Posts Tagged ‘almond’

I know I’ve been neglectful again. My excuse this time is moving house. I couldn’t find time (or space) amidst the boxes and endless cleaning. Guilt has now got the better of me but we dont move into our new house for another week so I am lacking in recipe books and cooking opportunities.

I feel my blog is glaring at me though so I’m using the hiatus to post the things that have been lingering in my recipe folder but havent yet made it to print. While I was writing this up I was thinking how much has changed since I started baking in earnest a few years ago. I have always loved food but I used to be a hopeless baker. I can remember Dawn who is now my baking partner in crime, teaching me how to make a simple sponge cake. I was so surprised that it worked.

Now I’m able to tweak and even create my own recipes and although I still make some disasters, most of my so called failures are still edible. This cake didnt make it on to the blog before because although my experiment with the flavours worked I didnt get the finish right and its looks didnt do it very much justice.  But despite its looks it was delicious so Ive decided to post it now before the rhubarb season is completely over and the recipe is useless to anyone for another year.

Rhubarb and Almond Cake

  • 100g rhubarb, chopped into cubes
  • 175g brown sugar
  • 60ml melted butter or vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 300g plain flour
  • 1 tspn salt
  • 1 tspn bicarbonate of soda
  • 125ml milk
  • 25g toasted flaked almonds
Preheat oven to 180 C and line and grease a bread tin. Beat the brown sugar, butter/oil, egg and almond extract together in a bowl. Combine the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda and fold into the sugar mixture, alternating with the milk. Beat until smooth and then stir in the rhubarb and almonds. Spoon into the tin and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Cool on a rack and slice to serve.
If you like you can make a simple icing with 1/2 a cup of icing sugar, 1/2 a tsp almond extract and enough water to make a pouring consistency. Add a drop of pink food colouring to echo the rhubarb.
As if to remind me I still make mistakes, I thought I could get away without lining my tin and this one stuck to the bottom a bit. So make sure you line your tin but you wont get to scrape out and eat the sticky bits with a spoon while you wait for it to cool.

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It started so well.

Milk gently infused with dried almonds, rosehip, hibiscus, apple and blackcurrant…

Whisked into crème patisserie and folded with freeze dried blackberries…

And then, as if to remind me why I started this challenge in the first place, and swiftly deflate my sense of beginners enthusiasm, this happened…

Exhibit A…

Exhibit B…

Crumpled and deflated profiteroles with soul-destroyingly sad, soggy centres.

Before you say it, keeping them in the oven for another 5-10 minutes made no difference whatsoever. And should you be thinking it was just a one off beginner’s mistake…I have made them twice since Sunday and on both occasions I was left with exhibit A and B…not once, twice…heart breaking…

And so the first post in my technical skills challenge (choux pastry this month in case you hadn’t cottoned on by now) becomes a plea for help.  I did try and leave the first batch in longer to see if the dough would cook through but this only served to over cook the outside and leave the insides in the same miserable state. After attempt number one I thought I might have left too much moisture in the dough after the first step and perhaps had too hot an oven but switching to a recipe with slightly less water (150ml water to 75g flour and 50g butter) and adjusting my oven, which does tend to be a bit hot, to 190 degrees instead of 200…nothing. The same soggy middle and uninspiring flump as soon as I took them out of the oven. I realise the photos dont win any awards either but why you would want to take the time to properly photograph such a crushing defeat.

So I now sit here in front of my laptop in despair. The worst part is I had decided to combine my technical challenge with my flavour challenge in one recipe which means I have nothing to show for either until I get over my inexplicable nightmare. Which is where I need help… if any of you have made choux pastry before and can provide any insight into what I’m doing wrong, please please  send instructions! My culinary education and my pride (I cant fail at the first real challenge) depends on your help.

If you are as inexperienced as I am on the matter then at least take comfort in knowing you are not alone. There’s nothing more annoying than those people who can create magazine worthy creations on their first attempt…

…no danger of that then. ♥

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