Saturday 16 August 2008

Plum gorgeous

Apricot and plum cake.... well, I suppose that unless you're greedy enough to eat two pieces at once, that should really be 'apricot OR plum cake'. I had a few apricots left over and one of J's friends had given me some plums from the tree in her garden. She grows so much fruit it's unbelievable - gooseberries, plums, apricots (though mine were supermarket ones), apples and whenever we visit, we leave loaded with fruit from the garden, which is really lovely!
So I decided a fitting end to these lovely plums was to be baked and found a recipe in one of my old Delicious magazines. It's a really lovely way to eat more fruit, the cake itself is utterly gorgeous, soft and moist and sweet and perfectly offsets the slightly tart plums (and apricots). Good with a breaktime cuppa (as my colleagues found) or drizzled with a little cream as a lovely pudding. Yum, and I'll be making this again.

Apricot/Plum cake
Makes 12 squares (though if you have smaller fruit, you could easily make 15 squares, as they were generous squares)
180g unsalted butter, softened plus extra for greasing
160g golden caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g plain flour, sifted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
6 small, ripe apricots, halved and stoned (or a mixture of apricots, plums, small nectarines, peach slices - you'll need 8 pieces of fruit to make 15 squares.....obviously!)
Icing sugar, for dusting

-Preheat oven to 180C/gas 4. Grease and line a 28x20cm rectangular cake tin (a fairly deep one, not a swiss roll tin).
-In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric hand whisk until light and creamy.
-Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after you add each one and adding in a tbsp of the measured flour to prevent curdling. Stir in the vanilla extract.
-Fold in the remaining flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt (not if using salted butter) until combined.
-Spoon into tin and level off - more important than usual because you want each piece of fruit to have an even layer of cake under it. Place the fruit halves onto the mixture pushing down slightly, guesstimating where you'll be cutting later, so there's a piece of fruit in the middle of each piece of cake.
-Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then carefully remove and transfer to a wire rack.
-Allow to cool completely, cut into squares and dust with icing sugar. (Will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container, but be careful in hot weather as the fruit will start to go mouldy)

Naked apricot and plum after the cake is baked - this one really benefits from having a little dusting of icing sugar on it.

Mmmmmm, gorgeous buttery dense yet light texture.

Things I learnt while making this cake:
Well, not really while I was making it, but after it was done and taken into work there was one piece left and I decided to refrigerate it. This was a BAD move - the cake went really firm and lost all the pleasing softness. It did eventually go soft again when I left it out, but I definitely don't recommend refrigerating it!

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