Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Almond and cardamom cake with sticky orange caramel

I may slightly be bringing this blog out of retirement simply because I needs to preserve this recipe for posterity.  It is good.

200g butter, brought to room temperature
200g caster sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp almond extract (didn't measure if I'm honest, but eyeballing it tells me more or less a teaspoon)
120g self-raising flour
80g ground almonds
pinch of salt
pinch of baking soda
4-5 cardamom pods
a handful of sliced almonds (optional)*

about 6 satsumas

Preheat oven to 190 degrees; line 2 sandwich tins with baking parchment (if you're fancy like me, the silicone-lined baking parchment means you don't have to grease it.  La dee da).  In a large bowl, beat together butter and sugar until creamy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in almond extract.  Stir in flour and ground almonds until mixture has just come together, then sprinkle over just a lit-tle salt and bicarb, just to assure yourself that the cake will achieve an adequate rise, and stir in.  Set aside.

Carefully remove the cardamom seeds from their pods, and bash well with a mortar and pestle, or chuck them into a freezer bag and bash against the kitchen counter using the blunt end of a knife.  It's very therapeutic to use this time to think about, say, the fact that you've no bloody idea how to get people to let you narrate proper things when you've only ever worked as a voicemail auto-attendant, or that time a man you went out with 12 years ago got back in contact to see how you were doing and he's happily married with 4 kids and is doing his dream job and you live alone in Salford and you're pretty sure the only reason your friend kissed you that time was that he'd had many glasses of wine and his judgment was horribly impaired and it's getting more scary instead of less scary asking people to be in your Doctor Who photo show and you're afraid to ask any of the people you're actually friends with because you'll be terribly heartbroken if they say no and if the fact that you're considering a job in retail isn't the darkest nadir of your artistic working life, you should just give up.

Once the cardamom seeds are as broken and smashed as your dreams and ambitions, fold them into the batter, and distribute evenly among your two tins.  If desired, sprrinkle sliced almonds over one cake.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the centre of each cake emerges clean, and they are lightly golden brown in colour.  Transfer to wire racks to cool.

While the cake is baking and cooling, prepare the syrup.  Pour enough sugar into the bottom of a small saucepan to cover the bottom well.  Warm the sugar over medium heat until sugar has just begun to melt.  Add the juice of your satsumas (go on and leave some bits in - it makes life more interesting), allowing the sugar to dissolve into the liquid.  Bring to the boil, and simmer for a few minutes, until mixture has reduced and has just begun to thicken; it will continue to thicken upon standing.

When your cakes are ready, liberally drizzle the syrup over your unadorned cake, covering as much of the surface as possible. Top with its almond-studded counterpart and drizzle artistically with the remaining syrup.

(The almond-studded counterpart likes to go on top.  By all means, however, feel free to change it up from time to time, keep things fresh and spicy, ooh la la.)

(I'm almost sorry I went there.)

Cut into slices or squares or just tear off chunks if you're feeling ravenous, or have had a few glasses of wine and no longer mind getting a bit sticky.  I won't specify how many people this serves, as I expect you could get a good 16 squares from it, or you could hoard it all to yourself and eat it alone in the dark in bed while bingewatching The Web Of Fear, again.