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.
I adore shortbread. Far more than standard biscuits. Something to do with the mealy buttery nature of them I suspect. This is in the current issue of Donna Hay magazine and as soon as I saw them I knew I must bake them.
Lemon Shortbread Donna Hay Magazine
1/3 cup icing sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp vanilla
1 3/4 cups plain flour
2 tbsp cornflour
2/3 cup icing sugar
Beat the butter and sugar for 8-10 minutes until pale and creamy
Add lemon juice, zest and vanilla
Add the flour and cornflour and beat until a smooth dough forms
Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 2 pieces
Roll into 2x20cm logs, wrap in cling film and freeze for 30 minutes
Preheat oven to 180C
Cut dough into 1cm thick rounds
Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden
Gently toss the warm shortbreads in the extra icing sugar, cool on wire racks and store in an airtight container.
So this is basically my favourite dessert/tart/sweet treat of all time. If I come upon a patisserie or a cake shop which looks even remotely like it has a proper pastry chef at the helm I will buy a lemon tart. Or Citron tart if we feel like getting fancy.
I adore my lemon butter but it is not right for a proper lemon tart. Similarly, that time I made the lemon meringue tart when I so bravely tried to keep up with the Daring Bakers produced a very easy lemon ‘curd’ but I could not bring myself to say a mix that involves cornflour is a proper lemon curd.
This comes from Jane and Jeremy Strode who own Bistrode, a 40 seat bistro in Sydney. They also do the weekly recipes in Good Living, which I always find very hit and miss. In fact, I bought their cookbook bistrode purely on flicking through it in the bookshop and chancing upon the page with their lemon curd tarts. There is much in the book I will try, far more than what they offer in GL, and this lemon curd is absolutely sensational.
The shortcrust pastry below is the one I use for everything. I think it is a Bill Granger recipe from recollection. (The picture below features double the curd recipe and is made in a 10cm x 33cm tart case w/ removable base.)
Lemon Curd Tart Jane and Jeremy Strode, Bistrode For the pastry
4 cups plain flour
350g unsalted butter, cubed
1/4-1/2 cup cold water
For the curd
225g caster sugar
175ml lemon juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
For the pastry
Process the flour with the butter and add enough water for it to come together as a dough
Refrigerate for 30 minutes
Roll the pastry to 2mm thick and line a tart case or 12 x 10cm diameter round discs (Jane Strode says here to cut out the discs and then refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight but I am never so organised – I cut them out, line the cases and then refrigerate)
Make sure you avoid any air bubbles between the pastry and the tin
Line and fill with pie weights and bake for 10 minutes or until golden-brown and cooked through then allow to cool.
For the curd
Melt the butter in a heavy based saucepan then add the sugar and stir to combine
Add lemon juice and eggs and cook over a medium to low heat, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon
Make sure you don’t let it boil as this will curdle the eggs
Take off the heat and pass through a fine strainer into a clean container
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing gently onto the surface so a skin doesn’t form and cool in the fridge before spooning into the tart case(s)
The curd will keep in the fridge for a week.
Seriously, I could eat this until my head fell off.
Oh, and that pastry quantity will mean you have some left over. Just wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for another day.
This is something I have eaten since I was a small child and is also one of the first recipes I ever learnt. But look, the recipe is a family one, the amounts are not standard metric measurements and the method is, to me, somewhat odd. Each time I make it it’s a little different – more sauce, less sauce, very tart, not so much – but I like that.
The tablespoon I use is a big old antique number, the lemon juice amount is totally dependent on how juicy the lemons are and so on. Regardless of it all, this is my comfort food.
My Nan’s Lemon Delicious
1 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup caster sugar
2 large heaped tbsp SR flour
juice of 2 lemons
2 eggs, separated
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 200C and grease a smallish baking dish*
In a bowl mix the butter with the sugar, it won’t come together like a standard ‘cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy’ but will be more like a ‘sand’
Add the flour
Mix the egg yolks with the milk and add to the dry mixture and then add the lemon juice
Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks
Add a third (or so) of the egg whites to the mixture, folding through until incorporated then fold through the rest of the egg whites
Pour into the baking dish and bake at 200 for 10 minutes
Turn the oven down to 180C and bake for a further 35-40 minutes – keep an eye on it so the top doesn’t scorch. I sometimes turn the oven down to 150C for the last 10 or so minutes
* It is a lovely thing to do in individual bowls/ramekins – obviously adjust cooking times.