Home, Friends and a Cake

Returning home, means returning to a seaside town, to the familiar. To small streets with houses huddled together, busy roads and familiar shops. Standing staring out at the seemingly endless stretch of water with the cold wind biting at you, making your eyes stream. Hearing the cries of seagulls. And friends. Knowing my friends are round the corner, a few doors away, a walk along the prom, a phone call away, I can catch glimpses of life with lights on at night and the smell of wood smoke fires from others. I know I’m home.

Friends to call on to help you open and close windows, friends to help you undo the coffee pot (which means friends to share a coffee and chat). Then there are the friends who offer to bring in the wood. And yet others who bring round a Tupperware of homemade chicken soup.

There’s lots of chat and laughter, talk of the mundane and important. Talk of books and art. Catching up on the gossip. Talk of local politics. Talk of injuries and recuperation. Celebratory birthday lunches and dinners. Talk of the winter and the cold, and how we all long for Spring. Talk of potential work.

With birthdays to celebrate and book groups to attend it was time to carry on my WordPress Recipe Challenge, and I’ve been eyeing up Blue Jelly Beans  St Jame’s Cake.  Giovanna, who was born and raised in Panama City now lives in Madrid, Spain, she writes about her life, her holidays, her family, her journey through life and yes her food. And to top it all she writes in both Spanish and English. It’s an enchanting blog, pop over soon and say Hola!

Take a look at her recipe and photos, they are stunning. The cake is a celebration day cake. The ingredients are simple, but its the way it is constructed and cooked that makes it stand out. A base of pastry dough topped off with an almond confection and dusted with icing sugar. Almondy, not too sweet and with the zest of lemon cutting through.

I’ve copied out her recipe and instructions, and added my own notes in italics.

St James’ Cake An Almond Torte

Ingredients ~

For the dough ~ I halved her recipe as I didn’t want to make 2 cakes

  • 150 g. butter softened
  • 87 g. caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 25 millilitres of milk
  • Vanilla – a few drops
  • 250g flour
  • Salt – a pinch

Filling ~

  • 200 g. ground almonds
  • 200 g. sugar (I used caster)
  • 50 g. butter softened
  • 4 eggs
  • Zest of half lemon
  • Icing sugar to decorate

Preparation ~

First the dough, put the butter with the caster sugar, a pinch of salt, a bit of vanilla, the egg and milk into a bowl and mix everything very well until you get a cream. Then add the flour and continue mixing.

When the mixture has the texture of a soft dough, wrap it in cling film and refrigerate for a couple of hours. After that time, stretch with a roller (between two sheets of baking paper is very easy) and cover with it a  low round pan. I will tell you that with these proportions I got enough dough  to cover two pans, so you can make a second cake with another filling, as I did, or two cakes of Saint James…

Here I only made enough for one cake base, and I used a 12″ cake tin, which on reflection was too big.

Now we start with the filling. In a bowl mix the ground almond with the sugar and lemon zest (YES! a zester to use). When they are all mixed, add eggs one at a time and the softened butter. I found it easier to cream the butter in a separate bowl and then added it to the almond mix. Mix everything well and let stand for 40 minutes. It is now a good time to turn on the oven to 170 ° C. (340 ºF)

Put the rolled out dough mixture into a greased cake tin, then pour the almond filling on top and put it in the oven for 45 minutes. I think it would best to use an 8 or 10″ cake tin.

When it’s ready, remove from the oven and leave it cool, when it is cold we can decorate with powdered (icing) sugar and draw a cross of Santiago in the middle. I didn’t do this bit, I didn’t fancy cutting with a wonky arm!

The feedback? Make it again, pleeeeaaase !

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