Summer may be inevitably coming to an end, let's be honest an Indian summer is looking increasingly unlikely considering the coat weather that has been hard to avoid in the last few days, but this time of the year does have some advantages, one of them being that it is officially fig season!
Figs are just one of those ingredients that add something a little luxury and indulgent to any dish, not only incredibly pretty to look at once cut them up, but so fragrant that they are hard to resist, especially when fresh, and work as well in savoury cooking as they do as part of desserts.
I spotted some gorgeous punnets of figs at my local greengrocer a few weeks ago and instantly knew I had to find a recipe that made them the star of the show and after a bit of Pinterest recipe research came across this pasta wonder!
It was not only super easy to prepare, being more of an "assemble using good quality ingredients" kind of cooking rather than all out elaborate preparation, looked gorgeous and impressive when served up, but also tasted fantastic, in fact one of my favourite homemade pasta dishes ever.
It's the perfect marriage of sweet and savoury flavours, all joined together by a silky and garlicky olive oil dressing, and I have been dreaming of making it again ever since I polished off my portion.
One to impress a crowd with, with no hard work involved and a recipe that has firmly been added to my regular recipe repertoire!
FIG & BURRATA PASTA
350g linguine, cooked according to package instructions
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar (this was a real flavour revelation as part of the pasta "dressing" and is an ingredient I will definitely be using again. I got mine from Sainsbury's)
2 tbsp garlic puree (again super easy to find at Sainsbury's and most big supermarkets, feel free to be a little more generous with measures if you like garlic and don't have a hot date planned after your meal)
2 lemons, finely sliced
3-4 cups of rocket
1 bunch of fresh basil, torn.
1-2 rounds of burrata, torn (Waitrose used to sell an amazing burrata but try your local cheesemonger if you cant find it there, avoid mozzarella if you can as it lacks the gooeyness of burrata)
Around 10 figs (depending on size), quartered
I free-styled a lot when it came to putting it all together so take the above as rough guide and of course feel free to add more or less of anything!
Place spaghetti in a serving platter.
Whisk together olive oil, vinegar and garlic puree.
Toss spaghetti with mixture, lemon slices, figs, arugula and basil.
Arrange burrata atop pasta.
Salt and pepper generously.
Drizzle with a little more olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately.
Enjoy with an ice cold glass of white wine or rosé- I am currently loving the rose Sauvignon Blanc from Silver Moki that only costs around £7-8, perfect when you don't want to splash out on a bottle of Whispering Angel but still want a decent tipple!
I told you, it couldn't be easier to make and the end result is seriously impressive and achievable for even the laziest of cooks!
I am not a big cake person - I would happily pass on your standard Victoria sponge, really do not get the whole hype that surrounds cupcakes and would always choose ice cream for dessert over even the fanciest of brownies, but when I had my first slice of Swedish Princess cake, or Prinsesstårta as it is called originally called, I could not help but become utterly obsessed with this rather special cake.
Why is it so special you may ask? Well, princess cake isn't only a great name for a cake, I mean who doesn't want to release ones inner princess when it comes to choosing a cake to bake, but it also has a fabulous history behind it.
The cake was in fact invented at the Swedish royal court back in the 1940’s, where it was the favourite sweet treat of the three young princesses growing up there at the time. The cake itself was first made by their Home Economy teacher and was initially simply called grön tårta or green cake but quickly and quite rightly so became somewhat of a national treasure and favourite baked good of all Swedes, and was soon known as princess cake as a sweet nod to the cakes biggest and first fans!
Nowadays there is even a whole week dedicated to the cake in Sweden and I have to say rightly so because on top of its excellent name and history it also tastes absolutely brilliant. What makes it so good? Well it's not too doughy and not too sweet, almost light like a cloud, and made up of alternating layers of airy sponge, raspberry jam, patisserie cream, and a thick layer of whipped cream, all topped with a thin layer of green marzipan that gives the cake a dome like appearance.
I first experienced the wonders of this cake at wonderful little Swedish bakery Bageriet, just by Covent Garden, where you can order it by the slice or as whole (which my office does whenever a birthday is upon us) but I loved the cake so much that I became intrigued if I could recreate it at home.
Now first things first I am not a baker - I love cooking and without sounding big headed think I am pretty good at it, but I do a lot free-styling when it comes to ingredients and measurements. Not ideal when it comes becoming a successful baker where it is all about being precise and patient to make a cake rise and prevent an utter baking disaster. But I am here to tell you that you don't have to be planning your application for the next season of the Great British Bake Off to succeed at making my version of the famous princess cake!
I mean I don't even own an electrical whisk or scales and still ended up with a stunning and very yummy end result which should be proof enough of how easy my cheat's princess cake recipe is to make. Indeed everyone that tried it including me was wowed, I even preferred it to the ones I have tried at Swedish bakeries, a little less doughy and more creamy, and of course with some of my blood, sweat (I hand whipped that cream for a good 25 minutes) and tears involved that made it that extra special to enjoy.
You can get all the 'cheats' ingredients like the Swedish pastry cream kagecreme, the sponge layers (lagekage bunde) and green marzipan lid lid at the Scandinavian Kitchen, a fab Swedish deli and supermarket not far from Oxford Circus which sells all kinds of Scandi foods, either by popping by in-store or ordering them online from their site. Once you have those bits you will only need some fresh whole milk, whipping cream and a good raspberry jam (I went for Bonne Maman).
Whip the cream together with a few table spoons of icing sugar. Whip it to hard peaks (not soft)
Make the Creme patisserie: 1 sachet of kagecreme powder mixed with 500ml whole milk. Whisk well and chill for 15 minutes in fridge before using.
To assemble the cake:
Remove packaging from sponge cake layers. On your chosen tray, add first layer of sponge. Add on top a thin layer of raspberry jam, then add half the crème patisserie evenly all over. Add sponge layer and repeat. Add top lid.
On the top sponge layer, carefully add the whipped cream in a “dome” shape – you will need to use a spatula here to get it quite smooth all over. You’re looking for around 3-4 cm “top” on the cake.
Once you are happy with the whipped cream, add the green lid. This is the tricky bit. Carefully unwrap the lid and line it up to go on the cake. You only have one shot at this as it is hard to move. Once placed, carefully press the sides down around the cake. Some cream may seep out, so use a spoon to wipe any excess so the lid will fit snugly
Use a piping nozzle and any leftover whipped cream to pipe rosettes of cream around the edge to hide the bottom of the marzipan and any folds.