The thing about recipe books, which I’m sure many people have already cottoned on to, is that a good recipe book is as much a cooking manual, an ingredient lexicon, an idea storage centre, as it is a list of meals. A recipe book can be a challenge (I’m going to cook everything from here in under a year!), a reminder of special meals and celebrations, and as good a reading material as a novel. But very rarely do my recipe books enter the kitchen with me and now I think my cooking skills are beginning to plateau. It’s time to step it up.
Enter My Petite Kitchen Cookbook from Eleanor Ozich. I was introduced to the Petite Kitchen blog last year by a friend who brought Eleanor’s 3-ingredient coconut bread to a little morning tea. Nic had added a scrape of lemon zest and a tablespoon of honey and the sweetness was subtle, barely there, and while we ate it with jam as per Eleanor’s suggestion, we thought you could pair it with a slice of sharp cheddar and maybe a pickle. Or perhaps hummus, big on the lemon, or pesto and cottage cheese. Petite Kitchen – we were sold.
I bought the book in a rush without really flicking through, the cover having pulled me in instantly – flowers and almonds and soft fabrics and blueberries and gold lettering. A closer read through at home and I could cook everything, and I want to right away. We’ve already made the beetroot and brown rice risotto, Spanish braised chickpeas, a riff on the leek and cauliflower gratin with hazelnuts and thyme, the lemon curd, and the tea-infused raisin and hazelnut cake (substituting ground almonds for hazelnuts).
Another raisin-in-baking recipe, but you know how I feel about those, and this one is a welcome deviation from the norm to what I hope is a new norm – cooking free of refined sugar. A bit like starting dinner by sautéing an onion then adding a few cloves of minced garlic, we slip into a pattern of how something should go; for baking – cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, add eggs one at a time – you know the drill.
But this new way, a way that tests your perceptions of food and ingredients, is easy with Petite Kitchen, it all makes sense this honey instead of sugar business. It especially feels right when the cake turns out well-risen and moist with a rounded crumb and tender, swollen raisins, perfect with a cup of tea.
Tea-infused raisin and almond cake
Not only is the food on Petite Kitchen easy to cook and easy to eat, but the photography is beautiful. My iPhone photos just aren’t going to cut the mustard.
I only had loose leaf tea on hand for this recipe so when it came to boiling the raisins with the tea I had to use slightly more water to cover the tea strainers. I strained off most of this liquid, kept it and boiled it down later with a bit more honey and a few chopped up dates. We poured it over the cake with a bit of yoghurt.
170 grams raisins
3 tea bags ( I used Earl Grey loose leaf tea into two strainers)
6 tablespoons honey or maple syrup (I used 3 of each)
2/3 cup coconut oil
110 grams ground almonds
3 eggs, lightly whisked
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
160 grams brown rice flour
Put the raisins and tea in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes until most of the water is evaporated. (Good, if you’re using tea bags but see note if using loose leaf tea.)
Add the honey/maple syrup and the coconut oil and stir until melted. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 20cm cake tin/line with baking paper.
Put the ground almonds, eggs, spices, baking soda and vinegar in a large bowl. Sift the flour over, then add the cooled raisin mixture. Mix with a spoon until well combined.
Pour the cake mixture into the cake tin and bake for 45-50 minutes or until it passes the skewer test.
Leave to cool in the tin before turning out onto a plate.
The cake will keep for 4-5 days in an airtight container in a cool dark place – I wouldn’t know though – we ate it all in one night.