21 January, 2012

Lemon Almond Polenta Cake

I aspire to be like Nigella Lawson when I'm older, settled down and a mother of about six! I love the way she dances around the kitchen like a diva, throwing things into her bowl left right and center, and then producing the most perfect cake you will ever see from her expensive oven.
This light, crumbly, lemon infused tea cake is taken from the queen of the kitchen herself. The majority of the cakes batter is composed of ground almonds (or almond meal) which adds a subtle yet noticeable flavour to the cake. The almond also works to retain moisture in the cake. And let me tell you.. you need that moisture in order for you to salivate as soon as the cake touches your lips.
I would like to say that this cake is healthy so that more of you would try it out. But the 200g of caster sugar that goes into it begs to differ...

Lemon and corn. The ingredients sound simple enough. And sure enough, the cake is too! I think every recipe that comes from Nigella is easy to understand, and the best thing is that the ingredients are in your pantry already!

  Lemon Polenta Cake adapted from Nigella Lawson (Serves 16)
- 200g soft unsalted butter, plus some for greasing
- 200g caster sugar
- 200g ground almonds
- 100g fine polenta/cornmeal
- 1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder (gluten-free if required)
- 3 eggs
- zest 2 lemons


Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4. Line the base of your cake tin with baking parchment and grease its sides lightly with butter.
Beat the butter and sugar till pale and whipped, either by hand in a bowl with a wooden spoon, or using a freestanding mixer.
Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by 1 egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while.
Finally, beat in the lemon zest and pour, spoon or scrape the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
It may seem wibbly but, if the cake is cooked, a cake tester should come out cleanish and, most significantly, the edges of the cake will have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin.  

19 January, 2012

Cupcakes with a Strawberry Frosting

My sister hit the big 21 a week and a half ago. To celebrate her big milestone she had a Mexican themed party a couple of days after her birthday.
And me being the unorganized, clumsy and careless sister, I was appointed one task and one task only. The cupcakes..duh!

Now, there aren't many mexican flvours that can be distinguished by the party guests, so I went with the one and only; strawberry. I haven't ever really made any flavoured frostings - apart from the usual vanilla and chocolate, obviously - so I was so excited to try this one out. I followed my usual buttercream icing recipe which consisted of the usual butter, icing sugar and vanilla essence, but I improvised when it came to the strawberry tinting and flavouring. Yes. I made the other half of the recipe up.
But don't get discouraged, it works. The recipe totally works! (woohoo!). But to be fair, I did a "trial run" a few weeks before the actual party to test out the recipe. I'm not sure I used the right ingredients for strawberry frosting, but hey, it turned out to be edible so I don't care. Mum and I were wandering around the food store and I was lingering in the canned fruit aisle. I spotted a tin of canned strawberries and I went from there! Because I like to think of myself as organic and chic, I used grated beetroot to create the baby pink colour. This also added flecks of beetroot to the icing which could be mistaken for tiny chunks of strawberry.
Anyway, my story about beetroots and strawberries is probably boring you!
The recipe:
Strawberry Frosting (ices 12 cupcakes)
- 2.5 cups icing sugar
- 250g butter
- 2 Tb of canned strawberry syrup*
- 1 tsp of grated beetroot

Cream butter until light and fluffy. Add icing sugar and continue beating until well incorporated. Add canned strawberry syrup and grated beetroot and stir well to combine.
Spoon in to piping back with a 1M Wilton nozzle and pipe, pipe, pipe away!

*Syrup in which the strawberries are in inside the can.