I’ve not been cooking, or baking very much recently. There was the small matter of having to move out of my flat for three weeks whilst it was redecorated, then there was a heatwave which never inspires me to go in to the kitchen then, in the middle of all that, the whole building nearly flooded, thanks to a broken stopcock downstairs. Oh, and the most recent terror attack in London happened in the street next to my flat. So, you know, exhausted by household and heat drama, and the state of the world, I pretty much left everything food-related to the barbecue king. More of him, and the summer joy of using charcoal outdoors, another time.
However, in the last few days, I’ve started to turn down the pages of magazines again, and think about who I might cook what for. And, since I am now back in an office five days per week, my afternoons need a sugar lift every day around 4pm and this cake has been fulfilling that role rather beautifully. I’ve made it three times already, served it as dessert for the first balcony dinner of the year, and today I am making it twice, once for us and once for the neighbour whose pragmatism saved my building of four flats from a disastrous flood and a massive buildings insurance claim. It is straightforward, summery and has been just the recipe to get me back into my kitchen mojo. It will take you about half an hour of prep, around an hour to bake and will, if you love a little treat every day, cheer you up all week.
Nigel Slater’s blueberry and peach cake (adapted from here)
Cupboard (or things you may already have)
unsalted butter, 175g, softened
golden caster sugar, 175g
self-raising flour, 175g (or 175g plain flour mixed with 2 and a bit tsp of baking powder)
ripe peaches, 2
orange (you only need a little zest, so you could miss this out without much harm coming to the cake)
ground almonds, 100g
vanilla extract, a few drops
1. Line a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin with baking parchment and preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C/gas 4.
2. Dice the butter and put it with the sugar into a food mixer or processor (or, failing that, into a large bowl). Cream them together until they are well mixed and appear almost whipped.
3. Cut the peaches into small pieces and discard the stones and zest the orange to get about a teaspoon’s worth of zest.
4. Beat the eggs together in a bowl, add a tablespoon of flour to the butter/sugar mixture to stop it curdling then add the eggs little by little, beating them in after every addition.
5. Mix the rest of the flour and the almonds together and add to the mixture, again little by little. Stir in the orange zest and vanilla, followed by the chopped peaches and blueberries. You will have quite a thick mixture but this is how it should be.
6. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about an hour (the recipe says 70 minutes; I find it tends to be done after 50-60) until a knife or skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
7. Leave to cool for about 10 minutes or until the tin is cool enough to handle, then leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Or, if you prefer, serve it warm with crème fraîche; equally lovely.