Sign in / Join
962

The weekend cook: Thomasina Miers’ recipes for chickpea flour pizza and coffee and cardamom bundt cake

I had dinner the other day with an old friend who reminded me of a trip we made to Turin several years ago. As is often the case, my memories from the trip are crystal clear for one reason: the food we ate. In particular, the tantalising smell and flavour of the farinata pizzas we enjoyed are etched in my mind. The traditional recipe calls for chickpea flour (gluten-free, so ideal for those with intolerances) whisked with olive oil and water to make a loose batter that is then grilled to a delicious crust. My version is topped with a pesto that makes the most of watercress, which is now in season. And, for pudding, I suggest a sensationally decadent espresso cake with a boozy brandy espresso syrup. It looks fantastic in a bundt mould, but works equally well in traditional cake form.

Farinata pizza with watercress and hazelnut pesto and fresh goat’s cheese

This nutty pizza, with its caramelised onions and fresh pesto, makes a great weekend lunch. It’s best served warm, but can also be eaten at room temperature. Makes two pizzas, to serve six.

For the pizza base

200g chickpea (aka gram) flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil
200ml water

For the topping
120ml extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tbsp extra
2 medium red onions, peeled and finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small garlic clove, peeled
50g toasted hazelnuts
200g watercress, roughly chopped
50g parmesan, grated
A squeeze of lemon juice

To serve
80g fresh goat’s cheese or curd
2 handfuls black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1 handful watercress

First make the dough. Put the flour, salt and two tablespoons of the oil in a bowl and slowly whisk in the water until you have a thick batter. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm two tablespoons of the extra-virgin oil in a saucepan, then gently fry the onions until soft and sweet, about 20-25 minutes, seasoning them generously. Stir half the onions into the chickpea batter.

To make the pesto, put the garlic and hazelnuts into a food processor, season and blitz until coarsely ground. Add the watercress and, with the engine running, gradually pour in the 120ml oil in a steady stream. Stir in the parmesan, squeeze in a little lemon juice and season to taste.

Now you’re ready to make the pizzas. Turn the grill to high. Heat an ovenproof frying pan on a medium flame, then add half a tablespoon of oil. When hot, add half the batter and gently swirl to coat the base of the pan – it should be about 5mm thick. Grill for three to eight minutes, depending on the strength of your grill, checking every few minutes: the pizza should be crisp on the edges, firm to the touch and golden on top. Slide the pizza out on to a plate and keep warm while you repeat with the rest of the batter.

Spoon the pesto over the pizzas, then scatter with the remaining onions, dollops of goat’s cheese, olives and watercress.

Coffee and cardamom bundt cake with brandy and coffee syrup

Thomasina Miers’ coffee and cardamom bundt cake with brandy and coffee syrup. Photograph: Louise Hagger for the Guardian. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay

The soft flavour of cardamom goes beautifully with the bitter notes of coffee in this light sponge.

200ml hot, strong freshly brewed coffee
2-3 tbsp instant coffee granules
360g flour, plus extra for the pan
2½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp fine sea salt
225g unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
400g light brown muscovado sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cardamom seeds
4 large eggs, at room temperature, separated

For the coffee syrup
3 tbsp hot, strong freshly brewed coffee
1 tsp instant coffee granules
75ml milk
275g caster sugar
3 tbsp brandy

Heat the oven to 175C/345F/gas mark 3½. Butter and flour a large bundt tin (or a 26cm round cake tin), then tap out the excess flour. Measure out the brewed coffee, stir in the coffee granules to dissolve and leave to cool.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Beat the butter with a wooden spoon or the paddle of a food mixer set to high, until pale in colour. Beat in the sugar, vanilla and cardamom, scraping down the sides of the bowl as you go, until the mixture is light and fluffy – about four minutes. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour mix and cooled coffee bit by bit in alternate batches, until smooth.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites to soft peaks, then use a large metal spoon to fold about a quarter of the whites into the batter. Once incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites, then scrape the batter into the prepared tin, smoothing the top with a spatula.

Bake until the top of the cake springs back when gently pressed and a skewer comes out clean – 50 to 60 minutes, depending on the size and shape of your tin. Leave the cake to cool in the tin on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then turn out on to the rack and leave to cool completely.

For the syrup, whisk the coffees in a small saucepan with the milk and sugar until the granules and sugar dissolve, then stir in the brandy. Serve slices of the cake with the warm syrup and spoonfuls of creme fraiche. The cake can be stored in a sealed container for a few days.

And for the rest of the week…

The watercress pesto makes a gorgeous dressing for warm roast vegetables or a salad, or as a topping for goat’s cheese crostini. The brandy syrup for the bundt cake also goes well with vanilla ice-cream or meringues topped with softly whipped cream.