Friday 22 November 2013

Chocolate and Polenta Cake and a review

I was really excited to receive my review copy of World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey, published by Jacqui Small having had a sneak preview earlier in the year.  It's a large hardback book with 304 pages including index and acknowledgements. Roger is a celebrated baker and patissier and founded Peyton & Byrne bakery. He has also appeared on television in Hell's Kitchen and Willie's Chocolate Factory. 

The first thing that catches my eye on flicking through the pages are the stunning photographs. They are bright, vibrant and there's lots of them which I like. There's at least one photograph per recipe which I love. The book is beautifully presented and each recipe does not exceed 1 page in length. There's a brief introduction which includes the history, culture or origin of the recipe. 

Each chapter contains a cake travel guide "Where to eat cake...(city)" and I'm pleased to see that I've tried some of them already! There are also recipes from guest chefs including Mark Hix and Marco Pierre White dotted throughout the book. 

The book is divided into the following chapters (I've included a few recipes per chapter to give you a flavour of the book) 

Foreword - written by Marco Pierre White 
Basic techniques - Handy picture step by step guide which covers all the basic techniques
Sponges & Layer Cakes - Kasutera, Tres Leche Cake, Bolo de Fuba, Dobos Cake, Thierry Busset's Ten Layer Coffee Chocolate Cake (guest chef)
Loaves and Pound Cakes - Pain d'Epices, Sobaos Pasiegos, Mark Hix's Oyster Ale Cake (guest chef), Sugee Cake, 
Fruit, Nut & Seed Cakes - Mandarin, Polenta and Macadamia Cake, Turkish Tahini Cake, Rachel Allen's Lime Yoghurt Cake with Rosewater and Pistachios (guest chef), Nusskuchen
Tray Bakes - Panforte di Siena, Swiss Roll, Basbousa, Brownies
Cheesecakes - Chocolate Cheesecake, Vanilla Cheesecake, Banana Cheesecake
Small Cakes - Madeleines, Macarons, Mustikkapiiraat, Singing Hinnies, Sfenz, Sonhos, Shannon Bennett's Lamingtons (guest chef) 
Leavened Cakes - Brioche, Kolache, Cinnamon Bear Claws, Rum Baba, Chocolate Kugelhopf
Pastries - Macanese egg tarts, Millefeuille, Kateifi, Baklava, Eclairs
Tarts - Tarte Tatin, Gateau Basque, Linzer Torte, Oliver Peyton's Strawberry and Marjoram Cream Tart (guest chef), Far Breton
Celebration Cakes - Simnel Cake, Mooncakes, Tarta de Santiago, Pandoro, Croquembouche, Kransekaka
Baking Basics - recipes for creams, syrups, glazes and icings
Essential equipments

So what did I decide to make? To be honest, I felt like baking almost everything as everything looked so tempting. I was also intrigued to learn about different cakes from around the world and the history/tradition behind it. In the end, I chose this chocolate and polenta cake as it's something I've not tried before and I needed a gluten free cake to bring to a party. In Roman times, polenta was the staple of the Roman legions who would eat it in a porridge or baked hard into a 'cake'. The polenta produces a really crumbly and grainy texture and was absolutely delicious. I'm sure I'll be baking a lot more from this book so keep an eye out for more recipes in the future.

My verdict - A perfect gift for yourself or anyone who enjoys baking. The book is beautifully presented with a nice, clear layout. The pictures are stunning and there's at least one per recipe - sometimes there's a picture of a cross section as well as the whole bake. I particularly like the guest chef recipes and the where to eat cake travel guide.

 ready to go in the oven 

 fresh from the oven 

 I used chocolate decorations as some sprinkles contain gluten 

 You can see the crumbly, grainy texture here 

Recipe extracted from World's Best Cakes by Roger Pizey, published by Jacqui Small
- re produced with permission

320g butter, softened
320g caster sugar
30g cocoa powder, sifted
300g ground almonds
160g fine polenta or cornmeal
5g baking powder
4 eggs, beaten
100ml full fat milk
1 teaspoon almond essence
200g chocolate buttercream - I made my own with butter, icing sugar and melted chocolate
20g cocoa nibs, for decoration - I used chocolate stars

  • Preheat the oven to 160C and grease a deep 21cm (8in) square cake tin. 
  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Stir in the sifted cocoa powder, ground almonds, polenta and baking powder. 
  • Add in the eggs, one at a time, scraping down after each addition until well combined then fold in the milk and almond essence.
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven, allow to cool for 10 minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a wire rack.
  • Meanwhile make the chocolate buttercream.
  • Once completely cool, spread the buttercream evenly over the top of the cake and sprinkle with cocoa nibs (or something similar). 
Disclaimer: I received a free review copy from the publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are my own.

1 comment:

I've had to turn word verification back on as I've had a lot of problem with spam lately, Apologies! Please, please do leave a comment - I appreciate every one of them and will reply to all of them. Thanks!