I'm delighted to have been asked to become a regular baking contributor for Herald Scotland.
My name's Nichola Reith, and I've a confession to make: I have a cake obsession. I thought I may as well begin with that truth as it will become obvious fairly quickly. But it's OK, it's my job to be obsessed! I'm one third of the Three Sisters Bake, in Quarriers Village, so I'd like to think that I'm well qualified for my new role as Herald Scotland's cake blogger!
Before baking, I spent four years working as a consultant for a pharmaceutical company - hence the name of my blog. We opened Three Sisters Bake two years ago and so far, I can confirm that I am not alone in my love of cakes and baking. The sheer number of scones, cakes and traybakes we go through in a week, proves that people really appreciate quality homebaking and are willing to journey out to our cafe in the countryside to get them!
We take cake very seriously at Three Sisters Bake. We have bakers (including myself) in the kitchen every day making sure that there is always a fully stocked cabinet of fresh and delicious home baking on offer. Bad cake is a real bug bear of mine. Going out to a café and being offered carrot cake that's come straight out of a packet or from a cash 'n' carry, is highly disappointing for any cake enthusiast.
Just to be clear, for me, it's all about the actual cake. And by that I mean I just don't have the patience, or the interest, in perfectly polished icing or any kind of fondant art. Trying to sum up my particular style of baking is something that, using words, I find quite difficult. The best I can do is to say, for me, a cake shouldn't look like a sculpture, it should look delicious, scrumptious and too good to resist! As I said, it's difficult to put into words, so hopefully through these regular guest posts, you will start to get a better feel for the cakes I love, and I hope, love them too!
APPLE, RASPBERRY AND ALMOND CAKE
I thought I'd start off with something simple, versatile and unbelievably tasty (you couldn't not like this cake!). The ground almonds in this cake give it a lovely moist texture. It's a great February cake as the fruit can be switched around to suit what's available in the shops at the time, or you can use frozen or tinned fruit. You can replace the apples with nectarines, peaches or plums and could use raspberries, blackberries, blueberries or cherries.
180g soft butter
180g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
100g ground almonds
150g self raising flour
3 ripe apples, sliced
1 handful of raspberries
A handful of flaked almonds
1 Preheat the oven to 175°C. Grease and line a 9" cake tin.
2 Beat the butter, sugar and vanilla essence together until creamy.
3 Beat in the eggs, one at a time.
4 Fold in the ground almonds and flour
5 Spread enough of the mixture to coat the bottom of the tin (a bit less than half)
6 Lay the apples and raspberries over the mixture.
7 Spoon the remaining mixture over the top, spreading over the fruit. Don't worry about gaps here and there.
8 Scatter the flaked almonds over the top of the mixture.
9 Bake for 45-50 minutes.
10 Once cooled dust with a little icing sugar.