I have this ‘just in case, rainy day’ mentality for some of my pantry items that’s not really necessary in this ‘online, open 24 hours, available everywhere’ world, but I can’t seem to shrug it off. In recent weeks I have been making a concerted effort to use some of my many premium products. By premium, I mean the really good stuff. High quality or costly ingredients that I ‘save for good’ but never seem to get around to using. One of these items are some delicious Barossa prunes from Gully Gardens in Angaston.
Prunes and almonds have an affinity. (So do prunes and chocolate but that’s another story…) They are often paired together in historical recipes dating back hundred of years. This is probably because plums and almonds were often grown in the same orchards and ready for harvesting at the same time. Therefore it made sense to use both ingredients in dishes and in preserving for the long winter to come. Prunes and almonds are a very ‘French’ combination and are a common pairing in French pastry recipes. The most famous prune, the D’Agen is named after the town of Agen in south-west France were this species of plum was first developed.
What’s Not To Love?
I love prunes but think they are probably considered old fashioned these days. I’m not sure why as they can be used in sweet or savoury cooking, added to a cheese board or eaten as is. Perhaps the modern shopper only wants fresh fruit in their basket or maybe prunes are too rich for the modern palate. No such concerns in France where I saw prunneaux for sale at many markets. The modern consumer is most definitely missing out!
This Prune Almond cake is not complicated and as you can see by the photos, it looks pretty spectacular. The almond flavour is supplemented with Amaretto liqueur but if you aren’t keen, you can omit it. Between the butter and the sugar, it’s not exactly low calorie so consider it a celebration cake. Filter or plunger coffee is best so it doesn’t overwhelm the other flavours in the cake but in a pinch, espresso is fine. This is not the time to be using instant coffee! I was amazed at the weight of this cake once I added the syrup. Given it’s generous girth suggest that it could readily serve 12 – 16 rather than the usual 8 pieces.
Prune & Amaretto Coffee Cake
- 250 g butter
- 200 g caster sugar
- 4 eggs
- 50g plain flour, sifted
- 250 g semolina, fine
- 200 g ground almonds
- 2 tspn baking powder
- 120 g sour cream
- 150 g prunes, pitted
- ½ cinnamon stick
- 60 ml Amaretto
- 350 ml filter coffee
- 175 g caster sugar (extra)
- 25 g flaked almonds (optional)
- Place prunes, 15 ml (1 tbsp) of the Amaretto and the ½ cinnamon stick in a bowl. Cover with 100 ml of coffee (hot or cold) as set aside for several hours to allows prunes to macerate flavours and absorb some of the liquid.
- Cream butter and sugar in a large bowl until smooth and pale.
- Beat in eggs, one at a time, making sure each is combined before the next is added.
- Place semolina, ground almonds and flour in the bowl. Sift in baking powder and gently stir to combine.
- Drain excess coffee liquid from prunes (if there is none left, that’s fine). Discard the cinnamon stick. Add liquid and sour cream to cake batter and stir to combine.
- Grease and line a 20 – 23 cm spring form tin. Add half the batter to the tin and smooth out.
- Place half the prunes on top of the batter, distributing evenly, then cover with remaining batter.
- Place remaining prunes on top of cake in an attractive pattern. Top with flaked almonds, trying not to cover prunes too much.
- Place the Prune Almond cake in an oven pre-heated to 170c and bake for 60 minutes or when cake is golden and firm to touch.
- During the last 10 minutes of the cake baking, make the syrup – bring remaining 250 ml coffee and 175 caster sugar to the boil in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes to form a light syrup. Add, remaining Amaretto to the syrup in the last few minutes.
- When cake is cooked, remove from oven and place on a cake cooler over a plate (to catch drips). Spike cake all over with a skewer.
- Slowly pour half of the hot syrup over hot Prune Almond cake. Wait a few minutes to allow cake to absorb syrup and then pour the rest of the warm syrup over the still warm cake. Here’s a quick time lapse…
Allow the Prune Almond cake to cool in the tin although, serving it slightly warm is also delicious. Serve with thick cream and a cup of coffee.
Serves 8 – 16