Sunday, 17 January 2010

Happy New Year with Clementine & Almond Syrup Cake

Happy New Year! I realise we are now mid-January, but I am never sure when the cut off date is to stop saying that. Perhaps April would be too late but I think for now we're still okay.

So a new year is upon us, all of the out with the old in with the new. To be honest I don't really believe in New Year's resolutions, I always worry that once you announce resolutions you expose yourself when you just don't quite get around to it. I know that I am a procrastinator, and jut because I am a bit excited and full of sugar from Christmas doesn't mean I am going to decide to change my entire life in an instant.

Though, I have to say that this year has been somewhat of a revelation to me; I finally realised that you actually get things done by doing them. But I certainly didn't have to wait until the New Year to figure that out.

Of course I do have some plans for the coming year..., and for the next decade for that matter. I have a long list of things I plan to cook in the new year and I hope that Shannoncita's Independent Café will continue to grow. E. and I also plan to start a non-baking food blog. So watch this space...

These lovely little cakes were the last thing I baked in 2009. We took them to our neighbours for their New Year get-together. It's funny, we have lived in our flat for almost three years but had only ever exchanged pleasantries until just before this last Christmas when we brought them (and some other neighbours) some mince pies. We had a lovely evening: we met some other neighbours and exchanged stories of our respective Christmas and New Year's traditions just before rushing back home to count down & eat our twelve grapes.

The recipe comes once again from my culinary crush, Yotam Ottolenghi, who has inspired much of my cooking this year. I think that this might just be the best cake ever! A feast for the senses: aromatic, moist not to mention visually stunning.

This cake is best made a day in advance as it actually improves with time as the syrup really permeates the cake, but it tastes great just-baked as well.

Clementine Almond Cake

adapted from Ottolenghi
200g unsalted butter
300g caster sugar
Grated zest of 4 clementines
Grated zest of 1 lemon
280g ground almonds
5 medium free-range eggs, beaten
100g plain flour, sifted
1/8 tsp salt

Clementine Syrup
80g caster sugar
Juice of 4 clementines
Juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 160°C

Mix butter, 300g of the sugar (the remaining 80g is for the syrup) and citrus zest in a bowl until combined. Add half the ground almonds and continue mixing to fold through. Add the eggs gradually, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl as you go. Add the remaining almonds, flour and salt, and mix until smooth.

Spoon batter into mini bundt or muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes - a skewer should come out a little bit moist.

When the cake is almost cooked, in a small saucepan bring to a boil the remaining sugar and citrus juices then remove from the heat at once. The moment the cakes comes out of the oven, brush all over with the hot syrup, making sure it all soaks through Alternatively, poke the cakes with a skewer while still in the tins and drizzle syrup into the holes. Leave to cool down.

Chocolate Glaze
90g unsalted butter, diced
150g dark chocolate, broken up
½ tbsp honey
½ tbsp cognac

To make the Glaze, put the butter, chocolate and honey in a heatproof bowl and microwave on medium for about 2 minutes- stirring after 1 minute. Once the mixture is completely smooth stir in the cognac. Drizzle the glaze over the cool cakes and allow to set.

Garnish with strips of orange zest and accept praise graciously.


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