It was Easter. I like Easter. It means that spring is here. Or might arrive soon anyway.
Easter is an odd time for me, being half Cypriot, because the usual Greek things that happen usually involve family. LOTS of family. I don’t have that, so there’s not the impetus to do things that there used to be. Making the 40 or 50 flaounes is a group activity, and not something I would attempt on my own, plus what am I going to do with 40 of the things anyway? Red eggs are a tradition, but not really worth doing unless you do a lot at once, plus the splatter dyes everything red. Or purple. Or blue, or…
I don’t really feel the attachment to chocolate eggs at Easter that many do, though I’ll certainly not turn one down but, for me, I’d rather bake lots of things and give them away to people. Annoyingly, this year, I was thwarted in this as Greek Easter, for once, was at the same time as British Easter, and many people went on holiday. How could they? Didn’t they know I needed to bake things and give them away?
I soothed my baking itch by deciding to bake some cakes for my husband. He shares my love of marzipan, so when I saw Nigella’s recipe for Easy Almond Cake, I knew it had to be done.
The whole mixing bit gets done in a food processor, which makes me very happy. I apologise to those who do not have one but, for me, it’s a complete godsend. It means less time standing up, plus I can make pastry without my ridiculously hot hands melting the butter in seconds.
Now. The cake. Oh yes. I warn you now, if you are an almond/marzipan addict like me, when you make this, you will find it very hard indeed not to just eat the batter out of the bowl with a spoon. It’s like a gloriously velvety, marzipan scented silken custard.
Little Easy Almond Cakes
Preheat oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF
250 grams unsalted butter, softened
250 grams marzipan, softened
150 grams caster sugar (I used golden)
¼ teaspoon almond essence (I would up this next time to 1/2 tsp)
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract (ditto with this)
6 large eggs (I used 6 Clarence Court Burford Browns, but next time would use 5)
150 grams self-raising flour (I didn’t have any, so added a level tsp baking powder to 125g plain flour)
Chop the marzipan into chunks, and put in the food processor bowl with the butter and sugar. Give it a good whirl until combined.
Add in the extracts, then add the eggs one at a time, processing after each addition.
Then add in the flour and baking powder if using, processing again until it’s all mixed. You will probably need to scrape down the sides to make sure all the flour has been mixed in.
I didn’t have a suitable large tin, so decided to bake this as individual cakes. Plus marzipan makes this mixture very sticky, so the silicone moulds give an added non-stick back up.
Adjusting the baking time was tricksy. The original recipe says to bake for 50 minutes but check at 40. I checked at 20 minutes and they were done.
I left them to cool in the mould.
Still quite difficult to get out of the moulds, but they came away in the end.
The cakes are reminiscent of a steamed pudding, very light and, for me, a bit eggy this time around, so next time I will use 5 eggs not 6. That egginess faded after a few days and the cakes got more dense in texture.
They keep very well in an airtight container.