Bergamot and almond Christmas cake
Another year and another Christmas cake challenge for Head Gardener Ned..
Each December we task him to create an alternative Christmas cake for the office tea break. The catch is that he has to forage for key ingredients in the Glut nursery and turn them into a festive showstopper.
Last Christmas he wowed the team with a hazelnut and toffee apple cake, and this year he’s upped the ante again, with this delicious, tiered almond cake drenched in bergamot syrup and decorated with snowy rosemary sprigs and candied citrus peel. The cake was inspired by our Earl Grey Tea Crate, and is made with leftover breadcrumbs. It’s made in a food processor, so it takes just a few minutes to prepare.
80g old sourdough bread, roughly torn
300g caster sugar, plus 80g for the syrup
2 tsp baking powder
150g ground almonds
Leaves from 4 rosemary sprigs
300g melted butter.
Zest and juice of a Bergamot lemon
Juice of a bergamot lemon
Place the bread, sugar, baking powder, almonds and rosemary leaves into a food processor. Blitz until the mixture looks like rosemary-flecked crumbs. Add the butter, eggs and lemon zest and blitz until you have a thick batter.
Pour the batter into a greased and lined 20cm cake tin. If you are keen on a two-tier cake, pour a quarter of the batter into a smaller greased and lined tin.
Bake at 190C for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (if you use a smaller second tin this will take less time).
When the cakes are ready, remove them from the oven and set aside.
Make a syrup by heating 80g of sugar and the bergamot juice.
Make small holes in the top of the cake with a skewer or cocktail stick and pour the syrup evenly over the surface. Leave to cool completely in the tin.
To decorate, add just enough icing sugar to the juice to make a thin paste, and drizzle over the cake. Leave to set overnight.
For a festive flourish, dip rosemary sprigs first in beaten egg white, and then in caster sugar and allow to dry overnight before placing on the cake. For extra colour, we also added candied strips of bergamot, lemon rind and calamondin oranges.