Recently I starter watching season 3 of Chef’s Table, a documentary series on lives of the best chefs in the world. And the first episode was on Jeong Kwang, a monk chef from South Korea. A very emotional story, beautifully filmed and it reminded me how important (to me) simplicity is – in cooking and in life.
The best recipes and dishes usually have only a few elements. It is all about the quality of ingredients, how you prepare the harmony of flavours. Although even the simplest recipes can tell beautiful stories. Jeong Kwan talks about soy sauce, how she gets excited about it every time she cooks and why.
“Soy sauce – soy beans, salt and water, in harmony through time.”
It’s that simple. Then again, there is much more to it. There is so much history behind that magic ingredient. It has been fermented for centuries on end. And for Jeong Kwan, by making soy sauce, she is connecting with her heritage, ancestors, past, present and future. Without delving too deeply into Jeong’s buddhist teaching, it made me think how beautiful the most simple things can be and tell remarkable stories.
Even when it comes to cakes, my favourite recipes are usually one layer cakes, with not too many ingredients. Just like my mum and nan used to make. When it is all about flavours, texture and good ingredients. Just like the cake in today’s recipe – japanese cotton cake which is some sort of a cheesecake. i have a soft spot for cheese cakes and you will probably find quite a few recipes for a wide range of cheese cakes in my recipes books (and on this blog in the near future).
This type of cake I discovered while travelling around Japan. One day, on my own I had gone to Kōyasan from Osaka, the headquarter of one of Japanese buddhist sects. After a breathtaking day on the mountain, I had headed down the mount Kōya towards Osaka. I had stopped for a cuppa and cake in the village and there I tried the cotton cake for the first time. It was the lightest and the fluffiest cake I had ever tried. Yet so flavoursome. So I knew that I’ll have to recreate it at some point.
So after a few attempts, I have managed to bake a very delicious, more healthier version of this type of cake. Also it is quite rich in protein, so it can be a lovely post workout treat.
- 100gr quark
- 1/3 plant milk (I used cashew milk)
- 5 eggs
- 3 tbsp agave nectar
- (you can use Truvia instead)
- juice of one lemon
- 1/2 vanilla flavoured plant protein
- (or casein)
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- coconut oil for greasing
- THE TOPPING
- 1 cup quark
- 2 tbsp agave nectar
- 1 cup berries
- 30gr 90% dark chocolate
- 1 tsp coconut oil
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Separate the egg whites and the yolks. Beat the egg whites until they form peaks. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks, agave nectar, lemon juice and and milk, then slowly mix quark in. Add the flour, protein, cornstarch and baking powder. Mix gently until combined. Then slowly fold the yolks mixture into the egg whites.
- Grease an 8 or 9 inch cake pan and transfer the batter into it. Bake the cake for 15 minutes at 180°C. Decrease the temperature to 160°C and bake until golden or until a toothpick comes out clean. Usually it takes another 15-20 minutes.
- Let cool down completely. When the cake has cooled down, prepare the icing. Mix agave nectar and quark gently so it doesn't get too runny. Spread evenly on top of the cake. Top with berries of your choice. Blueberries and raspberries work quite well here.
- If you feel like chocolate on top... Melt the chocolate and coconut oil in a bain-marie until glossy. While runny, pour over the berries using a big spoon so you can form the lines.
- Refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving. Enjoy!