Savour Italy, 159pp.
by Annabel Langbein
HarperCollinsPublishers, Australia, 2001
Cooking on page 32
I love Annabel Langbein’s approach to food. We have similar tastes and favourite flavours. About two years ago, I posted her recipe for lamb, rosemary and apple sausage rolls. It’s one of my most-visited blog pages.
So how could I resist posting a page-32 recipe from a different cookbook of hers? The big bonus was that it called for fruit from our garden.
Harvest fig cake
10–12 fresh figs, or other fruit of your choice
3 tbsp sugar
300g (11oz) butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
finely grated rind of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla essence
3/4 cup milk
2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup ground toasted almonds
Optional: icing sugar to dust
Cut figs in half and sprinkle with first measure of sugar. Put to one side.
Heat oven to 180°C (350°F/gas 4). Beat together butter and second measure of sugar until creamy. Add eggs, lemon rind and vanilla essence. Gently stir in milk, flour, baking powder and almonds to form a smooth batter.
Divide batter between two springform tins, 20–23cm (8–9in) diameter. Arrange figs or other fruit, cut side up, on top. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 180°C (350°F/gas 4) for 30 minutes, reduce heat to 160°C (325°F/gas 3) and cook a further 25–30 minutes, or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Dust with icing sugar and serve warm, with whipped cream.
Cooks note: Freeze this cake if you are not eating it the same day.
How it played out
I hope you noticed how many times Annabel referred to ‘other fruit’ because that’s exactly what I used. The figs in my backyard aren’t quite ready to be harvested but the peaches next to the driveway are, so I swooped on them.
I used smallish peaches and the rind of a lime (instead of lemon). I would have used lemon, but an earlier page-32 recipe called for lime juice, so I opted not to waste zest.
Also, there wasn’t any third measure of sugar mentioned to sprinkle on after the figs or other fruit had been placed in the batter. I guessed and sprinkled over another 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. That was more than enough.
Followed everything else and then, about 10 minutes after the cakes went into the oven, I realised that I had completely forgotten to add the baking powder. Big oops, but way too late to do anything about it!
It may not be a foolproof cake, but it is certainly forgiving. Go ahead, use figs or another fruit, use lime zest rather than lemon, and forget the baking powder. You will not be disappointed.
This cake turned out wonderfully. It was moist, not too sweet, pretty to look at, and totally delicious.
We ate half of one and I sent the second cake home with a daughter to take to work to share with her colleagues.
I didn’t bother freezing the uneaten half left at home. In fact, I didn’t even bother refrigerating it—just threw a tea towel over the top (I’m lazy that way). We finished the cake off tonight and, if I am totally honest, I reckon it was even tastier today. Now that’s what I call a keeper. Yummo!
I promise to make it again soon when I have enough figs.