February 12, 2008

nutty pudding cake - no dairy,no gluten,no really!

It seemed a little bit incongruous, that slab of nutty fruit - or should that be fruity nuts, (depending on how you like to look at it), sat on my kitchen counter this morning. After all, Christmas and the Holiday season is long gone, all the tinsel and fire-glow, and plates laden with tantalizing treats, put away, while we find our thoughts turning to Spring and sunshine, and 'healthy' food!..........but then isn't all food technically healthy, or is that another discussion entirely?!

While sorting through my magazine clippings, which at the moment, are in freefall out of the battered box I keep them in, I found this recipe for dairy-free cake by Mary Cadogan. It looked so good that I thought I'd try it out to see if a cake without butter could, indeed, taste as good as it looked in the photo!

Hmmm... call me skeptical, but I wasn't convinced, having had fat-free cakes in the past that just haven't delivered - after all, the whole point of cake is that it's 'comfort' food, right?,rich and indulgent and sinful! I couldn't resist tweaking it a bit either, so I took out the flour as well, and replaced that with ground almonds, and substituted gooey vanilla prunes for the original apricots.

The result was a cross between rich fruit cake and Christmas Pudding, and boy does it deliver.......it's texture is very dense, well I suppose it is basically fruit and nuts!, but it doesn't skimp on the flavour.........and it's dairy free, and gluten free so you don't need to sacrifice gluttony for guilt even if you do have to watch what you eat!

Nutty Pudding Cake

200g pecans
100g hazelnuts
50g blanched almonds
200g juicy raisins
150g pitted chopped dates
150g vanilla prunes
150g glace cherries
100g ground almonds
2 tsp mixed Spice
1 tsp cinnamon
175g dark Muscovado sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp good quality vanilla essence

Grease and base line a 1.5 litre loaf tin.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a LARGE bowl (yes all that mixture WILL fit into the tin, trust me!). Add in the eggs and vanilla essence and mix really well until it all comes together in a lovely fragrant slump.

Pour into the tin and bake at 150C / / Gas 2 for about one and a half hours, or until a skewer prodded into the middle comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out and leave to cool. Dust liberally with icing sugar - although B. felt that this may have been 'gilding the lily'! - and then store in and airtight container. This is so lovely and moist and will keep well for up to two weeks - if it lasts that long!

February 02, 2008

afternoon tea

Alright, I know, this isn't strictly about food, ...........but it is about another passion of mine, anything vintage or kitsch! I just couldn't resist posting about my newest find whilst out trawling the bric-a brac markets this afternoon.Yes, I love food, but there's also something wonderful about wandering among the glittering stalls, and rifling through boxes full of faded newspaper in the hope of an unexpected hoard!

Today, I was lucky, and found this dainty silver spoon with it's delicate handle all twisted and ending in a scrolled heart. It may not be everyone's cup of tea (sorry, couldn't resist it!) but as I searched amongst the detritus of cast off, worn, and dulled cutlery in an old basket, I found it at the bottom waiting for me, and I think it's beautiful!