Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Easy orange almond cake - gluten free

Delicious and highly scented, this cake is gluten free and very easy to make.
made with almond meal, the almonds are ground with the skins on

I first cooked this wonderful cake using Claudia Roden's recipe, lots of people include it in their repertoire for good reason. It is delicious and gluten free. I love the intense orange flavour, the fact that it keeps well, and that it is a very easy cake to make. Also the whole house smells of oranges when I make it. If you have only got clementines or lemons, go with it, all citrus fruit works.

The only fat in the cake comes from the almonds. I have used shop bought ground almonds, I've ground my own both with and without skins. It's called almond meal if you include the skins, and almond flour if you don't, apparently. The difference between home ground and shop bought is in taste, which is all that matters really. You don't get more almond flavour, the almond seems to hold the citrus flavour better. The consistency may not be as smooth, but I prefer that. I can't see the difference between including the skins or not, apart from peeling almonds is no fun at all, and of course the colour is slightly darker.  

Some people include orange flower water, but I like the flavour as it is, bold and gutsy.

This cake also looks great on a plate, the outside cooks to a beautiful tan brown and the inside remains golden orange. It is chic.

If you haven’t got oranges you can substitute them for lemons, tangerines or any other orange citrus fruit. I haven’t tried lime or grapefruit, yet.

If you want to go old school you can use a sieve instead of a blender to pulp the cooked oranges.


  • 2 large oranges
  • 6 free-range eggs
  • 250g/9oz ground almonds
  • 250g/9oz caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder

Preparation method

  • Wash the oranges thoroughly.
  • Put the washed oranges into a large saucepan of water and bring them to the boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for two hours – making sure that the water doesn’t boil away.
  • Preheat the oven to 175C/325F/Gas 3.
  • Butter and flour a 23cm/9in cake tin – keep it gluten free and use some ground almonds.
  • Leave the oranges to cool, before slicing in quarters. Remove the pips.
  • Pulp the oranges in a food processor – make sure it is smooth.
  • Beat the eggs in a large bowl and gradually stir in all the remaining ingredients, including the puréed oranges. Mix well. The batter will be a beautiful orange colour.
  • Pour the mixture into the cake tin and cook for about an hour, until the cake is a lovely tan colour and has risen.
  • Transfer to a wire cooling rack, keeping the cake in the tin. It is likely to break if you take it out too soon.
  • When the cake has cooled, carefully remove from the tin.
  • Serve as you like – I usually cut into slices.
  • Serve as you like. It is lovely with crème fraiche.

Monday, 5 October 2015

Gerry Long's mashed potatoes - purée to some

Very yummy Long family mash - grace à mon père
The family mash is ever popular, and I am making a first go writing up the recipe here. Mostly it's done by feel, while you beat the potatoes hard with a fork, trying to fluff and crush at the same time, you start to feel when it's ready. I somehow managed to get the outline instructions from my father - mash was one of the few dishes he made from beginning to end.

The ingredients that combine to make the magic are:

butter or margarine
pepper and salt

Some people favour particular varieties of potato, but I won't pretend that I do, because mostly I just use what is hanging around. In our house you need about three potatoes about the size of a computer mouse per person, unless Kitty and Olivia are in, in which case you need four per person.

Once you get a taste for this mash you may find you want a larger quantity. Have a pint of milk ready and make sure you've got at least a serving spoonful of butter or marg.

  • Peel the potatoes.
  • Cook them in salted water until very well done - a fork stuck into one will make it fall apart easily.
  • Drain the potatoes and add the butter and some of the milk, a hearty pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. 
  • Mash with a large fork. Beat those potatoes and keep beating.
  • Add a pinch of nutmeg - I use freshly grated. Don't overdo it.
  • Beat a bit more, taste and adjust the seasoning if you need to.
  • Add more milk if the potatoes are stiff - it should be smooth but not at all runny. 
I've been given a potato masher that's a bit like a miniature pogo stick, with springs and everything. I do use it, but I always end up using a fork afterwards. Just to make sure - and also because I feel a bit like I'm being unfaithful to the source implement. The fork is the magic wand of mash.

I don't really get those rice masher things either.

I like to pile the mash into a bowl and use the fork to give it lots of texture, my favourite is a volcano shape. Assuming you've used an oven proof dish you can put it in the oven to get a crust,

That's it.

The proof of the pudding, as the saying goes, is in the eating. And the proof of the recipe is in the cooking. Two proofs at once in this case, as Kitty followed the recipe and shared it with friends. She is the barometer for authentic Gerry Long mash, her friends are the barometer for v yummy, apparently.