Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ein stuck kuchen bitte!

WheelerandCompany have been entertaining our delightful German friends for a the last five days and, as a result, I have had not one minute to spare to write a new blog entry. 
I feel as though I have been on holiday, visiting all the highlights that our beautiful country has to offer.  However Ireland looks to the rest of Europe at the minute, we must remember how special our geographical landscape is.  I was reminded of this over the past few days - to hear someone talk about our country with wonder and awe, and in amazement and delight about its beauty, is warming and pride in our country is good for the soul - we must be proud of such a wonderful place, it is like no other.

We have been cooking Irish pork with stuffed squash, a monkfish risotto and a delicious warm courgette salad with feta cheese.  I also made this colourful plum tart which was really quite delicious, sticky, rich and jammy.  The almonds in the mix make it richer and more moist and perfect for soaking up the sweet juices from the stewed plums.  You could use pears, apricots, nectarines or even cherries in the fruit layer here and you can just double the amount of flour and make a pure flour mix without adding any ground almonds.
It went down very well (and very quickly)!

The toffee-fruit bit:
8 not too ripe plums, halved and stones removed
45g butter
135g light brown sugar
75ml water
The cake bit:
150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
100g plain flour (or 210g flour if not using almonds)
100g ground almonds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
125ml full fat milk

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4.
Grease a 22" spring-form tin.
Arrange the plums, cut side down in the bottom of the cake tin.

In a small heavy bottomed saucepan, melt the sugar in the water, bring it to the boil and boil until it turns to caramel.  The liquid will thicken and turn a golden colour - this will take about 8-10 minutes.  Take care not to let it burn, so watch it all the time.  When it starts to turn to caramel, take it immediately off the heat and add the butter, mixing well until the butter had combined and the final result is a smooth toffee sauce.

Pour this onto the top of the fruit and set aside.

For the batter, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and stir in the almonds (if using).
Add the eggs in small batches to the butter and sugar, beating well after each. 
Add the vanilla extract.
Spoon in the flour and almond mix, beating well, alternating a large spoon of the flour mix with a glug of milk.  Beat well between additions and ensure that everything is well incorporated.

Pour the cake on top of the fruit and bake in the oven for between 45 minutes to an hour. 
Mine usually takes about 50 minutes - stick a skewer into the middle and if it comes out clean, its cooked.

Using a knife, run around the edge of the tin to ensure that the cake is not stuck.  Turn it out, fruit-side upwards and replace any fruit which may remain in the tin.
Eat and enjoy.

This cake is delicious warm or cold and will keep well for a few days if it lasts that long!

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