Midwest Living magazine's March/April edition has an ode to several bakeries, including the Salty Tart in Minneapolis. As a part of the story, chef/owner Michelle Gayer shared a pair of recipes that read as very bake-able to this weekend baker.
I test-drove "Janice's Chocolate Oatmeal Cake" (pictured, above) this morning, and my hunch was correct: It's extremely bake-able. It comes together without the benefit of an electric mixer, that's how easy it is to prepare -- and it's delicious, a dense, ultra-moist snack. (Speaking of delicious, check out this Gayer recipe for chocolate meringues, from our archives).
Gayer has been doing a play on this cake for years, borrowing elements from a childhood favorite from her mother Janice Gayer's repertoire; I recall with great affection the mini-Bundt variation that was such a favorite of mine that I hold it personally responsible for the wider notch on my belt. I especially appreciate Gayer's trick of inserting a small amount of cooked wild rice into the cake, which inserts a mild nutty chewiness, without adding actual nuts.
The story isn't online -- only the recipes -- but I loved this quote from the magazine's print edition: "I want people to feel good about what they're eating and to want to take another bite," said Gayer. "I use seasonal, local and organic ingredients, so they don't feel guilty about where their food comes from."
JANICE'S CHOCOLATE OATMEAL CAKE
Serves 12 to 18.
Note: From Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis, published in Midwest Living magazine.
1 c. flour, plus extra for pan
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. cooked wild rice
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, at room temperature and cut into pieces, plus extra for pan
1 1/2 c. boiling water
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 c. semisweet or milk chocolate pieces, divided
2 tbsp. powdered sugar, optional
2 tsp. unsweetened cocoa powder, optional
To prepare cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt and reserve.
In a large bowl, combine oats, wild rice, and butter. Pour boiling water over oat mixture; let stand for 10 minutes. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar to oat mixture and stir until butter is melted. Stir in eggs until combined. Add flour mixture and stir until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate pieces. Pour batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup chocolate pieces.
Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted near center of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer pan to a wire rack and cool competely.
To prepare topping: Dust cooled cake with powdered sugar and cocoa powder, optional.
BROWN BUTTER TARTS WITH SOUR CHERRIES
Makes six 4-inch tarts.
Note: This recipe must be prepared in advance. Subsitute dried figs or pitted whole dates for dried cherries. From Michelle Gayer of the Salty Tart in Minneapolis, published in Midwest Living magazine.
1 3-oz. package cold cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. cold butter, cut into small pieces
3/4 c. cake or pastry flour, plus extra for rolling dough
For tart filling:
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. cake or pastry flour
1/2 c. snipped dried tart red cherries
1 4- to 6-inch vanilla bean, or 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. heavy cream
1 tbsp. powdered sugar (optional)
1/2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
To prepare tart dough: In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese and cold butter for 30 seconds. Add cake or pastry flour and beat until just combined (dough should be slightly lumpy). Gather and pat dough into a 6-inch disk. Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 24 hours.
When ready to prepare tarts, lightly flour a work surface. Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll chilled tart dough, working from center to edges of circle, until dough is about 13 to 14 inches in diameter and about 1/8-inch thick. Cut six 4-1/2-inch rounds from dough. Press rounds firmly into bottom and up sides of six 4-inch individual tart pans with removable bottoms. (if necessary, gather and reroll scraps for final crust.) Trim crusts even with top of pans. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours.
To prepare filling: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat, cook butter until it turns the color of light brown sugar, about 15 minutes. (Butter should smell nutty, but not burnt. Brown/black specs in butter are normal and desired.) Set aside to cool slightly, but keep butter in liquid form. Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer with a whip attachment on medium speed, beat eggs and sugar until triple in volume and light lemon in color, about 4 to 5 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold browned butter into egg mixture. Sift flour over batter and fold into butter-egg mixture. Pour filling into the pastry-lined tart pans. Top each with dried cherries. Place tart pans in a 15x10x1-inch baking pan. Bake until tarts are golden brown and filling springs back slightly to the touch, about 25 to 28 minutes. Remove from oven, transfer tarts in their pans to a wire rack and cool 1 hour.
To prepare cardamom whip: Using the tip of a paring knife, slit vanilla bean lengthwise down the center. Using the side of the knife, scrape the seeds from half of the vanilla bean and reserve. Wrap remaining half of bean with plastic wrap and reserve for another use. In a chilled mixing bowl, combine heavy cream, powdered sugar (optional), vanilla seeds (or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract), orange peel, and cardamom. Beat with chilled beaters of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
To serve: Remove sides from tart pans and garnish each tart with cardamom whip.