Thursday, 10 June 2021

Tarte tatin


Apple desserts are a favourite of mine. I grew up on crumbles, I can't go past a pie, and then there's this. If you take out of the equation the intimidating French name, there is nothing complicated about this tart. It's made in the same cast-iron skillet you might take camping, or use to make bacon and eggs. Its number of ingredients is few and it's more than likely you already have them on hand. If you don't, you could probably buy them all for about $5. All that stands between you and an impossibly sophisticated French bistro classic is the misguided belief that making it is hard. I am here to tell you it is not. You should make this. Serve it warm and ideally with vanilla ice-cream.
 

Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Peach, raspberry and almond cake

 
 
A few weeks ago I went to Brisbane. It was my first trip in over a year because of all the border closures that have characterised COVID in Australia. In the whirlwind of catching up with all the people I hadn't seen in so long in a short space of time, I spent a delightful afternoon with my friend's daughters (one a high schooler, one primary) making a cake. It's a tradition now - every time I come up we cook. Once it was these little Ottolenghi teacakes, a total hit. Another time it was this pie. This trip, it was a peach, raspberry and almond cake. 
 

 
To be clear, I actually do no cooking, only supervision. My friend sits back with a coffee and watches with amusement as I adjudicate fights over who gets to crack how many eggs, or fold in the flour. I get a swim or a gymnastics/trampoline/diving/clarinet show while whatever it is is in the oven, then - best of all - we eat it afterwards with their parents. This time I didn't take photos, so when I got home I made the cake again myself.

 
I've been trying to make the most of the stone fruit while it's in season, and this cake is an excellent vehicle for it. The juiciness of the fruit is soaked up by the ground almonds, and its softness contrasts beautifully with the sprinkle of chopped nuts on top. The orange zest rounds it all out and as my story attests, it's absolutely not difficult to make, as long as you fairly distribute the cracking of the eggs among all parties (one each for the girls, and I did the third). The reviews were excellent, from the Queenslanders, to the bush turkey who stole some slices I took on a bush walk on the weekend, to my 85 year old neighbour returning the Tupperware that contained a wedge I left on her doorstep. Couldn't put it better myself: such good cake.
 


 

 

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

Raspberry, coconut and lime cake


 

A sign of a good cake is how often you make it. Since the recipe for this one was published on The Design Files mid-October of 2020, it's been in heavy rotation in my repertoire and has come to be associated with bright spots in what was undoubtedly a challenging year. The first time I made it was to take with me to see my dad for the first time since January in the border bubble between Queensland and NSW. In early November I caught a plane to Ballina, he drove down from Brisbane to pick me up at the airport and we pulled over at the first sign of a picnic table to eat this cake, a belated birthday one for him. I made it again it to take to my cousin and his wife who'd just had a baby (once they got home from hospital, where visitors weren't allowed) and, more recently, when a Victorian friend I hadn't seen all year because of their state lockdown, swung by Sydney on her way to Byron Bay for Christmas with her family. We ate it for dessert after dinner and the next morning I packed her off with a few fat slices for the road. Loaf cakes, as all this attests, are incredibly portable. Maybe it's partly the emotion of the occasion but there's something really joyful about the combination of flavours and colours in this cake - the tropical feel of the coconut, the pop of pink raspberry and the the zing of the lime. I'm always partial to sour cream in cakes, because of the taste and also as it keeps well.. which means it's both brilliant for leftovers and can be made in advance.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Lemon coconut snacking cake

Cakes that contain sour cream are almost guaranteed to be good. I first heard about this one on the Home Cooking podcast. Samin Nosrat was raving about it so I paid attention. Samin - of chocolate midnight cake and Ligurian foccacia fame - is someone to be taken seriously. In addition to the sour cream and Samin's seal of approval, this cake also had going for it that it was super simple and featured lemons, which are cheap and plentiful right now in Australia. When I made it I wasn't disappointed - it's zippy with citrus, unbelievably soft from the coconut milk and sour cream, and in squares, easily transportable. I made it one weekend to take up to the Blue Mountains on a day trip, and the very next weekend to take across town on the train for dinner at a friend's. Its other advantage is that because it's an oil-based cake, it keeps really well and I imagine would freeze well too. Should you have any left over. I can almost guarantee you won't.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

Ginger cake with brown sugar cream cheese frosting

Winter cakes should be cosy. Ginger, with its warming qualities, falls squarely into this category, the edible equivalent of a woolly jumper. That doesn't sound very appetising at all but this cake certainly is. It's been the hit of Melbourne's lockdown, after the recipe was published on The Design Files. I think we're all feeling a little anxious right now and comfort food is a good way to offset all the numbers and news reports and rules defining our lives. So don't deny yourself cake. Especially when it's this delicious.
 
 

Tuesday, 7 July 2020

Pistachio and lemon loaf



Since my success with Nigella Lawson's lemon tendercake, I've looked to expand my range of reliably delicious cakes that just happen to be vegan. I'd come across this recipe, from Ochre Bakery in Detroit, some time ago, and it was every bit as good as I hoped. Moist and nutty from the ground pistachios, puckeringly sour sweet with lemon and in loaf form, it's an easily made and transportable picnic cake. 

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Pantry crumb cake



Sometimes there is no story. Sometimes it's Saturday and you just want to make a cake. So it was last weekend. I'd had this bookmarked for a while because I love any cake with sour cream in it, Melissa Clark is reliably good and this recipe is made for these times - infinitely adaptable to whatever you happen to have on hand. So I guess I do have a story after all. Especially as friends spontaneously dropped by - as we now have the privilege to do in Sydney in small numbers - and we all had cake together. It was sunny. It was Saturday. It was glorious.