The last market was two weeks ago, all the usual stalls were there, the pie stall, the organic farm, the chili stall and a new stall that I had never seen or heard of before. Elizabeth's Bakery had a small stand on the end of a row, like all the best bakeries they had a range of cakes that was so beautiful and looked so mouth wateringly delicious I couldn't pull myself away. What I really liked about Elizabeth's was the baker himself (I don't know where Elizabeth was), he was just so enthusiastic about everything he sold, for every cake he would tell me exactly what was in it, how he made and why it was absolutely the best cake ever and I just had to buy some!
My cake is a combination of Nigel Slater's recipe, the cake from the market and my own ideas. It turned out so much better than I ever thought it would, I'd almost go as far as say it was the perfect cake. I used Victoria plums for my cake, they're coming to the end of the season now but there are still a few around and are well worth buying if you find some otherwise any good plums will be fine. I finished the cake with an apricot glaze and dark chocolate, I wasn't sure about adding the chocolate thinking it might be one ingredient too far but it actually works really well, the bitterness of the chocolate sets off the sweet cake perfectly.
There were fruit tarts, meringues, sachertorte, and individual blueberry cheesecakes all of which looked beautiful. I however took home a square of spelt, plum and walnut cake, I'd never seen a cake made with spelt flour before and was really interested to see how it came out, plus I love walnuts and plums so in the end the choice was a no brainer.
I don't know whether it was the spelt flour or the skill of the baker but the cake was unbelievable, it had a soft and tender texture, it was extremely moist and the plums and walnuts added lots of flavour. The cake was so good I had to have a go at making it myself. Unfortunately bakers aren't so enthusiastic about giving away their recipes so I scoured the Internet for ideas and inspiration. As is so often the case the prolific and ever brilliant Nigel Slater came up trumps, he has created a recipe for a spelt cake that used damsons and spelt flour, although his final cake wasn't quite the same as the cake from the market it gave me some idea of where to start.Ready for the oven
Spelt, walnut and plum cake (makes 9-12 squares)
- 150g Butter
- 150g Light soft brown sugar
- 3 Medium eggs
- 120g White spelt flour (I used Doves Farm organic flour, available from Sainsbury's and Waitrose in the UK, you can substitute with plain flour if you can't find any spelt although it won't be quite the same)
- 75g Ground almonds
- 2tsp Baking powder
- 9-10 Plums halved and stoned
- 70g Walnut pieces
- Apricot baking glaze or smooth apricot jam
- 30g Dark chocolate (I used Green and Blacks cooks chocolate)
Grease and line a 22cm square cake tin with a removable base and preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180C.
In a mixing bowl or in an electric mixer cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy then one at a time beat in the eggs until everything is smooth and well combined.
Next sift in the flour and baking powder and add the ground almonds and half of the walnuts, fold everything together gently. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and smooth down the surface with a spatula. Lay the plum halves on top, place them close together as they will shrink during cooking and you want to be sure there is plum in every slice, scatter the remaining walnut halves over.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, it's done when it feels firm to the touch. Leave the cake to cool on a rack before removing from the tin. Spread the apricot glaze over the top of the cake, be quite generous with it. Melt the chocolate in a bowl placed over some warm water then drizzle over the top. Once the chocolate has set the cake is ready.