Monday, December 2, 2013

Beautiful spring

We are having the most magical spring in our region.  It has rained and rained and the pastures are green and lush, such a change from the last couple of years.  Everything is late around the district: farmers can't finish their hay, crops aren't ripening and shearing is being held up.  These are good things in the long run as a good spring sets us up well for the summer.  The stock are mud fat and it is nice not to have to water the garden.
The hawthorns by the creek have been loaded with blossom, and the garden is looking glorious....
There hasn't been much sun, so the tomatoes have been slow to get going..
I have been picking lots of things from the vegetable garden:
Look at those beautiful new potatoes which came from last year's crop.
Everyone at the moment seems to have loads of lemons and loads of eggs.   It is my belief that if you have a patch of dirt in the country it is your duty to have chooks and you must have a lemon tree.   We are all inundated and I can't give them away.  So I thought, dum de dum, what shall I do with them all??  I decided on a cake and I wanted to satisfy my curiosity.  Would the old classic whole orange cake work with lemons?  Matt Preston published my version of Claudia Roden's orange cake in his last book 100 Best Recipes so I based this on that recipe.  My lemons are very sweet but not as sweet as oranges so I added a bit more sugar.  If you have very sharp lemons you may consider adding a bit more again.

JEN'S LEMON CAKE

2 lemons (find a friend with a tree if you don't have one yourself)
100g slivered almonds
150g almond meal
250g castor sugar (a bit over a cup, to taste)
5 eggs
1 teasp baking powder
Syrup:
1 lemon, extra
1/2 cup castor sugar
1/2 cup water

Place the lemons in a plastic bag and microwave on high for 12 minutes.  I suggest that you put them on a plate and leave the bag open for steam to escape.  They need to be really soft.  Cool, then cut in half to remove pips.
While that is going on, preheat the oven to 150c.  Grease a 22cm round tin and line with baking paper (make sure you do the sides as well as the base).

Put the almonds in the food processor and pulse a few times.  Don't overdo it as they give the cake some texture.  

Add the whole lemons and whizz.  Then add the almond meal, castor sugar, eggs and baking powder and whizz for a few seconds, scrape down the sides and whizz again until smooth.  Pour the mixture into the tin.  Bake for approximately 45 minutes to one hour until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool in tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.

For the syrup:
Zest and juice the lemon and place in a small saucepan with the sugar and water.  Stir until the sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool.
You can dust the cake with icing sugar or pour over some of the syrup.  
Matt has a new book out and it is a ripper.  Full of recipes you will cook all the time.  It would make a great Christmas present....
Look out for my Chocolate Afghan recipe.






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