That I enjoy baking with the fruit of the season is something you've probably figured out by now. And I usually get my cue of what's in season, when the fruit gets seen everywhere from fruit stalls to roadside pavements to even, traffic signals.
From the tiny fruit in my mother's garden to mounds of the fruit on the pavements, oranges have been catching my eye for a while. Seeing it in such abundance had my inner Martha Stewart toying with the idea of making my very own batch of orange marmalade at home. I wasn't too fussy with the oranges I used. Simply went ahead with what was easily available in the market. The process is time consuming but nothing too complicated, especially if you have a candy thermometer, of which I am now a proud owner.
The marmalade turned out well for a first attempt. It had a beautiful colour, the peel remained suspended and did not sink to the bottom. It should have had a better consistency to cut through it and the purists would have pointed out that the bitter undertones should have been stronger. But, it worked well for me and everyone at home. And yes, indulge me with the cheesy, personalised label that I've used on the bottle! But, you've got to admit, it has its appeal! (Label Credit : Jam Labelizer)
But, I am not a jam/marmalade person. I enjoy it once in a while but it is not regular for my breakfast. So, while I pondered on how to get to the bottom of the bottle, I came across this cake in Nigel Slater's Ripe. He describes it as a 'good, reliable cake' that would be found in British village-fete cake stalls.
The flavour combinations sounded interesting and the cake used whole, wheat flour, a big tick mark in its favour. The cake comes together fairly easily. What I did differently was that I baked it in a loaf tin and omitted the raisins, simply, because I had none in the pantry at the time.
Reading through the recipe, you imagine a rustic looking cake and that is what you will get. This is not a cake for celebrations but perfect for your every-day, home baking. You can taste the orange and the cinnamon. The apples retain a slight bite although the skin did leach a bit and that is the pink that you see in the photographs. I did wonder if the whole wheat would yield a dry crumb but nothing of the sort. This cake was beautifully moist and it is recommended that you wait till it cools down completely, to let the flavours come through. And, it tastes even better the next day!!
This cake is a step towards the kind of baking I want to move towards. Baking with a healthier grain, with fruit and other healthier alternatives to traditional ingredients. But more than anything, this cake is what home baking is all about for me - rustic, no frills and full of flavour!!
Whole Wheat Apple and Marmalade Cake
Adapted from the book, Nigel Slater's 'Ripe'.
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1/2 cup demerara sugar + some for sprinkling on top
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/2 heaping teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 apple
- 1/3 cup raisins (optional)
- 3 tablespoon orange marmalade (Use store bought or make your own. I used this recipe from Closet Cooking.
- finely grated zest of an orange
- Pre-heat the oven to 160 deg C. Grease and line a 8 x 3 x 2 loaf tin.
- Beat the butter and sugar until light and pale coloured.
- Meanwhile, beat the eggs lightly with a fork.
- Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon powder.
- Core and coarsely chop the apple. They should NOT be bigger than approx. 1 cm. squares.
- Toss the chopped apples with the raisins and stir in the orange marmalade and orange zest.
- Add the beaten eggs a little at a time to the creamed butter and sugar.
- Gently but firmly fold in the rest of the flour. If you find the mixture too dry, do add one tablespoon of milk to the batter. I did and it helped to mix it along.
- Fold in the fruit and marmalade mixture.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared loaf tin.
- Scatter a thin layer of demerara sugar over the top, and bake for an hour and fifteen minutes, until skewer comes out moist, without any cake mixture sticking to it.
- Cool before serving.