Whilst fresh, ripe apricots are a metaphor for summer, I couldn’t wait to bring the clocks forward by making this very useful, springtime Almond Apricot & Lemon Cake. All light and lovely - almonds and apricots are a fabulous pairing - I decorated my cake with a top layer of no-sugar almond paste and fresh wild violets from the garden in readiness for an Easter Sunday teatime treat.
The fact is, I’m not brilliant at cake decorating, so homemade almond paste, edible flowers, which smell divine by the way, and a pretty ribbon does the job. The result is a really moist, light, golden cake studded with small pieces of fruit, which isn’t a million miles away from traditional Simnel cake, but looks prettier.
Gorgeous as this cake is, if you want something less fussy, simply top with a sifting of icing sugar and serve with coffee or, better still, mint tea. It’s then easily transformed into an ‘after dinner’ dessert by serving with poached apricots, rhubarb, plums or pears. Or you can substitute an orange for the lemon in the recipe and serve with a fresh orange salad and whipped cream. In my imagination, the cake eating possibilities for this simple, delicious cake are endless.
Easy to make, it keeps like a dream.
Almond Apricot & Lemon Cake (Serves 12)
Ingredients - for the cake
1 organic lemon
6 organic eggs - preferably at room temperature
100g raw organic runny honey (raw acacia honey resists crystallization so retains its runny consistency without heating)
Sukrin Icing - for sifting over
Ingredients - for the almond paste, optional
125g organic ground almonds
25g Sukrin Gold
1 tsp fresh organic lemon juice
1-2 tsp organic maple syrup
1 organic egg yolk
Ingredients - to assemble, optional
3 tbsp organic no sugar apricot jam
Organic flaked almonds, lightly toasted
Instructions - to make the cake
Wash the lemon, then put it in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently until soft (about 45 minutes). Take off the heat, add the dried apricots to the pan. Leave to cool.
Grease a loose-based 8” cake tin (preferably springform) and line the sides and base with non-stick baking parchment.
Pre-heat the oven to 150℃ / 300℉ / Gas mark 2.
Drain the lemon and apricots. Cut the lemon into quarters and remove any pips. Dry the apricots on kitchen paper then cut each one into several pieces. Put the lemon quarters and apricots into a food processor or blender and whizz together until very finely chopped into almost - but not quite - a smooth puree i.e. it needs to retain some texture.
Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs, honey and Sukrin:1 together for about 6 to 8 minutes until they are pale and thick and until the mixture holds its shape for a few seconds when it’s flicked across the surface of the rest of the mix.
Whisk in the lemon and apricot puree. Then, using a large metal spoon or rubber spatula, gently fold in the ground almonds.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 1¼ hours, or until a cocktail stick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. N.B. To prevent the cake from getting too brown, cover the top of the cake lightly with a circle of non-stick baking parchment after the first 45 minutes baking time.
After you take the cake from the oven, leave it to cool completely in the tin, then turn out carefully and remove the paper.
Dust the cake with Sukrin Icing just prior to serving.
Instructions - to make the almond paste, optional
Put the ground almonds, Sukrin Gold and Sukrin Icing into a food processor and pulse to combine.
Add the egg yolk, lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of maple syrup and process until a soft, dry paste forms (takes about 1 minute). If it doesn’t come together into a malleable paste (test by squeezing a little of the mixture between two fingers to see if it holds together), add another teaspoon of maple syrup and whizz again. It’s a fine balance. The longer you process the almonds the more oil is released, which helps bind the mixture together. However, it you over-process it, the paste becomes too oily and sticky to handle.
Form the almond paste into a ball then place between two sheets of cling film or baking parchment. Flatten slightly with the palm of your hand, then roll out evenly into an 8 inch (20 cm) circle. N.B. You can either draw a circle on the back of the bottom sheet of baking parchment to guide you or use a cake tin liner placed under the bottom sheet of cling film.
Instructions - to assemble the cake
Invert the cake onto a serving plate so that the bottom side of the cake becomes the top i.e. you have a completely flat surface to work on.
Heat the jam slightly in a small saucepan and brush it over the top of the cake.
Remove the top sheet of parchment or cling film from the rolled out circle of almond paste, then with the help of the paper or cling film still underneath, lift the almond paste onto the top of the cake. Press down lightly with your hands, then peel away the remaining paper/cling film.
Crimp the edge of the almond paste with your fingers or alternatively create a pattern around the top edge of the cake by light indenting with the prongs of a fork or wooden skewer. Decorate with organic edible flowers, toasted flaked almonds and a matching ribbon (see photo).
Just prior to serving, sift a little Sukrin Icing over the top of the cake.
Carbohydrate 13g Protein 9g - per serving of plain cake
Carbohydrate 16g Protein 11g - per serving of cake with almond paste