You know that recipe that’s been lingering in your recipe binder/folder/drawer for ages? The one you’ve been saving for just the right occasion? The one you know is going to be special, and you can’t wait to make it but somehow it keeps getting pushed back?
That’s exactly what happened with this recipe. Okay, I haven’t had it for literally ages, but ten months has certainly seemed so – that’s an indication of how badly I’ve wanted to make it. Since I am the queen of procrastination, somehow this recipe, the one I knew I’d instantly fall in love with, fell through the cracks. A Bobby Flay recipe which I found on Food & Wine’s website, it seemed neither a spring nor a summer recipe – even though it has a berry topping – and I couldn’t quite figure out when to make it. Salvage the dregs of the seasonal berries for an early fall dessert? Flash freeze berries in summer to keep for winter? Chance store-bought frozen berries in the dead of winter?
Certainly that last choice sounds the least desirable, yet that’s exactly what I did. This weekend we ladies had another of our girls’ cooking nights, and the theme was a “one-pot-meal”, the kind with a protein, starch, and vegetable all together. That’s typically not my favorite type of meal, but I was leaning toward making my favorite daube de boeuf Provençal (Martha’s recipe) over egg noodles or a Moroccan lamb stew/”tagine” over couscous. However, the morning of the event, I decided that since no one was making a dessert, I should bring one. After all, with all that heavy food, would we really need another “main” dish?
And, more importantly, would we want to forgo dessert at a party? I sure wouldn’t!
Insert that recipe, the one I’ve been waiting to make since last March. I figured “hey, it has fruit – it’s ‘light’ … and it’s a warm dessert, perfect for the currently frigid weather … and I can top it with Chambord-spiked whipped cream – ideal!” And so that’s exactly what I did….
Let me just state unequivocally that I will never again wait so long for a recipe that I clearly know I’ll love from the word go. Honestly, I cannot believe I deprived myself and my friends of this amazing dessert for ten whole months! I know I’m a little biased, but this dessert was the star of the night; and judging from how quickly everyone devoured their portions – and their praise of it – I think this opinion was shared by more than just me. Never again, never again, never again….
So, please do me two favors. First, follow my (new) advice and don’t wait to make that killer recipe you have sitting around somewhere. Second, bake this cake!! Why? The cake itself is stellar and can stand on its own as a dessert or even a snack cake – being incredibly moist on account of the soaked oats and perfectly sweet on account of the brown sugar and just the right amount of cinnamon and nutmeg – but it is a revelation when topped with the warm berry compote. I did cheat, if you consider it that, by using bagged frozen berries, but in the end I think it was a good move. They cooked down into a silky, almost soupy sauce, which sounds unrefined and even a bit unappetizing, but I promise you it is far from it. Really, you’re just giving the cake a warm berry hug, and it will reciprocate. And that spiked whipped cream? Icing on the cake, literally. Do it!!
Oat Cake (adapted from Food & Wine)
This recipe was from Bobby Flay and published on Food & Wine’s website. I made the cake exactly as the recipe called for, but my major deviations came in the berry compote (see below) and the whipped cream. Bobby served his with clotted cream, which is probably traditional for this Scottish-style cake, but I Americanized the recipe; hey, that’s just me….
- 1 cup rolled oats (not quick oats)
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon (I used Ceylon cinnamon)
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9″ square baking pan. In a heatproof bowl with a cover (such as a Pyrex dish), soak the oats in the boiling water for 20 minutes; drain excess water.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter until it’s creamy. Add the sugars, one at a time, and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. In two additions, mix in the dry ingredients at low speed, being careful to mix until just incorporated. Gently beat in the oats.
Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan and bake in the middle of the oven for 40 minutes (my cake took 44 minutes, so keep checking), or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely; or, if you’re like me and perennially pressed for time, you can take the cake in its pan as it’s cooling to your social event/function/dinner party – it’ll turn out just fine.
Cut the cake into squares (nine worked for us) and serve with the Warm Mixed-Berry Compote and a dollop of Chambord-spiked whipped cream.
Warm mixed-berry compote and spiked whipped cream (adapted from Food & Wine)
Feel free to take liberties with this recipe; I sure did. You can replace the water with orange juice if you want (that’s what Bobby Flay did), but I honestly don’t think this dessert would benefit from the overly citrus flavor; personally, I think the only punch it needs comes from the Chambord. That is a definite must….
- 1 1/2 cups water (you can reduce this to 1 cup if you want a thicker sauce)
- 3 Tablespoons mild honey
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 3 cups mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries), fresh or frozen
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- splash Chambord
- 1 Tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 1/2 Tablespoons water
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar
- 1 Tablespoon Chambord
In a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat, combine the water, lemon juice, and honey. Bring to a boil to dissolve the honey, about 2 minutes. Add the berries and cook until the berries are thoroughly softened, to your taste; reduce the heat to about medium, so the mixture will simmer steadily but not fiercely. This will take anywhere from 3-6 minutes.
Add the vanilla and Chambord, stir, and continue to cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and simmer the sauce for another few minutes. You can alter the cooking time to get the desired consistency; I liked the sauce a bit thicker, so I ended up cooking this for about 10 minutes all together. Serve the sauce warm.
Meanwhile, whip the cream, powdered sugar, and tablespoon Chambord together (chill the bowl and beaters first) until thick and as firm as you can get it without curdling the cream. Spoon a humble dollop on each serving of oat cake with the berry sauce.