AND it’s the end of the week again! Always nice to get to the end of another week in lockdown. The good weather disappeared for a bit this week – the grey sky and heavy rain was almost a refreshing change from the constant blue sky and sunny days we’ve been experiencing thus far.
Honestly, six weeks in lockdown with constant sunshine just outside the window was getting a bit much. And I’ve got a garden I can sit in. I do not know how people in London flats and inner-city estates have been managing. They’ve done an amazing job. We should clap for them too.
In other news, I have been on leave from work this week – the rain has given me a good excuse to curl up under a blanket on the sofa and knit away. I’ve read a book or two as well, which has been marvellous.
I’ve celebrated leave by making an orange and almond cake. It’s the easiest recipe in the world, if possibly the most time consuming. You start by boiling two oranges for two hours, then pulp them in a food processor when they’ve cooled down a lot. Like, you should be able to handle them with ease to break them up and pick out the pips, you shouldn’t be wincing and hissing at the juice burning your fingers.
Add six eggs, 250g ground almonds, 250g caster sugar and blitz together – you’re supposed to do this in a particular order (beat eggs first for aeration) but when I’m making it, I’ve already dirtied a food processor by this point, and frankly, I’ve not found it makes much difference. Add a tablespoon of baking powder for lift as well and mix it in, and then pour it into a greased tin (I use a 9″ springform tin) and bake at 175°C for an hour, or until the cake is springy/risen and golden on top.
You can then leave it to cool in the tin, and I mean, cool in the tin. Wait until the underneath of the tin is cold to touch before opening it up/tipping it out. It keeps the moistness in and ensures maximum adhesion of the cake to itself.
You can either then serve as is, sprinkle with some icing sugar, or make up some glace/fondant icing to dribble over the top. The cake has quite a bitter edge, so icing makes a nice edge. If you’re not particularly into sweet things, this cake is pretty good served with a dollop of creme fraiché. If you are into sweet things, serve it with some very expensive vanilla ice cream and marvel at the joys of life before having a sugar crash the size of a five car pile-up on the M5.
Bonus points, it’s dairy and gluten free (if you use gluten-free baking powder).
I have never managed to eat a whole cake in one sitting, although I have been tempted/tried, and you can add cocoa powder to the almonds to make a chocolate orange cake. Then it’s pretty good with a dark chocolate ganache on the top. Then you kind of have to serve it with creme fraiche, for contrast, temptation and lipsmacking satisfaction.
It is not, however, a good cake for licking the bowl. Bleurgh. Do not do that.
In other news, I have begun/made excellent progress in my 2020 Knitting Project.
For my birthday, YoungerBro got me a Harry Potter Knitting Magic book, which contains patterns for all sorts of knitwear related to Harry Potter and the Wizarding World. I won’t lie, I died of excitement when I saw it, and had to be revived. Anyway, the first pattern in the book is the simple but effective Mrs Weasley HomeKnit Jumper pattern – and as I said before, YoungerBro is currently working in intensive care units in London (he’s a nurse), so I asked him what he wanted from the book. He said a Mrs Weasley Jumper, so I am currently knitting him a maroon jumper, according to the Mrs Weasley pattern.
It’s so much fun, I’ve decided to knit them for the whole family – our family usually does a ‘Christmas photo’ for a round robin letter (yes, we’re those people), so I feel like a family photo of us all in various lumpy Mrs Weasley jumpers will be the fitting end to 2020.
I’m getting incredibly proficient at the stocking stitch now – I can bang out a couple of rows in less than three minutes (!!!) and the front half of YoungerBro’s jumper is taking shape. I’ve finished the back already, and ordered the paraphernalia for blocking it out….I’m excited, I won’t lie. This feels very momentous. I am nearly a proper, official, jumper-making knitter.
As the last proper thing I made for myself was a poncho (knit a loop, pinch in the shoulders…not a challenge), I am excited. 2020 is the year of the knit.
By the way, if anyone is still watching National Theatre at Home on Youtube, this week’s show is Frankenstein, with Jonny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch. It’s the one where they alternated parts? BC as the Creature debuted last night, and JLM as the Creature debuts tonight. As a new but pretty fucking ardent JLM fan, I’ve saved myself for tonight’s 7pm premiere. I will be watching it with a slice of good cake and a cup of tea.