The almond blossom trail
By the middle of January, the almond blossom is in full bloom in the hills and mountains of Tenerife and lasts until about the second week in February.
The Almond Blossom Trail is a truly beautiful walk as during this time of year the landscape is dotted with shades of pink. The walk took us through open countryside with spectacular views over the mountains, forests and down to sea. The almond trees grow mainly in Santiago del Teide, but many are also present around Vilaflor, Guimar, and Guía de Isora. There are two different colours of almond blossom, white and pink, but there seem to be more pink flowering trees than white. The difference in colour has no bearing on the taste of the nut; both taste the same and are quite sweet, and both leave a very delicate fragrance in the air, unlike the heady perfume of cherry blossom.
Almonds are native of Asia, so just how it reached our shores, we will never be certain. It could be that almonds were brought to the islands by the Conquistadors, or it could just be that a migratory bird left a little deposit here 100s of years ago bringing a new species of flora to the archipelago. Almonds have certainly been growing here since at least the 1400s according to local information and documented historical sources.
Spain is the biggest producer of almonds, second only to the United States, and the locals tell me that our almonds are sweeter than American almonds, albeit this may be a somewhat biased opinion!
As you might imagine, the locals make good use of this free commodity and Tiner-feñas everywhere bake delicious cakes and pastries when almonds are in good supply. My favourite is Bizcocho de Almendras which is a light sponge cake with ground almonds in it. This cake is dusted with icing sugar or sometimes decorated with flaked almonds. I was inspired to make one following my walk last week and I can assure you that not only is it very easy to make, it went down a treat! For those of you who would like to try it, here is the recipe:
375g castor sugar
6 beaten eggs
335g sieved self-raising flour
60g ground almonds
Grease a 9″ square cake tin. (Traditional creaming method) – beat the butter and sugar together preferably with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Gradually add the egg a bit at a time until all the egg has been incorporated. Then sieve in the flour, add the ground almonds, and fold together gently until well mixed. Bake at 180% for about 1 hour. Decorate with sieved icing sugar, or alternatively, glaze the top of the cake with honey and dot with flaked almonds.
For further information regarding Tenerife’s great outdoors, please see: www.tenerife-guided-walks.com