Tag Archives: almond

Depressed Cake Shop

Depressed Cake Shop poster

I have been asked to bake a cake for Shrewsbury’s Depressed Cake Shop on Tuesday 10th October at Shrewsbury Museum and Art Gallery in partnership with the charity Shropshire Mind.  The Depressed Cake Shop is a chance for the community to come together and consider and discuss issues around depression.

All the cakes will contain an element of grey to symbolise the grey cloud that can hang over someone struggling with depression.

I have trialled my cake today to make sure I have the recipe spot on before baking it again for next week’s event.  I have chosen to make a chocolate orange cake based on Claudia Roden’s orange and almond cake, but with the added boost of chocolate. Nigella has a similar recipe but I have reduced the sugar by 50g and upped the treacly flavour of the sugar by using light soft brown rather than caster sugar.

Chocolate and orange cake

If you are in or near Shrewsbury next Tuesday then please pop into the museum between 11am and 2pm to support this very good cause.

Chocolate, orange and almond cake

2 oranges
200g light soft brown sugar
6 eggs
200g ground almonds
50g cocoa powder

Method
Place the oranges in a pan and cover with cold water.  Bring to the boil and simmer for 1½ hours until the oranges are soft. Drain and allow to cool. Cut the oranges in half and remove any pips. Place in a food processor and pulse until pureed. You can do this in a food mill or chop finely and push through a sieve if you don’t have a food processor.

Preheat your oven to 180°c or gas mark 4 or use the baking oven of the four oven Aga (or the roasting oven of the two oven Aga using a cake baker or cold shelf).

Break the eggs into a large bowl and beat until combined. Add all the other ingredients and stir well until the mixture is smooth. Pour the mixture into an 18cm cake tin lined with baking parchment.  Place in the centre of the oven and bake for 40-50 minutes until springy to the touch.  Cool on a wire rack in the tin for ten minutes and then remove from the tin and allow to cool completely.

I have decorated my cake with a grey cloud made out of fondant icing coloured grey and piped with a darker grey icing made with icing sugar, food colouring and a few drops of water.

Chocolate and orange cake slice

UPDATE (9/10/17): A lovely person called Chantal emailed me to remind me that we aren’t supposed to make cakes with nuts in, in case of allergy. I really should read things properly!  So, instead I have made rice crispie cakes, because who doesn’t love a crispie cake? They are always the first to sell on any cake stall. I hope they sell well tomorrow.

 

Cardamom and almond steamed pudding

cardamom and almond steamed pudding

 

A steamed pudding rounds off a sunday roast better than most puddings I find. My girls both love a syrup sponge. Yesterday I thought I would fancy it up a bit. The addition of freshly ground cardamom adds a delicious scent and the crunch of lightly toasted almonds adds bite to the squidgy, teeth-achingly sweet syrupy sponge. I did make a mistake though. I didn’t make custard to go with it. Last time I made custard after sunday lunch I curdled the eggs trying to cook it too quickly. It’s easier to get a pot of cream out of the fridge. But this pudding deserves custard and I shouldn’t have shied away from it. I won’t next time.

This recipe is inspired by one in Hilaire Walden’s Glorious Puddings, and the title of this book says it all. I have made a few changes to make it my own.

50g flaked almonds
2 tbsp golden syrup
175g softened butter
175g caster sugar
4 green cardamom pods, seeds removed and bashed to a powder
3 eggs
100g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds

Method
Place the flaked almonds in a dry pan and place over a medium heat until they are lightly toasted. Pour onto a plate and set aside until you are ready to serve the pudding.

Grease a 1½ pint capacity heatproof bowl with a little butter. Take a teaspoon of ground almonds and tip into the bowl and swirl around until it gives a light coating all over. Tip out any excess. Spoon the golden syrup into the bottom of the bowl and set aside.

Fill a large saucepan half-full with water and place a small plate or trivet at the bottom. Bring to the boil.

Beat the butter, sugar and ground cardamom together until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs  one at a time and beat well between additions. Fold in the flour and the ground almonds until well combined. Spoon carefully into the bowl over the syrup. Level the top carefully. Cover with a pleated piece of greaseproof paper and tie with string. Place carefully into the pan of boiling water and cover with a tight-fitting lid. This needs to steam for 45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. I place the pan into the simmering oven of my Aga once it is boiling. I tend to leave it longer than 45 minutes. Yesterday it sat in the pan in the simmering oven for about two hours while I made and ate dinner with no harm coming to it.

Carefully remove the paper, remembering that steam will rush out, place a deep serving dish on top of the bowl and carefully turn it over. The pudding should just slip out, sometimes making a satisfying sucking noise as it does so.  Sprinkle the almonds over the top and serve with custard.

Almond Macaroons

These are my favourite type of macaroons, wonderfully old fashioned in comparison to the fancy ones available now.  They are so easy to make and deliciously almondy with just the right amount of chewiness.

They are perfect for using up any egg whites you may have lurking in the fridge. If you have a food processor then it takes just a few minutes, and even if you haven’t it is not much more work.

They are best made on rice paper but my girls like rice paper so much they eat it before I have chance to use it.    If you don’t have rice paper then a silicone lining sheet works really well, but they also don’t stick too much to a non-stick tray as long as you lift them within a minute or two of them coming out of the oven, but be warned they are very fragile at that point.

The only problem with these is that they are completely irresistible and no good for the New Year diet.

Makes 15-18 biscuits

200g ground almonds
200g granulated sugar
40g icing sugar
3 egg whites
flaked almonds

Method

Preheat the oven to 180ºc, gas mark  4.

If you have a food processor place the almonds, sugar and icing sugar in the bowl of the processor and whizz for a few seconds.  Add the egg whites and whizz until combined.

If you don’t have a food processor them place all of the ingredients into a large bowl and beat with a wooden spoon or an electric whisk until well combined.

Line a tray with silicone paper or rice paper and place dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto the tray.  Place a flaked almond on top of each one.

Place in the preheated oven or on the middle shelf of the baking oven of the Aga for 12-15 minutes until lightly browned all over.  Leave to cool on the tray for a few minutes and then place onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate almond cookies

My four year old and I have just made these.  A very good friday afternoon treat.  They are chewy and distinctly almondy and definitely chocolatey.  I think next time I make them I might add a few drops of almond extract instead of the vanilla extract to really draw out the almond taste.

Makes about 10-12, depending on how generous you are with the spoonfuls.

125g butter
50g muscovado sugar
50g caster sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
50g wholemeal spelt flour
80g ground almonds
20g cocoa
½ tsp baking powder

40g good quality chocolate, melted, to drizzle over the top

Method

Melt the butter in a small pan.  Place the sugars in a bowl.  Pour the melted butter over the sugars and mix well. Add the egg and the vanilla extract and mix again.  Tip in the flour, almonds, cocoa and baking powder and mix again.  It will be quite sloppy.  Place spoonfuls onto greased baking sheets.  These cookies spread a lot so leave plenty of space between them.  Bake in a preheated oven at 180°c, gas mark 4 for 8-10 minutes.  Leave on the tin for a few minutes to harden and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.  Drizzle with the melted chocolate.

Chocolate Nut Cake

The name for this cake could indeed have a double meaning.  I get asked if we can make a chocolate cake at least once a week, and it is very often more regular than that.  Well, the request was sounded at about 6.30 am on Sunday morning, something along the lines of  ‘Can we make a chocolate cake that we can ice and decorate’.  The request was, of course, answered with a bleary ‘Later, maybe’.  Well, I am afraid my children are determined little creatures and so after a trip to the garden centre and before making sunday lunch for my parents and our neighbours, this chocolate cake was made and iced.  It was then decorated after dinner and before pudding – very extravagantly I have to say, and there was no time to take pictures, it needed to be eaten. Needless to say it involved a lot of sugared orange and lemon slices, hundreds and thousands and silver balls.

Here is a slice I finished off about mid-morning today.

The recipe is based on Rachel Allen’s Italian Hazelnut Cake in her Bake book (ISBN 13 978 0 00 725970 0), with the added chocolate and the addition of ground almonds as I didn’t have 200g of hazelnuts in the house. Then it was iced with a fudge frosting, which is not entirely necessary but does make a very good addition.

If you use gluten-free baking powder, then this makes a delicious gluten-free cake.

For the cake:

100g whole shelled hazelnuts
100g almonds (ground or whole, depending on what you have available or go for 200g of hazelnuts should they be available to hand)
50g good quality dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 tsp baking powder
100g softened butter
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Method

Butter and line the base and sides of a 20 cm springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 170°c (gas mark 3) or use the baking oven of a 3 or 4 oven Aga.

Whizz the hazelnuts, almonds, baking powder and chocolate in a food processor until they are fine crumbs.  Add the butter and pulse until just combined.

Beat the egg yolks and the sugar with an electric whisk until the mixture has a mousse-like texture. Add the nut and chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Whisk the egg whites in a very clean bowl until they are stiff.  Add one-third of the egg whites to the mixture and mix in well to loosen the mixture.  Add the rest of the egg whites in two batches, folding in very gently to retain as much air as possible.

Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 45-60 minutes.  I placed mine on the oven rack placed on the bottom rung of the baking oven of my Aga and it was cooked in 40 minutes, so do adjust according to your oven.  The cake is cooked when it is firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the middle.

Leave the cake in the tin for 15 minutes, then take the side off, leave for another 15 minutes and then remove the base and then leave to cool completely.

For the icing:

25g good quality dark chocolate
100g icing sugar
25g butter
1 ½ tbsp milk
½ tbsp vanilla extract

Method
Place all of the ingredients into a heavy based saucepan and heat gently until melted and stir well to combine.  Beat for a minute or two until cooled and spread onto the top of the cake.

Decorate, or not, to your heart’s desire.

Chunky chocolate biscuit

Quite a lot has been happening in this household lately and I felt in need of some serious comfort and restorative baking.  These biscuits are an adaptation of my chocolate, oat and almond cookies that I posted some time ago.  This time spelt flour comes into play and gives the biscuit a delicious crumb.

My eldest is now off from school for the summer and so we baked these together, the three of us, piled up at the worktop.  I was very happy indeed when she shouted “Yippee, this is fun, and I am not at school this time”.  A reference, I have no doubt, to the fact that since she started school she usually comes home to something that her younger sister and I have baked together,  but the three of us haven’t had much time in the kitchen together lately.

Making these biscuits went a little way to righting that wrong.

Makes about 12 large biscuits.

100g softened butter
100g soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g plain flour
50g spelt flour
50g ground almonds
25g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
100g good quality dark chocolate, chopped into chunks

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°c, gas mark 4, or use the baking oven of a three or four oven Aga.

Beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy and light.  Add the egg and the vanilla extract and beat well.  With a large metal spoon stir in the flours, baking powder, almonds and cocoa powder.

Place heaped dessertspoonfuls of the mixture onto lightly greased baking sheets and cook in the centre of the oven for 12-14 minutes.  Take out of the oven and leave to cool for a minute or two before lifting onto a wire tray.  They are delicious eaten still warm from the oven but they taste good the next day too, should you have any left.

Chocolate, oat and almond biscuits

choc oat cookie

These are really good substantial biscuits with big chunks of chocolate.  They are easy to make and quick to cook, so a batch can be made in half an hour.  I have invented this recipe to suit people who cannot tolerate flour in their diet, they do contain oats though so if these are a no-no too you could just up the amount of ground almonds that you use to 7 oz (200g) instead of the mixture of oats and almonds.  Doing this will mean that the cookies won’t have such a satisfying texture but I am sure they will be just as good.

I am always in search of the perfect chocolate biscuit recipe, some are just too sweet, but not these they are just lovely and chocolatey and crunchy.

Makes about 15 biscuits

4oz (110g) softened butter
40z (110g) dark soft brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
4oz (110g) ground almonds
3oz (75g) porridge oats
1 oz (25g) cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
4oz (110g) chopped chocolate (dark, milk or white or a mixture, whichever floats your boat)

Method
Preheat the oven to 180°c (gas mark 4, 350°f) and grease two baking sheets with a smear of butter.

Cream the softened butter and sugar together by beating either with an electric whisk or with a wooden spoon until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until well combined.  Add the ground almonds, porridge oats, cocoa and baking powder and mix well.  Add the chopped chocolate and stir until combined.

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture onto the greased baking sheets, leaving room between for the biscuits to spread.  Place the trays into the centre of the oven and bake for about 12-14 mins until the mixture looks set.  Leave the biscuits on the trays for 10 minutes and then place onto a cake rack and leave to cool.

Make a cup of tea, sit down and enjoy!

Get printable version