Monday, 20 February 2012

Almond Spice Cake

Recipe Number One Hundred & Sixty One:  Page 84.

I have to confess that I find the photograph of this cake in the Baking Bible a little off putting! There is nothing actually wrong with it but its overall brownness isn't very appealing to me! However, after reading through the recipe, I was converted. It turns out that there is a layer of marzipan running through the middle of the cake. This sounded delicious. Funnily enough I used to loathe marzipan but now I'll seek it out; I love the stuff! Now, armed with a new enthusiasm for this cake, I really was looking forward to making and eating it.

I was enjoying such a lovely and relaxing day that, by the time I thought about making this cake, it was already mid-afternoon. I peeled my body from the sofa and gathered up my very well worn Baking Bible. It really is on its last legs! I felt a spring in my step as I walked into the kitchen. I knew that in a few hours I'd be tucking into a large slice of cake – hooray!

After the dreaded job of lining the tin I turned my attention to the marzipan. I had some left over from Christmas. As it had been wrapped and stored well it was still in perfect condition. This would be a great way to use it up. Of course I couldn't resist pulling off a large piece for myself! I rolled out the marzipan to fit the shape of the tin. The resulting circle was surprisingly thin. I suppose if it were much thicker it might overpower the cake. I placed the skinny piece of marzipan to one side while I got on with the cake making.

The cake itself was surprisingly simple and straightforward. This pleased me! I placed the butter and caster sugar into the bowl. Due to the dark appearance of this cake in the Baking Bible photograph, I'd expected to use perhaps muscovado or brown sugar. I was very surprised to use caster sugar – not at all what I'd imagined! Maybe this cake would turn out a lot lighter than I had at first thought. Next, I tipped in some self-raising flour and baking powder. As this recipe has the word spice in the title I assumed that spices would be plentiful. I was amazed to be instructed to add just half a teaspoon of cinnamon and barely a pinch of ground cloves! I have to admit that I'm not a lover of cloves, so I was pleased it was such a tiny amount. After I had cracked in a couple of eggs it was time to take out my electric whisk and give the mixture a thorough beating.

I retrieved the jar of flaked almonds from the kitchen shelf. I've taken to keeping them in a jar as I find they seem to enjoy spilling out of their packets! I couldn't help thinking that it was perhaps a little unusual to have flaked almonds in a cake with no fruit to accompany it. I suppose I'm just used to adding them to fruit cakes or using them on top of a cake for decoration. Finally it's the flaked almonds chance to take centre stage! After folding the substantial quantity of flaked almonds into the mixture, it was time to get it into the waiting tin. I spooned half of the thick mixture into the tin and then carefully placed the thin circle of marzipan on top. All that was left to do was to dollop on the rest of the cake mixture and neatly spread it to cover up the marzipan. Into the oven it went, where it would need to stay for a least an hour.

While it cooked I had a lovely chat with my Mum. We certainly enjoyed putting the world to rights! An hour quickly passed. I had to break the conversation a couple of times to check on the cake. By the time I was off the phone the cake was ready. It was a lovely golden brown and seemed to be cooked through. It was tricky to test with the moist layer of marzipan in the middle.

Once the cake was cold I got on with making the topping. I'd never made this sort of thing before. I measured a modest amount of butter into a saucepan along with a heftier quantity of light muscovado sugar. I knew muscovado sugar had to appear in this recipe somewhere!!! I also required two tablespoons of double cream. It hardly seemed worth opening the tub for such a small quantity. Thankfully, I had something in mind for our evening meal that would use the remainder up! I added the cream to the pan and turned on the heat. Once everything had melted I was to bring it up to boil, which didn't take long at all. It looked very runny and dark! The by now cold cake was sitting on a wire rack waiting to receive its intriguing topping. I placed a baking tray under the wire rack to catch any drips and then poured the boiling hot topping over the cake. The drips merrily glided straight off the sides of the cake. I was worried I'd be left with a naked cake! Surprisingly the icing solidified almost immediately, so the topping which was left on the cake stayed in place. Stalactites of icing hung in suspension from the wire rack! I quickly grabbed my jar of flaked almonds once more and sprinkled some over the sticky surface. I stood back to take a look at the finished cake. It definitely couldn't be called pretty but it looked far more appealing than I had anticipated. It was nowhere near as dark as I'd expected but there was no getting away from the fact that it was very brown!

I cut us all slices of cake and had to keep wiping my hands; it was a very sticky business. Isaac had his minus the topping as I don't want to rot his teeth before he reaches pre-school! He thoroughly enjoyed his little helping. That boy does love his cake! Neil and I enjoyed our substantially larger portions. I particularly enjoyed it – it was my kind of cake. It was moist, lightly spiced and had a delightful almond flavour. I could really taste the flaked almonds. The layer of marzipan was a delicious bonus but I personally could have done with a thicker layer! Despite its messiness the topping was gorgeous. It reminded me of toffee sauce – yum. I couldn't resist scooping the excess from the baking tray; it was equally yummy on its own! The only snag to this cake that I found was that it doesn't keep very well. The next day it was a little on the dry side. That's my own fault for not scoffing the whole lot in one go!!!
A very brown cake!

A lot lighter inside!


  1. As you say, it doesn't look the most beautiful of cakes but if it tastes lovely, that's what counts.

  2. Yes it is the taste that counts!!