Baladi, by London-based chef Joudie Kalla, includes a wide range of Palestinian dishes, including daoud basha (lamb meatballs cooked in a tamarind and tomato sauce served with caramelised onions and vermicelli rice), fatayer sabanekh (spinach, sumac and onion patties) and halawet il smeed (a buttery semolina and orange blossom dessert).
Of the chocolate and labneh cake, Kalla writes:
This cake came about by accident and I just had to include it here. I was running a cooking class and forgot to buy soured cream, so decided instead to use the labneh in my fridge as a substitute. I was panicking and worrying about it going wrong, but it actually worked perfectly – even better than I thought it would – and I have never stopped making it this way. Sometimes the best things come to you when everything is upside down, and this was one of those occasions. If you don’t have labneh, you can use extra thick Greek yogurt.
Chocolate and Labneh Cake with Slivered Pistachios
4 eggs, beaten
110g soft butter
110g golden caster sugar
110g soft light brown sugar
5 tbsp labneh
1 tsp vanilla extract
170g plain flour
55g cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp baking powder handful of slivered pistachios (about 70g)
For the icing:
170g unsalted softened butter
200g icing sugar
70g cocoa powder, sifted
2 tsp vanilla paste
Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced (200C /400F). Line a 900g loaf tin with baking parchment.
In a bowl, mix together the eggs, butter, sugars and labneh, then add the vanilla extract. Beat for a couple of minutes.
Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a separate bowl, then add the salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. Add this to the egg and sugar mixture and mix for about 30–60 seconds.
Place in the tin and cook for about 45 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool for a few minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing, combine the butter and icing sugar together in a bowl and mix well. Add the labneh, sifted cocoa powder and vanilla paste and mix for about 2 minutes until the icing is smooth and creamy. Place in the fridge to firm up slightly.
When the icing is ready and the cake is cooled, spread the icing over the cake, scattering the chopped pistachios on top.
Recipe and image from Baladi by Joudie Kalla, Murdoch Books, RRP $49.99; photography by Jamie Orlando Smith.
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