Yesterday was Father's Day in Australia. The sun appeared for the first time in days, and it really was a sparkling Sydney day for all the Dads out celebrating with their families. Darling husband awoke to a gift he chose himself (very hard for someone to surprise you with shoes), and the usual motley collection of cards and little gifts from the two darling girls. And in the evening, with my father and brother over for dinner, I got the chance to spoil him and a couple of my other favourite fathers.
Given that the weather still remains fairly stubbornly wintry, I decided to make some osso bucco (recipe to come later in the week), with a lovely pea and mint salad, and a potato bake. The crowing glory however was the pine nut cake that I made for dessert. Darling husband loves pine nuts, but we usually have them in savoury meals or sprinkled over salads. This cake combined a base that was like a dense meringue, with the pinenut topping and an orange juice glaze. Really good. Really really good. And if you are prepared to ignore the sugar content, the cake itself had no butter nor oil, or even an egg yolk. That makes it nearly virtuous if you ask me, or at least that is the story I will be sticking to. The recipe comes from a cookbook put out by Marie Claire Magazine called "Taste 101: Inspire, Excite, Delight". While it is no longer in shops, I saw a couple of copies on ebay. This is one of those wonderful cookbooks that are dotted with extra ideas or recipes in the margins, that really inspire you to do more with your cooking.
Nut Cake with Orange Syrup
adapted from "Marie Claire: Taste 101"
200g almond meal
100g pure icing sugar
3 egg whites from large eggs (I used 4 from medium eggs)
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
70g pine nuts, toasted
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup water
125g caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 160C, then grease a square 20cm x 20cm cake tin. Press baking paper into the tin, to line the bottom and sides of the tin, with sufficient overhang to help you remove the cake. Sift the icing sugar if it is lumpy, then stir in the almond meal in. Put aside.
Using a stand mixer, beat egg whites until they form soft peaks. Slowly tip in the sugar, continuing beating until the mixture is very thick and glossy, then add the vanilla. Fold half of the egg white mixture into the almond meal then tip all the almond meal mixture back into the remaining egg whites, folding until just combined. Spoon the mixture into the baking tin, spreading it out evenly, then sprinkle the pine nuts on top. Bake for 45 minutes.
While the cake is baking, make the syrup by combining the juice, water and sugar in a small pot. Cook over medium heat until the sugar has melted and the glaze is thickened.
Remove the cake from the oven, and set aside to cool for 15 minutes or so. Once cool, use the baking paper to lift the cake out of the tin, onto a rack. Serve the cake warm drizzled with the warm syrup, with some chilled slices of orange, and some cream if you would like it.