Spice- Rubbed Roast Turkey

Cover recipe from Martha Stewart Living, November 2009
Spice-Rubbed Roast Turkey
TurkeyLiving2There are some cover recipes that rather intimidate me.  Martha Stewart Living is sometimes one of those covers.  Seems like Martha tends to put her prettiest, most fancy recipe on the cover but not necessarily the easiest to make. I consider myself an above-average cook, but I certainly don’t feel very capable of pulling off many of the more gourmet-type recipes.  Challenges are what I live for in the world of food blogging though, and so I’m willing to tackle pretty much anything.   Living will definitely present the more (needed) challenges for me as I navigate this new covers blog.

November’s cover of Living features a turkey dinner.  I chose to make the Herb-Roasted Turkey as well as the Shiitake Mushroom Stuffing and Aleppo Pepper Gravy to go along with it.  I’ve only made a couple of turkeys in all my years, and honestly I’ve never made one without my mother peeking over my shoulder to make sure I’m doing it right.  Mom wasn’t around for this one… I did it all by myself.  The directions were very clear and easy to follow for each of the recipes, and my turkey turned out to be a moist and tender success.  That’s all you can hope for in a turkey, right?  I’m not sure the basting liquid did much beyond keeping the turkey moist.  We didn’t really taste any flavor related to the basting on the turkey itself. 
TurkingLiving1Spice-Rubbed Roast Turkey
Source:  Martha Stewart Living, November 2009

1 whole fresh turkey (20 to 24 pounds)
sausage (or shiitake mushroom) stuffing (recipe here)
2 naval oranges, halved
coarse salt
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. ground Aleppo pepper or paprika (plus more, if desired)
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup dry white wine
persimmons, for garnish (optional)
fresh sage, for garnish (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Rinse inside and outside of turkey; pat dry with paper towels.  Transfer to a large roasting pan.  Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour.  Tuck wings under turkey.  Fill cavity loosely with stuffing, and tie legs together with kitchen twine.  Squeeze 1 orange over the turkey.  Season outside of turkey generously with salt, and sprinkle with pepper (or paprika).  Gently rub seasonings into turkey.
2.  Heat juice of remaining orange, the butter, and wine in a small saucepan over medium heat until butter melts.  Roast turkey, basting every half hour with melted-butter mixture until thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh registers 165 degrees F., 3 1/2 to 4 hours.  Halfway through, rotate pan and cover with foil.
3.  Remove stuffing and transfer to a 5×9-inch loaf pan.  Bake until stuffing reaches 165 degrees F., about 30 minutes more.  Meanwhile, let turkey stand for 30 minutes.  Transfer to a platter; reserve pan juices in roasting pan for Aleppo pepper gravy (recipe follows).  Carve turkey.  Garnish with persimmons and sage, if desired.

Aleppo Pepper Gravy
Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups

Pan juices from Spice-Rubbed Roast Turkey, in roasting pan
1 1/4 cups homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 ounce (2 Tbsp.) unsalted butter

1.  Pour pan juices through a fine sieve into a glass measuring cup, and skim off fat.  Let stand for 5 minutes, then skim off fat again. 
2.  Return pan juices to roasting pan.  Set pan across 2 burners over medium heat.  Bring to a simmer, and cook, scraping up browned bits with a wooden spoon, for 2 to 3 minutes.
3.  Whisk together 1/2 cup stock and the flour in a small bowl until smooth.  Add remaining 3/4 cup stock to pan juices.  Bring to a simmer.  Whisk in flour mixture, and return to a simmer.  Cook until mixture thickens, 4 to 5 minutes.  Add more stock if gravy is too thick or too salty.  Whisk in butter to finish.  Serve warm.

Notes from Culinary Covers:
*My wings would not tuck under my turkey.  I’m not quite sure what is meant by that.
*I did not have Aleppo Pepper so I used Paprika instead.  If you’re not familiar with Aleppo Pepper, Living describes it as a Syrian pepper that is mildly spicy, smoky and complex.  The recipe calls for a generous amount because most of it ends up the gravy, giving it a mysterious richness.  I’m going to pick up some of that Aleppo Pepper from Penzey’s since I keep coming across recipes that call for it.  Paprika is a bit tricky to “rub” into the turkey (I just kind of patted it on).
*I had to put foil on my turkey less than half-way through as the skin started getting too dark.
*The stuffing is a new favorite for us, and I featured it on my other website today:  www.RecipeGirl.com/blog .
*The gravy was easy to make, but I wonder how different the flavor would be if I used Aleppo Pepper instead of Paprika.
*If you’re new to turkey roasting (like me), this recipe is very easy to follow.  It wasn’t the daunting gourmet recipe I was expecting from this magazine. 
*Trying to photograph a roasted turkey while you’re scrambling around trying to last-minute prepare all of the side dishes that go with it is not an easy task!
*The persimmons that garnish the turkey in my photograph came from San Diego’s Specialty Produce.

Did this recipe deserve the cover?  Sure, although I get tired of seeing turkeys on November covers… it seems like that’s what America wants this time of year.  The turkey itself was fabulous, and the stuffing & gravy were too.

Lori is the founder of RecipeGirl.com. She's a professional recipe developer and food writer, and she's the author of The Recipe Girl Cookbook (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: April 2013). Beyond food, Lori enjoys traveling, being outdoors, running, and maybe even singing a little karaoke. The mountains near Lake Tahoe are home for Lori and her husband of 18 years. They have an 12 year-old son who blogs at RecipeBoy.com.

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27 Responses to “Simple Layer Cake with Vanilla Frosting”

  1. 1

    Averie @ Averie Cooks — May 20, 2013 @ 5:10 am

    Thanks for the review! It puzzles me too about the cake mix when cakes like this are practically as easy!

    I just got a cookbook about cooking with edible flowers. I have been loving reading/learning about a whole new world to me. Who knew you could bake with dandelions. I sure didn’t!

  2. 2

    Kelster — May 20, 2013 @ 7:31 am

    Your perfect wedding cake cupcakes are made with cake mix so they aren’t all soooo bad. But anyway, I bake from scratch a lot but I can understand why some will reach for a cake mix. A lot of my friends don’t bake often and so they don’t keep certain ingredients on hand. They have no use for baking powder so they don’t buy it. It’s easier to just grab a box of cake mix whenever they feel the need to bake a cake instead of getting a can of baking powder just for 2 teaspoons and not being able to use it all before it’s no longer active. I have other friends who rarely have flour on hand. It seems like it would be a staple but for some it’s not.

    • Lori Lange replied: — May 20th, 2013 @ 7:53 am

      That is such a good point… it’s so commonplace for me to have all baking ingredients at hand, but totally understandable for those who don’t bake! And you’re right- those Wedding Cupcakes are pretty darn good for a boxed mix.

  3. 3

    Laurie @ A Wiener Dog in the Kitchen — May 20, 2013 @ 12:34 pm

    I totally agree, Lori. It’s just as easy to make it from scratch and only usually takes a couple of extra steps, but the results are so much better. Your cake is gorgeous and not having had lunch yet, is making me totally hungry… I could put away a slice right now.

  4. 4

    sara — May 20, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    This cake looks so amazing! Love the edible dandelions…I haven’t seen those before but they’re really pretty! :)

  5. 5

    Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen — May 20, 2013 @ 3:05 pm

    What a great basic cake to feature here at Culinary Covers! Interesting about the frosting. Warm kitchens can sometimes be the culprit with butter that is a bit soft. Your tip of starting with just 3 tablespoons of liquid (milk) is spot on for the home baker. Thanks for sharing, Lori!

  6. 6

    Kim L. — May 20, 2013 @ 3:33 pm

    I am having friends over for dinner on Thursday and wast trying to come up with a desert. Problem solved!

    Oh, and about the box mixes… Growing up my mom made everything from scratch except for cakes. She always used a box. When I got married and was on my own, I used box cakes for a long time too because I assumed that they were really hard to make. Glad I learned the truth!

    • Lori Lange replied: — May 20th, 2013 @ 3:45 pm

      My Mom always made spice cake from a box. I loved it then and I still love boxed spice cake now too :)

  7. 7

    Jill P. (@MamaGing.com) — May 20, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

    This sounds perfect! I’ve been in search for a good, simple (not just using egg whites) vanilla cake recipe. I can not handle boxed mixes – they have such a chemical, mass produced taste to them, as well as canned frosting. When I see a delicious recipe on Pinterest and and soon as I see that first ingredient says a boxed mix, I immediately back out. My mother made most everything from scratch and I try to too. My new years resolution is no canned cream of whatever soups… make my own! Thanks for sharing this one, this I WILL pin! ;)

  8. 8

    Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet — May 20, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    The cake came out gorgeous, Lori! I love your thoughts on the cake. Definitely will be trying it! And edible dandelions? Who knew? Pinning!

  9. 9

    Katrina — May 20, 2013 @ 8:14 pm

    Beautiful! And I agree–why do people used boxed cake mixes. sigh

  10. 10

    Faith — May 21, 2013 @ 7:34 am

    This cake is such a beauty – I love Martha Stewart Living for the same reasons you mentioned above. I’m glad this cake was a winner flavor-wise too!

  11. 11

    Deborah Harroun — May 21, 2013 @ 8:31 am

    This is so pretty! I’m on the search for the perfect yellow cake so I definitely need to give this one a try!

  12. 12

    Tieghan — May 21, 2013 @ 7:35 pm

    Sp pretty!! I am not normally a yellow cake person, but this one just looks so good! I need to venture away from chocolate and make it!

  13. 13

    Renee @ Awesome on $20 — May 21, 2013 @ 11:50 pm

    I love a quick simple cake. This one looks beautiful. I’d love to give it a try. I also love decorating cakes with flowers. It just looks so simple and beautiful.

  14. 14

    Donalyn@The Creekside Cook — May 23, 2013 @ 4:49 pm

    I definitely hang out with food bloggers too much – the idea of using a mix always shocks me just a tiny bit. This cake looks wonderful and I love a nice vanilla cake, so I’ll be giving it a try – thanks for the review!

  15. 15

    Clover — May 23, 2013 @ 5:52 pm

    That cake looks perfect. I will definitely be setting aside this recipe for a special occasion. Thanks for the review.

  16. 16

    Donna @ The Slow Roasted Italian — May 24, 2013 @ 10:25 am

    What a lovely cake. I am tucking this one away. I have found such awful recipes for yellow cake and would love to try this one.

  17. 17

    Darla — May 24, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    Just baked this cake this morning! I didn’t want to do layers so I did a 9×13 cake pan. It worked beautifully and the cake had such a smooth level top, my cakes don’t usually come out that nice. It has a very nice light tender crumb to it, reminiscent of a cake mix, but it tastes soooooo much better! Made a half a batch of frosting as well and since I like my frosting with a light touch, we still have enough leftover for a pan of cinnamon rolls! :) Thanks for sharing this recipe, Lori…will definitely make it again!

  18. 18

    Suzanne — May 24, 2013 @ 8:45 pm

    I made this as cupcakes & it was really good!

  19. 19

    chris — May 28, 2013 @ 10:36 am

    Hi Lori, I am looking forward to making this cake, however, it states-“Yield: One 8-inch layer cake; but the
    instructions state-“Butter two 8-inch round cake pans.” Could you let me know which to use?
    I just bought your cookbook and can’t wait to make some of those delicious recipes!!

    • Lori Lange replied: — May 28th, 2013 @ 11:41 am

      Hi Chris- One 8-inch layer cake means that you will butter two 8-inch round cake pans (the layer cake uses two round pans). Does that make sense? I hope you enjoy my cookbook!

  20. 20

    Teana — February 24, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    im 13 yrs old and did this cake yesterday b/c i want to become a baker i wish i could see Lori so she can help me work on cakes for in the future thanks lori for putting this up !

    • Lori Lange replied: — February 25th, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

      You’re welcome!

  21. 21

    Mary — February 25, 2014 @ 2:05 am

    This is my first cake from scratch and it was a great success. The texture, moistness and density was perfect. It was truly simple to make. The batter tasted great too. It will be our ‘go to’ vanilla cake recipe from now on.

    • Lori Lange replied: — February 25th, 2014 @ 6:59 pm

      Glad to hear it worked out so well for you!

  22. 22

    Mary — February 25, 2014 @ 2:09 am

    One more comment. For the middle I spread a thin layer of strawberry (or raspberry) jam and then put icing on. It gives it a little ‘other’ flavor which complements the vanilla nicely.

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