TAMSIN CARVAN SHARES RECIPES FOR SWEET THINGS MADE FROM THE SPOILS OF HER GARDEN.
Tamsin Carvan shares recipes for some delicious treats, from cakes and crumbles to tarts and scones.
WHEN SPRING ARRIVES in Tamsin’s garden, it heralds a season of regrowth, but it’s too early for stone fruit and too late for apples and pears. So she turns to her faithful rhubarb crowns (“I choose carefully, looking for the shiniest, most luminously red stems, which are the most tender.”), the last of the lemons and any pumpkins that escaped winter’s soups for making tarts, crumbles and scones. Hardy herbs, such as rosemary and verbena, add fragrant notes to the not-too-sweet cakes, which are her favourite things to eat after a day of gardening.
LEMON VERBENA & POLENTA SYRUP CAKE
Serves 8–10 This tray cake is quick and easy to make, and so satisfying to eat with the tang of the lemon and the lemon verbena, and the slight crunch of the polenta. Perfect with a cup of tea in between weeding stints in the garden. 125g unsalted butter, at room temperature ⅔ cup raw caster sugar 2 large eggs 1 egg yolk 100ml buttermilk 1 cup self-raising flour, sifted 3½ tablespoons fine polenta 1 lemon, rind finely grated pinch of finely ground sea salt 1 tablespoon icing sugar mixture, to dust lemon verbena sprigs, to decorate* Greek-style natural yoghurt, to serve (optional) LEMON SYRUP 100ml lemon juice ¼ cup raw caster sugar 1 freshly picked lemon verbena sprig*
Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a 26cm x 22cm lamington pan, then line base and sides with baking paper. Using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar for 3–4 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition until combined. Add egg yolk and beat until combined. Alternately stir in buttermilk and flour until well combined. Add polenta, lemon rind and sea salt, and mix until well combined. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20–25 minutes or until top of cake feels firm to touch. Meanwhile, to make lemon syrup, place lemon juice, sugar, lemon verbena and ½ cup of water in a small saucepan and stir over a medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat to high and bring to boil. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3–4 minutes or until syrup thickens. Remove from heat and discard lemon verbena. Keep warm. Remove cake from oven. Using a skewer, poke about 20 holes in top of cake. Spoon warm lemon syrup over hot cake. Set aside to cool slightly. Remove cake from pan and cut into slices. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with lemon verbena. Serve warm or at room temperature with yoghurt, if desired. *A semi-deciduous shrub, lemon verbena (Aloysia citriodora) is available at garden centres. Ensure leaves haven’t been treated with sprays. >
ROSEMARY, BUTTERMILK & LEMON SYRUP CAKE
Serves 8–10 This recipe is based on one by Diana Henry, which in turn is based on a Jane Grigson classic, which is based on a traditional Italian cake… maybe you can add your own twist! To me, the important things are the quality of the sourdough, adding really fresh rosemary, and using juicier, more fragrant Meyer lemons. 100g raw almonds 75g good-quality fresh sourdough, lightly toasted, then torn into pieces 2 tablespoons (or more to taste) very fresh rosemary leaves 260g caster sugar 2 large Meyer lemons* 4 eggs 100ml buttermilk 100ml extra virgin olive oil 2 teaspoons baking powder 1 large fresh rosemary sprig extra rosemary sprigs, to garnish rose geranium, rosemary or other edible flowers, to garnish (optional)** Greek-style natural yoghurt, to serve
Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a 23cm round springform pan and line with baking paper. Place almonds, cooled sourdough and rosemary leaves in a blender or food processor, and process until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Place 200g of caster sugar in a large bowl. Finely grate rind of 1 lemon. Rub lemon rind into caster sugar until (in the words of my friend Julia Busuttil who showed me this technique) sugar is “damp and fragrant”. Add eggs and whisk until well combined. Add buttermilk and whisk until combined. Add olive oil and whisk until well combined. Add almond mixture and whisk until combined. Add baking powder and whisk until well combined. Pour mixture into prepared pan (it will be sloppy). Bake for 30 minutes or until cake begins to pull away from edge of pan and a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. While cake is cooking, juice lemons (you need about 100ml of juice). Place lemon juice, rosemary sprig, ½ cup of water and remaining sugar in a small saucepan. Stir over a medium heat until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes or until cake is almost cooked. Increase heat to high and boil for 5 minutes or until reduced by half (you need ½ cup–2⁄3 cup syrup). Strain lemon syrup into a heatproof jug. Remove cake from pan and transfer to a serving plate. Using a skewer, poke 10–15 holes in top of cake. Spoon hot syrup over hot cake. If possible, set aside for 1–2 hours to allow syrup to absorb. Garnish cake with extra rosemary sprigs and edible flowers, if desired. Cut into slices and serve with yoghurt. *Available at specialty greengrocers and farmers’ markets. Substitute regular lemons. **Ensure edible flowers have not been treated with sprays.
RHUBARB CRUMBLE WITH VANILLA ICE-CREAM
Serves 6–8 (See photograph, page 82) While this seems like a small amount of star anise, it’s an instance where less is more. 500g rhubarb, cut into 10cm lengths 2 star anise pods 100g whole raw almonds 100g plain flour 100g raw caster sugar pinch of coarse sea salt 100g unsalted butter 2 tablespoons natural maple syrup VANILLA ICE-CREAM 450ml milk 300ml pure cream 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped 150g caster sugar 4 egg yolks
To make ice-cream, heat milk, cream, and vanilla bean and seeds in a medium saucepan over a medium-low heat until almost simmering. Remove from heat. Meanwhile, whisk sugar and egg yolks in a large heatproof bowl until pale and creamy. Gradually add hot cream mixture, whisking constantly until well combined. Remove vanilla bean, and quickly wash and dry saucepan. Return mixture to clean pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 10 minutes or until custard thickens and coats back of spoon. Cool. Churn custard in an ice-cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions. If you don’t have an ice-cream machine, transfer custard to a shallow metal container. Cover with foil and freeze for 4 hours or until firm. Break up ice-cream with a metal spoon. Transfer to a food processor and process until smooth. Re-freeze. Repeat twice more or until ice-cream is smooth and creamy. Preheat oven to 175°C. Grease a 6-cup capacity baking dish. Arrange rhubarb evenly over base of prepared dish. Crack open star anise pods to remove seeds (you should have 6–8 seeds). Dry-roast seeds in a frying pan over a medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes or until shiny. Using a mortar and pestle, crush star anise seeds into a paste. Using a mortar and pestle, crush almonds into a mixture of fine and coarse pieces. Place crushed almonds in a large bowl with flour, sugar and salt, then mix to combine. Using fingertips, rub butter through almond mixture until evenly distributed. Add maple syrup and star anise paste, and mix until well combined. Spread almond mixture over rhubarb in baking dish. Bake for 30–40 minutes or until golden. Serve hot rhubarb crumble with big scoops of vanilla ice-cream. >
RHUBARB TART WITH SAFFRON CUSTARD
Serves 6 (See photograph, page 83) Ideally, you want to time your custard to be ready just as the tart shell finishes blind baking, so the hot custard goes into the hot shell — this is how you ensure a crisp bottom on the tart. 1kg rhubarb, cut to width of tart pan 2 tablespoons caster sugar 1 orange, rind finely grated, juiced ½ cup toasted pistachio kernels, to serve crème fraîche or double cream, to serve PASTRY 240g plain flour 200g cold unsalted butter, chopped generous pinch of finely ground sea salt 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon very cold water SAFFRON CUSTARD ½ cup pure cream ½ cup caster sugar 6 egg yolks 2 tablespoons cornflour 1½ cups milk large pinch of saffron threads To make pastry, combine flour, butter and salt on a clean work surface. Make a well in centre. Lightly whisk egg yolk and water in a bowl until combined, then pour into well in flour mixture. Using a fork, gently incorporate egg into flour mixture. Using heel of your hand, push down and away from you on flour mixture to squash butter into long strips. Repeat, gathering mixture back up into a pile every so often, until most of butter has been pushed into flour. (Do not overwork dough — if lumps of butter are still visible, that’s a good sign.) Flatten into a disc and wrap in baking paper. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to rest. Preheat oven to 190°C. Roll out pastry between 2 sheets of baking paper into a 4–5mm thick rectangle. Working quickly so pastry doesn’t melt, remove top sheet of paper. Use bottom sheet to lift pastry and invert over a 2.3cm-deep, 34cm x 11cm tart pan with removable base. Line pan with pastry, peeling away paper and pressing into corners. Patch if necessary. Trim edges, or leave as is for a rustic feel. Place on a baking tray in freezer for 20 minutes to rest. Line pastry case with baking paper and fill with baking weights. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until sides are set. Remove pastry weights and paper. Bake for a further 10 minutes or until golden. Meanwhile, combine rhubarb, sugar, and orange rind and juice in a bowl. Set aside to macerate. To make custard, place cream in a bowl and whisk until very soft peaks form. Refrigerate until required. Place sugar, egg yolks and cornflour in a large heatproof bowl and whisk until thick and pale. Place milk and saffron in a saucepan over a medium heat until almost simmering. Gradually add hot milk mixture to egg mixture, whisking constantly until smooth and combined. Return mixture to pan. Cook, whisking constantly, over a medium heat until custard begins to thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue whisking until custard is pale and glossy, and begins to pull away from edge of pan a little. Remove from heat. Fold through cream, then pour into hot tart case. Reduce oven to 170°C. Arrange drained rhubarb over custard. Bake for 20–25 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Cool slightly. Remove tart from pan. Top with chopped pistachios, and serve with crème fraîche or double cream.
Makes 15 Slightly adapted from a recipe by Lady Flo Bjelke-petersen. 500g Kent pumpkin, deseeded, peeled ½ cup caster sugar 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature ¼ teaspoon finely ground sea salt 1 egg, at room temperature 1 eggwhite, at room temperature 2 cups self-raising flour 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon extra 1 tablespoon caster sugar good-quality lightly salted butter, at room temperature, to serve
Preheat oven to 225°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roughly chop pumpkin into large chunks. Cook pumpkin in a saucepan of boiling water for 10–12 minutes or until softened. Drain really well. Roughly mash pumpkin. Cool. Using a wooden spoon, beat sugar, butter and sea salt in a large bowl until creamy. Measure 1 cup of mashed pumpkin. Whisk egg and eggwhite together in a bowl. Add one-third of pumpkin and one-third of egg to sugar mixture, and beat until well combined. Repeat, in 2 batches, with remaining pumpkin and egg. Sift flour over pumpkin mixture and very gently stir until combined, adding a little extra flour if dough is too wet. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and dust with flour. Press to flatten until 2–3cm thick. Use a 4–5cm cutter to cut out 15 scones. Nestle scones together, so they’re touching, on prepared tray. Combine cinnamon and extra sugar in a bowl. Lightly dust scones with cinnamon sugar. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until tops are nicely browned. Serve scones with lashings of salted butter! Tamsin hosts cooking workshops and lunches at her farm in Victoria’s Gippsland. For information, visit tamsinstable.com.au