With the tea cosy freshly made for my brothers birthday, I couldn't let him visit without having a birthday cake made for him as well! So I asked if he had a special request, and he came up with an old family favourite of Mary Berry's Apple and Almond cake, which I got from a much loved version of this book - Country Cooking
The story behind this book, and the cake which I only fully heard recently) was that my Dad (who worked for Belling cookers), was asked to help out at a launch for a new Belling cooker. The person who'd been invited to demonstrate the cooker was non other than Mary Berry! Dad was on-hand to help out should there be any technical difficulties. Well, when mum heard that Merry Berry was going to be there, she was a bit jealous and asked if there was any chance she could tag along. Dad managed to arrange it and off mum went. Back tracking a bit, when mum and dad met, mum was a demonstrator for the Electricity Board, much the same way that Mary started her career. So when mum got to the Belling demo, she somehow got talking to Mary and got her to sign a copy of the above book, shared recipes with Mary and then even did a bit of baking with her as well! Wow, go mum! (Sadly mum is no longer around to confirm this story, but I've got the book, and the signature as semi-proof). Mary is of course my baking godess, and I have met her myself just last year - and got my own Mary Berry booked signed too! Sadly, I didn't get to do any baking with Mary when I met her :( (the pic below is from my mum's book)
Since then, the apple and almond cake has been a firm favourite in our household, and we had a special loose bottom square tin, which we only used for this cake! Since moving out, I've been searching high and low for a similar tin (too big, too small etc) but I think I've cracked it, and I have a nice one from John Lewis of all places.
So this last week, I cracked on and made the apple and almond cake as requested! :) Interestingly, the recipe indicates we should have flaked almonds on the top, but I've never used them. Always just the almond essence (one of the first things I bought to restock my kitchen after all the building work). It's important to mention the almond essence, as my kitchen has been smelling of it for the last few days, as I managed to knock the bottle over in a fit of hand waving, and half a bottle soaked into my wooden work tops. Thankfully, I really do like the smell, but I do think it's finally starting to fade now.....they say oil's good for wood worktops right? :/
Thankfully, the cake went down well - and I'm just sat enjoying yet another slice - warmed through slightly and spot of cream poured over the top, while curled up with a log fire and a nice spice apple cider. Perfect way to spend a Saturday evening, and perfect way to round off our home baked tea of experimental plaits! I'll leave you wondering what experiments I've been conducting, and fill you in with more details and pictures tomorrow :)