I'd flunked - badly - the recent Cake Club challenge, when members of the Herald and Times baking crew were pitted against each other in a proper professional kitchen. You can read all about the challenge here.
Anyway, I came flat last. (Well I didn't, but Ewan refuses to accept that my cake eased ahead of his sour grape crumble in the final furlong). My Victoria Sandwich in a parapet of chocolate with cascades of wild fruit was not a success and the judges were not kind.
So, this Blackberry and Apple Cake was important. I had to prove I still had what it takes to justify my place in Cake Club.
I'd not made it before and chose it because I'd some stewed blackberries and apple left over from a pie filling that I wanted to use up. The blackberries were picked on an outing with my boys to Eastwood Park, East Renfrewshire, taking advantage of one of the best years I can remember for wild brambling. It's worth a trip - the bushes are dark with fruit, large and plump and glossy.
But using pre-stewed fruit is a departure from the recipe below, sourced from the BBC Good Food website. I worried that this might make the cake too soggy, especially because a cake made with ground almonds is moister anyway. It came out OK though, so you can make it either way.
The cake cooks for nearly an hour, and mine took the full time to be ready. The 25g of butter for the top of the cake feels like a lot, but it helped make a nice crispy crust with the demerara sugar.
The hazelnuts are essentially just scattered on the top of the cake. They look good, but have a tendency to scatter all over the place when the cake is cut or moved.
But this recipe came out well, an attractive cake which was well received in the office. So I think I pulled it off.
I'm back on the bike Ewan. What about you?
For the cake:
125g butter, softened, plus extra for the tin
125g caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
50g ground almonds
100g self raising flour
2 Discovery, Russet or Worcester apples, peeled and cored, each cut into 12 segments
For the topping:
1 large pinch of cinnamon
2 tbsp demerera sugar
25g butter, cut into small flakes
25g peeled and toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped.
icing sugar, for dusting.
Heat oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3
Butter a 22cm round loose-bottomed cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
Beat the butter and caster sugar together in a large bowl until it is light and fluffy.
Gradually pour in and beat the eggs, a little at a time, until you have used 2/3, adding flour if it curdles.
Fold in the remaining egg, the ground almonds and finally the flour, and combine everything gently.
Add 2/3 of the apples to the cake mixture and all of the blackberries. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth it out evenly. Scater the remaining apples over the surface of the cake. For the topping, sprinkle over the cinnamon, demerara sugar and butter.
Bake for 50-55 minutes or until a skewer coms out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and scatter on the toasted hazelnuts. When the cake is cool, dust lightly with icing sugar. Serve in slices.