September 6, 2012

Good Girl, Bad Girl: Blueberry Citrus Compote

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I firmly believe that the best way to eat in life is to keep it balanced, which is why I like to test and post two separate recipes – one healthy dish and one indulgent dish – to this blog. This time, however, I’ve found a way to combine the two to make a slightly sinful dessert that will still satisfy your sweet tooth without derailing you from healthy eating.

This dessert starts with a French yogurt cake, which I can describe best as a lighter version of the pound cake. I’ve wanted to expand my baking repertoire for a while and, although this recipe isn’t terribly complex, it’s a little different from the typical cookies, brownies and cupcakes that I usually make and is a step in the right direction. I also loved that this cake calls for yogurt, lemon and almonds, three things that I absolutely love. Unfortunately, I left my food processor back home in the Mitten state, so I had to swap out the half cup of ground almonds with another half cup of flour. I’ll have to make the recipe again with the almonds when I go home for the holidays.

I also wanted to try this recipe because it calls for a step that I’ve never done before: rubbing the lemon zest into the sugar with your fingertips. The step’s brilliant simplicity instantly transported me to a country home kitchen in France where I imagined a mother making this cake for her children after their exhausting day of romping in the woods all day. No one has any pressing obligation but taking time to enjoy the last few days of summery weather, kind of like what we should be doing before our projects and prelims begin to pile up.

This cake has a beautifully tangy richness and a light lemony flavor that I couldn’t help pair with a classic complement—blueberries. With the berries reaching the end of their season, I had to take advantage of fresh blueberries while I still could. I made a simple, healthy blueberry compote that really just consists of blueberries, water, sugar and lemon juice, but added in some lime zest and orange zest for an extra citrusy kick. Feel free to play around with different flavors to make the compote your own.

I know that the days are getting shorter and that the relaxed, easy part of the semester will soon transition into the vicious homework-prelim-project cycle. But if you want a dish that will remind you of simpler summery days, this is the one for you.

Blueberry Citrus Compote (Adapted from Ellie Krieger’s Blueberry Compote)

2 cups blueberries (The recipe calls for frozen, but I used fresh since they’re in season.)3 tablespoons water¼ cup white sugar2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (I used a Meyer lemon.)½ teaspoon lime zest½ teaspoon orange zest

1.     Combine 1 cup of blueberries with the water, sugar, lemon juice, lime zest, and orange zest in a saucepan.2.     Cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes.3.     Add the remaining cup of blueberries and cook for 8 minutes more. Be sure to stir constantly, but be gentle so that the blueberries retain some of their shape and don’t turn to complete mush.4.     Spoon the compote over anything you’d like—French yogurt cake, waffles, pancakes, yogurt or cottage cheese—because it will make almost anything taste delicious! (I do mean “almost anything;” I wouldn’t recommend spooning the compote onto your shoe or anything like that.)

French Yogurt Cake (Recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From my home to yours)

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour(If you have access to a food processor or spice mill, I would definitely swap the extra ½ cup of flour for ½ cup ground almonds.)2 teaspoons baking powderPinch of salt1 cup white sugarGrated zest of 1 lemon (I used a Meyer lemon.)½ cup plain whole-milk yogurt3 large eggs¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract½ cup flavorless oil (I used vegetable, but canola or safflower would work great, too.)

1.     In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.2.     In a medium bowl, combine the sugar and lemon zest. Use your fingertips to thoroughly rub the zest into the sugar until a lovely lemony fragrance wafts from the bowl.3.     Add the yogurt, eggs and vanilla extract to the lemon-sugar mixture and whisk vigorously until everything is blended well.4.     While you whisk, add the flour mixture in increments and continue to stir until blended.5.     Switch to a large rubber spatula and fold in the oil. The batter should be shiny and thick when you’re finished.6.     Pour the batter into the 9-by-5-inch pan and smooth the top down. Place the cake pan onto a cookie sheet.7.     Bake for approximately 50-55 minutes or in accordance with however your oven works. (After baking my cake for 50 minutes, the edges were slightly too brown for my liking, so I’ll shoot for about 45 minutes the next time I make this.)8.     Remove the cake pan from the cookie sheet and place it on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes.9.     After 5 minutes have passed, carefully use a thin knife to separate the cake from the pan. Take the cake out of the pan and allow it to cool to room temperature on the wire rack.

Or, if you’re a little impatient like me, allow the cake to cool enough so that it doesn’t burn your tongue. Cut yourself a slice, top it with some blueberry compote and enjoy!

Original Author: Elizabeth Young