before becoming chief business officer of YouNow, a live broadcasting-based social network. Light earned a master’s of science at New York University before working for years as a finance manager at Proctor & Gamble.
When they came to the United States, Light and Sela were dismayed that they couldn’t find any decent tahini. So, they sourced their own, first selling it at a stand at Burning Man, before establishing a bona fide company last year, Seeds of Collaboration or SoCo for short.