Almondines

Almondines

Almondines

I spent a lovely Saturday afternoon assisting Nina Oortman, with one of her basic bread making classes, which 3 terrific women had signed up for. One, a PA in the City wants to get into private catering, another, a new mum,  wants to open a cafe and the third wanted to improve her skills. All three ladies went home with a huge amount of information,  newly acquired bread making skills and lots of freshly baked bread and rolls.

Almondines

Nina, the bread and her students

Nina runs really small, relaxed classes and I can’t recommend them highly enough. She has had people come from as far as Oxford and Brighton proving that the classes are not limited to people who live locally! Take a look at her site to see what she offers and when – http://breadangels.com/profile/nina-oortman – the Party Breads class looks fantastic! After all the dough has been kneaded, proved and shaped, Nina breaks for a light lunch/tea offering cheese, some just made soda bread, jams and home made cakes. This time she also brought in a stack of her Rye Crackers (Party Breads) which are amazing. She suggested that I make something and bring it along to showcase my blog. As you can imagine, she did not have to ask twice!

Almondines

I have had this recipe for Almondines for some time – it probably came from a magazine in a waiting room where I often scrawl down recipes, and yes, I do know that people rip out the recipe pages but I find that intensely irritating and rude, so I don’t. This recipe is for a lovely short biscuit base topped with honeyed sliced almonds and citrus zest. If any of you know the provenance of this recipe, please do leave me a comment.

Almondines are incredibly quick and easy to make, especially if you are using a food processor. I have also given instructions for making it without.

Almondines

1. Pulse butter and dry ingredients until it looks like damp sand.
2. Add wet ingredients and process until t clumps together
3. Spread dough out in pan
4. Tamp down gently using your fingers or a glass

Almondines

1. Dough spread out
2. After first bake
3. Heating and mixing the topping

Almondines

1. Topping spread out
2. After baking
3. Making 4 long equal slices
4. Making 4 more long equal  slices

Almondines

Almondines

  • Servings: 16 squares
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

INGREDIENTS

For the base:

  • 120g plain flour
  • 50g ground almonds/almond meal/almond flour
  • 3 Tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 90g cold, cubed butter
  • 1 egg yolk (large)
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp water
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste or extract

For the topping:

  • 60g butter
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • Zest of one lemon or orange
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g flaked almonds

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F. Line an 8 inch square tin with with non-stick foil or grease proof paper. See No 18 on my tip and tricks page for an easy way to do this.

Food Processor:  

  1. Place the the flour, almond meal,  sugar and salt in the processor bowl and pulse a few time to mix.
  2. Add the cubed butter and process until mixture resembles damp sand.
  3. Tip the yolk, 2 Tbsp of water and the vanilla down the chute and pulse until the dough come together when pinched. You may have to scrape the sides down once. Add a little extra water if necessary.

By Hand:

  1. Place the the flour, almond meal,  sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk well to mix.
  2. Cut in the butter until the mix resembles damp sand.
  3. Whisk the egg yolk , vanilla and 2 Tbsp of water together and add to flour mix.
  4. Using your hand, mix until dough holds together when pinched. Add a little extra water if necessary

Then:

  1. Press the crumbly dough into your prepared pan. I wet the bottom of a flat bottomed glass and tamped down gently until the base was covered.
  2. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes until lightly coloured.
  3. In the meantime, place the butter in a small pan to melt over medium-low heat.
  4. Add the zest, honey, salt and vanilla and stir until the honey has melted and everything is thoroughly mixed.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond flakes.
  6. Tip out the topping onto the warm base, spreading out as evenly as possible. There will be a bit of liquid but don’t worry – just spread it as evenly as you can.
  7. Bake for another 10-12 minutes until the  almonds are golden and before the edges catch  (ahem)!
  8. Let cool in the pan for 10 or 15 minutes, then using the foil/baking parchment as handles, remove from pan and lay on a wire rack to finish cooling.

I find that the best way to slice these sort of bakes is as follows:

  1. Using a long sharp knife slice the bake in half.
  2. Then  slice each half into two equal slices so you now have 4 long equal slices.
  3. Spin the paper a quarter turn and do the same again – slice in half and each half in two.  You should have 16 fairly equal squares.

Store in an air-tight tin and eat within two or three days if they last that long!

© Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table, 2013 – 2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material, including photographs without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Selma Jeevanjee and Selma’s Table with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-CakeThe other day I got a little excited to see bags of blood oranges in store and put one in my basket to make a salad with mint, beetroot and fennel. I got home to dejectedly realise that I had picked up a bag of normal oranges. I made the salad anyway as I was craving something crunchy, juicy and light and decided to bake a cake to use up the oranges.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

I have been making versions of  this rustic Cardamon & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake for many years. The measurements are easy to memorise, all the ingredients are placed in the bowl and mixed in one go – no creaming, no whipping, no sink full of dirty dishes! The proportion of ingredients are based on the classic sponge cake (equal weights of eggs, flour, sugar and butter) even if the method isn’t. You can substitute limes or lemons for the orange; saffron for the cardamom; sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar before it goes in and use an apple juice syrup – the possibilities are endless. It emerges risen and golden with that characteristic  of Madeira cakes – a crack along the middle which is the perfect place to drizzle the syrup.

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake

Cardamom & Orange Syrup Loaf Cake

  • Servings: 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Makes one loaf (in a 900g/2 lb tin)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 175 g of plain flour
  • 175 g of golden  caster sugar
  • 175 g of unsalted butter (melted and cooled)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 75ml milk (5 Tbsp)
  • 1 large orange – zested

For the syrup

  • Juice of the large orange
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 6 cardamom pods

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  2. Melt the butter – see my Tips and Tricks page for easy ways to do this – tips 11 and 12.
  3. Prepare the loaf tin with a paper liner or butter the sides and lay a strip of parchment paper to cover the bottom and run up the short sides as handles.
  4. Place your mixing bowl on the scales and measure in the flour and sugar. Add the baking powder and the salt and mix  with a hand whisk to blend and aerate. Zest the orange straight into the bowl.
  5. Add the milk to the melted butter and stir – it also helps to cool the butter down.
  6. Crack the eggs into the bowl, pour in the milk and butter and mix for about 3 or 4 minutes with an electric mixer. It takes no time at all to combine. Do not over beat unless you want a tough crumb!
  7. Scrape into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 35 – 45 minutes. Poke with a wooden skewer at 35 minutes to be on the safe side.
  8. Give each cardamom pod a gentle bash with something heavy – it will crack open, revealing the seeds inside. In a pestle and mortar pound the seeds to a coarse powder. Or using the bottom of a sturdy glass, press on the seeds to break them down.
  9. Juice the orange and add to the sugar and cardamom seeds in a pan. On a low flame, heat until the sugar dissolves and the liquid reduces somewhat – about 3 or 4 minutes. Take off the heat to infuse and cool. If the seeds are a bit on the chunky side, strain the syrup before using.
  10. When the cake is ready, let it cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then take it out and place on a rack. Gently prise away the sides of the loaf paper so that if the syrup runs down the sides it will be contained inside the wrapper and soak back into the cake.
  11. Poke 15 or so holes in the cake using a toothpick; then slowly and gently, pour over the syrup.
  12. Put it back inside the loaf tin until cold.
  13. Slice and enjoy with a cup of tea or glass of fizz!

Cardamom-Orange-Syrup-Loaf-Cake