How to make an almond-apricot pansy cake
ROYAL wedding cake maker Fiona Cairns will be giving a talk and judging the cake competition at Wells Food Festival on October 20.
“It will be exciting to see Wells celebrate its foodie heritage,” she says.
Her parents live in the area and she likes to drop in to the Queen Street Deli when she visits, for its amazing selection of local cheeses.
“I’m always interested to keep up with what local food producers are up to in Somerset, so the food festival with be a great opportunity for me to do that,” she says.
She is also much looking forward to Pearl Lowe’s vintage tea party which will be taking place at the newly-renovated Fountain in the afternoon.
Fiona will be giving a talk about baking, and sharing stories of her own projects and triumphs, including how she came to make the royal wedding cake.
She is adamant that there are no great secrets to making a perfect cake, just three simple rules.
“Use the best ingredients, follow the recipe, attention to detail,” she said.
She’ll then be judging the Food Festival’s cake competition, in which there are two categories, one for baking and one for decorating.
“In the baking competition, I will be looking for a cake that has been really well executed.
“So each contestant has to really stick to the recipe.”
In the cake decorating category, she will be looking for a design that really shows an entrant’s creative flair and eye for detail.
“It’s important to remember that a well-decorated cake doesn’t have to be covered in things.
“A few well-chosen colours and shapes can work just as well,” she points out.
Fiona Cairns will be giving a talk and judging the cake competitions at The Fountain, Wells, at 2.30pm.
For tickets and further information about how enter the cake competitions, visit www.wellsfoodfestival.co.uk.
Almond-apricot pansy cake
A wonderful cake to serve for tea, or as a dessert.
It would be equally good with a blackcurrant or cherry jam.
I have decorated it with pansies on top, but primroses, violets or a mixture would be equally pretty.
For the cake
225g unsalted butter, really soft, plus more for the tins
160g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g ground almonds
225g golden caster sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp almond extract
finely grated zest of 1 organic orange and juice of ½
For the filling and decoration
200g crème fraîche
5 tbsp best-quality apricot jam
icing sugar, to dust
freshly picked, dry, unsprayed pansies
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Butter two 20cm round tins and line the bases with baking parchment.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir in the ground almonds and set aside.
Put the softened butter and sugar into the bowl of a food mixer (or use a bowl and a hand-held electric whisk) and cream together until light and fluffy. Gradually whisk in the eggs, adding 1 tbsp of the flour mixture halfway through to prevent the mixture from curdling. Fold in the remaining flour mixture, almond extract, orange zest and juice.
Divide the batter between the prepared tins and bake in the preheated oven for 20–25 minutes, or until firm to the touch, or a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tins for a minute or two, then turn the cakes out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave until cold.
When ready to serve, simply place one of the cakes upside down on to a serving plate or cake stand and spread the flat surface with the crème fraîche. Spread the flat surface of the second cake with the apricot jam and sandwich the two together. Sift over a dusting of icing sugar and decorate with the pansies.
Recipe from SEASONAL BAKING by Fiona Cairns, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson £25