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Cherry and Apricot Upside Down Cakes


Today I’m posting easy and delicious recipes for upside down cakes.  And they can be made with store cupboard ingredients!

I thought it would be good to give bakers, and particularly novice bakers, a simple recipe for a cake that uses basic ingredients, can be whipped up in a flash, with or without specialist equipment.

And don’t be put off by all the instructions – both cakes really are super easy!

I made two, a cherry almond upside down cake, and an apricot upside down cake. I made the cherry one first, then realised that not everyone has bottled cherries and ground almonds lying around in the pantry. But I figured that everyone has tinned or canned fruit like apricots – peaches or plums or pineapple are just as good – and ordinary flour, in the cupboard.

I make this cake in various forms all the time. The flour version is a basic cake mix that is good for cupcakes and bigger, iced or layered cakes. The almond version makes a frangipane cake, very moist and a perfect receptacle for fruit.

And putting the fruit on the bottom is genius – making a lovely, sticky, fruity topping.

I make the cakes in the food processor. It’s really simple and fast.  You could use a stand mixer, or hand held electric beaters. Or beat the old fashioned way with a spoon. So anyone can make these cakes, regardless of what kitchen equipment you have!

You will need an 18cm (7inch) cake tin. Bigger is fine, the cake will just be a little flatter.

Cherry Upside Down Cake

Ingredients
400g pitted cherries from a jar or tin/can*
150g butter
150g sugar
3 free range eggs
I teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
1 teaspoon almond essence
125g ground almonds
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

*A jar is about 670g, a tin/can is about 415g

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced. Butter a 18cm/7 inch cake tin thoroughly, and place a circle of baking paper on the base of the tin.

Combine butter and sugar using a food processor/ electric mixer/spoon, with vanilla extract or paste and almond essence. Add eggs one at a time and mix well well. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit lumpy or curdled, it will come together once the almonds and flour are added.

Fold in the ground almonds, plain flour, baking powder and salt.

Drain the cherries from their juices, reserving the syrup. Place the cherries onto the baking paper in the tin. You can be artful and make a pattern, or just place them any old how.

Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the cherries into the tin. Smooth out the dollops, but don’t worry too much, the mixture will even out in the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes  – 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake. This cakes takes a while to cook. Start checking at 45 minutes and take out of the oven once cooked. Cool in the tin 10 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the reserved syrup in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3 or 4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced and is thick and syrupy.

Carefully turn the cake out onto a plate, and peel off the baking paper. The cake will now have a lovely cherry top! Spoon some of the reduced syrup over the cake, as much or little as you wish. Personally, I like it with lots of syrup and really gooey!

Apricot Upside Down Cake 

The recipe is pretty much the same, but I have written it again just to highlight the different ingredients and slightly different method.

Ingredients
400g apricot halves from a tin/can *
150g butter
150g sugar
3 free range eggs
I teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla paste
150g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt

*Peach slices, plum halves or pineapple rings will work well too, all from a tin/can

Method
Preheat oven to 160 degrees C fan forced. Butter a 18cm/7 inch cake tin thoroughly, and place a circle of baking paper on the base of the tin.

Combine butter and sugar using a food processor/ electric mixer/spoon, with vanilla extract or paste. Add eggs one at a time and mix well well. Don’t worry if the mixture looks a bit lumpy or curdled, it will come together once the flour is added.

Fold in the plain flour, baking powder and salt. Using only flour can mean a drier mixture, if the mixture is too stiff, loosen it with a tablespoon of milk.

Drain the apricots from their juices, reserving any syrup. Place the apricots onto the baking paper in the tin. You can be artful and make a pattern, or just place them any old how.

Carefully spoon the mixture on top of the apricots into the tin. Smooth out the dollops, but don’t worry too much, the mixture will even out in the oven.

Bake for 45 minutes  – 1 hour, or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted in the cake. This cakes takes a while to cook. Start checking at 45 minutes and take out of the oven once cooked. Cool in the tin 10 – 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the reserved syrup in a small saucepan. If there is not enough syrup, add a tablespoon of apricot jam if you’ve got it, or honey or maple syrup. You really just want a sweet glaze to go over the cake! Bring to the boil and simmer gently for 3 or 4 minutes or until the liquid has reduced.

Carefully turn the cake out onto a plate, and peel off the baking paper. The cake will now have a lovely apricot top! Spoon some of the reduced syrup over the cake, as much or little as you wish, to give a delicious sticky glaze.

 

 

 

Summer Plum Muffins

Sydney in summer, January 2020. And what a summer. The drought and the bushfires dominate the literal and emotional landscape, as we swelter through hot, hazy and humid days.

Despite these conditions, there is still amazing summer fruit in abundance, to bake, preserve or simply to devour fresh as an antidote to the heat.

I love stone fruit in high summer. I’ve been jam making with apricots and with blood plums, fantastic for their rich ruby red colour.

I made muffins a while back with yellow fleshed plums, using my current go-to muffin recipe adapted from Matt Stone’s The Natural Cook Maximum Taste Zero Waste. Here is the recipe from 2018.

This recipe celebrates plums, baked in the muffin mixture and also as plum pieces on top of each muffin, but you could just as easily make it with other stone fruit – apricots, peaches or nectarines.

Ingredients

2 free-range eggs

140g raw sugar

1 Granny Smith apple unpeeled and grated

1 plum, diced

75ml vegetable oil

10-12 pecans, chopped (optional)

150g plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

¼ tsp salt

3 plums, cut into segments, to decorate

A few pecan halves, to decorate (optional)

Method

Whisk the eggs together in a large mixing bowl and when  the mixture is foamy, slowly pour in the sugar. Keep whisking until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture has doubled in size.

Whisk in the apple, diced plum and oil. Stir in the chopped pecans, if using. Use a spatula to gently fold in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger  and salt.

The mixture can be baked straight away but Matt suggests leaving it in the fridge overnight. This will give the flour a chance to hydrate and the baking powder to activate, resulting in a more consistent muffin texture. Even leaving the mixture for a few hours in the fridge is beneficial.

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan-forced, 180 degrees C non fan-forced.

Grease a standard muffin tin and line 6 holes with squares of baking paper. Spoon in the muffin mixture, adding as many plum segments as you like on top to decorate, and pecan halves, if using.

Put the muffin tin in the oven and cook for about 25 minutes. Check the muffins at 15 minutes and every 5 minutes from there, using a skewer to check if cooked. From my experience, in my oven, they take about 20 minutes.

Remove the muffins from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5–10 minutes. Remove them from the tin and place on a wire rack. I leave the baking paper on as the muffins are easier to store.

Serve warm or at room temperature. Great on their own, as they are so moist, but also good with butter, or Greek yoghurt and a drizzle of honey.

Moroccan Fish with Couscous and Harissa Yoghurt

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This recipe is based on Jamie Oliver’s Moroccan Bream from his 15 Minute Meals. It’s a simple dish, although it took me a little longer than 15 minutes to prepare…
Some wonderful Middle Eastern flavours, with a heady mix of fiery hot harissa, sweet pomegranate and apricot, tart preserved lemon and cool yoghurt.
Jamie uses bream. I’m not sure if bream in the UK is the same fish as in Australia. Visiting the fabulous Sydney Fish Markets, http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/, I bought some yellow tail bream which looked perfect for the recipe. They certainly tasted delicious.
Jamie’s recipe calls for whole fish, heads and tails removed, but obviously still on the bone. I would recommend fish fillets, preferably with the skin on, if you don’t like picking out the bones…

Ingredients
Salsa
1/2-1 preserved lemon (be careful that the brand you choose isn’t too bitter – if possible make your own)
A handful of dried apricots
A couple of strips of preserved red pepper
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley
1 pomegranate
Fish
2 whole bream, heads and tails removed, scaled and gutted OR 4 fish fillets of choice, preferably skin on
Rock salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 spring onions
A few sprigs of thyme
1 teaspoon or to taste of harissa
3-6 saffron threads covered with 100 mls boiling water and left to infuse for a couple of minutes
Couscous
1 cup couscous
2 cups boiling water
1 teaspoon butter
Salt to taste
To serve
1/2 cup fat free yoghurt
A  handful of pistachios

Method
To make the salsa, blitz the lemon, apricots, peppers and the parsley in a food processor until well blended. Transfer to a bowl and squeeze in the juice of half the pomegranate. Mix, season to taste.
For the fish: score the the fish in a crisscross fashion on both sides, down to the bone if using whole fish rather than fillets. Season all over with rock salt and black pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and add the fish, cook over medium high heat for 3 minutes each side for whole fish, 2 minutes for fillets.
Add finely sliced spring onions, thyme sprigs, harissa to taste and saffron threads and their soaking water. Scrunch up and wet a sheet of greaseproof paper and tuck it around the fish. Cook on low heat for the time it takes to prepare the couscous or until the liquid is half evaporated from the frying pan.
To make the couscous, add couscous to the boiling water in a small saucepan. Add salt, cover and stand for about 3 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed. Stir in the butter, fluffing up the couscous as you stir.

To serve:
Pile the couscous onto a serving platter and spoon the salsa over the couscous. Lay the fish on top, spoon over some of the pan juices, and scatter over the pistachios. Hold the other pomegranate half in your hand and bash it with a spoon to release the seeds and juice. Serve with a bowl of yoghurt on the side with a little harissa swirled through for a pretty colour.

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Tagine of Lamb Shoulder with Apricots and Raisins, Pomegranate Couscous and Avocado Salad

Since I acquired and first used my beautiful crimson red tagine, featured in the post on Rozelle Village Markets, I have been very keen to give it a proper Road Test.

A working dinner with old friends allowed me to to give it the Top Gear treatment, and it passed with flying colours.

Pre-dinner nibbles  – toasted flatbread with rocket pesto, and tomato and green olive dip.

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The Top Gear team provided the production values. Jeremy photographed the Event,  Richard the director gave creative advice and James brought some curious items from his Man Lab to enhance the theatricality of the Event. The Stig was notable for his absence. Perhaps he doesn’t like lamb…

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Tagine of Lamb Shoulder with Apricots and Raisins

Ingredients
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon chilli powder or sambal oelek
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon tagine spice (Essential Ingredient make a fabulous blend)
1 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons
1 kg diced lamb shoulder
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup raisins
Pomegranate seeds
1/2 cup pistachio kernels, roughly chopped

Method

Combine spices and salt in a large bowl.  I prefer to grind my own in mortar and pestle. Add the oil, rind and half the juice and stir to form a paste. Add lamb and stir until well coated in the paste. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours or longer.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Put the lamb mixture into a tagine or heavy bottomed casserole with a tight-fitting lid. Add the chicken stock and remaining lemon juice. Stir until well combined.

Cover and cook for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and stir in the dried apricot roughly chopped and raisins. Cook, covered for a further 40 minutes or until lamb is tender.
Tap half a pomegranate over the tagine to release the jewel like seeds, and scatter with a sprinkling of pistachio kernels. 

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Pomegranate Couscous

Cook your favourite couscous recipe – mine has lots of oil and butter to enrich it  – and serve with the seeds of the other pomegranate half scattered as artistically as the slippery seeds will allow!

Avocado Salad

A selection of your favourite salad greens  – on this occasion mine were rocket and baby cos lettuce – with baby Shepard avocados, and a great dressing.  Lindeman’s E.V. Olive Oil and Raspberry Vinegar worked well.

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