Monday, 13 August 2012

Dan Lepard's Saffron Peach Cake

There's a rumour going around that I'm writing a cake blog.  This is not true.  I'm writing a blog where I try and cook something new every day for 366 days.  The original idea was to attempt to broaden my family's food horizons.  I thought I was doing pretty well, having clocked up 322 different recipes on consecutive days.  In fact, sometimes I've made more than one new recipe each day, but they haven't always made it to the blog.  I've survived two weeks on holiday, Christmas with my fussy family, various bugs and so on and every day made something new and written about it.  And yet, everyone still thinks I'm writing a cake blog.

Summer in a cake
Admittedly, these opinions have come from two sources.  My best friend who has discovered the delights of baking and whom I have gone from talking geek-speak to, to discussing the merits of Willie's 100% Cacao and the joys of owning a bundt tin.  The other source of the rumour is from my work colleagues who have been the (lucky) recipients of the majority of the cakes I've made over the past (nearly) year.

This is probably because it's where my 'knack' (I hesitate to call it talent) and passion lie.  In baking.  I enjoy cooking from scratch but when you live with someone who has to eat a dish that tastes exactly the same every time you make it, the joy can be taken out of cooking when you fear the reaction if you happen to have run out of xyz and replaced it with abc just this once.  With cake, most people are polite/complimentary about it.  I can't remember ever giving anyone (apart from the husband) a bit of cake and them not at least saying thank you, but more likely they provide very positive feedback.

The one thing I've gotten from this year of cooking and blogging is the confidence to be a little more creative and experimental in the baking department although I still have much to learn.  The fabulous Great British Bake Off is back on our screens tomorrow night.  It was watching that this time last year that inspired me to do this rather strange challenge to myself.  The only way to progress in something is to practice and evolve.  I have learnt so much this year about cooking and baking and flavours and little twists that I feel I'm in a better place than I was a year ago.  I will be watching avidly this year to see what other gaps in my knowledge I should consider plugging once I get underway with my new blog.

Top of the learning list is that when you use something up, remember to put it straight into the Ocado shopping app so when you have the urge to bake, you don't wind up having to adapt and cut corners on certain recipes.  Or if you happen to be going to the shops for one ingredient, double check the cupboards before you go to make sure you've got everything you need.  Which is why I ended up making an almost almondless almond cake.

I still can't let go of the Olympic Food Challenge
I always always always have two or three bags of ground almonds in my cupboard plus a big jar that I pour all the ends of packets into.  Usually because I forget I've got some and then buy another bag when I'm baking something so build up a stock.  So when I picked this cake, it was with some confidence that all I needed to buy was saffron.  Not so I discovered when I turned all the cupboards out to find every permutation of nut (Brazils, macadamias, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans, pistachios...) but nary a bag of ground almonds to be found.  I'd put them all in my mum's chocolate and coconut birthday cake the other day and not replaced them.  Oops.

So I ended up flavouring the sponge purely with almond essence and replacing the almonds weight-for-weight with more flour.  It seemed to work okay although the little slice I tried was quite crumbly.  I'm sure the almonds would've made the sponge much moister.

But this is a fabulously cheery cake with it's sunny saffron hue and topped with sliced peaches.  The perfect antithesis for a miserable August day.  You can find the recipe in Short and Sweet or on the Guardian website.


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