Friday, 29 January 2016

Apricot and Almond Cake

This is more of a pudding than a cake, ie, one that you need to eat with a good scoop of ice cream and lashings of sauce.  It was the suggestion of one of my son's lovely friends, who wanted to try something with apricot and almonds.  So, Sian, here it is...  One thing you need to note - because the apricots are fresh, the cake doesn't last very long.  Not that it should be a problem!   As you can see, this became a little over-brown, which was because I wasn't watching it, and I should have put a piece of parchment on the top to prevent that from happening.   It is very easily made dairy-free by the use of a spread, and you could possibly make it gluten free by using a gluten free self-raising blend instead of the flour.

Apricot and Almond Cake 
Apricot and Almond Cake

6 fresh or tinned apricots
3 large fresh eggs
4.5oz/125g self raising flour
1.5oz/30g ground almonds
6oz/170g caster sugar
6oz/170g softened butter/buttery spread
1 ½  level tsps baking powder
1 ½ tsps cinnamon
1 ½ oz flaked almonds

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, grease and line a 9” cake tin with parchment, bottom and sides. 

Halve the apricots.  If you are using tinned ones, drain them and pat them dry with kitchen paper, otherwise they will make the cake sink.    In a food processor or Kenwood, blend the eggs, flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and cinnamon together and then beat for about one minute.   Tip the mixture into the tin, then press in the apricots, cut side up – I found I had half an apricot left over (cook’s perk!).  Lastly, sprinkle on the flaked almonds.     Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the sponge is cooked, protecting with parchment after about 15 minutes.  To test, put a (heated) knife or skewer into the middle, and it should come out clean. Peel off the parchment and either eat it almost straight away, or allow to cool on a wire rack. 

Serve hot for a pudding, with custard, ice cream or hot apricot jam that has been sieved with a little water added to thin down the mix.  For a cake, eat with a good dollop of whipped cream and maybe a little bit of jam on the side...

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Whisky Honey Seville Orange Marmalade

Have you ever made marmalade?  If not, why not?  It's really easy, all you need is time and a large pan....  Having said that, the recipe below needs a preserving pan, and if you don't have one, just halve the quantities and do it in your largest standard pan.   It's all about evaporation, and you just have to watch that the jam doesn't boil over the straight sides of a standard pan. The next most important thing is to harvest all the pips and white pith from the inside of the oranges, as it is that which makes the marmalade set.   Hang the pith/pip collection in a muslin bag (or if no muslin, some thin material) in the pan so that you can get the pectin into the finished marmalade.

There's a lot of snobbery about marmalade - the thickness of the cut, the darkness of the mix, blah blah blah.   I have tried it lots of different ways, and have to say that I prefer a light gel, with a good flavour, and not too many enormous chunks of fruit.  The addition of honey (my friend Jan's amazing suggestion) and whisky, adds a little extra to the classic Seville Orange marmalade.   I also put a large spoonful of chopped ginger in syrup into a couple of the jars, so there'll be a kick of ginger too.

This year's batch I put through the food processor's slicer, so the fruit is very finely shredded, and actually means I eat more of it, instead of picking off the chunks.   It's up to you - bear in mind that it will take longer to cook if you have larger pieces.  

Whisky Honey Seville Orange Marmalade
Whisky and Honey Marmalade

3lb/1.4 kg Seville oranges
Juice of 2 lemons
6 pints/3.4 litres of water
5 ½ lb/2.5kg sugar
½ jar of runny honey
¼ pint/150ml whisky
(If liked – teaspoons of chopped ginger in syrup)

Cut the oranges in half and squeeze out the juice and pips, plus any white pith (which comes away easily – I tend to scoop it straight out of the halved oranges).   Put the pips and pith into a muslin bag and hang it at the side of the pan.   Slice the oranges as thinly or thickly as you like.   Put the oranges, orange and lemon juice and water into the pan with the muslin and simmer for at least an hour and a half, probably two hours if the chunks are large, so that the peel is very soft, and the amount of liquid has reduced by almost half. 

Squeeze out the muslin bag to extract the last gooey pectin in the pith, then add the sugar and heat the mixture gently until the sugar has dissolved, then boil it for about 15 minutes or so until you have reached setting point (when a cooled dollop of the mixture on a cold plate wrinkles if you push your finger into it).    Take off the heat and add the honey and the whisky.  Stir it in. 

Leave the marmalade for 15 minutes and then stir it before potting it.  Pour the marmalade into clean, warmed pots (put the ginger in at this stage), and cover with waxed paper circles to prevent mould growth.   Top with solid lids, or cellophane pot covers. 

This makes about 10lb/4.5kg of beautiful golden marmalade.  

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Raspberry Friands

What is a friand?  I'm new to them too:  little Australian-inspired cakes of loveliness, made incredibly quickly using ground almonds and egg whites.   I was given this recipe by an Australian friend who makes them every Christmas Day for her family.   Friands are usually baked in oval-shaped moulds, which are pretty easy to acquire on the internet - suggest you get silicone ones as they are easiest to use.  Of course, you can make them in muffin tins.

Fiona's favourite recipe is by an Australian cook called William Granger.   It made some absolutely delicious little cakes, of a slightly more dense sponge than you would expect - maybe that was my fault! - but the combination of cooked raspberries and almonds took me straight back to my childhood....

What's even better about this recipe is that it uses up leftover egg whites - I've spent Christmas making custards and ice creams, so have a real glut of whites - this is just perfect!   It also makes really effective use of a small punnet of fresh raspberries which are a treat at this time of year.

The recipe below was in Australian cups, which is a volumetric measure.  To save you the trouble, I've weighed everything out and converted it to both oz and g.   I'm so nice to you!

Raspberry Friands
Raspberry Friands

3oz/85g ground almonds
4oz/110g sifted icing sugar
2 ½ oz/75g plain flour
4 egg whites
2½ oz/75g melted butter

1 punnet (200-250g) raspberries
Extra icing sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 180 deg C, and grease and flour a non-stick 12 hole friand tin (or 12 cup muffin tin)

Mix together the ground almonds, icing sugar and flour, then stir in the egg whites, followed by the melted butter.  This creates a batter. 

Put two raspberries into each tin, then pour the batter into the tins until they are about ¾ full.  Cut raspberries in half and put a few on each friend. 

Bake for 25 minutes until pale and golden (ovens vary – check them before this time!).  They should spring back when you touch them.

Remove the friands from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes in their tin.  Then tip them out of the tins onto a wire rack and leave to cool.  When cool, dust with icing sugar to serve.   

Bill Granger notes that the uncooked mixture can be refrigerated for up to 5 days, and also that they keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container.