Where do new recipes come from?
Well, if you believe, that there is indeed any such thing as a new recipe, then they are likely to happen as much by accident as by design. In this case, I set out a staggered lockdown Tuscan barbecue-feast for my birthday. This was the menu:
- Traditional Tuscan chicken liver
- Aubergine, mushroom, lentil, pine nut (v)
- Cannellini bean with wild garlic (v)
- Smoked salmon, chives
- Corn on cob
- Glove artichokes
- Roasted red peppers
- Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
- Sourdough white and brown
- Orecchiette with scallops, chilli and rocket
- Marinated Flame grilled king prawns
- Mixed salad
- Florentine steak
- Tenderstem broccoli
- Panna cotta with berries and coulis
Clearly, I was possessed with an epic culinary mission. Well, it was my birthday… Naturally, with so many courses, it was obvious that I would need to end the meal on a lighter note. I described my plans to Mrs WDC, but she replied back without missing a beat, “What about the cake?” Ah… Did she mean birthday cake? That de rigueur – nay, essential element of any birthday gathering? What was I thinking…? Was I was so possessed I did not even register the need for my own birthday cake? In my defence, birthday cake is not usually haute cuisine and I was trying to plan something special. Having acquiesced to the concept of cake, I did, however, venture that the meal would still need something light to end, and that the usual chocolate affairs would be too much. How about a cake AND panna cotta. I’ll put the panna cotta on top. But not on top of sponge – still too heavy – perhaps a flan base as in the lighter German küchen-type flans…
And this is how I got the idea of a panna cotta cake. Okay, maybe not the of knock-me-over-with-a-feather kind of originality, after all, there are many mousse-type cake recipes with mousses assembled over sponges. However, a panna cotta is not a mouse – it’s a wet creamy jelly that takes hours to set. How to construct such a thing? The answer is with difficulty, which is why this recipe gets a ‘hard’ rating on the blog. It took me three attempts to get near a workable solution.
The key to the success of the dessert is the taste: the startling surprise of panna cotta on top of a flan-like base. It is packed with flavour, cool, but very light, fresh and not too sweet. A perfect end to a birthday meal and a rather perfect cake.