Let them eat cake—and steak! Elizabeth Karmel, award-winning chef, journalist and author of Steak and Cake, joined us to share a few delicious recipes and some great techniques features in her new cookbook.
In the book, not only will you find some of the best recipes ever for steak—and steakhouse sides and sauces—and those all-butter-eggs-and-sugar cakes, but you will also pick up tips and tricks for choosing and cooking steaks and baking cakes. The result is an instant dinner party, the kind of universally loved meal that makes any and every occasion special.
Red Hot Cast Iron Steak with Perfect Crust
If you make this steak according to my directions, I can guarantee you two things: Your kitchen will get very smoky, and your steak will be very crusty in all the right ways! This stovetop method is like an extreme culinary sport since the pan is preheated over high heat for about 5 minutes before the steak is cooked. When the smoke clears, you are left with a gorgeous caramelized crust that covers the steak from end to end. For that reason, I prefer a flat-bottomed cast iron or carbon steel skillet instead of one with raised “grill” ridges. Note: This technique is best suited to a boneless steak served rare.
Serves 1 or 2
- 1 boneless New York strip or ribeye steak (16 to 20 ounces and 1 to 2 inches thick)
- Coarse kosher salt or Maldon sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 325F
- Wrap the steak in paper towels to rid it of excess moisture. Replace the paper towels as needed.
- Meanwhile, place a dry cast iron skillet on the stove and preheat over high heat until a drop of water sprinkled on the surface “dances” and evaporates instantly.
- Just before cooking, scatter the salt lightly but evenly over the pan. Place the steak at the top edge of the pan. Let the steak cook and sizzle for 1 minute, then, using tongs, flip it so the raw side of the steak is at the bottom edge of the pan. This placement is important because the cooking process cools down the temperature of the cast iron and you want each side of the meat to be exposed to the same hot surface.
- Press down gently to ensure even contact between the steak and the pan. Let the steak cook and sizzle until there is a nice even crust, 1 minute more. Using tongs, hold the steak vertically and brown the fat on the edges. This also allows the pan to heat up again.
- Repeat cooking the first side of the steak at the top edge of the pan for another minute. Flip the steak and place the second side at the bottom edge of the pan for 1 minute more. Repeat browning the edges if necessary, about 30 seconds on each edge.
- At this point, the steak should look done and have a deep brown caramelized crust on each side. Check for doneness: The meat should feel tight and slightly springy, not raw and mushy, to the touch. If using an instant read thermometer, insert it horizontally (through the thickness) into the center. Rare is 125F, and that is the temperature that I prefer. Medium-rare is 135F. If you want your steak cooked more in the center, once it has the crust on it slip the cast iron pan into the preheated oven.
- Remove the steak to a wire cooling rack set on a sheet pan and let rest for 10 minutes. You can tent it lightly with aluminum foil but not so tightly that the steak will begin to steam. Slice and serve with freshly ground pepper if desired--you shouldn’t need to add any salt.
NOTE: Note: I have found that if you put the steak in the preheated oven when it reaches 100F on an instant-read thermometer, it will reach about 130F after 15 minutes. Once you take the steak out and let it rest, it will continue cooking, ending at 135F. This is not a rule, but rather a guideline based on my experience.
Farmers Market Summer Fruit and Berry Cake
My sister Mary Pat loves fresh fruit more than bees love honey. So it wasn’t surprising that her wedding cake was a rich butter cake with stabilized whipped cream, decorated with kiwis, raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, and grated white chocolate. Needless to say, it was beautiful and delicious, and had a welcome freshness at a hot summer wedding. Last summer, I made the cake in Los Angeles with fresh fruit from the Hollywood farmers market, and it crushed my Instagram account! I received more “likes” for this fresh fruit–decorated cake than any other post. Literally bursting with color, three kinds of raspberries—black, red, and golden—blackberries, wild straw-berries, and blueberries adorned the simple square cake. Use whatever fruit is local and in season; be sure to tag me—@elizabethkarmel #steakandcake—in your Instagram post!
- Baking spray, for preparing the pan
- Assorted fresh fruit, including raspberries, strawberries, kiwis, peaches, and apricots
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup whole milk
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Stabilized Whipped Cream (see below)
- Pan: 9-inch square pan
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the cake pan with baking spray.
- Prepare the fruit: Clean and dry the berries, slicing the strawberries in half or in thinner slices. Clean, dry, and peel the kiwis, peaches, and apricots or other fruits, and slice as desired into halves, quarters, or round or thin slices.
- Cream the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer on medium speed until very fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition until thoroughly mixed.
- Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium-size bowl. Pour the milk into a glass measuring cup and add the vanilla.
- Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture alternately in small batches, mixing well after each addition. Stop the machine and scrape down the side of the bowl as necessary.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Lightly tap it down on the counter to make sure the batter is evenly distributed and to remove excess air bubbles.
- Bake until the cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Begin testing after 20 minutes.
- Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan. Then remove it from the pan and let cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.
- Frost the cake generously with the Stabilized Whipped Cream. Decorate the cake attractively with the fruits of choice. Serve with more fresh fruit on the side, if desired
Stabilized Whipped Cream
This recipe makes about 2 cups, which is perfect for adding as a garnish, but if you want to frost a two-layer cake you will need to double the recipe. I like to use vanilla bean puree so that you can see the flecks of the vanilla bean through the soft white clouds.
- 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 level teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla bean puree or pure vanilla extract
- Place a mixing bowl and whisk or beater in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, but preferably 30 minutes.
- Off the heat, combine the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan and gradually stir in 1/4 cup of the cream (keep remaining cream in the fridge). Mix well. Slowly heat the cream mixture over medium heat until you see a little steam coming off the liquid and the sugar is melted. Be careful not to bring the mixture to a boil or the cream will turn inot a jelly-like substance. You want it to be a pourable liquid.
- Once steaming, pour the mixture into a clean bowl and cool completely to room temperature. Stir in the vanilla.
- Beat the remaining 1 cup of cold cream in the chilled bowl just until traces of beater marks begin to show distinctly. Add the cooled cornstarch mixture in a steady stream, beating constantly. Beat just until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised. You can store the stabilized whipped cream in a lidded container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
NOTE: To make chocolate whipped cream, add 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder in Step 3 along with the vanilla.
Baked Cinnamon-Sugar Doughnut Puffs with Dark Chocolate Bourbon Dipping Sauce
When I lived on the Upper East Side of New York, I frequented a fantastic bakery called Yura. As a cook myself, I loved the setup as much as the pastries. It was an open commissary kitchen for several restaurants with a walk-up counter for ordering. As you waited in line, you could watch the bakers make cakes and pies and all manner of homespun baked goods. Among the array of deliciousness displayed on the counter, there was one very small item that looked like a mini muffin coated in cinnamon and sugar. The texture of the crumb inside was less dense and more like a cake than a muffin, and it had the telltale cinnamon flavor and a pop of nutmeg as well. It was called a “puff,” or at least that is what my friends and I called it. A puff with a double-shot cappuccino was morning heaven! Once you try these baked doughnut puffs, I guarantee that they will replace your fried doughnut craving with a new one! They are so good that I often make them for dessert with a dark chocolate dipping sauce, because even doughnuts are better with a little chocolate!
Makes about 33 minis
For the Puffs
- Baking spray, for preparing the pan
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 generous teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 scant teaspoon freshly grated or ground nutmeg
- Pinch of ground cardamom
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
For the Topping
- 1/2 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 8 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Dark Chocolate Bourbon Dipping Sauce (optional; recipe follows)
Pan: Mini cupcake tin (If you use a standard mini cupcake tin, the yield will be about 33 puffs. If you use an extra-mini cupcake tin, the yield will be about twice as many and the baking time will be reduced to about 12 minutes.)
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350F. Spray the pan with baking spray.
- Make the puffs: Whisk the flour, 1 1/2 cups sugar, baking powder, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, pinch of cardamom, and 1/2 teaspoon salt together in a large bowl. In a second bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, 3 tablespoons butter, and vanilla. Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture a little at a time, stirring well after each addition.
- Transfer the batter (which is fairly thin) to a liquid measuring cup and pour it into the cupcake cups, filling them about three-quarters full.
- Bake until the tops of the puffs look dry and a little nubby and a toothpick inserted in the center of a puff comes out clean, 16 to 18 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the topping: Mix the 1/2 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a shallow bowl.
- Let the puffs cool on a wire cooling rack for 2 to 3 minutes, then remove them from the tin and let cool on the rack for 1 minute more.
- While the puffs are still warm, dip the tops in the 8 tablespoons melted butter and swirl them all over in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the puffs back on the wire rack to cool completely. Eat when cool, with or without the chocolate dipping sauce, and place any leftovers in an airtight container. They will keep for 3 days.
Dark Chocolate Bourbon Dipping Sauce
The bourbon is optional, but I think it makes a big difference. It doesn’t taste boozy; it just deepens the flavor and marries the doughnuts and the chocolate. You can make the chocolate sauce up to 2 days in advance. Gently warm just before serving.
Makes about 2/3 cup dipping sauce
- 1/3 cup heavy (whipping) cream
- 6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (chips or block chocolate, chopped)
- 1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 to 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar (optional)
Place the cream in a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat to almost boiling. Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate. Stir until it’s melted and well combined. Add the bourbon, if using, and vanilla, while stirring continuously. Taste, and if you like it a little sweeter, add the sugar; otherwise leave it as is. The puffs are covered in cinnamon sugar, so I like the chocolate sauce without any added sweetening.