Tag Archives: almond

Plum, almond & ricotta cake…

It’s British plum season, which in my book, is very good news! I grew up with a Victoria plum tree in my garden and spent many an early Autumn roped into picking its ripe fruit. They run rings around the tasteless supermarket, year round varieties! If you can get your hands on some gorgeous British plums, then I highly recommend that you give this plum, almond & ricotta cake a go…

It’s amazingly moist due to the inclusion of ground almonds in the cake batter and has a seam of plum jam running through the middle. I unfortunately had to resort to shop bought plum jam, luckily Bon Maman does a good one, but if you’re super organised you could make your own jam too.

I bought these beauties from Polly at Urban Larder and then returned within a few hours with the finished cake for her counter :)…

To make it you’ll need…

250g pot of ricotta

140g butter, melted

4 eggs

225g caster sugar plus 1tbsp for the top of the cake

250g SR Flour

200g ground almonds

4 tbsp plum or apricot jam

5 plums, quartered

Handful of flaked almonds, toasted

Icing sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees and grease and line the bottom of an 8 inch/ 20cm cake tin.

Beat together the ricotta, melted butter, eggs and sugar in a large bowl. Fold in the flour and ground almonds and that’s your cake batter made…easy!

Spoon half of the cake mix into the prepared tin. Blob the jam out as evenly as possible over the surface…

and then cover with the remaining batter. Carefully smooth the top and arrange your plum halves on the top, before sprinkling with sugar…

Bake for 1 and a half hours until the cake is golden and the plums have started to caramelise…

Leave it to cool for a few minutes before removing it from the tin and letting it cool completely. For the finishing touches, scatter the toasted almonds over the top of the cake, dust with icing sugar and there you have it, a delicious autumnal cake…

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What a load of old rhubarb (bakewell tart)…

I’m still taking advantage of rhubarb being readily available on the supermarket shelves at the moment and on a recent rummage through my baking cupboard I discovered no less than 8 half used packets of ground almonds, luckily all still within their best before dates! I asked my good friend google what I could make with ‘rhubarb’ and ‘ground almonds’ and was presented with multiple rhubarb crumble recipes, but in amongst them I found a lovely blog called Girl Interrupted Eating and a gorgeous sounding recipe for Rhubarb and Almond Tart. Decision made, I turned my music up loud, poured a glass of red wine, donned my apron and started baking my own rhubarb bakewell tart…

To make the shortcrust pastry base…

300g plain flour

150g  butter, chilled and cut into cubes

3 tbsp caster sugar

3tbsp of water

Sift the flour into a bowl, add the butter cubes and rub together with your fingertips until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.
Add the water and mix to form a dough. I find it’s easiest to get you hands in there and bring the dough together into a ball. Then wrap it in cling film and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Prepare a 30cm tart dish by greasing it with butter and dusting lghtly with flour (that’s what my mum always does).

For the filling…

500g rhubarb cut into 1cm lengths

150g butter

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

100g self raising flour

2 eggs

1 vanilla pod

Zest of one orange

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Roll out the chilled pastry and line the tart tin. Lie a sheet of greaseproof paper on top and pour in some baking beads (rice works just as well). Put the pastry case in the oven to bake blind for 25 minutes.

Put half of the rhubarb in a saucepan, cover and cook for 5 minutes. I also added a squeeze of the orange juice into the mix.

Meanwhile you can make the almondy filling…
Becky’s recipe said to use a food processor to blend together the butter and sugar but I don’t have one so I used my handheld mixer to cream them together until light and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, flour, eggs , seeds scraped from the vanilla pod and the orange zest and mix well.

Turn the oven down to 175 degrees.

Remove the baking beads and paper from the pastry case and leave somewhere to cool. Mix the cooked rhubarb with the raw rhubarb and spread over the bottom of the pastry lined tin. Spoon the almond mixture on top and spread it out as evenly as possible, although I found this easier said than done and got in a pickle!

Put the tart in the oven for 40 minutes until golden on top. After about 30 minutes scatter the top of the tart with the flaked almonds so that they toast slightly.

And there you have it…

Bakewell tart with a rhubarbey twist! The flecks of vanilla and orange zest in the moist almond layer were a delight. The balance of the sweet almondy cakey layer with the tang of the unsweetened rhubarb was perfection.

I packed up my the tart and transported it all the way to Winchester for a friends birthday, only to find out that he didn’t even like rhubarb! We did a pretty good job of polishing it off for him though, even enjoying a slice the morning after the night before…rhubarb bakewell tart…breakfast of champions!

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Blueberry, peach and almond cake

A weekend with my family usually revolves around eating delicious food and lots of it! We had quite a few birthdays to celebrate so we rolled them all into one and had a huge family barbecue, to which everyone contributed something. It felt like we ended up cooking up and eating a whole farmyard’s worth of meat…I was in heaven! Once everyone had recovered from the meat fest and tucked into desert of fresh fruit brulee (a family favourite) and Granny’s summer pudding we entered the cake round…my domain. We still had a lot of the saffron clotted cream cake left but I also made Nigel Slaters ‘cake for midsummer’, which I’d ripped out of the Observer Food Monthly magazine in June and stashed in my book of ‘must bake’ recipe clippings. It goes a little something like this…

175g butter

175g golden caster sugar

200g ripe peaches

2 large eggs

175g self raising flour

100g ground almonds

1 tsp grated orange zest

a few drops of vanilla extract

150g blueberries

Line a 20cm (8 inch) cake tin with greaseproof paper and preheat the oven to 170 degrees.

Halve, stone and chop the peaches and set aside for later.

Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. I used a handheld whisk. Beat the eggs in one at a time. If it looks like it’s starting to curdle add a small amount of flour.

Mix the flour with the ground almonds and fold into the butter mixture in a few batches. Add the orange zest and vanilla and last but not least, the blueberries and peaches.

Tip the mixture into the prepared tin and Nigel says to bake it for 1 hour 10 minutes. I like my cakes extra moist so after 1 hour I tested it by inserting a sharp knife into the middle of the cake and as it came out relatively clean I decided it had had long enough in the oven.

On Nigel’s advice I sprinkled the cake batter with golden caster sugar before putting it in the oven, creating a gorgeous sweet, crunchy crust on the moist, fruity almond cake.

This cake was super easy, light, tasty and I never thought I would use this word to describe a cake but it was…well…refreshing!

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Almond Biscotti

I love Biscotti…they’re sweet but not too sweet, crunchy but not too crunchy and are perfect for dunking. What more could you want! I’ve tried a few different varieties in the past including cranberry and almond and date and walnut but tonight the plan was to stick to simple but delicious almond biscotti. I followed a recipe that I found on the Joy of Baking website. Here it is – 

Almond Biscotti

145g blanched whole almonds, toasted and chopped coarsely

1tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

260g plain flour

150g granulated white sugar

3 large eggs

1tsp vanilla extract

1tbsp lemon rind

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Toast the almonds for 8-10 minutes or until light brown and fragrant. Leave them to cool for a few minutes and then chop roughly.

Reduce the temperature of the oven to 150 degrees and line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.

Mix the eggs and essence in a small bowl.

Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Gradually add the egg mixture and beat with a handheld whisk until it forms a stiff dough. Adding the chopped almonds halfway though.

I usually form the dough into 2 logs approx 30cm long and about 2 and a half inches wide on the baking sheet. This part can get quite messy and sticky so have some spare flour handy to dust your hands.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until they are firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for about 10 minutes. Then slice each log diagonally into 1/2 inch slices with a sharp knife. Lay each of the slices on it’s side on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 10 minutes, turn over and give them one more 10 minute blast in the oven until firm.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool fully before decanting into a container. I’ve been told that they keep well in an airtight container but to be honest mine never last that long as the temptation is too strong and it would be rude not to test a couple with a nice cup of tea wouldn’t it?

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