If you need a wee cake that tastes like an aromatic wander through a souk, skip straight to the bottom for the recipe. These petite mandarin, almond, honey and fig cakes might just be what you’re looking for.
There are many wonderful things about these cakes. Yes, they’re gluten and grain free. Yes, they’re refined sugar free (and can be made fructose free by substituting in rice malt syrup for honey). Yes they’re redolent with protein, bound up with eggs and ground almonds. Yes they’re muddle and mix. But mostly, they’re just very good for morale.
This is a week for celebrating mandarins, as our latest stowaway unfurls to the proportions of one.
The stowaway is developing exactly as it should. The anxiety tinged nuchal scan is all clear. There are arms that wave, a heart that beats and kidneys that pump. In the latest scan they kept crossing and uncrossing their legs at the ankles, like a dancer preparing to jete.
Meanwhile, on the mother-ship food is slowly returning to a friendly status. Last week I fell head first into a land of pies. I blame the credits for ‘Suits’ – our current Netflix addiction. There’s a line in the opening that sings ‘get another piece of pie, for your wife‘. Once I had pies on the brain, they were all I could think of.
On Thursday night there was slow cooked lamb shoulder, fennel and tomato, capped with a whisper of pluming puff pastry. The fact that I could eat slow cooked lamb was exciting enough on its own, but the fact that I went back for seconds was unheard of in the past eight weeks. It went down so well that on Friday we repeated the affair, but this time in a country comfort chicken pie, with pieces of thigh meat bound in a creamy chickpea flour bechamel, with leek, onion, diced carrots and celery. Meanwhile I’m also managing quinoa again (oh happy day). And last night I even stomached a piece of salmon, grilled, over an edamame and pea puree with a salad of bitter leaves, pumpkin seeds and slivered peach for dinner. What I could not face were the sweet potato wedges I made for The Hungry One. Roast vegetables remain verboten. Baby steps.
What has always been kind to me have been mandarins and almonds. A handful of almonds and a piece of fruit first thing in the morning helped keep the worst of the nausea at bay for a spell. And the smell of mandarins was a heavenly salve. So clutched together in a cake, they’re doubly good for morale.
The figs could easily be swapped out for dried apricots, or left off entirely, but they do add a lovely chew and expand the chord of sweetness at play. They also remind me of not-so-long-ago exotic times when we would gad about the world in search of culinary inspiration, rather than taking it from television credit sequences, viewed in a track set.
I like to serve these cakes as part of a larger platter with a few additional pieces of dried fruit, some nuts and some squares of very dark chocolate for contrast.
Add a pot of tea, some peace and quiet and the knowledge that your offspring is developing just as it should and it’s a recipe for happiness indeed.
Mandarin, Almond, Honey and Fig Cakes
Here’s how we roll
1) Place the mandarins in a large saucepan and cover with water. Scrunch up some baking paper and place over the top to help keep the mandarins submerged in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook at a simmer for 40 minutes.
4) Blend the seeded mandarins, skins and all until they form a smooth pulp.
Previously in Poppyseed to Pumpkin
Each week mad websites and baby books will tell you how big your baby now is in comparison to a seed, fruit or vegetable. It starts as a poppy seed and goes from there. To make this process a little more palatable, join me as I bake my way through. Here’s the journey so far. (Nb, you can also see the poppy seed to pumpkin process in the app, or ebook from my first pregnancy with Will, or read about it on the blog here.