Posts tagged ‘cake’

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My grandmother had a persimmon tree in her back garden in Italy and I have always loved their sweet vanilla taste and firm, shiny flesh. More exotic than apple and pear and with a warm, golden orange colour, persimmon (also known as Sharon fruit) is my favourite autumn fruit. To welcome the new season, I combined it with cinnamon and organic apple juice, two traditional autumn flavours, for a light and creamy seasonal cake.

In keeping with the Italian theme, I decided to go for a very simple Pan di Spagna sponge. Pan di Spagna is a traditional Italian sponge cake with a light and airy texture and only three ingredients: eggs, sugar, and flour. The basic Pan di Spagna sponge cake contains no butter, milk or oil, which makes it low-fat and perfect for a dairy-free diet. If you want to keep the persimmon compote dairy-free and low-fat as well, substitute the whipped cream with soya cream. Of course, you can also leave the cake naked or just add a sprinkle of icing sugar on top!

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There are different methods to make Pan di Spagna sponge: this recipe, based on Giallo Zafferano’s, uses the egg-separated method. Like angel cake, Pan di Spagna cake does not need raising agent: it raises thanks to the air and steam trapped inside the egg foam. Because the mixture needs to be as light as possible to raise properly, I recommend using a low-protein (weak) type of flour, such as US (unbleached) cake flour, Italian grade 00 flour or French T55 flour.

Enjoy!

 

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

P1120488 webFor the Pan di Spagna sponge

  • 5 eggs
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour)
  • 75g corn flour
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the persimmon compote

  • 5 persimmons
  • 250ml organic apple juice
  • 2 tablespoons whipped cream
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

For the crème Chantilly

  • 250ml full-fat whipping cream
  • 50g icing sugar

To assemble and decorate

  • 30ml organic apple juice
  • 1 persimmon
  • A few mint leaves

How to make it

How to make the Pan di Spagna sponge cake

1. Pre-heat the oven at 180-160ºC. Grease and line with baking paper a medium round tin (18cm diametre). Sieve together 75g 00-type flour (or other weak flour) and 75g corn flour.

2. Separate the whites from the yolks of 5 eggs; this is easier when the eggs are fridge-cold. Take care not to leave any trace of the yolks in the egg whites bowl.

3. With a sharp knife, cut the vanilla pod in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds into the egg yolks bowl.

4. Whisk the yolks and the vanilla seeds with 100g caster sugar until the mixture doubles in size and becomes light and fluffy (see photo 4b for how it should look like).

5. Whisk the egg whites with 50g caster sugar and ½ teaspoon cream of tartar until they make hard peaks.

6. Using a large spatula, gently mix the egg whites to the yolks mixture. Take care not to overmix: you don’t want to knock the air bubbles out of the mixture.

7. Gradually sift the dry ingredients over the mixture, gently folding them in until they are completely incorporated.

8. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake at 180ºC for 40 minutes (static oven) or at 160ºC for 30 minutes (ventilated oven). The cake is ready when it springs back if poked with a finger.

9. Once the cake is baked, turn the oven off and leave it in the oven to cool down for about 10 minutes. Then take the cake out of the oven and let it cool completely before taking it out of the tin.

How to make the persimmon compote

10. Cut 5 persimmons in small pieces.

11. Transfer the persimmons to a pan and add 250ml organic apple juice and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Slowly simmer on a low heath for about one hour, until the compote reduces to the consistency of a jam.

12. Blend the compote in a food processor until smooth. Add 2 tablespoons whipped cream and mix well. Set aside.

How to assemble and decorate the cake

13. Make the crème Chantilly by whisking together 250ml full-fat whisking cream and 50g icing sugar.

14. Cut the cake in three horizontal layers.

15. Drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over the bottom layer. Spread half of the persimmon compote and then a layer of crème Chantilly over the persimmon compote layer.

16. Place the second layer of cake on top of the first one and drizzle 10ml organic apple juice over it. Cover with the remaining persimmon compote and a layer of crème Chantilly.

17. Top the cake with the third layer and drizzle the remaining 10ml organic apple juice over it. Spread a thin layer of crème Chantilly over the whole cake and leave to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. This layer will create a smooth surface for the rest of the crème Chantilly to be laid upon.

18. Once the first layer of crème Chantilly is set, cover the cake with the remaining crème Chantilly. Decorate with one persimmon, sliced, and a few mint leaves.

This cake keeps well in the fridge for 1-2 days.

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Choc Spelt Courf feat
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Christmas can be delicious without being over-indulgent. This chocolate cake recipe, by Linzi Barrow of Clandestine Cake Club Lancaster for the Goovy Food Company, includes courgette and spelt flour for a great yet not-too-sweet taste. What is more, it is dairy-free. A star-shaped tin (I used Ikea’s Drommar) and some sparkly decoration will make it extra-special. This is how I like my Christmas nights: starry and chocolate-y!

Ingredients (for 8 people)

225g courgettes
200g spelt flour
175ml light agave nectar
75ml olive oil
2 eggs
4 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
Edible gold spray, golden sugar, white chocolate stars and icing sugar to decorate

How to make it

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Oil and line a star-shaped cake tin.
2. Sift 200g spelt flour, 4 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda, and 1/2 tsp salt into a bowl.
3. Add 175 ml light agave nectar, 75 ml olive oil and 2 eggs and mix well.
4. Grate 225g courgettes and add to the mix.
5. Pour your batter into your prepared tin. Bake for approx 45 minutes until well risen and until a skewer comes out cleanly from the middle. Cool in the tin for about 10 minutes and then on a wire rack.
6. Decorate with edible gold spray, golden sugar, icing sugar and white chocolate stars. Enjoy!

 

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Walnut cake feature
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This recipe is inspired by the coffee, cardamom and walnut cake in Fiona Cairn’s beautiful book Seasonal Baking (which I wholeheartedly recommend). I love baking with seasonal ingredients and the caramel and walnut decoration reminds me of golden autumn leaves. This is the perfect cake to have with a warming coffee after a brisk walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon!

In addition to making it dairy-free (of course!) I substituted the buttercream with a soya-based coffee and cardamom cream, which is lighter and less sugar-heavy.

The round and warm scent of cardamom makes a good addition to autumn and winter bakes (have a look at my Swedish cardamom and cinnamon buns). For this recipe you will need the dark brown seeds inside the cardamom pods. Although supermarkets generally sells the green pods, rather than the seeds, there is no need to go through the fastidious process of de-seeding the pods, as the seeds are easily available online, including via Amazon. It is important to ground the seeds immediately before use, to keep their flavour intact.

Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

275g caster sugar
275g icing sugar
175g margarine, plus more for the tin
125g flour
100g walnuts halves
100g ground almonds
3 eggs
6 tsp (about 30 g) freshly ground cardamom
4 tbsp (about 50ml) decaf coffee
3 tbsp (about 40ml) whipped soy single cream
1tsp vanilla extract
1 bag (7gr) baking powder

How to make it

1. Prepare the ingredients: cut 175g margarine in pieces and leave it out to soften; roughly chop 50g walnuts; sieve together 125g flour and 1 bag (7gr) baking powder. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line with baking parchment.

2. Preheat the oven to 180°C / fan 160°C / gas mark 4. Keeping them separate, place both the 50g walnut halves and the 50g chopped walnuts on baking trays and roast for six minutes. Cool.

3. Using a food mixed or an electric whisk, cream together 175g margarine, 175g caster sugar and 1 tablespoon decaf coffee until very light and fluffy. Lightly beat 3 eggs, then add them to the mixture. Gradually add 50g ground almonds and 3 teaspoons freshly ground cardamom. Gently fold in the flour-baking powder mix and 50g chopped walnuts; don’t over-mix.

4. Pour into the tin and bake at 160°C (fan) for 60 min, or until a skewer comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

5. Prepare the caramelised walnuts: lay 50g walnut halves on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Put 100g of caster sugar and 100ml of cold water in a saucepan and dissolve the sugar over a gentle heat, stirring with a metal spoon. Increase the heat to a boil, stop stirring and occasionally brush the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, to prevent crystals forming. Boil until the mixture turns a beautiful caramel gold and has thickened.

6. Have a sink or washing-up bowl of cold water to hand. Plunge the base of the pan into the cold water, then, using a teaspoon, drizzle the caramel over the walnuts on the tray and leave to set.

7. For the coffee and cardamom cream, mix 275g icing sugar (sifted), 50g ground almonds and 3 teaspoons ground cardamom. Using a food mixed or an electric whisk, add 3 tablespoons decaf coffee and 3 tablespoons whipped soy cream. If it is too runny, add more icing sugar. If it is too stiff, add more whipped soy cream, until it reaches the desired texture.

8. When the cake is completely cool, cut it in half horizontally. Spread half of the coffee and cardamom cream over the bottom half, then place one half over the other. Spread the other half of the coffee and cardamom cream on top.

9. Decorate with the caramelised walnuts and the caramel shards. Enjoy!

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Enrica feature

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Today is my cousin Enrica’s birthday and this is her celebration cake! Trained as a lawyer, Enrica is a fine patissière at heart and the best cake-maker in the family (sorry other family members, but you know it’s true…). This recipe is based on her signature breakfast yogurt cake (having cake for breakfast is one of the many wonderful things about food in Italy), which I made berry-loaded and dairy-free. The lavender-infused sugar and the grated lemon zest give it a fragrant, lovely scent.

Happy birthday Enrica!

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Ingredients (for 6-8 people)

450 gr blackberries

300 gr cake flour

150 gr lavender-infused sugar (or white granulated sugar)

200 gr dairy-free soya yogurt

100 gr sunflower oil (or other vegetable flavourless oil)

3 whole eggs

Two tablespoons of blackberry jam

The zest of one untreated lemon, grated

1 bag (7gr) baking powder

A pinch of salt

Icing sugar for dusting

How to make it

1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Using a food mixer, whisk the whole eggs with the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

2. When the eggs are starting becoming firm, but are not making peaks yet, sprinkle the lavender-infused sugar a little at a time. Keep whisking until you have a light and frothy mixture. All in all, the whisking should take you at least 10 minutes.

3. Working by hand, delicately add the oil and the yogurt to the egg mixture, folding from bottom to top.

4. Mix the flour and the baking powder. Still working by hand, gently fold the flour mix into the egg mixture.

5. With a food processor, blend 150 gr of blackberries. Add half of the blend to the mixture. Pour the mixture into a tall cake tin, about 18 cm across, previously coated in oil and flour.

6. Bake at 180 degrees for about 45 minutes. Once the cake is ready, leave it on a wire rack to cool down.

7. While the cake cools down, prepare the cake filling by mixing two tablespoons of blackberry jam, two tablespoons of dairy-free soya yogurt and the remaining half of the blackberry blend.

8. Cut the cake in half horizontally.

9. Spread half the blackberry filling on the bottom half of the cake. Place the remaining blackberries on top and cover with the rest of the blackberry filling.

10. Cover with the upper half of the cake and dust with icing sugar. Enjoy!

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CCCamden 1

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This Brazilian-English coffee shop is the perfect place to escape the Camden madness

A free piece of London advice for tourists: if you happen to wander around Camden and fancy a little perk, you may be tempted to stop at one of the chain cafes overlooking the Lock. Think again!

Sitting around a corner (hence the name) about three minutes walk from Camden Lock, the mood of The Corner One Coffee Shop could not be further away from the touristy hustle and bustle of the main road. With its exposed brick, sage green walls, peeled metal industrial tables and black woodwork, this is the kind of place where you would find bearded hipsters working on their Mac and cool local families (proof that there are indeed local residents among Camden’s ubiquitous tourists…)

The coffee here is so nice that it does not need any sugar, making The Corner One one of the best coffee places in Camden and fully deserving the brilliant reviews. You can accompany it with pancakes, muffins, salads on demands, or even Brazilian cheese bread.

Be careful though – this is a small place with few seats. And please, keep the secret!

MIL20 Oval Road, Camden
London NW1 7DJ
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Lentils and curry cake 1
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Have you ever wondered what to do with the red lentils that somehow end up forgotten at the back of the cupboard? A wonderfully moist and flavourful cake, of course!

This is a very easy and quick recipe, slightly modified from a version published in Elle à Table, March-April 2014.

Allergy warning: this recipe contains eggs, dairy products, gluten and nuts.

Ingredients (for 8-10 people)

350g red lentils
150g gruyère cheese, grated
70g breadcrumbs
50g hazelnuts, chopped
2 good-sized carrots, cubed
1 onion, sliced
6 eggs
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons curry powder

How to make it

  1. Pre-heat the oven at 170 degrees.
  2. Boil the lentils in plenty of water for about 10-15 minutes, adding a tablespoon of salt when the water starts boiling. Drain and keep on the side.
  3. In a pan, lightly fry the onion in a little olive oil. When it becomes golden, add the carrots. Season with salt and pepper and continue cooking for 5 minutes.
  4. In a bowl, whip the eggs with the grated cheese and the breadcrumbs.
  5. Add the lentils, the carrots and onion mixture, the olive oil and the curry powder. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Butter and dust a rectangular cake tin with flour. Fill with the cake mixture.
  7. Sprinkle the cake with the chopped hazelnuts.
  8. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Enjoy!

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Mediterranean cake

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A fail-safe recipe that will bring the flavors and colors of the Mediterranean to your table in a little longer than one hour! Vegetarian and dairy-free.

Ingredients

Mediterranean cake ingredients200 gr (7 oz)  flour
200 gr (7 oz) sun-dried tomatoes (drained weight)
100 gr (3.5 oz) extra-firm tofu
50 gr (1.8 oz) pitted olives (drained weight)
3 eggs
10 cl (3.5 oz, a glass) soy milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
3-4 basil leaves
1 sachet (7 gr, 1/4 oz) yeast for hand baking
salt and pepper

Notes: You can use smoked or flavored tofu (I used sun-dried tomatoes-flavored tofu) but do not use silken tofu – it would be impossible to grate! If you are not vegan or milk-intolerant you can use gruyere cheese instead of tofu and substitute soy milk with cow milk.

You will also need: A small rectangular baking tin, about 23 x 13 cm (9 x 5 inches)

How to make it

Mediterranean cake step 1 1. Pre-heat the oven at 180 degrees (°C).
Mix in a large bowl flour and yeast.
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Mediterranean cake step 2 2. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs with the oil and the soy milk.
Season with salt and pepper.
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Mediterranean cake step 3

 3. Pour the egg mixture over the flour.
Mix.
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Mediterranean cake step 4

4. Grate the tofu and add to the mixture.
Chop the sun-dried tomatoes, the olives and the basil leaves and add to the mixture.
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Mediterranean cake step 55. Grease a rectangular baking tray and pour the mixture in.
Put in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
Leave to cool down before removing from the tin.
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Mediterranean cake stage 6

 6. Decorate the cake with fresh basil and tomatoes.
 ENJOY!

 

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