Easter Inspiration

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I do a lot of baking but I don’t eat 99% of what I make because the majority is for customers or my employer and I don’t actually have a cake/bakery item craving, I just enjoy the creative process. But I do have a thing about almond flavours – marzipan, amaretto and frangipane in particular – I always put frangipane on my mince pies for example and I created Scollens for Christmas last year. I also make the finest almond slice in the world (it is official). Now I bring you this utterly scrumptious thing.

The simplicity of the method belies the delicious result, and as with lots of the things I make you can tinker about with the additions to whatever takes your fancy. In fact I’m not a fan of fruit and chocolate as a rule but the chocolate/orange combination really works here. This was originally a Simon Hopkinson tart recipe which (I think) he adapted from a Jeremy Lee recipe. I took the filling changed it to my own tastes, dropped the pastry and baked it in a dish. Such is the way with recipes – nothing is really new and everything is almost always evolving into something else. I urge you to try this. I had it with double cream but I reckon some extra thick or clotted cream would be even better.

A pet hate of mine is a recipe which states 100g of something when you can only buy it in either 125g or 150g (I’m looking at you ground almonds) so I’ve stated 125g here but if the bag you have is 150g it won’t really make any difference and you won’t have 25g of useless ground almonds cluttering up and drying out in your baking cupboard. Unfortunately a whole tub of candied peel is too much but it does keep quite well and I am extremely confident that you will make this again long before it is unusable. Likewise with chocolate chips – one of those small bags from the baking bit in the supermarket is fine but equally you could just chop up some chocolate you have lying around – aim for about 80g or so.

Other things. I happen to like pine kernels but flaked almonds or chopped pistachios would also work really well. And make sure the butter is nice and soft. If it isn’t slice it up and give it a minute or so on a low setting in the microwave. If you don’t do alcohol add a little fruit juice – pear would be good. You could also add some chopped, peeled pear if you fancy instead of orange zest. I might try that myself. Or some stoned, fresh cherries. They would definitely work.

One last thing – this can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd. I did it for 12 last night…

Chocolate Orange Frangipane Pudding

This serves a polite 4 (or 2-3 less delicate portions)

Pre-heat oven to 180ºc, butter a small ovenproof dish

100g unsalted butter, softened
75g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
50g plain flour
1 large egg
grated zest of 2 oranges
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
grated nutmeg – about a quarter
2 tbsp Marsala (be generous)
1tbs orange liqueur
½ tsp vanilla paste
1/2 a tub of candied peel (supermarket tub)
200g marzipan, chopped into small dice
Dark chocolate chips
40g pine kernels

Begin by beating the butter and sugar together for a good five minutes on a high speed until pale and fluffy.

Beat in the egg.

Lower the speed of the mixer and tip in the flour and almonds, orange and lemon zest, nutmeg, booze and vanilla.

Stir in the candied peel, marzipan and the chocolate chips.

Scrape the batter into the ovenproof dish and level the top.

Scatter over the pine kernels.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until risen and golden brown and just set in the middle when pressed with your little finger.

Allow to rest for 10 minutes then dust with icing sugar and serve with cream or ice cream.

(For the supper club I made little individual bakes and put a layer of orange curd in the bottom of each dish. And topped with icing sugar and a little bit of edible glitter – my pudding motto is when you can, ALWAYS use glitter!)

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