To take our mind away from these puzzling and weighty matters, let's look at a cake from Mr. Nigel Slater, with whom I am obsessed. I'm going to buy, yes, BUY his two Kitchen Diaries cookbooks. Either that, or do some tricky ninja technique of keeping them on semi-permanent renewal from the library. I tore through the first one and loved every last thing in it and I've heard that the second one is fab as well.
His cake for midsummer though, comes from his book 'Ripe', which is a stunner and I just loooooooove that book. Looooooooooooooove that book! It's all about recipes involving fruit. His book 'Tender' highlights veggie recipes, but it's not a vegetarian cookbook. You should read it, and be prepared to want stews and roasts and tagines.
Nigel can lay a scene for you and then make you WANT TO EAT IT ALL.
And he wrote a recipe for a midsummer cake. Which I think is the most charming idea I've ever heard of. There should be more cakes for this kind of thing, random obscure holidays and whatnot.
Like, a Weekend cake. Or a It's Tuesday cake. Or a Harvest Moon cake. Or a Eat Cake at 10pm cake. Or a Snuggle cake. OMG a snuggle cake. I am a genius, just like Nigel! I am totally going to make a snuggle cake, when I figure out just what such a cake might entail.
But for today, a cake for midsummer.
It has delightful things in it. Almond flour, apricots, and raspberries. I will show you. It isn't the most beautiful cake in the world. But that's ok, I prefer more rustic, homey-looking cakes anyway. I can eat a cake with frosting maybe once a year these days; I just can't take that kind of sugar hit anymore.
I am the first one to compliment my own cooking, I never wait for others to do it. If I make something that's good, you'll hear about it....FROM ME. I believe in self-congratulation. Congratulate first, and then wait for secondary affirmation. If that's not forthcoming for some reason, that's the time to let people know that they're crazy, or wrong, or misinformed.
Don't ever accept anything other than congratulations when you cook, even if it sucks. You went to the effort, you deserve congratulations. Yes you do. I'm trying to train my kid to say "Thank you for the very nice dinner Mommy." Every one dinner out of 10 she remembers to do it. If she hates it, she can think it in her mind. But by gum, I want some congratulations. Or a high five. I'm not picky.
A CAKE FOR MIDSUMMER ~via Nigel Slater's (I love you!) book 'Ripe'
3/4 cup butter (175g)
1 cup minus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar (175g)
4 or 5 ripe apricots (200g)
1 and 1/3 cups self-rising flour (175g)
a scant cup of ground almonds (100g) ~ I used ground almond meal/flour
2 tablespoons milk
about 1 and 1/2 cups raspberries (170g)
Line the bottom of an 8 inch springform pan with parchment paper. (I used a 9 inch round pan with high sides and greased and floured the pan.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cream butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Halve, pit, and coarsely chop the apricots. Beat the eggs lightly, then add to the creamed butter/sugar a little at a time, pushing the mixture down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula. If there is any sign of curdling, stir in a tablespoon of the flour.
Mix the flour and almonds together and fold in, with the mixer on a low speed, in 2 or 3 separate batches. Add the milk, and once it is incorporated, add the chopped apricots and the raspberries.
Scrape the mixture into the cake pan and bake for an hour and 10 minutes. (start checking at 55 minutes, just to be safe.) Test with a skewer; if it comes out relatively clean, then the cake is done. Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes or so in the pan, then run a thin spatula or knife around the edge and slide it out onto a plate, decorating "as the fancy takes you", says Mr. Nigel.
~enough to serve 8-10.
(The cake is not overly sweet, which I liked. I thought it was plenty fine and sweet with the generous dusting of confectioner's sugar on top. But if you like your sweets really sweet, I'd throw in a 1/8 to 1/4 cup of additional sugar mixed in with the fruits.)