I’ve had a packet of lemon myrtle peering from my spice pantry for several months now, waiting for me to remember I bought it along with some other Australian native spices. This lemon scented leaf, from a tree native to central and south-east Queensland, has similarities in flavour to lemongrass. Just not as sharp and a little more tea-like. I’m sure it’s great as a tea but in cooking it’s quite unique.
Something else that has been sitting in my pantry is a bunch of dried muscatels, so I’ve brought the two together as a baked ricotta cake infused with lemon myrtle and muscatels reduced to a syrup in a spiced red wine..
The Aussie ingredients don’t end there. I’ve used roasted macadamia nuts in the pastry for the base of the cake and native pepperberry in the red wine syrup. The overall flavours are very autumnal or wintry but something this tasty, creamy and syrupy can’t be confined to the cooler months.
You can buy these spices online if you don’t have them in your hometown but you could easily replace the lemon myrtle with lemon zest (use half as much) and the pepperberry with a mixture of black pepper and sichuan pepper. It won’t be the same, but I’m sure it’ll be pretty damn tasty.
Process the macadamia’s until coarse, add the flour and sugar to combine. Add the cubed butter and process until incorporated then add the ½ egg until it comes together. Turn out onto the bench, bring together with your hands and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to 4 mm thickness. Using the base of a 23 cm non-stick springform tin, place the base over the rolled pastry and cut around it. Discard any excess pastry.
Cut a circle of baking paper the same size and place it on the springform base. Place the pastry disc on top of the lined base and prick with a fork. (Alternatively press the pastry onto the lined base, using your fingers, and be sure to keep it the same depth as the base; about 4mm).
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When cool, remove the baking paper and put the cooked disc of pastry into the assembled springform tin.
Reduce the oven temp to 160°C.
Place all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. Spoon the filling into the springform tin (make sure you’ve put the cooked pastry base in there) and smooth out the top with a spatula. Bake for 1 hr 15 minutes, or until light golden and set. Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for 1 hour.
Place all ingredients into a small non-stick saucepan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes or until the liquid reduces and becomes syrupy. Remove from heat.
To assemble, remove the cake from the baking tin and place onto a serving plate. Place the muscatels onto the cake and drizzle over the syrup.