14 May 2013

Nigella Challenge: Winter Plum Cake

Like the previous Nigella Challenge cake Rhubarb Polenta Cake, this is a cake that can be altered to suit ingredients you have to hand. Have an old tin of peaches at the back of the cupboard? Use them! I've just come across some apricots that need to be used. The plums are delicious however, and I'd make sure you try the original version at some point.

There is an ingredient in this cake that may prove hard to come by. Unrefined (or golden) icing sugar isn't often found on supermarket shelves, and it really isn't an optional extra in this recipe. I made the cake the first time without it, and it just felt like something was missing. It gives a wonderful toffee-like taste to the icing, and a golden caramel colour you can't replicate without it. There are solutions however! I have found it online (Gluten Free Shop, The Essential Ingredient) and in some good specialty grocers,  but it is also possible to make your own. To do this, process golden/raw caster sugar or ordinary raw sugar in a blender or food processor until it is a very fine powder (it will look like ordinary icing sugar, but not pure white). Do this 1 cup at a time until you have the right amount. This sounds like an awful lot of work, but it is so necessary and so worth it.

[cake]
  • 375g tin plums
  • 125g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 125g butter, softened
  • 125g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp almond essence
[icing]
  • 160g unrefined/golden icing sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp hot water
Preheat oven to 170C. Grease and line the base of a 20-23cm round springform tin.

Drain plums, chop and return to sieve. 

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs separately, followed by a tablespoon of the flour mixture after each (this stops it all curdling, and ensures it combines properly). Add the almond essence. Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients  followed by the plums.


Spoon into tin and smooth over the surface. Bake for 1 - 1 and 1/4 hours. When done, it should bounce back when lightly pressed in the centre. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To ice, combine the icing sugar and water (1 tablespoon at a time) to make a shiny paste. It should be pourable, but not runny. Pour over the cake in the centre, and let it pool and drip down the sides. Let set before serving.

This makes a good dessert cake if you leave it un-iced and serve with custard.