I have made many a crumble in my life. I would count myself as something of a crumble connoisseur. I cut my teeth on the classics – apple, rhubarb – before graduating into a wild, wonderful world of pineapple, coconut and black pepper, or pear, chocolate and raspberry, or fig, blood orange and hazelnut, even venturing occasionally into savoury variations (tomato, rosemary and cheddar; butternut squash, sage and blue cheese). There is very little that I will not try to crumble, and there is very little that isn’t improved by being smothered in a blanket of butter, sugar and flour, rubbed together into an irresistible nubbly sweetness.Read More
There are a million and one delicious things in the world. Chocolate. Ripe mangoes. Jennifer Lawrence. But sometimes I think that, as far as simplicity goes, you can't get much better than curd. I'm not talking about the pale, buttery clouds that rise to the surface when you make cheese (the curds of Little Miss Muffet, as they are otherwise known), but that blissfully ambrosial concoction of butter, eggs, sugar and fruit, heated and whisked until glossy, gelatinous and spreadable and then placed in jars where you can admire its beautiful pastel hues.Read More
On a January morning, you need dessert for breakfast. This is probably my favourite category of recipe, and the one most of my cooking falls into. I should point out that this does not mean you are ever justified in eating a chocolate orange, Magnum or cheeseboard before 12pm. Instead, it means adapting certain post-savoury classics to make them a little healthier, a little more substantial and a little more appropriate for the beginning of the day. I try and cut out a lot of the refined sugar and processed flour, sticking with wholesome staples like honey, spelt flour, oats, polenta and unrefined muscovado sugar. I like to think I have this down to a fine art, perhaps evident from the number of ‘breakfast crumble’ recipes in my repertoire.Read More
Few people seem to know what to do with a persimmon. In fact, most people I know have never encountered them before. They’ll either hear me mention one and say ‘what’s that?’, or they’ll glance over at it in the fruit bowl and look confused. I can kind of understand why: persimmons do resemble large, squat orange tomatoes, so seeing them nestled there amongst the bananas, apples and pears might seem a little odd (even though the tomato is, of course, technically a fruit). I explain the unique qualities of this fine fruit, tell them how good it is in a variety of dishes…and then of course they say ‘Oh right’ and promptly forget, assuming this is another of my mad fruit whims to be humoured and then quickly disregarded.Read More
Recently, I got to thinking about the way we express our appreciation while eating good food. How do you do it? Are you the type to take a mouthful, put down your spoon, lean back, close your eyes and raise your visage to heaven, indulging in a moment of quiet quasi-religious worship of the food gods? Or do you open your mouth, aforementioned mouthful still visible inside it, and make a thick, guttural, primal grunt of 'ommagodatsogood'? Maybe you go for a short and sweet 'mm', delivered with vim and gutso, in the style of Nigella? Or a longer and more voluptuously drawn-out 'mmmmmmmmm'? Do you go all out and emit a rapturous and somewhat inappropriate moan of 'oh my goddddd', or do you eschew such drama altogether and simply express your seal of approval with a restrained 'this is very nice'?
A couple of weeks ago, I had a friend over for dinner. We'd just polished off a delicious (even if I say so myself) main course of Mexican spicy marinaded roast chicken thighs, pineapple and avocado salad and corn on the cob. I'd found a new dessert recipe I wanted to try. I sliced a fat, ripe papaya in half, scooped out the seeds and stuffed it with a mixture of amaretti biscuits, stem ginger in syrup, sultanas, lime zest and juice, yoghurt and pistachios. I baked it in the oven for just under half an hour, let it cool for a few minutes, then tucked in.
We were talking about something, I forget what. Or at least my friend was talking, and I listened intently as I dug my spoon into the soft, gooey papaya centre and placed it in my mouth. Completely involuntarily, I suddenly let out a loud and deeply guttural cry. I forget what the words were - something in the vein of 'Oh my GOD THIS IS INSANE' - but they are, by and large, unimportant. What is important is the tone in which they were conveyed, a tone of wild, primal, unadulterated and lascivious food lust.
I'm pretty sure I have never expressed such deep regard for a single mouthful before. I'm certainly one for conveying my appreciation of food in vocal and often inappropriately loud and involved ways, sometimes with a mouth impolitely half-full, but this was on a whole new level.
I'm just going to go right ahead and say it. All my recipes are delicious, OK? That's why I blog about them, because they taste good and I want to share them. But, to grotesquely mis-quote Animal Farm, some recipes are more delicious than others. This is probably in the top five of all time.
It's not something I can take total credit for. I discovered it in an obscure Asian cookbook of mine that I looked up on Amazon and discovered is now out of print and therefore would cost you hundreds of pounds if you wanted to acquire a copy. I've tweaked it slightly to adjust it more to my taste, and the result is just so ridiculously good that it would be a crime not to make it available to a wider audience.
You've never thought of baking a papaya before, right? Me neither. There are some fruits that beg to be baked into luscious desserts - pears, banana, apples, plums - but there are equally some whose very structure and fruity identity feels ill at ease enveloped in a batter or exposed to the searing heat of oven or pan: mango, for example; strawberries; and, until now, papaya.
You just wouldn't think it would work. Papaya flesh is quite watery, and possesses such a subtle flavour - surely the oven would just destroy its creamy, slightly grainy, texture and fragrant flesh? Not so. If anything, the flavour is intensified by the oven, the texture firmed up and yet simultaneously made even more meltingly delicious. The sweetness is multiplied tenfold, the orange colouring becomes much more resplendent.
And the filling is just something else. It's quite a strange assortment of ingredients - or, rather, there are lots of established pairings of ingredients in there, but alongside lots of other pairings, so it's a kind of strange medley. Ginger and raisin, yes; amaretti and pistachio; ginger and pistachio; ginger and amaretti; raisin and amaretti; raisin and pistachio; yoghurt and pistachio...you get the gist. But it all melds together in the heat of the oven to form the most incredible flavour-packed stuffing for the papaya. The top turns crunchy and golden, knobbly with nutty pistachios and biscuit, while the inside is soft and gooey, deeply spiced with ginger and with surprising little bursts of sweetness from the raisins. I added even more ginger to the original recipe, and omitted the extra sugar, because this is a very sweet dessert already (not overly so, and there's actually no added sugar - it all comes from the fruit, raisins and stem ginger).
I've made this three times already, and the second time I decided to pair it with a homemade ice cream. Specifically, a gelato (a milk base rather than cream) made with toasted coconut. This has a delicious deep, rich, nutty flavour and sweet coconut perfume that marries very well with the papaya - it takes the edge off its sweetness, and the contrast between the cold ice cream and hot, juicy, gooey papaya is fantastic.
It's a bit of a strange ice cream recipe (I adapted it from the excellent online cooking resource, Food52), in that you cook the ice cream base with half the coconut, then strain it out, only adding the toasted coconut once the ice cream is churned. It also doesn't thicken as much as traditional cream-based ice cream custard mixtures. Despite that, you end up with a lovely subtle coconut flavour, enhanced by the addition of a vanilla pod. There's something about vanilla that seems to bring out the flavour of coconut; I wonder if they have some kind of similar chemical flavour component.
I'm really excited about this recipe, and could hardly wait to share it. It's fabulously unusual, and I think it's one of the prettiest desserts I've ever made, too - the colours both as you prepare it (jade green pistachios, deep sandy biscuits, bright vibrant limes, silky yoghurt) and when you take it out of the oven (that deep marigold colour of the baked papaya, and the burnished golden stuffing) are mouthwateringly beautiful.
Let us not forget, either, that this tastes so good that - even if this isn't normally your style - you will be forced to throw all caution to the winds, and emit a raucous, guttural moan of delight upon your first mouthful.
Baked amaretti, ginger and lime papaya (serves 4):
(Adapted from The Ultimate Thai and Asian Cookbook by Deh-Ta Hsiung, Becky Johnson and Sallie Morris)
- 2 ripe but firm papaya
- 2 globes stem ginger in syrup
- 8 amaretti biscuits
- 40g pistachio nuts
- 3 tbsp sultanas
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- Zest and juice of one lime
- 4 tbsp yoghurt
Cut the papaya in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Place cavity side up on a baking tray. Pre-heat the oven to 200C.
Put the stem ginger, amaretti and two thirds of the pistachios in a blender and pulse briefly to roughly chop - you don't want a powder, but coarse chunks of nut and biscuit. If you don't have a blender, crumble the biscuits, finely chop the ginger and roughly chop the pistachios. Put in a small bowl with the sultanas, ground ginger and lime zest, then stir in the lime juice and yoghurt. Spoon the mixture into the cavities of the papaya, then roughly chop the remaining pistachios and scatter over.
Bake for 25 minutes, then leave to cool for 5 minutes before serving with the coconut gelato.
Toasted coconut gelato (makes around 500ml):
(Adapted from Food 52)
- 190g desiccated coconut
- 4 egg yolks
- 160g caster sugar
- 480ml whole milk
- 1 vanilla pod
In a large wide frying pan, toast half the coconut over a low heat until golden and evenly browned, stirring occasionally (or place it on an oven tray and bake for 10 minutes or so, stirring occasionally). Set aside.
In a mixing bowl, use an electric whisk to beat the sugar and egg yolks together until thick, pale and creamy - about 3-5 minutes.
Place the milk in a saucepan with the vanilla pod and heat gently. Add the sugar and egg mixture, stirring constantly, then the (untoasted) half of the coconut. Continue to cook over a very low heat, stirring regularly, until the mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (it won't thicken as much as regular ice cream or custard due to the lack of cream). This could take up to half an hour. Pour into a jug and chill in the fridge for at least four hours, preferably overnight.
When ready to churn, strain out the coconut and vanilla pod from the mixture, then discard it. Churn in an ice cream maker until set, then quickly fold in the toasted coconut, pour into a tub and place in the freezer to firm up (preferably for at least six hours).
I used to make myself a tea loaf every few days when I was in my second and third year of university. I remember this very distinctly. I can remember the exact spot on my bookshelves in my room where I would keep the polka-dot Emma Bridgewater cake tin (a present - I can never afford that sort of stuff normally). I can remember my daily afternoon ritual: returning from the Bodleian to have lunch, then working in my room for the rest of the day, occasionally getting distracted by people-watching through my gigantic bay window that looked out onto a busy thoroughfare (sometimes I'd see a friend frantically waving up at me). Around four o'clock, I'd make myself a big mug of tea, slice a thick slab of tea loaf, lick the sugary residue off my fingers after transporting it to a plate, and sit down, settled, a fork in hand.
There I would sit, sun streaming in through the window, books piled up around my laptop, tea steaming, the faint sound of voices and laughter emanating from the street outside. Mouthful after sugary mouthful, the tea loaf would disappear in a haze of sweet stickiness, and I would feel revived, ready to carry on with Marvell or Richardson or Defoe or whatever else I had to set my mind to that afternoon.
Sometimes it was banana bread, when I had bananas to use up, but often I'd make various variations on the theme of a tea loaf. Tea loaves are, to me, a quintessentially British bit of baking. They involve steeping dried fruit in strong tea for several hours (or overnight), before mixing this fruit and tea medley with flour and eggs; sometimes a little sugar (not much is needed as the fruit is so sweet), sometimes ground almonds to add moisture; sometimes a pinch of warming spice. The main point is that there is no fat added: the tea-soaked fruit makes the cake perfectly moist and gooey without the need for butter or oil. Thus, the beauty of the tea loaf: good for those watching their waistline.
I wasn't, incidentally, but few things can perk up the academic brain more than a slice of cake packed with dried fruit. I used to use apricots, figs, prunes, dates and sultanas. My favourite mouthfuls were those featuring the dates, which turned gloriously sticky and toffee-like during the baking process. Sometimes I added almonds, for a little crunch, or steeped the fruit in orange juice instead of tea.
I love the magic that happens when you soak dried fruit. Used to eating it raw, or throwing it raw into things like cakes and breads, I forget how deliciously plump and juicy it becomes after a nice hot bath. The saturated fruit makes the cake all the more moist, sticky and gooey. It's kind of how a fruit cake should be - I always find those fruit cakes we make on festive occasions, like Christmas cake or simnel cake, far too dry.
There's something intensely comforting about a tea loaf. It's solid and robust, a good, proper, old-fashioned cake. It often has a lovely crunchy crust around the outside, while the inside is gloriously moist and gooey from all the fruit. The fruit is plump and sweet, having absorbed the tea or juice, while the cake itself is fluffy, often with a hint of spice. It's the kind of thing you eat when you are feeling a bit sad, or a bit tired, or a bit peckish. I can't think of something better to revive you in the afternoon. Also, because it's lower on sugar than most cakes, it doesn't give you a horrible sugar crash when you come back down to earth - the dried fruit is good, honest, slow-release energy. At least I feel it is; I'm no nutritionist.
You can eat a tea loaf spread with a little butter, but when it's fresh from the oven it needs no accompaniment other than tea. The smell as it bakes, filling your kitchen with homely, warming aromas, is - for me - what baking is all about.
This recipe is inspired by my recent trip to the Wakefield Rhubarb Festival. There I bought a delicious rhubarb and ginger 'brack', an Irish name for a sweet, fruited bread that is now often used to denote a tea loaf. I gave it to my mum for Mother's Day, and it only recently emerged from the freezer, allowing me to finally have a taste. It's delicious - quite a dense cake, with wonderfully gingery, sweet sultanas and sticky chunks of rhubarb. The sort of thing you could almost justify having for breakfast. It feels wholesome, somehow, robust and earthy and inviting.
Inspired by a few mouthfuls of this, I decided to have a go at creating my own. Having never made a rhubarb tea loaf before, I experimented, basing my recipe on a few others I'd come across online and the taste and texture of the brack I had bought. I was a little worried it wouldn't work, but it did - beautifully.
I soaked a mixture of raisins, finely chopped crystallized ginger and finely chopped rhubarb in strong Earl Grey tea overnight (part of me wanted to use Yorkshire tea, given the provenance of rhubarb and where I live, but I thought Earl Grey would add a lovely floral fragrance). In the morning, the raisins were plump and the ginger had perfumed the whole thing with its sharp, hot scent. To this mixture I added an egg and a little brown sugar, then folded the whole lot into flour, baking powder, ground almonds, a hefty amount of ground ginger and a little cinnamon. I wanted the whole thing to be really gingery - I almost considered adding some stem ginger syrup as well, but restrained myself. The batter was the perfect consistency (I worried I'd put in too much tea, and the rhubarb would be watery) as I spooned it all into a lined loaf tin.
This honestly is one of the easiest cakes you could ever make. I whipped it up in the time it took me to make a cup of tea to go with my breakfast. You only need a couple of bowls and spoons, and a loaf tin. And an oven, of course. I really love how simple and homely it is - just a few ingredients, no fancy techniques (not even a whisk needed), and the result is a beautiful old-fashioned loaf.
And the taste? Fantastic. It's incredibly gingery, fiery bursts of crystallised ginger peppering the dense, moist crumb. This, though, is tempered by the gooey pieces of rhubarb throughout, and the sweet, plump raisins. I actually think it's better than the brack I bought from the festival! Although tea loaves have a tendency to be quite dense, the juicy rhubarb in this really lightens it, while still making it seem indulgent. You could serve it as a pudding after a light meal, with some ice cream, or have it for breakfast spread with butter. I ate it still warm from the oven, unable to believe that my spontaneous experiment had worked out quite so well.
If you're a rhubarb fan, or a ginger fan, I'd urge you to try this. It's unlike any other rhubarb or ginger cake I've tasted, and perfect for lovers of very gingery cakes. For such a simple recipe, it's immensely rewarding. And, even better, it's low-fat - but you wouldn't guess.
Rhubarb and ginger brack (makes 1 loaf):
- 300ml strong, hot tea (I used Earl Grey)
- 100g raisins or sultanas
- 150g finely diced rhubarb
- 50g crystallised ginger, finely chopped
- 200g plain, wholemeal or spelt flour
- 50g ground almonds
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 egg
- 75g light brown sugar
- 2 tbsp demerara sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Soak the raisins, rhubarb and crystallised ginger in the tea overnight.
When ready to bake, pre-heat the oven to 170C. Grease and line a loaf tin with baking parchment. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, almonds, baking powder, ginger and cinnamon. To the tea and fruit mixture, add the egg and sugar and stir together. Pour the fruit mixture into the flour mixture, and mix with a large spoon or spatula until evenly combined.
Pour the mixture into the loaf tin, then sprinkle with the demerara sugar, if using. Bake for 55 minutes, until the top of the loaf is crusty and golden, but still gives slightly in the middle when pressed. Leave to cool a little before slicing and serving. It's also very good the next day spread with butter, and freezes well.
There are some fruits that I rarely, if ever, eat simply pure and unadulterated. While I'm happy to pick up an apple and take a bite straight away (although, a little neurotically/childishly, I prefer to take a knife and a plate and cut it into quarters then eighths, eating a piece at a time), or wolf down a banana before a trip to the gym, or eat bouncy, fridge-cold grapes mindlessly as I work my way through some PhD reading, or slice succulent chunks of mango straight from the skin onto my cereal, there are others that just don't quite cut it eaten raw, or untempered by some form of culinary enhancement.
Figs, for example. Unless you are lucky enough to be shopping during the week-long window in the year when figs arrive from Turkey, ripe and beading with luscious pink syrup, and aren't instead rock-hard, woolly, tasteless and crunchy inside, then your figs will probably need a bit of help before they're likely to provide you with any eating pleasure whatsoever. Baking them in sloe gin is a good idea, as is quartering them and sautéeing them in a little butter and brown sugar, adding a dash of balsamic vinegar if using them for savoury purposes (with cheese, for example).
Apricots are another - I must have eaten at least a hundred apricots in my life, and approximately four of those were nice enough to eat raw. They're usually hard, woolly-tasting and deliver very little flavour, despite their promising golden glowing skins. Once again, baking them is the key - I like to bake them with a little white wine or orange juice in a parcel, along with some warming spices - or simmering them with a little orange juice, sugar and spice to provide a beautiful sweet marigold compote.
Blueberries, too. While I do like a handful of these scattered over cereal or porridge, they seem to get used in my kitchen much more often when baked, usually in this delicious baked oatmeal recipe that I often make for brunch, either with rhubarb or bananas. I love the way cooking intensifies their flavour, as they can sometimes taste a bit bland when raw. Plus, you get the benefit of that gorgeous purple juice, which seeps into and stains deliciously everything it touches.
While I never cook strawberries - it's generally not a good idea - I find them bland and disappointing when raw. I always quarter them and toss them with a little sugar, allowing them to macerate for a while so the sugar can permeate the flesh and enhance their flavour. I usually also add a splash of balsamic vinegar (I have some incredible chocolate and vanilla infused balsamic that works wonders with the berries) or lemon juice, which brings out the sweetness of the berries. This way they are sticky, scarlet and delicious, so much more interesting than when bouncy, raw and tasteless.
And then we have plums. Often so inviting, with their beautiful colours - ranging from the bold yellows and magentas of imported plums to the more subtle, mottled autumnal hues of our native crops - plums can regularly disappoint, offering up flesh that is either solid and too tart, or almost jelly-like and possessing a sickly watery sweetness. Generally it's the former that is the problem.
Having been faced with one too many unsatisfactory plums in my time, I now don't even bother trying to eat them raw. Particularly because I think this is the most delicious thing one can do with plums, so why would you bother doing anything else?
Place some halved, stoned plums in a baking dish, cut side up. Next, get some of that stem ginger in syrup - the kind that comes in little amber globes, suspended in throat-warming sticky syrup. Take a couple of globes and finely chop them, then scatter over the plums. Drizzle a couple of tablespoons of the ginger syrup over the plums. Next, scatter the plums with brown sugar, ground ginger, and cinnamon. Then scatter the plums with some dried orange peel powder (I get mine from JustIngredients) - this adds a slightly earthier orange flavour, though you can use orange zest if you don't have any. Add a splash of water or orange juice, then bake, covered, for half an hour or so.
The plums soften into tender sweetness, while the spices and syrup and liquid accumulate in the bottom of the dish to form the most amazing sweet liquor, warm with fragrant spices. The edges of the fruit caramelise slightly, while the centre goes soft and gooey. This is such a simple recipe, yet it's deliciously versatile. If you use less sugar and add a splash of balsamic or soy sauce, replacing the spices with Chinese five spice, you can use the plums in savoury recipes - along with roast duck or pork, for example. If you keep them sweet, they are delicious spooned over porridge or muesli for breakfast, either hot or cold, or served warm with a very cold scoop of vanilla ice cream as a dessert.
They also look beautiful and smell incredible as you remove them from the oven. There are few things as simple as a big dish of baked fruit, and I love the transformation that takes place every time I cut up some underwhelming plums, add these magic ingredients, and watch them become a glorious mass of soft, spiced sweetness. Incidentally, you can use other fruit - apricots, peaches and nectarines all work well.
So much better than taking a gamble on what will probably be a disappointing specimen.
Ginger and orange roasted plums (serves 4):
- 8-10 plums
- 2 globes stem ginger in syrup
- 2 tbsp syrup from the ginger jar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp orange peel powder
- (or the zest of 1 orange)
- 100ml orange juice or water
Pre-heat the oven to 180C.
Halve the plums and remove the stones. If you can't get the stones out without destroying the plums, don't worry - you can take them out later while eating. Place the plums in a baking dish where they can all sit snugly in a single layer, cut side up.
Finely chop the stem ginger, then scatter over the plums. Drizzle over the syrup and scatter over the brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and orange peel powder/orange zest. Splash over the orange juice or water.
Cover the dish with foil, then bake for around 30-35 minutes, until the plums have softened and the juices have turned pink and syrupy. Remove and leave to cool before serving (or chill in the fridge until you want them).
Have you ever discovered an amazing recipe a bit by accident? Say, found yourself with random ingredients to use up and located a recipe in one of your cookbooks that you wouldn't normally make but since you have all the ingredients you may as well? Or, at a loss for culinary inspiration, simply turned to a random page in said cookbook and picked something you wouldn't normally try, only to find it a wonderful addition to your repertoire? Or decided to give something a go because it sounded weird and used an odd combination of ingredients, and you were curious to know how it would taste?
This recipe came about a bit like that. One night, I was cooking amok (a Cambodian coconut-based fish curry steamed in banana leaves - it's insanely delicious) for a friend. Feeling guilty over a fresh pineapple languishing in the fridge and starting to turn a little brown in places, and sure that I could turn it into some kind of side dish to accompany the fish, I flicked through one of my Vietnamese recipe books, certain I had seen a recipe for a stir-fried pineapple dish.
Now, I love pretty much all fruit-in-savoury-dishes combinations, but I think pineapple has to be a particular favourite. In Vietnam, one of the absolute highlights of my travels was a dish of stir-fried seafood with onions, tomatoes and pineapple. It had a delicious sweet-sour flavour and the seafood was fresh, tender, sweet and succulent. Pineapple adds wonderful flavour to south-east Asian dishes, since they're often quite sour and spicy; the sweetness and caramel notes of fresh pineapple add a delicious dimension to the mix, particularly if there's coconut in the sauce - like a piña colada, only savoury and chewable.
This recipe is simple but so much more delicious and rewarding than you would expect for its simplicity. You stir-fry chopped ginger, garlic and chilli in a hot pan. This alone is going to make it good - nothing like that beautiful triumvirate of flavour to get a dish going. You then add fresh pineapple, keeping the heat high so it starts to caramelise on the outside. The colours are beautiful and golden, the fruit streaked with dark toffee colour, the fiery red of the chilli dotted throughout.
Then, the best bit. You pour on a dark and potent mixture of fish sauce, soy sauce, and dark brown sugar. This sizzles and bubbles in treacly waves, coating the pineapple and turning it a dark bronze, the smell of salt and toffee wafting up from the searing pan. As you continue to stir the sauce thickens and caramelises. You then add a squeeze of lime juice, to brighten everything up.
You can keep it simple and serve it just like this, as a side dish, sprinkled with toasted peanuts. The deep savoury flavour of the nuts contrasts beautifully with the sweet, sticky, slightly sour, salty pineapple. I like to stir in some spinach just as the sauce has thickened, where it wilts in the pan and is coated with the sauce. It adds fresh green colour, another texture, and also one more of your five a day - surely a plus.
Since I discovered this recipe a few weeks ago, I've made it at least ten times. This is a clear indication of its wonderfulness, because I rarely cook the same thing twice. But there's something about this dish I just can't get enough of. The flavours are incredible - the glaze on the outside of the pineapple is salty and slightly sour in your mouth, but when you bite into the pineapple it releases wonderfully sticky, toffee-scented juice. The peanuts are rich, toasty and nutty, providing crunch. There's heat from the chilli and ginger, just enough to make your lips tingle.
At the end, I like to scatter over some herbs. Mint and coriander work well, as does fresh basil, but my new love of late is sweet basil. I found this in an Asian grocer, and was not quite prepared for what would happen when I opened the packet and took a sniff.
I didn't think I'd tried sweet basil before. It turns out, I basically lived off the stuff when travelling around Vietnam. It's common when eating in a Vietnamese restaurant to be presented with a big plate of fresh herbs, water droplets clinging to the leaves, to add to your meal or just munch on as they are. Sweet basil leaves - darker green and more pointed than regular basil, with a purple tinge - were a staple. They have a very strong, assertive flavour, quite unlike Italian basil; it's hard to describe, but it's almost minty, somehow, with a hint of aniseed. One sniff of that bunch of leaves and I was back in Vietnam.
It's amazing how smell, more than any other sense, I think, has such a profound and involuntary effect on memory. There have been a few occasions in my life where I've been unexpectedly jolted back to a certain event or period of time, all through the sniff of a certain aroma. It sometimes leaves me reeling, particularly if the memory is an especially emotional one (and aren't they all, in a way?). This was no exception. I've been cooking with the sweet basil for days now, but the effect hasn't lessened in any way. Its scent is inextricably tied up with images, emotions, ideas from far away in my head. I actually went to the fridge and just stood there, inhaling the packet. A little weird, perhaps, but I am still pining for Vietnam and this is the closest I can get. A bunch of leaves. Strange how it's the small things.
But let's put aside the nostalgic meanderings of my mind. Sweet basil is also very good on this pineapple dish.
I would really urge you to try this soon. It's excellent as a side dish with various Asian recipes - it was amazing with the amok - but would be good with any kind of Asian-spiced fish dish, or with chicken or pork. Although it's quite assertive in its flavours, its sweetness provides a fresh, pleasant contrast to anything spicy, creamy or meaty. I also think it would be very good with cubed firm tofu, fried in a hot pan until golden and slightly crispy around the edges, and served over rice or noodles. Or with seared spicy lemongrass prawns.
One of my favourite ways to eat this, though, is simply poured into a big bowl of cooked rice noodles, where the juices coat the slippery strands, their comforting blandness a welcome foil to the hot, sweet, sour, sharp, salty flavours of the caramelised fruit and wilted spinach. I scatter over the toasted peanuts, squeeze over some lime, and pile shredded sweet basil over the top. I sit down with this big bowlful, some wooden chopsticks that I bought in Vietnam, and am a little bit in love.
Chilli and ginger stir-fried pineapple (serves 1 as a lunch with rice/noodles; 2 as a side dish):
- 1 clove garlic
- Half a red chilli (or more, depending how spicy you like your food)
- 20g fresh ginger
- 1 tbsp rapeseed or groundnut oil
- Half a medium pineapple
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar or palm sugar
- A large handful spinach or baby spinach
- 2 tbsp peanuts, toasted in a dry pan and roughly chopped
- The juice of half a lime
- A few leaves of Thai/sweet basil (or normal basil if you can't find it), shredded, to serve
Finely chop the garlic, chilli and ginger. Remove the skin and woody core from the pineapple and chop into small chunks. Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan or wok and fry the ginger, garlic and chilli over a medium-high heat until starting to colour. Add the pineapple and cook until starting to caramelise.
Mix the fish sauce, soy sauce and sugar in a small bowl or jug, then tip into the pan - it should sizzle and bubble. Stir to coat the pineapple in the mixture, then cook for a minute or so until everything has turned dark and sticky. Add the spinach and cook for a minute or so until wilted.
Squeeze over the lime juice and stir well, then serve garnished with the toasted peanuts and shredded basil.
What would you do with forty limes?
A question I'm sure most of you will not have given much thought to. I admit it isn't something that had ever crossed my mind before (although I was in the enviable position a couple of years ago of speculating the uses for twenty mangoes). I tend to have, at most, five limes in the fridge at any one time. I use them a lot more frequently now than I used to, having fallen in love with south east Asian food during my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia last year, and it's rare that a lime doesn't get squeezed over most of my meals prior to eating.
I love the fragrant zing of a fresh lime, that beautiful perfume that emanates as you scrape the flesh with a grater or squeeze the skin between your fingers. Limes have a magic about them that lemons just don't possess for me; maybe it's their association with more exotic climes, and more exotic cuisines. They seem to have fragrance as well as sourness. I also think their colouring is far more beautiful than that of lemons, particularly when you find a ripening specimen that is mottled, blushing yellow, promising bountiful juice within.
Although, as I write this, I wonder if that 'fragrance' I keep attributing to limes in my mind is more to do with the fact that one of my favourite ways to have limes is sitting in a glass of gin. Hmm.
I use limes in many ways in my kitchen. Their juice gets squeezed over a Thai curry, along with a scattering of fresh basil and coriander, just before eating, where it lifts all the flavours and makes everything riot. It also gets sprinkled over a bowl of fresh papaya, one of my absolute favourite breakfasts. Like rhubarb and ginger or apple and cinnamon, lime and papaya for me have a deep affinity that is almost primal. There's something gorgeous about the contrasting colours as you mingle the two - that beautiful vibrant green against the deep orange flesh of a succulent papaya.
Lime juice also makes an excellent addition to salad dressings, when you want a really zingy snap of freshness. This works particularly well in salads of the Asian variety, mixed with a little fish sauce for the salty element, chilli for heat, and brown sugar for sweetness. However, it's also a good substitute for lemon juice in any other salad dressing, particularly delicious mixed with olive oil and mustard and used to dress wafer-thin sliced fennel.
I also enjoy the zest of limes scattered over desserts for a snap of freshness; it's surprisingly delicious sprinkled over peaches baked with ginger and brown sugar. The zest adds a richer, more fragrant note than the juice, so is lovely in curry pastes or cakes. The smell as you rasp a grater over the glossy skin of a fresh lime is so, so utterly worth the labour-intensive nature of the task, or any scraped knuckles.
In fact, there's very little that isn't improved by limes. I remember in Vietnam they were served with almost every meal. The limes over there are gorgeously tiny, about the size of a ping-pong ball, and are delicious squeezed over everything from fruit to noodle soup. The juice mixed with a little salt makes a fabulous dipping sauce for fresh seafood. Limes, to me, have the same culinary use as salt: they sharpen and bring out the flavours of whatever you choose to mingle them with, often negating the need for any salt at all.
The other week, I was sent a basket of Brazilian limes. These are seedless limes with thinner skins than your average, so they are plumper and juicier. I was expecting a sample of maybe ten limes, at the most, so when I unwrapped my hamper of around forty, beautifully arranged and wrapped in cellophane, I admit I did wonder how I was going to use them all (OK, I lie. All I did was glance up at my cupboard where a bottle of Bombay Sapphire was winking enticingly at me).
However, in the interests of not promoting alcoholism on this blog, and because I much prefer ingesting calories that I can chew on, I decided to take advantage of my bountiful lime supply to experiment with a few recipes. First on the list was a cheesecake, inspired by one I ate a few weeks ago in a Malaysian restaurant and have been dying to recreate ever since. I was captivated by its fabulous combination of lime, lemongrass, coconut and ginger.
If the knee-jerk partners for apples are nuts, raisins and cinnamon, or for bananas brown sugar, maple syrup, chocolate and pecan nuts, those for limes surely have to be coconut, ginger and lemongrass. I like to think of food in 'semantic fields' like this; a literature term but one I think is highly relevant to gastronomy. Certain ingredients just cry out to be paired with other ingredients with which they have a certain affinity, often because they share a climate or region. This is the case with limes: lime, lemongrass, coconut and ginger are the basic component of many south east Asian curries and stir-fries.
In fact, when one of my friends tried a piece of this cheesecake, her first reaction was 'This tastes like Thai food. In a dessert.'
Which is exactly what I was aiming for.
This is a baked cheesecake, because I wanted a properly dense, creamy texture to stand up to all the assertive flavours in there. It has a beautiful crisp ginger biscuit base. I never buy cheesecakes, always preferring to make my own for one simple reason: you can have as thick a biscuit base as you like. As it's the best part, I generally think a ratio of 1:1, base to cheesecake, is a good idea. This cake puts that into practice (however, if you want more filling, I've included instructions in the recipe to adapt it).
The cheesecake filling, lightened with ricotta rather than cream cheese, is permeated by shards of lemongrass, blitzed finely in a blender but still possessing a little crunch, and chunks of syrupy stem ginger that bring heat and sweetness. There's the mellow, creamy flavour of coconut running through the filling, and flakes of toasted coconut on top. It's a riot of beautiful zingy flavours, mellowed by the comforting sweetness of the coconut.
For the topping, I decided to be a bit fancy and make some candied limes. This basically involves simmering lime slices in sugar syrup until they soften and become sweet rather than sour. The peel still stays quite tough, but they make a lovely sharp contrast to the rich, dense cheese filling. Plus I think they look beautiful. You can make a batch of these and keep them in the fridge or freezer to decorate other types of cake.
While some cheesecakes can be cloyingly rich, this is the opposite. It takes everything that is fresh, vibrant and healthy about Asian food and transforms it into a dessert that possesses all those qualities. There's the fiery heat of ginger, the fragrance of lime zest and lemongrass, and, underlying it all, the delicious sweet creaminess of coconut. Add to that the crunch of a sweet-tart candied lime and flakes of sweet, nutty, rich coconut, and you have something that I think is pretty special.
I should add a disclaimer here: this is not the answer to 'how to use up forty limes', as it only uses four. But it's so nice that you probably should make ten, and then you'll have used them all up. Voila.
Lime, lemongrass, ginger and coconut cheesecake (serves 8):
If you want more filling compared to the amount of base, just multiply the asterisked ingredients by 1.5 (for example, you'd use 375g ricotta cheese, 300ml creme fraiche, etc)
- 16 ginger nut biscuits
- 60g butter, plus extra for greasing
- 1 stalk fresh lemongrass, roughly chopped*
- 250g ricotta cheese*
- 200ml half-fat creme fraiche*
- 90g caster sugar*
- 2 large eggs*
- 1 tbsp runny honey*
- 1 tsp coconut essence (use vanilla if you can't find this)*
- Zest of 4 limes*
- 3 globes stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped*
- 2-3 tbsp desiccated coconut, toasted in a dry pan
- For the candied limes:
- 240ml water, plus extra for blanching the limes
- 225g sugar
- 2 limes, very thinly sliced
[I would recommend making the candied limes - see below - the day before you want to decorate the cheesecake]
First, make the biscuit base. Pre-heat the oven to 180C, and place an oven dish or tray on the bottom shelf. Blitz the ginger nut biscuits in a blender until fine crumbs. Melt the butter in a saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave, then stir the biscuits into it. Grease and line a 20cm springform cake tin with a circle of baking parchment, then press the biscuits into an even layer on the bottom of it. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes then remove and leave to cool. Once cool, grease the inside of the cake tin. Lower the oven temperature to 160C.
Meanwhile, clean out the blender. Put the lemongrass in it and blitz until very finely chopped. Add the ricotta cheese, creme fraiche, sugar, eggs, honey, coconut essence and lime zest, then blitz again briefly to combine all the ingredients. Stir in the stem ginger (don't process it as this will chop it too finely). Pour the cheesecake mix over the base, then cover the tin with foil. Have a jug of cold water ready. Put the cheesecake into the oven, then quickly pour the water into the tray on the bottom, to create steam. Close the door quickly. Bake the cheesecake for 45-55 minutes, or until set with only a slight wobble (peel back the foil to have a look). Leave to cool.
For the candied limes, blanch the lime slices in boiling water for 3 minutes, then drain. Bring the 240ml water and 225g sugar to the boil in a saucepan, then add the lime slices and simmer gently for around 45 minutes, until the rind has softened. Remove from the syrup and leave to cool and dry out on a sheet of greaseproof paper, preferably overnight. You can keep the lime syrup to drizzle over the cheesecake while serving, if you like.
Remove the cake from its tin and put on a plate. Decorate with the lime slices and toasted coconut, then refrigerate. Remove from the fridge around 30 minutes before serving.
It's a time of celebration. A time to rejoice, cavort, frolic, caper, dance, jig. To make merry, pop open the champagne, utter gleeful exclamations with joyous abandon. To throw your hands in the air. To sing a small cheerful ditty or whistle a jaunty tune. To high five. Embrace. Jump up and down. Shriek. Shout. Grin. Guffaw. Chortle. Whoop.
That's right, you guessed it. I have a new oven.
If you think I'm being hyperbolic, suggesting a new oven is cause for celebration, let me paint you a picture of my old oven.
Imagine something in the vein of an Aga - a rustic type cooker with big heavy doors that stick out of the body of the oven. It's black, in places because that's the colour of the metal it's made from, in other places from encrusted charcoal and grime accumulated over years of use. There are two big doors, one for the 'main oven' and one for the 'top oven', which is also a grill.
Both ovens hilariously pretend to have temperature controls, although even these use the ancient 'Gas mark' system. The temperature reading on the dial has absolutely zero correspondence with the state of the inferno raging within. The oven sits at the temperature it feels like, and woe betide you if you were anticipating something being cooked at a certain time based on the temperature you'd set it to. Sometimes things blacken to a crisp on one side while remaining raw on the other, sometimes they're just raw all the way through.
You invite friends over for roast chicken, and dish up an hour and a half later than calculated, because the chicken is still stone cold despite the oven apparently being at its hottest.
You make a crumble tart, and have to keep rotating it on the oven shelf every fifteen minutes, to allow for even scorching (that's 'scorching', not 'baking') around the rim.
Roasted vegetables end up being steamed vegetables.
Things you would normally put on a single oven tray take up two, because the oven is just too damn small widthways.
Oh, and when the oven is on, the heat all comes out at the top, at the back of the hob. So when you leave a plastic sieve there while waiting to drain something, or the lid of the Lurpak butter packet, you return five minutes later to the smell of burning carcinogens and a nice pool of molten white plastic adorning your hob top that is impossible to remove and will release an unpleasant singeing smell from now on every time the oven is on. Plus a sieve with a giant hole in, that is no use for anything. (But you remember as you write this that, for some reason, you still have it in the cupboard...)
You see now why a new oven is worth dancing over.
(Not literally - that might break it).
To test it out, I baked these crumble slices. The recipe is from the Honeybuns Cookbook, a wonderful book full of gluten-free (and some dairy-free) baking recipes by Emma Goss-Custard, who runs a gluten-free baking business based in Dorset. I've been experimenting with gluten-free and dairy-free baking recently, now that I have a friend who can't eat either, and this is the first cookbook I own that is entirely gluten-free. It's a wonderful treasure trove of recipes, ranging from big wow-factor cakes (toffee-topped almond and rhubarb, for example) to muffins (strawberry and cream, upside-down peach), traybakes (sticky toffee apple shortbread), cookies (custard creams), flapjacks (fig and almond), brownies (including the wonderful 'dark and brooding' 'Heathcliff brownies') and proper puddings (peach and raspberry roulade, lemon cheesecake). If you thought gluten-free baking was restrictive, this book will prove you wrong - it contains some of the most imaginative and best-looking baked goods I've ever seen.
These apricot and ginger slices caught my eye because they looked fairly easy and used ingredients I already had in the cupboard. While some of the recipes in the book are a bit more complex and use some unusual ingredients to substitute for the flour (sorghum flour, guar gum, chestnut flour), many of them use things you're likely to have already, like polenta and ground almonds. And if not, there's a useful glossary in the back which tells you where to find the slightly more elusive items.
This is very simple. You make a luscious jammy apricot filling by simmering golden chopped apricots with sugar and chopped stem ginger in syrup until they collapse and turn glossy and plump (I nearly ate most of it there and then, it looked so good). You then make a very buttery crumble mix with brown sugar, toasted almonds, polenta, ground almonds, gluten-free oats (obviously you can use normal oats if you're not cooking for those on a gluten-free diet) and ground ginger. Half of this is layered into a tin and pressed down to form a thick base, then the apricots are spooned and spread over the top. The rest of the crumble goes over the apricots, where it bakes to form a delicious crispy, crunchy topping.
LOOK! In this new oven, you can watch things baking! Look how clean it is! Look how shiny!
One tip - I lined my tin with greaseproof paper, and the slices stuck horrendously to it. I would suggest either using a good non-stick tin and not lining it at all, or using proper baking parchment (as the recipe says) that you know is non-stick. Otherwise you end up losing half the crumble slices to the edges of the paper. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing - it meant I got to come home and nibble them all off while I was waiting for my dinner to cook...
There's a lot of ginger in these, and it's incredible. I've never paired dried apricots with syrupy stem ginger before, but I plan to make it as a compote for porridge because the combination is so good. The filling bakes to a gooey, jammy consistency with a real bright sweetness from the fruit and ginger, while the crumble turns incredibly crunchy (I suspect from the polenta), while still being rich and buttery; there's a perfect balance between the sharp heat of ginger and the buttery crust. You'd never guess these were gluten-free. They're also very pretty to look at, with their gorgeous golden filling and inviting crumbly topping, and very moreish.
A worthy recipe, I think, for christening the very, very welcome new addition to my kitchen. I'd forgotten what it's like to set an oven timer and find the contents of the oven actually at the required amount of doneness when it beeps.
Apricot and ginger crumble slices (makes 15-20):
(From the Honeybuns Cookbook - not reproduced word-for-word)
- Melted butter, for greasing the tin
- 350g dried apricots, chopped
- 115g granulated sugar (I used caster)
- 50g stem ginger in syrup (drained weight)
- 200g butter, chilled and cubed
- 150g light brown sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
- 150g almonds, toasted and chopped (I used 100g whole and 50g flaked)
- 140g polenta
- 115g gluten-free oats
- 70g ground almonds
- 3 tsp ground ginger
- Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a 30x23x4cm baking tin with baking parchment (NOT greaseproof paper!).
Put the apricots, sugar and 100ml water into a saucepan and cook over a medium-low heat for 8-10 minutes, until thick and jammy, stirring regularly. Crush the stem ginger in a food processor or blender, then stir into the apricots (I just chopped mine finely using a knife). Set aside to let the apricots absorb all of the liquid.
Put all the crumble ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Rub the mixture between your fingers to break up the butter, then beat with an electric mixer at low speed until the mixture forms a clumpy crumble texture (you can do it all by hand, as I did - just add the almonds right at the end after you've rubbed everything else together. I put the chopped almonds into the crumble and scattered the flaked almonds over just before baking).
Press half the crumble mixture firmly into the baking tin. Press down with the back of a spoon to form a solid, even base. Spread the jammy apricot mixture over the crumble base, taking care to leave the crumble undisturbed.
Press the remaining crumble lightly over the apricot mixture, then sprinkle 1 tbsp brown sugar over the top (I used demerara sugar here because it's crunchier). Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top and sides are a deep golden colour and the filling looks darker. Cut into pieces (when cool).
Sometimes, you just need to go back to basics. This is, of course, true in all areas of life, but I'm primarily talking about the kitchen. Sometimes you just need to. To put the mandolin, potato ricer, apple corer, waffle maker and julienne-slicer back in the cupboard. To leave the ice cream maker in the freezer. To unplug the KitchenAid mixer. To stack up the dariole pudding moulds and tuck them safely into the cupboard along with the bundt cake tin, the individual tart cases, the trifle glasses. To leave the oyster knife in the drawer along with the boning knife, filleting knife and cheese knife. To dispense with the mezzaluna and say goodbye to the sugar thermometer.
Sometimes, you need to realise that what people want to eat is not necessarily the same as what they can see by tuning into Masterchef. You need to realise that while you slave away preparing numerous drizzles and sauces to adorn the plate, they will be getting hungrier and hungrier, and as they squash everything on the plate together with their knife and fork, they are unlikely to notice the artful balsamic drizzle here, the tasteful garnish of micro-herbs there. Neatly sliced cuts of meat are made to be accompanied by a pile of mash and vegetables, not by three different kinds of puree, no matter how delightfully colour-contrasting they are or how subtly different in texture.
You need to realise that, although this new recipe of yours may showcase some exotic and unusual ingredient, people are unlikely to care as much as you do. Yes, there may be kumquats with the pork belly, but what is wrong with old-fashioned apple sauce? There may be basil ice cream with the strawberry tart, but...y'know...vanilla can be really nice. A stew with polenta? It may be oozing Italian sophistication, but it ain't mash.
That sourdough, that you spent months maturing and days baking? To you it may have the perfect nuanced flavour, so much better than anything you can buy for the simple reason that you nurtured it and perfected it, but no one else is likely to pick up on that. To them, it will taste exactly the same as something you could pick up from a baker. Save that luscious tangy crumb for yourself, and buy a loaf instead for dinner.
I have to remind myself of all of this sometimes. It's difficult to remember that not everyone takes cooking as seriously as I do, that not everyone will care as much as I do, and appreciate the effort and (I like to think) ingenuity that goes into conceiving and preparing a dish. I've come to realise that actually, what really matters is that people sit around the table and have a good time with something they enjoy eating. Sometimes, it's OK to rustle up a simple beef and ale stew, or fish pie, or pasta. It's more than OK; it's better. There are times when simplicity and (relative) ease can make a meal like nothing else.
This is, I think, at its most applicable when it comes to the realm of dessert. To me, there is simply no point faffing about making numerous different kinds of compotes, jellies, ganaches, tuiles, sugar cages and mousses in order to construct a dessert more akin to a piece of modern art than the final course of a meal. While such things are easy on the eye, they're tiresome and a faff to eat, with a million and one different components to analyse with your tastebuds before you can actually enjoy the thing.
I'm not sure if anyone, honestly, would take that sort of dessert over something hearty and home baked.
This banana bread, for me, is a perfect example of the beauty of simplicity. Even more so because it actually arose out of an attempt to be too clever. I was experimenting with a rhubarb and cardamom cake the other day, involving alternate layers of cake batter and rhubarb compote. All seemed well when I took its gloriously risen form out of the oven and left it to cool. When I came to slice the thing, however, it was a disaster: the cake mixture hadn't cooked at all, sodden and weighed down by the sticky, wet rhubarb compote. It was doughy, stodgy and inedible.
I've never really had a baking failure before. Generally my instinct, developed through years of practice, is sharp enough to know when something is going to work or not. This time, though, something was clearly off. I'll put it down to what was a very stressful week, coupled with the general stress of starting a totally new life in a totally new city. To me, it was a sign that I needed to slow down a bit, to stop trying to be too clever. To go back to basics.
This banana bread never fails me. It is the epitome of a trustworthy, reliable recipe. You will probably always have the ingredients for it available in your kitchen already - especially if, like me, you peel overripe bananas and freeze them for such an occasion. I make it every time I need a good, proper, hearty cake. It is moist, squidgy, with a delicious caramel aroma from the baked bananas. It develops a crunchy crust on the top, scattered with chunks of toasted almonds, while the inside stays gloriously soft and cakey.
I bashed open some jade-green cardamom pods, ground the seeds into a fragrant powder, then added cinnamon and ginger. This infused the banana batter with a deliciously warm, comforting aroma - cardamom especially goes very well with bananas, with its citrussy fragrance balancing the caramel flavour well.
Going back to basics tastes delicious. It makes the kitchen smell warm, sugary and buttery as it cooks. It looks rustic, hearty, promising warm flavours and a tender crumb. It slices into wobbly, steaming pieces demanding to be devoured before they have properly cooled. But it's also still delicious the next day with a slick of soft butter. The addition of warming spices lifts the whole thing to a delicious new level; it is the ultimate comfort cake.
Spiced banana bread (makes one loaf):
- 100g self-raising flour
- 80g wholemeal flour
- 1 heaped tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 50g cold butter
- 50g dark brown sugar
- 6 cardamom pods
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 60ml milk
- 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
- 2-3 tbsp flaked almonds
Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Grease and line a loaf tin.
Mix together the flours, salt and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut the butter into cubes and rub into the flour mixture until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the brown sugar.
Using a pestle and mortar, bash the cardamom pods and remove the black seeds. Grind the seeds to a fine powder. Add to the flour and butter mixture along with the cinnamon and ginger.
In a smaller bowl, mash together the bananas and milk. Add this to the flour mixture and mix together until you have a thick batter.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter over the flaked almonds. Bake for 40 minutes until golden and firm, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.