Tag Archives: cake

Today’s cake – Amor Polenta

Such a romantic sounding cake, one with the word love in the title.  Hailing from Lombardia in Italy’s north, it is not an extravagant cake, but typical of Cucina Povera where polenta or cornmeal was often used to take food a little bit further.   Traditionally Amor Polenta is prepared in a ridged cake tin, but no reason why you couldn’t use a normal loaf pan.  The tin I bought was a little too big for this quantity of mix, as the cake is usually nice and high, so next time I’ll make a double batch of mixture (or buy a smaller tin, but I think I’ll go with the double batch as it’s a gorgeous cake).   You need very very finely ground polenta or cornmeal for this, not the typical polenta used in savoury dishes, or you’ll get a very grainy texture.  The Strega – an Italian liquor and a favourite of Mamma Rosa, added a delightful subtle fragrance to it. The Marito loved it, so did I. This one is going to become a regular for sure.

Ingredients
120g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8g baking powder
100g fine cornmeal (polenta)
80g flour, tipo 00
70g almond meal
Splash of liquor such as Strega or rum
Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees and grease the tin with melted butter. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar and butter until combined then add the eggs and beat till nice and creamy. Add the vanilla and baking powder and combine. Add the cornmeal and combine, then the tipo 00 and combine, and then finally the almond. Lastly add the Strega. Pour the mixture into the tin and use a knife to smooth the batter. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool and dust with icing sugar.

 

Today’s cake – Italian apple cake

The Marito is a big apple dessert fan, and I used to make this cake for him regularly when we first got married.  But somehow I forgot about it, and recently finding myself with excess apples, made it and remembered how good it was.  It’s almost custard like in the centre.  I have used Granny Smith and Golden Delicious for this, but you could also use a mixture of varieties depending what you have in the fridge.   Strega is an Italian liquor (and a favourite of Mamma Rosa) the addition of which is optional.

applecake

Ingredients
5 medium apples
Juice of 1 large lemon
Grated rind of 1 large lemon
4 eggs
150g plain flour
150g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt.
20ml Strega liquor
100g unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Icing sugar for dusting

Making it
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan forced. Grease a 20cm cake tine and line the base with baking paper.

2. Core and peel the apples, halve and slice thinly. Place in a bowl and cover with the lemon juice.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until thick and fluffy. Add the lemon rind and Strega and combine.

4. Gently fold in the flour, baking powder and sale. Carefully drizzle in the melted butter and gently combine, then finally add the apples and gently fold in.

5. Place the mixture in the prepared tin and level it out. Bake four about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the cake is browning too much on the top and not cooked in centre, cover with foil. Remove from oven, rest in tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Today’s cake – tomato cake

The Marito was fairly zealous with his tomato planting this year, and we had tomatoes everywhere.  Some months before I had filed away this recipe from Rosa’s Farm, it intrigued me, and finding myself with more summer tomatoes that I knew what to do with, it seemed the perfect time to try it.  The scent of chopping up the peeled tomatoes threw me straight back to childhood  – sitting in a garage with nonna, Mamma Rosa, zia, cousins and siblings, cutting tomatoes bobbing in enormous containers of water, ready to be pureed for passata before being bottled  with some basil, the bottle carefully wrapped in newspaper and boiled in a large vat.

The recipe didn’t specify  whether or not to remove the tomato seeds, so I did.  I also reduced the quantity of sultanas as it is not an ingredient I’m enamoured with.  I’d throw in some walnuts next time, they would work really well.   I almost dropped the darn thing flipping it so you’ll notice it’s a bit cracked at the top.

tomatocake-1

The end result? I quite liked it, texturally soft and similar to eating other vegetable based cakes like a carrot cake or zucchini cake.

Ingredients
450g firm but ripe tomatoes
115g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
165g caster sugar
2 eggs
225g self raising flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
50g sultanas

Making it

  1. Use a sharp knife to score a cross in the bottom of each tomato, place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour over some boiling water, enough to cover them, and leave for 1 minute.  Drain and then peel off the skin, remove the seeds and finely chop the remaining flesh.  Set aside in a bowl to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 170 degrees C fan forced and grease a 20cm tin, lining the base with baking paper.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition.  Gently fold in the flour, mixed spice and sultanas.  Strain the tomatoes gently then fold in to the batter.  Spoon into a prepared tin and cook for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in the tin for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack.

tomatocake-2

Today’s cake – fig jam and ricotta torta

There are lots of nice figs around, so when I saw this recipe in Gourmet Traveller I was keen to give it a try.  The recipe called for a 26cm cake tin, but once I’d made the batter I made a judgement call and went for a 23cm as I wanted a thicker, higher cake rather than a thinner, flatter one. I also think you could probably do another fig or two to get a more substantial layer of the jam.

figricottatorta

Ingredients
Fig Jam
500g fresh figs, peeled and coarsely chopped (about 5 large figs)
75g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
Grated rind and juice of half a lemon

Batter
300g plain flour
150g almond meal
1/2tsp baking powder
150g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
210g unsalted butter, softened and room temperature
3 eggs

300g ricotta
Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it
1. First make the fig jam. Place ingredients in a small pot over medium heat until thick (about 20 minutes). Once ready set aside for an hour or until cool
2. While jam is cooling, place ricotta in a fine meshed sieve over a bowl and allow any excess liquid to drain. Then beat with a whisk until smooth.
3. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C fan forced, and line springform cake tin with baking paper. Place flour, almond meal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and process. Add eggs and process till batter comes together.
4. Place half the batter into the tin and press up the sides, about half way up. Top with ricotta, then fig jam, then cover with remaining batter.
5. Bake for about an hour – an hour and a quarter, should be a deep golden; if it becomes too dark and not cooked cover with foil. Remove from oven and leave in tin for 5 minutes before putting on a wire rack to cool. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Today’s cake – Francesca’s frangipane cake with blueberries

My “cyber friend” Francesca writes a really lovely blog called Almost Italian which I stumbled across one day some time ago and love to read.  One of her most popular posts has been her apricot frangipane cake, which she then tried with raspberries. Since I’m somewhat neutral on apricots, and raspberries and I don’t get along, I thought I’d try a blueberry version; as advertised it is ridiculously easy to make.  It was a hit with the crowd.  Thanks Francesca!

blueberryalmond

Ingredients
125 g softened unsalted butter
150 g of castor sugar
4 eggs
50 g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
375 g almond meal
2 Tablespoons Amaretto liqueur (I buy Disaronno)
250g fresh blueberries
25 g flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 180c or 160c fan forced. Grease a 25 cm loose bottom tin. Line base with baking paper
2.Place butter and sugar and eggs in a mixer bowl and beat for 5 minutes until thick and pale.
3.Stir in the flour mixed with the baking powder, then fold in the almond meal, followed by the Amaretto. Pour into the prepared tin.
4.Arrange blueberries over the top and lightly press down so they are submerged. Scatter the top with the flaked almonds.
5.Bake for 45- 50 mins. Cool in tin, remove and dust with icing sugar.

blueberryalmond2_marked

Today’s cake – Amalfi Pear and Ricotta cake

amalfi cake 2

Pear and ricotta cake is something you will find in many of the bakeries and pasticcerie along the gorgeous Amalfi Coast.  It was first made famous by Sal di Riso (his bakery is in Minori) and over the last few decades there have been various versions.  Some make it with more of a ‘biscuit’, others with a sponge.  This version is based on a recipe by Katie Caldesi.

For the sponge
100g     hazelnut meal
50g       plain flour
100g     caster sugar
75g       unsalted butter soften at room temperature
4            egg whites
Icing sugar, for dusting

For the filling
3            pears, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
75ml     water
1 tsp     vanilla bean paste
125g     golden caster sugar*
250g     ricotta, drained
100g     double cream
1 tbsp   pear brandy (optional)

*golden caster sugar is an unrefined sugar you’ll find in specialty food stores. I also used it recently in an orange & semolina cake

Making it
1. To make the pears, cook the pears in the water, together with the vanilla and 75 g of the sugar in a saucepan until soft, for 15–20 minutes (depending on the ripeness of the pears). This is best done with a circle of baking parchment pressed down on the pears to trap in the steam. When the pears are done, strain them through a sieve resting over a bowl to collect the juices and set aside and allow to cool.

2. Meanwhile, grease two 19 cm round tins with butter and line the bottoms with baking paper. Pre-heat oven to 180C fan forced. Place the hazelnut, flour, caster sugar and butter in a bowl and beat until a sandy consistency. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then fold them into the nut mixture. Pour into the prepared tins and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before turning out onto wire racks and removing baking paper

3. To make the filling, whisk together the remaining golden caster sugar, ricotta and cream in a bowl until smooth and thick. Add the pears and brandy and combine. Place one hazelnut sponge on a board and spoon the filling over. Lay the other sponge on top and push down so that the filling oozes out a little. Sift the icing sugar over the top and transfer to a serving dish or cake stand. Serve in slices with the syrup from the pears if desired

amalfi cake

Today’s Cake – Orange and Semolina Cake

orangecake

My husband bought home a beautiful bag of navel oranges recently.  I’ve always got semolina in the cupboard, so when I saw this cake by Neil Perry in Good Food that used both, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Its a lovely cake for afternoon tea.  The recipe calls for golden caster sugar which is made from unrefined sugar and a pale brown colour.  If you have a Thomas Dux or other speciality food store nearby, ask if they stock Billingtons – they make every kind of sugar under the sun.  If not, just substitute normal white caster sugar.

Ingredients
115g golden caster sugar
65ml vegetable oil
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
100ml milk
40ml orange flower water
225g fine semolina
3 tsp baking powder
115g almond meal

Orange Syrup
285g caster sugar
425ml water
4 pieces of orange peel (use a peeler)
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp orange flower water

Making it
1. To make the syrup put the caster sugar, water and orange peel in a small saucepan. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat and allow it to bubble for 15-20 minutes to make a sticky syrup. Transfer into a jug and remove the orange peel. Add the juices and orange flower water. Set aside.

2. Preheat the oven to 190ºC and line a 20cm x 30cm rectangular baking tin with baking paper.

3. For the cake, whisk the sugar, oil and orange zest together in an electric mixer. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each, until thick and foamy. Mix in the milk and orange flower water.

4. Combine the semolina and baking powder. Beat into the cake mixture, then add the ground almonds. Pour into the baking tin, making sure mixture is level. Place tin in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes, until it is golden and just cooked.

5. Remove from oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Using a skewer, prick holes in the top and slowly pour over 1 1/2 cups of syrup. When cool, slice and serve with remaining syrup if desired.