In Belinda’s Kitchen by Belinda Jeffery

Article | Issue: Mar 2023

BELINDA JEFFERY is a beloved Australian cookery writer and teacher. She is the bestselling author of Mix & Bake. Her latest cookbook In Belinda’s Kitchen is a beautiful book of delicious, fail-safe recipes and delightful stories. Read on for a recipe.

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

There are several things you can be sure of when cooking with Belinda Jeffery. Her food will be mouth-wateringly good, her flavours simple and fresh, and her recipes never fail.

These are the essential dishes Belinda makes time and again – recipes that tell stories of family and friendship and hold a special place in her heart. Many were originally published 20 years ago, and by popular demand Belinda has revisited and polished favourite recipes in her repertoire to reflect the way she cooks now – and added a handful of new ones. With Belinda’s wise and warm encouragement, this book is just like having her by your side in your own kitchen.

 

RECIPE

Pistachio and lime syrup cake with pomegranate seeds

The recipe for this lovely, tangy cake was given to me by the wonderful food writer and cooking teacher Elise Pascoe, and I have made it time and again since she passed it on to me. The original version is made with lemons; however, as our lime trees are such bountiful providers for so much of the year I tend to make it with limes instead.

It’s a gorgeous, simple cake: light, tangy and so eye-catching with its mantel of pistachios and pale-green hue. In season, translucent beads of pomegranate look extraordinarily beautiful scattered over the cake, giving it a mysterious, exotic quality.

Just a note about the pistachios for this cake – to grind them, I pulse them in the food processor with a tablespoon of flour from the recipe, as the flour helps prevent them becoming oily and forming a paste. Nonetheless, you do have to be watchful as they can go from being perfectly chopped to pasty in the blink of an eye.

 

Serves 6–8

60g plain flour

1 teaspoon baking powder 100g pistachios, finely ground finely grated zest of 3 large limes

120g almond meal

250g unsalted butter, at room temperature

200g caster sugar

4 × 60g eggs, at room temperature

1/3 cup (80g) pomegranate seeds, to decorate, optional

rich cream or thick Greek-style yoghurt, to serve

Syrup and topping

90g caster sugar

1/2 cup (125ml) fresh lime juice (from about 3 large limes), strained

90g pistachios, roughly chopped

 

Preheat your oven to 170°C. Butter a 22–24cm round cake tin, line the base with buttered baking paper then dust the tin with flour. (I use a torte tin that I’ve had for years to make this – it has slightly sloping sides and measures 24cm across the top and 22cm across the base.)

Tip the flour, baking powder, ground pistachios, lime zest and almond meal into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk them together with a balloon whisk for a minute or so, then set the bowl aside.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer (or use a hand-held electric beater) and beat them on medium speed for about 4 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides occasionally, until the mixture looks creamy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, allowing each egg to be absorbed before adding the next. (Don’t worry if the mixture looks a little curdled after adding the last egg – it will come together again when you add the dry ingredients.)

Tip in the flour mixture and mix everything together on low speed until it is just combined – be careful not to over-mix it, or the cake may be  a bit tough. Scrape the batter into the prepared tin and smooth the top.

Bake the cake for 45–50 minutes, or until it springs back when lightly pressed in the centre and a fine skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. Transfer it to a wire rack and leave it to cool a little in the tin.

When the cake is lukewarm, make the syrup. To do this, put the sugar and lime juice into a small saucepan over low heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the chopped pistachios, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil.

Turn the cake out onto a serving plate and peel away the baking paper. Slowly spoon the hot pistachio and lime syrup evenly over the top, then leave the cake to cool completely.

Just before serving, scatter it with pomegranate seeds, if using.

Serve with softly whipped cream or yoghurt.

Seeding pomegranates

This is invariably a messy job, and I find I need to be swathed in my largest apron to avoid getting crimson splashes all over my clothes – and even then, one or two spurts of juice always manage to find their way behind the defences! There are a number of ways to tackle it; however, the easiest way I know is to cut the fruit halfway through, then use your hands to break it into three or four pieces.

Now fill a large bowl with cool water, submerge each piece of pomegranate under the water and use your fingers to work the seeds out of the membranes. The seeds will drop to the bottom of the bowl and the bits of membrane will float on the surface. Then all you need do is drain off the water, pat the seeds dry in a tea towel and they’re ready to go.

By the way, you can freeze the seeds too. Just spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet lined with freezer wrap or baking paper then pop them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid – which takes an hour or two – slide them into a snap-lock bag and store them in the freezer. They last well for a few months.

Food photography © Rodney Weidland, Illustrations © Daniel New

Author: Belinda Jeffery

Category: Lifestyle, Sport & leisure

Book Format: Hardback

Publisher: Simon & Schuster Australia

ISBN: 9781761107771

RRP: $49.99

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