I think there can only be one word to describe my feelings that winter is coming to an end. Relief. If you have not heard of this year’s Winter in Australia; it has not been nice. It is really windy, cold and dry or wet, humid and yet still cold. As you can guess this is wreaking havoc with my baking, macarons and my sugar pulling art has been a pain to control.
Sure it is not great but hell it is come a long way from the misshapen fruits I did a few weeks ago. Unfortunately both ended up in the bin after a few day because they started to melt away… Oh the 5 hours of work down the drain…
Relief will also describe my feelings about spring and my skin condition. Do not judge my profile picture as what my skin looks like now. Thanks to the harsh temperature changes in Winter and the raging, once dormant hormones; my face has taken on the texture of celeriac.
Not only is making my confidence drop to range of non-existent but I have become so stressed about it. I know this sounds vain but my skin especially on my face is important to me. Like long hair is to a female; having clear skin on my face is my long hair. For anyone who has deal with the winter break outs; please give me your hints for healing and face care.
So finally with winter ending, the weather may warm up and become a regular humidity. However another word can describe winter ending; that has to be melancholy. As you know my father was an avid gardener and he not only grew 4 four trees (lemon, sweet lemons, mandarins and mango tree) but he also took care of the whole surrounding garden by himself.
This marks the end of fruiting for the mandarin tree, the cold is fading and so are fruits on the tree. While my father may not be here anymore; his tree has become so strong to deliver us bucket loads of fruit this season. We had to even give some away. I hope he will be proud, as he always said “I know we can’t eat it all but it is good that we have enough to give away”.
In order to celebrate as the last hurray I created this Coconuty Mandarin Syrup cake with Mandarin jelly and Candied zest. Well the concept was to make a cake that look like a fruit. So in a test of my baking skill and a whole lot of luck; I buttered the hell out of a steel bowl (about 15cm in diameter) and floured it well before baking this sphere shaped cake. Luck was on my side that day before it worked YAY!!!
Based on a those moist and deliciously dense flourless cakes, this one is gluten free base of hazelnut flour and fine polenta. I love the texture that polenta gives to caked goods; the slight sweetness from the corn is a fine paring to buttery and rich coconut flour and eggs. This is one of those times when hazelnut flour is essential for flavour but I guess if you had to you could use almond meal in the cake mix. This may not be vegan; I am sure you could replace the eggs with subs.
The syrup is simple but clearly a key player in this cake. Not only does it save over baked dry cakes (yes I have done this before); it helps balance out the tart and slightly bitter flavour from the sour mandarins. I though the jelly was a cute addition to make it look more like a slice of the fruit. I am not sure if work but the jelly tasted surprisingly good. By cooking down the juice from the fruit on a low heat it made the flavour more sweet, mellow and slightly herbal. Perfect compared to the sweet richness of the cake. While it is not a big cake you do not need a lot.
Hazelnut Polenta Orange Cake
Adapted from This orange cake from Taste.com
Makes 1 Fully decorated cakes plus extra ( three 15cm domes)
5 sour mandarin, skin and all
300g golden caster sugar
200g hazelnut flour
7g baking powder
Extra corn flour and butter for pans
Place 5 mandarins in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil on high heat, then reduce heat and simmer for 1.5 hours. You may need to top up water. Drain from the water. Cool.
Remove the seeds from the soften fruit but keep the skin. Process in a food processor till well blended.
Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and corn flour 15cm 3 steel bowls.
Place both sugars in a food processor, add eggs and process until thick and pale. Add mandarin and whiz until smooth, and then add flour, polenta and baking powder. Mix until combined. Pour batter into cake pan about ¾ full and bake for 45mintues or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Cover with foil if browning too much.
Cool the cake in the pan. Turn out on to a wire rack.
125ml mandarin juice, seeds and pulp removed
60ml coconut liquor
Bring all ingredients to boil in a medium sauce pan on low heat. Give a stir with a spoon every so often to ensure the sugar is dissolved. Continue to boil on low to reduce the syrup by half. Set aside to cool slightly. Stir in 60 ml coconut liquor.
2 whole mandarin fruits
Use a zest peeler, remove thick (3mm) strips of zest without the white. Trim if too long but they should be about 5-8cm. Place in a small saucepan with cold waterBring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes. Drain in a sieve and dry well.
Return the strips to the pan and add sugar and 110ml water; bring to boil. Turn the stove to low and cook the zest is translucent. Remove the zest to wax paper with a slotted spoon; let cool.
7 sour mandarins (I got 200ml)
4g gold gelatine sheet
Vegetable oil for greasing
Soften gelatine sheet in cold water for 5 minutes. Bring juice, water and sugar to the boil in a small sauce pan. Stir until the sugar dissolve. Remove from heat. Once gelatine is soften, squeeze the excess water out and stir briskly into the sauce pan. Pour mixture into greased 10-13cm bowls, fill to ¾ filled. Chill in the fridge for 4 hours or until set. Tip out of the greased bowls.
One recipe of mandarin cake
One recipe of candied zest
One recipe of syrup
One recipe of jelly
Orange coloured coconut
Place cakes on a wire rack and brush on syrup heavily. Allow to soak in. Cover the base cake in coconut. Press in coconut to get it to stick.
Place coconut base on the bottom. Brush on more syrup to the up turned hemisphere. Place other cake on top. Fridge for 30 minutes.
On serving place on leaves, candied zest and pour on more syrup if desired. Serve with jelly.