Broken Yolk

Broken Yolk
Play with your Food!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Geometric Pistachio Cake

"Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity." - John Ruskin

Orchid and Cake

Just in case you haven’t had enough of me straddling the simple act of cooking with ridiculously lofty themes, now I’m going to bring in an obscure mathematic principle. Don’t worry, I hate maths as much as the next normal person. But have you ever asked yourself what beauty is? or why something is beautiful? For thousands of years philosophers and artists have tried to find answers to these questions. Aristotle and Socrates verbally battled each other, Kant tried to sort it out with taste, and even Derrida said the whole thing made him want to vomit. Turns out beauty is a simple ratio 1:1.618. The Golden ratio a.k.a 'Phi', is found everywhere; from engineering to art, and even in nature.

Here is a video to elaborate. 
The Golden Ratio there are some great examples of how Phi pops up in art – everywhere from the Mona Lisa to ‘Las Meninas’ by Velazquez, one of my favourite paintings.

My own version of 'Las Meninas'

In nature Phi crops up in flowers, seashells and even clouds…

It’s incredible to think that there is something that connects the beauty of a face to the beauty of a star, shell or flower.  And to think Shakespeare stumbled upon this very idea a few hundred years ago.

I decided that Phi would be an interesting principle to explore in food. As people generally taste a dish with their eyes, adding a dash of beauty to my cooking couldn’t hurt. And so I devised this geometric cake, sliced in the golden ratio of Phi, but rippled with pistachio sponge to show that though Phi is an interesting phenomenon there is still some randomness to life and nature.

¾ cups of butter
1 ½ cups of sugar
2 eggs
pinch of salt
dash of vanilla
1 ½ cups of flour
½ cup of ground pistachios

1.  Heat the oven to 180 F
2.     Cream together the butter and the sugar (use an electric whisk if you’re a bit lazy like me)
3.     Add the eggs one at a time and whisk until fully emulsified.
4.     Add all the other ingredients. If you want your cake to just have a pistachio ripple then save some of the mixture and just add the pistachio to that. Then pour your two batters into the tin to make a ripple effect.
5.     Grease a 9-inch springform cake tin.
6.     Bake for 40 mins.
7.  Allow to cool and then cut in half and smother jam all over the inside.

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