Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Mondays at Greenwich

My boyfriend’s family meets for dinner every Monday night. They have a beautiful, peaceful home that is by the water and they really know how to come together and enjoy a meal, dinner there always has a sense of occassion. Dan’s mother, Wendy, does some very nifty things with vegetables (half the family is vegetarian). They’re a very healthy family whose idea of dessert is usually fruit and maybe some ice cream. This lemon cake was chosen with that in mind, as it’s a lighter and not too sugary dessert with an alert tanginess to it from the lemon rind. I have faithfully followed Jude’s recipe with the exception of adding vanilla bean paste and pomegranate molasses to the glaze, the sourness of the pomegranate muddles with the lemonyness nicely.

I used a special biodynamic bush honey thickened yoghut from Marbrook Farm in the cake, about which I have to make the following impassioned declaration: this is the most stultifying yoghurt experience on earth. Marbrook farm do not use milk solids or any unnatural ingredients in the making of their yoghurt, milk solids are usually what makes yoghurt difficult to digest, so when I do eat yoghurt, this I what I eat. This yoghurt is perfectly crafted and has a taste and texture that is beyond compare, its a dessert in itself, far more tasty than ice cream, and much better for you, the honey is blended in beautifully and dances with the creaminess, rather than usurping it. They also make a killer Greek Style Yoghurt and a Lemon Myrtle with Vanilla. Most commercial yoghurts are just little pots of sugared up, gelatin filled, preservative laden crap. Find this one, its well worth the hunt. The lemon tea cake recipe features in Coming Home To Eat and was so much fun to make, every stage of the preparation works like a Cassanova on your nose. So, do as I did, crank up some Chili Peppers in the kitchen on a quiet sunny day, and bake your little heart out:

Lemon Yogurt Spelt Cake with Pomegranate and Vanilla Bean Luster

125g (1 cup) of plain white spelt flour (I have been using the Demeter brand, which is biodynamic and lovely)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
45g (1/2 cup) desiccated coconut (I used flakes)
80g unsalted butter, softened
120g (2/3 cup) rapadura sugar
1 egg (which I actually forgot to put in)
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence (I used 1 tablespoon of vanilla bean paste)
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon (organic is very important here, the skin of fruit is where most of the pesticides used in non organic farming get lodged, so if you are consuming a fruit with skin or using the skin for cooking, organic will provide a more wholesome, and more flavoursome, effect).
60g (1/4 cup) of yoghurt (see the above rant)
2 - 4 tablespoons of milk (bonsoy, baby)

Pomegranate and Vanilla Luster:

125ml (1/2 cup) lemon juice
2 tablespoons brown rice syrup (Spiral make a great one)
1 tablespoon of raw demerara sugar
towards the end of the simmering:
1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees, line a 1 litre loaf tin (I used a wonderful heart shaped tin, charming and a bit tragic all at once). Sift flour and baking powder into a small bowl, add coconut and whisk, set aside.

Using electric egg beaters, beat the butter and sugar in a bowl until well combined. Heh. I don't have an egg beater yet, I tried this part by hand and was exhausted after 20 mins, so I gave up and the cake was Kiera Knightley flat, but still delicious. I will be purchasing an egg beater this week! Add egg and beat until fluffy, add vanilla, lemon zest, flour mix, yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of milk. Gently beat together, if batter is very dry, add remaining milk.

Spoon into tin and bake for 40-45 mins. While the cake is rising (or not!) put all the simmering ingredients except pomegranate and vanilla into a pot bring to boil and add more sweetness if you like, continue the boiling until its reduced to one third. I then added pomegranate and vanilla, if you want to experiment with other flavours, knock yourself out. I have visions of one day getting earl grey tea infused into the lustre.

As soon as the cake is hot to trot, spoon half the syrup over, leave it for ten minutes, then spoon the rest, then let that absorb for another 10. I love these little tips from Jude, they surely make the difference between good and great.

I cut this in long thin slices to serve, with some serious vanilla bean ice cream on the side and on top. Its that beautifully complex, dense, richwithoozystickiness kind of cake that really leaves a gorgeous mess all over serving plate and greedy fingers. It also offers that most wonderous of moments where you go to incisively cut into a cake only to realise that you need to apply a little more pressure: sweet resistance that betrays unbearably beautiful heaviness of texture...God..

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