Tag Archives: almond

Cherry Almond Granola

26 Nov

Sometime in the past decade or so, I became a stingy Scottish granny. At least, this is what I have been told. Well, I haven’t been told that I, specifically, have turned into a stingy Scottish granny, but I have been told, many times over, that my non-Indian grandmother often referred to herself as being a stingy Scottish lady, and, well, it appears as though that apple hasn’t fallen too far from its tree. But allow me to back up just a bit.

Over the summer, I spent several lovely mornings in the company of my best friend, who had just had a baby. We spent our mornings together chatting, squeezing her new baby, and walking to a nearby place to get coffee. One day, while waiting in line, I was gazing at the selection of baked goods, practically drooling all over the glass as I ogled their offerings of scones bursting with fruit, cookies packed with nuts, and a huge, nearly overflowing glass jar of granola. The granola was a deeply golden brown, studded with big chunks of dried cherries and slivers of almonds. I could practically feel the crunch of the granola between my teeth as I brought my face closer and closer to the display counter, almost certain that the only thing that would make my coffee even better was a big bowl of cherry almond granola.

And then, like something out of a cartoon—I mean, you could practically hear the record needle come to a scratching halt as my eyes hit the price tag—I noticed the going rate for a bowl of granola: $6.

Now, I realize that complaining about the cost of a pastry or breakfast item or, really, anything at all that comes from a restaurant is ridiculous, being as though the entire existence of restaurants if contingent upon charging lots of money for stuff that people simply don’t feel like making at home themselves, but the price of that granola set something off in me. $6 for a cup of granola with a scoop of yogurt on it? You can buy a three pound tub of oats for less than that, and I happen to know from experience that granola is made up of mostly oats. So, I did what I had to do. I took that knowledge and made my own cherry almond granola. And I did it my way—free of oil, low on sweetness, big on crunch, and heavy on the almond, I can’t imagine that the $6 granola tastes any better than this, and I don’t think I’ll ever bother to find out. I’ll be too busy spending $3 on a couple of shots of espresso with a splash of milk tossed in. Because that, of course, makes perfect financial sense. Ahem.

Last Year: Crisp Spiced Nuts and Kicking Off the Holidays

Cherry Almond Granola Recipe

6 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)

1 cup sliced almonds

¼ cup wheat germ (optional)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch of sea salt

1 cup unfiltered apple cider

¼ cup grade B pure maple syrup

1/3 cup almond butter

1/8 teaspoon almond extract

½ cup dried cherries, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large baking dish, combine oats, almonds, wheat germ, cinnamon, and sea salt. Stir with a wooden spoon or toss with your hands to combine.

In a medium bowl, or in a large measuring cup, whisk together apple cider, maple syrup, almond butter, and almond extract. Pour the apple cider mixture over the oat mixture, and stir to thoroughly combine.

Bake the granola in the center of the oven for 2 hours, stirring once or twice just to keep the granola from sticking to the bottom of the baking dish, until the mixture is crisp and golden. Remove from oven, stir in the dried cherries, and allow to cool completely before packing away in an air-tight container.

Lemon, Almond, and Cornmeal Cake

23 Apr

For a while there, we were eating a lot of cake.  I brought this up a few weeks ago, but it bears repeating because, after I brought it up the first time, we continued to eat cake, and lots of it.  It’s not like we were just sitting around while stuffing cake in our mouths (at least, we mostly weren’t doing that).  There were dinner parties and birthdays and then, um, Cake Tuesdays, which is not a real thing but now that I’ve mentioned it right here, I sort of want to make it a real thing.  The point is, a lot of cake was made, and a lot of cake was enjoyed.

Most of the cakes I made over the past few weeks were old favorites.  This dark chocolate zucchini cake and this butter cake made appearances (the butter cake is an old standby of mine, but that blood orange curd was a new addition and, boy howdy, was it a fantastic one), as did a newly conceived cupcake.  Another new addition to my baking repertoire was this lovely number from Nigella Lawson and, though I hesitate to play favorites when it comes to cake, I think I might have found a new best friend.  Not Lawson (lovely as she is).  The cake.

With a base of both almond meal and cornmeal, this cake’s structure is just a delight.  It’s crumbly but moist, and the slight bite of the cornmeal adds a little something special.  Once the entire thing is soaked, whilst still warm, with an intensely lemony syrup, that little something special magically becomes a whole lot of something special, and I’d be lying if I told you that I wasn’t totally consumed by this cake (while I simultaneously consumed it, as it were).  Like I said, I don’t want to hurt any other cake’s feelings by declaring favorites, but this is a cake you definitely want to get to know.  Perhaps with a few friends, a pot of coffee, and a lazy afternoon of chit chat, because if you truly love your friends, you’re going to want to get them in on this cake as well.

Last year: Yeasted Buttermilk Biscuits

Lemon, Almond, and Cornmeal Cake Recipe

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen, by Nigella Lawson

I’ve made a few changes to this cake in both ingredients and process, mostly notably in the form of reducing the sugar in both the cake and the syrup. By reducing the sugar in the syrup topping, but not reducing the lemon juice (and then adding a bit of zest to the mix), you get a clearer, brisker lemon topping that just makes this cake a total showstopper. There are a couple more tweaks here and there, but I’d still say this cake is definitely Nigella Lawson’s and not mine.

2/3 cup granulated sugar

zest of 2 large lemons

1 ¾ sticks (14 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature (plus a tad more for greasing the pan)

2 cups almond meal or almond flour

¾ cup finely ground cornmeal

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

3 large eggs, at room temperature

For the Syrup:

Juice of 2 lemons

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

2/3 cup confectioner’s sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Lightly grease the bottom and sides of a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the sugar and lemon zest and process until the sugar is finely ground and the lemon zest is incorporated.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large bowl using a hand mixer, combine the sugar and lemon zest with the butter.  Beat together until pale and whipped.

In a medium bowl, combine the almond meal, cornmeal, and baking powder.  With the mixer still mixing, add 1/3 of the almond mixture to the butter, followed by 1 egg.  Continue beating in the remaining almond mixture and eggs in this fashion, adding one after the other.  When the last egg has been added, beat the batter until everything is fully incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes.  The cake will be done when the edges begin to shrink away from the sides of the pan.  The middle of the cake will appear a bit underdone, but a cake tester inserted into the middle should come out marginally clean with several moist crumbs still attached.  Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool, leaving the cake in the pan.

To make the syrup, gently boil together the lemon juice, lemon zest, confectioner’s sugar, stirring all the while, until the sugar has completely dissolved into the juice.  Prick the top of the still-warm cake all over with a toothpick or cake tester, then spoon the warm syrup all over the cake.  Allow the cake to cool almost completely before taking it out of its pan.  (Lawson recommends allowing the cake to cool completely, but I found this cake to be even more fabulous when served just barely warm.  You definitely don’t want to serve this cake while it is hot, but anything just a few degrees warmer than room temperature is perfect, I think.)

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