Sunday, June 29, 2014
Sunday Cake and a Life Changing Revelation...
With this in mind I went home and pulled baking books off the shelf for a good browse and some inspiration. My current favourite is Fiona Cairns 'Seasonal Baking', I've liked all her books so far but 'Seasonal Baking' is easily the best in my opinion, I also like Fiona herself who I've occasionally accosted in Waitrose (she's local) where she's been unfailingly polite. I've not been baking as much as I'd like recently, there just haven't been reasons or excuses too and one person can't decently live on cake alone which is basically what happens if there's nobody on hand to share with. Today though I had two excuses; a friend coming for lunch (I baked a cake I knew she wouldn't touch though so that doesn't really count) and I'm off up to my dad's next week for a while so I have ingredients which want using up before I go.
In the end the cake that best fitted what I had on hand (and which happens to be the kind of cake I love even of my sultana and raisin hating friend does not) was the earl grey, cardamom, and orange loaf - and this is where the life changing bit comes in. All my adult life I've thought of myself as someone who does not like earl grey tea. Turns out I was wrong. After bravely trying a left over cup I'm now forced to re-evaluate myself, I am not the same woman who got out of bed this morning, bergamot is no longer my enemy and I feel immeasurably more middle class.
So good things about this recipe - it let me break out the earl grey someone gave me and finally discover I like it, I got to use the ground cardamom I found in the international supermarket down the road (which is infinitely preferable to me than having to pod and grind it to an acceptable consistency and makes many of the Scandilicious recipes far more appealing), it's a fruit cake which is just a good thing however I look at it, and no sickly icing. There are no bad things. It's definitely a summer fruit cake - good and light with lots of juicy fruit rather than dense, damp, and wintery (I like both sorts) and is just as good with a cup of tea on a summer's afternoon as the recipe suggests.
Take 150g of unsalted butter, 180g of light muscovado sugar, 260g of mixed dried fruit, and 100ml of freshly brewed earl grey (or other tea) place in a small saucepan and bring to just below boiling point. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to about room temperature. Toast 60g of nuts (recipe says pecan, I had hazelnuts that needed using so used them) for about 5 mins or until done. De seed 15-20 cardamom pods, grind in a mortar and pestle until fine and then sieve to remove any bits of husk (or buy a pre ground pack and never be put off by the faff again - I figured about a 1/4 teaspoon was about right). Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4 and line a loaf tin. Measure out 200g of self raising flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and provide yourself with the finely grated zest and juice of an orange and lemon. Stir into the cooled tea and fruit mix then finally add 1 lightly beaten egg and the nuts. Mix until just combined then cook for 50-55 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.