Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spiced honey and raspberry cake

Spiced honey and raspberry cake / Bolo de mel, especiarias e framboesa

I was sitting on my couch one Saturday morning, surrounded by cookbooks, trying to decide what to bake for the weekend (I told you I usually plan ahead, but that sometimes that doesn’t work), when Nigel Slater showed up on my TV screen preparing a beautiful, luscious cake, made with plums – I instantly knew what to bake that day. :)

I did not have any plums around (or anything fresh, for that matter), therefore I decided to use raspberries instead. I wasn’t too happy with the copious amount of golden syrup used in the cake – here in Brazil I can’t find the ingredient and have always replaced it with corn syrup, but since I’ve been trying to ban that ingredient from my pantry I went with honey, instead – 200g of it.

The cake turned out moist and delicious, similar to gingerbread in both texture and flavor and with the sour hit of the berries making everything more interesting – thank you, Nigel, for making my Saturday so much more flavorsome and perfumed.

Spiced honey and raspberry cake
slightly adapted from the stunning Tender, Volume 2: A Cook's Guide to the Fruit Garden

200g honey
125g unsalted butter
125g brown sugar
250g all purpose flour
1 lightly heaped teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 lightly heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lightly heaped teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of salt
2 large eggs
240ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g frozen raspberries, unthawed

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 23cm (9in) cake pan, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Warm honey and butter very gently in a pan until the butter melts. Stir in the brown sugar. Set aside and allow to cool slightly.
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger and salt into a bowl. Add the honey mixture and stir to combine. Add the eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk until you get a smooth batter. Pour into the prepared pan, then sprinkle with the berries. Bake for about 45 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold, peel off the paper and transfer to a serving plate.

Serves 8-10

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fig, ginger and almond bars

Fig, ginger and almond bars / Barrinhas de geleia de figo, gengibre e amêndoa

I usually plan ahead the recipes I want to cook on the weekend so I have time to do the shopping beforehand – I get disappointed when I choose a recipe from a book only to discover, minutes later, that I don’t have all the ingredients at hand.

I made the honey raspberry cake I mentioned the other day because the only fruit I had at home were frozen berries – empty refrigerator is a classic side effect of vacation time. I baked the cake, then decided to watch some TV, flip through my cookbooks and forget about the shortage of fresh food for a while – I wasn’t really in the mood for grocery shopping, and my husband was too tired, poor thing, I really couldn't ask him to go out just because I wanted to bake.

Two or three flipped cookbooks later, I saw a recipe for marmalade and ginger bars topped with almonds, and they looked delicious. As I read the list of ingredients, I realized I had everything in my pantry and fridge – how rare is that? – except the marmalade – ooops –, but I did have some fig preserves left from making the buckwheat thumbprints.

I felt that the fig + ginger combo would be as good as orange + ginger one, so I replaced the marmalade with the fig preserves and added a bit of amaranth flour for nutritional purposes. Fig and ginger are, indeed, delish together, and the bars were a hit: they tasted great and the baking urge was gone in no time.

Fig, ginger and almond bars
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

Base:
90g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg
100g all purpose flour
50g amaranth flour
generous ¼ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt

Filling:
1 cup fig preserves
¼ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

Topping:
1 egg, beaten lightly with a fork
120g flaked almonds
60g ground almonds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Lightly butter a 20x30cm (8x12in) rectangular pan, line it with foil leaving an overhang in two opposite sides and butter the foil as well.
Base: using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until creamy. Beat in vanilla. Add the egg and beat to combine. Stir in flours, baking powder and salt*. Spread dough into pan.
Filling: combine fig preserves and ginger in small bowl; spread over base.
Topping: combine egg, vanilla, 80g of the flaked almonds and ground almonds in a medium bowl. Spread almond mix over marmalade; sprinkle with remaining almonds.
Bake for about 40 minutes. Cool slice in pan. Cut into slices or squares.

* at this stage, my dough was too soft (maybe from replacing part of the all purpose flour for amaranth flour), so I added 2 tablespoons (20g) all purpose flour to it

Makes 24

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas and going crazy over cookbooks

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas / Curry de kofta bovino com arroz e ervilha

September is a lovely month: spring comes our way, bringing flowers to make the city prettier and, in Sao Paulo’s case, it also brings the much needed rain. But it is also the time of the year when a bunch of cookbooks are released, which makes me tense for as much as I keep telling myself that “I have too many cookbooks” or “I don’t need new cookbooks” I know I don’t sound very convincing. :)

I’ve had my eye on several new releases for a long time and I was already in trouble because I couldn’t make up my mind about which ones to buy, and now to make things worse for me Jamie Oliver has a new cookbook, too. Oh, crap. :S

While I decide whether or not to buy Comfort Food, I’ll use the Jamie’s cookbooks I already own, because they’re really good. This beef kofta comes from the delicious Jamie's 15-Minute Meals, a book I should definitely use more often for it’s packed with tasty recipes.

I adapted the recipe ever so slightly to use curry powder for I did not have any curry paste at hand and also to use brown lentils instead of the super expensive (at least here) puy lentils called for in the original recipe. These “adaptations” saved me some money, I used ingredients I already had at home, and at the end the food turned out delicious – and I even got the husband to eat lentils, which was the real victory here. :D

Beef kofta curry with fluffy rice and peas
slightly adapted from the wonderful Jamie's 15-Minute Meals

100g cooked lentils
300g quality lean beef mince
1 fat garlic clove, minced
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
generous ½ teaspoon table salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes
2 teaspoons finely grated fresh ginger
2 spring onions, white part only
½ fresh red chilli
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon runny honey
2 teaspoons curry powder
100ml coconut milk
handful parsley

For the rice:
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ onion, finely diced
1 mug basmati rice
2 cardamom pods
salt
150g frozen peas

In a bowl, combine the lentils, mince, garlic, garam masala, salt and pepper then mix and scrunch together with clean hands. Divide the mixture in half, then with wet hands quickly squeeze and mold each half into 8 fat fingers. Put them into a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat, drizzle with ½ tablespoon of oil, and cook, turning occasionally until golden all around.

Squash the tomatoes into the liquidizer, add the peeled ginger, spring onions, chilli, turmeric, honey, curry and coconut milk, then blitz until combined. Pour into the kofta pan, bring to the boil, then simmer and season to taste.

Rice: heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and the cardamom, followed by 2 mugs of boiling water. Cover, lower the heat and cook until rice is cooked and fluffy. Take the lid off the rice, add the peas, mix it all up with a fork, cover and give it just 2-3 more minutes so the peas are cooked. Remove from the heat.

Sprinkle the koftas with the parsley and serve with the rice.

Serves 4

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free) + movies, movies, movies

Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free) / Bolo de milho e limão siciliano (sem glúten)

Being away for two weeks left me out of the loop of new releases and movies to long for, not to mention I had no idea what was on theaters here – time to catch up.

On the weekend, I went to the movies with my sister – we hadn’t done that since Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, too long! – and we watched Lucy: I liked the movie a lot, and it is always wonderful to see movies with leading ladies kick ass in the box office, shutting up idiots who think that women don’t make money when it comes to movies (let’s all remember Cate Blanchett’s Oscar speech months ago, shall we?). :)

Some more good news: I was glad to find out that Gone Girl will be hitting Brazilian theaters one day before the American release, which was a relief since The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo premiered here in Brazil a month after its American release. Yay! \0/

As for what to long for, I saw the trailer for Low Down and can’t wait to know when the movie will be released, not only because it is a great trailer but also because of the amazing cast: I fell in love with John Hawkes after he blew me away three times in a row, being outstanding in Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Sessions (and being robbed of an Oscar nomination for the latter). Anyone who watched Super 8 knows how talented Elle Fanning is, and what to say about Glenn Close? <3 <3 <3

After getting up to speed with movies, I did the same with my kitchen: I hadn’t baked in quite a while and was desperate for freshly baked cake. I made a honey cake that turned out delicious, but since I haven’t been able to work on the photos yet I bring you an equally tasty cake, something I baked before my trip; I bumped into this recipe while searching for yet another lemon cake recipe and I wasn’t disappointed: moist, tangy and delicious, I am sure it will please those of you who like lemon cakes as much as I do.


Lemon and polenta cake (gluten free)
slightly adapted from the delicious Breakfast, Lunch, Tea: The Many Little Meals of Rose Bakery

150g granulated sugar
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
165g unsalted butter, softened
juice of ½ lemon
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
185g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
75g instant polenta
35g corn starch
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
icing sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x10cm (6-cup capacity) loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Place sugar and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer and rub them together with your fingertips until sugar is fragrant. Add butter and beat until very light and creamy. Add the lemon juice and the vanilla extract. Add the eggs, one by one, beating well after each addition – batter might look curdled.
Mix together the ground almonds, polenta, corn flour, baking powder and salt and fold into the mixture.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Remove from the oven and cool completely in the pan over a wire rack. Carefully unmold and remove the paper. Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Serves 6-8

Monday, September 22, 2014

Granola muffins

Granola muffins / Muffins de granola

And since we were talking about food waste the other day, let me tell you that the granola saga did not end with the cookies I posted the other day: even after a large batch of cookies I still had two handfuls of granola left and no intention of eating it with milk or yogurt. :(

I was saved by the wonderful Nigella Lawson and her granola muffins recipe: it was easy and quick, and in her recipes I trust completely. When I weighed my granola, I had exactly 252g of it – I turned the oven on immediately. :D

The muffins turned out tender and tasted delicious – it was a great way to use up the unwanted granola. I think that a bit of cinnamon would have done wonders for them – just a hint to any of you who might have a jar of granola begging to be used, too.

Granola muffins
from the always delicious Feast: Food That Celebrates Life

1 ½ cups (210g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 cup (240ml) buttermilk*
1 large egg
¾ cup (130g) light brown sugar, packed
⅓ cup (80ml) canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g granola

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, sugar, oil and vanilla. Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and stir just until combined; do not overmix. Add granola and stir just until blended.
Divide batter evenly among muffin cups. Bake until risen and golden brown, about 25 minutes. Carefully remove muffins from pan and place on a rack until cool enough to handle. Serve warm or at room temperature.

* homemade buttermilk: to make 1 cup buttermilk place 1 tablespoon lemon juice in a 240ml-capacity measuring cup and complete with whole milk (room temperature). Wait 10 minutes for it to thicken slightly, then use the whole mixture in your recipe

Makes 12

Friday, September 19, 2014

Rye and stout bread and food waste

Rye and stout bread / Pão de centeio e cerveja stout

I was watching Save with Jamie the other day and besides the delicious recipes (I drooled over his beautiful panzanella and have been dreaming about the beef rendang with homemade chapatis, yum! ) I find it really great that he shows (with numbers) the insane amount of food that goes to waste for absolutely no reason – the show takes place in England, but I know that here in Brazil things are not any different.

I had to take responsibility for my home at a very early age and since I did all the shopping and cooking I had to be smart: there were four of us and nothing could go to waste. Luckily for me my brother was the only picky eater among us: my father and sister ate pretty much anything I cooked, and because they were fearless eaters I could experiment and try new things whenever I wanted to.

Leftover rice and pasta were quickly transformed into fritters, leftover tomato salad was placed in the fridge to be added to tomato sauce some other time, leftover greens were folded into beaten eggs for a delicious omelet – that’s how I managed the kitchen back then, and that made me learn a lot about food, long before blogs, cookbooks and TV shows. That is why I love how Jamie shows people how to transform ingredients into something else entirely – his tips are great.

When I made Nigella’s stout cake a while ago there was some leftover beer and since I wasn’t going to drink it I had to do something useful with it, and this bread was the result: I avoided wasting expensive beer and we had delicious open sandwiches for lunch, made with freshly baked bread – if that’s not a wonderful thing I don’t know what is. :)

Rye and stout bread
slightly adapted from the always gorgeous Gourmet Traveller

150g rye flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast
100ml stout beer
1 tablespoon molasses
1 teaspoon table salt, divided use
1 cup (240ml) lukewarm water
350g all purpose flour

Combine rye flour, yeast, beer, molasses, ½ teaspoon of the salt and water in an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Set aside in a warm place until foaming (5-8 minutes), add all purpose flour and remaining salt and knead until smooth (5 minutes). Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size (1 ½ - 2 hours).

Line a large baking sheet with foil. Knock back dough and knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth, dusting with flour if necessary. Divide in half, then roll each half into a smooth ball. Dust top with a bit of flour, transfer to the prepared sheet, cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place until doubled in size (1 hour).
In the meantime, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake until loaves are deep golden and sound hollow when tapped (30-40 minutes). Transfer to a wire rack, cool slightly, then serve warm or at room temperature.

Makes 2 small loaves

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Lemon cheesecake tartlets - recipe with a video

Lemon cheesecake tartlets / Tortinhas de cheesecake de limão siciliano

Months ago, my sister told me she had to do a project for school: she and her colleagues would have to create a recipe video and she asked for my help. :)

The kids – they’re twenty years old, I call them kids – came to my house on a Saturday and we had an amazing afternoon together. We recorded the video – actually, they recorded me making tartlets – and it was a lot of fun (and a lot of work, too).

By the end of the session, I served cake and cookies to my guests and they told my sister that from that moment on they wanted to do all the future projects at my house. :D

So here it is: the video and the recipe right after it. I hope you enjoy watching my freckled hands in action! :)



Lemon cheesecake tartlets
slightly adapted from the always beautiful Donna Hay magazine

Base:
100g digestive cookies
30g unsalted butter, melted and cooled

Filling:
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup granulated sugar
¼ cup sour cream*
pinch of salt
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 egg
100g raspberries

Butter six 8cm-tartlet pans (with removable bottoms). Place the cookies in a food processor and blitz until ground. Add the butter and process to combine. With your fingertips, press the mixture into the pans and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, salt, vanilla and lemon zest. Whisk in the egg, then pour it over the base. Bake for 15 minutes or until slightly firm. Cool completely then refrigerate for 1 hour.
Dust with icing sugar, pop with the raspberries and serve.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 6

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Back from vacation with apricot jam cake

Apricot jam cake / Bolo de geleia de damasco

Hello, everyone!

I am back after spending wonderful vacation days in Spain: beautiful places, delicious food and massive amounts of Cava. :D

I returned home very happy, but also a couple of pounds heavier, even though I walked around a lot while I was there – one can’t eat all that jamón and pan con tomate and get away with it, right? :) I intend to eat lots of vegetables and fruit in the weeks to come (there’s a huge pot of vegetable soup already in my fridge), but I know I can’t survive without a slice of cake on the weekend.

Moderation is my mantra. ;)

If you’re like me, may I suggest this jam cake? It tastes delicious and it is very tender – don’t worry if the center sinks a bit, it’s totally OK because of the weight of the jam added to the batter. I haven’t tried it with other jam flavors, but I believe it would work with something sharp, not too sweet.

Apricot jam cake
from one of my favorite cookbooks

1 ½ cups (210g) all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter, softened
150g light brown sugar
1 cup apricot jam
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) square cake pan, line the bottom with baking paper, butter the paper as well and flour everything, removing the excess.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the jam until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the sour cream and mix until smooth. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes or until golden, risen and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.
Cool completely in the pan. Carefully unmold, remove the paper and invert onto a serving plate.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Serves 8

Monday, September 1, 2014

Monte Carlos - beautiful and delicious

Monte Carlos

Since I'm all for food that looks beautiful, it won't come as a surprise for you that the minute I saw these cookies I had to make them: delicate and pretty, they looked like miniature versions of a Victoria sandwich, with the cream and jam layers.

When I tried one cookie, I noticed that they weren't just pretty: they were delicious as well. The beautiful and flavorsome combo reminded me of The Great British Bake Off and how annoying Paul Hollywood was on the fourth season, telling one contestant over and over again that she was a case of "style over substance" - needless to say, by the end of that season I couldn't stand the show anymore.

These cookies, my friends, are definitely not a case of style over substance - they are cute and taste great. Give these a go and let me know if you agree with me.

Monte Carlos
slightly adapted from the beautiful and delicious The Baking Collection (The Australian Women's Weekly)

Cookies:
200g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
40g desiccated unsweetened coconut
185g unsalted butter, softened
110g light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg

Filling:
60g unsalted butter, softened
120g icing sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons whole milk, room temperature
about 50g blackberry jam

Preheat the oven to 180°/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt and coconut. Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in the egg. On low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix just until incorporated.
For each cookie, roll 1 leveled tablespoon of dough , place 2,5cm (1in) apart onto prepared sheets and flatten with a fork. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden on the edges. Cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Cream filling: using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar and vanilla and light and fluffy. Beat in milk.

Spread jam in half the cookies and cream in the remaining half, then sandwich them together.

Makes 22 sandwich cookies

Friday, August 29, 2014

Beetroot, red onion and feta tart with rye pastry

Beetroot, red onion and feta tart with rye pastry /Torta de beterraba, cebola roxa e feta com massa de centeio

Cooking is a continuous learning process and one thing I’ve learned over the years is that the freezer can be a powerful ally in the kitchen: not only for already made dishes and ice cream, but for stashing and preserving ingredients like stock, vegetables, nuts – you name it.

With some rye pastry in my freezer – I made the entire recipe, divided in half and froze each individually, first well wrapped in plastic, then in foil – I decided to bake a tart for lunch and then started thinking about the filling. I almost made the leek and cheese tart once again – it tasted so good! – but then I saw Dale Pinnock’s beetroot and goats cheese tart and fell in love with it.

My mom loved beets and I ate them quite regularly as a kid, but always boiled or raw. As an adult, once I roasted beets for the first time there was no turning back – I’ve never boiled beets again and don’t intend to: when roasted, their flavor becomes stronger and the texture is less watery. Just delicious.

This is my twist on the recipe, using roasted beets instead of boiled ones and homemade rye pastry instead of puff pastry: it tasted great and I thought it looked beautiful, too, don’t you? ;)

Beetroot, red onion and feta tart with rye pastry /Torta de beterraba, cebola roxa e feta com massa de centeio

Beetroot, red onion and feta tart with rye pastry
adapted from two great sources: The Medicinal Chef: Eat Your Way to Better Health and Love, Bake, Nourish: Healthier cakes and desserts full of fruit and flavor

½ recipe rye pastry

Filling:
5 small beetroots
olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
½ tablespoons honey
a few sprigs of fresh thyme
100g feta cheese
1 tablespoon pine nuts
1 egg, lightly beaten with a fork, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Place the beetroots in a large piece of foil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Close the foil, transfer to a baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes or until the beets are soft when pierced with a knife. Cool enough to handle, then peel off the beets (the ones I used were organic, so I did not bother with a bit of skin left on them). Cool completely, then cut into slices.
Heat a little olive oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the red onion and cook for 4–5 minutes, or until softened. Season with salt and pepper, add the honey and thyme and continue to cook until the onion takes on a caramelized appearance. Cool.

When ready to make the tart, place the dough onto large piece of baking paper and roll into a rough 25cm (10in) circle. Transfer to a baking sheet.
Arrange the red onion on the center of the pastry, top with the beets and crumble over the feta. Sprinkle with the pine nuts, then fold one edge in towards the center of the filling and continue folding all the way round, bringing the edge of the pastry towards and over the filling. Place the sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes – in the meantime, preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.

Brush the tart with the egg wash (only the pastry). Bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. Top with fresh thyme leaves to serve. The tart is delicious both warm and at room temperature.

Serves 2

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Apple, sour cream and cinnamon crunch muffins

Apple, sour cream and cinnamon crunch muffins / Muffins de maçã, creme azedo e canela

I have to be careful while cooking or baking with certain ingredients for the reason that I adore snacking on them! Cherry tomatoes, carrots, olives, cheese, nuts – I have to control myself not to eat everything before adding the ingredients to the recipe itself. :D

Depending on the ingredient, my husband does the same, and there goes dinner.

Add to that list roasted pumpkin seeds – they’re delicious and I have to avoid getting carried away by the fact that they’re healthy. While preparing these muffins, I set aside the 2 tablespoons needed for the recipe and measured out 2 more tablespoons so I could snack on while baking – they were gone in no time (I’d just whisked the dry ingredients together in the large bowl).

I told myself that it was better to eat a handful of pumpkin seeds than a handful of candy and stopped worrying about it. ;)

Feel free to use raw pumpkin seeds in these muffins – they’re the ones called for in the original recipe – I used roasted seeds because I had them in my pantry. The cinnamon, almonds and the apple make these muffins super tasty, while the sour cream makes them moist and tender.

Apple, sour cream and cinnamon crunch muffins
slightly adapted from Grains: 150 Recipes for Every Appetite

Topping:
70g almonds, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds – I used roasted seeds
45g light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Muffins:
100g whole wheat flour
100g all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
75g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
75g light brown sugar
150g sour cream
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon whole milk
1 large Gala apple (about 250g), peeled and chopped in small cubes

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with paper cases.
Topping: in a small bowl, mix together the almonds, pumpkins seeds, brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.
Muffins: in a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together the butter, brown sugar, sour cream, egg and milk. Pour this mixture into the dry ingredients and stir lightly – batter will be lumpy; do not overmix. Stir in the apple and divide the batter among the paper cases. Sprinkle with the topping and lightly press it down the batter to adhere.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden and risen and a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Leave to rest in the pan for 5 minutes before lifting the muffins out.

* homemade sour cream: to make 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup (240ml) heavy cream with 2-3 teaspoons lemon juice in a bowl. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 1 hour or until thicker (I usually leave mine on the counter overnight – except on very warm nights – and it turns out thick and silky in the following morning; refrigerate for a creamier texture)

Makes 12

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Chocolate rye cake

Chocolate rye cake / Bolo de chocolate e centeio

I’m not a chocolate cake person as some of you already know, but I’m aware that most people love them, especially the ones I share my baked goods with so from time to time I catch myself searching for a good chocolate cake recipe.

I found a beautiful loaf on Good Food magazine and it looked chocolaty, delicious and, above all, moist – this is one of my pet peeves with chocolate cakes: some of them turn out too dry – so I gave it a go. The recipe called for almond meal, an ingredient I love using in cakes because of how much it improves their texture, and I added a bit of rye flour to see if it was any good paired with chocolate.

Rye flour is as great with chocolate as it is with citrus, plums, berries, leeks and cheese – beetroot and onions, too, but more about that soon. :)

The cake turned out tender and flavorsome, and moist as I expected it to be – a good, simple chocolate loaf. The original recipe called for drizzling melted chocolate – both dark and white – over the cake, but I did not think that was necessary: in this case, less is definitely more.

Chocolate rye cake
slightly adapted from Good Food magazine

175g unsalted butter, softened
175g granulated sugar
3 eggs
70g all purpose flour
70g rye flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
85g almond meal (finely ground almonds)
100ml whole milk, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
70g dark chocolate, in chips or chunks, slightly dusted with flour – I used one with 53% cocoa solids

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20x10cm (6-cup capacity) loaf pan, line it with baking paper and butter the paper as well.
Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, flours, baking powder, almond meal, salt, milk, vanilla and cocoa until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips, then scrape into the tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes until golden, risen and a skewer poked in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pan over a wire rack for 30 minutes, then carefully lift using the paper and transfer to the rack to cool completely before peeling off the paper.

Serves 8-10

Monday, August 25, 2014

White chocolate granola cookies - turning something bland into something delicious

White chocolate granola cookies / Cookies de granola e chocolate branco

I told you weeks ago that my experimenting with new types of recipes had had good and bad results: luckily more good than bad, but some things just did not work at all.

There was an almond cake from this book that ended up in the garbage can – I should have followed my instincts and added flour to the batter once I realized it was much too runny – and there was the granola that tasted funny (the one I mentioned the other day). I felt sad about the cake – it was too rubbery and not flavorsome enough for me to come up with something to do with it – but the good thing is that I managed to save the granola.

If life gives you bland granola, make cookies with it. :D

These are super easy to make and taste great – I used homemade granola, which wasn’t too sweet, and it worked perfectly with the white chocolate. If your granola is sweeter (store-bought usually is), using dark chocolate instead of white chocolate might be a good idea.

White chocolate granola cookies / Cookies de granola e chocolate branco

White chocolate granola cookies
adapted from the most complete dessert cookbook I own

1 cup (140g) all purpose flour
heaping ¼ teaspoon baking soda
heaping ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
½ cup (113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (175g) light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup (50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g granola (I used homemade)
150g white chocolate, in chips or chunks

Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and both sugars in large bowl until creamy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Using wooden spoon, stir in granola and chocolate.
Line two large baking sheets with baking paper. Using 2 leveled tablespoons of dough for each cookie, drop batter onto prepared sheets 5cm (2in) apart. Chill 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F. Bake cookies until golden around the edges, 10-12 minutes. Cool in the sheet for 2 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 25

Friday, August 22, 2014

Wholemeal pasta with vegetable sauce - food with my husband's suggestion

Wholemeal pasta with vegetable sauce / Espaguete integral com molho de legumes

I’ve always believed that one’s love for food is a growing thing: the more you eat, the more you love food (if it is good, obviously).

My sister, for instance, grew up eating different kinds of food, from salads to cake, and nowadays she is not afraid to try something new – she might not like it, but at least she’ll give it a try before saying no. I like to think that she got that from me, that I played an important part in the past so she hasn’t become a picky adult.

My husband, on the other hand, was picky for many, many years and I’m glad he’s been leaving that behind. I’m glad it’s been a natural thing for him and that I have never forced anything – I think that’s the kind of discovery worth doing on one’s own.

I will say, however, that cooking is nowadays much more pleasant.

He’s come from “I don’t like fish” and “is there cilantro in this???” to making suggestions to recipes: as I flipped through Carluccio's cookbook the other day, I showed him a beautiful photo of spaghetti with a vegetable sauce (I’m not the only visual person in the family), then waited for his reaction – he said “that looks good – why don’t you add some cherry tomatoes to it?”

That coming from the guy who used to avoid tomatoes of all kinds like the plague. :)

So I made the pasta and followed Joao’s suggestion, but roasted the cherry tomatoes till they were soft and tender – that way they would mingle with the spaghetti better. His idea was pretty delicious, I have to say. :)

Wholemeal pasta with vegetable sauce
slightly adapted from the wonderful Pasta: The Essential New Collection from the Master of Italian Cookery

200g cherry tomatoes
extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g dried wholemeal spaghetti
handful fresh basil leaves, torn
60g parmesan, freshly grated

Sauce:
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 fat garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and very finely chopped
2 celery stalks, very finely chopped
4 medium ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, finely chopped

Preheat the grill in the oven. Cut the cherry tomatoes lengthwise and place them cut side up onto a baking sheet. Drizzle with the extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill for about 10 minutes or until soft. Set aside.

In the meantime, make the sauce: heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry all the vegetables until soft, 10-15 minutes – season with salt and pepper halfway through the cooking time.

Cook the spaghetti in plenty of boiling salted water for about 8–10 minutes (follow the instructions on the packet), or until al dente. Drain, save some of the cooking water, and mix the spaghetti with the sauce, basil and parmesan (the cheese will make the sauce creamier) – add a bit of the cooking water if necessary. Transfer to warmed plates, top with the cherry tomatoes and serve at once.

Serves 4

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Citrus blueberry cake (with buckwheat flour) and a piece of advice

Citrus blueberry cake / Bolo cítrico com mirtilos

You guys know that I don’t really need an excuse to bake a lemon cake – if I didn’t like trying new recipes so much I would probably have a lemon cake sitting on my kitchen counter every weekend. :)

As silly as it might sound, having baked goods on my kitchen counter is one of the things that make me really happy. :)

When I saw this beautiful recipe for an orange cake freckled with blueberries I decided to add lemon to the mix, making it a citrus cake instead. The cake turned out delicious – both oranges and lemons are wonderful paired with blueberries – very tender and also pretty from being baked in a tart pan.

I did, however, used a pan 1cm smaller than the one called for in the recipe – do I like living dangerously? I wonder – and for the first 20 minutes in the oven I kept checking to see if the batter had overflown. Luckily it didn’t and the cake turned out fine, but if you don’t want to worry like I did use a slightly larger pan – or... :)

Citrus blueberry cake
slightly adapted from Margaret Fulton Baking: The Ultimate Sweet and Savory Baking Collection

250g all purpose flour
50g buckwheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon table salt
250g granulated sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten with a fork
¾ cup (180ml) whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest + the juice of 1 lemon
130g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
200g fresh or frozen (unthawed) blueberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a deep 22cm round loose-based flan pan or cake pan*, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well. Dust it all with flour and remove the excess.
Combine the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk, vanilla, zest, juice and butter and mix until combined. Spoon into the prepared pan. Top with half of the blueberries and bake for 20 minutes.
Sprinkle over the remaining blueberries and bake for another 20 minutes (my cake needed 35 minutes in the oven after the second batch of blueberries were added).
Cool in the pan for 25 minutes, then carefully remove the outer ring of the pan. Cool completely before slicing and serving.

* the tart pan I used is 21x4cm and the batter almost overflew – I recommend using a slightly larger pan

Serves 8

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Eggplant turnovers and the wonderful Internet

Eggplant turnovers / Tortinhas de berinjela

The Internet, this wonderful thing: while reading a text on feminism (too bad it’s not in English, I would gladly recommend it to Shailene Woodley), I got to a video of George Carlin - I don’t know why on earth I did not know this genius man, and I’m really glad that has been corrected now.

On my daily visits to IMDb I learned that Raymond "Red" Reddington is coming back soon, on September 22nd, to be more precise. \0/

I saw the first teaser for the last season of Sons of Anarchy, and it is amazing.

I learned that Jason Reitman might actually make me like a movie with Adam Sandler – I’m in awe with the beauty of this trailer. <3

And I also came across these eggplant turnovers, a recipe by Dan Lepard (someone who usually doesn’t disappoint when it comes to food), and I have to tell you: the husband and I weren’t too thrilled about the filling – it tasted good, but sort of bland – but this pastry is absolutely fantastic: very flaky and tasty. It is made in a similar way to the rye pastry I adore so much, and all that folding and turning really transform already good pastry into something even better.

I might not have been too happy with this eggplant filling (despite my love for the veggie), but this pastry is worth making again with different fillings – it might become my official empanada pastry instead of the one I posted here a while ago.

Eggplant turnovers
slightly adapted from Dan Lepard

Filling:
2 medium eggplants (about 700g total)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
300g ricotta – I used homemade
2 chopped spring onions
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

Pastry:
200g all purpose flour
100g whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, packed
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
100g unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1cm cubes
½ cup (120ml) cold water
1 egg, beaten with a fork, for brushing

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Halve the eggplants lengthwise and place them onto the foil cut side down. Prick them all over with a fork, piercing the skin. Bake for 1 hour.
Scrape out the flesh, spoon into a sieve over a bowl with ½ a teaspoon of salt and drain for an hour. Stir in the ricotta, onions and oregano. Let it drain again.

In the meantime, make the dough: put the flour and salt in a bowl, stir in the parsley, and rub in the oil and butter. Add the cold water, coax into a rough dough and chill for 30 minutes. Using extra flour, roll out to a rough 40x15cm (16x6in) rectangle, fold in by thirds (as if you were folding a letter), repeat the roll and fold, then wrap and chill for another 30 minutes. Repeat the double roll and fold steps twice more at 30-minute intervals. Roll the dough about 3mm thick and cut into 12 squares.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°C. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper.

Season the filling, discard the liquid, and spoon a little onto each pastry square. Seal like pasties, place onto the sheet, brush with eggwash and bake for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.

Makes 12

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Quinoa choc chip cookies and things stuck in my head

Quinoa choc chip cookies / Cookies de quinoa e chocolate

Some movies have such great soundtracks that after I watch them I catch myself singing or humming the songs for days in a row (sometimes I listen to them on a daily basis for months, too).

I watched The Color of Money last Sunday and now I can’t get It's In The Way That You Use It out of my head – but to be honest the song is so great I’m not even trying to let it go, really. :)

I once read that when Tom Cruise started to pursue acting as a career he made a list with the names of great directors he wanted to work with, people like Martin Scorsese, Ridley Scott and Oliver Stone – time went by, he became a star (if you’re my age you probably remember his sex symbol status and how the girls went crazy over him) and he managed to cross many names – if not all of them – off that list. I don’t think he’s all that as an actor - he's done some good things, in the end he's irregular -, but I admire the guy for setting the bar so high right at the beginning of his career – like Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon after him, Cruise could have taken the heartthrob route and stayed there very comfortably.

But I digress – I was telling you about a song that got stuck in my head. And there was a recipe that I kept thinking about, too, I had it in my mind for weeks – these quinoa choc chip cookies. I had used quinoa flakes in a granola recipe but did not like the result very much: I thought the flavor wasn’t all that. But after tasting the granola again I found that the problem with it was the lack of some sort of fat, not the quinoa flakes so I decided to give the ingredient another chance, this time in cookie form – it was a hit with family and friends. I highly recommend using dark chocolate here, 70% if at all possible, since its bitter flavor compliments the sweetness of the cookie dough beautifully.

Getting songs out of our head might be a bit tricky sometimes, but for recipes the solution seems to be simpler: a trip to the kitchen and you’ll know if it’s any good (and stop being curious about it). :)

Quinoa choc chip cookies
slightly adapted from the wonderful Supergrains: Cook Your Way to Great Health

130g unsalted butter, softened
65g light brown sugar
65g granulated sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
110g all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
110g quinoa flakes
200g dark chocolate, chopped – I used one with 70% cocoa solids

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Use an electric mixer to cream the butter and sugars until pale and creamy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined. Add flour, baking powder and salt and mix on low to combine. Stir in the quinoa flakes and chocolate.
Place 2 leveled tablespoons of dough per cookie onto the prepared sheets, 5cm (2in) apart. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, than bake until golden brown around the edges, 12-15 minutes.
Cool in the pan for 2 minutes, then slide the paper with the cookies onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Makes about 22

Monday, August 18, 2014

Cheese straws for hungry friends

Cheese straws / Palitinhos de queijo

As someone who loves food, I always make sure that my friends have something to eat the minute they enter my house – I believe that nothing like a drink and something to snack on to make one feel welcome. :)

I like to serve something small enough to be eaten without cutlery and without much mess either, and tiny portions so everyone is still hungry when dinner is served. I made these cheese straws the other day, when I had a couple of friends over for pizza, and they turned out delicious and flaky.

I baked the straws in the afternoon and kept them in an airtight container. When my friends arrived, I just arranged the straws in glasses and served them with drinks – no more hungry guests. :)

Cheese straws
slightly adapted from the lovely and delicious National Trust Simply Baking

155g all purpose flour
70g whole wheat flour
115g unsalted butter, cold and diced
¼ teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
85g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 egg, beaten

Topping:
½ egg, beaten with a fork
dried oregano, to taste

Place the flours, cheese, salt and pepper into the food processor and blitz to combine. Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Mix in the egg 1 ½ tablespoons of the ice water and, with the motor running, pour this into the mixture and stop processing as soon as the crumbs begin to hold together – add more water if necessary, but do it gradually.
Turn out on to a lightly floured surface and gather the dough together with your hands. Divide the dough in half, wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper.
Roll half the dough about 5mm (¼in) thick (keep the other half in the fridge) - the pastry needs to be thick enough to twist without breaking. Trim the edges and cut into strips, each about 15cm (6in) long and 1cm (½in) wide. Gently twist each strip and lay onto the baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining pastry. Re-roll the trimmings and repeat until you’ve used all the dough and made around 40 straws.
Carefully brush all the straws with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the dried oregano. Chill for 15 minutes, then bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on the sheets over a wire rack.
They will keep for a few days in an airtight can.

Makes about 40

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chocolate orange financiers and going for something slightly different

Chocolate orange financiers / Financiers de chocolate e laranja

I used to think that I was immune to gore – David Cronenberg is one of my favorite directors, after all – but I might be getting less resistant to it as I get older: I haven’t been able to continue watching Hannibal (I saw two episodes of season 2 months ago) and I gave up on The Knick after only fifteen minutes. :S

I intend to go back to both series (very soon, I hope) but I can’t imagine myself watching them now. Days ago I was looking for something different, even if ever so slightly, and started watching Betrayal, the reason being my love for Night Stalker, a TV show I watched years ago (to this day I haven’t met anyone who watched it, too).

Night Stalker got canceled in a heartbeat, and Betrayal won’t have a second season – poor Stuart Townsend is definitely not the luckiest guy in the world when it comes to TV shows. :(

I’ll continue watching Betrayal anyway – so far, it’s kept me interested and it doesn’t involve blood or chopped people. That is what I want for the moment. :)

I might go back to gore soon, who knows? The same way I always go back to financiers: I can’t resist baking them, even though I tell myself I’ll keep the egg whites in the freezer until I have enough of them to bake an angel food cake. :) There is always an interesting financier recipe to try with good flavor combos, like orange and chocolate, which I find fantastic together.

Chocolate orange financiers
adapted from two great sources: A Passion for Baking and Simply Bill

120g icing sugar
65g all purpose flour
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
85g almond meal
5 egg whites
80g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
35g dark chocolate, melted and cooled – I used one with 53% cocoa solids
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 orange
icing sugar, for dusting

In a large bowl, sift together the icing sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt, then whisk in the almond meal. Stir in the eggs whites, then the butter, chocolate, vanilla and zest. Cover and refrigerate the batter for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter and flour ten 100ml capacity mini cake or muffin pans.
Pour the batter in the pans, then bake for about 15 minutes or until risen and firm to touch and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in the pans for 2 minutes, then carefully unmold onto a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar to serve.
Financiers are best served the day they’re made, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Makes 10

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Sichuan spiced eggplant - in an eggplant state of mind

Sichuan spiced eggplant / Berinjela apimentada

I’ve been in an eggplant state of mind lately: I’ve used it in soups, empanadas and my husband and I love eggplant parmigiana – I always make a large batch because the leftovers are great.

And when I’m not cooking with eggplants, the Universe conspires for me to do so: my copy of Save with Jamie arrived and there was a aubergine daal recipe there (withh handmade chapatis, no less) – I almost drooled over the book. :)

As I searched for something good on TV the other day, I bumped into Paul Hollywood making maneesh with baba ganoush. :)

And finally, days after that, while going through the August issue of Delicious UK magazine I saw a recipe for spiced eggplant served with rice and it looked so mouthwatering I had to try it. It is, indeed, delicious and easy to make – you just need some time for the eggplants to roast in the oven before actually cooking them with the remaining ingredients: the soft flesh carries all the others flavors beautifully.

This recipe makes great leftovers, too, and can be served with quinoa instead of rice (I would gladly eat it with bread, too, if you’ll ask me ). :)

Sichuan spiced eggplant / Berinjela apimentada

Sichuan spiced eggplant
slightly adapted from the wonderful Delicious UK

2 medium eggplants
olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ onion, finely diced
½ tablespoon grated fresh ginger
½ red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 ripe tomato, processed to a paste
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
½ tablespoon granulated sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ½ tablespoons sesame seeds
fresh cilantro leaves, to serve

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a large baking sheet with foil.
Halve the eggplants lengthwise and place them onto the foil cut side up. Slash the cut side a few times. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 35 minutes. Cool completely, then cut into slices.
In a large saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and add the garlic, onion, ginger and chilli. Cook until softened, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato and cook for 1 minute. Add the eggplants, sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar and add ½ cup (120ml) water. Bring to the boil, then simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and glossy. Check the seasoning, add salt and pepper if necessary, stir in the sesame seeds and serve sprinkled with the cilantro leaves.

Serves 2 (with leftovers)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Lime and ginger cream cake - a good recipe after a really bad one

Lime and ginger cream cake / Bolo de creme de leite, limão e gengibre

Possets are desserts I adore, not only because they taste delicious but also because they’re really easy to make – there’s little cooking involved and the citrus juices and the fridge do all the work.

I had an eye on a grapefruit posset for a really long time, a recipe I’d seen on Delicious Australia and after making the grapefruit bars the other day I thought a posset would be equally nice – I was wrong. :(

It was too bitter and too greasy. It did not set properly.

It was probably the first recipe from the magazine I got disappointed with – it was a bit of a shock, since I cook and bake from it regularly, always with wonderful results. I’m glad I halved the posset recipe – less food in the trash is always a good thing – but for that reason I ended up with some heavy cream left in the fridge and needed to use it quickly before it went bad.

Deborah Madison’s cream cake came to my rescue (Eat Your Books being really useful, as usual), but instead of brown sugar and ginger, I baked it with granulated sugar, ginger and added lime – the result was a delicious cake with the perfect amount of spice and citrus, and so tender it was tricky to slice it neatly (just like the Port cake I baked weeks ago).

The grapefruit posset might have been a waste of good cream, but this cake was the perfect way to use it up.

Lime and ginger cream cake
slightly adapted from Seasonal Fruit Desserts: From Orchard, Farm, and Market

105g all-purpose flour
95g cake flour – homemade: 80g all purpose flour + 15g corn starch
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup (240ml) heavy cream
175g granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 2 limes
1 tablespoon lime juice
icing sugar, for serving

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Butter a 20cm (8in) round cake pan with a removable bottom, line the bottom with a circle of baking paper and butter the paper as well.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ginger and salt.
Using the whisk attachment of an electric mixer, beat the eggs until foamy, then add the cream, sugar and vanilla. Beat on high speed until you have what looks like soft whipped cream. Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally.
Add the lime zest, juice and the dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until incorporated and smooth. Pour into prepared pan and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 50-60 minutes. Cool in the pan for 30 minutes, then carefully remove the outer ring and let the cake cool completely. Remove the pan bottom, peel off the paper, transfer cake to a plate and dust with icing sugar.

Serves 8

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