Stone Fruit Season: Plums & Cream Polenta Cake

plum & polenta

This cake was inspired by  two things – 1) needing to use a bag of polenta we bought in Switzerland last month for a family dinner but never used and 2) a recent discovery that the maroon and cream livery of the Great Northern Railway’s dining carriage in the 1940s (random fact of the day) came to be affectionately known  as ‘Plum and Spilt Milk’, which sounded like a divine flavour combination! So obviously, we had to make a cake featuring those ingredients. It turned out a real treat with a cuppa tea so we thought we’d share it with all of you.

Serves 8 (big slices) or 10 (medium slices)

Prep Time: 20 mins Baking time: Approx 50-60 minutes

Ingredients

3/4 cup muscovado sugar

1/4 cup caster sugar

1 cup (250g) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup polenta (we used fine polenta)

1 cup  sifted self-raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder sifted in)

1/2 cup double cream

3 eggs

a tsp vanilla extract

4 plums

2 tbsps strawberry or current jam

Method

Turn the oven on to 160 degrees c. Ours is an electric fan oven. Grease a round tin and line with baking parchment.

Cut the plums down the middle and twist each half in opposite directions. Slice the half with the stone in half again and twist, same as above – this will help in removing the stone. Cut each quarter into half again so that from each plum, you get 8 slices in total. Set aside.

Next, put both types of sugar together with the butter and beat until creamy. Add one egg at a time and beat till well mixed in. After adding all three eggs, add the double cream and vanilla. Mix well. 

Now add half the flour and half the polenta, fold in. Now, add the other half of both and fold in until well mixed. Careful not to beat the flour and polenta in and don’t mix vigorously either. Just patiently fold it in, we promise that will be worth the effort! 

Pour the batter into your tin and smooth the surface. Now, starting from the edge of the tin, place the plum slices one next to the other, vertically, all around the tin (sneak a quick look at the picture above to see what we mean about the placing – that said, if you place it horizontally, it’ll be fine too!). Keep going till you fill up the whole top of the cake. You may want to choose the plum slices according to how they fit but really, don’t hesitate to squeeze them together or force them into shape! What you want to avoid is pressing the plums in because the cake will rise and you don’t want the plums sinking in when that happens.

Put the tin in the oven, middle shelf, and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Put the cake on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes and while that’s happening, zap the jam in the microwave for 10 seconds or put it in a bowl and the bowl in a bath of hot water – basically loosen the jam so you can brush it all over the cake. Brush the cake with the warm jam and leave it to cool completely. 

 

x Anu & Suba

 

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Individual Victoria Sponges

vic sponge

Another dessert in honour of our Singaporean national colours – red and white. We packed some of these up for friends, also missing home here in London, as a wee National Day treat. The great thing about individual portions is that you can eat the cake yourself before anyone else does without having to cut out a slice, which you just can’t do if you’re taking the cake to someone’s house for a party or giving it away as a gift.

Makes 12

Prep: 20 minutes + 15 minutes after baking   Cook time: 20-25 mins

Ingredients

200 g softened butter

200 g sugar

3 eggs

250g self raising flour (or plain flour with a tsp of baking powder)

1 tsp vanilla extract

strawberry or raspberry jam

100ml double cream, cold

icing sugar

Method

Turn the oven on to 150 deg c. Line a cupcake or muffin tin or grease with some butter and set aside.

Beat the butter with some sugar until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure they mix in well. Now, add the vanilla extract and mix well. Sieve the flour to introduce more air into it and then fold it into the batter. Fold gently and avoid any hard mixing at this stage. 

Fill each muffin cup to 3/4 full and place in the oven. After 12 minutes, or when you see the cakes starting to turn a more golden colour, turn the tray 180 degrees so the cakes brown evenly. Leave it in for another 12 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a cake comes out clean. 

While the cakes are baking, pour the cold cream into a mixer and beat till it forms peaks. Careful not to over-beat or it will start to look lumpy and separate. Fold in 2 tbsps of sifted icing sugar.

Once the cakes are ready, put them on a rack to cool completely. Using a sharp knife, slice the cakes in half horizontally so you can make a sandwich. On one cut half, cut side up, plop a dollop of cream in the middle and spread very lightly (not all the way to the edge as that will happen automatically when you press the top part of the cake down on top of the cream). On the other half of the cake, cut side up, dollop some jam and again, spread very lightly. Now carefully bring both halves together so that the cream and jam are sandwiched in the middle. Make sure the cake is completely cooled so the jam and cream don’t melt in the middle and start dripping out. 

We placed a star-shaped cutter (Singapore’s flag has 5 stars on it) on top of the cake before dusting over icing sugar with a sieve but you can just sieve directly over the cake or use any shaped cutter you like!

We packed them up in some nice red and white tissue and tied it all up with some brown string, but only after we stuffed our own faces with a couple of these delicious little poppers!

x Anu & Suba

 

Berry , Mascarpone & White Chocolate Trifles

Berry , Mascarpone & White chocolate Trifles 3

In celebration of Singapores’ National Day , we made these little glass trifles with alternating layers of sponge cake and berry mascarpone and topped with white chocolate ganache. They were supposed to be just red and white (the colours of Singapores’ national
flag) but we ended up adding some blueberries to the top, for some contrast but mostly because we just felt like blueberries! You can use any cake for this, and if you are short on time you could also just crumble the cake and make the layers out of that instead of cutting out the circle shapes.Trifles made a regular appearance in our family get togethers and making them just somehow made us feel a little closer to home.

Berry , Mascarpone & White chocolate Trifles

Makes 5 glass trifles

Ingredients

Sponge cake :

75 g flour

25g corn flour

100g sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla essence

Berry Mascarpone:

150g mascarpone

1/4 cup raspberries , chopped

1/4 cup strawberries, chopped

Splash of milk

1/4 cup icing sugar

White Chocolate Ganache:

100g white chocolate

100g heavy cream

Topping :

2-3 strawberries sliced

15 blueberries

10 raspberries

You will also need:

5 glasses of 5 cm diameter

A circle cookie cutter of 5 cm diameter

(or glasses and cookie cutter with matching diameter)

Method

Sponge :

Preheat your oven at 180c

Sift flours together.Whisk eggs & vanilla essence until fluffy

Add sugar a little at a time and whisk until the batter falls from the spoon in the form of a ribbon. Fold in the flour with a spatula

Pour into a 7 inch cake tin and spread evenly. Bake for about 30-40 mins until the top springs back. 

Cool your cake completely on a wire rack. 

While the cake is baking, make the berry mascarpone.

Berry Mascarpone :

Mix the mascarpone with the milk until you get a smooth paste, thick enough to spread. Add the berries and the icing sugar and stir to combine. 

Keep it in the fridge while the cake bakes and cools.

While the cake cools, make the white chocolate ganache

White chocolate ganache:

Chop up the white chocolate and place it in a bowl. 

Warm the cream in a small saucepan – it doesn’t need to boil or simmer. Just make it warm enough to melt the chocolate. 

Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until combined and creamy. 

Assembling the trifles:

Once the cake has cooled, slice it into half with a serrated knife or a cake slicer. Don’t worry , it doesn’t need to be perfect cause you won’t be able to see the layers perfectly once assembled. 

Place the layers on a flat surface and cut out 5 circles from each layer – so a total of 10. You will have leftover cake, so you could probably get about 2 more circles if you cut them close. Or you could save the remainder and make something else, like cake pops or cake french toast. 

Place a tablespoon of the berry mascarpone in a glass and spread it out evenly, push in one of the cake circles, then top with another 1-1.5 tablespoons of mascarpone, then another layer of cake and another 1-1.5 tablespoons of mascarpone. Top with 1-2 tablespoons of white chocolate and garnish with the berries. Repeat with the other glasses. 

Happy National Day ! 

X Anu & Suba

Persian Love Cake

persianlovecake2

Summer is here and roses are blooming everywhere and so we couldn’t resist the opportunity to put the flavour of roses in pretty much everything we are cooking these days. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing some of our favourite rose inspired concoctions, both sweet & savoury, so do drop by if you feel like filling your kitchens with the scent of roses.

The first of our recipes is a Persian Love Cake. The story goes that this magical cake was first made by a Persian woman for a Prince she was in love with. And what’s not to love about this intently moist, sweet, rich almond cake with hints of rosewater, cardamom & lemon. This is hands down my favourite almond cake and a great one  to make for a party because it keeps well, is  yummy and looks impressive but is so easy to make. This recipe is from Yasmin Khan’s The Saffron Tales and I’ve never found the need to change anything  because I love it as it is, but replacing the lemons with oranges , using hazelnuts instead of pistachios or making little Persian love cupcakes (especially for Valentine’s Day) could be nice twists.

persianlovecake1

I’ve made this cake 2 days in advance and it has always tasted better that way. You could take the traditional route and make the lemon icing in this recipe or you could whip up some lemon cream , rose buttercream or even mix store-bought pistachio cream with freshly whipped cream to top this cake. The variations are endless . If you want to make a 2 layer cake like I have here, just remember to double the portions for the lemon icing so you can top each layer.Handle the cake with care when layering, it’s so soft that it cracks easy. 

Serves 8

Ingredients

The Cake

200 g unsalted butter

150 g caster sugar

4 medium eggs

12 cardamom pods

100 g plain flour, sifted

275 g ground almonds

1 unwaxed lemon, zested and juiced

1 tablespoon rose water

1 teaspoon baking powder

a generous pinch fine sea salt

The Syrup

2 tablespoon caster sugar

1/2 lemon, Juiced

1/2 tablespoon rose water

The icing

150 g icing sugar

3/4 lemon, Juiced

2 teaspoon cold water

To Decorate

2 teaspoons sliced pistachios or pistachio granules

2 teaspoons dried or fresh rose petals, roses or rosebuds

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 170°C. Grease a 22 cm cake tin and line it with baking parchment.

Grind the whole cardamom pods in a pestle & mortar, discard the green shells and pound the little black seeds until they become a powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar together until just combined , don’t over-beat. Then add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.

Add the cardamom seeds to the mixture. Then add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder, salt, lemon zest, lemon juice and rose water.

Pour the mixture into the cake tin , even out the top and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes.

Check the cake close to the end of the baking time by sticking a fork in the middle. It should come out clean. Place the cake on a  wire rack to cool.

While waiting for the cake to bake, make the syrup. Using a small pan over low heat, combine the caster sugar, rose water and lemon juice and stir until the sugar melts completely. While the cake is still warm, use a toothpick or fork to poke holes all over the top and then drizzle the syrup over the cake,making sure you cover the whole top of the cake.

Let the cake cool completely.

To make the icing combine the icing sugar, lemon juice and a 3-4 teaspoons of cold water  and stir well until the icing is smooth and thick. Make the icing just before you want to use it or it will harden. Spoon the icing over the cake and let it drip down the sides. Decorate with the roses and pistachio.

If you want to make a double layer cake, use a serrated knife or cake slicer to slice the cake. Spoon half the icing over the bottom layer, place the top layer over that with the top (rounded part of the cake) facing down ,

=[then spoon the rest of the icing over that. This video from ZoeBakes will explain how to do that better than I can with words.

x Anu & Suba