It’s not just David Cameron who is nuts about almond milk

Date:16-04-2014 07:58:06 read:1

It’s not just David Cameron who is nuts about almond milk

Almond milk is a delicious alternative to cow's milk - but it's much better if you make your own

Amond milk: easy to make at home Photo: Alamy

Our Dear Leader is said to have taken to splashing almond milk in his tea and on his cereal. In the name of the Prime Ministerial waistline, he is substituting almond milk, generally around half the calories of semi-skinned milk, for the dairy variety.

Now, like the King in the A A Milne poem, I do like a little bit of butter on my bread, and rather too much good, old-fashioned cow’s milk on my porridge, in my rice pudding and frothed up on top of my coffee. But, alas, it is not for everyone. Cow’s milk intolerance is one of the most common adverse reactions to foodstuffs. According to, two in every 100 infants develop an intolerance to cow’s milk proteins, and many more adults find that it doesn’t agree with them.

And I’m with Mr Cameron, on the subject of milk substitutes at least. Almonds emulsified with water, aka almond milk, is far better than soy or the frankly gag-making quinoa. Provided, that is, that you make it yourself: the carton kind tastes cardboardy and comes with a worrying whiff of bitter almonds that a modern-day Agatha Christie would find an ideal medium for a lethal dose of cyanide. Home-made, by contrast, is altogether more pleasing, with a rounded yet mild flavour and texture. And it is a piece of (allergy-free) cake to do.

Home-made almond milk recipe

Soak 200g unskinned almonds in water overnight. Skinned almonds will work too, of course, but I find they tend to make for a more almondy-flavoured milk. Drain and rinse the almonds and put in a liquidiser with 500ml/18fl oz water. Blend for a full 60 seconds. Line a sieve with muslin ( sells handy muslin squares, but a clean J-cloth or, Nigella-style, one leg of a pair of tights would do as well) and sit it over a bowl. Pour in the creamy white almond/water emulsion and let it drip through for 20 minutes or so. Return the solids in the sieve to the liquidiser with another 500ml/18fl oz water and blend again. Strain once more, squeezing well this time to get all the liquid out of the almond meal.

Now, taste the milk. If it’s too nutty and you want to make it more like cow’s milk, add a pinch of salt (which will temper any bitter-almond qualities) and a spoonful of white sugar, stirring until they are dissolved. This might seem unhealthy, but cow’s milk is very sweet – the lactose that disagrees with so many people is, after all, a sugar – and also contains sodium. The milk will keep for three days or so in the fridge, although it may get more “almondy” over that time. It’s surprisingly acceptable in tea and coffee (much better than soy), and can be used to make puddings such as crème caramel.

As for the almond meal left in the sieve, that can be used too. Squeeze it dry and add it to muesli. Or use it in a cake for Easter such as this, bearing in mind it will make for a moist, torte-like texture.

Lime and cardamom pudding cake

Serves 6-8

Dairy-free, of course. I used lime zest to flavour the cake, which gives a fresh zingy flavour perfect for a seasonal bake.

200g/7oz leftover ground almonds (weight before making the milk)

150g/5oz sugar

170ml/6oz mild olive oil or rapeseed oil

grated zest of 2 limes (or a lemon or orange)

2 eggs

4 tbsp plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cardamom

Beat all the ingredients together and scrape into a lined 20cm/8in cake tin. Bake for about an hour at 160C/320F/Gas 3 until risen and golden brown. Cool in the tin. Very good with poached rhubarb and cream or Greek yogurt.

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