A couple of weeks ago I published an article titled Pollo en Pepitoria / Tarazona Chicken. As I mentioned at the time, we were on the way back from a weekend in Olite. This recipe is also inspired by that weekend away.
We actually stayed in the Parador in Olite. For those of you unfamiliar with the Spanish Paradors, they are state owned hotels in renovated castles and palaces. They are in some of the most amazing buildings, often perched on high with commanding views. I also believe that they are reasonably priced and as such I would recommend them to anyone. We opted to eat one of our meals in the Parador and we were served what they called an Ujué almond cake.
Ujué is a town I have mentioned in the past when I was describing the typical caramelised almond sweets typical from there. The town is, quite rightly, famous for its almonds and an almond cake therefore seemed like a logical next step. The cake I had in the Parador was delicious and, more importantly for this article, also served as a reminder that I had not shared my almond cake recipe with you all. But before we get into the recipe, let me first share a little more information on the town itself……
My first visit to the town was many, many years ago. I liked it then, but it has in fact improved since that first visit. Whilst we were there we could see that they were re-cobbling many of the streets. From the areas that were finished we could see that it was well conceived and constructed and should improve and harmonise the structure of this medieval village. They have also done work in restoring the church and the availability of tourist information at key points within and without the building itself. The church itself really is a magnificent edifice to behold.
The church, from the 12th century, is obviously there for religious services, but it is also classed as a fortress given its construction and location. At around 2,700ft above sea level it commands an enviable view of the surrounding hills, valleys and even the Pyrenees.
The town itself is full of steep narrow streets, delightful old stone houses and several large stone structures that are all well worth a visit. It is rather a shame that they built an unsightly fronton court, which sticks out like a sore thumb due to its size and the materials used. Don’t be deterred though as it doesn’t detract too much from the structural harmony of the rest of the town.
Most people arrive at the village via the main road from Tafalla. There is however a more circuitous and scenic route along the NA-5311. I was fortunate to discover this route during a cycling excursion with the Alagón cycling club. I am often told that I am little different, a little eccentric perhaps? My Spanish friends blame it on me being English, and who’s to say they are in the wrong? You see I love cycling up hill, and a climb up to 2,700ft suits me perfectly. For those, the vast majority I assume, who prefer downhill cycling, the long drop from Ujué to Tafalla is not to be missed either, with a smooth road surface one can attain some quite vertiginous speeds!! And then of course we are talking about Tafalla and the region of Navarra, a perfect spot to get an excellent meal after a morning of pedal turning…….
And back to the cake, and a favourite of mine. Apart from it being delicious, it is also a perfect way to use up the almonds I grow in the orchard.
It is really simple to make and with some flaked almonds and icing sugar can be made into quite a centre-piece for when next you have some friends over…….
Bizcocho de Almendras / Almond Cake
150ml Sunflower oil
90g Plain Flour (W200)
150g Ground almonds
10ml Baking powder
25g Flaked almonds
Beat together all the cake ingredients until smooth.
Butter a 26cm diameter mould then dust with dried breadcrumbs. This cake tends to stick to the mould so grease and dust well and leave to cool completely before removing the finished cake from the tin.
Pour the mixture into the mould and sprinkle the flaked almonds on top.
Bake for 35 minutes in a fan-assisted oven at 185°C.
The cake can get too brown so check regularly and cover with foil if necessary.
Serve dusted with icing sugar and some flaked almonds.
You will find that it doesn’t rise that much, but it should be light as a feather if you have done it right! This cake really does just melt in the mouth.
I also wanted to mention Joaquin, as it was he who first introduced me to the cake and who gave me the recipe so that I could make it myself.
Ujué’s most famous product, their Almendras Garapinlladas.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
Imperial to Metric Measurement:
1 oz – 28g
1 lb – 16 oz – 454g
1 gill – ¼ pint – 142ml
1 inch – 25mm
Common Flour Types:
Gluten: 8% to 10%
Type: ES 70W
All-Purpose Flour / Plain Flour
Gluten: 8% to 11%
Type: DE 550 / FR 55 / IT 0 / ES 200W
Bread Flour / Strong Flour / Hard Flour
Gluten: 12% to 14% protein (gluten)
Type: DE 812 / FR 80 / IT 1 / ES 400W
2017 Lincoln W. Betteridge