A Lemon Trilogy Part 2: Flourless Whole Lemon and Almond Cannelles

This a a great cake, adapted from a Gary Rhodes recipe. Mrs W. first made them when she was dieting as they have no butter or flour.  They are  sublime served warm with custard. Using whole lemons sounds mad but gives a real depth of flavour. I split the mix between mini cannelle moulds (pictured) and mini loaves. the cannelles were a lovely treat to have after lunch (linguine pomodoro with chorizo). I baked these and lemon macarons as Easter gifts for our neighbours before jetting off to Portugal (to stuff myself with custard tarts and seafood!).

Flourless Whole Lemon and Almond Cannelles (or Cakes)

175 g ground almonds

4 large eggs

1/4 tsp baking powder

3 whole unwaxed lemons

175 g unrefined caster sugar (for those who are on a diet 14 g of Splenda can be used in place of the sugar… I won’t claim it made as good a cake but Mrs W. quite liked it)

  • Pre-heat oven to 180°C.
  • Put the whole lemons in a saucepan, and cover with water (they will float a bit, but cover them as much as you can) and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for at least an hour. Take the lemons out, and keep 100 ml of the cooking water. Cut the lemons in quarters, they’ll be really mushy by now – pick out the pips/seeds. Blitz the whole lemons (skin and everything) and the reserved cooking water into a puree. Pass the puree though a sieve and leave to cool.
  • Add the baking powder to the ground almonds and pass through a sieve.
  • Beat the eggs with the sugar to make a sabayon. It needs to look like lightly whipped cream… it starts off quite yellow but eventually go creamy and white (being lazy, I used the Kenwood with a whisk attachment).
  • Add the puree and the ground almonds to the sabayon  and whisk lightly at low speed for 1 minute.
  • Pour the batter into greased loaf tins or moulds and bake… small cannelles will take about 20 minutes, mini-loaves 30-35 minutes and if you use two big loaf tins maybe ten minutes longer. Check the cakes are cooked with a skewer.
  • Leave them to cool in the tin or mould then pop them out and enjoy!
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A Lemon Trilogy Part 1: Lemon and Pecorino Linguine

Mrs W. and I are expecting our second child in early August. She is about 22 weeks into the pregnancy right now and has taken a notion for lemons and all things lemony tasting. Fortunately I had somewhat of a glut of said citrus in the fridge right now so before we head off to Portugal on our hols I thought I would make best use of them.

I have been in a bit of a cooking funk of late, but with a change to the clocks (which means I can at least start cooking in daylight) and some signs of slightly better weather my enthusiasm for spending time in the kitchen is slowly returning.  Cooking with lemons  filled the house with a lovely fresh fragrance so it seems like spring may finally get here!

It is also high time for me to get some veg into the garden (somewhat late I know but the growing season starts somewhat later in Northern Ireland… we had snow this week!). I have hardly touched the plot since last autumn (apart from putting in garlic and early season broad beans and peas before winter set in) but I hope to get stuff sown before we head away and see some signs of growth when we get back.

Back to the lemon theme… I made a great supper based on a Nigel Slater recipe  of linguine with a lemon, olive oil and pecorino dressing. This really is just the easiest peasiest thing to make… so simple but so tasty.

Lemon and Pecorino Linguine

About 250 g linguine (I use De Cecco brand)

Juice from 1 large lemon

1 tsp grated lemon zest

75 ml extra virgin olive oil

75 g grated pecorino  (and a little extra to serve)

  • Put a large pan of water on to boil. When it is bubbling furiously, salt it generously then add the linguine. Let it cook at an excited boil for about 8-10 minutes.
  • Put the half the lemon juice and olive oil a bowl and beat briefly until emulsified like a vinaigrette. Beat in the grated pecorino with a grinding of black pepper. Taste and add additional lemon juice as required.
  • Drain the pasta (leaving a trace of the cooking water) and add the lemon and pecorino ‘sauce’. Toss the linguine until well coated and serve immediately with extra grated pecorino.

Raspberry Macarons

I have been wanting to bake macarons for a while and inspired by the wonderful creations by Edward Kimber, Aran Goyoaga and Helene Dujardin I decided to have a crack at making my own. Pierre Herme is the undisputed master of this elegant confection and the recipe for the rose shells are from his book “Macaron” (soon to be released in English) and can be found here.

They were not as hard to make as I thought they would be (even though I have never used a piping bag before) but I did pick up a few hints that seemed to help.

  • I “aged” my egg whites before use by leaving them covered with a clean tea towel at room temperature for 24 hours.
  • Don’t over boil the syrup before adding to the egg whites (use a cooking thermometer…this is mine).
  • Leave the piped macarons to dry for 30 minutes before baking (the surfaces should be dry to the touch).
  • Once the macarons are baked remove the  parchment from the baking sheets so the macarons do not overcook.
  • Do not remove the macarons from the parchment until they are fully cooled.

I made a raspberry buttercream to fill the rose macaron shells. A handful of fresh raspberries were blitzed using a stick blender and the puree passed through a sieve to remove the seeds.  Butter (160g) and  icing sugar (320g) were beaten in the Kenwood until pale and creamy and the raspberry puree added. However I added too much raspberry and my buttercream split and became sloppy! I managed to rescue the filling by beating in additional icing sugar.

I was pleased with the final result and they tasted as good as they looked. We ate several whilst watching the rugby yesterday and they made a great gift for the birthday dinner Mrs W. and I went to afterwards. Unfortunately I was so busy yesterday that I didn’t manage to post this in time for the mactweets blogroll for macaron bakers.  Oh well… maybe next time.

Underground Restaurant ‘pops up’ in Brixton Village Project

Two projects that have captured my interest recently happened to cross paths. 

Spacemakers takes empty units and ‘slack spaces’ and breathes life back into recession hit areas by creating pop up shops and cafes. They have started a with a a 1930s market arcade in Brixton, joining forces with London & Associated Properties PLC and Lambeth Council to fill the empty shop units in Granville Arcade/Brixton Village indoor market. An old friend from my door to door book selling days Douglad Hine heads up this project. More info can be found in their blog.

They ran a ‘foodie’ event for their grand opening and it just happens that one of a favorite food blogger of mine, Mrs Marmitelover, who runs The Underground Restaraunt (at which I plan to dine when I can next get to the capital) took up a stall for the day …. hey presto there was a pop up restaurant…. all profits going to the unfortunate in Haiti.

Projects like this demonstrate the capacity that ordinary people have to improvise, create and make a difference to themselves and others.  Get involved and support if you can. In these recession afflicted times …this is the way forward.