There are many paths to knowing you have stumbled upon a winning recipe.
Perhaps the quintessential indicator is when company in the room goes silent. (Laurie Colwin notes this is also how you know you will not be enjoying leftovers.)
Our busy lives often separate us from communal eating. In which case, modernity may allow that you receive a message sent by way of a technological gadget in ALL CAPS.
Or it could be an employment of expletives, a telltale that transcends time. As is the invocation of a saint or religious figure, as in: “holy Mary sweet mother of God.”
This cake’s praise, however, took a path less traveled. After sending a slice with Brett to work, I received an ALL CAPS text. (The cake was absolutely FANTASTIC.) But he then momentarily became a nineteenth century British diplomat and said, “I tip my hat to you madam, superb job.”
After earning madam status by way of cookery, things diverged further. A fellow blogger-friend identified the cake’s origin by both cookbook and name, with nothing but a picture (above) and the mention of raspberries and almonds. (I did also note its superlative breakfast qualities, though I am certain this is true of any cake known to man.)
The cookbook: Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard. The name: A cake for midsummer. I am painfully aware it is no longer midsummer. As I am also painfully aware I have largely missed apricot season in Massachusetts, yet again. But this recipe has been on my list to make for an embarrassment of years and I was not going to let another cake slip past me with the summer wind.
So there are late summer peaches—instead of the white whaled New England apricot—and raspberries in the cake. (I doubt this detail matters.)
As with so many of Nigel Slater’s cake recipes, the batter is thickly stiff and still supple, like a buttercream. It then becomes littered with raspberries and chunks of stone fruit. And again, as with so many of his desserts, it becomes beloved immediately.
The cake is a crowd-pleaser plain and simple. Compliments, of any shape and size, don’t get that kind of thing wrong.
Raspberry Stone Fruit Cake
Adapted from Nigel Slater’s Ripe: A Cook in the Orchard
¾ cup (175 grams) unsalted butter, softened
1 ground scant cup (175 grams) demerara sugar (see notes)
2 medium peaches or 4 to 5 apricots (200 grams)
2 large eggs
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
½ cup plus 1/3 cup cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 scant cup (100 grams) almond flour
2 tbsp half and half (or whole milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups (170 grams) raspberries
Butter an 8-inch springform pan; line with parchment paper and butter the paper; set aside. Set oven to 350 degrees.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy (about 5 minutes); scrape down the sides occasionally, if needed. Meanwhile, halve, pit, and chop the peaches into ½-inch pieces.
In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs. With the mixer running on medium-low, slowly add the eggs to the creamed butter and sugar; mix until fully combined, scraping down the sides to corral the batter occasionally.
In a large bowl, sift the flours, baking powder, and salt together; mix in the almond flour. With the mixer on low speed, add the flours in two or three additions; add in the half and half.
Remove the mixer bowl from the stand and with a rubber spatula, gently fold in the vanilla extract, peaches, and raspberries until just combined. Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan (the batter will be thick); lightly smooth the top.
Bake for 65 to 75 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Let the cake cool slightly in the pan then run a knife around the edges and release from the springform. Let cool completely.
Yields 8 to 10 slices
-The original recipe calls for golden bakers sugar. If you can't find it, grind demerara or turbinado sugar in food processor instead.
-The original recipe calls for 1-1/3 cups white self-rising flour, which you could substitute for the pastry flour, cake flour, and baking powder. The salt may need to be modified, depending on the brand. ¼ tsp will yield about 600 milligrams of sodium.