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The Food Processor

Good Test of Machine Sharpness

May 07, 1987|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Grating the skin of an orange to naturally flavor homemade poundcake or quick bread takes about one minute in the food processor and is a good test of the machine's metal blade. The thin strips of orange zest are removed with a vegetable peeler, leaving the bitter pith on the orange. Since the zest contains essential citrus oils, a single orange will assertively flavor a poundcake or quick bread and eliminate the need to add orange extract to the recipe.

The grating is done by grinding the orange zest--the colored part of the orange skin--with some of the sugar from the recipe until the zest is minced into a grated texture. The technique is called "grinding to grate." Zests of other citrus fruits can be processed by this method. In addition, the grinding-to-grate technique is used to process hard cheese such as Parmesan or Romano to grated consistency. An equivalent technique is used to process onion to a pulpy consistency by grinding with a small amount of water.

If the processor's metal blade is sharp, the zest of one medium orange should be evenly minced after less than one minute of processing with sugar. If large pieces of zest remain in the processor container, it is likely that the metal blade has become dull from use, and it should be replaced.

Citrus zest can be processor-grated for any recipe by the method used below in the poundcake and quick bread, each of which is made from scratch and yet has a preparation time that is roughly equivalent to a cake mix.


Softened butter


Zest of 1 medium orange

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1/4 pound hot melted butter (170 degrees)

5 tablespoons orange juice

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

Generously butter and flour 6-cup loaf pan, then set aside.

Insert metal blade in processor. Strip off orange zest with vegetable peeler, allowing strips to fall into processor. Add 1/4 cup sugar and process until zest is minced.

Add eggs and pulse once or twice to mix. With motor on, add hot butter in thin stream within 15 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar, 2 tablespoons orange juice, sour cream and milk and pulse several times to mix. Do not overprocess.

Sift together cake flour, baking soda and salt and mix half of dry ingredients into egg mixture with half-second pulses, just until flour disappears. Do not overprocess. Repeat to pulse in remaining dry ingredients.

Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on lowest rack of oven at 350 degrees 50 to 60 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center comes out clean. Set aside on cake rack until lukewarm.

Mix remaining 3 tablespoons orange juice, lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat to make light syrup. Brush hot syrup over warm cake. Let cool, then remove cake from pan. Makes 1 loaf.



1/2 cup firmly packed pitted dates

1/3 cup cold water

3/4 cup granola cereal

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds

1 1/2 cups cake flour

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Zest of 1 medium orange

3 tablespoons sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup honey

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup plain yogurt

1/2 cup cashews or slivered almonds

Lightly coat 2 (4-cup) loaf pans or 1 (8-cup) loaf pan with oil, then set aside.

Place dates in small saucepan. Add cold water, then cover and simmer until soft, about 8 minutes. Uncover and set aside.

Insert metal blade in dry processor. Add granola, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, cake flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder and salt. Process 30 seconds until mixture has fine texture. Set dry ingredients aside.

Strip off orange zest with vegetable peeler, allowing strips to fall into processor. Add sugar and process until zest is minced. Add eggs. With motor on, add 2/3 cup oil through food chute within 30 seconds. Process 15 seconds. Add honey, dates and cooking liquid, allspice and yogurt. Process 1 minute.

Sprinkle half of dry ingredients and cashews evenly over liquid in processor. Use 1/2-second pulses to mix in dry ingredients just until absorbed. Repeat. Do not overprocess.

Divide batter between prepared loaf pans. Bake on middle rack of oven at 300 degrees 60 to 70 minutes or until cake tester inserted into center of loaves comes out clean. Cool on cake rack to room temperature before removing from pans. Wrap and set aside until serving time. Best when toasted. Makes 1 large or 2 small loaves.

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