Click here for a frighteningly accurate portrayal of my culinary technique 🙂
One of the joys of living in a village where most of the neighbours have campo properties, is that when they go to pick produce for themselves, they will often bring some back for us. Last week we had a carrier bag of green peppers, tomatoes and aubergines. This week, Puri knocked on the door and gave us a load of moscatel grapes from her vines.
We ate as many of the grapes as we wanted, and still had far more than we could possibly eat before they went off. ‘Time for an experiment!’ I thought, ‘and Dick can have the ones that are too far gone to use.’
Using one of my favourite easy cake recipes as a basis, I set to work, substituting this for that and guessing quantities in a somewhat cavalier fashion. ‘After all,’ I reasoned, ‘You put them in cakes dried, so why not fresh?’
The boring bit was taking all the seeds out of the grapes. By trial and error, using various implements, I found the easiest way to do this is to cut them all in half with a sharp knife, and then fish out the seeds with a scrupulously clean fingernail. I told everyone I had pre-chewed the grapes and spat the pips out, but that was a big fat lie!
The results were so astonishingly gorgeous that the cake was devoured before I got around to taking any photographs. You will just have to imagine the golden perfection of the top and the slightly sticky, luscious base, unless you try making one yourself. Go on: you won’t regret it!
Moscatel grape and cardamom cake (trust me, the combination does work)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees
Line an 8-9” cake tin with greaseproof paper or non-stick baking parchment
Put 3 cups¹ of flour and a teaspoon of baking powder into a large bowl
- the ground up seeds of 3 cardamom pods (they grind very easily in a mortar & pestle)
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 2 cups granulated white sugar
Mix to blend the dry ingredients
Add 4 cups of halved, seeded grapes (moscatel are white, but red would work too, I’m sure)
Mix the grapes into the dry ingredients until they are evenly distributed and covered
Melt 1 cupful of butter and margarine (I used about a 40:60 mix) without getting it very hot and stir it into the dry ingredients
Whisk up 3 eggs slightly with a fork and stir them into the cake mix. (Make sure everything is evenly combined, but don’t beat the life out of it!)
Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and more or less smooth the top. The mixture settles while cooking, so you don’t have to be very precise.
Bake in the middle of the oven for around an hour.² You will know it is done when a skewer comes out clean.
Stand the cake tin on a rack and allow to cool for 10 mins, then take it out of the tin and leave on the rack to cool completely.
¹ I recently found that one of my cups was a good measure of 250ml. After years of resisting using cups for measurements, I decided to give it a go, and am now a card- carrying, fully paid up member of the Use a Cup club. It suits my chuck-it-in-and-see-what-happens style, and causes less washing up. What could be a better recommendation?
² My oven is a little erratic, thanks to the vagaries of village electrics, so I watch to see when the cake has risen and begins to turn brown. If it is looking brown, but the inside is not cooked through, I turn it down about 20 degrees and keep an eye on progress.