Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Plum and Apple Crumble Cake

I have wanted to try making a cake with a crumble topping for quite a while. Then little S was born and time to do things like baking seemed to disappear into the far recesses of my mind. And then one day, quite unexpectedly, S slept for just about the entire day, waking up just to feed – suddenly I had time – although I didn’t know until the end of the day that it would be a whole day and no plans for that time. And so I seized the moment and started making this cake, expecting to be interrupted at any moment. Although I like the idea of plums in a crumble topped cake anyway, we also happened to have a punnet that needed eating on that magic day when I had time to bake this. I’ve given the fruit quantities as I used them in this cake when I made it; however, I would recommend doubling the quantity of fruit and having two layers of it if you try making this. This would also be good with other fruit, such as rhubarb, instead of the plums and apples that I used. I made this in an 8 inch round cake tin and, as usual, the ‘cup’ quantities below are based on a 250 ml mug as equal to one cup.


What you’ll need:

For the fruit layer:

5 to 6 plums

2 sweetish eating apples

2 tablespoons of light brown sugar

For the cake:

2/3 cup margarine or butter

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 dessertspoon vanilla essence

3 eggs

2 cups self-raising flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup ground almonds

For the crumble topping:

3/4 cup flour (I used self-raising because it is what I had, but plain flour would be fine too)

Pinch salt

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/4 to 1/3 cup light brown sugar (adjust to taste)

2 dessertspoons margarine or butter

What to do:

1. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4 (180º C or 350º F) and grease the cake tin.

2. For the fruit layer, cut the plums into quarters and the apples into eighths. Line the bottom of the cake tin with the cut fruit and then sprinkle the brown sugar over the top of the fruit.





3. For the cake layer, cream together the margarine or butter and sugar in a mixing bowl, and then beat in the vanilla essence and the eggs, mixing in one egg at a time. Sift the flour and salt into the bowl, add the ground almonds and then fold the flour, salt and ground almonds into the margarine, sugar and egg mixture. Once all the ingredients for the cake batter are thoroughly combined, spread the batter evenly across the top of the fruit in the cake tin.
















4. For the crumble topping, sift the flour and salt into a clean bowl. Add the ground almonds, sugar and margarine or butter to the bowl and then rub the margarine or butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Scatter the crumble topping evenly over the cake mixture in the cake tin – there is no need to press the crumble topping into the cake mixture – scattering it loosely and then evening the top will be fine.






5. Once the topping is on the cake, bake it in the middle of the pre-heated oven for about an hour or until done. You will need to cover the cake tin with foil about half way through the baking process, once the crumble topping has cooked, to prevent the top from burning.

6. Once the cake has cooked, remove it from the oven and cool on a baking tray. This would be good served warm or cold with custard or cream, although, it is also good plain and unadorned if, like me on the day I made this, you don’t have either of those to hand.




Thursday, 11 April 2013

Green Salad

Of all food dislikes, the one that seems to be most prevalent amongst the people I know is for raw tomato. And in just about every case, the individuals involved answer the dinner invitation question about whether there is anything they don’t eat with a sheepish answer, assuming that I’ve never come across their particular dislike before. This salad was first made to serve to someone who didn’t like raw tomato and it has been a handy standby since then, both for when we want a bit of variety from the standard iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato salad that I usually make and when we’ve had over people who don’t like raw tomato. It is very much an add some of this and some of that recipe – the main thing is to get a good mix of greens, including sweetish, bland and sharp leaves, and to be very generous with the lemon juice. Adjust the amounts of each ingredient according to your preferences and the number of people you’ll be cooking for.


What you’ll need:

Mixed green salad leaves – for this particular salad, I used a round lettuce, spinach, rocket and lambs lettuce

Cucumber, diced

Few spring onions, finely chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Fresh lemon juice


What to do:

1. Wash and then roughly chop the salad leaves.



2. Add the leaves to a serving bowl with the cucumber and spring onions.


3. Sprinkle over the leaves, cucumber and spring onions a generous glug of olive oil, lots of lemon juice and a dash of pepper. Mix together thoroughly. Add more oil, lemon juice or pepper according to taste and then serve.