Him: Honey, how about Sunday lunch this weekend with the family?
Me: Oh, yes, lovely. Good idea. I’ll bake a cake.
Her: All the girls are in London for the first time in ages! We need to sort out meeting up soon.
Me: Fabulous! I’ll bring cake!
Me: You’re not feeling well? Oh, poor you. I could come round with some cake?
Yes, cake is my panacea for pretty much all of life’s troubles and my response to most of its occasions. Not any old cake, though; it has to be one I’ve made myself or else I feel a fraud. And while I love making cakes, I find the process of choosing a cake recipe exceptionally dull. Cake recipe books leave me cold. Maybe I overdosed on them in the build-up to my wedding. Who knows?
I tend to latch onto a particular cake recipe and then use that one for pretty much every cake occasion I can find, exhausting its options until I happen upon another recipe to take its place in my parlour. Right now, that recipe is Santiago Cake by my friend Floydy.
That’s Keith Floyd, in case you’re new to my Floydy obsession. Santiago Cake is from Floyd on Spain, and it is fabulous. So far it has done a family Sunday lunch, a hostess gift when staying for the weekend with friends in the country and, rather miraculously, it was there to dive into after a late supper on one of those days when life has been having a rather fun time throwing obstacles at you. Did the trick each time.
I also made it while on the Andalucian holiday that led to my falling head-over-heels for Keith Floyd. It was a little tricky with no weighing scales or measuring jug, but I had – of course – packed a springform cake tin. Is that odd? I didn’t think so. Hubbie did. Right up to the point where we were enjoying our freshly baked Santiago Cake, with an ice-cold glass of Fino, over a mid-afternoon game of Scrabble, sitting by our pool and looking out at the mountains of Granada. Bliss.
3 large eggs (the better the eggs, the better the cake – really)
225g caster sugar
100g unsalted butter, quite soft
175g self-raising flour
225g ground almonds
Grated zest of ½ a lemon
To decorate: icing sugar and a handful of flaked almonds
To serve: a glass of Fino. OK, you don’t have to, but I would and I bet Floydy would too.
1. Set the oven to 180°C/Gas mark 4. Line and grease a 20cm cake tin. (I know, lining and greasing is deathly dull but it is important for this cake.)
2. Mix together in a big bowl the eggs, sugar, butter, sifted flour and water. You really have to give it some welly and mix it all well, so use a processor or a whisk.
3. Tip in the ground almonds and grated lemon zest, then mix well but quickly. Overdo it and your almonds will get all oily. Nobody wants that.
4. Put the mixture into the cake tin, level the top and pop it into the oven.
5. Check it at 50 minutes with a skewer (or knitting needle, as I use). It might well need an hour.
6. When it’s done, take it out of the oven and leave it in the tin for 10 minutes. Then take it out of the tin and leave to cool completely.
7. Dust over your icing sugar and throw on the flaked almonds.
This cake will keep for a fair few days as long as it’s well wrapped up or in an air-tight tin. You could serve it with slices of poached pear or some vanilla ice-cream. Or just that glass of Fino.
Angela Clutton, aka Girl Thursday, is an events and concierge guru, responsible for some of the most luxurious and exclusive parties, shows and private soirées in London. Discover more.