Caramel-Almond Topped Sponge, it is definitely the rainy season…

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The noise on the tin roof is deafening. The rainfall is so heavy now that a few droplets leak through the roof and splash by my feet. Then the noise changes to a more high-pitched barrage on the roof. Unbelievably it is hail stoning.  I’m stood in a t-shirt, looking over at the earth surrounding the van which is now hidden a shallow brown lake, the hailstones pound my exposed arms. I’ve worn more than one layer on only a handful of occasions since moving to Kenya and I’m very under dressed.

A flash of lighting and crash of thunder explodes dangerously close to us. The power cuts and the UPS backup battery starts beeping away. Then a small stream of water starts to gather by our feet. I make the decision that we have to pack up immediately and get out of here or we will be staying the night. The equipment is not waterproof and neither is the roof so we move at pace to pack everything away. Fortunately we have seen almost all of the day’s patients. We use our back up funds to pay for the patients still with us to be driven home on motorbike taxis, it will be near impossible now to pass the roads in our mini-bus and equipment van to take them home and if we wait any longer we will be all sheltering here for the night.

Very wet and cold we close up the examination centre and run for the mini-bus, all hoping that we can make it past the stretch of road that is not tarmacked and is now a series of small lakes.

We hit a dip and the front-left side of the bus tips forward, leaving me in close proximity to the ground. The back right wheel is air borne and spinning. We are stuck. We get out of the minibus and 5 of the guys stand at the back corner above the free floating wheel to bring it back down to earth and there is just enough traction for us to move forward.

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Richard, our superb team driver braces himself for one last large puddle and we hold our breath as the wheels start to spin beneath us, seconds later, the front wheels gain some traction and we are free. The road from here is much better and we safely head for home in time to watch the evening news broadcast on eNews Africa featuring the eye project.

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Andrew liked this cake so much he has just challenged me to make him one right now and if I do he said he would eat the whole thing in one sitting! Just as I was considering it the electricity went…decision made, it will have to be another day!

Recipe – Caramel-Almond Topped Sponge

From Scandilicious Baking by Signe Johansen (My new favourite recipe book!)

Ingredients:

Sponge

3 medium eggs

150g castor sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

150g plain flour

1tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp fine sea salt

75g butter melted

75ml buttermilk or I used yogurt as usual!

Praline

125g light brown muscovado sugar

150g flaked almonds

50ml whole milk

3/4 tsp fine sea salt

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C and lightly oil a 23cm round cake tin.

2. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until pale and fluffy.

3. Mix the flour, baking powder and salt in a small bowl, then gradually add the melted butter, buttermilk and dry ingredients to the beaten egg mixture in stages, alternating between them and folding in with a large metal spoon.

4. Gently pour the cake mixture into the prepared cake tin and tap it once or twice against the surface to remove any big air bubbles.

5. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25-30mins until golden brown and firm to touch.

6. Start preparing the topping about half way through the baking; put all the topping ingredients into a medium saucepan and simmer for 3-4mins stirring continuously and allowing it to thicken a little.

7. Remove the cake from the oven and turn i up to 220°C.  Use the hot praline to glaze the cake whilst it is still in its tin, then put the cake back in the oven on the upper shelf and cook for a further 5-10mins until crispy and golden brown.

8. Allow to cool slightly before running a blunt knife around the edges to separate the sticky praline from the sides of the tin, then allow to cool on a wire rack.

Just in case you ever wondered who took the photos of the bakes…

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