The summer is officially over but in northern Spain the change from summer to autumn and then winter is anything but abrupt. Instead it seems to creep up on you so that only by looking back do you realise that you haven’t worn those shorts for a couple of weeks or that the snows have arrived on the high peaks of the Pyrenees Mountains that dominate the region. What we eat seems to change as well. Gone are the cooling summer salads with locally caught anchovies or an ice cream from a day out at the beach to be replaced with more hearty foods that stand you in good stead against the chilly northern wind that rolls in from France.
Spending time in a warm kitchen in the summer when outside temperatures can be in the forties is not something I enjoy; however, as the months roll on it becomes more and more appealing. In a region where central heating is not so developed as in more northern climates, standing in front of a warm oven is a pleasure that is often shared with the family and even the dog, all trying to get in on that extra bit of warmth.
When we moved to Spain, one of the unexpected surprises was that oranges and lemons, so full of sunshine and warm weather, are actually a winter fruit. Even after many years, this is something that I find hard to accept. My northern European roots are just too deep and oranges and lemons are there to refresh us in the summer. This is one reason this cake seems to always make it on to my winter list. It’s full of summer and sunshine at a time when it is the needed most.
Almond and Citrus Cake
225/1 ½ Cups self raising flour
225g/1 Cup unsalted butter – softened
225g/1 Cup caster sugar
65g/ ½ Cup crushed almonds
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
90g/ ¾ Cup s icing sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Add the sugar and the softened butter to a bowl and beat them together until the mixture is pale with a creamy colour. Next add the eggs, one at a time and mix them in slowly. Sift the flour into the bowl and finally add the lemon and orange zest and the crushed almonds. Mix until everything has combined. Grease a loaf tin and add the mixture, making sure that the top is level. Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Check whether the cake has cook by putting a skewer into the centre of the cake and looking to see if it comes out clean. Allow the cake to cool in the tin.
In another bowl, combine the icing sugar and the lemon juice and mix well. Keeping the cake still in the tin, piece the top of the warm cake with the skewer then pour over the lemon icing. As the cake is still in the tin, the icing will drain into the holes and form a topping. When the cake has fully cooled, remove from the tin.