I love baking with almonds. In fact, I bake with them so often that my boyfriend Greg recently asked if I was going to bake something without almonds anytime soon. I said maybe, though I couldn't make any promises...
The almond and fruit pairing is one I am definitely down with. I have made a couple of different variations of this cake in the past and I have to say, this is a good base recipe for any fruity sponge cake you'd like to make. You can mix things up by using different fruits in this recipe, just make sure to use the same quantities as shown in this recipe. You could also do this with the almonds and substitute them for something else like coconut, if you prefer.
I've suggested some yummy flavour combinations below which work well using this base recipe, but I'm sure you can think up of some even more delicious combinations!
Raspberry, Carrot & Almond Cake: 150g frozen raspberries, 200g grated carrot, 150g ground almonds
Apple, Carrot & Coconut Cake: 200g peeled and cubed apple, 150g grated carrot, 150g desiccated coconut
Banana, Raspberry & Almond Cake: 200g mashed banana, 150g frozen raspberries, 150g ground almonds
In addition to using different fruits, I have made this cake using a variety of different oils. The smell of the cake cooking when I used coconut oil was definitely a winner. Do not fear though, if you can't get your hands on coconut oil or it's a little too expensive, olive oil or sunflower oil work well in this recipe. I have also made this cake using gluten-free flour and it does turn out well, but as expected it doesn't rise quite as much as a gluten-containing cake.
Specialist Utensils: 2 x 20cm/8in round cake tins (or wing it with different shaped cake tins like I did!), electric hand or stand mixer.
Top Tip: This cake is gloriously moist because of the fruit inside, but because of this it might take longer than you think to cook through. If you think your cake is taking ages to cook, do not fear! Leave well alone and do not open the oven door for the first 25-30 minutes. If a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with batter on, leave for another 10 minutes (cover the tops of the cakes with foil if they are browning too quickly) and check again. Keep checking every 5-10 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Storage: I would advise baking this cake no more than a day or two before you intend to serve it, and then assembling the cake, icing and decoration on the day of serving. Store in the fridge and take out half an hour before serving. Note: If kept too long this cake is still delicious but can go a bit soggy due to the fruit!
Apple, Raspberry & Almond Cake
200ml coconut oil, melted (olive or sunflower oil also work well)
200g soft light brown sugar
3 medium-large eggs
150g plain flour (gluten-free flour also works well)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
150g ground almonds
150g frozen raspberries
1 large cox apple about 200g, peeled and chopped into small chunks
Raspberry Cream Cheese Icing & Decoration
300g icing sugar, sifted
125g cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
150g punnet fresh raspberries
50g flaked almonds
1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°c. Line the base of your two cake tins with grease proof paper and then grease the sides and paper.
2. If your coconut oil is solid, melt it in a pan over a low heat and leave to cool a little, or pop the jar in a bowl of hot water and leave for a few minutes until melted. You can peel and chop your cox apple whilst waiting for the oil to cool.
3. Put the brown sugar, eggs and coconut oil in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) until the ingredients are well combined (the mixture might look slightly split because of the oil).
4. Slowly add the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, vanilla and almond extracts and continue to beat until well mixed.
5. Stir in the ground almonds by hand until well combined, then add the frozen raspberries and apple chunks, stirring the mixture until the fruit is evenly dispersed.
6. Pour the mixture into your cake tins and smooth the tops with a palette knife. Place in the middle of the oven and do not open the oven door for the first 25-30 minutes. If a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out with batter on, leave for another 10 minutes (cover the tops of the cakes with foil if they are browning too quickly) and check again. Keep checking every 5-10 minutes until a knife inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, the tops of the cakes are golden brown and the sponge bounces back when pressed.
7. Once cooked, leave the cakes in the tins on a cooling rack until the tins are cool enough to turn the cakes out. Leave the cakes to cool on the cooling rack.
8. Meanwhile, make the raspberry cream cheese icing: put the cream cheese in a bowl and beat with a hand mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) until soft. Then add the icing sugar and almond extract and beat for about 5 minutes on a medium-high speed until the icing is light and fluffy.
9. With the mixer still going drop about 10-15 raspberries from your punnet into the icing, making sure the raspberries break up to turn the icing a nice pink colour. If you're icing is looking quite runny, add more icing sugar until you are happy with the consistency (but bear in mind the consistency won't be as stiff as buttercream because of the cream cheese). Place in the fridge for at least an hour or until you are ready to assemble the cake.
10. When the cakes are cold, slice each cake in half so that you have four cake layers. If you want to, you could cut away about an inch or two from the outside of the one of the cakes before slicing it in half (I had to do this as I didn't have 2 round tins to use. I used a plate smaller than the cake to cut around).
11. Put one cake layer on a cake stand/plate and spread a quarter of the icing over it. Add the next cake layer and repeat. Keep doing this until you have used all of the cake layers.
12. Decorate the top of the cake with raspberries, flaked almonds and lashings of icing as you wish.