Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond fruitcake

Slice of home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

The first bag of Agen prunes I bought didn’t last me very long at all. I ate three a day, every day, from the day they arrived. I also used a handful or so of them in a prune and Armagnac tart. I’ve reordered the prunes from Amazon and this week and have made a prune and almond fruitcake; something a bit different to the traditional ones made using raisins, currants, sultanas and candied peel.

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake mixture | H is for Home

Justin, once again, requested an afternoon fruitcake to accompany a cup of tea. He likes to stop work for a short break about 3pm before charging back into his daily chores!

Prune and almond fruit cake mixture in cake tin | H is for Home Prune and almond fruit cake in cake tin | H is for Home

I had about 100 grams of marzipan leftover from my recent batch of simnel cupcakes so I sliced it into little cubes and spooned it through the cake mixture; a deliciously successful addition!

Home-made prune and almond fruit cake | H is for Home

As with most fruitcakes, if you can resist the temptation of slicing and eating it straight-away, the texture and flavour improves if left for a day or two.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Prune and almond fruit cake
Serves 8
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Cook Time
1 hr 30 min
Ingredients
  1. 115g butter, softened
  2. 115g soft brown sugar
  3. 2 eggs, whisked slightly
  4. 175g self-raising flour
  5. ¼tsp almond extract
  6. 200g pitted prunes
  7. 1tbsp flaked almondsHome-made prune and almond fruit cake ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a deep 18cm/7-in spring-form or loose-bottomed round cake tin and line base & sides with baking parchment
  3. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  4. Pour the eggs over the mixture, a little at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a tablespoonful of the flour between each addition to help prevent the mixture curdling
  5. Mix in the almond extract
  6. Fold in the rest of the self-raising flour and combine well
  7. Gently fold the prunes, stirring with a wooden spoon until well distributed through the mixture
  8. Spoon the mixture into the tin and level off the top with the back of the spoon
  9. Sprinkle the top with the flaked almonds
  10. Bake for 1&frac;12 hours or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes away clean
  11. Once done, remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in its tin
Notes
  1. Store in an airtight lidded cake tin or plastic tub
Print
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Cakes & Bakes: Prune and almond tart with Armagnac

Slice of home-made prune and almond tart with Armagnac with a dollop of crème fraîche | H is for Home

About a month ago we were watching an episode of Food Unwrapped where they investigated the benefit of prunes in keeping you… ahem, ‘regular’.

The presenters did a little compare & contrast experiment where, each day, one of them drank a glass of prune juice, another ate a couple of plums and the third ate a few prunes. The last proved to be by far the most effective way of upping your fibre intake.

Rolled shortcrust pastry | H is for Home

The programme took a trip to Agen in France which apparently produces the best prunes in the world. That was it, I was straight online to order myself a bag of Agen prunes.

They didn’t lie, Agen prunes put all other prunes in the shade when it comes to taste and size. I’ve begun eating 3 prunes each morning and I can attest that the workings of my alimentary canal are markedly smoother than previously!

Blind baked pastry case | H is for Home

I searched through all my cookery books looking for a tempting recipe to try so as to mix my prune intake up a little. Eventually, I came across a prune and almond tart with Armagnac in Rick Stein’s French Odyssey. I don’t think I’ve not previously posted any of his recipes despite the fact that we love a lot of the food he makes.

Armagnac-soaked Agen prunes lining a pastry case | H is for Home Filling poured over prunes in a pastry case | H is for Home

We’re not big brandy drinkers and I couldn’t find anywhere that sold miniatures, but decided to invest in a bottle of Armagnac for this and future recipes – it’s often called for in both sweet and savoury dishes.

Stein’s instruction is to soak the prunes for an hour prior to using them. However, I think a more extensive soak (overnight / 8 hours or so) would improve matters.

Prune and almond tart with Armagnac | H is for Home

Not that the tart wasn’t incredibly good anyway – believe me, it was! Pairing it with a dollop of crème fraîche really works too.

Click here to pin the recipe for later!

Prune and almond tart with Armagnac
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
Prep Time
1 hr
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
2 hr
For the pastry
  1. 225g/8oz plain flour, sifted
  2. ½tsp salt
  3. 130g/4½oz butter, chilled & diced
  4. 1½-2tbs cold water
For the filling
  1. 300g/10½oz mi-cuit (semi-dried) Agen prunes, stoned
  2. 4tbs Armagnac
  3. 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  4. 35g/1¼oz ground almonds
  5. 55g/2oz caster sugar
  6. 200ml/7fl oz crème fraîche
To serve
  1. icing sugar (for dusting)
  2. additional crème fraîche (for serving)Home-made prune and almond tart ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Put the prunes into a bowl with the Armagnac and leave to soak for at least an hour, turning them occasionally to help them absorb the alcohol
  2. Put the flour and salt in a food processor or mixing bowl. Add the butter and work together to the fine breadcrumb stage
  3. Stir in the water with a round-bladed knife until it comes together into a ball
  4. Turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and kneed briefly until smooth
  5. Rest the pastry in a fridge for about 30 minutes before using
  6. Roll out the pastry and use it to line a greased, loose-bottomed flan tin (2½ cm deep, 24cm diameter)
  7. Prick the base all over and chill for 20 minutes
  8. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C/400ºF/Gas mark 6
  9. Blind bake the pastry case for 15 minutes then remove the blind baking gubbins and bake the case for a further 5 minutes
  10. Set the case aside and reduce the oven temperature to 190°C/ºF/Gas mark 5
  11. Drain the prunes over a bowl to reserve the remaining Armagnac
  12. Add the ground almonds, egg, sugar and crème fraîche to the Armagnac then beat together until smooth
  13. Distribute the prunes over the base of the pastry case and pour over the almond mixture
  14. Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and a skewer comes away clean
  15. Allow the tart to cool before dusting with a little icing sugar
  16. Serve with additional crème fraîche
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Adapted from Rick Stein's French Odyssey
H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Almond loaf cake

Home-made almond loaf cake | H is for Home

Today’s almond loaf cake wasn’t meant to happen; Justin requested a coconut cake that he could have with an afternoon cup of tea. We didn’t have any dessicated coconut in the store cupboard and it was out of stock when I went to by some from the supermarket.

Almond loaf cake batter in a a tin

A snap decision in Morrison’s saw me pick up a bag of ground almonds instead… and what a good decision that turned out to be.

Cooked almond loaf cake in its tin | H is for Home

A last-minute, quick, basic wet & dry recipe that turned out to be taste triumph!

Preparing to pipe chocolate on to almond loaf cake

A little drizzle of chocolate finished it off nicely.

Home-made almond loaf cake | H is for Home

A new one for my afternoon cake repertoire!

Rhubarb, apple & cardamom crumble
Serves 2
Ingredients
  1. 2 large stalks of rhubarb
  2. 1 Bramley apple
  3. 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
  4. 3 cardamom pods
  5. 100g/3½oz plain flour
  6. 25g/1oz rolled oats
  7. 10g/⅓oz almonds, roughly chopped
  8. 75/2½oz cold butter, cubedRhubarb, apple & cardamom crumble ingredients
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Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6
  2. Remove the cardamom seeds from their husks and grind finely with a pestle & mortar
  3. Slice the rhubarb into 2½cm/1inch slices
  4. Peel, core & chop the apple into 1cm/⅓ cubes
  5. Put the rhubarb, apple, half the ground cardamom and 2tbs of the sugar into a medium-sized bowl and mix until the sugar coats the fruit evenly
  6. Decant the mixture into a 30cm x 15cm oven-proof dish
  7. In a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, oats, sugar, chopped almonds, butter and remainder of the cardamom. Rub in the ingredients with your fingers until they resemble coarse, lumpy breadcrumbs
  8. Cover the sugared fruit evenly with the crumble mixture
  9. Cook for 20-30 minutes until the top has begun to brown and fruity syrup is bubbling up
  10. Allow to cool slightly and serve with custard or vanilla ice cream
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H is for Home Harbinger http://hisforhomeblog.com/

Cakes & Bakes: Hazelnut fig frangipane cake

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Hazelnut and fig frangipane cake | H is for Home

When the image of Domestic Sluttery’s delicious looking Hazelnut fig frangipane cake appeared on Facebook, I immediately pinned it to our Cake! Pinterest board.

Justin loves frangipane and I’ve never used it in a recipe before. The idea of frangipane, figs and runny honey… in a cake… IRRESISTABLE!

We happened to already have all the ingredients in the store cupboard. We used soft dried figs instead of fresh or tinned as the original recipe calls for – they worked a treat!

 

Cakes & Bakes: Hazelnut and fig frangipane cake

Yield: makes 6 slices

Cakes & Bakes: Hazelnut and fig frangipane cake

Ingredients

  • for the cake
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 140g butter, softened
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 60g ground almonds
  • ½tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼ nutmeg, finely grated
  • 60g self raising flour
  • 6 soft dried figs
  •  
  • for the syrup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1tsp hot water
  • Icing sugar and a few rough chopped hazelnuts, to decorate (optional)
  •  
  •  

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 160ºC /325ºF/Gas mark 3
  2. Grease a 23cm/9inch round, loose-bottom cake tin
  3. Put the hazelnuts in a dry, heavy-bottomed saucepan and set over a medium heat to toast for around 5 minutes, shaking every so often to make sure they don't burn
  4. Tip out onto a clean tea towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins
  5. Using a mini food processor or similar, finely grind the hazelnuts and set aside
  6. Cream together the butter and caster sugar until pale and fluffy
  7. In a small measuring jug, gently whisk the eggs before adding them to the butter & sugar in three stages, mixing after each addition
  8. Add the ground hazelnuts, almonds, vanilla and grated nutmeg
  9. Gently fold in the flour until just combined
  10. Spoon the mixture into the greased cake tin and level out with a spatula
  11. With a pair of scissors, remove the hard stalk from the figs and press each gently into the mixture
  12. Sprinkle the top of the cake with a little caster sugar
  13. Bake for 40 minutes until a skewer inserted comes away clean
  14. Cool in the tin on a wire rack for a few minutes
  15. Dilute the honey with the teaspoon of hot water
  16. Poke a few holes in the cake whilst it's still warm and spoon over the syrup evenly over the top
  17. Remove from the tin, dust with icing sugar and a few chopped, toasted hazelnuts and serve warm with mascarpone or Greek yoghurt and a nice cup of tea!
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