Saturday, March 17, 2012

Reasons to be Cheerful

Dan Lepard has won the Andre Simon award for his book Short & Sweet which is great news because this book really does showcase Dan's craftsmanship as a baker, writer and photographer. The booksellers shelves are a little flooded with baking books at the moment and all I can say is don't buy anything until you have had time to take a good look at Short & Sweet. It may not have an accompanying tv series and  t-shirt but it has enough carefully honed recipes to keep you in delicious baked goods for a long time.

And on the subject of delicious baking if you took part in this week's #short&tweet challenge, and chose the Saffron Peach Cake on page 137 of the book, I bet you have been smiling since you took your first bite.

I have to confess to subbing frozen nectarines for tinned peaches as I had plenty of nectarine slices in my freezer from last summer, but I don't think this was a bad move. Here is the cake fresh out of the oven:

The cake has a very tender moist crumb which I think must be helped by the addition of ground almonds.  I may have sprinkled more flaked almonds on the top than Dan intended but I love them and the recipe does call for a 'handful'. When you really want to you can get a lot of flaked almonds in one hand.

I have often baked yeasted buns and loaves with saffron but this is the first cake I have baked with the addition of saffron and the flavours worked really well together.

To quote Prue Leith "you have to ask yourself is it worth the calories" and my answer is a most resounding YES. You could even stretch a point  and call it a meal in one with fruit, nuts, eggs and a few other not so good things, all carefully moderated by the virtues of saffron (see quote below taken from Wiikipedia for saffron's reputation)

Saffron has a long medicinal history as part of traditional healing; several modern research studies have hinted that the spice has possible anticarcinogenic (cancer-suppressing)......... A 1995 study suggested that saffron stigmas, and even petals, have been said to be helpful for depression....

I quickly realised I was going to have to get most of this cake in the freezer fast before I ate it all, but I did keep a good sized piece back for today as it is St Patrick's day, and that is always a good excuse for an Irish Coffee and with a good coffee you need a good cake.

My final reason to be cheerful today is that two of my chickens had a nasty shock this morning when a neighbour's spaniels came into the garden on a mission to kill, but both girls escaped. I was lucky enough to see the dogs come into the garden and although by the time I got outside they had Thelma by the feathers I was able to get her away from them. She is now just a bit bald in patches but otherwise in good health. Her companion Louise managed to escape into the bushes, she's a bit more nimble.

So cheers,

   keep calm and eat cake!


  1. Good to see your cake and useful to learn that it works well with frozen nectarines (makes mental note).

    I like your special coffee glass, it reminds me of some that my aunts bought for my mother and the special occasions on which she used them.

  2. After seeing your post a guest asked me a number of questions concerning the traditional relationship of saffron to Mother's Day and why this day has a cake associated with it when it falls within the period of Lenten fast and abstinence. I've done my best to answer these questions in the compilation but thought you might be tickled to know that your post provides food for thought.

    Thank you for allowing me to include your photograph and write up in Short and Tweet 20 compilation.

  3. It does indeed look like a cake to make you cheerful. I hadn't thought of freezing nectarine slices to use out of season - do you just freeze them raw, or blanch them first? This is a cake I wish I could try, but I think the ground almonds are probably fairly important, annoying allergy!

    1. When I freeze the nectarine slices I stir them with a little sugar and lemon juice first. The juice helps with the colour and the sugar draws out some of the moisture and seems to leave the fruit in a better physical form when it defrosts.

      Just a thought you might try subbing the ground almonds with a little fine polenta to put back some of the texture the ground almonds provide.