Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Spelt, walnut and plum cake

We have a farmers market once a month here in Leicester, it has a small but growing range of stalls some good, some not so good and some fantastic. My favourite stall undoubtedly is Woodhouse Farm, they raise all their own animals and produce the most amazing meat, the pork is possibly the most flavourful and succulent I have ever tried and the bacon is to die for.

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!

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

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.
The finished cake

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.


Foodycat said...

So perfect for autumn! I love fresh plums in cakes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great cake to transition from summer to fall.

Oh, yeah, I made those beef skewers you posted about a little while ago. They were fantastic, especially the peanut sauce! Thanks for sharing it!

♥peachkins♥ said...

Oh that looks fantastic,Sam

newlywed said...

This looks delicious! I have never tried baking with spelt. Thanks for the inspiration.

Joie de vivre said...

I haven't seen you around in FOREVER, but I went through a long blogging dry spell and have just recently been back in the groove. I'm so glad to see you're still at it as I just loved your blog. Thank you so much for visiting me and letting me know that you're still around!

Pam said...

Wow! That looks really delicious Sam.

The Caked Crusader said...

oh my, that looks lovely! I love the glossy glaze - so high end!

Margaret said...

I too look to Nigel Slater for inspiration (have you seen his new book?).
Great looking cake.

pigpigscorner said...

I tried spelt cake once and it was rather stodgy. Perhaps I should try baking one myself to give it another go!

Jo said...

Can I have another one of these please Samuel?

Hungry Dog said...

I love plums in cakes, they add the perfect sweet-tang to the batter. This cake looks beautiful!