Recipe: Apricot & Almond Sponge Cake

Last Friday, my parents and I stopped off at The Black Horse Inn in Grimsthorpe for dinner. As a country pub that we’ve frequented for a number of years, the food was predictably great (although the portions have easily halved but gone up in price in recent months, which is a bit disappointing) and the dessert in particular really hit the spot with me…

It was an Apricot & Almond Sponge pudding, served as a sliced tray-bake with a side of custard.

In the days that have followed, I’ve had a hankering for a repeat of this lovely combination so I thought I’d give it ago this afternoon. And you know what? It turned out really, really well. I might even go as far as to suggest that mine is better, because of the appropriations I’ve made using my own time-practiced much-praised sponge cake recipe.

Here is the final product:

I really should have used a springform tin (or a pudding basin) that was smaller in diameter but I seem to have misplaced my usual one in the move back from University. It looks a little flat as a result, but the texture of the crumb does show that this is not from a failure to rise satisfactorily. It was just the damn tin size. I should also add, that because this is a cake that contains tinned fruit, which is naturally quite heavy, it doesn’t rise in the same way as a lighter Victoria Sponge. It also contains ground almonds which, again, means its a little bit denser. Don’t let this put you off – it tastes divine as these extra pictures should help to show. I’ve had to make a conscious effort (read: leave the house) in order to stop myself eating more than one piece today….

As you’re probably getting hungry now,  I’ll crack on with the recipe

Note: I can’t really write recipes in a long, lucid style. My own handwritten recipe book, from which I’m repeating this, is written in the note-form you see below. It gets to the point….

Ingredients:

1 tin of Apricots (or perhaps Cherries) in juice, drained.
200g Self Raising Flour (I prefer 180g SRF & 20g Cornflour for lightness of crumb)
200g Butter (+ extra for greasing & lining the tin)
200g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
75g Ground Almonds
1 tsp Almond Essence
Icing to dust or to glacé the top (Flaked almonds/glacé cherries on top of glacé icing would work well).

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (lower for a fan oven) and grease your tin of choice, i.e a 6 inch round tin for a cake, or a brownie tin for a tray-bake pudding. Either works, it depends on how you want to serve this).
  2. Drain the fruit and leave to one side. You might keep the juice to make into a coulis if serving immediately as a hot sponge pudding. I advise chopping Apricot halves into smaller pieces for this recipe.
  3. In a sturdy baking bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until light and creamy.
  4. Stir in the ground almonds along with the almond essence. Blend well.
  5. Carefully fold in the eggs, one at a time.
  6. Sift in the flour or flour/cornflour blend. Fold together.
  7. Ensure the mixture is well-blended, and begin to start folding in the fruit. Try to ensure the fruit isn’t floating to the top.
  8. Ladle the mixture into the tin and level the surface. If the Apricots begin to rise, push them down into the tin using the back of a spoon.
  9. Bake for between 30-45 minutes, depending on your tin size and oven. Mine took about 40 minutes. Remove when the centre bounces back from a touch – don’t skewer because the soft fruit will means this won’t be very helpful!

As I said, you could bake this as a tray-bake or serve it as a hot pudding with custard. I chose to make mine as a cake for slicing. It’s quite a versatile recipe, but I don’t advice using tinned fruit that loses an excessive amount of consistency in the canning process. Strawberries/Raspberries would just make this soggy. Apples could work, as might peaches or pears. Cherries and Almonds, however, would be the best substitution. They’re frequently combined in Bakewell slices, pies etc.

Enjoy!