30 November 2009

To be thankful

Despite having all of my Christmas decorations up, it is the last day of November. So, before we start singing carols, I just have a bit more Thanksgiving to share.

But first, I wanted to mention that I will be posting several Christmas recipes in the next couple of weeks. I always love to hear about other family cooking and eating traditions, so please don't be shy. I'd love to hear yours. I will be traveling in the later part of the month, so I'll try to get several good posts in before that.

Now, back to Thanksgiving. Our dinner was lovely. Good food, good wine and good company. The kiddos were mostly interested in my homemade maple ice cream and my friend Susan's delicious apple pie, but who could blame them? We were blessed to share our meal with friends and a little family, a new tradition since my cousin's arrival in the Northwest. He's the man behind Converging Creeks Farm.

The reason I want to write about Thanksgiving now is a form of encouragement -- both for me and you. I am making a point of taking all of the recipes, magazine photos and newspaper clippings that inspired me for our meal and putting them in one place. I'm also making a few notes on recipe cards, especially those that are pulled out only on holidays. My hope is that I can return to this file next November and have a great place to start planning the next Thanksgiving.

So, I'll get myself started. Here is our menu. Several of the recipes were posted earlier this month, and still a few will come soon. I can't wait to share the Pear and Currant Chutney recipe, which I'm hoping to get to later today.

As soon as I finish this post, I'm going to turn on Bing Crosby's White Christmas. It just doesn't feel like the holiday season without it!

Thanksgiving 2009

Pear and Currant Chutney over Brie with Homemade Crackers

Cheddar Cubes, Swiss Slices and Red Grapes for the Kiddos


Converging Creeks Baby Lettuces with Golden Sauteed Mushrooms, Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Cheddar and Chive Mashed Potatoes

Converging Creeks Butternut Squash Curry Mash

Grandma Pat's Cornbread Stuffing

Rosemary Potato Rolls

Turkey Stock Gravy

Zenger Farms Bourbon Red Turkey, Brined and Grilled


Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Susan's Apple Pie

Homemade Maple Ice Cream

To drink: Several wines, including Converging Creeks Pinot Noir

25 November 2009

The centerpiece

For about three days now, Seth has been harassing me about a pile of sticks collecting up in the mud room. Last night he looked at them, sighed, and said, "Let me guess, centerpiece?"

Yes, my dear. What he really meant to say was "Thank you for spending zero cash on something I think is pointless."

You're welcome. It wasn't what I had in mind when I started, but it came together simple enough. Just a few things I had around the house anyway: dried split peas, candles, mason jars and moss-covered twigs I collected on walks.

Oh, and I'm better at making centerpieces than taking pictures. It looks better in person.

Now, back to the kitchen.

The last dish

The first time I made gravy on my own was one of my first holidays celebrated with my in-laws. My mother-in-law has a friend who usually makes it, but she wasn't around. I said I'd do it, and it wasn't until I got going that I realized I'd never actually made it before. I had, however, watched my mom make it dozens of times.

I understood the basics of it. Fat plus starch plus liquid equals gravy. Still, I did make one phone call to my mom for a little reassurance, and in the end we had gravy on the table.

Gravy can be intimidating to a generation who didn't grow up watching someone make it on Sunday mornings to slather over fresh-baked biscuits. In fact, I think our fear of all things fattening nearly banished it from many tables. And, of course, it's because of that fat that it's absolutely delicious, and, in moderation, isn't the worst thing you could put in your body.

My mom makes a giblet gravy that's fabulous. It never occurred to me to think it was weird to include the organ meats and hard-boiled eggs. Besides, what else are you supposed to do with that strange sack of organs stuffed in your bird?

If you'd like a good recipe or two, check out this page from Gourmet. You'll find a few gravy recipe options.

And here are a couple of pointers to keep in mind:
  • Gravy gets thicker as it cools, so be patient with it.
  • It won't reach its full thickness if you don't heat it to a slow bubble.
  • Lumps in the gravy typically come from flour or cornstarch that wasn't added properly. If you need to boost your gravy's thickening power mid-course, take a couple of tablespoons of stock and add a teaspoon or so of corn starch. Whisk to incorporate and then add the liquid to the gravy and simmer.
  • Gravy is a pan sauce, really. And pan sauces are delicious because they're cooked with the rendered fats and bits from meats or some other foods. The added bonus of making a pan sauce is that it actually helps clean your pan by removing those stuck-on bits!

23 November 2009

Brine time

Much to Seth's dismay, I lack some of his organizing, um, talents. That's why I had to thumb through scraps of newspaper clippings, glossy torn magazine pages and envelope backs earlier today. I held each one long enough to read an ingredient or two. Then, I tossed them aside with a mental, "No. No. No," ticking through my head.

I knew my turkey brine recipe was somewhere in there, and I knew it was on a wide-ruled piece of notebook paper, scratched down in a hurry. The words actually run perpendicular to the lines on the page -- must have been some hurry. I jotted down this recipe while a great cook I know rattled it off one day. She did it in a way that meant, "Don't right it down, just listen." I get it now because I've tasted it, so I remember the slightly sweet, spicy and herb-infused flavors. It's not exactly about precision. The brine adds a subtle flavor to the turkey, and the salt helps keep it moist.

So, here it is. The biggest obstacle to overcome for those of us who don't have a commercial walk-in refrigerator is how to keep the bird chilled while brining. Unless you've got space for a 5-gallon bucket, get one of those oven bags. Put the bird and brine inside and secure tightly. Place the whole thing in a roasting pan to catch any leaks. Here's the big catch: You have to flip the bird regularly to make sure it gets brined on all sides. I'd flip it every six hours for a total of 24 hours of brine time.

Once you're ready to roast, rinse and dry the bird first. The juices will be more salty than an unbrined bird, so the pan drippings are not the best for a gravy. It's a trade off. Though you could make a turkey stock with the neck and other organ meats you pull from inside the bird.

Turkey Brine
8 cups water
1 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup salt
Fresh rosemary stems
12 cloves of garlic
Bay leaves
Fresh thyme stems
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes

Bring the water, salt, sugar, and syrup together in a large pot, heating until sugar and salt dissolve. Turn off heat, and add the remaining ingredients while still warm. Leave uncovered until completely cool, and then chill to bring the temperature down to no more than 40 degrees. Place the turkey in the oven bag and then into a roasting pan. Holding the bag in a way as to not let liquid out, add liquid. Then securely tie the bag and refrigerator for 24 hours, rotating occasionally to brine all sides equally.

*Note: Because of the sugar in this recipe, the turkey skin may be more prone to burning, especially if it's a large bird. Loosely tent with foil to help keep it from browning too soon.

*Bonus: It's not bad on pork, either!

21 November 2009

Mom's Pecan Pie

If you invite my mother over for Thanksgiving, you better ask her to bring a pecan pie. Should you forget, forgo any pecan dessert at all. And whatever you do, do not pick up a grocery-store pie. It would be an insult.

She doesn't mess around when it comes to this pie. I grew up knowing how to spot a good pecan pie from a bad one at a pretty young age. Burnt pecans, too much cracking or the overly gooey are the hallmark signs of a bad pecan pie.

Her pie is pretty delicious. It's the recipe her grandmother, Grandma Peach, used to make. My mom said she's pretty sure it came from one of her cookbooks, but in the way recipes do, as they get handed down, we forget where they originated and remember only where we got them.

That's why I'll call this Linda's Pecan Pie, after my mother who gave it to me. Maybe someday it'll be called Amy's Pecan Pie.

Linda's Pecan Pie

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs slightly beaten
1 cup white corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans
1 pastry shell*
Cream butter; add sugar gradually and cream together until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and blend well. (Butter may clump when the corn syrup is added and that is okay). Pour into uncooked pastry shell. Bake on lower shelf in a moderate oven (375 degrees) for 40 to 45 minutes. Cover edge of pie crust to prevent from browning too much.
For better results start temperature of oven at 400 to 450 degrees then reduce heat after 10 to 15 minutes. Make sure if you do this method to cover the edge of the pie crust or it will burn. This time is part of total cook time above.
The center of the pie may split to vent but will close when the pie cools. Cool completely before serving.

* If you need a basic pie crust recipe, click here.

20 November 2009

The big thaw

If you're like me, you'll need a dozen post-in notes and a reminder in your husband's iPhone about what day to pull the turkey out of the freezer, so it's thawed in time for the big day.

Here's the skinny on thawing a fat bird:
  • Allow 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds of turkey.
  • This means, if your turkey weighs 15 pounds, you'll need to move it to your refrigerator early Monday.
  • Never thaw a turkey anywhere but the refrigerator.
  • Place the bird in a roasting pan to thaw. Even though it's wrapped up, it's possible that juices will leak out. Not only is it messy, but it can become a health hazard, too, if that juice comes into contact with other things you eat.
  • If you plan on brining your bird, you'll need to thaw even sooner. You don't want to brine a frozen bird.
  • Turkey (along with any other meats, dairy or prepared foods) should not be left out for more than two hours at temperatures between 40 and 140 degrees. That pretty much means your bird must either be in a cold refrigerator or hot oven except when you're prepping it.

18 November 2009

Cranberries included

As a kid, I think the only appearance cranberries made on our Thanksgiving table was the cylindrical, jelled variety, ribbed with imprints from the tin can. There were always leftovers, which I doubt anyone cared too much since it took such little effort to open the can and plop it onto a salad plate.

Perhaps that's why I was so happy to inherit this recipe from my mother-in-law. She got it from a friend, I believe, and as her motto goes, "If I can do it, anyone can." It combines fresh cranberries with apples, brown sugar, nuts and butter. How could it not be good, right?

Well, it gets even better because it is very simple to prepare. You can do all the prep ahead and even put it in the fridge until you're ready to bake. Or, it could be baked ahead of the big event, cooled, covered and refrigerated and then reheated for service. It's the kind of tradition worth keeping around -- unlike the tin can variety.

Cranberry Apple Bake

3 cups apples, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole, fresh cranberries
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts are good)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix apples, cranberries and white sugar in a bowl and set aside. In a second bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, flour and nuts. Transfer fruit mixture to a 9-by-9-inch casserole or baking pan; spread evenly. Top with butter and brown sugar mixture. Bake for about 1 hour and cool slightly before serving.

17 November 2009


With Thanksgiving Day quickly closing in on us, it's time to start planning the menu, especially if you'll be asking guests to bring a dish of their own.

No matter how creative we want to get on the holiday, it seems there are a few dishes that always make it on to the table. Stuffing, or dressing as it's also called, it seems, is one of those. It seldom makes an appearance any other time of year, and yet it seems pivotal to the T-Day dining. If you want to stray from the traditional, read this piece in the New York Times.

If, however, you like tradition, there's nothing wrong with sticking to a simple, straightforward stuffing recipe. This one comes from my Grandma Pat, a woman who, despite passing away just about six years ago, I really didn't know that well. In fact, I can't recall ever spending Thanksgiving with her since she and her second husband were snowbirds who felt most comfortable just this side of the Mexican-American border for all but the hottest months.

But recipes have a beautiful way of connecting generations. This is the stuffing my mother makes, which she, of course, learned from her mother. And that teacher-student relationship spans back at least one more generation, if not more.

Stuffing is actually very easy to make, and it's somewhat forgiving and adaptable. This recipe calls for half cornbread and half dried bread cubes, a nod to our Oklahoma roots. If you pick up the store-bought stuffing, just make sure it's naked, dried bread cubes. Seasoning yourself will allow you to better control the flavors. You could easily make your own dried bread cubes by simply slicing up some bread. For this recipe, I'd suggest cubing a plain French baguette. Just leave the cubes out, uncovered over night to dry out.

If you want to mix it up a bit, you could bake stuffing in muffin tins for individual servings. Reduce baking time as needed. If you're thinking of stuffing the cavity, read this.

I've adapted the recipe a little, perhaps back to its original form, calling for a pan-sweating of the onions and celery instead of a microwave cooking. Not everything from the '80s is coming back.

Grandma Pat's Thanksgiving Dressing

Dried corn bread (see recipe below)
Approx. 4 cups bread cubes/plain stuffing mix (the mixture should be roughly 1/2 corn bread, 1/2 cubed bread)
1 cup celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning (or substitute dried sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley)
2 eggs, slightly beaten
Approx. 2 cups of chicken broth
2 tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the onions and celery in melted butter over medium heat until translucent. Set aside to cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine the two breads. In a smaller mixing bowl, combine eggs and a few tablespoons of broth and whisk just until they come together. Add onions and celery to bread cubes and then pour egg mixture on top. Using your hands, turn over bread cubes to combine. Add 1/4 cup broth and sprinkle 1/4 of the poultry seasoning and salt and pepper over bread cubes, and then use your hands to mix bread again. Repeat, adding broth until all bread cubes are saturated but not dripping with liquid. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch pan. Bake at 350 degree for about 45 minutes.

Do ahead: Bake cornbread up to 3 days ahead. Cool completely. Once cool, using a fork, break up cornbread into small pieces. Tent with foil to keep other crumbs out, but do not seal or put on an air-tight lid. Allow to set out on your counter top at least overnight and up to a few days.

This is a basic cornbread recipe adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book, but any cornbread recipe could be used. To make the cornbread for stuffing, use only 2 tablespoons of sugar, and my mom says you may want to use a larger pan, such as a 13-x-9-inch, to bake it. That would result in a thinner cornbread that would dry out quicker. Note that in a larger pan, the cooking time may need to be reduced slightly.

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 to 4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter

Grease the bottoms and sides of a 9-x-9-inch pan and set aside. In a medium bowl stir together dry ingredients. Set aside. In another bowl, combine eggs, milk and melted butter. Add egg mixture to dry mixture all at once and stir just until combined. Spoon batter into pan and bake in a 425-degree oven for about 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

10 November 2009

The bird has arrived

Yesterday was a big day for the turkey that will be the star of our Thanksgiving. Thanks to Nathan, we scored a locally raised bird from Zenger Farm, and since he was busy installing a floor on Monday, I picked up the bird.

Most of us don't think much about what a turkey really is when we're shopping for ours. They are hard and frosty and huge and have the word "Butterball" stamped on the label, right? Well it was hard for me not to think of the animal -- feathers, gobbler, feet and all. After all, I was instructed to come in the late afternoon because the birds were busy with the butcher all morning.

Our 6-pound Bourbon Red

That's why my breath was sort of taken away when I saw our bird, wrapped neatly in a clear plastic bag, pulled from the ice chest. It was beautiful. Pink, clean, skin flecked with large bumps from the quills. It just looked so different from the commercially-produced birds that I felt proud with it nestled in the seat next to me on the drive home. How great it was going to be to cook, I kept thinking.

Whether you were lucky enough to land your own locally-raised turkey or you'll be picking one up at the supermarket, it's time to shop. Here are some tips from Saveur magazine's November 2006 issue. And just thought I'd also mention that this is an example of why we keep our food magazines. Pull out yours from past years for holiday meal ideas. If you're like me, you'll have long forgotten what you read a couple of years ago!

A guide to buying turkey
  • CONVENTIONAL: This perennial favorite -- typically a Broad-Breasted White variety -- boasts an ultraplump breast that has usually (but not always) been injected with butter, water and salt; it will be labeled as "self-basted" if it contains these ingredients. Prices typically run $1 to $2 a pound; available at traditional grocery stores.
  • NATURAL: Sometimes these turkeys are labeled as "minimally processed" because they haven't been treated with artificial colors or flavor-enhancing ingredients. Natural does not mean organic. Those labeled organic have been raised according to specific rules established by the USDA. Natural turkeys are typically also the Broad-Breasted White variety. Natural birds start around $2.50 a pound, and you'll pay more for an organic. These are available at many grocery stores, and certainly at natural food markets.
  • HERITAGE: This category is made up old varieties such as Narragansett and Bourbon Red, the types of turkeys common in the U.S. before World War II. These breeds mature more slowly which can result in a slightly different flavor and texture than the conventional turkey -- sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Pricing start around $6 a pound. They are most likely to be found from local farmers although some specialty markets may carry a select amount.
A note about fresh versus frozen: There's not necessarily an advantage to one or the other. Fresh turkeys are more commonly available now, but I've always encountered some stress when buying them from the grocery store. You want to make sure they haven't been previously frozen because the repeated freeze and thaw can do damage to the meat. If you want to by fresh and not freeze it, you'll need to wait until Thanksgiving week (hence the stress, I've encountered). If you buy your bird frozen, just keep it frozen until it's time to thaw. And it's typically the thawing part that sometimes does damage, not the freezing -- all meat, including turkeys, should be allowed to gradually thaw in the refrigerator over several hours or days, depending on the weight. Allowing it to thaw at room temperature is a food-safety no-no, and the cold water bath simply won't help a bird of any size thaw quickly.

09 November 2009

Make a bread-baker out me

I didn't grow up around much bread baking. Of course, very few people in this country have baked daily loaf breads in the past 75 years. And that's one of the magical things about holidays -- we're willing to pull off kitchen tasks we'd never otherwise have the gusto to do.

And that's how something like a homemade roll can land on the Thanksgiving table. A couple of years ago when we hosted a Thanksgiving for neighborhood friends, some guests brought homemade rolls, finishing their rise when they arrived. And there was my sister-in-law's boyfriend who made rolls for a holiday meal once, too. And my friend Matt, who used to ask me cooking questions all the time when we worked together, is now a bread baker. Geez, I thought, I should get with the program and get over my bread-baking phobia.

Bread baking is something I'm trying to do more of, and I was so excited how easy this pumpkin roll recipe was. It made me wonder why I hadn't tackled yeast and flour before. (Here's where I should note that I recognize making pizza dough is bread baking, but it just never seemed that scary.)

Get the kids involved, or farm this task out to a friend or relative who wants to help the hostess. The pumpkin flavor in these is only very subtle, and mostly adds a nice color to them. I froze half of the batch I made after the first rise. Then, I thawed them on the counter and let them rise again. I found the thawed rolls tasted good, but the texture was not quite as good as the fresh ones.

I'd bake them all, even if you have a smaller crowd, though. They hold up for a day or two in a zip-top bag and would be perfect for your leftover turkey sandwiches.

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls
Adapted from a Sunset recipe

1 1/2 cups warm milk
2 1/4 teaspoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
5 tablespoons vegetable shortening
4-5 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons melted butter

In a medium bowl, combine milk, yeast, sugar and salt. Let stand five minutes. Add egg and beat well. In another small bowl, combine pumpkin and shortening and mash with the back of fork until the shortening is broken into small pieces. In the bowl of a mixer, combine the milk and pumpkin mixtures. Attach the dough hook and on a low speed, begin mixing while adding flour, one cup at a time. Once the dough combines and pulls away from the side, stop adding flour. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for about two minutes. Let rise for about 1 1/2 hours. To divide the dough, first cut into fourths. Then take each fourth, and cut into sixths. Work dough into balls and place on a baking sheet, just slightly touching. Brush tops with melted butter and allow to rise another 30 minutes.

Bake at preheated 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until tops are golden and rolls are baked through.

06 November 2009

Cake in the afternoon

Today I made the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake that I posted earlier in the week, and all I can say is that I am sorry you are not here right now. It's delicious. Better than I remembered. So dense, so moist and not too sweet. Absolutely lovely.

I will offer more holiday dessert recipes, and this one should certainly be on the list. But please don't wait for an excuse to make this cake. It would be perfect with a hot cup of tea on a cold afternoon. Or a fabulous present wrapped in wax paper as a brown bag dessert. Or even eaten straight out of your hand over the kitchen sink. I would not disapprove.

And something great about this cake is that with the pumpkin and buttermilk, it's very moist, and could absolutely be made a day ahead of, say, a holiday!

04 November 2009

Holiday Prep: The Dish

Around this time of year, all of the stores start pushing holiday dishware. Maybe it's a simple, rustic pattern in beautiful fall tones, or the very traditional Christmas tree plate. It's a marketing ploy, and as darn good one at that.

Holidays may be the one time of year when it seems you don't have enough place settings for your guests. And Chinet just won't do. What's a girl to do but buy a complete set for the occasion?

If a set of Candy Cane plates is in your budget and storage isn't an issue, be my guest. But the rest of us should rethink that purchase. My advice is to buy solid white. It may sound ho-hum, but remember, when you buy it, it's just sitting there naked. Unless your meals consist of white rice, mashed potatoes and plain pasta, even simple meals will stand out on the crisp white background of a white plate. There's a reason why it's the restaurant standard.

The upsides are endless. It's timeless. Today and 40 years from now, you will be able to find solid white tableware at any store. That means it's easy to add to your collection. Even when you don't have the exact same plate design, a little mix and match can still be elegant and, frankly, barely noticeable when you're using solid white.

Polenta and red sauce topped with sauteed mushrooms and arugula

And speaking of mix and match, if you and your sister both own a set of solid white dishes, add them together for the holiday, and you've suddenly got service for 20. If you prefer to set the table in advance, alternate settings for a more cohesive look. You'll be amazed how beautiful a set table of white dishes look against a dark wood table, tablecloth or place mat.

Use this same guideline when buying platters and serving bowls. And if you're afraid your deviled eggs will get lost on the white platter, buy a bag of baby spinach leaves and make a beautiful bed of greens for them to rest on (plus, it will keep them from sliding!).

02 November 2009

Kickoff to the holiday season!

When November arrives it's like we all get an excuse to start eating more, testing recipes and generally ogling foodie magazines.

First Thanksgiving and then Christmas, it's two months of kitchen fun. But along with all that fun can be some overwhelming tasks. Like what to do when you invite 10 people over and you have place settings for eight. And what about coordinating an entire day of cooking. And what, when you're expected to make a huge mid-day meal, do you really have to do breakfast, too?

In the next several weeks, I'll be posting my usual weekly recipe, but check back throughout the week to find additional tips on everything from baking to setting the table.

And in the spirit of the season of pumpkin, I'm giving a nod to a recipe I posted two years ago. It's an excellent pumpkin cake that is a must-have in your holiday repertoire.

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake with Buttermilk Icing, epicurious.com

For cake
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for greasing bundt pan
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for dusting pan
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pumpkin (from a 15-oz can; not pie filling)
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs

For icing
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons well-shaken buttermilk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar

Special equipment: a 10-inch nonstick bundt pan (3 qt)


Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter bundt pan generously, then dust with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour (2 1/4 cups), baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together pumpkin, 3/4 cup buttermilk, and vanilla in another bowl.

Beat butter (1 1/2 sticks) and granulated sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, 3 to 5 minutes, then add eggs and beat 1 minute. Reduce speed to low and add flour and pumpkin mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until batter is just smooth.

Spoon batter into pan, smoothing top, then bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool cake in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then invert rack over cake and re-invert cake onto rack. Cool 10 minutes more.

Make icing:
While cake is cooling, whisk together buttermilk and confectioners sugar until smooth. Drizzle icing over warm cake, then cool cake completely. Icing will harden slightly.

Cooks' note:
Cake can be made 3 days ahead and kept in an airtight container at room temperature.