Apricot and Almond Cake

This cake came about because I was in the right place at the right time, namely when they were reducing the fruit which was out of date that day. So I got several punnets of apricots for 50 pence each. The whole lot only came to 500 grams! I do miss being able to buy them in the market, as we did in France - the smell was so good!

Anyway, you need 500g apricots, 50g flaked almonds, 3 eggs, 1 tspn vanilla extract, 180g each of plain flour, caster sugar and melted butter, pinch salt and 2 tspns baking powder, a little icing sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                 Sprinkle some icing sugar around the bottom of a tart tin.

Cut the apricots in half and spread into the tin at the bottom and up the sides, cut side down. Put the almonds on top.
In a bowl beat the eggs, sugar, salt and vanilla together using an electric mixer or hand beater till tripled in volume.
Carefully fold in the flour with the baking powder added, then the melted butter. Pour the batter over the apricots.
Bake for 30 mins. Remove from the tin straight away.

I wonder if you could use tinned apricots, draining the juice off first? Just a thought, as apricots don't seem to be around much. The cake has a good open crumb, and is moist. You get a bit of texture from the almonds, and the fruit is a soft contrast to the cake. I like apricots as they're not too sweet.


Tuna and Pepper Loaf

I've been inspired by Suelle on her blog Mainly Baking to make something savoury to go with a salad. I decided on a savoury loaf, and as I was going away to my daughter, decided to use up the peppers in the fridge. Thought tuna would go well with them.

I used: 150g flour, 3 eggs, 1/2 green and 1/2 red pepper, tin tuna [used one in water and drained liquid off] 1 tspn baking powder, pinch salt, 70g grated cheese [used strong Cheddar to give it a good flavour], 100ml olive oil and 100ml single cream.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4                Grease a 900g loaf tin

Beat the eggs. Add the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together. Next add the oil, cream, flaked tuna, peppers cut into dice and the grated cheese.
Give everything a good mix together.
Pour into the loaf tin and bake for 35mins till golden.

I was very happy with the result. It had a nice crumb and a soft texture, and the tuna and peppers went really well together. The loaf was moist. Phil, notice the tray, found in a vide grenier !


Apple Gingerbread Tart

My lovely French friend sent me some some French cookery magazines, and this tart was in one of them. The gingerbread isn't like our Parkin, it's a 'Pain d'épices', a spice cake. There's a recipe for one here https://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/10695184/Pain-depices-recipe.html
I love trying out new recipes with apples, and this tart was very different from the usual apple pie.
You could buy a gingerbread loaf and crumble it.

2 packs puff pastry, 6-8 apples [I used Gala], 8 slices gingerbread, 50g butter, 50g sugar, 1 egg yolk, cinnamon

Preheat oven 200C/gas6          you need a tart tin

Roll out with of the packs of pastry and line the tin. Prick all over with a fork.
Crumble the gingerbread and sprinkle over the pastry. Peel the apples and cut into quarters. Put these onto the gingerbread.
Cut the butter into pieces and put these in between the apple quarters. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon and cover with the second puff pastry. Make sure you press the edges firmly together. Brush with the beaten egg yolk.
Bake for 25 mins.

Ginger and apples go well together, and the gingerbread gives this tart an extra texture and flavour. My son didn't like it, so it's not to everyone's taste! I liked the unusual flavours and the textures of the pastry, gingerbread and soft apple. I cooked mine for an extra 10 mins as the apples weren't cooked.


Rhubarb and Yoghurt Cake

I love rhubarb, but sadly can't seem to find any in my local supermarkets. However, I did find some this weekend at a local market. This cake is so easy to make, and it's a change from the usual rhubarb crumble or tart.

150g rhubarb, 70g Greek yoghurt, 60g ground almonds, 190g sr flour, 2 eggs, 130g margarine or butter and 130g caster sugar.

Preheat oven 180C/gas4           Grease and line a 20cm cake tin

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blitz till smooth.
Wash and chop the rhubarb into chunks, then add to the batter with a spatula.
Bake for 35-40 mins till golden and firm.

A simple cake with a soft, moist texture. Good contrast between the cake and the tart rhubarb. It makes a good dessert too with some cream or vanilla ice cream.


Clafoutis aux Pommes

This is one of our favourite apple desserts. Traditionally a clafoutis is made with cherries, but my friend also makes this one with apples, and kindly gave me her recipe. Using cornflour isn't traditional either, but it works well.

You need: 4 large or 6 small apples [I used Gala], 2 eggs, 100g caster sugar, 40g cornflour, 250ml single cream, 1 tspn vanilla extract and 1/2 tspn cinnamon

Preheat oven 180C/gas4
Grease and flour a deep dish - the one I used was 23cm in diameter and 8 cn deep.

Peel the apples and cut into slices. Layer into the base of the dish.
In a bowl beat the eggs and sugar together till white and fluffy. Add the sieved cornflour, cream, vanilla and cinnamon and mix well.
Pour over the apples and bake for 30-40 mins.
It can be eaten warm or cold.

I sprinkled some sultanas onto my clafoutis before baking, and sieved some icing sugar over the top when baked. I love the original version, but I also love this one, because the apple adds another layer of texture.


Nutty Oat Bars with Nutella

These came about because of yet another 'use by' date on some bran in my baking cupboard. My grandson is a Nutella fanatic, so we decided to make some bars using the bran, some oats and Nutella.

The base is a flapjack with bran and oats. Easy for K to make.

You need: 200g oats, 75g bran, 150g butter, 50g light demerara sugar, 4 tbspn honey, 5 tbspn chopped unsalted roasted peanuts and some Nutella.

Preheat oven 190C/gas 5

Melt the butter, sugar and honey in a pan over a low heat. remove from heat and add the oats and bran and mix well.
Spoon the mix into a brownie tin and flatten with a spoon. Bake for 20 mins.
Mark into 10 bars in the tin. Cool. When cold, melt some Nutella, enough to give a good layer on the bars, then sprinkle over the chopped peanuts. Leave to cool then keep in a sealed box.

Very rustic to look at, but very tasty. The hazelnut and cinnamon sticks were added by my grandson!
Nice oaty base, the soft Nutella and then the crunch of the peanuts. Good combination of textures.


Coffee cake with Espresso and Mascarpone Topping

This is the cake I  decided to make for a get together of the helpers in our Toddlers’ group. It’s just a coffee Victoria sandwich, and I used espresso powder to give it a better coffee flavour.
I now find that buttercream is a bit sweet for me. Guess your tastes change as you get older. I used mascarpone flavoured with espresso.

So it’s the usual mixture - 225g each of butter, caster sugar and sr flour, 1 tspn baking powder, 4 eggs and 2 dspn espresso coffee powder.
Filling and topping : 250g tub of mascarpone, 1 dspn espresso powder, 1 dspn sifted icing sugar

Preheat oven 180C                    Grease and line 2x20cm sandwich tins.

For the cakes - dissolve the coffee powder in the eggs. Put all the ingredients in a bowl of a stand mixer or use an electric hand mixer. Beat together till smooth.
Spoon into the tins and bake for about 25mins. Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

For the icing- beat the mascarpone, icing sugar and coffee powder together till smooth. If it’s thicker than you want, add a little milk.
Sandwich the cakes together with half the mixture then spread the rest over the top.

As it's Easter, I added a few eggs and chicks. I like this topping, and will certainly use it again. As you can see, my cake decorating skills amount to using a knife to make whirls!
I think it's originally a Mary Berry recipe, but as all sandwich cakes have the same proportion of ingredients, it's universal now!