A few weeks ago, I was reading this post in one of my favourite blogs over breakfast and an idea for the forthcoming Loire Valley CCC meeting sprang to mind.
Karen used cooked apple and home made lemon curd as the filling for her cake but whilst I was reading the post I was busy spreading something called “crème de pruneaux” on my toast. Anyone who is not a fan of prunes should stop reading now!
We love prunes in our house, possibly due to having been fed so many of them as a child in the 50’s. In fact I love any kind of prunes, even the much derided tinned ones that we got for “afters” for school dinner, or at home served up cold with warm custard or rice pudding (delicious). Apart from this cake, other baking triumphs using prunes include chocolate prune cake, a clafoutis of prunes soaked in rum and a prune and apple crumble, all delicious.
Anyway, the French must eat a lot of apple compôte as there is a huge amount of supermarket shelf space dedicated to it in France, whilst you would be hard pressed to find more than a jar or two in the UK. We love it. I especially like the one that has lumps or “morceau” of apple in it which is very handy for rustling up a quick cheat’s apple crumble.
As for the “crème de pruneaux”, I can’t say I have ever seen anything like it for sale in the UK. It’s almost like a cross between a compôte and a confiture, more runny than a jam but stickier than a compôte.
The theme for the cake club was “Saints or Sinners”. In other words, a cake that would be vaguely good for you or one that was no holds barred, don’t give a damn, sinful in every slice. This cake is essentially a Victoria sponge sandwiched together with the prune jam and apple compôte, with a little lemon icing drizzled over the top.
Thinking that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” and we all know how good for you prunes are, I felt my cake qualified unquestionably as a saintly cake!
I even polished my halo and made the sponge properly, using the “weigh the eggs” and creaming method – as opposed to my usual chuck it all in and cross fingers all-in-one method. Double brownie points in saintly terms for that I think!
Anyhow, it was very nice and I will definitely be making it again.
4 eggs, weighed in their shells
The same weight in:
Softened butter, Flora Buttery, Lurpak Spreadable, or baking spread
Self raising flour
A tablespoon of milk (if needed)
For the filling and icing:
1 jar of Crème de Pruneau
1 jar of apple compôte “avec morceau”
4 tbsp. icing sugar
Juice of ½ lemon
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk 4. Butter two 20cm sponge tins and line the bases with circles of baking paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (using a stand mixer, hand held mixer or by hand). Beat the eggs and add them gradually to the mixture, beating well with each addition. Sift the flour into the bowl and fold in by hand. Add the milk if the mixture seems too stiff.
Divide the mixture evenly between the cake tins and level the top. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown and springy. Cool in the tins for a couple of minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. When cool, slice each cake into two horizontally using a bread knife so you now have four layers.
Taking the bottom half of one sponge, spoon about 4 dessertspoons of crème de pruneaux onto the cake and spread out evenly. Do the same with 2-3 spoons of apple compôte, spreading out carefully in an even layer. Put the top half of that sponge on top and spread with prune and apple in the same way. Then add the bottom layer of the second sponge and do the same.
Finally, put the remaining top layer of the second sponge on top. Make a thin icing using the sifted icing sugar and lemon juice mixed to a paste. Drizzle over the cake, encouraging it to drip down the sides. Decorate with your choice of decoration or fresh flowers.