Hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil is ideal for this recipe. It tends to have a hint of nuttiness and is slightly robust, yet still very smooth. Its almost almond-like characteristics work seamlessly in the cake and combine naturally with the topping, while the silky custard binds all the flavours together.
- 30 g whole roasted almonds
- 30 g whole roasted hazelnuts
- 20 g lightly roasted pistachios
- 40 g dark chocolate, roughly shaved with a knife
- pinch of river salt
- 4 eggs
- 200 g raw caster sugar
- 200 ml hojiblanca extra virgin olive oil
- fine zest of 2 lemons
- 125 g self-raising flour, sifted
- 125 g polenta
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of river salt
- 250 ml full-cream milk
- 200 ml pure cream
- 1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 large pieces of orange peel
- pinch of river salt
- 60 g raw caster sugar
- 4 egg yolks
- a little extra hojiblanca, for drizzling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
To make the topping, pound the nuts to a fine-medium consistency in a mortar and pestle, then combine with chocolate and salt in a bowl. You want a nice mix of chunky and fine bits as garnish for your cake. Set aside.
For the cake, whisk together the eggs and sugar until well combined and then slowly add in the oil and zest. Continue whisking until the mix completely comes together, it will look emulsified and shiny.
Combine the flour, polenta, baking powder and salt together in a separate bowl. Slowly add the flour mix to the egg mix whisking as you go. You will find you have a thick batter-like mix.
Pour into a rectangular lined tin 20 cm x 30 cm, place into a pre-heated oven at 180ºC and cook for 20- 25 minutes until cooked, a skewer should come out clean. Be careful not to stick a skewer in until the cake looks completely set, prod too soon and your cake may get upset and deflate. Set aside and allow the cake to cool to room temperature.
To make the custard, place the milk, cream, vanilla, bay leaf, peel and salt into a pot on the stove on a medium heat. As soon as you see it coming to the boil, turn down to heat and allow it to simmer as low as you can for five minutes to allow the flavours time to infuse.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar and yolks until well combined.
Once these two elements are ready, slowly pour the milk mix over the eggs, gently whisking as you go. Once combined, this mix needs to be strained into another pot then placed back onto the stove on a low to medium heat.
And now comes the fun bit, you must be vigilant and stand over your custard, stirring with a wooden spoon continuously until it begins to thicken. This will take about 10-15 minutes. Pour the custard out into a bowl, as it cools a little you will find that it gets thicker again. Beware though, if you try and do this stage to fast, for too long or without stirring enough your custard will probably misbehave and curdle.
By this stage all your bits should be ready, the nut topping in a bowl, the cake still slightly warm from the oven and your custard hot and thick.
Trim the edges of your cake to give it a nice even appearance and then slice your cake in half lengthwise. Each half then needs to be cut into six slices to become the ideal size however cut only as many pieces as you want portions.
Now we are going to char our cake a little, to do this place a non-stick fry pan over a medium to high heat. Once it’s warm place the cake, cut side down, directly onto the pan and give it a minute or so until it begins to darken. The colour you are aiming for is mottled dark brown with hints of black. Repeat on the other side and with all slices of cake.
To serve, spoon a nice amount of custard onto each serving plate, top with the cake, one of the seared sides up and then sprinkle with some of the nut mix. Finish with a nice drizzle of your oil.
• New season oils are like wines and will vary according to season, where they are grown and their age. Keep this in mind when choosing your oil or a substitute and always let your own idea about flavour guide you.
• This particular recipe works best with a gentle and rounded nutty new season oil. Avoid anything too bitter or peppery.
Photography by Sharyn Cairns. Styling by Lee Blaylock. Food preparation by Rachel Lane. Creative concept by Lou Fay.
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