Monday, July 22, 2013

Apricot, Walnut and Lavender Cake

I can't get enough of apricot cakes this summer. So here comes yet another recipe and I think, it's my favorite so far. As usual with Ottolenghi recipes, flavors are in perfect harmony. And doesn't this cake look beautiful?! I photographed it yesterday in the evening light. Guess what?! These are my very first food photos shot with a professional camera. It wasn't my own, though. I've always been quite happy with the results that I got out of my good old digicam in the past few years. But now, I think its days are numbered.

(from here)

185g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
2 tbsp walnut oil
220g caster sugar
120g ground almonds
4 medium eggs, beaten
120g ground walnuts
90g plain flour
½ tsp vanilla extract
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1½ tsp picked lavender flowers, fresh or dry
600g (gross) apricots, halved and stones removed

For the icing:
50g icing sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 170°C. Put the butter, oil, sugar and almonds in the bowl of a mixer and beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the eggs bit by bit, making sure each addition is well incorporated before beginning the next, then fold in the walnuts, flour, vanilla, lemon zest, a teaspoon of lavender flowers and an eighth of a teaspoon of salt.

Line the base and sides of a 23cm cake tin with greaseproof paper. Pour in the cake mix and use a palette knife to level it out. Arrange the apricot halves skin side down and slightly overlapping all over the top of the cake, taking them right to the edge.

Bake for 70-80 minutes – cover with foil if the top starts to brown too much; also, note that when you insert a skewer to test for doneness, it will come out a little sticky because of all the moisture in the apricots.

While the cake is baking, whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice until you have a light, pourable icing (adjust the amount of sugar or juice slightly, to suit your tastes). As soon as the cake is cooked, remove from the oven and brush the icing all over the top (we left that out). Sprinkle over the remaining lavender flowers and set aside to cool.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Roasted Bulgur Salad

Here comes my new favorite summer salad. I accidently stumbled over this recipe video and I was intrigued with the idea of roasting the bulgur first before cooking it. It gets a more nutty smokey deep flavor which blends in wonderfully with the roasted tomatoes and onions and the parsley. I made a huge bowl of this salad just for myself last week and I liked it so much, I even ate if for breakfast over the next days. You can adjust this dish just the way you like. Leave out the chickpeas, add some feta... Try it, it's one of these easy recipes you can't go wrong with.

(from here, but if you're too lazy to watch the video, I've written it down for you)

3 pints of cherry tomatoes (i used 2)
5 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup of bulgur
1 medium red onion
2 big bunches flat leaf parsley
1 can of chickpeas
lemon juice

Preheat the oven to about 180°C to 200°C. If you have a convection oven, you can roast the veggies and the bulgur at the same time on two baking trays. Otherwise, do it one after the other.

Spread the bulgur on a baking tray and roast for about 15 minutes. Then, cook in about two cups of water for about 15 minutes (or for as long as it says on the package).

Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut in half and spread on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and toss it around a bit. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, slice the onion and after 15 minutes, add the onion to the tomatoes and roast for another 15 minutes.

Wash and cut the parsley. In a large bowl, combine cooked bulgur, chickpeas, tomatoes and onions, parsley and drizzle with some more olive oil. Season with salt and lemon juice. This salad is delicious either warm or cold.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Summer Berry Cake with Oatmeal and Coconut

Now that the sun finally makes an appearance (for good, we all hope...), I've got the perfect summer cake for you! It's one of those simple recipes that is just stunningly delicious... Some cakes just are a thorough success. This will make you the star of any picnic or garden party for sure!

(from the absolutely stunning "Summer" by Yvette van Boven)

250g flour
2.5 teaspoons baking powder
50g oatmeal
275g brown sugar
a pinch of salt
75g desiccated coconut
200g cold butter
2 eggs, beaten
500g summer fruit (e.g. raspberries and blueberries)
icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line a 30x15cm cake tin with parchment paper. I used my brownie tin (18x23cm).

In a large bowl, mix flour, baking powder, oatmeal, sugar, salt and coconut. Add the cold butter in pieces and rub with your fingers until you have a crumbly batter. Take away about 200g of the dough and put aside. Add the two eggs to the rest of the dough. You can do all of this by hand or with the kitchen aid. 

Press your dough into your prepare cake tin and smoothen with a spoon or plastic ladle. Spread the berries on the batter. Then, scatter the crumbles over the berries.

Bake your cake for about 35-40 minutes. The cake should be golden brown. Check with a wooden skewer, whether the dough is thoroughly baked. Insert into the middle of the cake, if the skewer comes out clean, it's fine.

Let the cake cool and dust with icing sugar before serving.

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