Friday, 3 June 2011

Raspberry, Lemon & Almond Cake

So, it's time to say goodbye to Spring. The bluebells in the wood, spread out over the last month as a bright ocean of blue, have now receded to sleep for another year. The image of them in full bloom has imprinted itself in my memory, an image of hope and renewal to be treasured at times when life feels hard.

Of all the cakes I made this spring, my favourite creation was my simple raspberry, lemon and almond cake. Muddled together from a hotchpotch of ingredients, and with a tentative novice's hand, it turned out far better than I had hoped. Infact we gave it such a rave review that a friend requested a slice be sent over to London for her to taste. I posted it next day delivery with a large scrawled FRAGILE over the envelope, but still thought that by the time she opened it she would find only almond crumbs and a few broken raspberries. Not so! Apparently it arrived very much intact, and just as delicious. What a hardy little cake.

Serves 8

For the cake:
1 carton of fresh raspberries, washed
1 tsp almond extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
180g unsalted butter, room temperature
225g plain flour (or gluten-free mix flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder (or gluten-free mix powder)
180g caster sugar
Grated rind of half a lemon
2 tablespoons milk (anything except skimmed)

1. Turn the oven to 180C (or 160C for fan ovens). Butter, flour and line a 23x7cm round tin.

2. In a large bowl, cream the butter, sugar, almond extract and lemon rind together until mixture is fluffy and light.

3. Gradually add the eggs to the butter mixture, one at a time. Sift a tablespoon of flour with the 2nd egg, then another tablespoon with the 3rd, folding them into the batter and beat well.

4. Sift in the rest of the flour and the baking powder before adding the milk and raspberries, and mix gently. Being an idle sort, I don't mind if the raspberries sink to the bottom of my cake, but if you'd rather they were distributed more evenly then roll them in a little extra flour before adding them to the recipe.

5. Pour into the tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour until a skewer comes out clean. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning onto a wire rack.

For the glaze topping:
Half a cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup of flaked almonds

1. While the cake is still a little warm, place the flaked almonds evenly on top.

2. Put the lemon juice and caster sugar in a pan, and bring it to the boil over a hob before turning the heat down to a simmer. The glaze is ready when it has been reduced by approximately a third.

3. Using a pastry brush, carefully brush the glaze on to the top and sides of the cake.

This cake was idly baked to the sounds of Laura Marling's album I Speak Because I Can


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