I have a go to flourless orange cake which I adore, but the other day had some divine paesanella ricotta hanging around that needed to be used. Seeing as I’m doing the whole no carbs with fat/protein and no refined carbs a nifty little batch of ricotta gnocchi was out of the question (quietly sobs) and I was at a bit of a loss when I came across this Ben O’Donoghue and thought BINGO! It has a smidge of (semolina) flour in it but I was willing to overlook it. I love Ben’s recipes and he was always my favourite in Surfing the Menu. Curtis Stone is just a little to much of a show-pony-pretty-boy for my cooking likes.
‘My’ custard powder pastry recipe and the associated free-form apple pie is his Nan’s and I reckon that’s pretty cool.
So let’s get on with it.
Lemon ricotta cake (in which I used oranges)
Recipe from: At home with Ben, Ben O’Donoghue
6 eggs, separated
250g ground almonds
65g semolina flour
Juice of 3 lemons
Rind of 6 lemons
1/2 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 160C and grease and line a 26cm springform cake tin
Beat the butter and sugar until very pale then add the egg yolks one at a time
Combine the almond meal, semolina, half the lemon zest and half the juice (although when I made it with oranges I added all the zest because I didn’t read the recipe properly. Rookie mistake) and fold into the butter and sugar mixture
Crumble in the ricotta and fold through (Ben appears to leave it in little chunks whereas my ricotta was wetter so was more incorporated)
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks and then fold through the mixture
Pour into the tin and bake for 40mins or until a skewer comes out clean (I find with flourless cakes the time can vary massively – just persevere and cover with foil if you’re worried the top is getting too dark)
Make a syrup with the remaining juice, zest, 1/2 cup of sugar and a cup of water by bringing it to the boil then reducing by half (I sort of forgot to read this bit and just made a syrup of equal parts sugar and juice)
Pour over the cake and eat until you can eat no more.
So I cook and cook well. I bake awesome desserts, slices, cakes, biscuits. I make bloody good jam. I have mastered most breads and forms of pastry.
But this cooking Superwoman has her kryponite. Behold:
Yeah, me and themed cakes never end well.
For Grover’s actual birthday on Monday I was making a simple delicious buttercake with lemon icing. But I was tired (remember, an epic weekend which I’ve just realised I haven’t told you about) and when my beautiful, simple, buttercake came out of the oven Grover collapsed on the floor wailing he’d wanted a lego cake. I too my eye off the prize people, making the rookie mistake of not distracting, reminding, reassuring that there’d be a poorly constructeduglyode to food colouring themed cake* at his party this Sunday. No. Instead I did this:
But look, that cake creation may be so far below par but the cake, the cake is awesome.
This is a simple, plain, delicious buttercake. It’s perfect for birthday cakes you just want to eat or need to turn into a dinosaur, fairy, clocktower or, God help me, the Tardis. I’ve made this the traditional way – beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs etc – and the throw caution to the wind way – put it all in a food processor and blend until all combined and pale. I know, every time I do it like that I feel like cackling and shouting FRAUD but it works. Goddammit it works.
1 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups SR flour
1 cup milk
Preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line a 24cm springform cake tin
Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy
Add the eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each one
Fold in the flour, milk and vanilla
Pour into the cake tin and bake 40-45 minutes or when cake bounces back to gentle touch and has pulled away from the cake tin
Now, you can either top it with melted butter and lashings of cinnamon sugar (I KNOW) or ice it with your choice of icing. That debacle up there was iced with my bog standard lemon icing – icing sugar (2 1/2 cups?), softened butter (about a dessert spoon) and lemon juice until it’s at a good consistency.
When I was in primary school we lived on Sydney’s North Shore in a suburb called Lindfield. If we won lotto I would probably spontaneously start looking at houses in Lindfield such is my love of that place, nevermind it is 30 years later and it has changed more than I care to accept or that our lives are now firmly etched into Sydney’s Northern Beaches, Lindfield and indeed the North Shore calls me back time and time again.
We had a little row of shops just across from the train station. There was Mr Steenbolm’s chemist, our doctor down the laneway, an old lady’s dress shop, a milk bar (owned by the compulsory and seemingly only Greek family in the area) and best of all, the cake shop. Most Saturday’s mum would take my brother and I to the cake shop for a treat. Mine? A pineapple passionfruit tart while my brother used to get a sausage roll. My GOD those sausage rolls were good.
There was a glass L-shaped counter, one side taken up solely with display cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other celebrations. Remember when you would get those little figurines to sit on the top of the cake? I still have the ballerinas and Mum still has the cricketers that appeared on our respective cakes for years.
The other side was a hotbed of mock cream and sugar. Neenish tarts, Pineapple Passionfruit tarts, those marzipan green frog tarts (which I once begged mum for and proceeded to scar me for life on all things marzipan), palmiers, meringue mice, big fat wedges of vanilla slice, custard tarts showered in nutmeg, gingerbread men and a sugar topped apple slice. I must confess that apple slice never piqued my imagination as there was so much else vying for my attention. But then Fiona at Inner Pickle posted a recipe for an apple slice and all of a sudden I was 8 and back in that cake shop.
This is now on such high rotation in our house that if there is none people, Jasper in particular, get antsy. It is his absolute favourite above all else. It has kicked my lemon curd slice to the curb and THAT is saying something.
This recipe was introduced to my by Bec, my partner in blogging crime way back when we blogged together on Glamorouse. My GOD I can’t believe that was SEVEN years ago.
Anyway, this is carrot cake made better. A humingbird cake but not. There was a story behind it which I can no longer recall but the cake, this cake is my absolute favourite. That’s right. More than a chocolate one or a simple butter cake, this, this is my Queen of Cakes.
Baking makes some people nervous but really, it’s just about slowing down and going with it. This cake (below) I only lightly drained the pineapple and dumped the whole can in rather than the designated 1/2 cup. I then did 2 heaped cups of SR flour instead and voila, perfection.
Rotary Ladies Cake
2 heaped cups self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarb
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups grated carrot (3 small-medium carrots)
3/4 cup dessicated coconut
1 440g can crushed pinapple, drained
1/2 cup sultanas or raisins
1/2 cup walnuts (or nut of choice, or leave out altogether as I often do)
Preheat the oven to 180C, line a 24cm or rectangular cake tin
Combine the wet ingredients in a bowl then stir in the dry
Add the carrot, fruit and nuts then pour into the tin
Bake for 45-50 minutes or until it bounces back at a light touch or a knife comes out clean
Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a cake rack
You can leave it un-iced, perfectly acceptable or put a simple lemon glaze on it (icing sugar mixed with enough lemon juice to pour over the cake) or a cream cheese icing.
Last week I met up with Mrs Woog and Beach Cottage and other lovely ladies at the park so the kids could go and play soccer with a creepy dad and other strangers. I took some of these tasty little numbers with me and Mrs Woog has been asking for the recipe (or me to drop more into her which school holidays has made near impossible).
The recipe comes from my mother-in-law and I’m not sure where it comes from before her. You can make it as a cake, in which case you put half the batter in the tin, cover with the streusel, add the rest of the batter and then top with the rest of the streusel. But there’s something about them as cupcakes – little mouthfuls of contentment.
This recipe can be halved to make one 24cm cake. I’m not sure how many cupcakes it’d make as I always do double. This makes I’ve made the cupcakes two ways – one where I’ve put some batter in the patty pan then streusel then batter then streusel but it’s fiddly and annoying. My advice is to top with a heaped dessert spoon of the streusel and then – oh so delicately (not) – smoosh it in to the batter. (The picture below however is when I did the former rather than the latter) I haven’t doubled the streusel topping as when I did it made LOADS too much – it’d be find if you were making a cake but as cupcakes you don’t need as much.
Sour Cream Streusel Cake
1 cup sugar
2 cups plain flour
1tsp baking powder
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup nuts (I’ve used mixed nuts, pecans and pistachios. I’ve chopped them up in a processor or chopped them roughly. Basically do whatever floats your boat.)
Preheat oven to 180C and line patty pans with liners (it will make 15-18)
Put all the ingredients for the cake in a food processor and blend until smooth and pale.
Combine the streusel ingredients
Place a heaped dessert spoon in your patty pan liners, top with a heaped spoon of streusel and smoosh into the batter a bit.