One of the hazards of being a former Bake Off contestant is that I’m often asked to bake for work. But what to make? Definitely nothing with layers – I learned that lesson the hard way after a disastrous drive with a Victoria sponge sloshing around in the passenger seat every time I turned a corner. Inspired by Edd Kimber’s fantastic book, One Tin Bakes, I decided to make a traybake: big enough to share, flat enough to survive the journey on the bus, and easy enough to whip up the night before my next shift. So for all those who’ve already tried it and asked for the recipe: here you are!
Brown butter, almond and berry traybake
Almond extract is one of those Marmite ingredients, so if you’d prefer your cake without that fragrant, marzipan flavour, feel free to leave it out.
Prep 15 min
Cook 30 min
Makes 15 large squares (30 small)
For the cake
350g unsalted butter
100g plain flour
275g ground almonds
275g caster sugar
75ml whole milk
¼ tsp table salt
2 tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs
1½ tsp almond extract (optional)
200g frozen berries (I used a mixture of blackcurrants, redcurrants and crushed raspberries)
For the glaze
Juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon (or 2 blood oranges) – about 110ml
80g caster sugar
Melt the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat, bring to a boil and let it bubble away for a few minutes, until all the water has boiled off (you’ll know this has happened when the large bubbles of steam disappear and are replaced with a foam of tiny bubbles). Turn the heat down low and continue to warm gently, stirring, for a minute or two – take care, because it’s easy to burn the butter at this point. When the butter is ready, it will have a nutty aroma and the solids on the base of the pan will have turned a hazelnut brown.
Tip the butter into a large bowl, leave to cool for a couple of minutes, then add all the other cake ingredients apart from the frozen berries. Stir to form a smooth batter, then pour into a 23cm x 33cm baking tin lined with greaseproof paper. Scatter the frozen berries over the top and bake at 190C (180C fan)/gas 6 for 25 minutes, turning the cake once after 18 minutes, until it’s a rich, toasty brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by boiling the juice and sugar together for five to six minutes. To test if the glaze is thick enough, put a little on a teaspoon and blow on it to cool. If the glaze is still completely liquid, boil for another minute and try again. It’s ready when it’s as sticky and viscous as honey.
Leave the cake to cool for a few minutes so the surface is warm rather than hot, then brush over the glaze. Leave to cool completely, then slice and serve.