Somebody told me that in the next few days it will snow. I am not surprised, considering the bitter cold that seems to be raging in Cambridge. I'm glad we went for that walk on Sunday to pick up more logs...
I must admit that I wouldn't like spending Christmas on a beach roasting fish and playing frisbee; snow falling and a steaming cup of chocolate correspond more to my imaginary. I wouldn't say no though to a few days of sunshine. For some reasons Andalusia springs up to my mind. Probably because it is normally insane to go during the Summer - unless you do like suffering...
Local sweets and cakes have a very strong Arabic influence. Almonds - even the words itself has Arabic origins as it starts with an AL (which means that it made all its way to England too) - are the key and basic ingredients of most cakes, a bit like in Sicily. I would say they are *rich*, but not fatty, as normally butter is not used.
I thought it would have been a good idea to plan ahead and present a hand-made cake to my in-laws on returning from Italy. But unless I cook at night I won't have the time to do that. But ta, ta, ta...I will freeze it! I have discovered that cakes, providing they have enough fat and are well wrapped, can easily freeze up to two months. And this cake may not have butter but I reckon a large quantity of very healthy oil.
Andalusia Almond cake (Pastel de Almendras)
300g ground almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven at C180. Butter a 20cm cake tin and flour it shaking any excess.
2. In a large bowl combine the egg yolks and sugar and whisk together until foamy. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Mix well. Add the ground almonds a little at the time mixing well after each addition.
3. Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Scoop the whites onto the egg yolk mixture and incorporate well using a metal spoon. Mix well making sure you don't "kill" the air in the whites.
4. Pour in the tin and cook in the oven for 30minutes. Leave it to cool on a rack.
In Seville we had it with vanilla ice cream but any flavours would be good. Likewise being this cold I think a runny vanilla custard poured on top would also go well. Almonds to me mean Christmas so I think this would be a great cake to have during the holidays!