Since the beginning of culinary school, I seem to constantly be running out of butter. I knew my waistline was in trouble when, during the first few weeks of class, I calculated that I had indeed used close to ten pounds of butter within a five day period. Yikes. Surprisingly, I haven’t gained any weight thanks to the city life of walking and wandering about. And with only thirty days left in the program, (that’s right thirty – when did this happen?) the days of butter are coming to an end.
And so I thought I would share some recipes – something I haven’t done in quite some time! – that celebrate butter. Because as you know, butter really does make everything better.
Pommes Darphin (Hashbrown cake)
Yields 1 small cake
800 g (1 lb, 12 oz) potatoes (I used Yukon Gold)
50 g (1 3/4 oz) clarified butter*
150 g (5 oz) butter, cut in four equal pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Clean and peel the potatoes. Julienne them on a mandoline or by hand. Place them in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out as much moisture as possible. Be sure to use a fairly starchy potato like russet so that the cake binds well. Yukon Gold are a bit waxy, but they work well and I prefer the flavor. Season the potatoes with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Meanwhile, heat a small saute pan on medium high to high heat. Coat the bottom of the pan amply with clarified butter. When the pan just starts to lightly smoke, add the potatoes all at once into the pan. With a large, flat, metal spatula, begin pushing the potatoes down into an even layer. Continue to press and tuck in any loose potatoes in around the edges. You want to make sure everything gets firmly packed to make a nice cake.
After 2-3 minutes, turn the heat down a bit and add the cubed butter to the edges of the potato cake north, south, east and west. Let the butter melt down underneath the cake. This will not only help the cake to brown further, but it also prevents it from sticking to the pan.
After the butter has melted and the cake has cooked a few more minutes, pour off some butter if it’s not browning well. Once the first side is golden brown, flip the potato cake and brown the other side.
When the cake is finished, drain it on paper towels. The outside should be nice a crispy, but the inside should still be a bit soft. Cut into wedges and serve.
*To make clarified butter
Slowly melt a stick of butter over medium heat. Do not swirl. Let the butter cool for a few minutes. Skim off the white particles on top of the butter. You will see the solids sink to the bottom of the pan. Slowly pour off the clarified butter, leaving the butter solids at the bottom.
Ingredients for Pound Cake*
1/2 lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for pan
1/2 c vegetable shortening
3 c sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
3 c all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 c milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Sift together dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder). Cream the butter and shortening together. Add the sugar, a little at a time. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Add dry ingredients to mixer alternately with milk, starting with flour and ending with flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into greased and floured tube or bunt pan and bake for 1-1 1/2 hours until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Smack the pan on a counter half a dozen times to release the cake from the pan. Let cool 10-15 minutes and then invert the cake onto a plate.
Ingredients for Strawberry Topping
1 bag frozen strawberries, dethawed
1/4 c sugar
About 30 minutes before serving, sprinkle the sugar over the berries, stir and let macerate.
Ingredients for Whipped Cream
1 c whipping cream or heavy cream
1 1/2 -2 tbsp confectioner’s sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Begin beating the cold cream. When the cream has nearly reached soft peaks, add the confectioner’s sugar and cinnamon. Continue beating until medium peaks are achieved.
For assembly, cut a slice of the pound cake. Spoon the strawberry topping on top of the cake. Top with whipped cream and another dusting of confectioner’s sugar. Serve.
*Paula Deen recipe “Mama’s Pound Cake”