COOKBOOK & RECIPE
For many the first discovery of Ottolenghi was gazing into the Notting Hill store’s window piled high with dusted giant meringues and all sorts of delicious looking cakes and pastries, when it opened fifteen years ago. Since then, we and many others have devoured every new book from Yotam Ottolenghi and his team. And we return to them often. Yet despite a background as a pastry chef, it’s taken until now for the hugely influential writer and cook to produce a book dedicated to pastries, baking and puddings.
But Sweet, written in collaboration with Helen Goh, is an opus worth waiting for. Ten years in the making this is a wide-ranging, inspiring and beautiful book packed with delicious things you want to cook right away. There are all the trademark punchy flavours you’d expect from spices and unusual combinations as well as exotic influences that give classics an intriguing twist – a rich crumbly Middle Eastern millionaire’s shortbread with tahini and halva for instance or pretty madeleines made with honey, saffron and dipped in pistachios. There are plenty of utterly scrumptious cakes – including one rich with beetroot, ginger and soured cream. But there are classics too – Victoria sponges and lemon poppy seed cake, rich fruit cake as well as the most delicious cheesecakes, epic show-stopping puddings and a chapter of truly beautiful mini cakes, which includes some of those jewels that light up those Ottolenghi windows.
Here’s a taster recipe of one of our favourite cakes from the book so far – a flourless cake which is easy to make and heavenly to eat. From Sweet by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh (Ebury Press, £27)
Belinda’s Flourless Coconut and Chocolate Cake
Every month or so we gather in the test kitchen with our pastry chefs. It’s an open forum, with the chefs presenting their offerings, which we then taste and discuss. It’s always exciting, as ideas are constantly being improved and implemented.
This cake was a product of one of those meetings, brought to the table by Franceska Venzon, herself inspired by Belinda Jeffery’s version of the cake. We’ve played around with the shape – baking it in a loaf tin – and added a chocolate ganache, but the base is all Belinda’s.
There’s something about a cake showcasing its flourless-ness or gluten-free nature which can often make it sound a little bit worthy. Unfairly so, in a case like this, where the feeling of eating it is the very opposite of ‘free-from’: it’s utterly buttery and decadent.
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
250g caster sugar
60g desiccated coconut
scraped seeds of 1 vanilla pod
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs
180g ground almonds
60g cooking chocolate (70% cocoa solids), roughly chopped into 1cm pieces
25g caster sugar
25g liquid glucose
3 tbsp water
scraped seeds of ¼ vanilla pod
25g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into 2cm cubes
This can either be made in a regular 900g loaf tin or in a 23cm round spring form tin.
This will keep well for up to 5 days in an airtight container. It can be eaten on the day of making, but we think it tastes even better served at room temperature the following day.
1 Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Grease the base and sides
of the 900g loaf tin or 23cm round springform tin and line with baking parchment, then set aside.
2 Place the butter, sugar, desiccated coconut, vanilla and salt in an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed, until pale and fluffy: about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce the speed to low, add the ground almonds and mix until just combined.
3 Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for either 40 minutes if using the loaf tin, or 50 minutes if using the round tin, or until the cake is golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Remove the cake
from the oven and set aside to cool in the tin before inverting on to a serving plate. Set aside until completely cool.
4 Make the water ganache when you are ready to serve. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and set aside. Put the sugar and glucose in a small saucepan and place over a medium-low heat. Stir to combine and, when the sugar has melted, increase the heat to medium and bring to the boil, stirring gently from time to time. Continue to boil for about 7 minutes, until the colour is a pale amber. Remove from the heat and carefully pour in the water. Don’t worry if the mix seizes: just return the pan to the heat, add the scraped vanilla seeds and stir gently and continuously until it returns to the boil and the sugar has melted again. Remove from the heat and wait
for a minute before pouring the water-caramel over the chocolate. Allow to stand for about 3 minutes, then whisk to combine. Add the butter, a couple of cubes at a time, whisking after each addition. Continue until all the butter has been added, whisking
to combine until the consistency is that of golden syrup.
5 Spread the ganache over the top of the cake, letting a little run down the sides.