Hiya guys, it’s been a while! For once the unannounced break in my posts wasn’t due to a much anticipated escape to a certain quiet island in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, but due to a very annoying, very persistent <insert streak of profanities of your choice here> tendonitis/CTS combo that has been haunting my right wrist for a bit over a year now. Having been somewhat docile over the Summer, it reared its ugly head again at the beginning of September and, heeding my Docs stern orders to “stay off the keyboard unless absolutely necessary”, I kept my brace on like a good girl and did as I was told.
PT starts this week, maybe that helps… Long rant cut short, this unexpected cooking/writing break gave me a bit of time to sift through my ever-growing recipe library, make some plans for future cookoffs and dig up a handful of golden oldies of the “why didn’t I share this one with you guys yet?” variety~ Here goes he first one – inspired way back when, by the inexhaustible recipe list of the Chef’s Guild of Tyria in Guild Wars 2 (which I’m also itching to delve into as soon as my wrist stops acting up at the mere mention of a mouse being held… or *gasp* clicked, even!)
Theres actually a little story about cake’y medicine healing bitter-orange-marmelade-cookie related childhood trauma involved in this one, but… you know, Doctor’s orders~ Let’s get right to the juicy details of these yumtastic little bites!
The Mini Orange Polenta Cakes
225g Fine-Grained Polenta
1 Tsp Baking Powder
450g Butter at room temperature, plus some extra for the tray
100g Fine Baking Sugar
100g Coconut Flower Sugar
200g Light Muscovado – if its too sticky coming out of the package, grind it down a little in a pestle & mortar and let it breathe fresh air for about 30 mins
450g Finely Ground Almonds
6 Medium-Sized Organic Eggs
2 Unwaxed Oranges, Zest (for the Cakes) and Juice (for the Syrup)
2 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary Needles, very finely chopped
A couple of Rosemary Sprigs for decorative purposes
1) Preheat your oven to 170°C.
2) Lightly grease the cups of 1-2 large Muffin trays with a dab of butter and pop a paper cup into each one – the amounts listed will net you 24-28 Muffin-sized cakes. If you don’t have (large) enough muffin trays or time on your hands to do the whole thing in batches, you can go with a regular cake or brownie tin instead BUT: sliced cake squares dry out way faster than muffins despite the syrup, so prepare to eat a lot of cake fast if you do~
3) Crack the eggs into a small bowl and whisk them into a creamy golden liquid.
4) Add the polenta, lemon zest, rosemary and baking powder to a second, larger bowl and lightly fork through to combine the lot.
5) Grab a third bowl, a large mixing bowl this time, and your handheld whirr-o-matic, add the butter to the bowl and have at it on medium-high speed until it’s pale yellow, light and fluffy.
6) Sprinkle in the sugar and keep whisking the mixture for 2-3 mins until the grains have dissolved.
7) Carefully add and stir in the ground almonds next.
8) Once the almonds are well incorporated into the mixture, gradually work the beaten eggs into the mixture.
9) Retrieve the bowl holding your dry ingredients and gently fold them into the mixture until everything is well combined according to the dotty rosemary pattern throughout the dough~
10) Spoon the mixture into your paper-cupped muffin tin and tap the tray onto your work surface to help everything settle down. They won’t rise as much as “normal” muffins do, so fill them up to just beneath the rim of the tin. That way, they’ll develop a nice and crispy dome in the process.
11) Pop the tin on the middle rack of your preheated oven and keep them in for about 20-25 min until they’re deliciously golden and a wooden skewer or uncooked spaghetti comes out clean.
12) Once they’re done, let them sit insde the tray on a cake rack for about 15 mins, then take them out and place them on a wooden board or plate – any easily wipeable surface, really – and get ready for a potential mess. If you’re as talented and patient as I am with sticky substances, that is.
The Orange’y Rosemary Syrup
The aforementioned Orange Juice
1 Tbsp Orange Blossom Water – if you can’t find it in the baking goods section of your regular supermarket, try the Indian section of an Asian Foods Store
2 Bushy Sprigs of Rosemary
50g Fine Baking Sugar
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Fruity-Sweet Orange Jam or Jelly – just not the bitter orange stuff! Aaaaahrg!
1) While the cakes are in the oven, about halfway through the process, it’s time to make the syrup.
2) Place all the ingredients minus the orange blossom water in a small pot along with 50ml of water.
3) Place the the pot on medium-high heat and allow the liquids to work up a little boil. Keep stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then leave it to its own devices.
4) Let it bubble away for 4-5 mins until the syrup has thickened slightly, then take the pot off the heat and stir in the orange blossom water.
5) Keep it warm until the cakes are ready to be drizzled.
6) Now you have two options, depending on how sweet and soaked you’d like your cakes. Option one is to simply gloss each cake over with a teaspoonful of the syrup twice – just remember the order you brushed them during round one to avoid major spillage. Option two is to poke the surface of each cake with a toothpick or skewer several times – about halfway though should do the trick – and add 2-3 teaspoonfuls reeeally slowly, also in rounds, to give the sugary goodness time enough to seep in.
7) All that’s left to do now is to brew a cup of your favorite tea, sit back and…