A large portion of this blog wouldn’t have been possible without the help of my trusty electric whisk. All the macarons, the seal cake, the meerkat cake and most of the cupcakes – basically anything involving whisking egg whites into peaks or creaming together butter and sugar (which I’m too lazy to do by hand – shocking, I know). The whisk also had a stick blender attachment, which made it ideal – only one appliance to make both cakes and soups saves on storage space – and was why I
commandeered it from was given it by my mum when I moved up to St Andrews for uni (maybe also because it was free). I forget whether it was my mum’s just before or just after she was married, but either way, it was older than me. By several years. And yet it still worked wonderfully. It served me well whilst I was in St Andrews, and I loved it to bits, but by the time I started packing for my move to NZ, it was nearing the end of its (long) life span. The motor was clearly just a few icing sugar explosions away from giving up (I’d had a couple of scares towards the end of my time in St Andrews). Rather than shipping it over, having it break and then having to get a new one, I figured I’d skip the first two steps, give the whisk/blender an early retirement and just get a new one when I arrived here. Simple as.
Well… in theory. Apparently electric whisks with a stick blender attachment are few and far between now, and those that do exist have pretty poor reviews. Damn. So I’ve had to buy an electric whisk and a stick blender separately, which is slightly frustrating in terms of storage, but I guess that now I can whisk egg whites or make buttercream icing and blend soup at the same time. Because that would totally end well… I’m just hoping that they last me a long time (although their predecessor has set the bar pretty high). It’s taken me four months to actually get round to buying them. Four months of getting excited about recipes until realising they require egg whites to be whisked into soft peaks. Four months of no soup (I like my soups smooth). A bit ridiculous really, but when I realised that my Random Recipe entry for this month involved whisking egg whites I finally had to get my act together (thanks Dom!). And it turned out to be a fantastic recipe to test out my new electric whisk.
Following on from last month’s theme of “first and last,” the theme for this month’s Random Recipe challenge is “the middle.” I randomly picked A Treasury of New Zealand Baking as my book, which has 232 pages of recipes, so I turned to page 116, which houses a recipe for… Greek yoghurt and honey cake with a raisin lemon syrup. I’ve been rather lucky with my Random Recipe entries over the last few months, and it seems that the streak continues. I’m not complaining! The cake turned out rather scrumptious. It’s wonderfully moist and full of flavour thanks to the syrup that gets poured over the top at the end. It’s excellent for breakfast (the amount of whisky in the syrup is minimal and it gets simmered anyway), for morning tea, for afternoon tea and for dessert. I can say that with confidence, because I’ve (enthusiastically) tested all those options out personally. I know, I know, I totally took one for the team. It also keeps for a good few days, and it’s almost tastier after a couple of days as the flavours in the syrup pervade the cake over time. Confession: this cake is so tasty that it’s a little difficult to share. I had originally planned to take it in to the lab, and well… that never really happened. Ahem. I’ve had great breakfasts this week though (it has raisins, thus it’s totally breakfast food… Don’t judge). I think next time I’ll tell them I’m bringing cake so that I have to actually follow through with it.
Greek yoghurt & honey cake, with a raisin, lemon & whisky syrup
Serves 8-10 as a snack, 5-6 for breakfast
Adapted from A Treasury of New Zealand Baking
The syrup would also work wonderfully with spiced rum instead of whisky, or alcohol-free if necessary. It’s quite dense so it works wonderfully for breakfast or as a snack (in smaller portions) accompanied by tea. The cake is kept moist by the yoghurt in it, so it’ll keep for a good few days (in fact, I think I preferred it after a couple of a days as the flavours of the syrup develop).
240g all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
240g unsalted butter, softened
120g caster sugar
3 tbsp honey
Zest of 2 lemons
240g unsweetened Greek yoghurt
For the syrup:
120g caster sugar
120g seedless raisins
Juice of 2 lemons
2-3 tbsp whisky
2 tbsp honey
1 star anise
Unsweetened Greek yoghurt, to serve (optional)
1. Butter a 24cm round cake tin. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium bowl and stir together.
3. Zest the lemons into a large bowl (keep the lemons to use the juice in the syrup later on) and add the cubed butter, sugar and honey. Beat together until light and creamy. Then beat in the egg yolks one at a time (put the egg whites directly into a large clean bowl for later). Once all the egg yolks are incorporated, add about a spoonful of the flour mixture and beat in, followed by about a spoonful yoghurt, and continue alternating between the two.
4. In a large, clean bowl whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. Gently fold the egg whites into the cake mixture.
5. Pour into the cake tin and bake for 1h05 until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool for 10 mins in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool fully.
Making the syrup:
6. Whilst the cake is in the oven, start prepare the syrup. Add all the syrup ingredients, except for the yoghurt, to a small saucepan and allow to marinate whilst the cake is baking.
7. As the cake is cooling, heat over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 mins until thickened and syrupy (a syrupy syrup – my descriptive abilities amaze me sometimes). Allow to cool a little, but not completely, and fish out the star anise. Once the cake is completely cool, slide it onto a plate and then gently pour the syrup over the top and spread the raisins out evenly.
8. Serve warm or cold, with a large spoonful of yoghurt if desired.