Almond Cake w/Mixed BerriesI’ve made an airy, sweet cake, highlighting the sister flavors of berries and rosewater. Crème fraîche is the perfect tangy accompaniment with the “Almond Cake with Mixed Berries,” from the March 2015 Food & Wine.

See the list of ingredients, here. I’m interested in the almond flour, the frozen mix of berries, the eggs, and the spring-form pan. The recipe instructs us to use a hand-held electric mixer for 12 minutes, but that sounds too torturous to me. My stand mixer did the 12 minutes of hard work, until the batter was “thick and glossy” and billowy. Nice.

That teaspoon of rosewater, beat with the eggs and the sugar, smelled quite mesmerizing. I did fold the almond meal and the berries in by hand. That was fine.

As for the baking time, I totaled 85 minutes, before I was comfortable with a dry “tester” in the center of the cake. Make sure you test and wait and cook more, if you must. The cake will tell you what to do.

PREP TIME: set aside 2 hours for this cake prep and baking
airy, sweet berries, rosewater, tangy crème fraîche

Next time, I want to take on the challenge of Mandarin pancakes, and make the “Mu Shu Pork,” from the March/April 2015 issue of Cook’s Illustrated (recipe below), along with the “Indian Cumin Fried Rice with Spinach,” from the March 2015 Food & Wine. Come back to my site next week, to see if I can handle this challenge.

Mu Shu Pork
Cook’s Illustrated, March/April 2015
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (7 1/2 oz.)
3/4 cup boiling water
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp. vegetable oil

1 oz. dried shiitake mushrooms, rinsed
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. dry sherry
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
1/4 tsp. white pepper
12 oz. pork tenderloin, trimmed, halved horizontally, and sliced thin against grain
2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbsp. plus 2 tsp. vegetable oil
2 eggs, beaten
6 scallions, white and green parts separated and sliced thin on bias
8 oz. can bamboo shoots, rinsed and sliced into matchsticks
3 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1/4 cup hoisin sauce

1. FOR THE PANCAKES: Using wooden spoon, mix flour and boiling water in bowl to form rough dough. When cool, transfer dough to lightly floured surface and knead until it forms ball that is tacky but no longer sticky, about 4 minutes (dough will not be perfectly smooth). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 30 minutes.
2. Roll dough into 12-inch-long log on lightly floured surface and cut into 12 equal pieces. Turn each piece cut side up and pat into rough 3-inch disk. Brush one side of 6 disks with sesame oil; top each oiled side with unoiled disk and press lightly to form 6 pairs. Roll disks into 7-inch rounds, lightly flouring work surface as needed.
3. Heat vegetable oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Using paper towels, carefully wipe out oil. Place pancake in skillet and cook without moving it until air pockets begin to form between the layers and underside is dry, 40 to 60 seconds. Flip pancake and cook until few light brown spots appear on second side, 40 to 60 seconds. Transfer to plate and, when ool enough to handle, peel apart into 2 pancakes. Stack pancakes moist side up and cover loosely with plastic. Repeat with remaining pancakes. Cover pancakes tightly and keep warm. Wipe out skillet with paper towel. (Pancakes can be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, then aluminum foil, and refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. Thaw wrapped pancakes at room temperature. Unwrap and place on plate. Invert second plate over pancakes and microwave until warm and soft, 60 to 90 seconds.)
4. FOR THE STIR-FRY: Microwave 1 cup water and mushrooms in covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms through fine-mesh strainer and reserve 1/3 cup liquid. Discard mushroom stems and slice caps thin.
5. Combine 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sherry, sugar, ginger, and pepper in large bowl. Add pork and toss to combine. Whisk together the reserved mushroom liquid, 2 Tbsp. soy sauce, 1 Tbsp. sherry, and cornstarch; setting aside.
6. Heat 2 tsp. oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add eggs and scramble quickly until set but not until dry, about 15 seconds. Transfer to bowl and break eggs into 1/4- to 1/2-inch pieces. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high  and heat 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil until shimmering. Add scallion whites and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add pork mixture. Spread into even layer and cook without moving until browned on 1 side, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until all pork is opaque, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to bowl with eggs.
7. Return now-empty skillet to medium-high heat and heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil until shimmering. Whisk mushroom liquid mixture to recombine. Add mushrooms and bamboo shoots to skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until heated through, about 1 minute. Add cabbage, all but 2 Tbsp. scallion greens, and mushroom liquid mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until liquid has evaporated and cabbage is wilted but retains some crunch, 2 to 3 minutes. Add pork and eggs and stir to combine. Transfer to platter and top with scallion greens.
8. Spread about 1/2 tsp. hoisin in center of each warm pancake. Spoon stir-fry over hoisin and serve.