Orange Almond Cake

Brenda Kearney is the cheeky smile behind the baked goods in The Fumbally Cafe. She's earned her stripes and baking skills working in the likes of renowned E5 Bakery in London. Anyone familiar with The Fumbally's convulsively good cakes and cookies, may recognise this particular orange almond melt-in-the-mouth rascal. So here's the recipe.

Orange almond cake with roast rhubarb, sorrel creme fraiche and fresh herbs

My mum has a cookbook from the 70s in which almost every recipe ends with the refrain "garnish with parsley and serve". ?We joke when swapping cake recipes that this should be the last line of the instructions, but actually greenery has a very worthy place on the dessert plate. ?I am just back from a weekend in Connemara with some equally food-obsessed pals where, inevitably, we spent most of our time investigating the fields and shoreline to find anything vaguely edible. ?We ended up with a bounty of wild purple mint, feathery fennel tips and tiny lemony sorrel leaves, all of which ended up in this recipe. ?It is impossible to forget wild stuff when it looks and tastes so good, and here it elevates a fairly humble cake into something with more zing. ?Also, there is a smugness that comes with serving green leaves beside a pudding; at a stretch it could almost be considered a portion of veg. This same logic can easily be applied when considering the merit of a slice of parsnip or beetroot cake.

The Cake (makes 8-10 individual small cakes or 1 large cake)

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  • 200g ground almonds

  • 140g polenta

  • 1tspn baking powder

  • 1tspn ground spice, such as cinnamon or cardamom (optional)

  • 220g butter

  • 220g light brown or golden caster sugar (& a little extra)

  • 4 free-range eggs

  • a small handful of finely-grated orange zest

  • 1-2 oranges, peeled and thinly sliced

Butter your cake tin or moulds and dust lightly with polenta; place a circle of parchment paper on the base.

Cream the butter until super-soft and slowly add the sugar; mix well and add the eggs one at a time. In a separate bowl, mix together almonds, polenta, baking powder and spice. ?Add dry ingredients to wet and mix briefly to combine.

Sprinkle sugar over the base of your prepared tin. ?Arrange orange slices in a single layer on top of the sugar and add the cake mixture; pop in the oven at 170 degrees for 20-40 mins (depending on the size of your cakes and the personality of your oven). ?Allow to cool slightly, use a knife to even off the top (which will become the base), invert on a cooling rack or plate and peel off parchment paper.

The Rhubarb

  • 1 good bunch of rhubarb, washed and cut into batons approx. €2.5-3 inches long.

  • a few handfuls of sugar to taste (more than you think)

  • the zest of one orange

  • optional whole spices, such as cinnamon, star anise, cloves, etc.

Arrange the rhubarb in a roasting dish, sprinkle with sugar, zest and spices. ?Bake for 10-12 mins at 170 degrees - the batons should be slightly soft but still shapely.

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The Creme Fraiche

  • 200g creme fraiche

  • 1 handful of fresh sorrel, very finely shredded

  • sugar to taste

Mix together.

To Serve

All of the above arranged as you please, plus a handful of freshly chopped mint, a small bunch of fennel tops and a hefty scattering of roasted almonds.

Brenda Kearney @brendakearney at The Fumbally

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