I love recipes.
I have several hundred cookbooks, I research recipes online, I watch cooking shows on TV, and I subscribe to just a few cooking magazines.
One of these happens to be Delicious. Well yes, the recipes are, but I mean the name of the publication is Delicious.
I haven't even got to the end of it yet this month, because the pages are folded over at page 27, showing a beautiful looking Polenta and Apple Cake with Muscatel Syrup. This is recipe from Andre Ursini, from the last series of MasterChef. He's opened a Cucina and Polenta Bar in Adelaide, with a menu Matt Preston describes as 'full of simple but intelligent Italian food.'
One of the things that caught my eye was the use of polenta instead of flour. How handy for me! Also there was no dairy except butter, which I can handle, but how easy to swap it out for non dairy fats as well. Perfect for my recipe collection!
Of course, I used the ingredients I had at home substituting here and there where needed. The original recipe required lemon rind and juice for the cake- I used orange. The syrup needed muscatels - I used dried prune chips, they are rich and sweet and just lovely with the cake.
Never worry about changing a recipe around to suit your tastes, pantry or budget. The finished product should still be pretty close if the flavours are similar, and this way you are more likely to try it then putting it off until you get that ridiculously expensive ingredient that you can only buy by the kilo, and you only need 1/3 cup anyway!
Here is my version of the recipe, for the original, go buy the latest edition of Delicious magazine, there are heaps of other yummy recipes too.
Polenta and Apple Cake with Marsala Plum Syrup
200g butter/ non dairy fat
165g caster sugar, plus 1 tbs extra
3 small granny smith apples, peeled and grated
1tsp vanilla extract
1/2 orange juiced and zested
1tsp gf baking powder
120g instant polenta
1. Place 25g butter , the 1 tb extra sugar and apples in pan. Cook, stirring over med high hat for about 8 mins or until apples are soft and liquid has evaporated. Cool to room temperature.
2. Grease and line a 18cm round cake tin. I only have a 20cm, so my cake is a bit flatter than it should be.
3. Beat 175g butter , 165g sugar and a pinch of salt until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating in well after each. Add the stewed apples, vanilla and lemon zest and juice, but don't stir yet. Sift over the polenta and baking powder and beat on low speed until combined.
4. Spoon into the pan and bake at 180* for 35-40 mins or until you get a clean skewer test.
Cool on rack.
200g prune chips
150g caster sugar
60ml espresso coffee
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean- split and scraped
1 orange, zest peeled into wide strips
Place all ingredients in a pan over high heat. bring to a simmer, then cook for about 10mins or until liquid is syrupy. Cool down and dig out cinnamon and vanilla.
Spoon over the cake and enjoy!
I really enjoyed this recipe. Despite the extra couple of steps, it didn't take too long or too much effort either. The cake itself is really moist and yummy and with a rich buttery flavour. There is a tiny bit of 'grittiness' at the top of the cake that I find common to all polenta cakes. Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but it certainly doesn't spoil the flavour factor at all.
The syrup is certainly very rich indeed. The fruit is almost jammy and sticky and the cinnamon isn't too strong. The only thing is that I think I prefer the syrup on the side, not all over the cake, as it almost overpowers the more subtle flavours from the apple. Some cream, mascapone or vanilla icecream would be perfect with this and make it even more Delicious if that's at all possible!
So Readers, do you subscribe to any Cooking Magazines, and do you ever substitute ingredients?