Posts tagged almond

Orange Polenta Cake (free-from)


ollowing on from chapter 1 – “Hoisin, Soy and Ginger Meatballs” (previous post) you’ll know that a heavy weekend of exercise required some calorie replacement. Cue dessert. I’m not a big cake eater but any cake that’s doused in syrup is one that I can get on board with.

I’ve made a few drizzle cakes and polenta loaves in the past but the use of whole oranges in this recipe really makes a difference and bumps this one up the leader board! It doesn’t require a huge amount more effort but means this cake is moist and packed with orange flavour. It also make an excellent dessert unlike a Victoria sponge style cake as you can serve it warm with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.


nintentionally this recipe is also dairy and gluten free! Which I think leads smoothly onto the news that I have now officially left the wine industry which has served me well for the past 4 years in London! But I’m more than excited to be entering a fresher, more creative and healthier career with Deliciously Ella. So next week starts the second chapter of my London life. Who knows what it has to hold and what recipes these blog posts might contain in the near future.

Adapated from a recipe by ‘John Torode’


  • 2 large oranges
  • 2 lemons
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 4 eggs
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 150g polenta
  • 80ml olive oil
  • 10g baking powder

Sticky Syrup

  • 3 oranges, juice (150ml juice)
  • 75g caster sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23cm cake tin (springform recommended or loose bottomed)
  2. Place 1 orange and 1 lemon in a saucepan of water so they are completely submerged and bring to the boil. Simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. After 30 minutes, remove the fruit from the pan and cut in half. Remove any unwanted seeds.
  4. Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the juice only of the other orange and lemon. Blend into a thick smooth paste.
  5. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt until foaming. Add the sugar and beat again.
  6. Next add the orange paste, almonds, oil and combine well.
  7. Add the polenta to the baking powder then fold these dry ingredients into the wet.
  8. Pour into your lined baking tin and bake for about 50 minutes.
  9. While cooking, make the syrup. Heat the sugar and juice on a medium heat until beginning to bubble and turn glossy. Keep warm.
  10. When the cake is ready pour over the syrup liberally whilst still in the tin. I like to pierce the whole cake with a cocktail stick (especially at the edges and middle) to allow the syrup to seep into the cake better. This prevents it running off the top and collecting round the edges.
  11. Once the syrup has soaked in thoroughly, remove from the tin and turn out onto a serving plate

Serve warm with ice cream or at room temperature. The cake will keep well for about a week if stored well and become more moist!


Speedy (Health Conscious) Millionaire Shortbread


‘ll start by warning (yes warning) you that this recipe should not be compared to the decadence of the traditional millionaires shortbread. Firstly is the reduciton in indulgence ingredients, mainly butter and sugar, that I love so very much and praise. However, if you have a craving for this dangerous treat, but also want to balance this guilty indulgence with some form – even if tiny – of health awareness then its a good one. That said, it really is a speedy way to make your own version! The traditional version takes time – baking the shortbread base, making the caramel and then applying the chocolate. This, can be done in an hour!

If you do want to make a recommended amendment if time isn’t your’e enemy here, I think this recipe could be equally as good as the real thing just by changing the base for a traditional baked shortbread. Use 50g caster sugar, 125g unsalted butter and 150g plain flour – example recipe here. I personally think the date caramel is far tastier than the normal boiled sugar version! Firstly, its less rich so you can eat more of it…and secondly its natural sugar. Yes, still sugar but its far healthier.

(Based on a recipe by ‘The Plant-Based Londoner’)


  • 90g oats
  • 130g nut of choice (cashew, brazil, almond)
  • 1 tbsp lacuma powder (optional)
  • 6 tbsp of nut butter of choice (try substituting in some coconut oil. Note, it will dominate the flavours)

Caramel & Topping

  • 300g pitted dates
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g dark chocolate
  1. Start on the base. Pulse the flour, lacuna powder, nuts and nut butter in a food processor until you have a soft dough that holds together. If it needs to be more moist add a little more nut butter. Tip out into a lined baking tray (line with parchment, foil or cling film) big enough so that the mixture is about 1 cm deep. It doesn’t matter what dish you use, just use one that is a suitable size.(20cm x 20xm recommended) Cover and chill in the fridge.
  2. Next, pulse the dates, sea salt, cinnamon and vanilla in the food processor. Add a splash of water and keep adding until you get a smooth but thick date caramel.
  3. Spread this caramel evenly over the chilled base and then cover and chill again.
  4. Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt in a heat proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until fully melted.
  5. Tip the chocolate over the chilling date layer and smooth out until even and completely covering the caramel.
  6. Cover again and chill until the chocolate has set hard.
  7. Once hard, tip the bar out onto a chopping board and cut into the desired square/rectangle. Please note – the top layer WILL crack where unwanted and not every piece will look perfect, if any. The 3 in the image I have are the only ones that did not misbehave. But the look isn’t everything so cut randomly into chunky morsels. Its more tasty that way.


Chilled Iranian Pistachio and Cucumber Soup

Jess - Iranian pistachio soup


ne of my favourite restaurants in London is Dock Kitchen by Stevie Parle. The style, flavours and creations resonate with my own using the best ingredients and sticking a finger up to the gadgets and modern methods that have infiltrated our restaurants recently. With no particular genre as such Stevie’s style seems to be a collaboration of inspiration from various adventures and culinary travels but with a lean towards middle Eastern in places. With a rather eclectic style myself I was delighted to know that it was the venue for our office Summer party last year. With a tempting menu of absolutely mouth watering courses that would sit wholeheartedly at my dinner table on cloud nine I was excited initially to try the much talked about ‘Lamb biryani with black cumin, coriander and almonds which was baked with love and warmth in an earthy clay pot and sealed protectively with a dough lid. With what could have been a miniature chisel, it gets delivered with elegance and flecked with gold leaf to the hungry guests and forcefully cracked open revealing succulent chunks of tender lab, rice and aromats.  Shamefully amongst the starters of fattoush, labneh and chicken livers, this dreamy main and the simple sweets I didn’t even give this pistachio dish a second glance.




t was delivered to the now raucous and wine lubricated guesses as a humble ‘palate’ cleanser pre-main event. I’ll admit, it didn’t ever really stand a chance grabbing our attention as the scent of lamb trickled under our hungry noses but its vibrant colour oozing freshness, greenery and curiosity caught my attention on first sight and even more so on taste.

I’m not your biggest gazpacho eater or one for cucumber in anything but salads and Pimms but after just a vary mouthful of this chilled, textured and complex soup I was dying to know how it was made. It instantly placed itself royally on my to cook list and after searching for a mimic recipe I was delighted to find one and be enlightened into the ingredients. Again, shamefully over half a year later I finally gathered the short list of simple ingredients and concocteed this treat for lunch on a Spring sunny lunch.

Complex, intriguing and all so moreish it is one to try for a taste of Stevie’s culinary brain from your own home. I’m certainly due another visit not only for their chicken livers in seven spice and pomegranate molasses that is still on my ‘To cook’ list slightly below this Iranian soup but for their dynamically changing menu. It is an ideal location on a summers day when you can enjoy their gorgeous roof terrace with a glass of something chilled and ideally effervescent in your favourite sunglasses that have been in hibernation for far too long.

Serves 4

  • 75g fresh green pistachios
  • 75g blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 100g red grapes
  • Bunch mint, leaves picked
  • Sprig dill
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rose petals to serve
  1. Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and blend until a fine powder.
  2. Add a splash of water and blend again
  3. Next, add most of the grapes, saving some for garnish, the cucumber, the mint and the dillJess - Iranian pistachio soup3
  4. Blend well.
  5. Next add a drop of the rose water (its powerful for add a little to begin, taste and add more if needed. It should be a subtle flavour, not there to make this soup taste like soap)
  6. Add the lemon juice and season to taste and blend again.
  7. Now add enough water to dilute the consistency to that of a thick soup.
  8. Serve with sliced grapes and rose petals and any chopped pistachios if you wish.

Jess - Iranian pistachio soup2


Bakewell Tart


 love a traditionally made bakewell tart but its seems that those who don’t agree seem to have a tainted opinion founded into their childhood from thier experiences of Mr Kipling’s overly sweet and synthetic offerings. Found overdosed with grainy icing in your packed lunch that should ideally inspire and energise!? That said, on baking this tart over the weekend for my family his holy name was referenced three times without provoking! But I assure you that a homemade bake well is a good way to convince those haunted by Mr.K’s recipe and being such a traditional recipe I felt it needed a proud place on my blog archive.

I do already have a Rhubarb bake well tart recipe but this arguably this is not ‘traditional’ as is my style. And in fact this one is in my style also using some leftover homemade blackcurrant jam from the summer. But feel free to use a jam of choice here, traditional raspberry or strawberry, apricot or even marmalade!

Makes 1 tart

  • 1 pastry case (see here)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 50g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Splash almond extract (optional)
  • 100g jam (raspberry, blackcurrant, strawberry etc)
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • 6 tbsp icing sugar
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  1. Make the pastry case – instructions here
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. Cream the butter and sugar together
  4. Then gradually beat in the eggs and the almond extract until the mixture is combined
  5. Gently fold in the ground almonds and flour until well combined.
  6. Spoon the jam evenly over the base of the pastry case.
  7. Cover with the almond frangipani mixture and use a palate knife or spatula to smooth out the surface until even and the jam is completely covered.
  8. Scatter over the flaked almonds
  9. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and the middle is set. Leave to cool completely.
  10. Sieve the icing sugar into a bowl. Add the lemon juice drop by drop being careful you don’t add to much to fast. You’re aiming for a really thick paste consistency that you can pipe.
  11. Spoon into a piping bag and snip a small end off. Pipe the icing in your desired pattern over the top.
  12. Serve with creme fraiche!


Galette des rois and Cinnamon Ice Cream

Jess - Galette 3Jess - Galette 2


alette de rois probably combines some of my most favourite ingredients yet criminally I’ve never made it!? Puff pastry, almonds, frangipane, a cheeky splash of booze, not much else says Christmas like that for me. And not only is it a sweet comforting crowd pleaser its a festively appropriate one too….in France anyway. Traditionally eaten on Twelfth night to welcome those famous Kings around the festive season it is normally the hiding place for two figurines that when found by the lucky eaters crown them Kind and Queen for the day and the chance to make a wish. I had many wishes this year that I can’t confess its just a shame I forgot the figurines!

Eaten a little early I’ll agree but neither are we in France! Accompanied by homemade cinnamon ice cream and a warm spoonful of spiced apple compote this went down a treat. And you can barely call this cooking as it simply involves a round of shop bought pastry and a quick frangipane.

NOTE: You can spoon some of the apple jam onto the base of this pastry as an alternative to apricot jam or serve alongside as I did.

Serves 10


  • 1 x block 500g puff pastry (I recommend you don’t use the ready rolled version – it doesn’t ‘puff’ and rise as much in my experience)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g ground almonds
  • 100g softened unsalted butter
  • 50 g flaked almonds
  • 2 eggs, beaten and 1 extra for glazing
  • 1 tbsp/large splash cognac or dark rum
  • 1-2 tbsp apricot jam

Cinnamon Ice Cream

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped (reserve the pods for using to infuse a jar of caster sugar)

Spiced Apple Compote/Jam – recipe here

  1. Start with the ice cream. Heat the single cream until just about to simmer then remove from the heat. Add the scraped seeds from the vanilla pod and whisk the cinnamon in thoroughly.
  2. Whisk in the condensed milk and leave to the mixture to cool completely.
  3. Freeze the ice cream in a tupperware container or dish. This is a non-churn ice cream but you may need to whisk after 3-4 hours when the ice cream should be nearly set but still loose to distribute any ground cinnamon that has risen to the surface. Freeze until set
  4. For the galette, cut the pastry block in half and roll out each into a square about 25cm x 25cm. Use a plate or dish around 23cm in size (approx.) and cut out two discs. Place them on a parchment lined baking tray and chill in the fridge.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. Whisk the butter and sugar until combined, soft and fluffy in a food processor or using a hand blender.
  6. Slowly add in the beaten egg and mix until combined followed by the cognac/rum.
  7. Fold in the ground and flaked almonds until combined. Chill in the fridge for about 15 minutes.
  8. When ready to cook remove all elements from the fridge. Spoon the apricot jam (or apple compote) onto the bottom of one of the pastry rounds leaving a 2cm border. Spoon on the frangipane, again leaving a 2cm border, slightly heaping the mixture in the centre.
  9. Brush the 2cm border with beaten egg and place the second pastry round on top.
  10. Press the edges together well to seal.
  11. Using a knife, nick little slices into the edges to seal the pastry together and create a rough pattern. Finally score the top as seen in the pictures in a wheel affect.
  12. Brush the galette with beaten egg and chill for 20 minutes in the fridge.
  13. Meanwhile preheat the oven to 200°C. After 20 minutes, brush again with beaten egg for a golden coating and then cook in the oven for about 30-35 minutes until golden and cooked through.
  14. Leave to cool slightly before dusting with icing sugar and serving alongside some creamy and festive cinnamon ice cream.

Jess - Galette 5Jess - Galette 4

Nectarine, Almond and Rosemary Tart


 adore the savoury taste of rosemary in desserts which should not be knocked before tried. Whether with apricots (see here) or honeyed pine nuts (see here) it adds a lovely warming flavour if added with a disciplined hand…don’t get to carried away or you’ll be expecting roasted lamb to appear in your ice cream! With an abundance of fresh juicy ripe nectarines in season at the moment, I combined them with the sugary flavours of this frangipane tart and the subtle spike of rosemary. Although sweet, this dessert can handle the sharp honeyed flavours of a lovely Sauterens with acts as the perfect accompaniment to this dish. Washed down with a dainty glass (at my encouragement) was a perfect end to a summer BBQ with friends. Serve with creamy vanilla flecked ice cream, luxurious clotted cream or tart creme fraiche.

Serves 12


  • 250g plain flour
  • 125g cold cubed butter
  • Zest 1 lemon


  • 2 ripe nectarines, halved and sliced into wedges
  • 1 1/2/ tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary
  • 200g ground almonds
  • 200g cubed butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 100g soft light brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • Vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  1. Start with the pastry. Combine the flour, butter and zest in a food processor until the mixture starts to come together. Slowly add up to 2 tbsp cold water until the pastry forms a soft ball of dough.
  2. Form the dough into a disc, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 15 minutes or so.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180. Grease and line a large tart tin with a loose bottom. Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out to the thickness of about £1 coin and line the tart tin. Prick the base with a fork all over.
  4. Line with parchment and baking beans and bake blind for about 20 minutes. Once beginning to just colour straw brown, remove the beans and bake for a further 5 minutes or so until the base is lightly borne and cooked. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
  5. Make the filling. Cream the butter and sugar together in a food processor. Once combined, add the eggs one by one and a splash of vanilla. Add the 1tbsp of chopped rosemary
  6. Finally, fold in the ground almonds until thoroughly combined.
  7. Fill the baked tart shell with the frangipane mixture and spread out evenly.
  8. Top with the wedges of nectarine, allowing about 1 slice per portion or there abouts.
  9. Scatter with the crunchy demerara sugar and bake in the oven for about 40-45 minutes until golden brown and cooked.
  10. Leave to cool slightly in the tin before removing and serving on a large plate. Scatter with the remaining 1/2 tsp rosemary and a little dusting of icing sugar. Serve with creme fraiche and a delicious glass of Sautnernes.

Jess - Nectarine, Almond Rosemary Tart#2

Almond Blackcurrant Tarts with Salted Lime




I spent a gorgeously sunny few days at home in Wiltshire this weekend and had to make a batch of my favourite sweet treat. The recipe is from one of my previous blog posts but adapted slightly with some lime salt which I thought was a quirky experiment. I love salt with sweetness and the sharp lime and blackcurrant in this recipe make sure you’ll never forget the taste. Served with coconut ice cream it would happily top off my last meal…


  1. Make the basic tartlets as per the recipe link above adding the zest of 1 lime to the frangipane mixture.
  2. For the icing, mix about 2 tbsp of icing sugar with a tiny amount of lime juice and mix until thick. Add more icing sugar if its too runny. Spoon into a plastic piping bag and snip off the end.
  3. Once cool, ice a neat pattern or random design on top.
  4. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 75°C. Place the zest of 1- ½ a lime on a piece of parchment on a baking tray and dry in the low oven for about 20 minutes to intensify the flavours. Alternatively you can leave it to dry overnight. Mix the dried zest with a tiny pinch of salt.
  5. Scatter sparingly on top of the tarts and top with a few dainty leaves of mint.



Blackcurrant Bakewell Macaroons

I’ve been making a lot of macaroons recently….perfecting the skill you might say! These were without doubt the lightest batch I’ve made to date and the super sweet blackcurrant puree (see here) which I made was to die for with the creamy but punchy almond buttercream filling. Sandwiched lovingly between two girly pillows these taste like a mouthful of bakewell tart! Feel free to use a cherry or raspberry jam for a more traditional ‘bakewell’ flavour however.

For me, the excitement of macaroons comes in the endless combinations of flavours but I love taking a traditional dessert recipe and deconstructing it into a light macaroon in an ‘amuse bouche’ style! The possibilites are endless….pecan pie, treacle tart, creme brule macaroons perhaps?

Macaroon Shells

  • 60g egg whites (about 2 eggs)
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 50g ground almonds
  • 110g icing sugar
  • Red food colouring

Filling- Almond Buttercream

  • 80g butter, softened
  • 80g icing sugar
  • Up to 1 tsp almond essence (or to taste)
  • Blackcurrant/cherry/strawberry jam
  • Yellow food colouring (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and line a baking tray with parchment.
  2. Blend the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a food processor until fine and then sieve into a bowl.
  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form, then add the caster sugar a spoon at a time until glossy stiff peaks form. Briefly whisk in a good splash of red food colouring.
  4. Fold in 1/3 of the almond mixture to loosen it. Then fold in the rest, being gentle not to knock the air out.
  5. Spoon into a pipping bag with a round ended nozzle and pipe consistent circles of mixture evenly. Give the tray a sharp slap on the surface to level the mixture and leave for 20 minutes, uncovered to form a skin.
  6. Bake for about 12 minutes. They are ready when they come away easily from the tray. Leave to cool.
  7. Combine the butter, icing sugar and almond essence in a food processor or a bowl until smooth and combined. Add a splash of yellow food colouring if you like- the bright yellow colour can look great with the red shells. Spoon into a piping bag.
  8. Pipe some of the buttercream onto a macaroon shell half and top with about ¼ tsp of jam. Sandwich together with another empty macaroon half, squeezing together gently but not so the jam oozes out too much. Enjoy!

NOTE: I didn’t (as I ran out of icing sugar) but for authentic decoration, make up some thick wet icing with icing sugar and a tiny splash of cold water and spoon into a piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe some lines on the macaroons on the outside like a bakewell tart.


Amaretto Cake with Roasted Figs



This should really be called ‘booze cake with roasted fruits’ as really it is open to any of your favourite tipples and topped with any complementing fruit. In my recent craving to make a polenta cake and my mum’s imminent birthday, I ended up combining these two irresistible forces and making this amaretto soaked ‘pudding cake’. Courtesy of ‘Vogue Entertaining and Travel’ who’s magazines offer not only fantastic food porn photography but some great original recipes, I replaced masarala for amaretto and it was a huge success! There was also added relief as if you notice, it is in fact egg-less……but yes it sets and eats like a dream! Who’d have thought!?

Makes one large cake (Adapted from ‘Vogue Entertaining and Travel’)

  • 300g self raising flour
  • 110g polenta
  • 60g ground almonds
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 125g butter, chopped
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 300g soured cream
  • 250ml amaretto (or masala or another booze)
  • 4 large figs
  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and grease and line a 26cm spring form cake tin.
  2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the polenta, bicarb and almonds with a pinch of salt.
  3. Beat butter and caster sugar until fluffy and then stir in the soured cream by hand until just combined.
  4. Sift in the dry ingredients alteratively with the amaretto into the butter until just combined but don’t over-mix- it will be quick thick.
  5. Spoon into the tin, level and bake for about 50 minutes until cooked and then leave to cool. (Note: you may feel an urge to put your entire face into the cake and eat it-avoid)
  6. Once cool, top with sliced raw or roasted fresh fig halves, scatter with toasted almonds and dust with icing sugar.

Side Effects: Can cause over-consumption especially when eaten with homemade blackcurrant sorbet (see here)


Blackcurrant and Almond Tart with Blackcurrant Sorbet



If I had to chose my last super then without a doubt this tart would be for dessert as it is literally my downfall. It’s taken from ‘Sarah Raven’s’ allotment inspired cookbook and its a serious crowd pleaser. If you can’t get hold of blackcurrants then other fruit like blackberries will work too.

This tart always makes an appearance during blackcurrant season and is one of those default and faithful desserts that I can be confident will always be loved if I’m stuck for inspiration. I love it served with a creamy coconut ice cream and with that as my last meal I would contently go. However, we have an obscene amount of blackcurrants on the allotment which, after tedious and hand-staining picking, provides us with multiple bags of these little currants. Seeing as I have now exhausted the Cassis and blackcurrant jam making process, I ventured into the world of fruit sorbets to go with the tart. Its super sweet and shiny like a well polished cricket ball and is wonderfully refreshing.


  • 500g blackcurrants
  • 250g caster sugar

Blackcurrant Almond Tart (makes one large or two small tarts)

  • 200g ground almonds
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g blackcurrants
  • Icing sugar
  1. Start with the sorbet. Wash the blackcurrants well and tip them, while still wet, into a large pan.
  2. Add the sugar and heat gently. Heat until the sugar melts and the mixture begins to turn dark purple and the berries just begin to burst. I added a few splashes of water to help the process along. Just as the berries begin to burst, remove from the heat and puree in a food processor or liquidiser
  3. Pass through a fine sieve and discard the pulp. Cool in a jug in the fridge then churn in an ice cream maker until frozen and smooth. Alternatively, freeze in a shallow container, forking every 20 minutes or so to break up the ice crystals.
  4. For the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C and line one 23cm round tart tin or 2 smaller tins.
  5. In a food processor, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time between handfuls of ground almonds and mix until all is incorporated. Add the vanilla.
  6. Spoon into your lined tart case. Scatter the blackcurrants evenly over the top and bake for 30-40 minutes until cooked. It can take longer depending on the state of your ingredients and the depth of the tin but if it needs longer than 40 minutes, just make sure it doesn’t brown too much and cover with foil if needed.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and allow to firm up a little. Dust with icing sugar and serve with the sorbet (or coconut ice cream alternatively) and a sprig of mint!