With the baking hot weather (no pun intended) we've had in the UK this summer, I have barely turned my oven on. Meals have been mostly salads, breads, cheeses, dips, anything that involved minimal cooking. Vegetables picked from my garden which required blanching in boiling water at the most.
But then came the most welcome cool change, and I found myself basically turning into Mary Berry last Sunday, baking a cake and a slice to use up the last of the butter, sugar and jam that had found their way into my kitchen after a wonderful visit from my parents.
In fact, it was my mum who suggested a Bakewell slice to use up all the jam. I'm very partial to a Bakewell, so immediately thought this was a brilliant idea. But, as I say, had to wait for the all-pervading heat to dissipate slightly before I could even entertain the idea of turning the oven on.
I love almonds but I'm not overly fond of a strong, synthetic almond taste that you often find with marzipan and the like. So I used up a bag of ground almonds very happily but forwent the almond essence that was in the original recipe. By all means include it instead of vanilla if you're an almond lover!
After Tom and I had enjoyed this fresh out of the oven, I knew the solution to avoiding temptation all week was to take the rest of the slice into my office on Monday to share with my colleagues. I don't often take my baking in, as I use a lot less sugar than most people are used to, as that's what I prefer. But to my surprise, the slice was hoovered up and I got so many compliments. So if you're looking to win some brownie points in your office, seriously, make this slice and take it in. I have already been asked to make it again!
Adapted from this recipe
1 sheet ready-rolled shortcrust pastry
Roughly 1 cup (a little less is fine) jam of your choice (I used a mixture of raspberry and strawberry)
200g organic unsalted butter
175g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
100g self-raising flour
Dash of vanilla extract
Flaked almonds for the topping
Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan). Unroll your pastry sheet, roll it out a little with a rolling pin and then place it, including the baking paper it comes with, into a baking tray of roughly 30 x 20 cm size. Spread the jam over the pastry.
Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and beat until well combined. Add the almonds, flour and vanilla and stir well. Spread this cake mixture evenly over the jam and pastry.
You can either scatter the top with flaked almonds now and just keep an eye on it and cover with foil once the almonds get brown, or you can add the almonds when the slice has about 10 minutes baking time left. If you choose the latter, they won't be embedded into the cake as much as the mixture won't be wet any more. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. For me, I can't stand a burned nut so I'd rather go with the second option and err on the side of caution!
Place the tin in the oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown and the cake has risen nicely. If you choose the second option with the flaked almonds, remove after 20 minutes and scatter the flaked almonds over the surface, then return to the oven for the rest of the cooking time.
Allow the slice to cool in the tin. You can ice it, as the original Delicious recipe suggests, but I was happy (and found it sweet enough) with just plain flaked almonds on top.
Cut into slices, take it into your office and watch your popularity soar! It's absolutely perfect with a hot cup of tea or coffee.