Saturday, 10 October 2009

Apricot and Hazelnut Cake - version 2

The second attempt at this gluten- and dairy-free cake was much more successful. I used the best parts from both the recipe I posted here already, and the similar Annie Bell cake from the Daily Mail. I increased the amount of hazelnuts and added baking powder, in line with the Daily Mail recipe, but still separated the eggs and used the spices from the original recipe. I left out the lemon, but added two teaspoons of orange flower water instead, as one of the tasters can't eat acidic citrus fruit; I don't think either the orange flower water or the lack of the lemon had a major impact on the flavour. To get a deeper cake, which would look more like a birthday cake, I baked it in a 20cm tin.


225g ‘ready to eat' dried apricots
1 cinnamon stick – about 7cm long
5 cloves
5 cardamom pods
6 large eggs, separated
125g caster sugar
50g light muscovado sugar
2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)
200g ground hazelnuts
1 teaspoon baking powder


Put the apricots into a small saucepan with the spices and 150ml water, bring to the boil then simmer, uncovered, until the apricots have absorbed most of the water. Watch carefully towards the end, so that the saucepan doesn’t dry and burn the fruit. Remove the spices, then purée the apricots in a food processor or mini chopper.

Preheat oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4, and prepare a springform or loose bottomed cake tin. [I used a 20cm(8”) tin to get a deep cake, but for a dessert you could use a 23cm(9”) tin and obtain a shallower cake. The cake mixture filled my 20cm tin to within a couple of cm of the top, but it doesn’t rise much.]

Whisk together the sugars and egg yolks (or use the food processor after puréeing the apricots), then stir in the orange flower water. Mix in the hazelnuts and baking powder, then the apricot purée. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the cake mix in three parts. Transfer to tin, level surface, then bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and a probe inserted into the centre comes out clean. [I needed to cover it after 30 minutes to prevent it getting too dark.]

As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, run a knife around the edge of the cake, between the cake and the baking tin sides, then leave to cool in the tin. This is so that when the cake deflates slighty, it does so more evenly, without leaving the outer edges raised.

The baking powder didn't seem to make a lot of difference to how much the cake rose, but definitely gave it a lighter and more cake-like texture. The cake deflated (slightly) more evenly than my first attempt too, although that may have been due to the knife trick.

The picture shows the cake decorated with glacé icing and coloured sugar sprinkles, as it was used as a birthday cake. Everyone who tried it thought it was marvellous; the gluten- and dairy-free guest had two helpings and took the recipe home with her!


Hilary said...

Oh wow, this looks fantastic! I saw a similar cake in Nigel Slater's 'Appetite' recently and meant to make it, and now there's this one. I think it's a sign. I should make this!

Suelle said...

Do try it - all my guests were very complimentary about it. These flourless cakes have the added advantage of no added fat, beyond what is naturally occurring in the nuts and eggs - you could almost persuade yourself that it was healthy! LOL!