I always think Lent is a bit of a cop-out really. If you are truly going to abstain from something for 40 days it should be a hardship, and make you feel both disgustingly smug and unbearably wholesome when the time comes to break your sojourn in the Desert of Mediocrity, for a glorious dip into the glittering Oasis of Luxury. If your metaphorical desert is constituted by a lack of chocolate, biscuits or wine; which seem to be the most frequently forsaken indulgences, I can’t help but feel the point is somehow lost; shouldnt we be giving up something really hard, something really significant?
This lent I have decided instead to give up something that will truly be difficult- being miserable. Misery is a way of life for me, it’s hereditary. It’s how I know i’m alive, it’s how I know I’m British. It’s a deeply ingrained, multi-faceted phenomen which has been refined through centuries of accumulated guilt, awakwardness, emotional repression and embarrassment that are instilled within any fortunate resident of these cloud-canopied Isles. It is the emotional embodiment of those two quintessentially British colours; beige and grey. This merry misery that I wrap myself in like a moth-eaten beige blanket is now banished, and for 40 days I’m going to be the smiliest bastard you’ve ever seen. I might even do some Hare Krishna-ing. I’ll take up yoga, find my zen, plant something, wink heartily at supermarket cashiers, hug trees, kiss squirrels, stroke pidgeons, caress parking wardens. I’ll skip and frolic and spread cheer and merriment. Singing all the while; “O the miracle that is life, the joy of spring! Observe the crocus! See the shining snowdrop in all his white glory!” Who knows, it might even be good for me.
Well, whatever you are giving up for lent, I feel it’s only appropriate to stick by that good old British mantra that if it doesn’t hurt you or make you bloody miserable (or in my case, bloody happy) then you’e not trying hard enough. And in keeping with the spirit of abstinence (and joy of course! hurrah hurray) here’s a recipe for a cake that is Lent friendly; no flour, no chocolate, no fat. Still delicious though, despite my token miserable reservations…
225g caster sugar
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
This is the easiest cake in the world to make; it is deliciously light and moist at the same time, and goes very well with creme fraiche, with a little runny honey drizzled over it, or some greek yoghurt and pistachios as a pudding. You can jazz it up with a glace icing, an orange blosson water syrup or a caramelised orange topping if you like, but it is equally delicious on its own.
So, boil the clementines in water for about 2 hours, until they are completely soft (keep lid on to prevent evaporation). Cool, drain, then cut in half and remove pips. Whizz in magimix with sugar. Add eggs and whizz. Then whizz in almonds and baking powder. Pour into a greased, lined round cake tin and bake at 180 for about 40 mins, until risen, golden and without wobble!