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After I was done with my cornmeal pancakes, I still had almost half a bagful of finely ground cornmeal I purchased from a Rodriguan entrepreneur some months back. Contrary to my expectation, the processed corn had a surprisingly long shelf life and I was happy to have a bowl of cornmeal porridge on my list of breakfast items for the next few weeks. When I ran a Google search for ‘cornmeal cake’, this devilishly simple cake from Elegant Meraki stood out a mile and I felt that I had saved the last of my cornmeal just for this one. Liberally soaked in orange honey syrup and topped with pistachios, it has a rich golden crumb, which goes well with an infusion of Bois Cheri’s Paul & Virginie black tea.

ORANGE HONEY CORNMEAL CAKE

Ingredients:

For the Cornmeal Cake

1 cup almond flour

1 cup finely ground cornmeal

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3 eggs, room temperature

2/3 cup caster sugar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

Zest of 1 medium orange

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Orange Glaze

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1 tablespoon orange blossom

1 tablespoon orange liqueur

3 tablespoons honey or golden syrup

3 tablespoons pistachios, chopped

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan with nonstick spray or line with baking paper.

  • Sift together almond flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl, and set it aside.

  • Whisk together eggs, sugar, oil, zest, juice, orange blossom water and extract until it is just combined.

  • Slowly add flour mix and whisk only until just combined. Set aside for 20 minutes then pour into pan.

  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes until skewer comes out clean. Remove from oven, set on a wire rack to cool.

  • For the glaze, combine the fresh orange juice and honey in small sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes.

  • It will thicken slightly. Stir in the orange blossom water and liqueur. Poke holes in cake, 1/2 inch apart.

  • Using pastry brush to slowly brush glaze over cake. Do not rush the process as it will make cake soggy.

  • Leave the cake to cool completely, then top with toasted pistachios before serving. Makes 10 servings.

Orange & Honey Glazed Cornmeal Cake

Almost too pretty to eat, this vibrantly colourful fruit salad from, Once Upon A Chef, will provide the ultimate {not-too-sweet} ending to any over indulgent meal. Suitable for vegetarians, you can make this ahead and chill until ready to dish out alongside a platter of dainty mignardises. It is best to keep it simple and elegant with individual portions served in verrines and topped with a cloud of whipped cream. If you want to go for a tropical twist, it won’t hurt to have a few mango or pineapple chunks in there and skip the citrus syrup for a splash of coconut water.

STRAWBERRY & ORANGE SALAD

Ingredients:

1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved

3 large navel oranges, skin and pith removed

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

2-1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves

Method:

  • Place strawberries in a serving bowl. Cut off the top and bottom of each orange so they sit flat.

  • Using a sharp knife, work your way around to remove all the skin and pith from each orange.

  • Working over the serving bowl, carefully cut the segments out from between the membranes.

  • Over a separate small bowl, firmly squeeze remaining membranes to release the orange juice.

  • Add lemon juice and brown sugar to the fresh orange juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

  • Pour over strawberries and orange segments, gently toss to combine. Sprinkle with fresh mint.

  • Taste and add more lemon juice, if required. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes up to 6 hours.

  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint and serve the fruit salad in dessert bowls. Makes 4 servings.

Strawberry & Orange Salad

If you love dense, buttery cakes with lots of flavor, this rich cannoli pound cake from Stellina Sweets is definitely gonna make it on your hit list. The cake will rise tall with a lovely cracked top if you bake it in a narrow loaf pan so be sure you do just that. The combination of pistachios, chocolate, citrus zest and ricotta cheese may take you a while to get there, especially if you are using raw unshelled pistachios as it might take well over an hour to shell, chop and roast before you can add them to the batter.

I dare say that you will be nicely rewarded for every ounce of hard work you put in as the finished cake tastes amazing and smells heavenly. Since I’m not familiar with the famous Italian cannoli – a deep fried, crisp cylindrical shell, filled with sweetened ricotta with the ends dipped in a mixture of chocolate and pistachios, which I hope to try at some point –  I cannot honestly say whether the pound cake version matches up to the authentic stuff but I would urge all of you to go ahead and make it anyway so that you can be your own judge.

CANNOLI POUND CAKE

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour

1 cup (170 grams) mini chocolate chips

1/2 cup (60 grams) pistachios, chopped small

1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar

Finely grated zest of 1 orange

Finely grated zest of 1 lemon

1/2 cup olive oil or vegetable oil

1 tablespoon sweet marsala wine

1 cup (250 grams) whole-milk ricotta cheese

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 or 2 pinches allspice

Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Method:

  • Place rack in the center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Spray a 8 x 4½” pan with nonstick cooking spray.

  • Line the pan with parchment paper, such that it overhangs on the long sides, and spray the parchment.

  • Whisk together the flour, chocolate chips, and chopped pistachios in a medium bowl and set this aside.

  • Combine sugar and orange & lemon zests in a bowl and rub zest thoroughly into the sugar using fingers.

  • The mixture will be fluffy and citrus-scented and flecked throughout with bits of orange and yellow zest.

  • Add the olive oil, marsala, ricotta cheese, and eggs; whisk to combine into a fairly homogenous mixture.

  • Sprinkle baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice on top, and whisk to combine everything together.

  • Use a spatula to gently fold the flour/chocolate/pistachio mixture into wet ingredients until just blended.

  • Scrape batter into pan. Bake for 55 to 65 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

  • Transfer it to wire rack and cool cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. Pull parchment up and out of pan.

  • Let cake cool to room temperature on the rack. Dust with confectioners’ sugar if desired for a festive look.

  • The cake will keep for at least 3 days in an airtight container at room temperature. Makes 10-12 servings.

Cannoli Pound Cake

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