Posts Tagged ‘cakes’

5 Ways with Rose Water

Monday, June 29th, 2015

For many years and in many countries, rose water has been used as a wonderful natural perfume, its gentle floral scent being used to refresh and revitalise.  Its benefits are also widely extolled as a health essential: in its diluted form as a skin toner and as a valued addition to moisturisers and body treatments.

Steenbergs organic rose water is however manufactured solely as a food product and is made from the simple water extraction of Persian Damask Rose blossom.  It reminds Axel of his favourite rose – Rose de Rescht – and its heavenly perfume.

Victoria, of Bois de Jasmin blog, in her post 10 ways to use rose water, suggests indulging in the ultimate of luxury with rose water scented bed sheets.  As much as we love that idea, here we’re going to stick to the foodie benefits of rose water.  We recommend trying it in all sorts of sweet dishes, from custards and creams to fruit salads.  Why not be adventurous too and try it splashed onto savoury salads or a dash in your drink?  Here are 5 recipes you might not have tried…

1. SELF SUFFICIENT CAFE’S ROSE WATER SPARKLE

sparkler1 - self sufficient cafeEarlier this year we sent Jasmine some samples to try out, one of which was our fragrant rose water.  We love this Rose Water Sparkle recipe – lovely and refreshing for the summer.

Ingredients – Serves 1 to 2 people
1 Orange, freshly squeezed
1 Tsp Rose water
½ Tsp Agave nectar
200ml Sparkling water

Method
Mix the first three ingredients together then slowly pour in the sparkling water. Give the sparkler a little stir before pouring into glasses. Enjoy!

2. ROSE WATER SHORTBREAD

A tasty tea-time treat, these crumbly shortbreads, use dried rose petals as well as rose water.  Ideal with a cup of Steenbergs Rose and Bergamot Tea for the full rose experience!

Rosewater Shortbread resized

INGREDIENTS

250g butter

110g caster sugar

360g organic plain flour

1 tsp Steenbergs organic Rosewater

1-2 tsp Steenbergs Rose petals 

Steenbergs organic Fairtrade Rose Sugar for sprinkling

METHOD

Heat the oven to 190oC/375F/Gas 5

In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light in colour

Turn out on to a work surface, and roll until 1.5 cm thick.

Cut into fingers or different shapes, chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Bake for 10- 12 minutes until golden brown.

Transfer to wire cooling rack and sprinkle with rose sugar.

3. WARM PERSIAN SWEET POTATO & SPINACH SALAD

Steenbergs Sweet Potato & Spinach salad with Rose WaterCreated to go sit alongside a delicious Orange, carrot & pine nut salad with orange blossom and our tasty Dukkah-encrusted lamb cutlets for a Persian feast, this salad would make a moreish lunch on its own.

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato sliced into rings

2 tins of cannellini beans drained

1 red chilli, de seeded and chopped finely (or use crushed chilli – but sparingly)

1 red pepper finely sliced

1 red onion finely sliced

10/12 mixed cherry tomatoes

1 bag of washed baby spinach

100g baby rocket leaves

salad cress to garnish

200g feta cheese crumbed into small chunks

Steenbergs black pepper to taste

Dressing: 2- 3 tspn Steenbergs Organic Rose water

75 ml organic extra virgin olive oil

2 tspn organic runny honey

Pinch Steenbergs organic perfect salt 

Method
Fry the sweet potato rings gently in a little oil and Steenbergs perfect salt until soft, set aside and keep warm.
Mix the Steenbergs Organic Rose water with the honey and perfect salt and whisk in the olive oil slowly.
Mix salad ingredients together and dress with the Rose water dressing
Serve immediately.

4. DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE WITH ROSE WATER CREAM

Double chocolate cake & vanilla rose creamA wonderful indulgent tea-time cake or dessert, filled with rose water laced cream and sprinkled with rose petals and chocolate shavings.  Definitely in the ‘naughty but very nice’ category!

 Cake Ingredients

225g plain flour
300g caster sugar
50g Steenbergs Fairtrade organic Rose sugar
85g Steenbergs Fairtrade organic Cocoa powder
1½ tsp Steenbergs baking powder
1½ tsp Steenbergs bicarbonate of soda
2 free-range eggs
250ml milk
125ml vegetable oil
1/2 tsp Steenbergs Fairtrade organic vanilla paste
250ml/9fl oz boiling water

Icing Ingredients
200g plain fair trade chocolate
400ml double cream
1/2 tsp Steenbergs organic vanilla paste
3 tsp icing sugar
½ cap of Steenbergs organic Rose water

To decorate
Steenbergs Rose petals
Steenbergs Fairtrade organic chocolate drops
Steenbergs Cocoa nibs
Fairtrade white chocolate

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm/8in sandwich tins.

For the cake, place all of the cake ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large mixing bowl. Using a wooden spoon, or electric whisk, beat the mixture until smooth and well combined. Add the boiling water to the mixture, a little at a time, until smooth.

Divide the cake batter between the sandwich tins and bake for 25-35 minutes, or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.  Remove the cakes from the oven and stand for 30 mins, before transferring to a wire rack for 10 mins before attempting to ice them.

For the chocolate icing, melt the chocolate and 200mls of cream together in a saucepan over a low heat. Take the pan off the heat and stir vigorously until smooth, allow to cool.  With the remaining 200ml of double cream, add another 1/2 tsp Steenbergs vanilla paste, a pinch of rose petals and a small dash of Steenbergs Rose water and whisk until soft peaks appear.

5. GEORGE’S FAVOURITE CUP CAKES

jpgBring a summer, garden flavour to your cup cakes and enjoy decorating with rose petals or indulge in the chocolate and rainbow strands cake toppings!

Ingredients

6 oz self-raising flour, sieved

6 oz fairtrade granulated sugar

6 oz soft marg

3 eggs

1 tspn Steenbergs baking powder

1 tspn Steenbergs vanilla extract (optional)

cake cases

For the icing

3 oz butter or marg, softened

6 oz icing sugar (sieved)

1 tbs milk

1 tbsn Steenbergs rose water

Method

Preheat oven to 180oC. Line 12 muffin or Yorkshire Pudding tins with cake cases.

Mix butter, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs in a food processor for 2 -3 minutes.

Add the vanilla extract and mix.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases. Bake for 20 minutes or until evely golden and springy to the touch of a finger.

Leave for 5 minutes then move to a wire rack to cool.

To make the icing, mix the butter and icing sugar together with the rose water and milk. Add icing sugar to obtain the desired consistency – for spreading or piping.

When the cup cakes are cook, add the icing and then whatever decoration takes your fancy!

Pretty Little Rich Cake

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

It was Sophie’s birthday the other day.  We went out en famille for a Chinese meal at Sweet Basil in Kirk Hammerton.  Sophie wanted a strawberry cake, so I felt like trying something a bit old-fashioned.  Before Bird and Dr Oetker independently came up with the idea of baking powder to put the fluff into your cakes through a bit of basic chemistry, cakes were made with more eggs and the air was physically put in through some hard grafted whisking.  Cakes were generally less light, but had a lot more body to them.  I also think that these old-fashioned cakes tend to soften over time rather than dry out as much as more modern cakes.

This little cake looks pretty, dressed in fluffy white cream and gorgeous pink strawberries, and is full of that extra rich taste from a profusion of eggs.  I like it much more than your typical sandwich type cake, and it is not much more complicated to make.

Strawberries & Cream Vanilla Cake

Ingredients

125g / 4½ oz / 1 cup organic plain flour
125g / 4½ oz / ½ cup organic caster sugar
4 medium free range eggs, at room temperature
1tsp organic Fairtrade vanilla extract
75g / 2¾ oz / ⅓ cups / ⅔ sticks butter, melted then cooled a bit
2tbsp strawberry jam/conserve
4-6 decent sized strawberries, quartered
125ml / ½ cup whipping cream
½-1tbsp vanilla sugar

How to make

Start by preparing two 20cm/9 inch round cake tins: lightly grease the tins, then line with base with some baking paper.

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F.

Sieve the plain flour then set it aside.

Add the caster sugar, eggs and vanilla extract into a heatproof bowl.  Boil a kettle of water and put into a pan, then reheat it until simmering.  Put the heatproof bowl with egg-sugar mix over the simmering water, using a hand-held electric whisk at the highest level for 5 minutes.  This will increase the volume to around three times the initial level and the colour to a creamy yellow colour.

Scoop about one-third of the sieved plain flour over the egg-sugar mixture, then using a big metal spoon fold the flour into the mixture.  Repeat for the remaining two thirds of plain flour.  Next drizzle the cooled liquid butter into the mix in thirds again, folding in carefully each time.  The key is do the minimal of folding to keep the air in the egg-sugar mixture as much as possible.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and then bake for 25 minutes.  Leave in the tins for a few minutes before turning out the baked tin, and allow it to cool down fully.

This cake is delicious on its own, but I wanted to make it into something a bit fancier for Sophie:

  • Firstly, I spooned some strawberry jam onto one of the cakes – not too much, but enough to stick the two cakes together.  Then I put the two cakes together.
  • Secondly, I whipped some cream with the vanilla sugar – pour the cream into a mixing bowl, then whisk until getting harder, when you should sprinkle over the caster sugar; whisk some more until the cream makes soft peaks.  Scoop and smooth over the top of the cake, then arrange the chopped strawberries in the whipped cream.
Strawberry & Cream Cake

Strawberry & Cream Cake

Enjoy on its own, or with a delicious cup of Earl Grey tea or First Flush Darjeeling.

Perfecting A Carrot Cake Recipe

Thursday, October 14th, 2010
A Slice Of Carrot Cake

A Slice Of Carrot Cake

Jay kept on calling my “gingerbread” “carrot cake” over the last few weeks, so I took the hint and started trying to perfect a carrot cake recipe. 

The first few attempts did not go down with the kids as firstly they contained walnuts (“I always have hated walnuts” was the response, but in our household it is more of a case that if I can see it then I cannot/must not like it) and then I found them a bit too dry.  So walnuts removed and buttermilk added, I have come up with a carrot cake recipe that passes muster – moist and tasty.  You can always add the walnuts back in again should you so wish; I would suggest 115g / 4oz / 1 cup of chopped walnuts.

The kids got to the icing and topped it with a vast amount of sprinkles which they loved eating as much as the cake itself.  Overall, it is not a bad way to claim you have eaten one of your 5 -a-day.

For the cake:

175g / 6oz / ¾ cup unsalted butter
175g / 6oz / ¾ cup light muscovado sugar
3 egg yolks at room temperature and gently whisked
3 egg whites at room temperature
30ml / 2 tbsp sunflower oil or buttermilk 
175g / 6oz / 1½ cups organic self-raising flour
5ml /1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp sea salt, finely ground
¾ tsp organic cinnamon powder
½ tsp organic ground nutmeg
50g / 2oz / ½ cup ground almonds
225g / 8 oz / 1½ cups freshly grated carrot

For the icing:

175g / 6oz / ¾ cup mascarpone cheese, or cream cheese
40g / 1½oz / 3tbsp icing sugar
1tbsp lemon juice
Walnuts or sprinkles to decorate

Set the oven to 160C / 325F.  Line a large loaf tin with baking parchment (dimensions: 12 x 19cm; 4½ x 7½ inches).

Sieve the self-raising flour, salt, cinnamon powder, nutmeg powder and baking powder together into a large mixing bowl.  Separate the egg yolks and whites; mix the egg yolks together gently with a fork or a whisk and set the egg whites aside. 

Cut the butter into small pieces and put into a mixing bowl, then add in the soft brown sugar.  Cream together the butter and soft brown sugar.  Add the egg yolks and the buttermilk or oil and whisk until thoroughly mixed in.

Put Butter And Sugar In Mixing Bowl

Put Butter And Sugar In Mixing Bowl

Cream The Butter And Sugar

Cream The Butter And Sugar

Add the self-raising flour together with the other dry ingredients and the ground almonds; mix it all up with a silicone spatula or hand whisk. 

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add this and the grated carrots to the cake batter and fold in fully.

Add The Whipped Egg Whites And Stir In

Add The Whipped Egg Whites And Stir In

Scoop the carrot cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. 

Scoop The Carrot Cake Batter Into The Loaf Tin

Scoop The Carrot Cake Batter Into The Loaf Tin

Put into the centre of the warmed oven and bake for about 70 minutes.  As the hour comes up, start checking the carrot cake by gently pressing the top in the centre to feel whether it feels springy and spongy rather than liquidy; when done a skewer should come out without any dampness on it.

Leave to stand for 10 minutes, then turn out of loaf tin, remove the baking paper and allow to cool on a wire rack. 

Baked Carrot Cake, Cooled And Ready For Icing

Baked Carrot Cake, Cooled And Ready For Icing

When cool, it is time to start preparing the mascarpone ice cream.  To make the cream cheese icing, put all the icing ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix together thoroughly.  Spread this over the top of the carrot cake and decorate with sprinkles or walnuts or other nuts for that matter.

Spread The Mascarpone Icing Over The Carrot Cake

Spread The Mascarpone Icing Over The Carrot Cake

Decorate Your Carrot Cake

Decorate Your Carrot Cake

Enjoy with tea or a coffee, or indulge yourself and enjoy as is and without the excuse of a beverage.

Recipe For Yorkshire Fruit Tea Bread

Friday, September 17th, 2010

We have always loved teabreads here at home like those made by Elizabeth Bothams of Whitby, but I reckoned that some of those homely, comforting cakes could not be too difficult to make.  So this weekend I set out to make a traditional Fruit Teabread, plus I wanted to have an experiment with cooking with tea.  Quite a lot of the English traditional cakes call for fruit to be laced with alcohol and soaked for a time, but couldn’t this be replaced with soaking in tea?

What I ended out with is a cross between a teabread and a Yorkshire brack, a lighter brack than maybe traditional but richer than a teabread.

Yorkshire Brack

Yorkshire Teabread

Firstly, the practical error, I used a loaf tin that was too small for the mixture, and will need to add an extra 30% to the quantities for the loaf tin, or use a smaller loaf tin; I think I have two little loaf tins hidden somewhere in the cellar.  Secondly, you could perhaps increase the amount of pepper used, but not by much as little of that flavour seemed to come through.  Thirdly, the tea used in this case was a Christmas Chai that we hand blend at our Ripon factory and was hanging over in our cupboard from last year, as I felt that its extra spiciness would add a mysterious hint of the exotic to the background flavour, but I am not sure that it was tastable (if that’s a genuine word).  Finally, I boiled the fruit in the tea, whereas most recipes suggest that you soak the fruit overnight, which is fine, however I never real know what I want to bake until the day has arrived, so I needed to speed up the process.

Otherwise the taste and texture were great, and it lasted for about 30 minutes without a complaint from anyone who tried it.  In fact, most came back for more, so it cannot have been half bad.

How to make Fruit Tea Bread

115g / 4oz / 2/3 cup sultanas
75g / 3oz / ½ cup raisins
40g / 1½ oz / 3tbsp currants
200ml / 7 fl oz / 7/8 cup strong black tea (2tbsp in 6 cup pot; try a chai for subtle differences)
1 pinch of ground black pepper, or lemon pepper
115g / 4oz / ½ cup soft brown sugar
180g / 7oz / 1½ cups plain flour (I used Gilchesters strong white flour)
1½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp Fairtrade cinnamon powder
½ tsp Fairtrade nutmeg powder
1 large egg, at room temperature and lightly beaten
30g / 1oz unsalted butter, melted and cooled to touch warm

Preheat the oven to 180C/ 350F.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Place the dried fruit into a small saucepan, then add the strong tea, heat and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes until the fruit has plumped up.  Leave to cool in the pan.  When cool strain away any excess liquid, add the pinch of ground pepper, stir the fruit around and try and coat most of the fruit.  Stir in the sugar and leave to the side.

Fruit Boiled In Chai Tea

Fruit Boiled In Chai Tea

Sieve together the plain flour, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg powders.  Make a well in the centre of the flour, then add in the egg and stir thoroughly with a spatula.  Add the melted butter and stir until you have a soft dough.  Add the sugar coated fruits and throughly beat together with the silicone spatula.

Stirring Up The Fruit Bread Mix

Stirring Up The Fruit Bread Mix

Tea Bread Mixture In Loaf Tin

Tea Bread Mixture In Loaf Tin

Tip the fruit cake mixture into the prepared loaf tin.  Bake for 1 hour, remove from the oven then leave to stand in the tin for about 10 minutes, before turning out and leaving to cool on wire rack.  You do not need to leave this to cool down completely as it is lovely eaten warm.

Axel's Tea Bread Just Out Of The Oven

Axel's Tea Bread Just Out Of The Oven

Serve on its own or spread with butter.

Recipe For Luxury Chocolate Gateaux Or Pavé

Friday, September 3rd, 2010

This is another recipe that I have followed from Pierre Hermé’s inspirational cookbook “Chocolate“, which I have reinterpreted for a British audience.  The only tweak I have made to it was in the use of edible gold as a garnish on top of the chocolate ganache.

While a long drawn out process to make, this is a real cake that you might expect from a top restaurant or bakery in Paris, so make it for an indulgent occasion rather than expecting to rush this one out day-in-day-out.  It is a truly rich and luxurious cake that should be savoured with a calm cup of tea or a rich coffee; it’s not finger food mind you, but needs a cake fork or a spoon to savour the flavour.

Stage 1 – baking the cocoa cake

40g 1(½ oz /1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) organic cocoa powder
35g (1¼ oz / ¼ cup) organic plain flour
3½ tbsp organic potato starch
75g (5½ tbsp / 2¾ oz) unsalted butter
9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
150g  (5¼oz / 1¼ cups) organic Fairtrade caster sugar
5 large egg whites, at room temperature

1.  Preheat the oven to 180oC (350oF).  Butter two 18 x 9 cm (7½ inch x 3½ inch) loaf tins and line with baking paper.

2.  Sieve together the organic cocoa powder, plain flour and potato starch into a mixing bowl and set aside.  Melt the butter and set aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

Sieving Together Cocoa, Flour And Potato Starch

3.  Using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment or in a food processor, beat the egg yolks plus 75g (2½ oz) of the caster sugar on a medium speed.  Scrape down the sides as you go along, and the mix should be thick and pale after about 5 minutes.  Scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl, wash and dry the mixer.

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

Mixing The Egg Yolks And Sugar

4.  In a new or cleaned bowl, whisk and whip the egg whites at a medium speed until they form soft peaks.  Gradually add the remaining sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

Whipping Up The Egg Whites

5.  Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sieved dry ingredients and a quarter of the beaten egg whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir a few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled and melted butter, stirring to incorporate as much as possible, then add the butter and the remaining whites to the yolk mix. Working quickly and yet gently, fold everything together.

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

Mixing In The Whipped Egg Whites

6.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf tins, then bake for 25 to 30 minutes.  They are done when a slender knife or skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

7.  Leave the cakes to cool in the loaf tins for about 3 minutes, then gently remove them from the tins, remove the parchment paper and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Two Chocolate Cakes

Two Chocolate Cakes

8.  You can wrap these in airtight plastic and store frozen for up to a month.  This is what I did, making the cakes during the week and finishing them off at the weekend.

Stage 2 – creating the elements for the gateaux or pavé

The soaking syrup:
40g (¼ cup) organic granulated sugar
10g (2tsp) salted butter
100g (6tbsp) warm water

Put the sugar in a saucepan and over a medium heat, melt the sugar.  When it starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon.  Keep heating and stirring the sugar until it turns a rich brown.  Then standing away from the pan, drop the butter into the pan, then as it melts, stir it into the caramelised sugar.  Stand back again and add the water.  When the mixture comes to the boil, pull the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Caramel Syrup

Caramel Syrup

The apricots:
170g (6oz) organic unsulphured apricots
250g (1 cup) water
Juice of ½ lemon
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the apricots and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a gentle boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Drain and let apricots cool.  When cooled down, chop the plumped up apricots into a small dice.  Toss the apricots with the lemon juice and black pepper and set aside until needed.

The Apricots

The Apricots

The ganache:
185g (6½ oz) dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
120g (4½ oz) milk chocolate, chopped or broken into pieces
140g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
20g (¾oz) salted butter
275 grams (1 cup plus 2 tbsp) double cream (or heavy cream in USA)
335g (12oz) unsalted butter

1.  Mix the two types of chocolate together in a heatproof bowl.

2.  Put a heavy bottomed saucepan over a medium heat and sprinkle a third of the sugar over the bottom of the pan.  As soon as the sugar starts to melt, stir it with a wooden spoon until it melts and caramelises.  Sprinkle over half the remaining sugar and, as soon as it starts to melt, stir it into the caramelised sugar in the pan.  Repeat with the last bit of sugar and cook until it all has a nice deep brown colour.  Stand away from the pan and, still stirring, add salted butter and then, when the butter is incorporated, add the cream.  The caramel might seize up but do not worry as the stirring and heating will even it out.  Bring the cream to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat straight away.

3.  Pour half of the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate and using a rubber spatula, stir gently to melt the chocolate through.  When the chocolate is melted, add the remaining caramel and stir through.  Set the ganache aside to cool for about 10 minutes.

4.  While the ganache is cooling, beat the unsalted butter until it has the soft consitency of mayonnaise, using a spatula or mixer.  Then with a rubber spatula or whisk, gently stir the butter into the cooled ganache.  You will need to cool it down further so put it into the fridge, checking it regularly, until it reaches a soft butter consitency.

Stage 3 – building the pavé

1.  Get one of the cakes made in the first stage.  Working with a sharp serrated knife, cut each cake loaf into three even layers, removing any doming on the top and slice any uneven bits of the edges. Place the bottom layer onto a cake plate.

2.  Using a pastry brush, moisten the bottom layer with the caramel syrup (remember that the syrup needs to be used for each layer so do not overdo it at this stage).  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top, then dot some of the apricots over the ganche and press them in (once again remember these will be used in each layer).  Place another cake layer on top of this and press down firmly.  Repeat the assembling of the filling and place the final layer on top of that.  Moisten the top layer with caramel syrup.  Check the shape of the cake and move it around to straighten if necessary.  Spread a thin layer of ganache over the top and sides of the cake and put into the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

Building The Layers Of The Pavé

3.  Remove the cake from the fridge and spread another thin layer of ganache all over the cake.  Try and get the top as smooth as possible, then you could use a fork to striate the sides.

4.  Sprinkle some edible gold over the top of the cake.

Chocolate Pavé

Chocolate Pavé

5.  Repeat the process for the other cake or do it at the same time.  We actually wrapped the second cake tightly in film, froze it, then ate it a couple of weeks later and it was still delicious.

Recipe For Almond Cake

Saturday, August 7th, 2010

This recipe began with a blog post from David Lebovitz, who wrote that his desert island food would be Almond Cake.  So with great anticipation, I tried his recipe several weeks back, but while Sophie and I loved the marzipan-almond luxury and the old style moist, fulsome texture, we both found the taste overpoweringly sweet; I do tend towards the puritan rather than one for luxury.  I checked the recipe, which I had got correct, so decided massively to reduce the sugar content from 415.75g to 262.5g (14.7oz to 9¼ oz), which still gives a balanced and sweet cake.

The glory of this cake rests with the use of almond paste or pre-made marzipan, which is then supplemented by adding extra almond extract and vanilla extract to bolster the volatiles in the flavour profile.  You need to use a shop-bought marzipan as the texture is much finer than a home-made version. 

It is also one of those cakes which matures with age, becoming moister and the aromas maturing nicely, rather than being one of those cakes that become dry and crumbly. 

It would be fabulous eaten with a cooked seasonal berries, or with a little amaretto drizzled onto it for a boozy alternative.  There’s a creamier alternative Almond Cake recipe at Chocolate & Zucchini that adds yoghurt or sour cream for further luxury.

(Recipe adapted from David Lebovitz)

Ingredients For Almond Cake

Ingredients For Almond Cake

Ingredients

150g / 5¼ oz Fairtrade caster sugar
150g / 5¼ oz marzipan (I used Crazy Jack Organic Marzipan)
75g / 2½ oz organic ground almonds
140g / 5 oz organic plain flour
225g / 8oz unsalted butter, at room temperature and chopped into cubes
1½ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
1 tsp natural vanilla extract (naturally, I used Steenbergs organic Fairtrade vanilla extract)
1 tsp natural almond extract (once again, I used Steenbergs natural almond extract)
6 large eggs, at room temperature and whisked gently

Preheat the oven to 160C/325F.  Take a 23cm cake tin and lightly oil the tin, removing any excess oil then line the base with baking paper.

Sieve together the baking powder, plain flour and sea salt in a mixing bowl.

Separately, put the caster sugar, marzipan, ground almonds and a tablespoon of the plain flour into a food processor.  Grind the mixture until the almond has become finer and the marzipan is broken up further, so that it is all a fine breadcrumb texture.

Add the unsalted butter, pure vanilla extract and natural almond extract and process until fluffy.

Pouring Eggs Into Batter For Almond Cake

Pouring Eggs Into Batter For Almond Cake

Add the blended eggs in stages – firstly add about a quarter and blitz until blended in then add a tablespoon of plain flour and mix, then add the next quarter, blend and add next tablespoon of plain  flour and so on.  Add the remaining plain flour and pulse a couple of times until it has just mixed together.

Pour the batter into the cake tin, scraping it all in.  Put cake mix into the oven and bake for 65 minutes or until the cake is brown on the top and set in the middle.

Almond Cake

Almond Cake

When you remove it, run a sharp knife around the edge of the cake, then leave to rest and cool completely in the tin.  Then remove the cake from the cake tin, take off the baking parchment on the base and dust with icing sugar, should you so wish.

A Slice Of Home Made Almond Cake

A Slice Of Home Made Almond Cake

The Healing Powers of Home Baked Cakes

Monday, June 29th, 2009

I (Sophie)  was recently convalescing at home and by about the second week (apart from getting frustrated about not being out and about and having very little voice) I was very privileged to receive three delicious home made cakes.

The first was a delicious rich chocolate cake.

The second a dark chocolate pavlova  from Forever Summer by Nigella. This was incredibly light and delicious and just disappeared in seconds – although I had to fight my seven year old for the end – apparently convalesence is no argument for getting the last piece!.

The third was the delicious carrot cake – already mentioned in our recipe section, under Sally’s carrot cake – this one was made with angelica rather than orange but the effect was wonderful and generally improved family health.

Flowers are fantastic and those received were certainly much appreciated but the unexpected delights of a home made cake cannot be surpassed – just a little slice here and there I’m sure did wonders for my speedy recovery!  Many many thanks to the cook, Sally – I have to say there was absolutely nothing left over. 

(Whilst I was contacting my friend Sally for the recipe information for the blog – she admitted that the feel good thing wasn’t just one way – “the whole thing about making and giving someone a cake has a real feel good factor too”.)

So if you know of anyone not feeling 100% – it’s worth thinking about…

Afterthought:

I’ve just read Rose Prince’s article in the Telegraph Magazine (Saturday 27 June 2009) where she’s talking about Picnic Perfect – her comment on home made cakes? “remember that a homemade cake is a love letter to everyone”.