Emiko Davies' apple and jam cake
Prep 20 mins (plus cooling)
Cook 1 hr
“This soft, buttery loaf cake, with chopped apple and apricot jam swirled through the top, is essentially a dressed-up pound cake (which Italians charmingly call a ‘plum cake’, using the English words but pronouncing the ‘u’ as ‘oo’.) Highly adaptable, this cake can be made in many different ways – just remember that the weight of the butter, sugar, eggs and flour should all be equal. I often combine polenta with the regular flour for a rustic cake with a good crumb, and sometimes I have made this with olive oil in place of the butter (use a little less, about 200 ml,” says Emiko Davies. “You can leave out the apple or exchange it for another fruit (pear, apricots, berries or plums would all be nice). Just don’t skimp on whipping the eggs – it’s what makes this cake so soft and fluffy without any other rising agents.”
250g butter, at room temperature
Zest of 1 lemon
4 eggs, at room temperature
250g (1⅔ cups) plain flour
1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
3 tbsp apricot jam
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C. Grease an 11cm × 26cm loaf tin and line with baking paper.
2. Use an electric beater to cream the butter and sugar with the lemon zest until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each. Once all the eggs are in, beat continuously until very, very pale and fluffy. This takes about 7 minutes with electric beaters.
3. Fold in the flour carefully until it is just combined. Pour into the tin, drop in the diced apple and use a butter knife to gently swirl through the mixture to distribute. Smooth the top, then dollop the jam down the middle of the cake. Using a (clean!) knife pointing vertically down about 2cm –3 cm into the batter, swirl the jam in a zigzag pattern.
4. Bake for approximately 1 hour, or until it’s golden on top and a wooden skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean. If the jam on top begins to look like it’s darkening or cooking too quickly, you can cover the cake loosely with some aluminium foil. When cool, dust with icing sugar, if desired.
5. Serve in thick slices. When wrapped in plastic wrap and stored in the fridge, it will stay moist and fresh for 3–4 days.
This is an edited extract from Torta della Nonna by Emiko Davies, published by Hardie Grant Books, $34.99. Available in stores nationally.