from one generation to the next
I’ve been putting some cake recipes I rank as old favourites through their paces to see how they adapt to being baked using spelt flour rather than wheat. Those of the conventional butter, sugar, eggs and flour genre are generally a drier more crumbly version of their former glorious self, and disappointingly, are now retired to my recipe archive. Cakes with a proportion of nut meal work well, those with coconut do not. Syrup soaked cakes are fabulous if you use spelt flour and sponge cakes readily adapt to being made entirely with cornflour. The original recipe of this fig and nut cake recipe didn’t fit into any of those boxes so experimentation was the only option.
First I tried using cornflour in place of the wheat flour. The result was barely OK. A few weeks later I remade the cake using spelt flour. The result was outstanding.
This Italian style cake with no butter or oil, is all about the big chunks of fruit, nuts and chocolate. The firm sponge is just the glue to hold the goodies together. It’s the sort of cake that makes you want to drink coffee or liqueur, or both.
My lemon, fig and ginger nut cake freezes well, but it will keep for 4-5 days in a sealed container if you can resist.
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup spelt flour
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
120g whole raw hazelnuts
120g whole raw almonds
60g candied citrus peel
60g preserved ginger, finely chopped
140g dried figs cut into 1 cm dice
90g dark chocolate but into 1 cm bits
Zest of 1 large lemon, finely grated
Preheat the oven to 170C fan forced.
Grease a large loaf tin and line it with baking paper.
Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl.
Combine the nuts, fruit, chocolate, zest and flour tossing thoroughly to coat and separate the fruit.
Whisk together the eggs and sugar until thick and creamy.
Add 1/3 to the floured fruit and nuts and stir thoroughly.
Add the remaining egg mixture and lightly fold it through.
Tip the cake mixture into the loaf tin, smooth the top.
Bake until firm to the touch in the centre or when the cake test done with a skewer, about 40 minutes.
Remove the cake from the oven and allow to rest in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out into a cooling wire.
Cool completely before cutting.