Tuesday, 1 February 2011

The Kitchen Crusader Strikes Back: Honey and Olive Oil Cake (like nothing you've had before)

I know that the ethos of this blog is to give you recipes that you don't have to go out and buy ingredients for, and to provide you with simple recipes… but I also believe in encouraging people to try new things, ingredients and flavour combinations. That's what's going on here.

You see, there are times when we want to make something quick and easy and quick and easy for just us, or our family, because it's Tuesday and we just got home 3 minutes ago and if we don't eat in the next 20 minutes, that roll of paper towel is going to look all the tastier. However, there are other times, when people we like, or want to impress, or both, are coming over for dinner, or afternoon tea, or morning tea, or a chat about the weekend, or your mutually shared pet hates, or your new kitten, or how delicious this coffee is. At these times we might like to make something a bit... wow.

This is the kind of cake you might make in a situation like this. It is a delicious recipe for a cake I discovered recently, in Rachel Grisewood's Manna From Heaven, and adapted. The original recipe was with strawberries, but I'm adapting it to introduce some interesting flavour combos I know you'll love. So while I'm not sure that you'll have arrowroot in your pantry, or orange blossom water, I'm fairly sure that I can make it worth your while to head out and get some, and hopefully, you'll discover some new flavour combinations that you'll be a happy fan of.
This cake isn't particularly difficult, but is something different, don't be worried about the thinness of the cake, just run with it. It creates a different texture that I'm somewhat in love with.

I'm a little unsure about one of the stages in this recipe, as Grisewood didn't explain what to do with one set of ingredients, so I hope that this is right, either way, it was tasty this way, so I guess it's all okay. You have 2 options for toppings that I'd suggest for this cake, stewed nectarine with basil or baked oranges with orange blossom syrup (I know that England-types will be far more able to get hold of oranges right now.)
Because you have a choice about the topping that you choose to use for this recipe, I've tried to colour coordinate it, so it's clear which tsages belong to which fruit topping choice. I hope it's clear...

Honey and Olive Oil Cake with
Stewed Nectarines and Basil OR
Baked Oranges with Orange Blossom Syrup

You need:
For the Cake
oil, or butter for greasing
75 g honey
¼ ccup olive oil
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
125 g sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste or essence
125 g plain flour
40 g arrowroot
300 ml whipping cream

For the Nectarines:
6 small nectarines, quartered, with the stones removed
3 cups of water
100g sugar
1 cinnamon quill
6-8 large basil leaves
For the Oranges:
3 medium sized oranges, thinly sliced
2 cups of water
4 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp orange blossom water
¼ cup of roughly chopped pistachios
2 tbsp grand marnier (optional)

Set the oven to 150C and grease a cake tin (Grisewood suggests a 22cm round one, I wouldn't go much larger than this, but I think a bit smaller could work, I also used a ring pan once, which worked just fine.)

If doing the oranges, at this point you need to place them into a baking dish, with the other ingredients, apart from the pistachios and mix roughly, to ensure that the oranges are fairly well covered. Then place the oranges in the oven.

Melt the honey and oil in a small saucepan, take of the heat and whisk in the milk. Set aside and allow to cool.

After about 5 minutes cooling time, beat the eggs and sugar together (with a hand-held mixer or with a whisk... but the mixer will take a lot less time), until thick and creamy. Stir in the vanilla and the honey, milk, oil mix.

Fold in the flour and arrowroot gently, with a metal spoon) Grisweood requests a cutting, not stirring motion.

Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake for 40-50 mins, or until puffed, golden and just coming away from the side of the tin.

If making the nectarines, while the cake is baking, place the nectarines, water, sugar, cinnamon quill into a saucepan on the stove, bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer, simmer for 5 miuntes, so that the nectarines are soft, but still maintain their shape. Take the nectarines out, but leave the liquid on the stove top, reduce until you have about ¾ cup of liquid remaining. Set aside and allow to cool.

If making the oranges, turn the oven up to 200C and leave them in there.

Cool in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. At this point, if you're making the oranges, take the oranges out of the oven, if there is less than ½ a cup of liquid remaining in the dish with the oranges, you'll need to make a syrup and pour it over at this stage.*

*To make this syrup, put ¾ of a cup of water with 3 tbsp of sugar into a saucepan, heat through, bring to the boil, then simmer for a few minutes. Then pour over the oranges. Set the oranges aside to cool.

Allow the cake to cool completely.

When serving (and not until you are actually serving): whip the cream, and smooth over the top of the cake.

If serving the oranges, spoon them, and the syrup, over the top of the cake and then sprinkle with pistachios. Consume immediately.

If serving with nectarines, spoon the nectarines, and their syrup, over the top of the cream, then tear the basil leaves (into quite small pieces) over the top.

I know that basil and nectarines might sound like a freaky-fantasy of mine, but seriously I suggest you try this, the flavour is unexpected and absolutely delicious.

I don't have a picture of the nectarine version of this cake because I haven't made it, I've only made the two separately (though the flavours WILL absolutely work)... but here's a picture of a white chocolate mud cake with the nectarines, basil (and some crumbled macaroons... which aren't at all necessary) that I made recently and received fairly good reviews (actually they were rave reviews, but I was trying to be modest.)

Alternate angle of orange cake: intiate.

For more interesting flavours or crazy banter, check out my very own culinary blog.

The end.

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