Monday, 24 October 2011

Recipe: Autumn Ume & Fig Cake

All photos: Itsumo Japan
Though fresh ume are in season in Japan during June, July and August I think that the soused fruits that you find at the bottom of a bottle of umeshu have a sweet and sour taste that fits well with the spices and flavours of autumn. Figs are in season both here and in Japan and nuts always say autumn to me. The cake makes a delicious teatime treat when served with tea or coffee, for an extra Japanese touch it could also be served with green tea.

This recipe is inspired by the Choya website's suggestion to chop up leftover ume and add them to desserts such as a loaf-style sponge cake. I chose the other ingredients to compliment their unique flavour and to create a seasonal cake. The recipe is adapted from one containing mixed peel and glacé cherries.

7 umes (approx. 100g/4oz when de-stoned and chopped)
50g/2oz dried figs
25g/1oz hazelnuts
25g/1oz pecans
115g/4oz self-raising flour
75g/3oz plain flour
25g/1oz cornflour
175g/6oz butter
175g/6oz caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs
grated zest of one orange

To decorate:
175g/6oz icing sugar
2-3tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice
25g/1oz hazelnuts
25g/1oz pecans

First pre-heat your oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas mark 4 and line a 900g/2lb loaf tin with greaseproof paper making sure to grease the paper.

De-stone the umes and roughly chop. Roughly chop the figs and place, with the umes, into a plastic bag. Add 1tbsp of the self-raising flour to the bag and shake to coat the fruits.

Chop the hazelnuts and pecans in a food processor until they are roughly chopped into small pieces.

Cream the sugar and butter together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs into the mixture one by one. Sift the flours and cornflour into the bowl along with the cinnamon and ginger. Add the orange zest, the fruits and the nuts before carefully folding the mixture together.

Place the mixture into the loaf tin and bake for 1¼ hours or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Leave the cake in its tin for 5 minutes then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

To decorate your cake mix the icing sugar with enough orange juice to make a thick, smooth icing. Roughly chop the hazelnuts and pecans, this time by hand for a chunkier effect. Drizzle the icing over the cake and sprinkle the nuts over the top. Leave until the icing has set and serve.


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