Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Cyprus: Aubergine,Walnut and Mint Cake

Flag of Cyprus

This cake is proof that sometimes not reading something properly can actually work in your favour. When researching this cake, I read a passage that talked about sweets made from small aubergines and walnuts. I combined this with fresh mint, one of the iconic flavours of Cyprus and used in almost everything to create this very delectable cake. Going back to my research I noticed a comma – the sweets were in fact made of aubergines OR walnuts, not both.

Having said that, the flavour combination is undoubtedly relevant, and so it earns its place in the blog. Chocolate, as some of you may be shouting at your screens, is not particularly traditional but it results in a wonderfully moist and rich cake, which unlike most desserts actually improves over time, both in taste and texture. The recipe is adapted from Harry Eastwood’s Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache.

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Please do not disregard this cake merely because of the added aubergine. If you do, you will have missed out on one of the most delicious, moist cakes ever created. Maybe just don’t tell veggie-haters the surprise ingredient – they will never guess!

Ingredients: 

  • 2 small aubergines
  • 300g best dark chocolate
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 60g ground walnuts
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 200g clear honey
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 small handful of mint, chopped
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 180 degree C. Grease and line a 9 inch springform tin.
Cook the aubergines by puncturing the skins with a skewer, then placing them in a bowl. Microwave on high for 8 minutes until soft and limp. Discard any water at the bottom and leave to stand until they are cool enough to handle. When cool, skin and puree the aubergines in the blender. Add the warm aubergine to the broken up chocolate, and stir gently to allow the chocolate to melt.
In a large bowl, whisk up all the other ingredients for a minute until well mixed and gently foaming. Add the melted chocolate and aubergine mixture into the bowl and fold in until completely combined.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and place it in the bottom of the oven for 30 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool in the tin for 15 minutes before turning it out on to a wire rack and peeling off the parchment. Quickly turn it the right way up again and place on the serving plate. Finish by dusting with cocoa powder and decorating with a sprig of fresh mint.
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Baking · Cake · Europe · Nation Cake Challenge

Georgia: Walnut Cake

Flag of Republic of Georgia Italiano: Bandiera...

For a small country, the influence of Georgian food has spread though much of the former USSR, due to the immigration of many Georgians to different countries. It is extremely diverse, taking influence from the cuisines of the Middle East, Europe and Asia. In Russia, it is said that all cities have a Georgian restaurant and other restaurants will tend to include some form of Georgian Cuisine on their menus. Having said this, all my research seemed to turn up was either the cuisine of Georgia, USA or the cuisine of the Georgian and Regency periods – neither of which are massively useful!

I kept searching, willing the internet and what books I had to provide interesting ideas. I read a lot about the Supra style of dining and the role of the tamada, whose job it is to make highly philosophical toasts thoughout the meal. I learnt that Georgia has three distinct alphabets and that the story of the Golden Fleece originates from Georgia, as they used to use fleeces to sift gold particles out of the river. I even learn that my favourite Masterchef Australia contestant from last year Alice Zaslavsky is from Georgia. All good stuff, but did it help me in the cake hunt? No it did not!

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Finally, I came upon this recipe for a Georgian walnut cake. This cake is similar to a gateaux in many ways, consisting of layers of cake and walnut meringue, covered with a chocolate glaze. Don’t be put off by the sour cream in the glaze – you can’t taste it in the final mixture – I was quite glad about this, as it’s not my favourite flavour!  The recipe is adapted from here.

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Walnut Cake

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 200g butter
  • 350g plain flour
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Filling:

  • 3 egg whites
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 cups chopped walnuts

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp sour cream
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease a loaf tin. Set aside.

Mix together the butter, sugar, baking powder and flour before adding the egg yolks and sour cream to form a ball. Turn out and knead for a couple of minutes before placing in the fridge to cool for about 20 minutes.

To make the filling, whip the egg whites and sugar until they form stiff peaks. Gently fold in the chopped walnuts.

To assemble the cake, take the chilled dough and cut into three pieces. Roll out the first piece and place in the bottom of the greased tin. Add a layer of the filling to cover this first layer. Roll out the second piece of dough and repeat the process, layering up the dough and filling before finishing with a final layer of dough. Bake for 30 minutes before removing and leaving to cool. Remove from the tin after 5 minutes to finish cooling on a wire rack.

Make the glaze by combining the sugar, cocoa powder and sour cream in a small pan. Heat gently until the mixture combines and becomes glossy. Cover the cake with the glaze and leave to set. Decorate with chopped walnuts as desired.