Sunday 9 October 2016

Fifty years of cake!

 Almost mid-October and the evenings are drawing in so quickly...where has the year gone? I sat in our kitchen at home yesterday afternoon, thinking up the recipe for a suitably autumnal cake to post here...but my mind kept wandering as I looked out of the glazed doors that lead to the garden and watched as the first little yellow leaves from the silver birch next door swirled before they landed on the deck. Although often it's still bright and sunny, the wind carries a real chill now and the shadows fall differently in the's a time of year I adore. New beginnings, new possibilities. Abundance. Harvest. Spices. All good things.
 I devised this recipe for a Plum & Walnut Cake - at least, that's what I used here. But it is easy to adapt to what you have, or prefer. Perhaps apples and hazelnuts? Or pears and almonds? As long as the properties are the same, it should do experiment.
I adore walnuts. Of all the gorgeous Sugar Moon brownies flavours,theWalnut Fudge are my absolute favourite. We make sure there are lots of them inside and out, as I can't bear alleged 'walnut cakes' that just have a measly few nuts inside them...or, worse, sprinkled only on top!

So, for this cake you'll need:

200g butter - slightly softened if possible, but don't worry too much
200g light soft brown sugar or golden caster sugar (or just regular sugar if that's all you have - the golden versions add more caramelly undertones which are delicious, but all sugars will sweeten the same!)
3 free-range eggs
100g shelled walnuts
150g self-raising flour
50g wholewheat rye flour (if you have none, don't buy it specially....make up the difference in weight with an extra 50g self-raising flour instead. I just love the nuttiness of rye, so it's lovely if you have some handy!)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground allspice (or cinnamon if you prefer)
good pinch of sea salt

About 4 firm but ripe plums, de-stoned, quartered and then very thinly sliced to make crescents
About 1 dessertspoon of unrefined demerara sugar, for sprinkling.

Grease and line a 23cm/10" cake tin (I used a loose-bottomed one for ease of removal)

Preheat oven to 175c/350f

Put all the ingredients except the plums & demerara sugar into the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth...there will, of course, be little lumps of walnut visible...but otherwise the mixture should look silky... this!

Scrape into the prepared tin...
 ...and arrange the crescents of plum in concentric circles, filling in any gaps as artistically as you can! It's important to lay the slices on the batter, rather than pushing them in...otherwise they may sink during baking.
 Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and then bake for around 1& 1/4 hours until well risen and golden can test for doneness with a metal skewer or special cake tester if you like. There should be a few crumbs clinging to it, but no obvious 'wetness' or sign of uncooked dough.
 Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes before turning out and cooling properly....
 ...or you could, of course, serve it with cream or ice-cream for pudding while still a bit warm.

It's a delicious cake...not too sweet, a tender crumb and full of Autumn!

There's another reason I love October so much - it's my birthday month. And this year is a big one. I can hardly believe it, but I'll be 50 in a few days. I've just been going through photos on the computer, and it's a bit like whizzing through my life! Lots of fabulous memories of people and places and times...some long gone. My Dad....schoolfriends whose names I can't quite remember now...boyfriends...pets...houses we've lived in. Such a journey!

And now, time to reflect, to take stock and also to look ahead and make plans.

Sugar Moon will be taking a short break to celebrate and re-calibrate from Monday 17th -Sunday 23rd October. Last orders will be 10am on Friday 13th through the website and normal service will resume on Monday 24th. You can still order while the kitchen is closed - but please do be aware that no orders will be baked and sent until Monday 24th.

Here I am (on the left in the white socks and the stylish plaid mini dress) about 45 years ago playing tug-of-war with my little sister, cousins and two's all gone so fast! Here's to the next half century!

Thanks so much for your continued support and great custom xx