(In which Mr. P talks irrational fears.)
You know, coffee making can be quite terrifying.
I make coffee all the time (and not just on the ground - I can do it at altitude too!), and always used to think that it was cheating and trashy to use instant. Or that I didn't even like instant, which let me tell you, is no longer the case. When you spend nights in hotel rooms as often as I do, you start to feel thankful for those ridiculously tiny hotel room kettles (that always seem to have handles that overheat and burn you when you pour) and sachets of Nescafé that taste differently depending on where in the world you are (and for the record, I prefer the French arôme corsé & intense if I'm needing caffeine, and the Italian Gran Aroma relax if I'm going fun-free - told you I spent a lot of time in hotels.).
The 'cheating and trashy' thing came about after I first went to Italy on holiday years ago and realised that you could make great coffee at home every morning using one of those little moka pots that seem to have become quite trendy and now cost loads more than they used to. Fortunately, I invested when I was still young, and spent several years insisting on only drinking 'the real stuff'.
Don't call me pretentious.
Thing is, although I have now learned to love the instant - and in fact, am going to make one right this minute - I can't really get my head around using it to make a tiramisu, which is anyway a dessert that I have mixed feelings for (those who know me in real life will know what I mean - me, re-invention and Italy's #1 dessert didn't fare too well against those pesky judges). But those moka pots heat up to around 4000°C, and take ages to cool down. Since we've had the kitchen re-fitted, I have been suffering from this incredible reluctance to use ours, just in case I accidentally put it down on the new side board while it's still hot, and burn it. I just wouldn't be able to live with myself. I'm the same with our new saucepans - turmeric is not allowed anywhere near them, and I have a special pan for when we make tarka dal.
(Oh, stop looking at me like that. You know it makes sense.)
Anyway, more to the point, our moka makes six shots of espresso, and I only reckoned I would need about two for this. So I make no apologies for bringing out the Red Mountain. If you feel differently, you may act accordingly.
Also, I know I'm pushing it with the tiramisu connection here, but my friend Francesco makes this dessert sometimes by sandwiching a couple of those little brown amaretti biscuits with a teaspoon of mascarpone, then dipping them in espresso and rolling in coconut. They are divine, and in fact one day, I might make them for the blog.
I used another recipe from Rose's Heavenly Cakes for this lamington, a version of her genoise cake. Genoise is incredibly light and very absorbent, when it comes to syrups and glazes, so is perfect for making lamingtons. Until I got my copy of the book, I was apprehensive of these types of cakes, but Rose really does instill confidence. (That means you need to enter the contest to win a copy!)
Let us create.
For the genoise cake -
100g caster sugar
50g plain flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the glaze -
200g dessicated coconut
400g icing sugar
50ml strong coffee (use 1 tbsp instant coffee, or make a pot of espresso)
To serve -
- First, make the genoise. I bake it in a 20cm square tin, but otherwise, you need a round one of about 22cm. Grease the tin, and line the bottom with parchment. Heat the oven to 180°C.
- Melt the butter (ideally, you'd clarify it too, but I never bother), and add the vanilla. Keep to one side in a small bowl.
- Sift the flour and cornflour together; set aside.
- Set a heatproof bowl over a pan of simmering water, and place in it the eggs and sugar. Whisk the mixture gently using a balloon whisk until it feels warm to the touch. Don't be scared about the eggs scrambling, but don't heat them so much that your finger feels hot. Just think nice and warm.
- Remove from the heat, and beat with electric beaters on high speed for 10 minutes, until the mixture has more than quadrupled in volume.
- Working quickly, add about a cupful of the egg mixture to the butter and vanilla, and stir until combined. It will be the consistency of mayonnaise.
- Then, sprinkle half of the flour over the beaten eggs, and fold in gently with a balloon whisk (better than a spoon or spatula, as it will help to avoid deflating the egg mixture). Add the rest of the flour and the butter mixture, and fold in thoroughly.
- Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until risen and golden. Immediately turn out onto a wire rack to cool.
- Cut the cooled cake into squares, and prepare the glaze. For this, mix the coffee and icing sugar together, and if necessary, add a little hot water to make a thick-ish icing that will easily stick to the cake cubes.
- Put the coconut into a shallow dish; dip the cakes first into the glaze, then roll in the coconut. Set aside on a wire rack to dry for several hours.
- To serve, sandwich the coated cakes with mascarpone. There you are - tiramisu lamingtons!