Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Out of sight, out of mind

Morro da Providência, the oldest favela in Rio and our neighbors

I don't know if this happens to you, but I'll often forget about an ingredient that I love-- for years-- and then, prompted by who knows what-- an article online, a conversation, astrology (jk, definitely not astrology)-- all of the sudden pick it up one day and use it in absolutely everything for the next month or so. For Felipe's sake hopefully its something that he likes as well, something other than eggplant-- that was a rough two months for him awhile back. 

More eggplant, with tahini

In this case, I actually know exactly why I started buying tahini again. It's because of Yotam Ottolenghi's Jerusalem cookbook. Roasted squash with tahini, fried cauliflower with tahini, sabih (why oh why is this not sold as street food here?)...and that's before I even hit the dessert chapter, my preferred section of cookbooks. Ottolenghi and co. included a recipe for the popular Israel tahini cookies, which are really quite similar to peanut butter cookies but a bit more interesting for those of us who grew up happily bathed in peanut butter. Because of how much I liked the tahini cookies (made without cinnamon, because yuck) I started thinking about including tahini in other desserts outside of the typical halvah, which I do also love dearly. I started thinking about a tahini tart, and then Google led me to Turkish tahini cake, which led me to promptly baking it and Felipe telling me that we really needed to get more tahini "so that we can make like 10 more of these cakes." 

So, we made a bunch more of the cakes, and I started fiddling with the recipe-- replacing some of the oil with butter, upping the baking powder (I suspect there's a translation error in the original recipe), and replacing the crunchy outer sesame seed crust with my beloved demarera sugar when I was out of the seeds. The last time I made the cake, I realized that the original recipe calls for beating the eggs and sugar for 5 minutes, "until foamy," which makes me wonder if what this really is supposed to be a modified chiffon cake. Being that I don't have an electric mixer and that I reserve my arm "muscles" for things like merengue and buttercream frosting, my theory will have to go untested for now. Besides, we are 100% happy with this present, non-beat-your-arm-off iteration, slightly dense with tahini, not too sweet, and positioned to stick around even when/if the tahini craze abates. 

Turkish Tahini Cake
     adapted from Hayrire's Turkish Food and Recipes

6 oz. (1 c.) sugar
2 eggs
2.5 oz. (1/3 c.) vegetable oil
2.5 oz. (1/3 c.) butter, melted and cooled
2.5 oz. (1/3 c.) whole milk, cold from the fridge
6 oz. (1 1/3 c.) flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2.5 oz. (1/3 c.) tahini
3 Tbsp. sesame seeds or demarera sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter a 9 x 5 in. (8 x 4 in. should be fine too) loaf pan, then pour in the sesame seeds/demarera and tilt the pan around so the seeds/sugar stick to the buttered sides relatively evenly. 
In a large bowl, mix the sugar and eggs with fork/mixer until foamy. Add in the oil, melted butter and cold milk. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour and baking powder. Finally add the tahini, and stir well to incorporate all the ingredients.
Pour the batter into the pan and sprinkle the top with additional sesame seeds/demarera sugar .
Bake for ~45 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in pan. 
The cake will keep a couple of days well wrapped in plastic. Serve it plain alongside cafe con leche or black tea, or you could probably serve it with some lightly sweetened whipped cream if you like (I mean, you can do that with pretty much any cake, can't you? It's not ever really a bad idea. But I don't think it's particularly necessary here, unless you need to dress it up.)

Tahini-- o pasta de sesamo/ajonjolí-- le da un sabor muy rico a esta torta que es muy rápido y fácil de hacer. 

Torta de Tahini Turca
     adaptada de Hayrire's Turkish Food and Recipes

170 g. (una taza) de azúcar
2 huevos
70 g. (1/3 taza) de aceite vegetal 
70 g. (1/3 taza) de mantequilla, derretida pero tíbia (dejala enfriar unos minutos después de derretirla)
70 g. (1/3 taza) de leche entera, fria de la heladera
170 g. (1 1/3 taza) de harina de trigo 
1 1/2 cucharita de polvo de hornear
70 g. (1/3 taza) de tahini (pasta de sesamo/ajonjolí)
3 cucharadas de semillas de sesamo/ajonjolí o azúcar demarera/azúcar morena gruesa

Precalienta el horno a 180ºC. Amanteca un molde de pan, después echale el ajonjolí/azúcar demarera e inclina el molde para que las semillas/el azúcar se peguen a los lados uniformemente. 
En un bol grande, bate el azúcar y los huevos hasta que esté espumoso. Echale el aceite, la mantequilla y la leche, batiendo para incorporar. Con una cuchara de palo, incorpora la harina y polvo de hornear. Echale el tahini, revolviendo bien para incorporar todos los ingredientes.
Echa la masa al molde y salpica la superficie con ajonjolí/azúcar demarera adicional.
Hornea durante ~45 minutos, hasta que la torta esté dorada y un cuchillo metido al centro salga limpio. Deja la torta enfriar en el molde y sirve cuando ya esté fria.
Guarda la torta envuelta en plástico.

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