Belinda Jeffery

Moist little almond & berry cakes

These little cakes have a delicate flavour, accentuated by tangy bursts of raspberry or blueberry (in season, halved pitted cherries are really lovely too); however, sometimes I just leave them plain and serve them with poached or roasted fruit and a scoop of softly whipped cream or ice-cream for a very easy, but totally scrumptious, dessert.

(I must mention here that I first tasted these little cakes many years ago when the wonderful food writer and cook, Barbara Lowery, baked some for me, and very kindly gave me her recipe. I have fiddled about with it quite a bit since then, but thanks for the recipe must go to Barbara.)


Makes about 10

  • 1 cup (120 g) almond meal
  • 70 g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, at room temperature
  • 200 g castor sugar
  • 170 g cultured (continental) butter, at room temperature, cut into small chunks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 drops of almond essence
  • about 120 g blueberries or raspberries
  • small handful of flaked or slivered almonds
  • icing sugar, for dusting
Preheat your oven to 180°C. Thoroughly butter 10 oval friand moulds (or use a regular 12-hole muffin tin). As the mixture is quite rich, the bottom of the cakes can stick to the tins (even if they’re non-stick) so it’s a good idea to press a small oval or round of buttered baking paper into the bottom of each mould as an added precaution.


Put the almond meal, flour and salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade and whiz them together for about 20 seconds until they’re well combined. Tip the mixture into a bowl. Now add the eggs and castor sugar to the processor and whiz them together for 1 minute. Add the chunks of butter and whiz for another minute until the mixture is creamy – it will be quite liquid. Add the vanilla extract and almond essence and whiz briefly. Tip the almond meal mixture into the processor and pulse, scraping down the side of the bowl once or twice with a spatula, until it’s only just combined (don’t over-do it or the cakes will be tough).


Divide the batter evenly among the moulds. Dot four or five berries over each one, and scatter the tops with flaked or slivered almonds.


Bake the cakes on the middle shelf of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the tops spring back when gently pressed (if you’re using dark non-stick tins, check them a few minutes earlier as the dark surface absorbs more heat and tends to cook them a little faster). Remove them from the oven to a wire rack and leave them to cool in their tins for 5 minutes. Gently loosen around the sides of the moulds with a fine-bladed palette knife, and use the knife to help lever them out of the tins. Sit them on the rack to cool completely.


Just prior to serving, dust the cakes with icing sugar. They keep well in an airtight container for a few days or in the freezer for a couple of weeks. Return them to room temperature or warm them gently before serving