Friday, December 31, 2010

Scottish Oatmeal Cake - The Saga Continues

I have been putting off unmolding my oatmeal cake this morning.  I went to the grocery store first to get that out of the way.  Once I start cooking, I do not want to have to stop to go to the grocery store.  I just want everything already in the house so I can cook until I pass out.

After unloading all the groceries and putting them away, it was oatmeal cake cooking time.  I unmolded the cake and for the first time EVER in all the times I've made this, the cake was not all gooey!  This time I used heaping cups of oats instead of level cups and maybe that is what fixed my problem.  Oh this is exciting.  This is big.

I sliced the cake, sprinkled with sugar, and put it in the oven.  I set the timer for 10 minutes, then I opened a bag of black beans, washed them, picked through them, and got them on the stove to get boiling.  After that I put in a load of laundry.  Then I washed the cutting board and the knife, dried them, and put them away.  I still had 5 minutes to kill so I sat on the floor in front of the oven and stared in at the oatmeal cakes, cooking away in all their firm glory.  If I could multitask like this all day long, I could really get a lot accomplished!  Dude, you'll be lucky if I finish cooking oatmeal cake before I go take a nap.

After 10  minutes, I took the oatmeal cakes out to inspect them.  They weren't done enough, in my opinion, because they were still pretty pale.  By this time the beans were boiling, so I turned them off to sit for a while.  I'll get back to them later.

I flipped one of the oatmeal cakes over to see how the bottom was doing, and it was pretty wet.  So, I flipped all of them over, sprinkled another tablespoon of sugar over them (over ALL of them, not a tablespoon of sugar on each one).   Back into the oven for another 10 minutes.

When that 10 minutes was up, I took them out of the oven to inspect them again.  Much darker!  While the broiler heated up, I decided to flip all the cakes over again, to get the now-melty-sugar-covered side up under the broiler.  When they were finished broiling, I was happy to see the best-looking Scottish Oatmeal Cakes I have ever cooked.  Happy new year to me!

That's what I'm talkin' about.
And here is a picture of my breakfast!  A little Greek yogurt, homemade granola with cranberries, almonds and walnuts, and a drizzle of honey. 

This is so good for me, and so decadent!  These are the nutritional stats for the cake, not including the yogurt and granola and honey. 

nutrition facts

Scottish Oatmeal Cake a'la The Country Tart (Part 1)

This recipe is another simple but delicious good-for-you treat.  The Country Tart (aka Lynn) posted this recipe on NutriMirror ages ago, and I have made it several times with varying results.  Lynn has lots of great recipes on her blog.  You should check it out!

The Country Tart

In Lynn's picture, there is an elegant slice of oatmeal cake with carmelized sugar on top and chopped walnuts, along with beautiful fresh fruit.  Gorgeous - who could resist?

Country Tart Scottish Oatmeal Cake - beautiful!

My attempts have never come out looking nearly as appealing as hers.  It always tastes great, though. 

Here is the recipe:



3 cups of uncooked old fashioned oats*
3 cups water
2 cups almond milk (or lowfat milk or water)
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Turbinado (raw) sugar (approximately 1/4 cup), can substitute regular, granulated sugar

* Note: Steel cut oats are a really great treat to use instead of rolled oats, but you will need to increase cooking time per package instructions. 


1 - One day before, place oatmeal into a pan with water, almond milk, cinnamon, molasses and salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium low, and continue to cook for about 7 to 10 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed.  Stir in cranberries. 

2 - While oatmeal is cooking, line a loaf pan with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, draping over all sides so that entire "loaf" may be easily pulled out later. 

3 - Pour oatmeal into prepared loaf pan.  Cover and place in refrigerator overnight. 

4 - In the morning, cover a jelly roll pan with heavy aluminum foil.  Set aside.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 300 degrees farenheit. 

5 - Remove cover from oatmeal loaf and, using the overhang of foil or wrap, pull entire loaf out of pan
and place onto a cutting board. 

6 - Pull sides down and cut loaf into 10 equal slices. 

7 - Spread slices out onto prepared pan, and sprinkle 1-2 teaspoon of brown sugar onto the top of each slice and place pan onto middle rack in preheated oven.

8 - Heat cake slices for approximately ten minutes or until heated through.  When they've been heated
through, turn on broiler and allow to cook for about thirty seconds to a minute more or until sugar has melted and is beginning  to caramelize (this can also be done with a kitchen torch instead of the broiler).  

9 - Sprinkle with chopped walnuts or pecan pieces. 

10 - Serve with fresh fruit and creme fraiche. 


Right?  It sounds simple enough.  Make oatmeal, mix in cranberries, let sit in fridge overnight to firm up, slice, bake.  What could go wrong?  I'll tell you what could go wrong.  You could make this recipe over  and over again and never get the texture right.  But if you are like me, you will keep on trying until you get it right.  I am not sure where I go wrong.  Usually I take it out of the fridge after its overnight stay, unmold it, and have to cut slices out of a gummy gooey loaf.  I flop the gooey slices onto the cookie sheet, and bake for the time indicated.  Then when the slices are still pretty gummy after 10  minutes in the oven, I flip them over and bake a while longer.  The sugar goes on but doesn't melt, even under the broiler.   I think that these issues are mine, as other people have followed this recipe with great success.   Maybe it's the oats I use.  I have no idea.  I will never give up, though.

This time, I used heaping cups of oatmeal instead of leveling them out.  I cooked everything until it didn't look like it could absorb any more liquid.

After I cooked it, I let it sit for a few minutes, and then poured it into my prepared loaf pan.  After the first spoonful went into the loaf pan I remembered the cranberries, which were RIGHT THERE next to the pan on the stove in their measuring cup!  So I sprinkled a few cranberries over the oatmeal in the loaf pan, and mixed the rest of the cranberries into the rest of the oatmeal.

I poured the rest of the oatmeal into the loaf pan and evened it out some.

In my attempts to get this recipe right, I have used different materials to line the loaf pan.  Here is a hint that will save you lots of misery:  do not line the loaf pan with waxed paper.  Waxed paper turns to mush when it sits overnight in the fridge soaking up oatmeal juice.

OK, now cover it up and let it sit overnight in the fridge.

This morning I will unmold the oatmeal cake and see what kind of texture it is this time.  I'm going to the grocery store first, early, to avoid the crowds.  I will continue this recipe in Part 2, later this morning.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Gingerbread Trifle Part 2

YAY!  It's morning and time to finish my trifle.  Last night I made the berry sauce.  After I made it, I was on NM and one of my NM peeps sent me the link to a video of Bobby Flay making this trifle.  I watched the video and laughed.  As usual, the Food Network website shows a recipe that doesn't exactly match what the chef actually did.  I'm used to this, the recipe is never right but usually between reading all the reviews and remembering what the chef did on TV, things work out.  In this case, Bobby mixed the cake totally differently than it showed in the recipe.  The ingredients were the same, but he didn't cream the butter first and just kind of dumped all the liquid ingredients in at the same time.  Also, in the berry sauce, he used some water.   That wasn't in the recipe, and I didn't add water to mine.  Also, as a recovering alcoholic, I don't keep random liquors in the house so didn't add the framboise.  I'm sure it's going to be just fine.

Put all the berries in a pan with the sugar and bring to a boil.

Turn down the burner and simmer for a while.  When the berries are soft and the sugar is all dissolved, and in my case when I thought it looked done, take off the stove.  Transfer to a blender.  As I was getting out the blender, I remembered that the last time I used it several months ago, I found out the carafe was broken.  Technically just the plastic thing at the bottom that holds the stuff in the carafe.  This took a while to negotiate.  First I threw the whole thing away.  Then I thought maybe I could buy a new carafe or plastic thing, so I took it out of the trash and put it in the laundry room.  Then I got out the Magic Bullet, and put about half the mixture into one of the cups. 

The lid didn't screw on correctly so some of the juice came out while I was mixing it.  I transferred everything into a different cup and tried again, and this time everything worked.   After blending, pour the mixture into a sieve over a bowl to drain out the seeds.  I'm really glad that I thought to do all this in the sink!

After I sifted out the seeds, I poured the sauce into a container and put it in the refrigerator.  Based on a taste test (or 12), this sauce is going to be delicious with the lemon curd and gingerbread. 

See that wooden spatula?  This was a Christmas gift back in the 1990s.  A coworker gave it to me, along with a smaller one.  His father makes them.  It turns out his father is a woodworker and makes all kinds of awesome things.  His mother is a weaver named Celeste.  Matt was raised by hippies, it seems.  We shared an office, and his birthday was the day before mine (only about 20 years later).  Matt was one of the funnest people I've ever worked with.  I like these spatulas so much that I ordered another set off of Matt's Dad's website, and over the years have ordered more of them for gifts.  Here is the website, if you'd like to see what else Matt's Dad makes.   It's worth a look.

Now to make the whipped cream.  You know what to do.  Chill your bowl and beaters, then pour the cream into the bowl and whip it until it becomes whipped cream. 

Pour the lemon curd into a bowl and whip it around to fluff it up.  Fold half of the whipped cream into the lemon curd.  Save the other half for the top of the trifle.

Now you just start layering the ingredients in a trifle bowl.  Cut the gingerbread into whatever size chunks you need to fill in the spaces.

I had about 1/5 of the cake left when I was finished making the trifle.  (yay!)

After the gingerbread layer, put in 1/3 of the lemon curd mixture, and then 1/3 of the berry sauce.

Don't try to be neat - it's supposed to look like this
Make two more layers, and then put on the rest of the whipped cream.  I didn't have enough whipped cream so I kind of swirled it with the top layer and spread it out the best I could.  I had saved some berries to put on top, but forgot about them and left them on the counter all night.  I used them anyway. 

I will probably shave some chocolate over this before I serve it, to make it look prettier.  This is going to be delicious!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bobby Flay's Gingerbread, Lemon Curd and Berry Sauce Trifle

Here's the thing.  I love cooking, but sometimes no matter how closely I follow a recipe, things can go wrong.  I'm going to attempt this trifle and really  hope nothing bad happens.  I have already had to change the name of the recipe since I couldn't find blackberries.  I bought mixed berries instead.  I'm sure it'll be fine.  The recipe had really good reviews.  I haven't made trifle in a while, and I've always made the same kind (pound cake with some kind of fruit jam on it, vanilla pudding, and whipped cream).  I thought gingerbread and lemon curd would be good, so I googled it and found this recipe on the Food Network website.  Blackberry sauce - I never would have thought of that!  Thanks, Bobby Flay.

Here's the recipe:

Gingerbread and Lemon Curd Trifle with Blackberry Sauce

Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay

Prep Time:  20 min
Inactive Prep Time:  4 hr 15 min
Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Intermediate
Serves: 8 to 12 servings


Gingerbread Cake:

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger
  • 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
  • Lemon Curd Filling, recipe follows
  • Blackberry Sauce, recipe follows


Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Spray 1 half-sheet pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment paper; spray paper. Sift flour and next 6 ingredients into medium bowl. Mix in crystallized ginger. Using an electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in brown sugar. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Gradually beat in molasses, followed by 1 cup boiling water. Mix in grated lemon peel. Gradually mix in dry ingredients. Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the pan sides. Turn out onto a rack and peel off paper. Cool and cut into 1-inch cubes.

To assemble:
Using a trifle bowl, start with an even layer of gingerbread cubes, top with 1/3 of the lemon curd mixture, and 1/3 of the blackberry sauce. Repeat 2 more times. Top with remaining whipped cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight before serving.

Lemon Curd Filling:
  • 2 (11-ounce) jars prepared lemon curd
  • 2 cups heavy cream, sweetened with sugar and vanilla, beaten to soft peaks
Place lemon curd in a large bowl. Fold in half of the whipped cream until combined. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Reserve remaining whipped cream for the top of the trifle.

Blackberry Sauce:
  • 2 pints fresh blackberries, or 1 bag frozen blackberries, thawed
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons framboise (raspberry liqueur)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
Place blackberries, sugar, and salt in a medium saucepan and cook until the berries are soft and the sugar has melted. Transfer to a blender and blend until smooth. Pour through a strainer into a bowl. Stir in the framboise and lemon juice. Set aside until ready to use.


Take a look at all the ingredients.  Just gathering them together took 10 minutes.

Wonder if I'll need the bandaids....
 You have to line the baking sheet with parchment paper, which is never easy.  I took my time and was very careful and managed to get my parchment paper the right size and shape.  I don't expect this recipe to be hassle-free of course. 

One of my Nutrimirror friends sent me an awesome set of NM measuring spoons!  I used them making the cake, and it was awesome being able to put the spoon into the spice jars with no problems.  I highly recommend these measuring spoons.  Carla thank you so much!!

Awesome measuring spoons from Carla!

If you may have noted, the inactive prep time is 4 hours and 15 minutes.  I have not been able to determine by reading the recipe what the heck is going to take so long.  I guess I'll find out.  I just hope it's not waiting for the ambulance or something. 

OH!  I see it - I have to let the finished trifle sit for 4 hours before serving.  In that case the total time is more like 5.5 hours, if you include gathering the ingredients, cutting the parchment paper, grating the lemon zest, pouring a cup of molasses first out of the bottle into the measuring cup and then into the blender, and personally I think there should be some clean-up time counted in there because I made a huge mess mixing up the cake.   Not to mention the time it takes for the cake to cool. 

There was molasses on the counter, too. 

The batter was very thin, which I assume is because of the cup of boiling water you have to add.  I poured it all in the pan and it's in the oven!

Seriously, the batter was very runny


OK it's done!  It looks and smells wonderful.

Now it has to cool in the pan for 15 minutes, and then I'll flip it onto the rack and peel away the parchment paper.  Then it has to cool down completely.  I am going to finish the trifle tomorrow, with the lemon curd and berry sauce.  I'll let you know how it goes.