Saturday, October 20, 2012

Fruity Inspiration

You guys are all aware by now that baking isn't really my bag. I will happily spend 3 days making a master stock, or painstakingly put together a 9 course degustation menu, but setting aside half an hour to make a cake just doesn't do it for me. Well, the Goddess of baking and sweet things must have aligned all the planets of something, because this week I had an idea for a cake recipe buzzing around in my head that just wouldn't go away. I took this as a sign from the universe that I should head to the kitchen and give this cake experiement a bit of a whirl.

I don't eat cake really - but when I do, my sweet thing of choice is lemon syrup polenta cake. I love the texture that the polenta has, and the tang of the lemon. Yum. My recipe idea is a bit of a variation on that type of cake, using fresh lime and lashings of passionfruit. I decided to add some almond meal to the equation, as well as using olive oil instead of butter. The result is a beautifully textured but very moist crumb and a sticky, tangy, fresh tasting syrup.

These cakes are lovely by themselves with a hot cuppa, but I think they would work really well as a do-ahead dessert. I'd serve them slightly warm with some clotted cream, creme anglaise or maybe some marscapone with some fresh lime rind folded into the mixture. You could also use those very small muffin tins and serve them as tiny sweet petit fours after dinner.

Sticky Passionfruit and Lime Polenta Cakes

As this was an experiment, it was all a bit free form. I used the quantities that I hoped would work, based roughly on the proportions I use when making normal muffins - and on the amount of almond meal and polenta I had in the pantry. Once I had that in mind as a starting point, I added some other ingredients and let my instincts take over. I was really happy with the result - the proportions worked a treat and I ended up with the texture I was hoping for. Dealing with the egg whites seperately really helped with this I think. I wasn't going to bother with the egg white thing, but it only took an extra two minutes and was worth it.

These cakes were fast to make and only take about 20 minutes to cook, so they aren't too much of a stretch for someone like me who doesn't usually have the patience or inclination for cake baking. Hell, I whipped up these on a Saturday morning while I stacked the dishwasher and sipped my morning coffee! Very do-able indeed.

You will need:
For the cake - 4 free range eggs, 1/2 cup caster sugar, 1/2 cup almond meal, 1/2 cup fine polenta, 1/2 cup plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 tablespoons olive oil, Juice and rind of 1 fresh lime, Pulp from about 3 passionfruit.

For the syrup - 1 cup caster sugar, Juice and rind of 1 fresh lime, Pulp of 2 passionfruit, 2 tablespoons water.

Method:  First, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease your muffin tins if you are not using silicone tins like I did.

Separate the eggs and put the yolks in one mixing bowl and the whites in another. With an electric beater, whip the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Set aside. (Hint - it is always better to beat egg whites in a metal bowl, or a ceramic one as a second choice. Plastic bowls tend to retain grease and oil, which is the enemy of fluffy egg whites!)

Combine the half cup of caster sugar with the yolks and beat until the mixture is lighter in colour and increases slightly in volume.

To the egg yolk mixture, add the almond meal, polenta, plain flour, baking powder, olive oil, lime juice and rind. With a spatula, combine all of the ingredients.

Now gently fold a third of the egg white into the cake mixture. Put in the rest and fold in until combined. Don't be too heavy handed with the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins, remembering that these cakes do not rise a whole lot, so you can fill them almost to the top.

Bake at 1080C for 15-20 minutes. The cakes are cooked when they are slightly brown and the mixture springs bak a little when you touch the top of them.

While the cakes are cooking, put together the syrup - just combine all of the syrup ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer gently for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved completely and the syrup thickens slightly.

When you remove the cakes from the oven, spoon over about half of the syrup while they are still warm. When you are finished, run a knife around the edges so that they don't stick to the pan. Spoon over the remaining syrup and allow the cakes to soak up the mixture.

Serve warm or cold with cream, marscapone or icecream. Or scoff them without the extras.

Makes 10-12 small cakes


1 comment:

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