• Michael

#0042: Built On Rock

Updated: Aug 5

Some days are for adventure.


For exploring.


For wilderness.


And some days are for spending time huddled around the kitchen table, putting the world to rights. Those days are about catching up with old friends. About making new ones.


Whilst the storm howls down the glen, hail clattering against the windows as they shake in their frames, and white crested waves crashing to the shore at the head of the loch, we’ll be right here. Cosied in by the fire.


Talking about days gone by.


Making plans for those yet to come.


Just as your house needs to be built on strong foundations to withstand the tough times, so your friendships do too.  You'll weather the tempest with your closest friends and, together, you'll enjoy the calm.


But you can’t do any of that on an empty stomach.


When I was little, rainy days would be for making rock cakes with my grandma at her kitchen table. We'd serve them with tea when friends and family came to visit. In my family, food was always at the centre of any social occasion.


This recipe is inspired by those memories.


These little rock cakes are quick enough to make if friends pop by at short notice, and are packed with all the flavours I love to bake with.


Start by shelling thirty or so cardamom pods until you have about 4g of seeds, then grind them with a pestle and mortar, along with a teaspoon of fennel seeds.


Next, zest and juice a medium sized orange and set aside until later.


In a large mixing bowl, combine 100g each of white and wholemeal bread flour, one and a half teaspoons of baking powder, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, the ground seeds and a good pinch of salt, then rub in 100g of room temperature butter.


Once the mixture has the texture of fine breadcrumbs, add 85g of dark brown muscovado sugar, 75g of raisins, 50g of roughly chopped walnuts, the orange zest and two tablespoons of orange juice, half a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a beaten egg, then mix thoroughly until the batter is wet but firm.


Spoon the mixture out onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, to make eight to ten similarly sized mounds. Don’t worry about making them neat though; rock cakes look best when they are craggy and bit uneven. Once you’re done, sprinkle your rock cakes with caster sugar before baking them in a pre-heated fan oven at about 160°C for about twenty minutes.


Once baked, remove your rock cakes from the oven, transfer them to a wire rack, and leave them to cool a little.


Then serve them with a fresh pot of tea and a good natter.


After all, the strongest foundations are built on rocks.



#secretdiaryargyll #storm #baking #friendship #rockcakes

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