“Will Garden For Cake” is a wonderful place to visit…this blog will take you on a fun frolic from garden to kitchen with fabulous stories and tons of delectable recipes. My fellow Virginian and blogger friend Alisa Huntsman is the author of this spectacular blog:
Alisa is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America who has been baking professionally for over 30 years She is the author of Sky High Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes and Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe. Photos of her lovely cookbooks are pictured above. It would be worth taking up sky diving just to dive into her Sky High cakes! I urge you to delve into her Loveless Cafe cookbook to find treasures including blue-ribbon pies, country cakes, crisps, cobblers, short cakes and tea cakes…oh my! Besides baking, Alisa is a Master Gardener, Beekeeper and a Chicken Herder and can be found at willgardenforcake.com and @janeofmanytrades(Instagram).
Please visit and follow her blog…you’ll be glad you did!
Her cookbooks are available on Amazon.com and here’s their review of Desserts From The Famous Loveless Cafe:
Now Let’s Celebrate Cider With Alisa Huntsman!
Celestial Merret is a locally produced sparkling apple cider
Fermented cider has a long history in Virginia that can be traced back to the colonial era and Thomas Jefferson is said to have favored a cider made from crabapples. A quick search on cideries in Virginia will show that there are nearly a dozen around the state. We happened upon Castle Hill Cider in Keswick, just outside of Charlottesville, and were hooked at the first sip.
Cider is made from apple juice and it is fermented, either in tanks or the bottles and depending on which variety of apple used, it can vary greatly in sweetness and flavor. At Castle Hill, they use a variety of methods to ferment the cider and if you visit the tasting room, not only can you taste them, you will learn all about the methods and the apples used to make the cider.
Freshly picked apples sit in the event space waiting to be pressed.
Ranging from dry to sweet, each one is unique. Personally, I preferred the dry varieties, specifically Terrestrial, but Levity, another dry variety, is a bit more unique. While both are made with Albermarle apples, Levity is 100% Albermarle while Terrestrial is a blend that also uses Winesap, Levity is the only commercially produced cider in the world that is fermented in a clay amphorae known as a kvevri.
Levity is actually a sparkling cider and is one of two sparkling varieties available, the other being Celestial Merret. These two ciders are considered dry but are probably a little sweeter than you might expect and while they are “hard,” neither has the alcohol content that a more formal sparkling wine and both come in around 8.5% ABV. This lower alcohol content still packs a bit of a punch, so drink responsibly.
The large event space with its stunning view is a popular wedding venue.
Visit the tasting room and ask to sample the ciders, they do charge for the tasting but if you sign up for the cider club, you will get the tasting for free and a generous discount on every bottle you purchase. Be sure to try the Black Twig and the 1764; Black Twig gets its name from the variety of apples used and is aged in whiskey barrels from Tennessee, while 1764 is made from a blend of apples and crabapples and is aged in French oak barrels to give it a flavor and alcohol content that is similar to a fine Port.
Whichever you prefer, do go and visit, sit and sip a glass indoors by the fireplace or outdoors, either way, the view is beautiful. Be sure to grab a couple bottles to take with you! To learn more about cider in Virginia, visit the Cider Week Festival website.
Celestial Cranberry Kir Royale
Kir Royales are traditionally made layering cassis and sparkling wine in a fluted glass. Since cider is made from apples, using cranberries seemed like the obvious choice for this drink.
1 bottle Celestial Merret or Levity cider, chilled
Cranberry coulis, recipe follows
Frozen whole cranberries, for garnish
Place 1 tablespoon at the bottom of a fluted glass. Carefully pour in 5 ounces of cider taking care to pour it slowly down the side of the glass so that the coulis does not get stirred up. Drop 2-3 frozen cranberries into the drink to float on top.
makes ¾ cup and is also wonderful over ice cream.
6 ounces, half of a bag, fresh cranberries-can be frozen
½ cup ruby port (water or juice may be substituted)
1/3 cup sugar
¼ of a vanilla bean, split and scraped-seeds added to the mixture along with the pod
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise pod
1 green cardamom pod
Place all of the ingredients in a pot and place over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring to prevent the sugar from scorching, reduce heat to medium-low and allow it to simmer for 5-8 minutes. Dump the contents of the pot into a mesh strainer which is set over a heat proof bowl. Using a spoon, scrape as much of the mixture through the mesh as possible. You are doing this to remove as many of the seeds ,as well as the skin, as possible so be sure to leave them in the strainer! Whisk the mixture to combine it and allow it to cool to room temperature.