Dried cherry, almond and blueberry cake

I  love baking, especially without a recipe. I love just throwing it all in the bowl and waiting to see whether the result is a success or an epic fail! Glad to say my most recent effort was a huge success, so I’d like to share my recipe with you here.

2 cups of almond meal

1 cup of plain white flour (sifted)

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 egg

1/2 cup of raw sugar

A couple of heaped tablespoons of greek yoghurt

2 tablespoons of softened butter

1/2 cup of orange juice or milk

As many dried cherries or cranberries as you like and a good handful of blueberries.

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It’s a one bowl recipe which is great so just start by creaming the butter and sugar together, till it’s light and fluffy. I just use a whisk to do this part. Add the egg and whisk again. Add all of the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients. Add more juice or milk if the consistency looks a little dry. Then mix in the cherries and blueberries. I soaked the dried cherries in the orange juice first, just so they’d be nice and plump when I added them to the mixture. Put the whole lot into a bar tin and cook at 180 degrees in a non fan forced oven for about 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out cleanly and the top is golden.

I served it with an icy cold chocolate milkshake which Al was very happy about. I’ve only just discovered dried cherries and I really like them a lot so I’d be keen to hear how you use them in your cooking.

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Zumbo

Riverbend Books at Bulimba hosted another lovely breakfast for Miss P and I with pastry master, Adriano Zumbo. Unfortunately I didn’t sit next to him, like I did at the Bill Granger breakfast, but we did chat during his book signing.

I wanted to know what effect hazelnut meal had on the process of making macarons. Was it always essential to use almond meal? He really seemed to light up when asked a serious cooking question. I get the feeling he is probably very tired of answering the same old questions. Celebrity doesn’t seem to sit with him particularly well but he was gracious enough to attribute his national success to his appearance on MasterChef. Somehow I think even without MasterChef he would have eventually become a national icon for sweet treats.

Miss P and I were really looking forward to dessert for breakfast. Nothing wrong with that. A couple of macarons or a slice of V8 cake would have gone down nicely with a strong coffee. Alas, it was not to be. Instead we were served fresh fruit to start, followed by scrambled eggs, mushroom and haloumi sitting atop sourdough bread. I’m not sure why the Riverbend chef didn’t whip up a batch of macarons but perhaps he felt it best to leave it to the master and to be honest, I don’t blame him.

Zumbo did mention that he is considering opening a Brisbane store, possibly in the next few years. I can just imagine the line-up every Saturday morning.

Oh and the answer to my question. Almond meal has a higher fat content than hazelnut meal. To make sure the macaron mixture is stable, I should add a tablespoon of almond meal in with the hazelnut meal. After my first attempt, macarons scare me a little, but I will add it to the Christmas to-do list 🙂

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Orange and almond cake

Exciting news… I have found my new favourite cake and it only has five ingredients. The recipe isn’t new, in fact, it has been baked for Jewish Passover for probably thousands of years, but after seeing the Jewish episode of Food Safari, I knew I had to give this one a go.

I’m fascinated by all things Jewish. My mother’s parents are Jewish. Unfortunately I never got to meet them and it wasn’t until my mother passed away that I really became interested in this culture.  Now that I have found a Jewish cake recipe that I love, I’ll have to try my hand at the classic Jewish chicken soup with Matzo Balls (but that’s another blog, back to the cake)

Cakes without flour are truly delicious. Always moist, they are the perfect carrier of flavour. I just don’t think you can beat almond meal. It’s a staple in my pantry. The other thing I love about this cake is you can throw everything into the food processor. You don’t have to be precise and it’s very forgiving.

So, drum roll please…

2 oranges

250g almond meal

5 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

250 g caster sugar

Boil the whole oranges in a pot of water for two hours. Yes, two hours. Make sure you keep topping up the water so the pan doesn’t dry out. Your kitchen will be filled with the perfume of oranges, which is just gorgeous. You can do this process the day before and leave them in the fridge.

In a food processor, blend eggs and sugar. Add the chopped up oranges. The texture is amazing and they taste great after having been boiled. Blend really well. Add the almond meal and baking powder and blend again.

Lightly spray a spring-form baking pan. Add some caster sugar to the pan and move around so you get a light coating.  Pour in the batter. Sprinkle the top lightly with caster sugar. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 190 degrees for approximately 1 hour or until the top is browned. Just keep a watch as ovens vary in temperature and you don’t want to burn it.

To serve, dust with lots of icing sugar.

This is cake for morning tea, afternoon tea or you could dress it up beautifully for a dinner party with double cream and candied orange slices. It’s perfection. I’m sorry I don’t have a final image of a slice of this amazing cake. The whole thing was gone before I had a chance to do some artful food styling! I hope you enjoy it as much as my friends and I did.