A wonderful light cake fragrant and sticky with honey and pecans
Possibly the best cake I have ever made and I think my dedication to cake is well established.
For a few weeks I’ve had a hankering for a honey-scented cake, similar to my quest for a decent honey ice-cream, even though ice-cream and my stomach don’t see eye-to-eye.
Food52’s Baking book delivered. Honey AND pecans, we were onto a winner.
There are steps, there are bowls, just work with it.
Food52 uses a 23cm round springform pan with baking paper that comes up above the join but this sounded like a doomed plan to me so I used a 20cm square tin, which I lined with one piece of baking paper with no joins in it whatsoever (so the caramel can’t escape)
A divine mocha mousse sandwiched between two meringue discs.
Ok, something fancy for a change.
It’s been so invigorating having my cooking mojo back but let’s face it, cooking dinners tends to focus on the functional in this house and I just had a hankering to make something requiring a bit of technical skill and that was a little bit fancy.
I was rearranging my cookbook bookshelf and the June July copy of Donna Hay fell out with this on the cover. I basically had to make it immediately. I swapped out the white chocolate for milk because it was all I had and the mousse probably didn’t set as well as it should have because I didn’t have enough whipped cream. I also used almond meal instead of hazelnut meal because it was what i had in the cupboard. But guess what, it was BLOODY DELICIOUS.
It’s not technically challenging, but there are steps and waiting/cooling times so go in with that knowledge.
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.
A few weeks back the Australian Womens’ Weekly had a recipe for a Raspberry Custard Teacake in it. I made it. Three times. It was good but there was something lacking. Or actually more annoying for you see, the custard, it kept sinking. I knew it would, you could see it in the photos in the magazine but I didn’t want it to sink, I wanted it through the cake.
So I mulled on it a while.
And then, in making something else from the magazine’s cookbook 1000 Best Ever Recipes from AWW I came across a recipe for apple custard cupcakes. With some tweaking (the apple coming from its apple pie slice rather than plain sliced apple) I have found it. The best cupcake ever. EVER!
Use a traditional sized cupcake tray, not a muffin tray. I have also made it as a cake by doubling it all but it was a bit tricky and I burnt the crap out of the bottom of it as it – obviously – needs a while to cook through. Next time I’d probably make it as a slab cake rather than round tall cake.
Apple Custard Teacakes
1000 Best Ever Recipes from AWW
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup caster sugar
3/4 cup SR flour
1/4 cup custard powder
2 tbsp milk
30g butter, melted
1 tblsp caster sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
The apple (you’ll only use about half of this in the recipe but mmm stewed apples, put the leftovers on your brekkie – unless you have eggs, because that’d be gross)
6 medium apples (just under 1kg), peeled, cored, cut into 1cm pieces
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup sultanas
1 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp finely grated lemon rind
1 tbsp custard powder
1 tbsp caster sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
To make the custard:
Mix the custard powder and sugar with the milk and vanilla
In a small saucepan stir over heat until the mixture boils and thickens
Remove from heat, pour into a bowl, cover the surface with clingwrap and cool
To cook the apples:
Cooke apples, sugar, the water and sultanas in a large saucepan, uncovered and stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes or until the apple is soft and the mixture is not too wet
Stir in spice and rind and let cool.
To make the cake:
Preheat oven to 180C and line 12 hole 1/3 cup cupcake (or small muffin) tray
Beat the butter, sugar, extract, eggs, flour, custard powder and milk in a small bowl of an electric mixer until ingredients combined, then increase speed and beat until mixture has turned to a pale colour
Spoon 1 heaped dessert spoon (approx) into each paper case (or divide whole mixture in half then distribute half into the paper cases)
Top with a heaped teaspoon of apple mixture
Top the apple with a heaped teaspoon of custard
Top the custard with another heaped dessert spoon of cake batter – try and cover the custard, yes, a bit fiddly but worth it.
Bake cakes for about 30 minutes
Brush hot cakes with melted butter and sprinkle over combined sugar and cinnamon
Don’t you love reviving a recipe you used to made decades ago only to discover it is as delicious as your memories made it? I’d be nervous to try that principle with my Nan’s chow mein (think a lot of cabbage, beef mince and curry paste, there may even have been sultanas) or Mum’s apricot chicken (the one using the can of apricot nectar and the packet of french onion dip mix which I still see doing the rounds) but with this slice it was a delightful trip down memory lane.
Seriously, it’s probably been more than two decades since I started making this. I am fairly certain it is a Women’s Weekly recipe – how could it not be! When Mum had a piece she recalled this was one of the first recipes I made from go to wo on my own. So I was probably 10 or 12.
Pineapple Apple Slice
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
3/4 cup caster sugar
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup self-raising flour
410g can of crushed pineapple, well drained
480g can of pie apple
Grease and flour a 22cm square cake pan and preheat the oven to 180C
Cream the butter, sugar and lemon rind
Add the eggs one at a time and beat well
Fold in the flour, the batter with be thick
Spoon half the mix into the base of the tin and spread evenly
Top with the mixed tinned pineapple and apple
Dollop spoons of the batter over the top and smooth out as best you can – this is not a precise science, it’s OK to have some of the filling sticking through
Bake for 45 minutes, cool and then sift over some icing sugar.