Monday, March 17, 2008

Recipe of the week from Sweet Food: Saffron Spice Cake

I chose this recipe because my mother recently came back from the Canary Islands and brought me more saffron than I use in about 5 years of cooking, plus I already had some.

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Serves 8.

250 ml (1 cup) freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbs finely grated orange zest
1/4 tsp saffron threads
3 eggs
155 g (1 1/4 cups) icing sugar
250 g (2 cups) self-rising flour (or 2 cups plain flour plus 3 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt)
370 g (3 2/3 cups) ground almonds (almond flour)
125 g unsalted butter, melted
Icing sugar, extra, to dust
Thick (double) cream, to serve

Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F), or 160°C if you have a convection oven (or as indicated by manufacturer or your experience).

Lightly grease a 22 cm round cake pan and line the base with baking paper. Mix orange juice, zest and saffron in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature and simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let cool.

Beat the eggs and icing sugar until light and creamy. Fold in the sifted flour, almonds, orange juice mixture and butter until barely mixed and smooth. Spoon into the cake pan.

Bake for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool in the pan for 15 minutes and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Before serving, dust with a little icing sugar and serve with whipped cream.

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Recipe review:

I started by making the ground almonds since I could not find any in any supermarket. I used my handy little electric coffee grinder and ground a little at a time and sifted it to get an even size of almond granules.

There was more dough than I thought there would be, and I ended up using two baking pans, one 20 cm and another 18 cm in diameter, and got two luscious cakes. The baking time was about 45 minutes at 160°C in my convection oven. That temperature was a too hot, as evidenced by the cakes rising a bit too much in the middle.

The cake itself is a lovely pale saffron colour, with a dense texture and a nice orage flavour with undertones of saffron, which is good because too much saffron in food tastes somewhat medicinal to me.

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Book verdict:

If you enjoy food porn and great desserts, buy it. It is full of all sorts of desserts, and the three I made during the week were all good.

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