Posts in Food and Drink
Weekend Makes: Almond and Apricot Cake (grain free)

I am not a natural baker.  I have no patience for weighing, measuring and precision, but my love of cake and my rural isolation means that I have to make an effort.  Living where I do, its not as if I can just nip out for a slice with the nearest decent cafe being a good 15 mile round trip. So, I struggle through and have a couple of staple recipes to keep my cake craving in check. 

This cake is one I have been making almost weekly since we moved here. The fruit changes with what we can find at the weekly fruit and veg market - rhubarb and lemon was a huge hit and strawberry was divine, but this week's apricots were a great all round people pleaser and MUCH less work than next week's cherry!!   And while the Aga and I remain at war, but the density of this almond meal cake makes it pretty much aga proof. Plus, its got fruit and is high in protein, which basically makes it a health food, right?

The recipe is a pretty standard almond cake recipe - heavy on the eggs and almond meal. It started out as a version of the Nigella Apple and Almond cake, but 6 eggs was just too many for me so I messed about with ingredients and recipes until I found something a bit lighter. The technique that My Darling Lemon Thyme uses for beating her eggs and sugar really helps with the lightness and adding a second flour helps it all hold together much better than the straight almond cakes I have made in the past.

Ingredients:

Note on Styling: I've always wanted to lay out my ingredients like this and its had the added bonus of hiding my bomb-site kitchen. Win win! 

Note on Styling: I've always wanted to lay out my ingredients like this and its had the added bonus of hiding my bomb-site kitchen. Win win! 

4 large eggs

100g sugar

125g soft butter

300g almond meal (I use almond flour or just almonds ground as fine as possible in the food processor. I buy almonds in bulk from Costco, so they are always handy. Alternatively, Lidl and Aldi sell almond meal at half the price of other supermarkets)

40g other flour (I use coconut flour, as I have a bag I need to use. Rice flour, or even a white flour would be fine here - you just need something to help hold it all together).

5-6 Apricots

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 180C.

Line a 9" springform pan with baking parchment. Butter. Cut apricots in half and place face down on bottom. 

With a mixer (stand or hand held), beat the heck out of the eggs and sugar until they form a froth. It takes about 5-8 minutes, but really adds to the lightness of this cake. Add the butter and mix. Fold in the flours and baking powder. Place into the pan, smoothing it out. 

Bake for about 30-40 minutes, until a knife comes out clean. 

 

 

The Cafe of My Dreams

Come close...I have something to tell you.  Its my favourite secret daydream, so don't tell anyone.

I have always wanted to own a cafe.


06Jun2010_9111.jpg

Something unique.  With handmade cakes served on mismatched china.  Tea served in old cups and saucers.  Opulent deserts.  Local ingredients. Old school jazz playing in the background. Customers who linger (and eat copious amounts of food whilst there, keeping me in business).

However, as I have no capital for investment, no business experience, no professional cooking qualifications, a relative disdain for Health and Safety...oh, and having never even worked in a cafe, this dream has remained a comfortably distant but delicious daydream.

Which is fine, because I spent this afternoon in the physical embodiment of the cafe of my dreams.

Whilst visiting Tantie, we wandered down to the Bruntsfield area of Edinburgh and had coffee and cake in the utterly delightful Chocolate Tree cafe. It is heartbreakingly perfect--down to the Ella Fitzgerald playing in the background and the gorgeous confections served on vintage china.

06Jun2010_9082.jpg

The coffee machine sits on an old mirrored dressing table. The seating and the tables are all mismatched and vintage.  What must be a life-sized copy of the Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel hangs along one wall. THe wallpaper is mismatched, flocked and floral. There must have been 7 or 8 different kinds of hot chocolate alone, not to mention teas and coffees galore. There are two cases of sweets, one full of the most gorgeous black, brown and ivory chocolate gems, the other laid out with cakes that the gods must have dreamt up.

06Jun2010_9079.jpg

However, unfortunately, most of the cafe's wares were unavailable to me.  For I, like others, have had to go dairy and soy free to help my little girl's little tummy. 

You can imagine my drool when Kevin tucked into a latte and a berry chocolate truffle cake with cream (which I may have INSISTED he ordered, so I could lick his spoon). Even though he was forced into ordering it, he said it was perfect...with the tart berries cutting through the thick, claggy, rich chocolate cake and cream base.  I bet you can hear my "oooh" and "ahhh" as Tantie devoured a strawberry cheescake with a nut base.  I am sure you can picture my face as they drank their lovely milky, frothy coffees.

And I am sure you can imagine what will be in my dreams tonight...