I do most of my baking in the cooler months, when it’s not too hot to turn on the oven, and cocooned against the elements we’re craving comfort food. Particularly on wet, dreary days when there’s nothing more inviting than the aroma of something freshly baked wafting through the house at the end of a long, tiring day. It’s at this time of year that good old fashioned baking really comes into its own. Simple and straightforward. Nothing fancy. Just honest, down to earth flavours and textures.
Usually I turn to my faithful standby a butter cake made from staple pantry ingredients, butter, sugar, eggs and flour, scented with a dash of vanilla. Lately I’ve been adding a little almond meal to the mix. Rich and buttery, finished with a scattering of flaked almonds, its the perfect antidote for a dull winter’s day.
Little Almond Butter Cakes
250 g butter, softened
1 teaspoon almond essence
1 cup (220g) caster sugar
3/4 cup (110g) plain flour
3/4 cup (110g) self raising flour
1/3 cup (40g) almond meal
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup (30g) flaked almonds
PREHEAT oven to 170 C. Position oven racks so the top of the cake tin is roughly in the centre of the oven.
GREASE and flour an 8 hole mini loaf tray or deep 20 cm round cake tin. Line base with baking paper.
BEAT butter, caster sugar and almond essence until pale and creamy, at least 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.
FOLD in sifted flours and almond meal in two batches with just enough milk to achieve dropping consistency. Scrape down mixture from the sides of the bowl with a spatula to ensure the flour is evenly incorporated into the batter
SPOON batter into the mini loaf or cake tin. When filled tap the tin gently on the kitchen bench to distribute the batter and smooth the top with a palette knife.
SCATTER flaked almonds evenly over the top of the cakes for decoration.
BAKE for 20 – 25 minutes for the mini loaves or 50 – 55 minutes for the larger round cake. A skewer inserted into the cakes should come out clean when perfectly baked. If the flaked almonds on top of the large cake appear to brown too quickly, loosely cover top of cake with a sheet of tin foil and continue baking.
REMOVE from the oven, allow to cool in the tin a little before transferring onto wire rack to cool completely
DUST with a little sifted icing sugar to serve. The cakes will keep in an air tight container for up to three days and is suitable to freeze.