Sunday, March 22, 2009
Gateau de Harem
When I was younger, my mother used to have us choose whatever we wanted for our birthday dinner. I guess my sister and my father were easy to cook for, easy to please. Things like chocolate cake, steak, pizza are pretty easy fare. Then there was me. I must have been the bane of my mother's life. Oh sure, I was easy to please in the cake department--chocolate or white cake with a jam center were fine for me. Dinner, however, was a research project for me. One year (and I don't even remember how old I was) I wanted an Egyptian-style dinner. To tell the truth, I don't even remember most of what we had except the honeyed carrots and dessert--rose leaf cookies. Essentially they were just sugar cookies flavoured with rose water. I think it was the first time I had something to eat flavoured with rose. It certainly made an impact on me. My poor family humored and indulged my flavour exploration--I was probably the only one that finished those cookies. Those cookies started my long love affair with rose flavouring.
I recently wrote about a rose-pistachio ice cream I had really wanted to taste while I was in France. It got me thinking about the rose petal jam I still had haunting my cupboard and how to use it. While hunting through a binder of recipes my mother gave me when I left home I came across a recipe for a dessert I hadn't had or made in ages--Jam Dandy Coffee Cake. The recipe was simple and tasty, a fond, sweet remembrance from childhood. I figured, since the base was a basic cake, the topping could be changed to suit any taste. I rummaged through my baking cupboard and found my pistachios, fished out my virginal jar of rose jam and hoped for the best. I'm happy to say that the result was a lovely, rich cake that would go well with a coffee and dessert service. Or, it could go well with a nice tall glass of ice cold milk.
Jam Dandy Coffee Cake
1 & 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup shortening, softened
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup brown sugar (I used a mix of white sugar, white sanding sugar and pink sanding sugar)
1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used pistachios)
2/3 cup jam ( I used rose petal jam)
Set oven to 375 F. Beat all ingredients together except the sugar, nuts and jam. Beat with 50 quick strokes with a fork. Pour into a greased 9-inch square pan. Sprinkle top with sugar and nuts. Dot top with jam. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. I also made a raspberry and almond version today. If you think you can combine a jam and nut, give it a try.