This fragrant, moist cake looks and tastes like a total showstopper but is actually very easy to make. The hardest part for most people will be finding the edible dried rose leaves. If you don’t have a Turkish or Middle Eastern grocers near you they can be found online.
- 200g unsalted butter
- 150g caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 12 cardamom pods, finely ground
- 100g plain flour, sifted (you can substitute gluten free flour & baking powder to make this cake suitable for Coeliacs)
- 275g ground almonds
- Zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
- 1 tbsp rose water
- A few strands saffron
- 1 tsp baking powder
- A generous pinch of fine sea salt
For the syrup
- 4 tbsp caster sugar
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1/2 (half) tbsp rose water
For the icing
- 200g icing sugar
- Juice of 1/2 (half) lemon
- 2 tsp cold water
- 2 tsp crushed pistachios
- A few dried rose petals (optional)
- Pre-heat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Grease a 2lb loaf tin and line it with baking parchment.
- Squeeze the lemon for the cake mix and soak the saffron in it.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, beat in the eggs.
- Grind the cardamom pods in a spice grinder or a pestle & mortar. Add them to the cake mixture, along with the flour, ground almonds, rose water, saffron infused lemon juice, lemon zest, baking powder and salt. Mix well.
- Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour, covering for the last 15 minutes so it doesn’t brown too much on top. To check if it is ready, stick a fork in the middle of the cake – it should come out dry.
- Towards the end of the cooking time, make your drizzle topping. Place the caster sugar, lemon juice and rose water in a small pan over a low heat and heat until the sugar melts.
- Remove the cake from the oven, poke holes all over the top of the warm cake and drizzle over the syrup. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
- When the cake is completely cool, make the icing by combining the icing sugar, lemon juice and a few teaspoons of water until you have a smooth, thick icing. Spoon the icing over the cake and finish with a sprinkling of sliced pistachios and, if you like, rose petals.
Sit back and enjoy the praise!
These eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce are great for a weekend breakfast or brunch when want to knock something up out of store cupboard staples (they also sort your hangover out as well). You can dial the chilli up or down to suit your tastes and sprinkle parsley, coriander or chives over instead of the mint. The limes to squeeze over add a nice touch but they’re not essential. Eat it with any type of bread you have in to mop up all those fragrant juices.
1 large onion, chopped
2 tins of tomatoes, mashed with a potato masher
4 or 5 eggs
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tsp garam masala
1/4 tsp chilli powder plus chilli flakes to sprinkle over
1 tsp tamarind paste (or a dash of cider vinegar if you don’t have tamarind)
Pinch of sugar
3/4 tsp salt
Gently fry the onion in a little oil until softened but not browned, then throw in the spices. Cook over a gentle heat until the spices are cooked out, stirring all the while. Add a little water if they’re sticking to the pan. Add the mashed tomatoes, sugar, salt and tamarind. Simmer for 10 minutes. Make an indentation for each egg and carefully crack them into them. Cover and cook on low until the eggs are just poached.
Sprinkle over a few chilli flakes, some chopped herbs of your choice (but don’t worry if you’ve haven’t got any in). Serve the pan straight to the table with lots of bread.
To get top quality crackling there’s a few things you have to do. First, make sure the skin is bone dry before you cook your joint. I find slow cook joints like shoulder and leg give the best crackling. Next, score the skin thinly. I do mine with a razor blade. It then needs to be both oiled and well salted, preferably with good, crunchy rock or sea salt.
Get your oven really hot and put the joint on the top shelf for 15 mins, then turn the oven down to low and put the meat on the bottom shelf. Cook it like that for around two and half hours then take it out. Slide a very sharp knife under the skin and separate it from the joint. Scrape out the jelly-like fat, sprinkle some salt in the inside of the crackling and put it back in the oven (skin side down first to dry out the inside) and this time back on the top shelf and turn it back up to high. Keep a close eye on it as can burn quickly at this stage. It takes a bit of effort but this is crackling we’re talking about here. It’s important.
When the inside is dry and crunchy, if the skin side needs a bit longer turn it over and cook for a bit longer. Cool it on a wire rack when it’s done and then get in quick, because if you’re house is anything like mine you have to be if you want to get any.