Thursday, 24 November 2016

Norwegian apple pie

In July, I went to Norway for the first time. I was only there a matter of hours, on my way through to Stockholm, and all I remember eating was a burrito. Food was the last thing on my mind really as the priority was getting to Vigeland Sculpture Park. Showcasing the life work of artist Gustav Vigeland, the park sits just outside downtown Oslo and features over 200 sculptures of human figures in bronze, granite and cast-iron. It's a celebration of human life at every stage - from infancy to old age and everything in between.

It's a nice thing to remember as I eat this pie, which is really, much more of a cake. November has been tumultuous for me for many reasons and notably, is not over yet. Over the other side of the world, Americans are gathering for Thanksgiving. Today, an ordinary old Thursday in my Australian apartment so far from Scandinavia, I'm giving thanks for memories, for the crazy complexity of the human experience, and for this pie, which is simple and sweet and made for sharing.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Calabrian walnut cake

Sometimes, words are hard to come by. And for those times, there's cake. This one happily requires very few words as there are but four ingredients: walnuts, eggs, sugar and lemon zest. Brilliantly simple, deeply delicious and gluten and dairy free to boot. Make it and marvel.

Calabrian walnut cake (torta di noci)
Adapted from a recipe on Food52 from Ada Boni's Regional Italian Cooking (1960)

This is the sort of cake that gets better with age, so is improved by being made ahead of time.

3/4 pound (340 grams or about 3 cups) shelled walnuts
4 eggs, separated 
1 cup (225 grams) caster (superfine) sugar
zest of one lemon
icing (confectioners') sugar for dusting (optional)   

Pulverize the walnuts in a food processor until you have a coarse meal, the texture of sand.

Grease and line a round 9-inch cake pan.
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and creamy. Add the lemon zest and walnut meal and stir to combine. 

Whisk the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form stiff peaks. Fold the whites bit by bit into the walnut mixture until well combined.  

Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan and bake at 375º F (190º C) for about 50 minutes, or until the top is firm and browned nicely. Let cool completely in the pan before removing and dust with icing sugar to serve.