Saturday, 30 July 2011

Apricot & Almond Birthday Cake

This simple and gorgeous recipe doesn't have to be saved for birthdays, but when I baked it earlier in the week to give my dear friend Kate a birthday tea it went down a treat. Fresh ripe apricots give the delicious cake real oomph and juiciness. This is supposed to feed 8, but Kate, Mr Eve and I managed to eat three quarters of it within the space of a few games of bananagrams. What can I say, the combination of old friends, bananagrams and apricot and almond cake is more than a tad addictive.

Serves 8

Adapted from Nigel Slater's lovely Cake for Midsummer recipe, from his website. See the recipe here. I swopped his raspberries for extra apricots, and gave it a great zesty tang to balance the sweetness of the fruit by adding the finely grated zest of half a lemon.

For the base:
8 small apricots (maximum 400g), halved, stoned and chopped into small pieces
zest of half a small lemon, finely grated
175g butter
175g plain flour
175g caster sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g ground almonds
2 tablespoons milk

1. Turn the oven to 180C (160C fan ovens). Grease and line a 20cm cake tin.

2. Mix the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until pale and smooth.

3. Add the first egg, and beat well before adding the second into the mixture. Beat again, before throwing in the ground almonds and grated lemon zest.

4. Next sieve in half the flour and the baking powder, and stir gently with a metal spoon until well combined.

5. Sift in the rest of the flour, after which spoon in the milk. Continue stirring gently and then add the chopped apricots, mixing into the the batter briefly.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared baking tin and place in the oven for approx 40 minutes. You'll know it's done when the top bounces back under your finger, and a skewer comes out clean.

7. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes in the tin, before turning it out onto a wire rack or plate.

For the topping:
1 or 2 tablespoons icing sugar
2 small apricots

8. When the cake has cooled, sieve the icing sugar ontop, perhaps also tying a ribbon in a bow around the cake for decoration.

9. Halve and quarter a couple of extra apricots, and place the quarters in a circle over the cake.

This cake was idly baked to the sounds of John Coltrane's album Blue Train