Quince

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! IMG_2027.JPG

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.

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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.

 

Blueberry and orange cake… with Earl Grey

NPG D34953; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Samuel Cousins, published by and after  Sir Thomas LawrenceAs 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.

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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).

 

Challenge accepted! Walnut cake

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?

IMG_1802.JPGAs 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
125g butter
150g caster sugar
1 egg
3 teaspoons grated lemon rind
2 tablespoons brandy
50g plain flour
50g SR flour
SYRUP
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 ovIMG_1804.JPGer 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!

Acts of Kitchen: Cherry Cakes

AoK_logo_v2In which I talk about waffles and I get to talk to Cherry, of Cherry Cakes, and marvel at her baking prowess.

We’re sitting at John Gorilla Cafe, which is why it’s a bit noisy; if you want to try Cherry’s products for yourself that’s an easy way to do it!

Cherry Cakes – for your dessert catering needs

Cherry on Instagram: I just… these cakes are amazing

Caroline Khoo’s I’m Just Here for Dessert: the book, and the food9781743368824

 

I’m Just Here for Dessert

9781743368824I received this from Murdoch Books at no cost. RRP $39.99; out now. Today, I’ll discuss the book itself; tomorrow, the recipes.

I love dessert. I called my 30th birthday party “my just desserts” and served only dessert.

This is probably the most beautiful cookbook I have ever held in my hands. I mean, look at that cover. The edges of the pages are all gold. Inside, there are exquisite pictures of food and baking utensils and some of the inspiration for Khoo’s own creations – buildings, flowers, and so on. This is a delightful book to browse through.

Khoo opens the book with a discussion of why she started Nectar and Stone, some of the places she finds inspiration for her designs – florists and bookstores! – and a recommendation that you play with colour. I think this section is meant to be more inspiration than anything else, and that later chapters give a little more detail. She also discusses key ingredients – including, intriguingly, that she prefers to use Nuttelex rather than butter because of dairy intolerance. She also includes suggestions for how to dress a table, and some ideas about how to photograph your creations if you want to take instagram by storm.

The cooking chapters are the eleven ‘layers’ to the book – yes, like an epic cake that you’d be terrified of trying to cut. It covers meringues, cupcakes, (baked) donuts, macarons, ice cream, tarts, small and large cakes, waffles, cocktails, and popsicles. Each chapter has a basic recipe, a few suggestions for flavour variations, and then ideas about how to style them. Also a whole pile of pictures to either inspire you, or make you feel like you’ll never achieve their perfection!

One thing I like about the way she presents the recipes is that there’s a list of ingredients… and then a list of equipment. This, I appreciate a lot. The recipes themselves are presented clearly and the method is explained in a straightforward manner. She includes tips on things like what to do with buttercream if you’re making it in advance, while the entire section on macarons (which is only layer four!) has a whole pile of advice and reassurance. I haven’t tried them yet…

Although this is a hefty cookbook, there’s not that much recipe-substance to it; a lot of it is the pictures, both of food and Khoo’s inspiration – pots of paint, buildings, trees, and so on. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth knowing that this is not intended as an ‘everything you need to know about making dessert’ book. If you really want suggestions for how to experiment with flavours in ice cream, cupcakes, or cake, this is not the book for you. But if you want a gorgeous book to browse through, as a springboard for your own work – well, that’s what Khoo has written this book to be: she says she wants to “provide… the skills and tools you’ll need to shape your personal style of dessert design” (14). So it’s light on specific direction and heavy on general advice to ‘let your creative juices flow’.