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
Roasted red peppers
Tomatoes, basil, mozzarella
Sourdough white and brown
Orecchiette with scallops, chilli and rocket
Marinated Flame grilled king prawns
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.