September 8, 2012
This one’s from Nigel Slater who knows a thing or two about good cake. A delicious, almond sponge moistened with peaches and spiked with blueberries. As you’d expect, nectarines work perfectly well if peaches aren’t around and if you can’t get hold of blueberries, I’d wager raspberries work a treat. It’s that kind of cake. One thing though, this is definitely one of those cakes that tastes better the second day. Think of it as character building…..
Nigel Slater’s blueberry and peach cake
175gr golden caster sugar
200gr ripe peaches or nectarines
2 large eggs
175g self-raising flour
100g ground almonds
1 tsp grated orange zest
a few drops of vanilla extract
Nigel uses a lined loose-bottomed 20 cm cake tin but I take the easier way out with a greased silicone mould. Dunnes have them for about a fiver. Set the oven to 170C/gas mark 4 and get on with things.
Halve, stone and roughly chop the peaches or nectarines and set aside. Wash and sort through the blueberries removing any remaining stalks.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add one of the eggs and continue beating then add a tablespoon of flour. Beat in the second egg. Mix the flour and almonds together then add to the mixture in 2 or 3 different lots then finally beat in the orange zest and vanilla. Stir in the chopped peaches and blueberries and a splash of milk (Nigel doesn’t do this but I find it helps to moisten things).
Scrape the mixture into the cake tin then bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes. Test with a skewer or sharp knife – if it comes out relatively clean, then the cake is done. Leave the cake to cool for about 10 minutes in the tin then loosen the edges with a palette knife and turn it onto a plate. I decorated with blueberries and icing sugar but it’s up to you.
A blob of mascarpone or Greek yogurt is delicious on the side if you want to serve this for dessert but really it’s an afternoon tea kind of cake. But don’t let that put you off – 11pm is still technically after noon 😉
Summer fruit is so good that I don’t normally recommend doing much with it but there’s something a bit special about baked peaches so I tend to do them at least once over the summer. It’s normally Italian style with ameretto and cocoa and that always goes down a treat but I’ve been meaning to try something a bit different for ages. I’ve had a feeling about peach and basil for a while. It’s not something I made up, I’ve heard about it before but never tasted the two together. I just knew it was going to be good and it was. Very!!!! They just work really well together. My first idea was to bake the peaches with mascarpone and almonds (can’t fail and didn’t – the mascarpone goes all crumbly and the almonds give a lovely chewiness) and then serve them with a kind of basil and rum pesto. Fancy huh? Well, it sorta worked but I wasn’t completely convinced plus the pesto bit looked none too appetizing on the plate. Mmm…
Last night I decided to try again and as luck would have it, the fridge needed clearing out (we’re off to Kerry for a week tomorrow) so I ended up cooking lots of different things for a pick and mix kind of dinner. While all fires were blazing I had Dan and Auggie in the middle of it all supposedly shelling peas fished out from the back of the fridge but actually throwing them around the kitchen and having car races on the (wet) floor. Chaos. Not at all the peaceful environment I dream of having for coming up with new dishes.
Instead of waiting for a bit of peace after their bedtime I just decided to go for it and I made the mascarpone and almond filling for the peaches as before in between wrestling Auggie for the mixer (those toddlers are strong!) . I put the peaches in the oven while we ate dinner and at the last minute ditched to pesto idea and went for a glass of rum reduced with a little sugar which I poured over the baked peaches. The basil was finely shredded and topped the dish and…………it all worked really well. We all licked the plates clean. Highly recommended.
Baked peaches stuffed with mascarpone and almonds with a rum syrup and fresh basil (for 2-3 people)
3 Peaches halved and stoned
3 heaped tablespoons ground almonds
3 tablespoons brown sugar (2 for the filling, 1 for the syrup)
1 cup dark rum
12-15 basil leaves
Beat the mascarpone, sugar and ground almonds together until mixed well. Lay out the peaches on a flat baking tray or a muffin tin as I did (this way they stay more compact, but the other one works fine as well. Divide the filling between the peaches and bake for 30 minutes at Gas 6 until golden.
When the peaches are done, bring a cup of rum to the boil with a tablespoon brown sugar. Turn down the heat a bit then simmer until the rum has reduced by half.
To serve, drizzle the peaches with the rum and top with shredded basil.
Our selections also include blueberries this week. I love these for breakfast on muesli or in pancakes. A while ago I made Nigel Slater’s midsummer cake with them. It’s got peaches and ground almonds too and as usual Nigel didn’t disappoint. Here’s the link if you’re interested http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jun/20/nigel-slater-recipes-summer-cakes
In other non dessert related news, I’ve got bunched onions from Marc Michel and they’re like a bunch of scallions and onion in one. Marc says he’s been eating them in omelettes a lot. The way he does it it’s like an onion tart without the pastry ie 80% onions cooked (with a little chorizo so you get that lovely oil) down but left with a little bite then stirred into beaten eggs and cooked as an omelette. Sounds pretty good to me.
We also have gorgeous baby spinach which is as tender as it gets. No need to cook it. Fry up a little chopped chorizo, throw it over the spinach leaves with a splash of red wine or sherry vinegar then top with a poached egg. Lunch heaven……..
Have a great weekend,