Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lemon almond cookies

250g wholemeal flour (spelt flour)
2 tbsp honey
1 egg
1.5 heaped teaspoon ground Sri Lanka cinnamon, known as 'Ceylon cinnamon'
250g butter
400g organic almonds
rind of 1 lemon
all organic

Beat butter in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Add honey and beat it creamy.
Add egg and mix. It will not mix in so add a little flour and beat, then a little more flour and beat again. The mixture will become smooth.
Add cinnamon and grated lemon rind. Grate almonds and add to the mixture.
Add flour gradually while mixing.
When it becomes too firm to mix, add more flour and
knead to a pastry. Keep adding flour and kneading until it is not sticky
Cool in fridge.
Roll out thin.
Using cookie cutting tools cut out shapes.

Bake at 190°c for 6-8 minutes until light but not brown on a baking tray in batches on the second shelf from the bottom. Remove from oven and cool on the tray to avoid breakages.
Store in a tin lined with greaseproof paper in a cool place.
Use cookie cutting tools without narrow features as this pastry is quite crumbly.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Nut cake with lemon

125g butter

4 eggs, separated

4 heaped tbsp honey

200g almonds, grated
30g haselnuts, grated

150g spelt flour

1 packet Weinstein/wine stone baking powder

1 lemon
75g icing sugar

Beat butter with 2 tbsp honey in a bowl with a wooden spoon until smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time while beating.
Whip the egg whites until stiff. Add 2 tbsp honey and whip until integrated.
Add weinstein baking powder to the almonds and add the haselnuts. Mix a little.
Beat half the nuts into the butter-egg-yolk mixture. Add a little egg white and mix it in. Continue to add more nuts and small amounts of egg white until the nuts are all mixed in. Lift the remaining egg whites under the mixture.
Gradually add the flour while carefully and slowly mixing with a wooden spoon. Add just enough flour so that the mixture remains moist and light. Finely grate in the lemon rind.
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Put the mixture in a buttered 28cm cake form and smooth it on top.
Bake for 25 minutes on the second shelf from the bottom.
When finished, check that the cake is baked through with a skewer or fine knife. If not, return to the oven. If it is getting dark on top, cover it with a piece of natural paper.
Remove from the form when cooled.
Make icing from icing sugar and lemon juice and decorate the cake with it.

This nut cake does not need to be too sweet. Just a touch of lemon icing complements it well.

Vincent van Gogh, Sprig of Flowering Almond Blossom in a Glass 1888

Zurbarán, Francisco de, Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose, 1633

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Torta di Mandorle - Almond Cake

250g spelt flour
125g butter
7 eggs separated
3 ½   heaped tbsp honey

350g finely grated almonds
4 tbsp Apricot jam
all organic

Place flour in a bowl. Add in the middle 1 tbsp honey and 1 egg yolk. Mix into the flour with a wooden spoon. Add the butter in flakes. Mix then knead to a pastry. Cool covered with a tea towel.
Grate the almonds using a hand grater or an almond mill. Do this 100g at a time to avoid fatigue.*
Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Roll out the pastry and make a pastry shell on the bottom and sides of a 28cm round baking form with it. Cover it with grease-proof natural paper and place weights on the paper (e.g. 6 Walnuts).
Bake for about 8 minutes, until the pastry starts to lift off the baking form bottom. Remove from oven. Remove paper.

Beat the egg whites until stiff. Beat them well for a couple of minutes. Add 1 tbsp honey and continue beating until it is integrated into the egg white mixture.
Beat the egg yolks until very smooth and creamy for a few minutes. Add 1 ½ tbsp honey and continued beating until it is very creamy.
Carefully lift 150g almonds in small amounts under the egg yolk mix using a wooden spoon.
Spread the apricot jam evenly over the baked pastry shell bottom.
Pour the egg yolk mixture into the shell on top of the apricot jam. Smooth the surface.
Bake for about 8 minutes until the egg yolk mixture starts to become a little golden on top.
Remove from oven.
Beat the egg white mixture again for a short time to refresh it. Gradually add the remaining almonds and lift them under.
Add the egg white mixture to the cake on top of the partially baked egg yolk mixture. Smooth the top. Return to the oven for another 15-20 minutes until the top is lightly golden. Turn off the oven and leave the door open with the cake inside for another 30 minutes.
Remove the cake and cool.
Remove it from the cake form.

Torta di Mandorle is a layered almond cake reflecting the colours of the egg. Serve it with tea or coffee. It is an ideal cake for a picnic.

* Almonds need to be grated to get the right texture. Do not put them into a food processor. A hand grater is laboursome but worth the effort. It is good excercise and you keep control over your ingredients.