Almond and rhubarb mini loaf cakes

When the opportunity arises you have to take it and for the last couple of weeks I kept walking round with my laptop under my pram hoping that I might get an hour with a coffee and some time to give my blog some thought.

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It’s been quite an exciting couple of weeks and after a few months going back and forth with designers, copy writers and videographers, I finally launched my new business, Very interesting events (www.veryinterestingevents.com). It took a little while coming to fruition due to the arrival of Sebastian, but better late than never.

It’s funny when you look back to when you were a child and what you wanted to be when you grew up and where you actually end up.

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As far back as I can remember I always wanted to play tennis. You’d have thought this meant I wanted to be Steffi Graf or Monica Seles, but no, I wanted to be Andre Agassi. I insisted on having the same racket, wearing the same make clothes… yes I wore the long shorts with bright cycling shorts underneath and of course don’t forget the bandana. I wanted to play like him, copy his attitude and if I could have got away with his earring at aged 9 I probably would have. I must admit it took me a while to grow out of the tom-boy phase on a tennis court and it wasn’t till age 16 that I finally donned a tennis skirt (still with the cycling shorts on underneath of course).

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However, tennis wasn’t going to be where I would make my millions and Loughborough University beckoned. Having always had the sporting bug, I decided that sport management and events was the way forward and having landed a couple of jobs out of uni in this arena, it meant I got the opportunity to organize a wide array of events. But, the big staff Christmas parties, weddings and birthday parties was what I really enjoyed working on. It gave me the opportunity to be as creative as you could muster and I enjoyed throwing the element of surprise at every event. It gives you quite a buzz seeing people love what you’ve produced.

I think that’s why I found a love of baking and cooking. The principles are the same in that you can create something out of nothing and the result is that other people get to enjoy what you’ve produced (unless you eat it all of course). There’s no better feeling than seeing the smile light up as someone devours a cake you’ve spent time over.

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I came across this recipe when I was sitting out by Barnes Pond, enjoying some sunshine before the dreaded 8 week baby jabs. They looked so pretty on the page that I noted down the page and bought the ingredients immediately with the plan to bake them for Will’s parents at the weekend.

I love all things rhubarb and keep finding that when you bake cakes using ground almonds, they have that additional lightness that tricks you into thinking that maybe what you’re eating really isn’t that bad for you. With these being the main ingredients, it definitely seemed worth a try.

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They were very easy to bring together and I must admit to making double the amount of rhubarb so that I could add it to my morning yoghurt and granola.

The recipe suggested using mini-brioche tins, which I didn’t have so I improvised with the mini loaf tins. I didn’t have any mini cases but I would definitely suggesting getting some as the rhubarb gets quite jammy on baking and ends up sticking to the tin making them quite challenging to get out of the tin. Particularly as they are quite delicate cakes so you don’t want to break them.

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The rhubarb against the almond was delicious. The rhubarb had a jammy texture that was sticky, sweet and a little bit addictive, whilst the ground almonds delivered a moist airy sponge.

The little cakes were so light and tasty that you could comfortably eat a couple in one sitting. Well I definitely could anyway.

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When I get to spend some time baking like this… it really makes me want to open up my own café. One business at a time…

Almond and rhubarb mini loaf cakes

(Taken from Nina, St Tropez, recipes from the South of France)

Makes 5-6 mini loaf cakes

Ingredients

For the Rhubarb

180g (about 2 sticks), sliced into chunks

60g unrefined caster sugar

2 tbsp lemon juice

For the Bocconotto

130g soft unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

85g unrefined caster sugar

1 medium egg plus 1 yolk lightly beaten

30g plain flour

60g ground almond

1 tbsp Grand Marnier or Amaretto

icing sugar for dusting

Serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche

Method

Place the rhubarb in a saucepan with the sugar lemon juice and place over a low heat. Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes and remove and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees and lightly butter 6 mini loaf cake tins or ideally use a case to prevent the rhubarb sticking to the tin.

Cream together the butter and sugar in a mixer until it has a consistency that is light and airy.

Continue to mix and slowly add the egg and the additional yolk. Ensure the egg is well combined.

Sift in your flour and mix gently before folding through your ground almonds and liqueur.

Put two heaped teaspoons of your batter into the tin so that you have a layer of batter at the bottom and gently tap on the kitchen top to remove any bubbles.

Add a level teaspoon of rhubarb mixture on top of the batter then add a little more batter to cover the rhubarb. Your tin shouldn’t be more than two-thirds full. Give the moulds another tap.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until the tops look golden.

Remove and cool on a cooling rack for about 15 minutes, then gently prise them out the moulds and leave to cool completely.

Dust generously with icing-sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche if you fancy.

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