It’s quite ironic that I’ve decided to become a ‘domestic goddess’ now that I’m single. The wonderful thing however, is that I don’t cook, bake or decorate because I have to…but because I want to!
I have come to love paging through a gorgeously illustrated recipe book, and virtually be transported to a lazy little town in Tuscany or an old English country house with a rose-filled garden. Slowly but surely… I am shying away from today’s instant gratification and fast food lifestyle. There is great pleasure in taking your time to prepare a meal…using wholesome ingredients and watching it all come together. Even when I’m just cooking for myself, I see no reason to put in any less effort or care.
So this weekend, I brought home the magical ‘How to be a domestic goddess‘ by the legendary Miss Nigella Lawson. If you have only one baking guide, let this be it. Every recipe is more special than the last and you will be spoilt for choice. I was having my parents over for Sunday lunch so I decided to go with the Damp Lemon & Almond Cake. Very simple, but was enticed by the thought of a sharp lemony dessert following my Sophie Dahl chicken curry (will post the recipe later).
225g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
4 large (free range) eggs
50g plain flour
225g ground almonds (I used 2 x 100g flaked almonds, and ground it in a blender)
1/2 teaspoon almond essence
grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
21-23cm Springform cake tin, lined with baking paper on the bottom
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius.
Cream together the butter and sugar until almost white. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a quarter of the flour after each addition. When all the eggs and flour have been incorporated, gently stir in the ground almonds, then the almond essence, lemon zest and juice. (I’ve always wanted to ‘zest’ a lemon, the freshness is amazing!). Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for about 1 hour. After 30 minutes or so, remove the tin from the oven and cover loosely with foil, so as not to burn the top of the cake. It’s ready when the top is firm and a skewer inserted, comes out cleanish. You want dampness, but no battery goo. Take the cake out and let it stand for 5 minutes in the tin. Then turn out onto a wire rack and leave to cool.
I made this cake the night before, and wrapped it in some foil overnight. Nigella suggested fresh raspberries on the top to decorate, but I wanted a kind of syrupy glaze. So I used half a packet of frozen raspberries from Woolies, covered with water (to which I added about 6 tablespoons of sugar), and brought to the boil. Once it’s cooked and reduced to a crimson and sweet smelling syrup, remove from the heat and place in a glass bowl to cool.
When ready to serve, spread cake with the raspberry mixture and dust with icing sugar (or the other way round if you prefer). Don’t be alarmed at the texture, it is supposed to be broody, damp and dense. Enjoy with a steaming cup of filter coffee!