I always do my food shopping on Saturdays. I go to the farmers market in the early afternoon and buy fresh fruit and vegetables for the week. Unless I have friends coming over for dinner, I almost never plan what I’m going to bring home – I just buy seasonal and fresh produce. Last Saturday, the market stalls were filled with tons of oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and lemons. Being a citrus lover, I couldn’t help but buying some, and on the way back home I even manage to peel and eat a giant orange while at the same time carrying all the bags packed full of fresh produce.
Back at home, I fantasized about baking an old fashioned orange cake with a beautiful orange glaze, but then I just thought that the fruit was so delicious and fresh that throwing it into a cake wasn’t the best way to make it justice.
I remembered years ago seeing Jamie Oliver on a show making a savoury basil sauce to go with a raw tomato salad, and that idea kind of got stuck in my head and ended up being the inspiration for this dish. The combination of flavours might seem unusual but it works incredibly well. I ate the salad as an afternoon snack but it could easily be served as a light dessert. Needless to say, there’s room for adaptations here: you can omit the grapefruit if you want to (subbing it for more orange and tangerine), or you can take a different route, by using pineapple instead of all the citrus (I bet it’s equally delicious).
Citrus Salad with Basil-Coconut Sauce
Note: all the fruit was weighted after being peeled.
For the salad:
185 g / 1 large grape fruit
166 g / 1 large orange
75 g / 2 small tangerines
2 Tablespoons dried coconut
a small handful of goji berries
for the basil-coconut sauce:
18 g / 1 medium bunch basil leaves
4 Tablespoons coconut milk
2 Tablespoons brown rice syrup
In a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the coconut until it’s fragrant and just beginning to brown.
Cut the orange and grapefruit into 0,5 cm round slices. Split the tangerines into segments and remove the pits (if they have any).
In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the sauce and process until smooth. If it’s too thick, add an extra tablespoon of coconut milk.
Put the sliced fruit in a serving plate and sprinkle with the toasted coconut and goji berries. Drizzle with the sauce and serve immediately.
When God gives you blueberries…. you either a) eat them in one sitting on a particularly lazy Sunday night (as if they were popcorn), or b) drag yourself into the kitchen and, despite the hot temperature (the thermometer has been reaching – and even passing – 30º degrees these days) decide to bake a blueberry cake. After giving the issue some thought and, frankly, not without a few doubts, I went with the last option.
I haven’t baked anything with any sort of berries before, mostly because I can’t help myself from eating them in their natural state, as they taste so incredibly good when in season (as now). However, I most say, if you’re going to make this cake you’re into something. Because, that night, I didn’t bother to check up online recipes and ratios for this particular baked good, I approached it in the same way I work with savoury foods – tasting as I go, paying attention to the amount of liquid added in order to reach the right batter’s consistency…. that sort of intuitive thinking.
I know (as we all do) that berries love coconut, so that really was my starting point. The cake is full with blueberries (that you could easily substitute with raspberries or blackberries), not too sweet, and with that nutty-crunchy finish that gives it character and an extra boost of flavour. Now, you guys can definitely call me inconsistent – I deserve the title – because I’ve been saying way too many times that baking is not my cup of tea but, honestly, and what I’m about to say is quite a statement, this is probably the best and most accomplished sweet treat I have ever made and shared on this blog.
Just a little last note: you can definitely serve the cake with some coconut whipped cream on the side. I don’t have a particular recipe for it but this is how I generally do it: freeze, upside-down, a can of coconut milk for a few hours; open the can, pour the creamy part into a bowl (discard the liquid), add a sweetener (I usually go with agave) and maybe the seeds of half a vanilla bean, mix everything together, et voilà!
Enjoy the summer, do not forget the sun protection cream, and eat your berries (they’re full of antioxidants and other good things that google will be more than happy to tell you). ;)
Blueberry Coconut Cake
(makes 1 cake in a square 20 cm pan)
for the dry mixture:
1 ½ cups / 180g brown rice flour
½ cup / 40 g desiccated coconut
¾ cup / 80 g quinoa flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
zest of one lemon
for the wet mixture:
¼ cup / 60 ml melted coconut oil
1/3 cup /55 g coconut sugar
¼ cup / 60 ml agave nectar
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal mixed, in a bowl, with ¼ cup / 60 ml water
1 ½ cups / 375 ml light coconut milk
for the topping:
½ cup / 52 g coarsely ground walnuts
½ cup / 40 g desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil
4 tablespoons coconut sugar, divided
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups / 290 g blueberries
extra coconut oil, for greasing the cake pan
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºc /350 F. Grease a square 20×20 cm pan with melted coconut oil. Set aside.
In a medium sized bowl, mix the topping’s ingredients, adding only two tablespoons of coconut sugar instead of the four written above (you’ll use the remaining two tablespoons later).
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour the wet mixture over the dry one and mix slowly until everything’s well incorporated and you end up with a slightly thick batter.
Pour half of the cake batter into the bottom of the pan. Add one cup of blueberries on top, making sure to distribute them evenly. Add the remaining half of cake batter, followed by the last layer of blueberries. To finish things off, cover the cake with the coconut-walnut topping.
Bake the cake, in the pre-heated oven, for 45 minutes. After that time, take the cake out of the oven and scatter the remaining two tablespoons of coconut sugar on top of it – make sure you cover all the cake’s surface with the sugar, so that you end up with a crisp and caramelised layer. Return the cake to the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Once done, let it cool to room temperature, cut into squares and serve. Even though I like to eat it plain, it goes particularly well with coconut whipped cream.