12 July 2011

Lime Yogurt Cake with Rosewater and Pistachios

I remember when I first saw Rachel Allen demonstrate this very exotic, Persian-inspired cake with rose and pistachios on Rachel Allen: Bake. I thought it was just one of the prettiest flavour-combinations ever.  It put me in mind of beautiful Middle Eastern desserts like baklava and romantic holiday escapades to Arabia ala Sex and the City and Disney's Aladdin.

I am glad that when I finally had a chance to make and taste this cake, it did not disappoint. 

Refreshing with zesty lime, and fragrant with the floral scent of rosewater, it also has a very light and tender crumb.  Ground almonds give this cake a pleasant nuttiness and a delicate 'fall-apart' texture. A welcome departure from the usual rich, buttery cakes that I am so fond of (this one has no butter at all).  It is a subtle cake which is neither overpowering nor assertive.  Beautifully ambrosial, with a flavour that improves over time.  In a tea spread, it won't jostle for attention among richer cakes of chocolate, cream and butter.  But, like a true Middle Eastern veiled beauty, its unique, alluring flavour will grow on you and have your guests returning for more.

Recipe for Lime Yogurt Cake with Rosewater and Pistachios
(slightly adapted from a recipe by Rachel Allen)


For the cake
225 g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 pinch salt
75 g ground almonds
100 g caster sugar
2 eggs
1 generous tbsp or 50g runny honey
250 ml natural yogurt
150 ml sunflower oil

1 lime, finely grated zest only

For the syrup
150 ml water
100 g caster sugar
1 lime, juice only

1-2 tsp rose water (I used Nielssen Massey)

For decorating 

50 g unsalted pistachio nuts, roughly chopped
rose petals, (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas 4. Line the base and sides of a 22cm spring-form/loose-bottomed cake tin with greaseproof paper.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the ground almonds and caster sugar.

3. Mix together the eggs, honey, yogurt, sunflower oil and lime zest together well in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and slowly pour in the wet ingredients, bringing them together with a whisk until they are just combined. You can add some chopped pistachios to the mixture if you wish, or save them for decorating.

4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for about 20 minutes.

5. While the cake is cooling, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, boil the water and sugar for about 5 minutes until it is reduced by half. Add the lime juice and boil for a further 2 minutes, then cool. Add rosewater to taste (about 1 teaspoon, see note below).

6. With a fine skewer, make holes on top of the warm cake and spoon the syrup all over the top. Scatter the pistachios over, if you wish, and leave to settle for 1 hour.

7. Decorate with rose petals, if using. Serve with cream, natural yogurt, sliced mangos or berries. It is a very moist cake so keeps extremely well in the fridge for a few days. 

1) Rosewater can be overpowering if used excessively, so use sparingly. I used 1 teaspoon for the syrup.  The original recipe calls for 1-2tbsp but that is excessive in my opinion. 

2) Although this cake can be refrigerated, it is best served at room temperature. Part of its beauty is that it has a very delicate, tender and crumbly texture.  However, this will not come through if the cake is cold and not thawed properly. I kept mine at room temperature for 3 days in an airtight container and found that it improved in taste and texture over time. 

3) This cake looks best when baked into little rose or flower shaped mini cakes. I used a Nordic Ware bouquet pan.  A Nordic Ware rose muffin pan, like the one I used for my Salted Caramel Banana Cakes,  is also an excellent choice.  

07 July 2011

Blueberry Yogurt Brûlée

Here in our household, we've all been trying to eat more yogurt these days, ever since a recent Harvard study concluded that yogurt was the best food for long-term weight loss. Apparently, the study found that not all calories are created equal. So one could theoretically eat the same number of calories of yogurt as another might eat in, say, french fries, and the former would lose weight while the latter gained weight.

Interesting, you may say. Tragic, if you ask me.

Since the same study also found potatoes to be the worst food for keeping off weight gain.  Hard to swallow as that may be, I can't pretend that the finding was really a surprise. Deep in my gut I always suspected my faulty logic of replacing lunch or dinner with a giant bag of chips wasn't good weight-loss practice (although I frequently pretended it did).  So guilty was I about my unhealthy potato habit (and also for all the times I've used chips to bribe the kids) that I immediately declared our home a potato-free zone for a year. Yes, that means no chips, french fries, mash or hash for 365 days. I think this might be the hardest dietary choice I have ever made in my life. If it makes no difference to our health or weight in a year, you can be assured I will resume my chip habit.

At the same time, I also decided we could all try to consume more yogurt.

I was mulling over a healthy-ish dessert/supper option for tonight (not many, I can assure you) when I chanced upon this Blueberry Yogurt Brûlée in an old copy of Delicious Magazine.  Not only did it look delicious, it was also easy, and more importantly, guiltless. How great is that.   

I LOVE that it uses Greek yogurt, which is richer and creamier and therefore feels absolutely sinful in its luxuriating unctuousness while being absolutely not. A most lovely contradiction. Apparently, Greek yogurt is also healthier than regular yogurt, as it contains more protein and less carbs - all the more reason to make the switch.

The additional step of cooking the blueberries lightly in honey, really helps the flavours to meld together much better than merely folding in fresh berries (which is what I usually do for breakfast). Sprinkled atop the yogurt, the velvety muscovado sugar turns into a beautiful, dark, caramelly syrup, which I slurp up (and pretend is toffee sauce).  Good quality manuka honey, with its unique woody, caramel notes, also makes a real difference to this dessert (so don't use the cheap stuff).
Great as a simple dessert, and refreshing for breakfast.  At 112 calories per serving, guiltlessness really doesn't get much better than this.

Recipe for Blueberry Yogurt Brûlée
(by Joy Skipper, Delicious Magazine)

This is a healthier take on crème brûlee which, because of the high cream content, is extremely high in saturated fat. Using yogurt instead of cream makes for a lighter, yet still delicious end to the meal. Serves 4

200g blueberries
2 tsp manuka honey
250g Greek yogurt
4 tsp dark muscovado sugar


  1. Place the blueberries and manuka honey in a small saucepan and heat gently, until the juices of the blueberries start to run and the fruit softens slightly. Remove from the heat and spoon the fruit and juices into 4 individual serving bowls (about 125ml). Leave to cool.
  2. Spoon the yogurt over the blueberries and sprinkle each bowl with 1 tsp of the muscovado sugar. This will melt and turn syrupy. Place the bowls in the fridge to chill until ready to serve.
Nutritional Information:
Per serving: 112kcals, 3.8g fat (2.6g saturated), 3.6g protein, 9.5g carbs, 14.4g sugar, 0.2g salt

(This dessert was submitted for Sweets for a Saturday Party #25)

06 July 2011

Pandan Chiffon Cake

It's amazing what one can accomplish when the baby sleeps. Sugababe 3 took an unprecedented 2 hour nap yesterday and I immediately got to work on this Pandan Chiffon Cake.  It's a recipe from the well-known food blog ieatishootipost that I had been dying to try for some time.  I am pleased to report that the Pandan Chiffon turned out as fluffy, moist, voluminous and delicious as promised, and is easily the best chiffon recipe I have tried so far!

In particular, I really liked that the recipe asked for the additional step of beating the egg yolks until light and lemon-coloured.  Most chiffon recipes only call for the egg whites to be beaten to stiff peaks, and for the egg yolks to be mixed with the other ingredients (i.e. oil, milk, etc).  Beating the egg yolks until they are light does make it easier to fold the egg whites in at the later stage, and also seems to incorporate more air into the batter, which is a good thing. I will definitely be using this technique for all my chiffon cakes from here on.

If like me, you have none-too-fond memories of dry, coarse and scarily mutant-green pandan chiffon cakes sold in local bakeries, you will be won over by this recipe. My Sugababes, who are partial to soft, fluffy cakes, absolutely adored this cake.  And as I always say, anything that my picky eater Sugababe 2 willingly devours, is a must-try!   

Recipe for Pandan Chiffon Cake
(from Leslie Tay of ieatishootipost. Instructions have been summarised and paraphrased in my own words. For more detailed instructions and an excellent step-by-step tutorial, please go to this link)


6 egg yolks
100g caster sugar
115ml corn oil
140ml coconut milk
200g cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp pandan juice
2 tsp pandan essence
1 tsp vanilla essence
(* You can use 3/4 tsp of pandan paste, in place of pandan juice and pandan essence.  Although convenient, pandan paste definitely tastes more artificial, so stick with fresh pandan and pandan essence, if you can)
** I used Kara brand coconut cream, which is nice and thick)

9 egg whites
100g caster sugar
1 tsp cream of tartar


Preheat the oven to 170C.

Sift cake flour and baking powder, mix evenly. Set aside. 

Beat egg yolks and sugar until light and lemon-coloured. Add in the oil, coconut cream, pandan juice, pandan essence, vanilla essence and salt. Sift flour and baking powder over the mixture. Mix well until smooth.

Beat egg whites with wire whisk attachment until slightly foamy. Add cream of tartar, and beat until soft peaks. Add in sugar tablespoon by tablespoon and beat until stiff peaks form and mixture does not slide out of mixing bowl when upturned.

Add in 1/3 of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolk mixture and mix gently with whisk, to 'lighten' the mixture. Using a spatula, fold in the rest of the beaten egg whites into egg yolk mixture, gently, to prevent batter from deflating. Do not overfold.

Pour batter into 25cm ungreased tube pan. Run a spatula through the batter to eliminate large bubbles in the batter.

Bake at 170C in preheated oven, for about 55 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the cake comes out clean (or with few dry crumbs adhering)

Remove cake from oven, prop it up on a bottle to cool, upside-down so as to prevent the cake from sinking.

Once cool, remove from tube pan by sliding a knife along the sides, and bottom.

To serve, cut with a serrated knife (so as not to flatten the cake).

(This dessert was submitted for Sweets for a Saturday Party #25


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