Chocolate cakes are good, when the chocolate is grown up with that heart of darkness to it. Lemon cakes (drizzled ones especially) disappear within a day in my household as no one, not even my ever dieting neighbour who has taken to shaking his head at cake with his coffee of a morning, can resist that unctuous teasing contrast between sugary and citrussy. But this cake has been a revelation. It delivers the 200% satisfaction of a proper fruit cake with that secret extra something that we marmalade lovers know can only come from the Seville orange.
What Hugh says: Iâ€™m a big fan of this teatime cake, first rustled up by my colleague Nikki Duffy. It has the hearty, substantial charm of a traditional fruit cake, but is lighter in texture and fresher in its fruitiness. The ground almonds are not essential but they do give the cake a particular, yielding moistness. Serves 10â€“12
You will need:
- 3 tablespoons whisky
- 100g sultanas
- 100g ground almonds (optional)
- 175g light brown flour (or 225g if not using the ground almonds)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- A pinch of salt
- 3â€“4 large eating apples (about 500g in total)
- 200g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
- 200g soft dark brown or dark muscovado sugar
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 150g thick-cut orange marmalade
- 25g demerara sugar
Preheat the oven to 170Â°C/Gas 3. Butter a 20cm springform cake tin, line the base with baking parchment and lightly butter the paper. Warm the whisky in a small pan, then remove from the heat, add the sultanas and leave to soak while you prepare the cake. Put the ground almonds, if using, flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl, combine thoroughly and set aside. Peel, quarter and core the apples, then slice thickly.
Beat the butter and brown sugar together thoroughly, ideally in a mixer or using a handheld electric whisk for several minutes, until really light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding a spoonful of the flour mix with each, and amalgamating each thoroughly before adding the next. Add the remaining flour and fold it in.
Beat the marmalade to loosen it, then fold into the cake mixture. Fold in the sultanas and whisky, and finally the slices of apple. Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared cake tin and scatter the demerara sugar over the surface. Bake for about 1ÂĽ hours, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Let the cake cool slightly in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Variation This cake is delicious made with dried cherries in place of sultanas â€“ soaked in whisky or added just as they come, as you please.
Extracted from River Cottage Fruit Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, ÂŁ25, Bloomsbury