‘Mummy’, you’re driving rudely! Umm – that’s a new one on me. ‘Badly’ I can handle, ‘fast’, well that’s debatable, but ‘rudely’ I am not sure if to be flattered or disturbed. One of the numerous funny things about children is their ability to lap up words and phrases and then put them into practice. I’ve always adored the story of one gorgeous stepson turning up aged 4, to ‘Bunnie’s’ house (an Aunt I believe) only to sit in the car refusing to move, quite rightly saying ‘where’s the rabbit’, as ‘Bunnie’ happily pranced out of the house hugging and kissing all and sundry. Of course the vocab library though entertaining can be equally damming and no where does it manifest itself more boldly than when it comes to food. ‘It’s deeeesgusting’, ‘deeeeelicious’, ‘more’, ‘yummy’, ‘good job’, we’ve had it all and every facial expression to go with it.
Small wonder that meal times can become a battleground and degenerate fast into all out anarchy. There are many rules that come and go in my house, more so in my kitchen, yet the one I really try to stick to is; eat your main course and then there just may be a surprise. Luckily for me I emphasise the ‘may be’ and the ‘surprise’, as that frankly can be anything, and I mean anything! Fruit, raisins, yogurt, biscuits, meringues and if you are extremely lucky, a cake! Clearly the last option is usually a complete hit but just occasionally I make something that the ‘little people’, rather rudely I hasten to add, turn their noses up at. Alas, and sadly for them, they have been cake-less this week, while I have been tucking into the leftovers of a rather interesting number that I cooked on monday.
The ‘Caramel and Almond’ Cake is not something I would normally have loitering around my kitchen. I hosted a small dinner for an inspiring group of ladies, the deal was I would happily cook and provide some vino (well Mr.P did that) once the food and drink were covered, everything else went to ‘Action Against Hunger’. Happily I have just put a cheque in the post for £200, a cracking result for a monday night, unhappily I have been hoovering up the left over cake that served as a pudding. The ‘Little People’ thinner for it, but mummy somewhat fatter! Hey ho! I think the photos speak volumes. Clearly it is a cake but on both outings I have used it as a pudding, served with some roasted apricots and creme fraiche or just plain raspberries it certainly hits the mark, though curiously not for the ‘pink’ and ‘blue’, their loss!
Toscakaka ‘Caramel and Almond Cake’ Recipe from Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen (inspired by ‘Poires et Chocolate’ who blogged the recipe a few weeks ago)
For the cake:
1 tsp lemon juice
75g unsalted butter
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
For the topping:
150g flaked almonds
125g light brown sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp espresso powder
Turn on the oven to 160C. Prepare a round tin, I used a 10″ one with a loose bottom that I covered in greaseproof paper.
Squeeze the lemon juice into the milk and give it a stir. Now place the almonds in the oven, do watch them carefully they need to be golden but not dark caramel in color, 7- 10 minutes.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and then pull off the heat and allow to cool.
Place the eggs, sugar,vanilla in an electric mixer and beat hard for 5- 8 minutes so that the mix doubles/ triples in size and becomes light, creamy and very thick. Weigh out the flour, baking powder and salt and sieve together. Now fold in a 1/3 of the flour mixture and then repeat with the next 1/3 and a drizzle of the milk, followed by the last 1/3 and the remaining milk. Now fold in the butter in 2 stages, taking great care to cut and fold. DOn’t over mix but do be thorough. When you are happy everything has been incorporated gently pour it into your tin.
Bake for 20 -30 minutes depending on the speed of your oven. I have now made it twice, once in an Aga and once in a fan oven -with a variation of 10 minutes between when each cake was cooked. The cake should be set with a light golden color on top.
While the cake is in the oven make the topping (ideally about 10 minutes before it is baked – but that is real precision). Place the butter, sugar and milk, salt, espresso powder in a saucepan and stir while the butter melts. Keep it on the heat for 4 -5 minutes and then pull off. Now turn the oven up to 200C, instantly remove the cake and pour the almond caramel mix over the top. Make sure it is evenly spread and then pop back in the oven on a baking tray for 8-10 minutes until the topping is golden, caramel brown and bubbling. Place in the top of the oven and bake for 8-10 minutes until the glaze is deep brown and bubbling. Remove and allow to cool.
Serve with creme fraiche, mascapone or Greek yogurt.
(Makes about 12- 15 slices)