Saturday 12 October 2013

Nuts in May

Here we go gathering nuts in May?  I wouldn't think that's a particularly good time of the year to guarantee success, in the Northern Hemisphere at least! Yet another highly suspect nursery rhyme.

The recipe, for Apple Cake in a Nutshell as blogged about by Jean in Baking in Franglais, required four ounces of blanched hazelnuts. We have filberts, fresh from the tree. This calls for - a gadget!

What is it?

My dad's wonderful nutcracker, with its tiny ship's wheel that you wind to extend the clamp as gently as you please, guaranteeing an undamaged kernel. Four ounces is quite a lot of cracking, even with giant filberts, so that was an evening's entertainment.

Cracking a filbert with precision
Now blanching - the method I learned for almonds - three minutes in boiling water - just didn't work. After five minutes futile scraping I gave up. The internet came up with the addition of baking soda (Bicarb) to the water in the proportion of three tablespoons to two US quarts. I used two teaspoons to a UK pint, again boiling for three minutes, then rinsed them in cold water. The method then said to rub the skins off in a teatowel. I'm sure that would work, particularly with more than my four ounces, but having seen the rich pink colour the water had turned, the subsequent cleaning of the teatowel struck me as a problem. So I rubbed the skins off with my fingers, dipping occasionally in a finger bowl. Success! Clean as a whistle. Not so clean Tim's hankie with which he experimented on the liquid as a dye.

Almost gone....
 Finally, how to coarsely chop them... the blender just chipped a few bits off them... we gave away our hachoir because we never used it... drat... Tim chopped them with a ceramic-bladed knife. Somewhere no more than a mile from here, a prehistoric woman or man did the same thing, with a flint blade like the ones we dig up in the potager. I don't suppose they bothered skinning them. Sometimes the old ways are the best.

The finished cake - cooked for 20 minutes longer than the recipe said, with foil on top


Jean said...

Do you happen to have a tiny piece left so I can see what it tastes like ?!
It looks gorgeous and it's interesting that you also needed extra time to bake it, and a little milk. (It's always a relief to find it's not just me!)

Niall & Antoinette said...

it tasted very nice indeed :-)

BTW thanks again for the butternuts & jars. Number already filled with ruby/orange quince jelly [flavoured with 1 star anise]. I think it has come out well this year.