Sticky Almond Cake

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It is said that marzipan is a bit like Marmite in that you either love it or hate it.  I absolutely adore it and hence this cake, which comprises a thick layer of the stuff in the middle.  This is the reason for the “sticky” in the title.  Cakes made with ground almonds tend to be deliciously moist anyway, but the addition of marzipan takes it to a whole new level.  I made this cake for my book club last week and received compliments and requests for the recipe.  Even my husband, who normally doesn’t like marzipan, loved it.

This cake can also be seen as relief from the relentless EU referendum debate.  At last the day has finally arrived and all we can do is cast our votes and wait for the result.  In a conversation with a Twitter mate, the other day, we bemoaned how nasty conversations had become, with people who normally share similar political outlooks finding themselves on opposite sides.  She and I decided we’d change the subject and discuss recipes instead, and that is how I’ve come to be writing about this cake.  So, @soyoprincess, this is for you.

Sticky Almond Cake

Ingredients

  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 350g marzipan (white, preferably)

Method

  • Grease and base-line (with bake-o-glide or parchment) a 23cm springform cake tin
  • Place the butter, sugar, eggs, flour and ground almonds in a bowl and beat until thoroughly mixed.  I did this in my KitchenAid mixer but an electric hand whisk will also do the job
  • Roll out the marzipan to the size of your cake tin and using the tin as template, cut in a circle
  • Place half the mixture in the tin and top with the marzipan, then cover with the remaining mixture
  • Bake in the baking oven, or conventional at 180ºC.  Start to check it at 45 minutes and cover with foil or parchment if necessary.   It’s ready when it’s firm to touch.  Sorry to be vague but this can take an hour or as long as an hour and a quarter
  • Cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove to a rack
  • Dust with icing sugar before serving
  • This cake keeps for several days; in fact, it improves with age

 

 

 

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Orange and Poppy Seed Cake

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For some reason I haven’t done any baking for a while.  It might be because there have only been three of us to feed most of the time but that’s not usually sufficient reason.  If I don’t want a cake to go stale before we’ve finished it, I bake a small one or perhaps some cookies, scones, muffins or individual cakes like these rock cakes, so I can put some in the freezer.

My son and his fiancée have just moved into their first flat together.  They don’t own it of course – what young couple can afford a mortgage nowadays? – but they’re very happy and excited and it’s made me very happy on their behalf.  It’s also reminded me of what it was like when my husband and I started out.  They have very little so I’ve gone through some of my cupboards, digging out glasses, crockery and other items we no longer use and my husband found them a very nice pine table in our garage.  They only have one bedroom so they sensibly bought a sofa bed for the living room.  This has still not been delivered (a frustrating tale which my Twitter followers might be aware of) but it will arrive next week and their little home will be more or less complete.

Anyway, I digress.  Perhaps it was all the vicarious home-making activity that led me to bake a cake today.  I opted for a recipe for an orange and poppy seed cake in the Nordic Bakery Cookbook.  I don’t think I’d ever made a cake with poppy seeds before but at a café in Bristol recently, youngest son raved about the lemon and poppy seed cake so I thought he might be pleased to find something similar waiting for him on his return from school this afternoon.  I was right.  We both love the cake and have decided that simple Nordic cakes like this are our favourites: no icing or decoration of any kind; just wholesome and declicious.

Here’s the recipe, which I tweaked a little.  I don’t like an overpowering vanilla flavour (a legacy from being forced to eat lumpy custard at school in the cruel 1960s) so I used 2 teaspoons here instead of 3.  I also used the all-in-one method to mix the batter.  I find it works for most cakes, and is much quicker, obviously.

Ingredients

  • 300g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 eggs
  • 3 tsps baking powder
  • 300g plain flour
  • Grated zest of 1 1/2 oranges
  • Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • A 20cm/8inch springform cake tin, greased

Method

  • (Heat conventional oven to 180ºc)
  • Beat together the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and vanilla in a mixer (I used my KitchenAid) or using an electric hand whisk
  • When the mixture is light and fluffy, fold in the orange zest, juice and poppy seeds until well mixed
  • Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top with the back of the spoon
  • The cake is done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean
  • You may want to put a piece of greaseproof paper over the cake at some point.  I did this at 40 minutes because the top of the cake was looking rather dark
  • I baked this in the Aga baking oven for 65 minutes and it was perfect.  The original recipe recommends a bake of 50-60 minutes in a conventional oven

Wheat Intolerance and Spelt Flour

Now I’m as sceptical as the next person about the so-called food intolerances and allergies of the modern world, but there’s no doubt about it, many people report feeling unwell or at best uncomfortable if they eat foods containing wheat, and prefer to steer clear of them.  A friend staying recently is one such person.  She isn’t coeliac so gluten’s fine, but she has discovered over the years that she’s less likely to have stomach aches and feel generally unwell if she doesn’t eat bread, pasta and cakes.  Unless, that is, they are made using spelt flour.  Spelt is an ancient grain with a unique gluten structure which makes it easier to digest; at least, that’s what it says on my packet.  I made the orange and poppy seed cake when she came, but this time substituted spelt flour for plain flour.  And, guess what, it turned out the same!  Okay, so maybe it was just a tiny bit denser, but it’s possible that, being so determined to find something different about it, I completely imagined this.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake

When I substituted lemon for orange in the cake I was very pleased with the result.  It was a good way to use up some of the lemons left over from making my son’s birthday cake.  I added the juice of two lemons and the zest of one, which produced a subtle lemon flavour.  If you wanted a stronger flavour, you could add the zest of a further lemon.

 

Baking with Raspberries

 

I don’t see myself as much of a maker of puddings or desserts; I’m nervous about pastry and anyway, during the week there simply isn’t time to make a dessert.  In all honesty I’d rather bake a cake to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon and then just eat some chocolate to satisfy my sweet tooth at the end of a meal.  But, as I wrote here, I’m not eating chocolate anymore.

On Sundays, as I think I’ve mentioned before, my mother-in-law usually makes a pudding for us all.  I’ll make one if we have friends round or to take to friends if we’re invited to lunch or supper.  I’ll also make a dessert when it’s my turn to host book club or film club.

Raspberry and Cinnamon Torte

The raspberry and cinnamon torte I wrote about in my tumblr days is one of our favourites:

Bakewell Cake

This bakewell cake by Fay Ripley, which my Twitter friend @lesleyj28 alerted me to recently, could serve as a dessert or a teatime cake.  I pounced on the recipe because it contains everything that’s delicious and good about a bakewell tart (almonds, raspberry jam!) but no pastry.  I love pastry but (see above) don’t love making it.  Without the need to make pastry, this cake is mixed and baked in no time.  I used to watch Fay Ripley in Cold Feet on the telly (LOVED it) and had heard about her recipes but had not tried them before.  As I began to make this, I realised how similar it is to my torte.  It is a little more “cake-y” (two eggs instead of one), has jam in it and doesn’t contain cinnamon but apart from that it’s the same.  In fact, if I made it again, I’d probably replace the vanilla extract with cinnamon, but that’s just my personal preference.  Also – a small point – I didn’t have any flaked almonds in the cupboard so scattered over chopped almonds instead: a poor compromise on Fay’s recipe, we later all agreed.

Ingredients

  • 150g butter, softened
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 150g SR flour
  • 150g ground almonds
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 tsp raspberry jam
  • 150g raspberries (I used frozen because it was all I had)
  • 50g flaked almonds

Method

  • Grease a 22cm springform tin and base-line with bake-o-glide or baking parchment
  • In a mixer, food processor or with an electric hand whisk combine the butter, sugar, flour, almonds, eggs and vanilla extract (oh how I love the all-in-one method!)
  • Place half the mixture in the cake tin, smoothing it out, and dot the raspberry jam over, half a teaspoon at a time.  Scatter the raspberries over
  • Drop spoonfuls of the remaining mixture over the fruit but don’t worry if there are gaps; it will spread in the oven
  • Scatter over the flaked almonds
  • Bake for about 40 minutes in the Aga baking oven (or a little longer in a conventional oven at 180ºc).  Not easy to test this cake with a skewer because the raspberries make it a little wet in the middle.  It should be golden brown and springy to touch when done

Couldn’t be simpler.

 

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Raspberry Muffins

I love making raspberry muffins too, although I see them as more of a coffee or teatime thing than a dessert.  I also wrote about these on my tumblr: