March 2014

March 2014

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rhubarb, Sweet Cicely & Almond Cake

Rhubarb, Sweet Cicely & Almond Cake
I’m sure that I can’t be the only person that comes back from holiday without the normal souvenirs but laden with local foods or, I should say, ingredients. I just love to buy from the roadside, nearby farms or local shops that stock items grown or produced in the vicinity.  We had a happy 7 days in North Norfolk a couple of weeks ago – a place where I really feel at home. Of course, we had some excellent meals out and the restaurants do seem to embrace and highlight all the ‘good things’ that are harvested nearby such as beautiful and fresh seafood from the coastal waters or in-season asparagus and strawberries. 

Wiveton Hall Cafe
This time my booty included rhubarb and a plant bought from Wiveton Hall, near Blakeney. This place is a real gem and we were fortunate enough to take a tour of their walled kitchen garden whilst our table was prepared in the fantastic and fun on-site cafĂ© which serves the most delicious seasonal food. When we unpacked on our return home, I was also pleased to find that the free-range eggs that I bought from Creake Abbey farm shop were still intact - the attached restaurant is always on our radar for lunch when we are in the area - and the Sharrington strawberries, bought from their roadside stall, had also traveled well. 

Letheringsett Watermill

We also brought home several kilos of flour from Bircham Windmill – which still has a little bakery on the ground floor - as well as Letheringsett Watermill which produces several types of stone ground flours including whole wheat, spelt and a special type of yellow pastry flour which includes a proportion of maize. This latter property has been milling since 1802 and is now the only working watermill in Norfolk. 


And, of course, I couldn’t wait to start baking in my new AEG SteamBake oven!

I immediately put some of the new Organic Stoneground Strong White Letheringsett flour to good use by baking two sourdough loaves and I was pleased with the result. Using the steambake oven seems to provide the perfect environment for the dough to get an extra lift (oven-spring) and then finishes it off nicely in a dry heat to create a crunchy crust. 

Serve with cream or ice cream
A sweet bake was now on the agenda.  In our absence, our garden had certainly sprung to life and the herb garden was abundant with new growth. In particular, the Sweet Cicely – given to us by our friends last year – had exploded into full bloom and was ripe for picking. With its aniseed-like flavour, It seems to particularly complement tart or sour fruits well – just perfect for the Wiveton rhubarb - and I found that I could reduce the sugar content in the following cake recipe by nearly 40% - a real bonus for those of us trying to eat more healthily. As they say in Norfolk “It was just boo-tiful!”

Rhubarb, Sweet Cicely and Almond cake
2 large eggs - lightly beaten
125g light brown muscovado unrefined sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used Ndali)
130ml rapeseed oil
350g rhubarb - rinsed and chopped into 2cm pieces
1½ tsp mixed spice
175g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds
3 fronds of young sweet cicely herb - stalks and leaves roughly chopped
Large handful of flaked almonds

Grease and line a 23cm cake round cake tin

Preheat oven to 180c (160c fan).
Place rhubarb into a mixing bowl followed by the eggs, vanilla, sugar, sweet cicely and oil.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, ground almonds and spice.
Add the dry ingredients to the bowl.
Mix thoroughly and place into the tin – gently pushing mixture to the edges.
Finally sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Bake for approx. 55 minutes – I checked mine at 50 minutes, it was ready.
Leave in the tin to cool for at least 20 minutes before turning it out onto a rack.