Saturday, 9 March 2013

RECIPE: Easy berry and almond cake

I have some really great girlfriends from my German course, and a lot of them are as baking-mad as moi. So, the other day we decided to have a little tea party in order to gossip, moan about exams, and stuff ourselves silly with cake. What else would students be doing in their free time, eh? Not that I have much free time, which is why this cake is great - so quick and easy to make, it was in the oven half an hour after I went down to the kitchen. And I'm a faffer who likes to take her time baking.

As far as I'm concerned, nuts are awesome. Particularly almonds. And ground almonds? A top notch ingredient right there. Cakes made with ground almonds have a delumpcious texture, at once moist and light. Yeah. They're great. Oh, how I feel for nut allergy sufferers!

For an even stronger almond flavour you could substitute almond extract for the vanilla - I only had the latter, and unfortunately my student baking budget will only stretch so far, so vanilla it was (still lovely.) Speaking of student budgets, frozen berries are extremely kind to the purse-strings and perfect for baking - they taste exactly the same as fresh fruit once out of the oven, and who wants to waste fresh fruit (buying berries would be a treat as it is) in cake? Not me. The tartness of the berries adds a really nice zing to the sweetness of the cake, and I like how they make the cake look when you slice in too.

If you like Bakewell Tarts, the chances are you'll like this cake, as it's something of a twist on that classic cherry and almond combo. Seeing as each of my friends was bringing some sort of baked good, I didn't actually want to make a huge cake - this one is made in one round 20cm sandwich tin, but you could easily double the ingredients, make two sponges and sandwich them together with a layer of jam if you have a larger crowd to feed.

I drizzled simple glacé icing over mine, but a light dusting of icing sugar would be just as appealing. If I had all the ingredients in the world to choose from, I'd also suggest sprinkling some flaked almonds over while the icing is still wet, or perhaps topping with a few mini eggs for an Easter theme. Hey, the world is your oyster. Or your cake.


100g butter, well softened, plus extra for greasing
100g golden caster sugar
50g ground almonds
50g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
pinch of salt
1 handful frozen berries
150g icing sugar (optional)

adding the berries to the rest of the mixture


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the base of a 20cm round sandwich tin with baking paper.

2. Using a handheld electric whisk, beat together all the cake ingredients except the berries and icing sugar until smooth, then fold in the berries until evenly distributed and creating a slight swirly effect. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the top. Bake for around 30 minutes until golden and springy - when it's done the cake should be shrinking away from the sides of the tin, and a skewer inserted into the middle should come out just about clean.

Swirly girly cake pre-baking
3. When the cake is ready, remove from the oven and cool the sponge for a few minutes in the tin. Go round the side with a knife, then turn the cake out of the tin to cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Once cool, add the icing: Sieve the icing sugar into a large bowl. Add a teaspoonful of water one at a time, stirring in between before adding more water to reach the desired consistency. Drizzle evenly over the top of the cake and leave to set. Deeeee-lish.

If you like the idea of putting on your own tea party (the best kind of party), read my top tops here.


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