Nigel Slater’s A Cake for Midsummer

Nigel Slater wrote an article for the Guardian entitled Nigel Slater’s summer cake recipes, in which he says: “For many, the cake tins are put away from Easter … until the leaves start falling from the trees, but I am rather fond of a light-as-a-feather sponge on a June afternoon”. I am inclined to agree; cake should only be seasonal in terms of its indredients and, maybe, its density. In this article Nigel gives a recipe for a light almond sponge dotted with blueberries and peaches; I will be trying this very soon …

Nigel says his A Cake for Midsummer will serve 8-10 people. I’ll paraphrase and say it’ll serve 8, unless there just so happens to be ten very skinny, health-conscious people eating cake together, or that the ten people sharing it are already very full up from having had a few good courses beforehand.

The ingredients:NS A Cake for Midsummer

butter – 175g
golden caster sugar – 175g
ripe apricots – 200g (4 or 5)
eggs – 2
self-raising flour – 175g
ground almonds – 100g
milk – 2 tablespoons
raspberries – 170g

The recipe:

  • Line the base of a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking paper.
  • Set the oven at 180°C/Gas 4.
  • Cream the butter and sugar together in a food mixer until pale and fluffy.
  • Halve, stone and roughly chop the apricots.
  • Beat the eggs lightly, then add to the creamed butter and sugar a little at a time, pushing the mixture down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. If there is any sign of curdling, stir in a tablespoon of the flour.
  • Mix the flour and almonds together and fold in, with the mixer on a slow speed, in two or three separate lots.
  • Add the milk, and once it is incorporated add the chopped apricots and the raspberries.
  • Scrape the mixture into the cake tin and bake for an hour and ten minutes.
  • Test with a skewer; if it comes out relatively clean, then the cake is done.
  • Leave the cake to cool for ten minutes or so in the tin, then run a palette knife around the edge and slide it out on to a plate, decorating as the fancy takes you.

My notes on this recipe:

  • In the absence of fresh apricots I have also used tinned (minus the juice, obviously, but this makes an excellent accompaniment for vanilla ice cream). They work fine.
  • I can’t be bothered creating extra washing up by using my mixer, so I use a good-old-fashioned wooden spoon and mixing bowl. I like to think that the ‘exercise’ involved in doing it the old-fashioned way cancels out some of the sinfulness that is eating the cake; my waistline tells me that this is wishful thinking, but from a technical point of view this deviation from Nigel’s original method also works fine.
  • In the book Nigel says the following on decoration: “I sometimes add a few rose petals and an extra handful of raspberries at the last moment, or perhaps a light scattering of icing sugar”. I think that the dusting of icing sugar  is all it really needs but, if you’re as greedy as me, you could also add a little cream of some description. The time I made the cake with the tinned apricots, I paired it with mascarpone infused with a little of the apricot syrup from the tin; it was delicious!

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