So, I finally get the chance to bake out of the new Ottolenghi book, Sweet. I have had the book for quite a while, but these days I really need an excuse to make something high in calories, even it if it is delicious. When I found out it was the birthday of a colleague, that could only mean one thing: I would have to bake a cake, diet or not!
This cake is exceptional. The ground almonds make the texture very moreish and decadent; the blueberries burst with juiciness and the coconut and lemon zest add a complexity to the flavour.
180g ground almonds
60g desiccated coconut
250g caster sugar
70g self-raising flour
¼ tsp salt
4 large eggs
200g unsalted butter, melted, then set aside to come to room temperature
1½ tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
200g fresh blueberries
20g flaked almonds
- Grease and line a 23cm round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4.
- Place the almonds, coconut, sugar, flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and whisk to aerate and remove the lumps.
- Place the eggs in a separate medium bowl and whisk lightly. Add the melted butter, vanilla extract and lemon zest and whisk again until well combined. Pour this into the dry mix and whisk to combine.
- Fold in 150g blueberries, then pour the mixture into the tin. Sprinkle the last of the blueberries on top, along with the flaked almonds and bake for 50–55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Keep a close eye on it towards the end of cooking: the relatively large number of eggs in the mix means that it can go from still being a little bit liquid in the centre to being well cooked in just a few minutes.
- Set aside for 30 minutes before inverting out of the tin, removing the baking parchment and placing the cake the right way up on a serving plate. It can either be served warm with cream or set aside until cool.
I’m still going to the gym and so I make a new batch of energy balls every week. These ones are particularly good. I know turmeric is a ‘thing’ right now, but if it even has half the benefits it’s supposed to have, I’m in! I’ve adapted the original recipe (see link below) to make them much more ‘lemony’ by doubling the amount of zest and adding an extra tablespoon of lemon juice. http://www.natalieshealth.com/2017/02/lemon-turmeric-energy-balls/
So now that I’ve perfected the recipe, I’ll just have to try not eat them all at once and still remember to go to the gym.
12 Medjool dates
1 tablespoon chia seeds
5 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
50g shredded coconut for dusting
- Remove the pits from dates and soak them in hot water for several minutes. When the dates are softened, drain them and place in food processor. Save the water.
- Add the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until mixture turns into a dough-like consistency. Add 1 tablespoon of the reserved soaking water if the mixture seems too dry.
- With a small spoon, scoop the mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in shredded coconut.
- Store energy balls in an airtight container in the refrigerator, they will keep for at least a week.
I made this cake for the birthday of a very dear colleague at work. I wanted to make something traditional, but not boring and in my opinion, you can never go wrong with lemon drizzle, but I wanted to do a twist on it, so this recipe was perfect. The mint drizzle was totally delicious. It was originally made in a loaf tin, but to jazz it up for a birthday, I used my heritage bundt tin. The edible flowers were from my garden, but I made the mistake of decorating the cake the night before and in the morning all the flowers had shrivelled so I had to pick some more and do it again. The original recipe is from Delicious Magazine.
115g very soft butter, plus extra for greasing
25g fresh mint, leaves picked
250g fresh blueberries
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
250g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
225g caster sugar
2 large free-range eggs
120ml whole milk
25g desiccated coconut
100g granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
White icing sugar and lemon juice
Edible flowers and the tips of mint sprigs
- Position a shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4. Grease the heritage bundt baking tin.
- Finely chop about a quarter of the mint leaves (to yield 1 tablespoon). Put the blueberries into a bowl and stir in 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice and the chopped mint, then set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
- Using an electric mixer, cream the butter and caster sugar together in a large mixing bowl for 5 minutes until pale and slightly fluffy. This will be a little harder than usual because of the high proportion of sugar, but it will eventually come together and become much paler in colour. Beat in the lemon zest. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tablespoon of the sifted flour with the second egg. Add the milk gradually, folding in large spoonfuls of the remaining flour until the mixture is smooth, then fold in the desiccated coconut.
- Spoon one-third of the cake mixture into the bottom of the prepared tin and scatter over one-third of the blueberries. Repeat twice more, ending with a layer of blueberries. Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes away clean.
- While the cake is cooking, make the topping. Put the rest of the mint leaves and 2 tablespoons of the granulated sugar into a mortar or small bowl and pound with the pestle or the end of a rolling pin until it forms a bright green paste. Stir in the remaining lemon juice (about 3-4 tablespoons) and leave to infuse. When the cake comes out of the oven, leave it to cool for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, strain the minty lemon juice through a clean tea strainer into a bowl, pressing out as much of the juice as you can. Stir in the remaining granulated sugar.
- Spoon the minty lemon and sugar mixture over the cake and leave it to cool. Remove the cake from the tin, then sprinkle the top lightly with a little more sugar.
- Mix the icing sugar and the lemon juice together, until you get a consistency that can be piped. You can always add more icing sugar or lemon to get the right balance.
- Decorate by using a piping bag to pipe the icing sugar and lemon juice mixture down the ridges of the cake. Finish off by place the edible flowers and the tips of the mint springs in the ridges.