Fee has a garden whose canopy is the blue sky, edged with the leafy tops of enormous Nandi Flames clambered upon by bougainvillaea. We lazed on the lawn, which has an old swimming pool built for hedonism and garden parties, but long since abandoned, left to ruin from the fault lines that run through the property. There are plans to renew and restore, and I can't wait to see the results.
So what to make for pudding? Rather than trawl through endless webpages, I turned to my old favourite: Darina Allen's Ballymaloe cookery book. In there, she has plenty of choice, but what caught my eye was her Tunisian Orange Cake, adapted from Sophie Grigson's original, which was taught at Ballymaloe (envy). But what caught my tastebuds was the idea of a sticky syrup to pour over the finished product - away with the buttercream icing, in with a reduced fruity syrup. I also liked the idea of it keeping for weeks, not just days, but sadly it didn't even last the afternoon! Served with lemon & basil ice-cream (check back in the next few days for our recipe), but would have been better with a rich vanilla bean ice-cream.
50g slightly stale breadcrumbs
200g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
1 1/2 level teaspoons baking powder
200ml elianto / sunflower oil
zest of 1 large unwaxed orange, finely grated
zest of 1 1/2 large unwaxed lemon, finely grated
juice of orange used above
juice of lemon used above
1 cinnamon stick
Grease and line a 20cm round tin. You can buy baking paper from most outlets in Nairobi, the easiest way to line it is to place the tin on top, draw around it and then cut the circle out. Place in the bottom of the tin. Remember to grease it and also the sides of the tin, liberally with butter. Mix the breadcrumbs with the sugar, almonds and baking powder. I didn't have breadcrumbs to hand but I chucked a semi-stale bagel into the magimix to make crumbs, and then added the rest. Meanwhile, whisk the oil with the eggs, pour into the dry mixture (if you have a magimix you can just add it to the bowl). Mix well, add the lemon and orange zest. Voila! Pour into the tin.
Put into a cold oven and then turn on and set the heat to 180 degrees. Whilst the cake bakes for 45 - 60 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean), you need to start on your citrus syrup, the sticky component of this deliciousness.
Put all ingredients for the citrus syrup into a pan, and bring to the boil stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes on a low heat, and then remove.
When you remove the cake from the oven, let it cool for about ten minutes and then poke some holes in the top of the cake. Pour over the syrup and it will flow into the cake making it delightfully moist and sticky.
Serve with thick whipped cream or natural yoghurt (though I'd recommend a 'to hell with the calories' approach). Even better: serve slightly warm with vanilla bean ice cream.