As I’m getting back into blogging-as-usual, I decided to start with a two-fer to make up for slacking last week …

We had friends over for dinner last night – as any couple can tell you, finding another couple where both of you like both of them is like striking gold.  My mister has known that mister since he was a teenager, so occasionally our evenings together include some funny and revealing stories about which I was heretofore in the dark … usually for good reason!  But, now, we’re all serious, grown-up productive members of society who discuss house prices and jobs – never anything silly and frivolous.

… yeah … as if.

We enjoyed a good dinner of lamb kababs, hummus, taramasalata, baba ganouj, carrot and cumin salad and focaccia then played games on Kinect (their daughter kicked all our butts).  Oh yeah, we’re grown-ups.

I tried out a new recipe on them, something I thought would be sort of in keeping with the Moroccan theme of the dinner without being as fiddly as baklava, and something with apricots seemed to fit the bill.  This is an easy cake to put together, but there are a few steps to it.  I suggest you get things started when you’re in multi-tasking mode – putting groceries away, doing laundry, picking up the den, whatever – so that you don’t feel like you’re a slave to the recipe.  The end result is worth it, though, light and delicious without being overly sweet.  This is adapted from one of my favorite food writers, Nigel Slater.

Apricot and Blackberry Crumble Cake

Cake

  • 1/2 lb dried apricots
  • 2 or 3 Tbsp rum
  • 6 oz butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp self-rising flour
  • 1 cup frozen blackberries

Crumble

  • 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 3 oz butter, chilled
  • 2 Tbsp demerera sugar (if you don’t have demerera, you can substitute light brown sugar)
  • 3 Tbsp oats
  • 2 Tbsp almond flakes
  • pinch cinnamon and nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 325 and prepare an 8″ springform pan by buttering the base and sides, then lining with parchment paper.  In a medium saucepan, heat the apricots covered with water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to let simmer for 20 minutes.  Turn off the heat and add the rum, then let the fruit infuse until cool.  To make the cake, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at at time – don’t worry if the batter curdles a little, it’ll come back together when you add the flour.  Add the ground almonds and vanilla then STOP and begin assembling the crumble.  Why do you want to stop?  Because leavening agents in the flour will begin to activate as soon as they hit moisture, so wait until you’re ready to pour into the cake pan and assemble the layers before you add the flour.

Anyway, in a medium mixing bowl. toss the flour, sugar, oats and spices together before using a cheese grater to grate the chilled butter into the mixture – it just makes rubbing-in easier.  When the butter has been grated, lightly toss the mixture together, rubbing lightly with your finger-tips, to incorporate.  Add the almonds and continue to toss.

Once the apricots have cooled enough to handle, drain and chop them, tossing them with the frozen blackberries.  Now, you’re ready to assemble the cake.  Mix the 1 cup + 2 Tbsp flour with the cake batter, stirring just until incorporated, then pour into the cake pan, smoothing the top.  Add the apricot / blackberry mixture and smooth that across the top, as well.  Then, finish with the crumble mixture making sure the entire top is covered, then use the back of your fingers to press down lightly.  Pop it in the oven for about an hour or until a tester comes out cleanly.

Like I said, there are a few steps to this, but it really is worth the effort!

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