Tuesday 21 June 2016

Grapefruit curd cake

It was my friend George's birthday. I asked her what sort of cake she would like and the request was for something seasonal. In April, when she was actually born, that would have meant one thing, but by mid-June, which is when we finally got together down on the Great Ocean Road, for a girls' weekend with our friend Gill, it was deepest, darkest winter which meant one thing: citrus.

It's impossible to feel anything other than sunny when eating citrus, which is why it's so wonderful at this time of the year where the wind howls, the light dims and temperatures drop.  

Grapefruit is the bridesmaid of the citrus family, always overshadowed by oranges and lemons. No-one ever thinks to do anything with it other than juice it or slice it in half, both of which are more associated with diets and cold remedies than anything you actually get excited about. So here's what you do: you cook all that Vitamin C down into a rich, creamy curd, then fold it through a batter flecked with pretty pink-orange zest, reserving some to dollop on top. You decorate the finished cake with candles, sing happy birthday, celebrate being friends for twenty years and look forward to doing it all again soon.

Wednesday 8 June 2016

Armenian nutmeg cake

There's a lot to be said for simple. Especially on a spectacularly wet weekend when your options are pretty well limited to curling up on a couch with a cup of tea and a fat piece of cake made with pantry staples and a bit of sour cream you had left over in the fridge

My good friend who came to stay in late May had enthusiastically recommended this particular cake, a recent discovery of hers. On our weekend together, she'd scrolled tirelessly through endless recipes online to find a version of the one she'd tasted without nuts, which from our basic internet search, would appear to be quite common in Armenian nutmeg cakes but - she insisted - were not necessary. After making it, I'd have to agree - this sweet, spice-infused cake is perfect just as it is. Two textures - a crunchy base and a soft, springy sour cream crumb, sprinkled with cinnamon.

Lest you think the two texture thing sounds tricky let me tell you it's not. This is practically a one-bowl affair. The finished cake tastes like the best sort of cinnamon doughnut, even better for not having to drag out a deep fryer or be spattered with hot oil. Plus, with baking you have the benefit of both oven warmth and the seductive, slow-release scent of cinnamon. Hard to beat on a rainy weekend in winter.