If you’re a support me on Patreon at either the top or second to top level, you get to suggest a recipe for me to try twice a year. My mother has taken me up on this twice. First, she suggested a walnut cake, which I actually made at her house so wasn’t that lucky for her. The second was to make a quince and pistachio cake which she got from a Women’s Weekly cookbook.
Friends, I have never worked with quince before. It will be Some Time before I do so again, because OH MY WORD the peeling and the cutting and the coring! What a pain in the butt!
You cook the quince first, for this recipe, and then layer it into the cake tin and then make this awesome thick cake batter with just a bit of the quince and pour it over. I’ll admit, this cake was utterly delicious… even if it turned out I hadn’t cored the quince quite well enough. I was sad that the quince didn’t come out on top of the cake; it stuck to the paper when I inverted it. However, it dealt quite well with me scraping the bits out and putting them back on top in spots that looked a bit light on in the quince department.
We ate quite a lot of it, and then I took it to work so that we didn’t eat all of it. It’s fair to say that it was scoffed very quickly and with many mutterings of appreciation.
As part of my Year of the Earl, I’m also looking to bake with Earl Grey in various different ways. So when I found a blueberry and orange cake with Earl Grey syrup in Annabel Crabbe’s Special Delivery, I was pretty excited.
The cake itself is blueberries and ricotta and orange zest, and it’s pretty straightforward. You make the batter, layer half of it in a springform pan, put most of the blueberries in the middle, and then cover with the rest of the batter and scatter a few berries on top.
While it’s cooking, you make a syrup. The original recipe called for Lady Grey, but I decided to make a change – WHAT A NOT-SURPRISE – because I don’t actually have a lot of Lady Grey (waaaat?!). I do, however, have a great deal of French Earl Grey and I figured that the flavours in that would complement the berries and orange well enough.
So the syrup is three teabags’ worth of tea, steeped for about 5 minutes, then boiled with orange juice and sugar for a little bit. And the syrup itself was very nice, but… not really very Earl Grey-y. I’m honestly not convinced it made much of a difference; and I can’t see that making it with Lady Grey would have been any different. Maybe the tea needs to steep for longer, to get more tannins or something? I don’t know. Maybe a bit less orange, since that was the dominant flavour for me.
Anyway. It was a very nice cake and I’m happy to have made it (although I think I over-mixed it as it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I expected).
Over on Patreon, patrons at a certain level get to challenge me twice a year to make something… interesting. My mum challenged me to make a walnut cake that she adores. Challenge accepted! And since I am currently visiting said maternal figure, and we’ve got people coming over for dinner tomorrow, what better timing could there be?
As a rule I am the one helping out in the kitchen when I come to visit, but today Mum decided to let me do stuff myself… except for some of the cleaning up. That she insisted on doing before I could get to it.
Torta di Noci
2 cups walnuts, toasted
150g caster sugar
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons brandy
50g plain flour
50g SR flour
60ml lemon juice
55g caster sugar
Grease springform tin, line base with baking paper. Process nuts until finely chopped.
Beat butter, sugar, and egg in small bowl till light and fluffy. Transfer to large bowl (but really? who does that? even Mum said she doesn’t do that), stir in rind and brandy.
Stir in nuts and sifted flours.
Spread into prepared tin, bake in moderately slow oven for about an hour.
Meanwhile, SYRUP: Combine ingredients in small pan. Stir over heat without boiling, until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat.
Pour hot syrup over hot cake. Cover with foil, cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours. Serve dusted with sifted icing sugar if desired.
Between you and me, I think this was more of a “I think you’ll like this cake” rather than a challenge – not that I’m complaining. I’m certainly looking forward to eating it, and it was nice to actually cook something for the first time in ages!