This is another of those “forgotten recipes”, something I used to make regularly but then somehow forgot about. For a while it was my “go to” recipe for a quick dessert or cake that always looked more difficult than it really was to make and, even more importantly, was always good to eat.
I wrote about it first here and the recipe originates from one of my favourite cook books, The Popina Book of Baking. There it is described as a rustic plum tart but to my mind it’s nothing at all like a tart, definitely a cake.
So, looking at a few oddments of fruit in the kitchen the other day I was reminded of this recipe as it’s an excellent way of using up bits and bobs of virtually any fruit.
Another good thing about it is that it requires only one egg and no butter. You whisk up an easy batter, spoon it into a lined tin and arrange slices of fruit on top. It looks good when it comes out of the oven but it looks even better when you have brushed it with a glaze of melted apricot jam. It can be served warm as a dessert with cream or cold, just as you like. Next time I’m going to try making it with gluten free flour to see how that turns out.
I have experimented with different fruit toppings and with flavourings, the original being plums on top and some vanilla extract in the batter.
I recently made an apricot version, no other flavours added except for the vanilla, but I think it would have been even better with orange zest in the cake.
This version, rhubarb, orange and strawberry, was one of my favourites. I put very small pieces of rhubarb and some halved strawberries on top, omitted the vanilla and added the zest of an orange to the batter. It was delicious.
The recipe has only let me down once and that was the time I actually made it using plums as per the original recipe. I was in a rush, short of time and ideas and bought one of those “I should have known better” punnets of plums from the supermarket. You know the sort, rock hard, imported from goodness knows where, almost devoid of any flavour and they go brown before they’ve ripened or softened enough to eat. On that occasion I followed the recipe as intended but the plums were still rock hard when the cake was cooked. I binned it and produced an apple crumble instead, I seem to remember.
It seems to make quite a small cake but cuts into eight portions. Leftovers keep well in an airtight tin for a few days.
90g caster sugar
40ml groundnut or vegetable oil
140g plain flour
1tsp baking powder
zest of one orange
1 tsp ground ginger
a handful of strawberries and a few cherries
2tblsp apricot jam to glaze
Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan), gas mk 4. Grease and line a 20cm loose bottomed cake tin, preferably springform.
Using an electric whisk, beat the egg and sugar until light and creamy. Add the all the other ingredients except the fruit and jam and beat again until combined.
Spoon the mixture into the tin and level the surface.
Wash the fruit, cut the apricots and cherries in half and remove the stones, halve the strawberries. Arrange the fruit on top of the cake mixture.
Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown, remove and leave to cool in the tin for a few minutes then turn out and remove the baking paper.
To glaze the cake, put the jam in a small pan and heat gently until runny. Brush the glaze over the top of the cake (and the sides if you like). Cool slightly more before serving or allow to go cold.
Serve warm or cold, with cream as a dessert or by itself as a cake.
Cuts into eight slices.