Last Thursday was JTs birthday, we won’t say how old he is, but suffice it to say that I am significantly younger! We decided to stay in for dinner and have our dinner out on Saturday at Le Select Bistro, when things are not so hectic as a weekday. JT decided he wanted his no knead pizza (actually, it’s Jim Lahey’s), so he made his own birthday dinner. But I was able to make him a little birthday cake while he was away earlier in the week.
The pizza had incredible taste, but one thing I would do differently is to add the cheese nearer to the end (I have amended my recipe here), with only about one minute remaining for baking, that way, the cheese doesn’t break down entirely. It still had great taste.
Makes one 16 inch pizza
- 1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (need about 1/2 cup more!)
- Coarse salt
- 1/8 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 3-4 oz Gorgonzola broken into small bits
- 2 pears, pealed and seeded
- 2 cups red wine
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup onion confit (see recipe here)
- Handful of spinach and arugula, washed
- In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/8 teaspoon salt, yeast, and 1/2 cup water. Stir until blended; dough will be shaggy and rough. Let dough rest in a warm place (about 72 degrees) until doubled in volume, about 3 hours.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and cover with a clean, damp kitchen towel. Let stand until doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- Peel and seed pears, cut in half. Place into a small saucepan and cover with red wine and the balsamic vinegar and poach until soft. Cool completely and thinly slice. Reserve.
- Place a pizza stone (we use our trusty Chicago-land cast iron pizza pan) on the lowest rack of oven and preheat to 550 degrees for 25 minutes.
- Flatten dough into a disk that is thicker in the center than at the edges. Using your fingers, gently pull on the edges of the dough to form a 6- to 8-inch circle; dough should still be thicker in the center. Drape dough over both hands, and using your knuckles, work dough out from the center into a 16-inch circle. Or you can roll it out with a rolling pin.
- Roll dough onto the rolling pin and carefully unroll the dough to hot pizza stone.
- Working quickly, spread the onion confit on first, add thinly sliced poached pears and bake for 9 minutes. Add the cheese and bake an additional minute so the cheese does not completely melt.
- Remove from oven and add a handful of spinach and arugula.
The cake above is half of Nigella’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake recipe in small 5″ spring form cake pan (it made two mini cakes, the other is in the freezer). The recipe below is cut in half already.
- 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup superfine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 3/4 sticks soft unsalted butter
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup sour cream
- Special equipment: 2 (each 5-inch diameter) spring form pans buttered
- Allow all ingredients to warm up to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and process until you have a smooth, thick batter. Scraping down the sides so that everything is mixed smoothly.
- Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and spread, into the prepared tins.
- Bake until a cake tester comes out clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start checking at 25 minutes. Also, it might make sense to switch the 2 cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time.
- Allow the cakes to cool completely. Don’t worry about any cracks as they will easily be covered by the frosting later.
- 1/2 cup of unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1-2 cups of icing sugar
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup Grandmarnier liquor (orange liquor)
- Beat butter until light and fluffy.
- Add sifted icing sugar and cocoa and vanilla extract and beat until everything is combined and the frosting is light and fluffy (I have an attachment to my Cuisinart immersion blender that is more whisk-like and mixer and this makes the fluffiest frosting ever!).
- Cut a piece of parchment paper a little larger than the cake, place on centre of your working dish.
- Cut cake in half and place on centre of parchment on the working dish.
- Drizzle the orange liquor on this half.
- Frost the other half with about 1/2″ frosting and place on top of the orange liquor half, like a sandwich.
- Continue to frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting until it is all used up (or there is enough for the chef for a taste!)
- Refrigerate covered tightly. I used an inverted Anchor glass dish with a rubber top.
- When you are ready to serve, cut a new piece of parchment and place on top of your serving dish. Carefully slide cake to serving dish. Cake is excellent at room temperature, or just out of the fridge at midnight!