If you’ve read The Great Steak Post (where I don’t only talk about steak), you’ll hear about Yerba Mate — the national drink of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Southern Brazil. It is known to have antioxidant properties, is caffeinated and is consumed 6 to 1 over coffee.
When I was visiting Argentina, I would pass by dozens of passerby drinking yerba mate from the traditional gourd known as guampa, porongo or mate in Spanish, through a metal straw called bombilla in Spanish. It is also not uncommon to see the guampa being shared amongst friends, with constant refilling from a thermos. The Yerba Mate ‘kit’ can be found in any traditional store, marketplace or souvenir shops.
I myself am a big fan of tea and for that reason, I love to find ways to use it in baking, marinades, smoothies and cocktails. I was lucky enough to come across Love Tea, a Maltese Tea company that stocks a wonderful variety of quality teas. I was super, SUPER excited to find their product Green Yerba Mate Matcha in powder form because I’ve only ever come across Yerba Mate as tea leaves.
I thought hard what it would pair well with. Eventually, I settled on the idea that citrus flavours would balance the essence of yerba mate nicely, due to their acidic sweetness. As we can’t get enough of blood oranges at home, I thought that it would be a fine contender for my bundt cake. And the good news is, I had leftover Green Yerba Mate Matcha for a cuppa or my morning smoothie.
Serves: 12 large pieces
Time: 2 hours
***I N G R E D I E N T S***
For the Cake Mix
- 400g flour
- 3 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 tbsp. yerba mate powder
- 100g coconut oil, softened
- 170g butter, softened
- 300g caster sugar
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 4 eggs
- 170g greek yoghurt
- Juice of one small blood orange
- a little butter and flour for the pan
For the Icing
- 1 small blood orange, juiced
- 200g icing sugar
***M E T H O D***
- Preheat the oven to 170C and grease and flour a bundt pan
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt and yerba mate.
- In another bowl, cream together the softened butter and the coconut oil with a mixer until well combined and then add the sugar and cream together, until the mixture is fluffy.
- Add the vanilla, juice of blood orange and eggs and stir to combine until mixture is homogenous.
- Alternately add the yoghurt and flour in batches and combine after each addition and mix until the dough is smooth.
- Fill the prepared bundt tin and bake for 60 to 90 minutes or until an inserted stick comes out clean.
- As the cake is baking, prepare the icing. Add the juice of blood orange to the icing sugar and mix well.
- Once the cake is baked, leave to cool for about half an hour before turning the cake out onto a plate and adding the icing.
Yes, yes. I know what you’re all wondering. No, this isn’t THE hash cake as we know it. The only thing you’ll be OD’ing on is pistachios. At least it’s green. And makes you happy.
Inspired by The Barbary’s Hash cake, this cake is not too different to a frangipani – an almond-based pastry filling, except this recipe, favours pistachios. Atypical I know, but green does win.
Did you know that pistachios grow in clusters, similar to grapes?
However, unlike vines, they grow on bushy branches atop a narrow trunk. Whilst pistachios grew favourably in Central Asia, they had been introduced to Europe. You can find a concentration of pistachio trees in eastern Sicily, (the western slopes of Mount Etna volcano). The Sicilian districts known for their pistachio cultivation are called Bronte and Adrano (Catania Province).
Although not ABSOLUTELY necessary, I used 100% pure pistachio paste from Bronte (no, I wasn’t frolicking under the pistachio trees in Bronte – I purchased this online). The rest is pretty straightforward in terms of ingredients. The pastry and the filling together only amount to six ingredients: Butter, sugar, eggs, flour, almonds and pistachios. Baking this is going to be a piece of cake! Enjoy!
Time: 1hr 30 minutes, plus 1 hr resting time
***I N G R E D I E N T S***
- 125g of butter
- 75g of sugar
- 1 eggs
- 25g of ground almonds
- 200g of plain flour, sifted
- 200g of butter
- 150g of brown sugar
- 4 eggs
- 75g of pistachio nuts, blitzed
- 50g whole pistachios
- 75g of ground almonds or 25g pure almond paste
- 75g pure pistachio paste (this would contain no extra sugar)
- 1 vanilla pod, split and seeds scraped out (or equivalent in vanilla paste)
- Icing sugar, sprinkled
- A dollop of cream (Optional)
***M E T H O D***
- To make the pastry, place the butter (cold) and sugar in a mixer and cream together. Mix in the eggs, then slowly add the flour and ground almonds, mixing slowly until it comes together into a thick crumb – do not over mix
- Tip out onto a work surface and lightly bring together into a dough with your hands. Wrap the pastry in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 1 hour
- Meanwhile, make the pistachio filling. Beat the butter and sugar together until light in colour, then beat in the eggs. Add the blitzed pistachios, paste, almonds and flour and mix until incorporated. Refrigerate until needed
- Preheat the oven to 180°C
- Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out until big enough to line the loose based tin. Carefully lay the rolled-out pastry over the tart ring and gently press into the edges, leaving a slight overhang of pastry all the way around. Any leftovers can be wrapped and stored in the freezer for 3 months
- Prick the pastry all over with a fork, line with a sheet of baking parchment and add a layer of baking beans. Blind bake in the oven for 8–10 minutes, then remove the parchment and baking beans and place back in the oven for a further 6 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 160°C. Take out and trim the excess pastry from the edges.
- Add the pistachio filling, filling only half the tin, spreading out evenly with a palette knife or spatula. Add a layer of pistachios and top with the rest of the pistachio filling. Make sure to even it out.
- Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just cooked, then remove and allow to cool. Remove from the ring. Serve with sprinkled icing sugar and a dollop of cream.
This recipe was inspired by one of Ottolenghi’s financiers, mentioned in the previous post. The financier I picked for inspiration is a dense cake packed with almond goodness and fruit in the centre, and topped with more fruit and cream. The size of Ottolenghi’s financier is also atypical in that it is much larger than a regular financier and is round in shape. There are specific financier moulds which are oval or rectangular in shape. When these aren’t at hand, it is recommended to use muffin trays, which is what I did.
Financiers, which originated in France, are considered to be tea cakes: light, springy, moist, with a crisp exterior. They are best served warm with a cup of tea, but they can be covered and stored for a few days at room temperature or in the refrigerator. Rumour has it that financiers were first made in the late 19th century by a pastry chef whose shop was close to the Paris Stock Exchange. He baked the Financiers in rectangular moulds that were said to resemble bars of gold.
Financiers typically include egg whites, flour, icing (confectioners) sugar and brown butter (described in this blog post). As I was trying to achieve a similar texture to Ottolenghi’s financier, I had many (MANY) attempts at making my own version of financiers. I studied the main attributes of a financier, and ultimately, it became clear that the classical financier is one that is light and spongey and not dense like Ottolenghi’s. In the end I decided to opt for the traditional method.
Financiers are typically simple, focusing on the flavour of almond and caramelised butter, and generally topped with fresh summer fruit. In my recipe, I decided to deviate from the original by adding liquorice root powder and orange zest to the mix. I’ve topped my financier with hand dried orange slices bought from the archaeological site of Tindari, Sicily (which you can also source from Wholefoods) and mascarpone cream flavoured with liquorice root powder and orange zest.
Serves: approx 12
Time: 45 minutes
- 113 gr unsalted butter (note only 90ml of brown butter will be required)
- 30g plain (all-purpose) flour
- 55g ground almond
- 90g sifted icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1 tsp coarse salt
- 5g of liquorice root powder
- orange zest of one large orange (incl. zest for decoration)
- 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract
- 150g mascarpone cream mixed with a 1/2 a teaspoon of liquorice root powder
- hand dried orange slices, quartered (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (400 degrees F) with the oven rack in the centre of the oven to prevent the financiers from cooking to quickly (and cracking at the surface).
- Prepare the brown butter (see this post for method) – you can also make more than is required for this recipe and store it for future use. You will only need 80ml. Use what is leftover to line your financier or muffin moulds.
- Prepare the dry ingredients (ground almond, flour, salt, sifted sugar, liquorice root powder) and mix together. Create a well.
- Prepare the wet ingredients (vanilla extract, lightly beaten eggs to prevent cakes from cracking on the surface, butter) and pour into the well of the dry ingredients. Mix until combined, eventually adding the orange zest and mixing some more. If you don’t plan on cooking the financiers straight away, the batter can be covered and stored in the fridge for a few days.
- Transfer the batter with the help of a spoon or a piping bag and fill the moulds up to 2/3. Place the moulds into the oven and leave for 15 minutes. You should have a golden brown crust by this point and they should be springy to the touch.
- In the meantime, prepare the cream. Mix the mascarpone with the liquorice root powder and only top the financiers once they have cooled on a wire rack because the cream will melt. Alternatively, if you like your financiers rather warm, serve cream on the side. I have shaped the cream into quenelles where the cream is moulded into a shape similar to a rugby. There is a specific technique to do this but what matters is that you’ve got a couple of spoons to shape the cream, which need to be dipped in warm water to help the cream slide off neatly.
- Don’t forget to sprinkle some orange zest and more, importantly, make a hot cuppa.