lemon ricotta and polenta cake

27 Mar 2017

I first saw a photo of this cake in Delicious magazine way back in 2014 and I've been thinking of making it ever since. With soon to expire leftover ricotta in the fridge, I decided the time had come to make the cake.

The recipe is quite similar to an Ottolenghi upside down orange cake I make quite often, so I changed the proportions a little based on that tried and true recipe. If you compare the recipe to the original, there's more egg in my recipe, lemons were used instead of the limes and I've added a little bit of flour.

Here's the recipe for you which makes a small loaf tin. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. To make a regular size loaf cake, just double all the ingredients and bake for the same length of time.

Lemon Ricotta and Polenta Cake - adapted from a Darren Robertson recipe via Delicious magazine 2014

55g fine (instant) polenta
2 tbs plain flour
1 cup almond meal
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of sea salt
115g unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup caster sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs
125g fresh ricotta, cut into 1-2 cm pieces
Sprig fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 17cm x 9cm x 8cm pan and line the base and sides with baking paper.

Mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl and set to one side.

Cream the butter and sugar and lemon rind in an electric mixer. Still beating, slowly add the eggs until completely mixed. Mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the lemon juice to make a soft batter. Allow the mixture to stand for a few minutes before gently folding in the ricotta, trying to keep the ricotta pieces whole.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, then sprinkle a few rosemary leaves over the cake mixture. Bake for 1 hour, or until golden brown and cooked when tested with a skewer. If the cake is browning too much, cover the cake with a piece of baking paper. Allow the cake to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out.

This makes a moist dense cake. The rosemary adds an intriguing flavour but next time I'd add some finely chopped rosemary to the cake batter rather than on the top of the batter. The rosemary sprigs dry out as the cake bakes and they get a little bit too crunchy.

I've been baking up a storm in preparation for Passover week. I have lots of good things to share with you. 

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,


shopshoot - the design twins

20 Mar 2017

Sydney traffic is pretty awful so I avoid using the car and use public transport as much as I can. It does mean most weekends I don’t stray too far from my home.

Last Sunday I decided the time had come to do some furniture shopping. I’ve been looking for an armchair for 2 years now and I’m yet to find ‘the one’. Into the car I went and drove over to Precinct 75 in St Peters where the Design Twins shop is located. 

They’ve moved premises since my last visit so I needed to hunt around the precinct a bit before finding the showroom. 

They're waiting on a shipment, so they didn’t have the chair I was looking for but that didn’t stop me from roaming around the store. I asked if I could take a few photos to share with you and once I had the okay, I snapped away.

This is what I found inside - an eclectic assortment of furniture and homewares.

The Design Twins also fabricate concrete pots.

I loved this light fitting.

There is plenty of artwork on display as well.

Another view of the store.

and finally, the beautiful bouquet you may have seen on my instagram account.

I hope you enjoyed my visit to the Design Twins. If you'd like to visit you can find them at 1.04 75 Mary Street St Peters NSW.

See you all again next week with some baking.

Bye for now,


semolina and fig tart

13 Mar 2017

It's fig season in Sydney. As the season is so short as soon as figs appeared in the fruit shop, I bought a few and took them home with me.

Normally I'd use them to make a fig frangipane tart but on this occasion I decided to adapt the semolina and raspberry tart recipe from Ottolenghi, the cookbook. I used my own pastry recipe but adapted the filling recipe a little and of course swapped out the raspberries for figs.

Unless the figs are perfectly ripe, they're not very sweet so I added a little sugar to the cut figs before baking.

I increased the sugar in the filling a little but still found the tart wasn't quite sweet enough for my taste buds, so I've adjusted the quantity of sugar a little.

Here’s the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 gm and my oven is a conventional oven, not fan forced. If your oven is fan forced you may need to reduce the cooking temperature by 20°C.

Semolina and Fig Tart Recipe – makes a 16-18 cm tart (filling from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook)

110 g (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, diced
¼ cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
¼ cup almond meal
1⅓ cups plain flour
1 egg, lightly beaten

To make the pastry, combine all the dry ingredients in a food processor, and whiz for a few seconds until well combined and free of lumps. Add the cold butter and whiz until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg and if necessary, a small amount of cold water and whiz until a soft dough just starts to form around the blade.

Remove the dough from the food processor and gather the pastry into a ball; flatten slightly before wrapping in plastic and placing in the fridge. Refrigerate the pastry for 30 minutes. You won't need the whole amount of this dough for the tart. Wrap the pastry in cling film and freeze for another day.

Lightly brush a 16-18cm loose-bottomed cake tin with a tiny amount of oil and set aside. Make sure you have a clean work surface. Dust it with a bit of flour and, using a rolling pin, roll out your dough. You should have a disk that is about 2-3 mm thick. Once you have reached the right thickness, cut the pastry into a circle large enough to cover the tin and most of the sides comfortably. Carefully line the tin and patch up any holes with excess pastry if necessary. Once you lined your tin, trim the pastry with a sharp knife, so you have a nice edge, about 3-4 cm high. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C, conventional. Cut out a circle of baking parchment large enough to cover the base and the sides of your cake tin. Place inside the case and fill up with baking beads or dry beans or rice so that the sides of the pastry are totally supported by the beans and won't collapse during baking. Blind bake the case blind for 25-35 minutes or until it is very light brown. Remove from the oven and take out the beans of rice (you can keep it for future tarts).

80g unsalted butter
180ml cream
350ml milk
75 - 90g caster sugar
½ tsp vanilla paste
60g semolina
1 egg
6 small figs, quartered
1 tbs sugar
50g apricot jam (optional)
icing sugar, for dusting

To make the filling, put the butter, cream, milk and 75g sugar and vanilla paste in a saucepan. Place the saucepan onto the stove and bring to the boil. Let it simmer while you slowly whisk in the semolina. Continue whisking until the mix comes back to the boil and thickens up like porridge. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg. Taste the filling at this stage and if not sweet enough, add a little more sugar.

Pour the semolina mixture into the pastry case. If you use a 16 cm tin you won't use all the filling, you'll use about 2/3 - 3/4 of the filling. Decorate the top with some of the quartered figs allowing them to show on the surface. Lightly sugar the figs before baking. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the filling is slightly golden. Remove from the oven and cool slightly before removing the tart from the tin.

Put the apricot jam in a small pan with a tablespoon of water and bring to the boil. Strain it through a sieve and brush over the tart. Finish with the remaining figs and dust with icing sugar.

Now I'm itching to make this again but this time with the raspberries!

See you all again next week with a little shopshoot.

Bye for now,


spring vegetable tart

6 Mar 2017

I just love ricotta cheese. I recently bought a kilogram of it so needed to find ways to use it. I used it to make a pasta sauce; made a cake with it and even made some ricotta gnocchi. Whilst looking through my copy of The Cook and Baker, I saw a recipe for an asparagus, pea, leek and ricotta tart. I needed to buy leeks and asparagus but everything else was either in the fridge or in the cupboard.

Now I made the tart shell using a pastry recipe I've used many times in the past. I started out using the filling recipe in the book but found the proportions didn't work for the tin I used, so I rejigged the recipe and changed the technique a little.

Let's be clear, it might be called a tart but this is a quiche and excellent lunch time fare served warm with a salad.

Here's the recipe for you. For all my recipes, I use a 250 ml cup and a 20 ml tablespoon. All eggs are 60 grams and my oven is a conventional oven not fan forced, so you may need to reduce your oven temperature by 20°C. It's a little time consuming to make but I think it's worth it.

Spring Vegetable Tart - adapted from the asparagus, pea, leek and ricotta tart recipe from the Cook and Baker
1 cup (150 gm) plain flour
Pinch each salt and baking powder
60g butter
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons iced water
Squeeze lemon juice

20 g butter
1 leek, pale part only thinly sliced
1 bunch asparagus
½ cup frozen peas, defrosted
4 tbls grated parmesan
50 g baby spinach leaves
2 eggs
75 g fresh ricotta cheese, drained
½ cup milk
½ cup cream
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch nutmeg

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in lightly until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Combine the egg yolk, water and a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle over the flour stirring with a knife to form a dough. Add a little extra water if necessary. Knead lightly on a floured board to bring together, then wrap the pastry and chill for 30 minutes or until required.

Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured board to fit a 10 x 34 x 2.5 cm loose based rectangular tart tin. Roll the pastry into the flan tin pressing the pastry well into the flutes leaving a small overhang. Chill the pastry for 30 minutes before trimming the pastry level with the top of the flan ring. Preheat the oven to 180°C. Line the pastry shell with a piece of baking paper and pour in some baking beads or uncooked rice. Blind bake for 20 minutes then remove the paper and baking beads and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until the pastry is dry and golden. Cool a little.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Melt the butter and saute the leeks for 3-4 minutes or until softened. Trim the asparagus. Cut the tips and set aside for garnishing and chop the stems into small pieces. Mix together the asparagus, the peas, the cooked leek and 2 tbls of parmesan.

Place the spinach leaves in the base of the tart, nestle the leek and asparagus mixture amongst the spinach. Garnish with the asparagus tips and sprinkle over the remaining parmesan cheese.

In a medium size bowl combine the eggs with the ricotta cheese and mix until smooth. Mix in the milk and cream; add the nutmeg and season to taste. Place the tart shell on an oven tray then pour in as much custard as you can without the mixture spilling over the edge.

Bake at 200°C for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 180°C. Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the filling is set and the top browned.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

When spring vegetables are back in season, I hope you get a chance to make this. 

See you all again soon.

Bye for now,

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