toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce

toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce| A Brown Table

I have some exciting news to share with you! If you've ever wanted to see me behind the scenes and see what goes on in my kitchen then you must watch this beautifully shot KQED/PBS documentary on my work. The documentary came out last week and was produced by Jessica Jones who is an extremely talented and gifted artist (you must check out all the other wonderful videos she's produced!). We bought spices from one of my favorite new spots, Oaktown Spice Shop where I got to hang out with the owner John Beaver who was super kind to let us use his space. Vanilla beans from Madagascar to Tahitian, large jars of spices in a gorgeous space that could make you swoon with envy. The shelves, the hutches, the jars, I could go on and on. Some of those spices made it to the pie (that's in the video) and others I plan on using soon. 

Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland CA |A Brown Table
Oaktown Spice Shop, Oakland CA |A Brown Table

Most of the time when it comes to gluten-free baking, I tend to plan for disasters. You never how things will turn out or taste, the lack of gluten makes for a high-risk cake venture that could easily end up in the garbage. But thankfully with this new Baking flour mix from Bob's Red Mill, it's now much easier! Every trial with this cake recipe worked perfectly and the cake crumb is delicate and delicious. It takes the guess work out of gluten-free baking and it's now become a must when I have to bake gluten-free cakes for my friends who are sensitive and have dietary issues.

This cake is a tea cake, if anything. And, if you like the scent of freshly toasted pistachios then you will love this cake. This baked cake once inverted has an almost speckled appearance with the toasted pistachios nestled in the cake. A little blood orange sauce on the side and you're good to go! Enjoy!

toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake,

  • Use fresh blood oranges when making the sauce, skip the bottled juice!
  • Use unsalted pistachios.
  • If you like, you can serve the orange sauce on the side with the cake versus pouring it over the cake.
toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce|A Brown Table

toasted pistachio cake with blood orange sauce (gluten-free)

yields: one 9 inch cake

ingredients

1 1/2 cups (223.25 gm) Bob's Red Mill gluten-free 1:1 baking flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt

4 large eggs, cold

1 cup (223.25gm) superfine baking sugar

2 sticks (226gm) unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature + extra butter to grease the pan

1 teaspoon pistachio extract

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and chopped

1 1/2 cups blood orange juice, freshly squeezed and strained

2 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon cornstarch powder

1. Place a wire rack at midlevel in the oven and preheat to 350F. Line and grease a 9 inch baking pan with a little butter. 

2. Dry whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl and keep aside until ready to use. 

3. Beat the eggs and 1 cup of sugar using the paddle attachment in the bowl of a standmixer at medium speed for 4 to 5 minutes until the eggs are pale yellow. Add the butter and whisk for 1 to 2 minutes on medium speed until completely creamed. Add the pistachio extract and whisk for 10 seconds. Then stop the mixer and add half of the whisked dry ingredients. Mix on low speed until just combined, add the remaining dry ingredients and whisk until combined. 

4. Sprinkle the chopped pistachios over the greased baking pan. Pour the cake batter over the pistachios in the pan and bake the cake in the preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes rotating halfway through the baking process, until the center of the cake is firm to touch and springs back (or until a skewer comes out clean from the center of the cake when inserted). Remove the pan from the oven and allow the cake to cool completely on a wire rack before releasing it from the pan. Flip the cake over a serving dish/cake stand. 

5. While the cake is cooling on the wire rack, prepare the blood orange sauce. Whisk the orange juice, sugar and cornstarch in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Heat on medium-high heat until it begins to thicken like a custard, this should take about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from stove and allow to cool completely before serving. Drizzle the cake with the blood orange sauce before serving or serve the sauce on the side. 

Disclaimer: Thank you to Bob's Red Mill for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

A Trip with California Strawberries to Pismo Beach

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

A little over a week ago, I took a short trip down to Pismo Beach, in Central California that was sponsored by the California Strawberry Commission.  My flight was short and pleasant, you can't beat the short one hour direct flight from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo Airport, which is located about 15 minutes away from the Dolphin Bay Resort and Spa. The resort is gorgeous and my view was spectacular. The long ocean stretch, morning fog, flying pelicans, crabs hiding under rocks and the sound of crashing waves mixed in with surfers and dolphins playing in the ocean, I couldn't have asked for more except that perhaps, I might one day be able to live in a house overlooking a beautiful ocean view like this. Central California is one of the best places in the country to grow strawberries because of the weather and the soil and these berries are supplied to the rest of the country year round. 

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

This trip was all about the strawberries and yes, I got to pick and eat a lot (see the chocolate covered strawberries and creme brûlée below). The purpose of this trip was to learn about strawberry farming practice and the nutritional benefits behind strawberries and the trip was named 12 Reasons  (though there are many more reasons to keep strawberries in your diet). The inner science nerd in me was very excited when we spent some time learning about all the wonderful work being done by the commission and the Strawberry Research and Sustainability Center, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. They've been doing tons of research for a while such as growing better drought resistant and disease resistant strawberry plants (all non-GMO), creating and employing newer and more efficient methods to get rid of biological pests (natural predators and physical methods to get rid of bugs). California is suffering from a bad drought and it's important to use methods that conserve water and also use it efficiently, the farms are watered by a high-pressure drip system that uses less water to keep the crops growing. In addition to all this and this is something I really enjoyed hearing about, the Commission and the Center work together to train and certify the workers and managers at different farms in best farming and safety practices which gives them tools to become more competitive in the job market. 

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

One of the first farms we visited was at Providence Farms in Santa Maria which is run by Tom Jones and his wife, Ruth. There were patches of land being prepared for tilling where eventually strawberry beds would be set up. There were long rows of white plastic blanketed soil where young strawberry plants grew out of little cuts in the plastic sheet. The younger immature plants have their flowers removed until the plants grow to an appropriate size which ensures a better quality fruit and plant in the future. We got to walk through the fields and taste the fresh ripe strawberries at the farm and also watch some of the workers lace the plant beds with predatory bugs that would kill off the mites that destroy strawberry plants. Eventually, Providence Farms hopes to expand to somewhere around 600 acres of pure organic strawberry fields. As it is there are approximately, 32,600 plants per acre and 600 acres would be an insane happy heaven of strawberry land. 

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

From Providence Farms, we drove up to Presqu'ile Winery in Santa Maria where Italian Chef Alfonso Curti of Trattoria Uliveto had a a fun cooking demo and lunch spread set up for us. There was wine and strawberry flavored drinks and lots of delicious things to eat. The aged balsamic vinegar reduction with the fresh strawberries and basil over panna cotta was probably one of the most complex and refreshing desserts to eat on a hot summer day yet one of the most simple things to prepare. I fell in love with the interiors and exteriors at the vineyard, the aesthetic is simply gorgeous and the views breathtaking! Also how do they keep all their plants alive and so pretty? 

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

On the final part of our journey, we visited a strawberry farm in an urbanized setting, owned by Luis Chavez. His story is fascinating and inspiring, an immigrant from Mexico, Luis through hard work over many years, now owns and runs a 300 acre strawberry farm. He was kind enough to let us fill up a clam shell box with fresh strawberries we picked from his farm. The day we visited his farm, the farm workers were picking out strawberries that would eventually find their way into jams, jellies and sauces. The work isn't easy and the weather was hot but at each farm I visited, I felt the personal connection and interest the way both Tom Jones and Luis Chavez spoke with passion about their farms and the people that work for them. And that goes along way.

This was a trip that made me appreciate all the hard work and passion that goes into producing one strawberry and the enormous impact this simple plant has. I can't thank California Strawberries enough, for such a fun and informative opportunity to learn about strawberries and strawberry farming. 

California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table
California Strawberries at Pismo Beach | A Brown Table

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by California Strawberries and all opinions shared here are purely my own.