Tag Archives: recipes

Moist Almond Cake.

Almond-Cake-(5255)

This recipe goes quite a few months back. I had an unusual number of lemons lying around doing nothing. This is not the norm in this house. As any good Mediterranean foodie I really really love lemons…in anything, not just in baking. That makes it perfect for use all year round.

Now how about this: the following recipe has almost nothing to do with lemons, so why am I rambling on about them you ask? It’s because the *original* recipe used the zest and juice of two lemons, but being such a klutz in the kitchen I zested my lemons, juiced them, placed the zest and juice into two small ramekins ready to go into the batter…yes…and of course I forgot about them!  I tipped the batter into the cake tin, into the oven it went and by the time I went about doing other things like checking any mail and cleaning the kitchen in between prepping other dishes, it was too late to add the lemons. This is definitely not the first time something like this happened, but nonetheless I was still angry with myself. I thought that the cake would lose out too much on flavour and maybe it would have lost some of the moistness. I am happy to say that I couldn’t have been more wrong. One has to admit one’s mistakes! The cake was good and moist. Thinking back, how couldn’t it not be?

This recipe is taken from How to Be a Domestic Goddess. Nigella says: “It is a plain cake, but gloriously plain.” It’s not meant to be a warning – this cake is meant to be made and enjoyed like all the simple things in life. It’s a cake for all seasons with or without the lemons. J preferred it without because he loves almonds. I think that it’s great either way. One thing I love here is the minimal amount of flour used; there are only 50g. The ground almonds take care of the rest. Here’s the recipe without the lemony element. I will make a note for those who would like them to be included as I go along. Here it is then!

  • 225g unsalted butter, softened or slightly melted
  • 225g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 50g plain flour
  • 225g ground almonds
  • ½ teaspoon almond essence (I used ¼ teaspoon almond extract instead)
  • zest and juice of 2 lemons if using*
  • a piece of kitchen foil big enough to cover the top of the cake**
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and line or grease a 23cm springform tin. (I tried this cake twice also using a normal round cake tin. Make sure you *really* grease the tin well. But be careful; this cake is damp and very fragile.)
  2. In a large bowl beat the sugar and butter together till you have a white mixture. Be patient – it *will* turn white. Beat in the eggs one by one and also add the flour, one quarter of it at a time. (Beating the eggs properly ensures some rise in the cake as there is no raising agent here.)
  3. Now add the ground almonds, the almond essence, and if you like tip in the zest and juice from the two lemons at this point.* Stir very very gently. This is important to keep the air in the batter.
  4. Tip the mixture into your prepared cake tin and bake for around an hour. This is only a rough estimate (as you can see in the book). Mine took 55 minutes exactly in both cases. So always keep an eye on it. After around 25 minutes cover the top of the cake with some kitchen foil to avoid burning.** You want it to turn a nice golden colour. Any more than that and it could burn. When the cake is done the skewer should come out clean. Don’t worry if there is a little gooeyness stuck to the knife or skewer. It’s ok if there’s just a little!
  5. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in the tin for a little while. Then turn it on to a wire rack and let it cool completely. What I did at this point, and this is totally up to you, is to melt around 100g of dark chocolate with a knob of butter on a small pot of steaming water. Drizzle this over the cake. It’s an unfussy way of putting a little decoration. I don’t bother with anything else at this point – it will be gobbled up anyway! Nigella has some great tips on how to serve this cake too: either with some lemon ice cream or with raspberries or both! Enjoy and tell me what you think if you try it.

Enjoy!

Rob x

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Simple Chocolate Muffins for Mothering Sunday.

Chocolate-Muffins-(5252)

It’s Mothering Sunday this month in the UK. I get so confused: in Malta it’s in May. The first year we moved here I sent my cards really early and our mums were so surprised. I have a reputation of sending greeting cards a month before someone’s birthday, but this broke all records! Lately people have been messaging me saying that I have not been writing about sweet things for the past few posts. That’s very true, reason being that I have not been baking much this past month or so. I will rectify this now, although the following recipe goes back quite a while.

These are difficult times for almost everyone, so instead of spending all your precious pennies I’m sure that a little bit of baking would go a long way instead. How about some cute fairy cakes with pink icing and loads of sprinkles for the special lady, maybe wrapped up in a pink box? Or perhaps the following chocolate lovelies…They are so simple to make. One thing to pay attention to has to do with convection oven. These tend to be too powerful for baking small cakes, so preheat the oven 10 to 20 degrees C lower. If you have a fan oven then preheat it to 160ºC here. This recipe is for 12 muffins and takes about 35 minutes or so. Happy Baking!

  • 150g unsalted butter, softened
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 175g self-raising flour
  • 25g good quality cocoa powder
  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (for convection ovens see my note above). Line or grease a muffin tin for 12 cakes.
  2. In a large bowl mix in the butter, golden caster sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Place a sieve over the same bowl and in it tip the flour and cocoa powder. Sift the two ingredients into the liquids.
  3. Using a whisk beat everything together well but not too much. Some lumps in the mixture is fine. It will turn out better!
  4. Divide the mixture in the tins and bake for 15 minutes, or till a knife comes out clean. Keep an eye on them as they can burn easily!
  5. Take them out of the tins after 5 minutes on a wire rack and let them cool.

If you want to make some buttercream to make them tastier, try mixing 150g unsalted butter, 300g icing sugar and 2 tablespoons milk in a bowl. Make sure you spread this on the muffins after they are completely cool, otherwise the buttercream will simply melt. Not nice. Happy Mothering Sunday to all you lovely mums!

Rob x

Interesting stuff…

I won’t post a recipe today but I thought that my readers might like to take a look at this: They Draw & Cook. I’ve been meaning to mention it in one of my posts for a long time and today’s the perfect day. There are so many words to describe TDAC – fun, colourful and creative are only a few. What’s fun about this is that it combines art with cooking, two of my favourite things and finding recipes in this format rather than simply flicking though a book is different and interesting. Not that I don’t love recipe books – I really really do, but sometimes change is good. It’s ideal for when it’s rainy and gloomy outside; it’s a great pick-me-up! You can also try some of their recipes and upload your photo, and throw in a review – why not? Featured right now is an illustration by Marjorie Mayes. So beautiful.

Ok. So at this point I signed off and was going to leave it at that. But I just had to come back and say it. Check this out: Richard III + the Guildford Shakespeare Company. Pure talent, plenty of passion and wonderful people. There are only a few days left till the final show, so go and support them if you can. I don’t know how to write about theatre so I’ll leave it at that but they are truly an inspirational bunch. A perfect recipe. If they are reading this I do have one question though: how on earth did you get that blood flowing effect on the steps in front of the throne during the dream sequence? They were perfectly clean after that! It was quite something!

Rob x