Tag Archives: Today’s 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 – Hazelnut Cake with Coffee Buttercream

I love all things hazelnut, and this cake makes a nice treat for afternoon tea.  The coffee buttercream is very rich, and optional, you could happily eat the plain cake.

Hazelnutcake

Ingredients
Cake 

185g unsalted butter, at room temperature
220g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
50g cornflour, sifted
225g self raising flour
80ml milk
100g hazelnut meal
Icing sugar for dusting

Coffee buttercream (optional)
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
240g icing sugar, sifted
2 tbsp. espresso coffee, cooled

Making it
1. Preheat oven to 170 degrees fan forced. Grease a 20cm springform tin and line base with baking paper
2. Cream butter and sugar and vanilla with electric mixer until pale and creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add flours and milk and beat until smooth. Gently fold in hazelnut
3. Spoon mixture into cake tin, bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. If the top starts to brown too quickly and is not cooked, cover with foil. Cool in tin for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely
4. Meanwhile, make the coffee buttercream. Beat butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add coffee and beat for a further two minutes. Cut cake in half and spread base with the butter cream, cover with top of cake and dust with icing sugar.

Today’s Cake – Ricotta Cake

This recipe is based on the one in a beautiful cook book I bought recently called “Sharing Puglia”.  I changed it a little because, well, I can’t help myself but also I thought it had too much sugar, with the original recipe having 345g sugar for 500g ricotta, as well as candied fruit, which I’m not overly fond of.  I did slit the top as suggested but it still cracked so think I need a few more slits.  The liquor used is called Strega (which means ‘witch’ in Italian), one that Mamma Rosa uses in a lot of her sweets.  But you could probably also use brandy. Tip – I used Glad Go Between to roll out the dough – made it very easy.

Ingredients
Pastry
330g of 00 flour
220g caster sugar
200g butter, cubed
4 egg yolks

Filling
1kg ricotta
3/4 cup caster sugar
3 egg yolks
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbps Strega

Icing sugar, for dusting

Making it
1. Place your ricotta in a fine sieve and put on top of a bowl, cover and put in the fridge to drain

2. Meanwhile, make the pastry. Place the flour and butter in a food processer and pulse till it forms a crumb. Add the sugar and pulse, then the eggs and continue pulsing till it starts to come together. Tip onto a benchtop or board, form into a disc then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

3. Grease a 19cm springform cake tin with butter. Cut off about a third of the pastry and set aside. Roll out the large portion of pastry into a large circle big enough to line the cake tin; gently place into the tin and press gently against the sides, cutting off any excess. Roll out the extra piece to form a circle matching the size of the tin for the lid. Refrigerate for at least an hour or until ready to bakericottacake (1)

4. Take your ricotta, still in the sieve, out of the fridge and sit for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170 fan forced. Remove the ricotta from the sieve and place in a clean, dry bowl. Combine ricotta and sugar using a whisk or electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. Pour the mixture into your cake tin, cover with the pastry lid pressing around the rim to seal, and then using a sharp knife put some slits in the top. Bake for about an hour ; if it starts to brown too quickly cover with foil. Allow to cool in the tin. Once cool remove from tin, dust with icing sugar and servericottacake (2)ricottacake (3)ricottacake (4)ricottacake (5)

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 – Pasticciotti – Italian custard tarts

pasticciotti

I’ve visited lots of parts of Italy over the years but never Puglia – the heel of the boot – though in recent years the tourism to this relatively unexplored region has grown a lot. Some of the beaches look amazing.  Pasticciotti are essentially custard tarts that Puglia is famous for, in particular in Lecce and neighbouring Salento, and they are often called Pasticciotti Leccesi.  They were first made in the 600’s (yes that’s  over 1400 years ago) and are so much a part of the culture that there is now even a feast day every 28 July – la festa del pasticciotto of course!

I had a good look at several recipes in Italian, and had to look up “strutto” which was an unfamiliar ingredient.  Turns out it is shortening, I didn’t know where to get that so used butter, so not sure how much impact that has on the texture – I guess I’ll have to visit Puglia one day and find out.  As with every classic sweet there are so many versions of this – here is mine. For a first attempt they were pretty good.  The custard was devine, I figured if my pastry was a flop I could just enjoy a massive bowl of custard which would not have been a bad outcome. I loved the hint of lemon in it, but many other versions use a vanilla bean instead of lemon rind.

Traditionally these are made in little oval shapes, but if you don’t have these a cupcake tray will work just as well.  Makes 12.

Ingredients for the pastry
500g of 00 flour
250g unsalted butter
200g caster sugar
5 egg yolks
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

Ingredients for the custard
500ml milk
50g of 00 flour
6 egg yolks
150g caster sugar
Rind of one lemon

To make the pastry

  1. Place the flour, baking powder, and sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse for a few seconds to combine
  2. Cube the butter, add to the food processor and pulse until coarse in texture
  3. Add the egg yolks and pulse until just combined
  4. Tip mixture out onto a benchtop or surface and gently bring together with your hands then knead for a few minutes until smooth. Shape into a disc and refrigerate for two hours

To make the custard

  1. Combine flour and sugar in a bowl
  2. Place the milk and lemon rind in a pot over low heat, and heat to just before boiling point. Remove pot from heat and allow to steep for 10 minutes, then remove rind
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks. Constantly whisking, gradually add about a third of the milk. Keep whisking then add the flour and sugar mixture, and continue to whisk while gradually adding the rest of the milk
  4. Return the mixture to the pot, and continue to whisk over low heat until it thickens. Pour custard into a bowl, place a piece of cling film directly on top of the custard (so a skin doesn’t form on it) and allow to cool

Assembly and baking

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees
  2. Roll out the pastry and shape into your twelve oval tins. Fill with custard, and then top with pastry and seal. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Slide out of tins and eat warm.