I’m going to show you how easy it is to cook a cake on the gas grill using wood chunks for added flavor. I simply love how chocolate reacts to smoke vapor and this chocolate recipe of mine is simply outstanding for the grill.
The gas grill was originally intended to provide for a quick cook method but I view this as an extension of the indoor kitchen as the grill really is an oven. I’m going to turn my grill into a wood-burning oven by incorporating a smoker box that I’ve added cherry wood chunks too.
Why is this referred to as a “war” cake? During World War I and II, eggs, butter, and milk were rationed. Although I am including one egg in this recipe, I still consider this a variation of the “war” cake. You certainly can make any variation you find as there are lots of options available online.
Let’s gather our simple ingredients, heat up the grill, and make perfection in a chocolate cake!
If you follow my gas grill recipes, then you know I am a fan of the two-zone cooking method. By lighting the burners on only half the grill and placing the food on the unlit side, I can guarantee controlled temperature that allows me to walk away like I do with my indoor oven.
I start by adding two cherry wood chunks to a metal smoker box. I place this box under the grill grate, directly on a burner heat shield. Next, I turn those burners on to medium and allow the grill to warm up while I make my cake batter.
The Unusual Batter
First, I butter an 8-inch square cake pan and set aside (you can use the non-stick cooking spray if you prefer). I start with the dry ingredients: 1-1/2 cups (7-1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar, ½ teaspoon baking soda and ¼ teaspoon table salt. Whisk all this together in a large bowl and set aside.
With the dry ingredients prepared, it’s time to start on the wet. In a medium bowl, combine ½ cup (2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder and 2 ounces high quality, bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine. Pour over the chocolates 1 cup of hot coffee, whisking to aid melting. Allow cooling then whisk in 2/3 cup mayonnaise, 1 egg, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
Tasting Notes: Whenever you bake on the grill, it is important to use a two-zone cooking method rather than direct heat cooking. This will reduce the risk of burning the batter or producing off flavors, especially if you use a charcoal grill.
Grilling the Cake
With the beautiful chocolate batter finished, it’s time to pour this into the prepared dish. Note you can use disposable pans or glass, ceramic – any high heat pan works just fine.
I check the cake about ½ way through the 35-minute cooking time. If I see that there is some uneven cooking occurring, I simply rotate the pan and position where there are no cold spots. An infrared thermometer will help locate any cold/hot spots.
After grilling until firm to the touch or, you can do the toothpick test – insert a toothpick in the center and if it comes out clean, the cake is done – I remove the pan from the grill and let cool for 2 hours untouched. After the cooling time, I invert the cake onto a cutting board. At this point, you can sift some powdered sugar over the top of the cake or serve with a side of whipped cream. Any way you serve this, it is going to be loved, with the serving plate cleaned quickly. Baked on the Grill is fun!
Tasting Notes: This cake can also be served with some additional fruit flavoring pairings like cherries, figs, raspberry, pear, and strawberry. You still will maintain a 350°F grilling temperature.
The finished slices of our ZUCCHINI BREAD & CAKE ON THE GRILL
ZUCCHINI BREAD & CAKE ON THE GRILL
Listen to The finished slices of our ZUCCHINI BREAD & CAKE ON THE GRILL
I love making traditional baking items on the grill especially when wood is added for a kick of flavor that can make some normal recipes totally unique. That’s how I feel about this recipe for zucchini-coconut-lime bread/cake. It has to have two names as I’m giving you two finishes so you have something more savory like a bread and something sweet like a dessert. Don’t ignore large, fresh zucchini that you see in your garden or farmer’s market or even the local store. Pick up a beauty and come to the grill with me for this great two loaf recipe.
Two Bowls & One Grill
There’s minimal preparation that needs to be done for this bread/cake combination. One thing I love about zucchini bread/cake is there’s nothing complicated about it.
To start, head out to the grill and light the burners on only half the grill. On the lit side, place wood chunks directly on the heat shields or burner covers. This will produce that fantastic wood vapor that is going to super flavor our bread/cake. I’ve set my burners to medium which should bring them to 325°F, the perfect temperature to bring these two loaves to the finish. For the loaf pans, simply spray with non-stick cooking spray or butter generously. Now, let’s get the batter made.
Tasting Notes: If you’re leery about putting wood pieces directly on your heat shields than you can use a metal smoker box to hold the wood. Try to get one that will still fit between your grill grate and the heat shield, otherwise, you’ll have to put the box on the grill grate which will take longer to heat up and start the wood smoking.
The Double Duty Batter
To start our batter, get a large bowl to combine the dry ingredients first. Add 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1-1/2 cups sugar, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, and 1 cup shredded or flaked coconut. Combine well and set aside. Next, we’ll prepare the wet ingredients.
In a medium bowl combine 2 cups of raw, unpeeled, grated zucchini, 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, ¾ cup oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla, 3 beaten eggs, 1 tablespoon lime juice, and 2 teaspoons lime zest. This batter will be quite thick. Here’s a trick with the zucchini: be sure once you grate the zucchini you place it between paper towels and remove the excess water. If you leave the excess moisture, the batter will become watery and affect how the bread/cake rises.
With the dry and wet ingredients made, it’s time to combine them. Place the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well by hand. Divide the batter in half and pour into the prepared loaf pans. Place the filled loaf pans on the unlit side of the grill and c
lose the lid. This batter will take 75 minutes to cook so I check the cake about ½ way through and rotate the pans. I also make sure the wood chunks are still producing smoke. If not, I add new wood. Once cooked, I remove the pans from the grill and cool on wire racks.
Tasting Notes: Whenever you bake on the grill, it is important to use a two-zone cooking method rather than direct heat cooking. This will reduce the risk of burning the batter or producing off flavors, especially if you use a charcoal grill. This recipe can be altered to fit your taste. If you don’t like coconut but still want something sweet, feel free to swap out the cup of coconut for chocolate or butterscotch chips.
When a Bread Becomes Cake
Once cooled, I remove the loaves from the pans and place on a serving platter. I take 1/3 cup of flaked coconut and toast in the oven or on the grill until lightly browned. Time to make a glaze that will sweeten up this loaf some more, turning one loaf into a cake.
For the glaze, combine 1 cup powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of lime juice. Using a fork, I drizzle the glaze over the loaf in a rapid side-to-side motion. While the glaze is still wet, I sprinkle on the toasted coconut and additional lime zest. That’s it! Now you can sample both loaves and decide which is your favorite. As a bread or a sweet cake.
Tasting Notes: If you prefer a lemon flavor you can swap out the lime juice for lemon and the lime zest for lemon zest. Orange works well too!
Try our Mushroom tapenade on the grill with Peppers
MUSHROOM TAPENADE ON THE WOOD GRILL
Listen to how we did Mushroom Tapenade on the grill!
I’m the type of person who likes to put their own spin on a traditional recipe and make it my own. I’m also one to take liberties with traditional ingredients in that recipe. That’s why I found a great way to use all those peppers I have growing in my vegetable garden in a recipe take on the traditional tapenade.
I’m using a combination of Hungarian and cubanelle peppers in this great topping that will include portabella mushrooms as well.
Grab some of your favorite peppers and learn how easy it is to make great recipes on the gas grill with hardwood for another flavor level.
Where to Start
Normally, tapenade is made with very precise cuts to the olives, usually a fine dice. I’m not going to be as precise with my cuts but will be doing a dice on the peppers and a rough chop on the portabella mushrooms. Before getting the main vegetables started for the tapenade, I want to heat up the grill so my wood chunks will already be smoking. I turn the burners on medium for one half of the grill only. On that side, I place a metal smoker box that has a couple of hardwood chunks, directly on my heat shield of a hot burner. Close the lid and let the grill get to 325°F.
Meanwhile, I’ve picked some fabulous sweet and hot peppers from my garden and purchased some great looking portabella mushrooms to be the main component of my tapenade. I carefully remove the seeds and membranes from about ten peppers and dice fine. I coarse chop the mushrooms and add this to a pan. Then I drizzle about 1 tablespoon of oil, I’m using avocado oil, on the vegetables and one stick of melted butter to the pan. I season with a little salt and fresh ground pepper and mix. This pan will go on the unlit side of the grill. Close the lid and allow to wood grill for 45 minutes.
Tasting Notes: Since I’m taking liberties with what can go in a tapenade, feel free to experiment with other vegetables you may have available like eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomato, etc.
Although tapenades are usually oil based, I’m making mine with more of a creamy undertone to balance the hot pepper flavor. I start by placing 1 cup of ricotta cheese in a bowl. I add about ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar – I’m using a tangerine flavor. Then in go my fresh herbs – rosemary, tarragon, and oregano. Mix together and prepare to add to the grilled and wood smoked vegetables after they’ve cooked for about 45 minutes.
With the sauce constructed, it’s time to add it to the buttery wood-fired vegetables. Place the sauce in the pan of vegetables and mix it well. Let this cook on the grill for another 15 minutes. The creaminess of the ricotta will counter the spicy peppers to make this a refreshing topping. Obviously, this basic recipe can be used with a variety of vegetables. Simply alter the sauce ingredients to balance what your vegetable focus is. I prefer this tapenade version on crostini for an appetizer, directly on animal proteins whether beef, turkey, chicken, pork or game. It also works extremely well on an animal protein sandwich such as brisket and pork shoulder. And, on pasta – well, let’s just say, make a lot! This is just another example of how easy the two-zone method using wood for flavor is on just about any food.
Tasting Notes: If you prefer not to use a cheese in the sauce, you can make this with Greek yogurt. I recommend you add about 2 teaspoons of arrowroot or another thickener to bring the consistency in line with a cheese-type sauce.
Look how juicy our Rosemary infused Smoked Beef Shanks are after we removed them from the grill!
ROSEMARY INFUSED SMOKED BEEF SHANKS FROM THE GRILL
I’m back with another recipe for beef shanks that takes advantage of seasonal herbs with a simple smoking technique that can be done on your gas or charcoal grill. I’ve been busy in the kitchen with another seasonal harvest so I’m going to cook my beef shanks on the gas grill using my favorite two-zone cooking method that allows me to step away from the grill. Of course, I want some wood flavoring in these shanks so I’ll be using cherry wood chunks in a standard metal smoking box.
It is considered one of the ideal flavor pairings for beef: rosemary. Similar to sage, it contains more pine and floral notes and is sweeter than other herbs. You will find many varieties that have some variation to the traditional rosemary flavor. Here are some of the characteristic flavors: lemon-pine, clove and nutmeg, and even a smoky character in a variety called Sissinghurst Blue.
Beef is predominately a salty flavor with some sweetness. If the animal is grass-fed than the flavor of the meat will be much fuller.
I’ve placed a grill rack in a disposable foil pan, added some rosemary sprigs from my garden to the rack and then applied a drizzle of avocado oil, salt, and pepper to the shanks on one side, laying the seasoned side on the rack. Then I repeat the oil, salt, and pepper on the exposed side and apply some rosemary sprigs on top. That’s it! These are now ready for the grill.
Tasting Notes: Other seasonal herbs that are perfect for using in place of rosemary include: mint, parsley, dill. Although I used avocado oil, since you are not grilling over direct heat, you can use other oils such as olive, almond, walnut, grapeseed, coconut, sesame, etc.
Smoking on the Gas Grill
I prepare my LP/Gas grill by lighting only half the burners. I set these burners to medium heat to start. Next, I place my metal smoker box containing two SmokinLicious® wild cherry wood chunks on the hot burners, right under the grill grate. Allow this to heat up and start smoking. The radiant heat capture in the grill will cook my beef shanks without them having to be exposed to the direct heat. Perfect way for me to be able to walk away from the grill. When I’m ready to grill, I check the temperature readout to try to hit between 300-325°F for cooking, as to me, this is the heat level that tenderizes my beef shanks to where I like them. If the temperature reads higher, I just turn down the burners slightly. Below, just a tweak up.
I leave the beef shanks untouched for about 35 to 40 minutes at which time, I may need to swap out the charred wood pieces for some fresh in the smoker box. That’s when I give the beef a turnover. Just one turn is all you will need. I like to pull my beef off the grill at about 135°F so that when I get it to the table, it will be at a perfect medium-rare. I also prefer to slice the beef off the bone and serve the marrow bone with some toasted bread – which can be done on the grill as well – that I’ve merely rubbed with some fresh garlic clove or smoked tomato. So simple yet so unforgettable in flavor. The season’s best beef shank and rosemary infused in less than 75 minutes.
If using a charcoal grill, still use a two-zone cooking set up meaning charcoal on only one side of the grill. Be sure you only cook with hot coals, no flames. Slow cooking these Rosemary infused smoked Beef Shanks will reward your guest and yourself with a wonderful meal!
The serving picture of our SPICY BUTTER FOR SMOKY GRILLED CORN- Try This!
SPICY BUTTER FOR SMOKY GRILLED CORN
Corn is one of those vegetables that has an extended season to allow you to do all kinds of recipes and techniques. Given that there are times when you frankly don’t have a lot of time to stand over a grill to do whole ears of corn, I’m giving you an easy technique to add smoke flavor using a handheld food smoker. Then, I’ll give you a recipe for a spicy butter to coat the corn in to bring out the best in this seasonal vegetable. I’ll also provide some flavor pairings that work great for other butter topping recipes. Go visit your favorite corn seller and pick up some fresh corn.
I’ve purchased 6 ears of corn and have boiled them in water until tender, which is the most traditional way of cooking corn. I allow them to cool enough to handle, then using a sharp knife, I stand the ear of corn on its wide end and cut the kernels from the cob into a disposable foil pan. If you cook the corn and then refrigerate it prior to removing the kernels, know that the kernels will not come off individually but as one long strand. Don’t worry about reducing these strands as when we add the butter topping, it will break down the kernels. Next, I’ll be taking the fresh kernels to the smoke using the Breville-PolyScience The Smoking Gun Pro Smoke Infuser which is a cold smoke application anyone can do!
Cold Smoke Infusion
If you’re familiar with The Smoking Gun™ note that the version I’m using was a collaboration between Breville and PolyScience, the originator of the concept, and designed specifically for commercial use. It is manufactured from heavier materials and can stand independently while you work the smoke vapor production.
I’ve gathered together my pan of previously cooked corn kernels, the handheld food smoke infuser, SmokinLicious® Minuto® wood chips in size #8, a lighter, a plastic food bag, and a cable tie. After sliding my corn pan into the plastic bag, I place a pinch or two of the wood chips in the unit’s bowl, extend the smoking tube into the plastic bag, Then pinch off the end of the bag around the tube, and lite the chips.
Tasting Notes: You may select any hardwood microchip for the smoking but do note that this infuser produces a lot of smoke vapor. I tend to recommend using light to medium boldness levels of hardwood: Ash, Maple, Cherry.
After placing the corn pan in the plastic bag and lighting the chips with the handheld food infuser, I synch the bag’s end tightly around the tubing. This allows me to trap all the smoke vapor in the bag and surround the corn. Once filled – the bag will expand – I turn off the smoker, remove the tubing, and attach a cable tie to the bag’s end. I prefer to wait until the smoke vapor has dissipated from the bag. That’s when I cut the tie and remove the corn tray from the bag. Time to take this to the kitchen and make a spicy butter for the fresh, smoked corn.
Time to share my recipe for a spicy butter that works perfectly with the sweetness of the corn.
First, melt 1-1/2 sticks of butter over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons chili-garlic sauce, 2 tablespoons Chipotle Chili pepper, 2 tablespoons lime or lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce. Whisk together, then remove from heat. This will be poured directly over the smoked corn and reheated until warmed through. Serve immediately.
There are so many options for corn that it depends if you want a spicy flavor, sweet, savory, or citrus. In addition to the spicy butter recipe I provided, here are some other flavor combinations that work just as well:
Truffle Butter: garlic, butter, truffle oil, salt & pepper
Sundried Tomato Butter: butter, chopped sundried tomato, basil, parsley and a sprinkle of Parmesan
Our Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition with sweet onion, Tomatoes, and fresh herbs!
GRILLEDPEACHES FOR THE PERFECT SALAD ADDITION
If you’ve been a follower of our recipes and techniques for a while, then you’re aware of our preference to grill, smoke, coal cook, and ember fire in-season produce. Peaches are no exception!
I’ve got my two quarts of fresh peaches and a plan to grill these on the charcoal grill using charwood coals. Then I’ll use my luscious smoked peaches in a salad that features two additional seasonal ingredients – tomato and shallots.
Get your chimney starter of charwood or charcoal and meet me at the grill for this quick technique and recipe featuring peaches.
Fire Up the Grill!
Whenever you use the charcoal grill, it’s always best to get it lit about 30 minutes ahead of cooking. I’m using a kettle-style grill made by Stôk that has a removable center grate for an assortment of inserts. I won’t be using any inserts for this cook as my peaches will stay in a disposable foil pan for easy cooking and removal.
Start by placing charcoal or charwood in a chimney starter. Place a Fire starter in the charcoal area of the grill and place the filled chimney starter over the starter. Lite the Fire starter and allow to remain in place until all the charwood has ignited and started to reduce to hot coals. While that’s burning, let’s prepare the peaches. Be sure you have a couple of wood chunks available to add to the coals when we are ready to grill. I like to use the single filet wood chunk size from SmokinLicious®.
Tasting Notes: there are differences in charcoal so be sure to use a natural charcoal or charwood product rather than briquets as briquets will produce more heat than you need.
Perfect Peach Bites
With our charcoal grill going, it’s time to start on the peaches. There are a few ways to remove the skin from peaches including placing them in hot water for a few minutes then removing and placing in a bowl of ice water. The skins will just peel off. I’m an old school so I use a sharp paring knife and just remove the skin.
Once the skin is removed, it’s time to cut the peach into bite-size pieces. You can easily cut around the pit and cut those slices into pieces. Place all the pieces in a foil pan in an even layer.
Tasting Notes: Try to purchase peaches that have some firmness to them if you don’t plan to grill them right away. The peaches should have no bruising and have a slight give when touched. Too soft and those peaches won’t hold their shape when exposed to the grill’s heat.
With the peaches prepared, time to take them to the grill. Pour the chimney of hot coals into the grill’s charcoal area and add the wood chunks. Add the pan of prepared peaches and placed the lid on the grill. Be sure the outtake vent on the lid is ½ way open. The intake vent at the charcoal area should be ¼ way open. Now allow smoking for 15 minutes prior to checking. Remember, we want to add smoke without reducing the peaches to a puree.
Tasting Notes: Since peaches contain 89% water, they take in the smoke vapor extremely well. Keep that in mind when you select both the charcoal and wood. Remember, oak based charcoal tends to burn hot and has a stronger undertone to fruit.
Final Salad Prep- Grilled Peaches for the perfect salad addition!
While the peaches are absorbing all that great smoke flavor, return to the kitchen and prepare the remaining ingredients for our salad.
1 lb. tomatoes cut into 1/2’” pieces; or if using cherry or grape tomato, halved
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for final drizzle
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
½ teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 shallot, sliced thin
fresh mint leaves torn
salt and pepper
I start by slicing my tomatoes in half, then add a teaspoon of salt to them while sitting in a colander so I can render some of the water.
While the tomatoes sit, I start slicing the shallot into thin strips. At this point, you’ll want to check the peaches. They should be close to or ready to remove from the grill. I like to place them in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes to cool them down for the salad. While that’s happening, let’s prepare the vinaigrette.
I prefer to mix all the vinaigrette ingredients in a measuring cup so I can easily pour it to the salad right before serving, to keep the tomato and peach from getting too soggy. Start with the extra virgin olive oil and add the rice vinegar. Next, the lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and fresh pepper. Whisk it all together and set aside while you combine the salad ingredients.
Tasting Notes: you can substitute cider vinegar for the rice vinegar and any color of tomato will do though I lean toward the reds and purples to give a color contrast from the orange peach.
Smoked peaches go into the serving bowl first, following by the tomatoes, and shallots. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad within an hour of serving and top with the torn mint leaves. A perfect balance of sweet, tart, smoky, and refreshing. An easy method and recipe you can have in 60 minutes. I love peaches so try our grilled peaches for the perfect salad addition for your next dish to pass! You will tantalize the guest taste buds!