Loganberry and apricot loaf for two

Juicy berries can be messy eating. I’ve mentioned in the past how I’m just not one for white clothing as I constantly spill food all over the front. This is especially true when it comes to berry eating (cue COS white t-shirts now ruined and in the bin). This past summer, I have eaten my fair share of berries – mostly blueberries because I kept stumbling on farms where you pick your own for cheap. I also happened to discover the loganberry. These lipstick-hue berries are something else. A cross between a raspberry and blackberry, they are altogether juicier and sharper in flavour, and even better when cooked. I bet loganberries would make a beautiful jam with a hint of rose geranium (another new favourite! Post to follow shortly on the wonders of rose geranium).

Sometimes, if it’s just you and one other person in the house, you can’t be bothered getting your ‘bake on’. But I don’t think we should miss out, and besides, who says small can’t be better? I really advocate making just enough to eat and savour and not too much that it goes to waste. I always enjoy making mini-versions of bakes that will be just right for two greedy mouths. Plus, these daintier bakes don’t last long enough for you to get sick of them, and then you can swiftly move on to the next recipe you’ve Post-it noted. This recipe has been adapted from a Claire Ptak cake recipe, which featured in The Guardian column. You could basically use any fruit that you like and adjust the sugar to suit. I prefer to balance the fruit between one that releases a fair amount of juice when cooked (such as berries) and one that merely softens (such as apricot or stone fruit).

Loganberry and apricot sticky loaf

Makes 1 small loaf

75g softened unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

75g caster sugar

1 medium egg

pinch of salt

100g plain flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

For the fruit

120g apricots

40g vanilla sugar, or caster sugar

seeds from 1/2 vanilla pod

90g loganberries

Greek-style yoghurt, to serve (optional)

 

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a small loaf tin and line with baking parchment.

Slice the apricots into wedges and combine in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla seeds. Arrange in your prepared tin, alternating the apricot pieces with the raspberries however you like.

For the sponge, beat the butter and sugar until light in colour and delightfully fluffy. Add the egg, mixing well until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Gently mix this into the butter mixture until only just incorporated. Spread over the fruit and smooth over the top carefully.

Bake for 25–30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out with only a few tiny damp crumbs attached. The top should be golden and springy to the touch.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes, in the tin. To serve, run a knife along the inside of the tin and turn the loaf out on to your serving plate. Slice up and serve with yoghurt if you like.

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Upside-down Plum Cake

I haven’t blogged in over a year. Time really has flown by. Also, I should probably mention that I have been busy moving countries! This time last year I was sitting in my small but quaint London flat dreaming about being back home in New Zealand. Now, after eight years we finally took the leap and moved back home. It’s been amazing getting to grips with the culinary trends of this often unknown (well, at least for the culinary delights) part of the world. I love the food here. There is just something so unpretentious, ahead of the curb, yet rustic about it. Not to mention my favourite supermarket of all time Moore Wilson’s is here in Wellington. Everything at the vegetable and fruit market smells fresh. It looks vibrant. It’s affordable. And there is space to roam.

One of my first bakes was this upside-down plum cake for our new neighbours who kindly gave us a bag of fresh eggs from their hens on our big move in day. The eggs were the best I’ve ever had! The yolks were just orange perfection and I knew I had to use them in a cake. I’m a huge fan of Alice Waters. Her writing is as good enough to eat as her food; she epitomises recipe writing at its best and reading her recipes are a lesson in the craft of food writing. I am all for Alice’s advocation of eating within the seasons and as I acclimatise to the produce available south of the equator, it’s exciting to be blogging about the discoveries. Black Doris plums are available in the height of summer here and they are juicy, dark plums that are perfect for jams, puddings and of course, cake.

This cake can easily be made with any stone fruit. I’ve also been wanting to try it made with feijoas but I keep eating them up before having a chance to bake with them …

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Upside-down Black Doris plum cake 

170g plain flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of flaky sea salt
2 eggs, separated
100ml milk
100g unsalted butter, softened
100g sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla seeds

For the topping:
50g unsalted butter
100g brown sugar
50 ml orange juice
zest of 1/2 lemon
about 6-7 plums, stoned and sliced

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F.
Lightly grease and line a 20cm round cake tin.
First, make the topping by combining the 50g butter and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the butter melts and starts to bubble. Add the orange juice and lemon zest and stir well. Pour into the prepared tin. Lay the plums on top in a circular pattern, beginning at the edges.

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In a bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat the softened butter with the sugar and cream until very light and fluffy, about 10 minutes using a hand-held beater. Beat in the egg yolks, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla until well combined. Using a large metal spoon, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir until just combined and no more.

Beat the egg whites until you have soft peaks. Fold a third of the egg whites into the mixture until combined, then carefully fold in the remaining whites. Pour the mixture over the plums in the tin and smooth over. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out just about clean leaving only a couple of crumbs. Take the tin out of the oven and allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the tin and invert the cake onto a plate to serve.

(Recipe adapted from Alice Water’s Cranberry Upside-down Cake in The Art of Simple Food, Michael Joseph, 2007)