A lovely simple apricot or peach cake
This recipe is based on one created by the wonderful Australian cook Gretta Anna Teplitzky, an early pioneer of cooking classes in Sydney. I remember my mum returning home from them brimming with new ideas and clutching her cookbooks. I eventually inherited both books and greatly cherish them, for both memories of my mum and the wonderful recipes between their covers. This particular cake has been a firm family favourite since way back when, and I do so love that the mixture actually makes two cakes – one to bake immediately, and the other to freeze and cook as you need it. As you can see it’s somewhat rustic looking with its burnt patches and the fruit sinking into the cake, but that’s just how it should be, and is for me part of its charm. Surprisingly, this keeps really well, although the fruit doesn’t look so fabulous after a few days, however I’ve gently warmed slices a week after making the cake and they’re still moist and fragrant.
- About 600g medium-sized ripe apricots or peaches, thickly sliced into wedges
- 370g caster sugar
- 300g self-raising flour
- 100g almond meal
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 x 60g eggs
- 320g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into rough chunks
- finely grated zest of 2 lemons
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup (250ml) milk
- Icing sugar, for dusting
- Vanilla ice cream or softly whipped cream, to serve
Put the flour, almond meal, baking powder and salt into a large food processor fitted with the steel blade. Whiz them together for 10 seconds or so until they’re thoroughly combined, then tip the mixture into a bowl.
Now put the eggs and 300g caster sugar into the processor and whiz for 1 minute. Add the butter chunks, and whiz for 40 seconds or so, stopping and scraping down the sides of the work bowl once or twice, until the mixture is thick and creamy (don’t worry if it looks a bit curdled at this stage; it will be fine once the flour is incorporated). Add the lemon zest and
vanilla and whiz briefly.
Now tip the flour/almond meal mixture into the egg mixture and pulse them together until the mixture is just combined. Pour in the milk and whiz briefly again until it’s mixed in. You should end up with a lovely, creamy batter. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared tins, and smooth the tops with the back of a spoon to even them out. Cover one tin tightly with plastic wrap and pop it in the freezer (it will be fine for up to 3 weeks.)
Use a slotted spoon to scoop up the apricot or peach wedges – hold them over the bowl briefly to drain away any excess juices, then scatter them evenly over the top of the remaining tin of batter. Sprinkle the remaining caster sugar over the top. Pop the tin in the oven, and bake the cake for about 1 hour, until it feels slightly springy in the middle when gently pressed, and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Don’t be alarmed if the fruit partly sinks into the cake – this is as it should be.
Remove the cake to a wire rack and leave it in the tin for 10 minutes, then gently release the sides and leave it to cool – I rather like serving it barely warm as the fruit is so wonderfully fragrant like this. I should just warn you that the cake, although puffed up when it first leaves the oven, will sink back down as it cools.
Just before serving, gently slip the cake out of the base onto a serving plate or cake stand then dust the top with icing sugar. Serve with good vanilla ice cream, or a scoop of cream. Leftover cake keeps well for a couple of days in an airtight container at room temperature, and a week in the fridge, although I tend to freeze any leftover slices and whisk them into the microwave when I fancy a little something sweet.
When you come to cook the second cake, lift the tin of batter out of the freezer and allow it to defrost, then simply make up another batch of the sugared apricots or peaches, strew them over the top, and continue with the recipe.