I am always attracted to colourful pictures of cakes and desserts on either cookbooks or food magazines. Especially on cakes that have a homely feel to it and made with fruits. Almost every month, I would rush to the newsstand to grab a copy of ‘delicious’ food magazine from the UK. Their recipes have been highly reliable unlike some cookbooks that are written by some famous chefs or personalities. Even some Nigella Lawson’s cake recipes are unreliable, as well as Barefoot Contessa’s. So far I have failed in two cakes from Barefoot Contessa’s recipes and some of Nigella's. I am considered quite a seasoned baker and therefore it should not be my skills that was the problem but their recipes. Maybe only half of them are reliable.
I could not wait to bake the cake on the cover of the March’s UK issue of ‘delicious’ magazine a while ago, it looked so inviting with the pieces of crumbs on top. I adapted the recipe a little. I used strawberries instead of rhubarb as it is not easy to find in Singapore.
2 tsp plain flour
Icing sugar for dusting
For the cake
6 tbsp of sour cream
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
1 tsp of vanilla bean paste or extract
100g plain flour
½ tsp of bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp of baking powder
¼ tsp salt
75g butter (room temperature)
50g ground almonds or hazelnuts
For the crumbs
50g unsalted butter (cold)
25g light muscovado sugar
¼ tsp vanilla bean paste
100g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of salt
- For the crumbs, melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. When it is melted, remove from the heat; add both types of sugar and stir constantly until dissolved into a smooth, toffee like sauce. Stir in the vanilla bean paste, pour into a small cake pan, then stir in the flour and salt to make a stiff, and biscuit like dough. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of the pan and put it in the fridge to harden.
- Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease and line a 20cm/8 inch loose bottom pan with baking paper. Cut the strawberries into quarters and put them into a mixing bowl. Mix the sugar with the flour and stir it into the strawberries and leave it aside for 15 minutes and stir it now and then. The sugar and flour should cling onto the fruits.
- For the cake, stir the sour cream, egg, egg yolk and vanilla in a small bowl. Sift the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt into the mixer and add butter and mix until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the ground almonds or hazelnuts, and then gradually beat in the sour cream mixture until smooth.
- Spread the cake mixture into the prepared pan, and then scatter over the strawberries, making sure the red parts are facing up. Break the crumb mixture into small pieces and scatter over the cake leaving some red fruits showing. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until golden brown and skewer comes out clean. Leave it to cool on rack and when cooled sift some icing sugar over the top.