'I'm going to spend the weekend baking,' I announced to Peter as we chatted on his return from a trip to Darwin. 'Oh, are you now,' he replied. 'And what are you going to bake for me?' he added, snuggling closer and proving that there is truth in the idiom that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach.
With a shiny new toy to play with in my kitchen, I made sure I'd stocked up on an assortment of meat and plenty of fruit and vegetables, all fresh from the farmer's market. Having had no oven for the last few weeks, I had plans to prepare a couple of roast dinners, as well as creating my own version of a cake I'd enjoyed recently at a cafe.
When it comes to cakes, my preference is for melt-in-the-mouth morsels with exquisite flavour and delicate texture. You can keep your gigantic slabs topped and layered with rich and sickly sweet fillings. I can manage a mouthful of something like Black Forest Cake only once every few years, and then I've had enough. Don't ask me to explain, it's just how it is. Besides, I am somewhat inept at cake decorating, so there are no show stopper cakes among my repertoire.
After a visit to the smokehouse at Pialligo Estate last weekend, Peter and I stopped for coffee at Tulips Cafe. We weren't planning to eat, but the assortment of cakes on display was irresistible and, having missed lunch, we were both a little peckish. As soon as I tasted the first bite of the apple and passionfruit cake I'd ordered, I knew I could bake something similar.
Initially, I was going to grate some fresh Granny Smith apple into the mixture, but then I decided to add a can of Australian pie apples instead. The finished product was better than I could have imagined. And, as I know you will ask, the new oven is an absolute delight to bake with!
Afternoon tea is served... please enjoy.
APPLE AND PASSIONFRUIT CAKE
125g unsalted butter, softened, chopped
1 cup vanilla infused caster sugar
6 free range eggs, separated
1 teaspoon finely chopped or grated lemon zest
1 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
440g can pie apples
For the icing:
1 tablespoon of butter, extra, softened
6 tablespoons pure icing sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons passionfruit pulp and juice
A little extra lemon zest, in strands, to decorate, if desired
Cream the butter and half the sugar in a large bowl. Add the egg yolks and lemon zest, and beat for several minutes until light and creamy. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites, gradually adding the remaining sugar, until peaks form.
Add the flour and the baking powder to the creamed egg and butter mixture, then gently fold in the beaten egg whites. Now fold in the pie apple (or add the equivalent in grated apple, perhaps). Spread evenly into a greased and lined 31 x 25cm lamington tray. Bake in a moderately hot oven (180-190 degrees C) for 30-40 minutes until just golden brown and the cake springs back when gently touched. Allow to cool before turning out.
To make the icing, combine the butter, icing sugar and passionfruit pulp and juice and mix with a small balloon whisk, until smooth. Spread the icing over the top of the cake when the cake is cold. Serve cut into squares and dressed with extra lemon zest. Store in an airtight container. Serves 10-12.
Note: standard Australian weights and measures used.
Afternoon tea is served...
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Tell me, do you enjoy baking cakes? And are you clever enough to create show stoppers in terms of decoration and presentation?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.