Paula Radcliffe is undoubtedly one of England’s most famous and successful female athletes of all time –and not just for that incident in the 2005 London marathon (I won’t go into it here, but it has a paragraph devoted to it on her Wikipedia biography).
She has won more marathons than I’ve probably eaten (vintage chocolate joke for you there, admittedly it would be wittier if they hadn’t changed their name to Snickers).
Paula is currently the world record holder for the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 15 minutes and 25 seconds. She has won the London marathon three times, the New York marathon twice and the Chicago marathon once. All this is even more amazing when you learn that she suffers with asthma.
When I was selecting who to write to for my Famous Faces feature, I tried very hard to ensure a good balance of celebrities, politicians, sports people, journalists, musicans etc but, have to admit, I didn’t expect an athlete to eat cake...let alone have a favourite! Paula’s choice of raspberry and almond cake is a choice very close to my own heart as it’s a combination I love too.
I decided to pick this bakewell cake recipe as it is packed with raspberries; so often bakewell tart recipes use jam rather than fruit but in cake form the fruit works better. The rich, soft almond cake contrasts so beautifully with the sharp, squidgy pockets of baked raspberries. The flaked almonds on top add some crunch but mostly this is soft, indulgent comfort baking at its best.
NB. I know I say in the recipe that the batter is very thick and don’t panic, but here’s some photographic proof!
210g unsalted butter, at room temperature
210g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
210g ground almonds
210g self raising flour
3 tablespoons flaked almonds
To serve: dusting of icing sugar, thick cream
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
Line a 20cm springform round tin with baking paper.
Beat together the butter and sugar until it is light, pale and fluffy; as you are using golden caster sugar it won’t turn as pale as ordinary caster sugar but you will notice the batter change as you beat. Take your time over this stage as this is where you get the air into the cake.
Gradually beat in the eggs, followed by the almond extract.
Fold in the ground almonds.
Fold in the flour.
Spoon a generous half of the mix into the prepared cake tin and level the surface. Your batter will be quite stiff but this is necessary to support all the raspberries which will collapse and ooze juice on baking.
Scatter over all but a scant handful of the raspberries then spoon the remaining cake batter on top. Take care, when levelling the surface, not to disturb the raspberries.
Gently press the remaining raspberries into the top of the batter.
Scatter over the flaked almonds.
Bake for approximately 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Place the cake, still in its tin, on a wire rack and leave to cool. I find almond cakes are very soft and vulnerable to break when warm so I advise de-tinning only when the cake is completely cool.
Store in an airtight container until ready to serve. Don’t panic if, overnight, it looks like your cake has sunk a little in the middle – the almonds release oil, and the baked raspberries get squidgy and this seems to concentrate in the centre. Your cake will be all the more delicious for it!
Serve with a dusting of icing sugar and some thick cream.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have created.