Source: Australian Women's Weekly "Quick Mix Cakes and Deliciously Easy Muffins" Cookbook, p81; ISBN: 1-86396-001-5; (c) ACP Publishing Pty Ltd 1999.
Okay, a quick plug for this particular cookbook as one of my absolute favourites at the moment. It dates back to the era of Women's Weekly Cookbooks where they were aiming at people who wanted to feed a family with minimal effort while holding down a full time job. The recipes are really aimed at the sort of person who doesn't own twenty-seven different types of baking pans and a full decorating kit, and who isn't aiming to win prizes at the local show, but rather to have something they can serve up to the family or to guests without too much effort. There's a few cakes in there which look a bit fancy, but most of the recipes are fairly straightforward and simple to do.
This is a fairly simple melt-and-mix cake recipe - you put your fruit, sugars and liquid ingredient into a saucepan on the stove and bring to the boil, simmer for five minutes, turn off the heat, stir in the butter and leave it to cool to room temperature before adding the eggs and the flour, stirring until combined, and pouring the mixture into the tin. Really, the most tedious part of this one is chopping up 250g of dried apricots (I found this the most annoying part because I was using a fairly heavy knife for it, and the blasted thing is a bit on the blunt side, so it needed a bit of force. A lighter and sharper knife would have been more effective) before you start. For me the trickiest part of the entire process was actually locating the "punch a hole in the can" can-opener we have so I could open the tin of apricot nectar (we're going to be having Apricot Chicken in the next few days, I can tell).
The recipe needed a bit more time in our oven than was recommended in the recipe book (about 25 minutes; this is a common problem with this oven, I'm finding - a more reliable oven which couldn't be used as a space heater for the whole house might actually cook things a bit sooner). Also, I should have started this recipe sooner in the day (I started it around 2pm) as it takes a couple of hours for the boiled up fruit component to cool down to room temperature, or at least to a temperature which won't immediately turn the eggs into scrambled eggs. I also had one of my standard problems with cake mixtures, namely, when I'm pouring them into the tin, they don't tend to co-operate nicely with the baking paper, and fall inside it - instead, I'll inevitably have some of the paper slump forward, catch some of the mixture along the way and wind up needing to be fished out of the completed cake. (Of such minor annoyances is a lifetime of home cookery made). But it is made and cooked, and I'll see how it turns out when it's finished cooling in the tin (the temperature is supposed to get down to 3C here tonight, so at least there's plenty of cool for it to be soaking up!).
Next day: Well, it came out of the paper and the tin okay, although slightly deformed from the lining paper having gotten tangled up with the cake. The cake itself winds up dense, fairly moist, and the main flavours I can taste in it are apricot and butter. The butter flavour comes through loud and clear in this one, and I'm not sure whether it's just because the pat of butter I'm working through at present is a rather cheaper-than-usual brand, or just because there's so much of it in the cake. Overall, a pretty straightforward recipe, easy enough to make, but I'm not sure I'm overly sold on the flavour. I might try it again with better quality butter, and see how things go.
It does last well - I think it took about a week for us to work through that one.
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Spoons/Fuss and Bother: 2 out of 5 (chopping up the dried apricots)
Overall: 3 out of 5 - the main flavour I'm tasting in it is butter and apricot.
Considerations: It's a cake, so naturally it has gluten in it (plain and self-raising flour), along with enough sugar to stun a small mammal and heaps of butter, plus eggs. Don't eat a whole one in one sitting, and don't try to serve it to any vegans you know. Also, if you have an allergy to apricots, don't bother with this one.
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