Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Do-It-All cake

I am turning into my mother. She told me it would happen, more than once, with a wicked - borderline evil - smile on her face. And now it has. I have little flecks of grey around my temples, exactly where she had them, am evangelical about public libraries... and I simply cannot bear to let the smallest skerrick of food go to waste. I am constantly making ricotta (and freezing it) with milk about to expire, or zesting citrus I need for juice (another ziplock bag freezer stash) or burying bits and pieces of wilting greens in curries. Last week I had half a carton of cream in my fridge to use up. Happily, it was exactly the amount needed for this recipe, which I'd had bookmarked for ages since first reading about it on Food52

It's the simple cakes I gravitate most to these days. This one - dubbed Do-It-All Cake - by its author, Danish cook Nadine Levy Redzepi (wife of RenĂ©, head chef and founder of Noma in Copenhagen) is monk-like in its simplicity. But that's probably not the right analogy for something so rich, delicious and slightly subversive. The latter comes from the use of salted butter, rather than the traditional unsalted, and additionally, a light sprinkling of sea salt over the batter before it goes in the oven, which perfectly balances the creamy sweetness of it all. 

This cake is the very definition of something being more than the sum of its parts. All the ingredients are everyday ones, there's nothing more to making it than a bit of beating and folding but it leaves your whole house smelling amazing and tastes incredible with a cup of black coffee. I wish I could make it for my mum but it does the next best thing, by making me think of her.

Thursday, 25 April 2019

Fresh fig and ricotta cake

I've had my head down working for the last little while but the Sunday before Easter I took a much needed day off. With friends I made my way to a new swimming spot, a secluded Sydney harbour beach off West Head in the Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park. The occasion called for cake and this one was a winner, both before and after our dip. Not too sweet, lightly lemony, and showcasing in-season figs as stunning as our surrounds. 

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Neapolitan pound cake

It's been a long time between cakes. Don't get me wrong - I've been eating them just not making them as I've been away from my oven and busy with work. But I had a birthday last week. I don't know what's happening, but as I get older, my taste in birthday cake seems to be regressing. This year, and last, my cake of choice has been this Neapolitan pound cake - basically a marble cake of vanilla, chocolate and well... pink. It's an Ottolenghi recipe so it's a little bit adult I suppose but there's nothing terribly mature about something smothered in pink drippy icing. But maybe that's the point. I made it for the first time last year to take on a houseboat called Wallamba so my friends who shared that adventure with me - and this year's smaller scale south coast celebration - now refer to it as Wallamba cake, which seems perfect as birthday cake should be whatever you want it to be. And certainly not second-guessed.

Friday, 25 January 2019

Apricot raspberry rose galette

Killing time in South Brisbane recently on a recent trip to my hometown, I spent a delightful half hour browsing the aisles of Triton Food Brokers, a treasure trove of imported European grocery items and bulk foods in an unassuming stretch of Montague Rd. In amongst the baklava, and olives, haloumi and marzipan, pastizzi and pomegranate molasses I found edible rose petals for $1.50 and bargain barberries (a find for an owner of multiple Ottolenghi cookbooks who has up til now just been subbing in cranberries because she thought he made them up). I wasn't sure when I'd use the rose petals, but paging through a cookbook I got for Christmas, I came across this recipe for apricot raspberry rose galette. It was fated as I've been trying to make the most of summer fruit before disappearing for a month into winter. A galette is basically the lazy person's pie (half the rolling and no crimping or complicated lattice work) but better still, its open top allows you to see the glorious colours of the fruit within. And this is one of the prettiest palettes you'll see - orange and red and pink. The crust is made with cornmeal, which gives it a nice texture, a lovely contrast with the jamminess of the fruit. A fitting farewell to summer.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Ligurian foccacia


My dad is BIG into bread. So his recent visit seemed a good excuse to try out a recipe I'd seen on the wonderfully engaging Samin Nosrat's Netflix series Salt Fat Acid Heat (based on her cookbook of the same name). In Italy, in the first episode, she'd made a foccacia bathed in a salty brine and baked til golden brown. The dough was dimpled with indents made from the three middle fingers of her hand, little wells for the olive oil drizzled on top when it's out of the oven. The oil does double duty - making the inside of the foccacia pillowy and soft and the base crisp. It couldn't be easier and this is coming from someone with a terrible track record with yeast. Begun the night before you want to bake, you simply combine dry ingredients with wet - no kneading - and leave to proof. The next day you gently stretch out the dough - now doubled in size - onto an oiled oven tray. Then dimple and brine (this just means pour over some salty water), proof again while the oven is heating and then slide in. Half an hour later out comes lunch. For an army. Or just your dad who really, REALLY loves bread.

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Blueberry, almond and lemon cake

Blueberries were bountiful. Saturday I was going to the Blue Mountains. I snaffled Simple from the library. All signs pointed to me making this cake. Miraculously, my apartment managed to stay cool enough for me to bake on the rogue 35 degree day last Friday. It was fractionally cooler on the weekend, and cooler still up in the mountains. Cake felt like a good reward for surviving the heat, and the trip out of town in which we crossed the Harbour Bridge twice by heeding Google and not instinct.

This is a full-size version of the little lemon, almond and blueberry teacakes from Sweet and it's every bit as good - lemony, nutty and bursting with berries. It's hard to compete with nature - especially when the bush is in bloom with waratahs - but this was definitely a highlight of the day.

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

Fridge cake

Yotam Ottolenghi has a new book! I don't own it (yet) but my friend Joanna does and I recently spent a pleasurable couple of hours at her place pawing through its pages. As you might imagine, there is so much great stuff in there - Joanna made me the Chicken Marbella, which was amazing - and it's all geared towards simplicity. This cake eschews ovens entirely and constructs a spectacular sweet from the bits and bobs we have in our store cupboards: a partial packet of plain biscuits leftover from making a cheesecake base ages ago, and assorted dried fruit and nuts (whatever you have lying around) are mixed together with some melted chocolate, butter and golden syrup, spread in a tray, stuck in the fridge and that's it. The hardest part is having to wait the couple of hours til it's set to tuck in.