Polenta and Coconut cake

This is one of those cakes that took me a few attempts to finally crack my mum’s recipe.

Don’t get me wrong: mum loves sharing her recipes but this is another cake she knows by heart so I had to spy on her and take my own notes.

It’s a perfect cake for a morning or afternoon tea. So fluffy and light that you won’t be able to have just one slice.

Actually, I’ve been baking this Polenta and Coconut cake in muffin trays so basically all the small portions will have the crust and the sugar glaze on the outside.

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes. Double the recipe if you are going to bake it as a single cake.

Polenta and Coconut Cake

Ingredients

1 cup Polenta or any other finely ground cornmeal
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup caster sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup milk
75 ml coconut cream
100 g soft butter
2 eggs yolks
2 egg whites

Topping

75 ml coconut cream
1 cup sugar

Method

Preheat oven at 180°C degrees. Grease a muffin baking tray lightly with butter and coat with sugar.

Mix sugar and coconut milk for the topping and set aside.

Use a mixer to blend egg yolks, butter and sugar.

In a large bowl, mix flour and cornmeal. Add the sugar and butter mix to it, milk, coconut milk and blend again until well mixed.

Beat egg whites in a mixer or a whisk until soft peaks form.

Fold the egg whites as well as baking powder into the batter gently.

Pour mixture into the muffin trays. Place tray in the oven and bake it for 30-40 minutes, or until cake is golden brown.

Remove cake from oven and turn off the oven.

Using a fork, poke lots of holes into the cake.

Pour the sugar and coconut milk topping on top of each mini cake. Put the tray back into the turned-off oven. Leave the cake in the oven for about 20 minutes until the sugar topping turns into either a glaze or a crust.

Serve it warm.

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Pavê de BIS (Layered Brazilian Dessert)

Just came back from five AMAZING weeks holidays in Brazil and brought with me a box full of produces I miss the most and can’t easily find in Australia. That includes teas, spices, chocolates and lollies.

I’m conscious that it would take me forever to eat all this sugar so I decided to share some of these treats with my friends and make a Pavê using some of the chocolate I brought with me.

Pavê is a no-bake Brazilian dessert traditionally made of layers of custard and sponge finger biscuits soaked in chocolate milk.

Today I made a variation of Pavê using BIS bombom, a rectangular shaped bombom with lots of layers of a crunchy wafer and slightly bitter chocolate.

Sweet cream, crunchy bitter pieces of bombom. It can’t get any better!

This recipe is very easy to make and you can replace BIS with any other crunchy bombom of your preference.

Pavê de Bis

Ingredients

1 can sweetened condensed milk (Nestlé)
2 box BIS bomboms, roughly chopped
1 can Reduced Fat Cream (Nestlé)
3 eggs, separated
1 l milk
100 g dark chocolate grated
4 Tbsp corn flour
3/4 cup sugar

Method

In a saucepan mix condensed milk, egg yolks, corn flour and milk. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly until it thickens. Pour half of the mix into 8 in. serving dish and let cool completely.

Arrange the bomboms on top of the cream layer and then pour the remaining cream on top.

Beat the egg whites until form peaks, mixing sugar gently. Fold reduced fat cream into the mixture gently. Pour it on top of the layered dessert gently.

Sprinkle dark chocolate over the top layer.
Let it cool and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours or until set.

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Feijoada

Feijoada is THE ultimate Brazilian national dish and definitely one of my favourites. Although younger than moqueca baiana, this dish tells a lot about the history of our country: it comes from the Colonial Brazil, the period when the Portugueses arrived for the exploration of wood, sugar, gold and diamonds.

The dish started with the African slaves slow cooking black beans and leftovers meat such as pork trimmings (ear, feet, nose etc) in clay pots, a heavy stew that used to give the workers all the energy they needed for those days. Later on, the Portugueses added sausages to the stew and the Indigenous people added the farofa (toasted manioc flour).

Through the years, the traditional stew was adapted to use the best meat that the country produces: smoked pieces of pork and cured meats to make the beautiful Feijoada dish we all love today.

Wednesdays and Saturdays are the typical days to eat Feijoada in Brazilian restaurants and when homemade, it is usually a big event that reunites family and friends.

The side dishes for a complete feijoada are Brazilian white rice, cassava chips, farofa, vinaigrette, slices of orange and stir fried Chinese broccoli (known as couve in Brazil).
A lime caipirinha or a very cold beer will match the party very well!

The recipe I’m sharing today was made by my friend Andre, who slow cooked this beautiful and full of flavour dish for at least 3 hours on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

This cut-down version of the recipe will feed generously 10 people.

Ingredients

Feijoada
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp canola oil
1 Kg black beans soaked in water for a couple of hours
650 g smoked pork sausages (Portuguese sausages, Spanish chorizo or both), sliced
350 g smoked pork loin
350 g smoked pork ribs
650 g corned beef or carne seca (dry, salt-cured beef found usually in Portuguese and Brazilian butcheries)
60 g trimmed bacon
boiling water

Side Dishes
Brazilian Style White rice
Farofa (toasted manioc flour)
Cassava chips
Oranges, peeled and sliced
Couve refogada (Stir fried Chinese Broccoli or Kale)
Tomato, parsley and onion vinaigrette

Method

A day ahead, chop the cured beef into large cubes and soak it into cool water overnight. Replace the water every 6 hours or so until salt is removed.

In a large heavy pot over low-medium heat, fry the garlic and the bacon in the oil. Add the beans and its water and leave it boiling for an hour.
Drain the beef and add it to the pot. Cover it with boiling water if needed.

Reduce the heat to low.
Stir it gently every half hour or so.

Add the pieces of pork loin and ribs to the mixture and let it cook for another hour or so. Again, keep adding boiling water if needed.

In the last hour, add the sausage slices and let it cook for another 30 minutes. Adjust any salt.

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