Friday, 16 April 2010
I have to thank my friend VB for recommending this Fruit Pastry Cake. This cake was very popular among local bloggers sometime back. I told her I would probably give it a try when she first made this cake. Almost two years down the road, and I totally forgot about it until I saw her photo of this same cake recently. With fruits piling over a thick layer of beautiful golden crumbs that comes with a nicely browned crust, how can anyone not fall in love with it?! Since I would be meeting VB's friend to collect a cookbook from her, I thought it would be an excellent idea to make this cake for her.
Since this would be the first time I am making this cake, I baked one to test it out. Except for the little extra effort to wash and cut the fruits, and making sure they are well drained, this cake was easy to prepare.
This is how the cake looked like after baking. I was really surprised at how beautiful it turned out. Even my children were "wow-ing" all over when they saw the cake cooling on the dining table. They were really impressed :D
The recommended pan size for this cake is either a 9" round pan, or an 8" square pan or a 7x11" pan. I used my 8" round pan instead. The cake took 75mins to finish baking, and I got a taller cake. I found the cake slightly on the sweet side even though I have cut down the amount of sugar from 200g to 160g. It tasted a little sweet on its own, but the slight tang from the strawberries (I don't seem to be able to get really sweet strawberries here) helped balanced the sweetness. My kids didn't mouth a single complain though.
After checking with VB, who follows the original recipe to a T, I was slightly convinced that I could increase the amount of sugar. I do understand why some recipes call for large amount of sugar. Sugar used in baking is not just for the purpose of sweetening. It has got other important roles to play. For example, sugar helps to attract moisture in the batter, and this in turn helps to reduce the amount of gluten formed in the flour. Recipes with large amount of sugar content will yield a baked good that has got a more tender crumb; and since less gluten is formed in the batter, the resulting baked good will rise better during baking giving it more volume.
So, for this cake I made for our friend, I used 180g of sugar, still not the full amount but a 'great improvement' from my first attempt.
With the experience gained from my previous attempt the day before, I was able to arrange the fruits in a more 'symmetrical' manner. I thought I was quite brave to give away something that I only tested once! I just pray that the cake was well baked. What could be more embarrassing than to give away something that is under cooked? Even testing with a skewer may not guarantee that the cake is cooked right through.
The cake is soft, the texture is almost like a cross between a sponge cake and a butter cake. As the amount of fat used is not too much compared to the amount of flour, the cake doesn't feel greasy and yet it doesn't taste dry. My family members love it!
I have to warn you, this cake is addictive!
I am addicted to baking and eating it! I made the same cake again a few days later. This time, I used 2/3 portion of the ingredient amount and bake it with my 8" round pan. I also replaced about 1/3 of the plain flour with wholemeal flour. The resulting cake was shorter but it tasted as good. I like the nutty texture from the wholemeal flour, it was like eating something baked with ground almonds, minus the fragrance ;)
Afternote: I made the same cake again one week later. This time I used the full portion of the recipe, but replaced one third of the plain flour with wholemeal flour. I used the same 8" pan, and the result was fabulous. So far this is the only cake that could cause an immediate addiction in me...both baking and eating it!
Fruit Pastry Cake
100g butter, soften at room temperature
200g caster sugar (I cut down to180g)
50g sour cream (I replaced with same amount of low fat yogurt)
3 eggs, lightly beaten, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest
210g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
500g fruits* tossed with 2 tablespoon sugar*
(You can use strawberries, blueberries, peaches, bananas, oranges, pears, apples, pineapple, or any other fruits that are not too juicy. I omitted the sugar and used as much fruits, either fresh or canned, as needed to fill the top of the cake)
- Wash, cut (chunks or slices, as desired) and drain fruits, toss with sugar (if desired) and set aside. (if using canned fruits, wash the fruits to remove the syrup, omit the sugar).
- Grease (with butter) and flour the side of a 9" round pan or a 8" square pan and line the base with parchment paper.
- With an electric mixer, cream butter, sugar and sour cream (or yogurt) till light and fluffy.
- Dribble in the eggs gradually and beat till incorporated in the batter. (The mixture may appear slightly curdled.)
- Add vanilla extract and zest. Mix to combine.
- Sieve over flour and baking powder and mix till smooth. (To avoid getting flour all over my work surface, I mixed the flour into the batter using a spatula, just a few strokes will do, then I used the electric mixer to mix the batter till smooth.)
- Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth out the top with a spatula.
- Arrange fruits on top, don’t press the fruits down into the batter. Decorate the fruits as desired.
- Bake in pre-heat oven at 180degC for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the cake. Cover the top with foil in the last 15 mins of baking to prevent the top from getting over browned.
- Leave the cake to cool in the pan for about 5~10 mins. Unmold and transfer to wire rack to let cool completely. Dust the cake with some icing sugar if desired.