The winter session of the Book Club gathered on January 17 to discuss Ruth Reichl’s debut novel, "Delicious!" The evening was hosted by Fanny Farkas at her charming apartment. She graciously treated those lucky enough to attend to a sit-down dinner centered around wintery fare of roast pork with fennel and pizzoccheri, a buckwheat pasta from the Italian Alps. Co-chair, Jeanne Voltz organized the event and prepared the book’s pièce de résistance, Billie’s Gingerbread (recipe below). Member Gisela Nelson provided the book’s delicious brownies.
Unlike Ruth’s wonderful memoirs, most were curious but underwhelmed by her roman à clef and it quickly became secondary to the fabulous meal and great company. Thanks to all who attended, contributed and helped, especially Fanny.
Recipe: Billie's Gingerbread
Adapted from "Delicious!" by Ruth Reichl (Random House; 2014)
When the Book Club tasted Billie's Gingerbread, a majorplayer in the novel, we could understand the hoopla. It was "Delicious!"
Whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup sour cream
1½ sticks (6 oz) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large pieces fresh ginger, finely grated, to measure ¼ cup tightly packed
Grated zest from 2 to 3 oranges, 1½ teaspoons
Make the cake:
Preheat the oven to 350° F. Butter and flour a 6-cup Bundt pan.
Grind your peppercorns, cloves and cardamom and measure out ¼ teaspoon of each. (Pre-ground spices won’t taste as good.)
Grind your cinnamon stick and measure out 1 teaspoon.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices in a small bowl. In another small bowl, whisk eggs and egg yolk into the sour cream; set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixer until fluffy and almost white, about 3 minutes. Add grated ginger and orange zest.
Beat the flour mixture and the egg mixture, alternating between the two, into the butter until each addition is incorporated. The batter should be as luxurious as a mousse.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and bake about 40 minutes, until the cake is golden and a wooden skewer comes out clean. Remove to a rack and cool 10 minutes.
½ cup bourbon
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
While the cake cools in the pan, simmer bourbon and sugar in a small saucepan about 4 minutes. It should reduce to about 1/3 cup.
While the cake is still in the pan, brush half the bourbon mixture onto its exposed surface (the bottom of the cake) with a pastry brush. Let the syrup soak in for a few minutes, then turn the cake out onto a rack.
Gently brush the remaining mixture all over the cake.
¾ cup powdered sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons orange juice
Once the cake has cooled, mix the sugar with the orange juice and either drizzle the glaze randomly over the cake or put in a squeeze bottle and do a controlled drizzle.