For George

Dad and I are going away tomorrow, to St Maarten to celebrate our Silver Wedding anniversary.  It is currently 26 deg C in St Maarten and I Cannot Wait!  As you know, this winter has broken records all over north America and quite frankly I’m tired of it.  We will spend one day lounging on the beach and then wake up warm and hopefully happy on the morning of our anniversary.  We are going out for a celebratory lunch, and then embarking on our sailing ship for a cruise.  In no particular order, we are visiting Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, St Kitts, and St Barths.  We are planning to spend a great deal of time pootling in the sea and to that end have packed industrial quantities of sun cream, large hats and books.  Aaaah!  I had thought of comparing these golden sandy beaches to those of my childhood, but you know what?  I’ll do that another time!

So here is a recipe that George has asked me for a couple of times.  It is a Nigella Lawson recipe and is from Domestic Goddess, I think.  She calls it Easy Almond Cake – George called it That Marzipan One That You Made in the Flower Shape.  Georgie, to use that cake pan, double the quantities of cake.  Make sure that you butter the flower pan gently – not too greasy – and then flour lightly.   If there are any lumps, remove gently with a pastry brush.

So here is Nigella’s Easy Almond Cake, cut and pasted from her website


  • 250 grams unsalted butter (softened)
  • 250 grams marzipan (softened)
  • 150 grams caster sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon almond essence
  • ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 large eggs
  • 150 grams self-raising flour


You will need a 25cm / 10 inch springform tube pan or patterned ring mould, buttered and floured.

  1. Preheat oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF. Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the doublebladed knife, with the sugar. Process until combined and pretty well smooth. Add almond essence and vanilla extract, process again, then break the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time. Tip the flour down the funnel, processing yet again, and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.
  2. Bake for 50 minutes, but check from 40. Then, when the cake looks golden and cooked and a cake-tester or fine skewer (or a piece of spaghetti) comes out cleanish, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out. (This is when you will be feeling grateful if it’s the Springform you’re using.)
  3. The fact that you could easily get 12 slices out of this is another reason why it comes in useful when you’ve got people coming for dinner. That it keeps for a good week is another point in its favour; you don’t have to be fiddling around with all the courses just before lift-off. And if you don’t want to eat raspberries with it, like the rosemary cake it’s very good with apples. With this cake, I make a glorious pink apple puree. Either go for apples stewed in blood-orange juice (wonderful around February when the tarocchi are in) which gives a tenderly coral tint, adding a cinnamon stick or 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or use red-skinned eating apples and don’t peel them before cooking them. In fact, there’s no need to core them either, just chop the apples roughly and put them in a pan with some butter, lemon juice, cinnamon or cloves and, if there’s some around, a slug of Calvados. Sieve the apples when they’re cooked to an utterly yielding pulp, or push them through a food mill. If you want to smarten up the cake-plus-puree deal, then provide a bowl of creme fraiche (with or without Calvados and a little golden icing sugar stirred in) with some toasted flaked almonds on top.
  4. I am not someone who enjoys peeling and depithing oranges at great length, but sliced tarocchi, or ordinary oranges, with a syrup made by reducing equal volumes of juice and sugar to an almost-caramel, would partner an orange-zested version of this almond ring (the zest in place of vanilla) exquisitely.

Enjoy!  I will send postcards!!

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