Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Pistachio and Cranberry Loaf Cake

The first thing I'm going to say about this cake is that the flavour is amazing! I knew it was going to be something special when I scraped the last of the raw batter from the mixing bowl, just to get an idea of what it tasted like. The name of the cake doesn't do enough justice to the flavours within - as well as pistachios and dried cranberries there was lime, fennel seeds, cardamom and vanilla, which combined to make something unlike any of the constituent parts - I love it when that happens!

The recipe wasn't perfect and there are things I would change next time, but I thought I'd get the praise in first, as the nitpicking doesn't detract from what a great cake it was. I didn't realise when I decided to make the cake, that it was a recipe from Honey & Co, who specialise in Middle Eastern cooking. I can't find the recipe anywhere online - although if you have a subscription to the online Financial Times, I believe it was published there - but there is a book 'Honey & Co: The Baking Book', which is now on my 'must have' list, even if it doesn't contain this particular recipe!

200g SR flour
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
5 cardamom pods - ground to a powder with the pods
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
100g whole pistachios, peeled
150g dried cranberries
zest of 2 limes
150g butter
150g caster sugar (the recipe specified golden)
2 eggs (I used large)
100g jam (the recipe specified a red jam such as raspberry or cherry)
the juice of 1 lime
about a tablespoon of demerara sugar to sprinkle on top (I used crushed raw sugar cubes)

The cake is made by the traditional method of creaming the softened butter and sugar together, with the lime zest and vanilla, then slowly adding the eggs. All other dry ingredients are added to the flour, then folded into the batter, then finally the juice of the lime and the jam is folded in. After the batter is levelled in the baking tin, the surface is scattered with demerara sugar, then the cake is baked at 160C in a large (1kg/2lb) loaf tin, for about 60 minutes, turning halfway through cooking so that it bakes evenly. Cool in the tin.

I baked at 160C in a conventional oven, and the cake took over 90 minutes to bake, so I think the temperature given must be for a fan oven ie 180C in a conventional oven. Things I did differently: I used the pistachios as they came from the pack (do they really need peeling?) and chopped them roughly rather than leaving them whole, and because I didn't check my storecupboard properly, I had to use apricot jam. Things I'd do differently next time - take the pods away from the cardamom seeds - they didn't grind to a powder very well in my spice grinder and left little bits of husk in the mixture; add the juice of the second lime, as the batter was quite thick, and the limes were small.

The cake was a little crumbly the first day it was made, but settled down overnight to something a bit firmer. The extra lime juice might have made it a bit less inclined to crumble, and a little more moist - the slight dryness is the only criticism I have (apart from the lack of clarity over the baking temperature).


Snowy said...

That looks good, Suelle; what a great lot of ingredients. My friend has the has the Honey Baking Book and loves it.

Anne Szadorska said...

It appeals just reading the title but with the added fragrance of fennel and cardamom it sounds amazing!

Well done too on such even fruit distribution, mine always are hit and miss!

Jean said...

It looks lovely, and sounds like it would taste amazing, if that makes sense.
I have picked up the Honey & Co book several times and put it down again, maybe next time I'll take it to the checkout!