We went for a walk today. And for once, I remembered to take my camera along. Our official purpose was to pick rönnbär [rowan berries], but really, I just wanted to wrap myself in a golden hour that comes everyday a bit sooner.
We walked by the river. And crossed the dam that seems more of a waterfall at the moment, as water gets released before the snow comes.
Every step we took over the bridge left traces in the frost. The first that lasts until the afternoon; only in the shadow of course, but still enough to warm my heart for a winter that I’ve longed after for weeks now.
Yes, winter, you may come now.
When we came home, coffee was promptly made and we picked through our small harvest. I have rönnbärsgele [rowan berry jelly] and syltade rönnbär [confit rowan berries] in mind, so hopefully I’ll share these with you soon.
I’ve been thinking about this cake ever since my mum emailed me earlier this week, asking for a good recipe for cake aux fruits confits.
Growing up, cake aux fruits confits was always the last one left on a birthday dessert table. Slices of dry cake, studded with always too little candied cherries, of the bright-red kind, which if you’d asked me twenty years ago were the best part about this loaf cake.
Of course, my dad who’s always been fond of the store-bought kind (same goes for madeleines, go figure!), would heavily disagree. But to be completely honest, as I read my mum’s email, I couldn’t stop myself from thinking that good and cake aux fruits confits don’t really go hand in hand. A thought that I’d soon learn how to let go.
As any new recipe I work on, I make a mental list of the things I want and do not want in the finished product.
Here I was trying to go as far away as possible from the fruit cakes I used to make when I first moved to London. Rich with dark brown sugar, many raisins and manier currants, and loaded with so much candied fruits you’d wonder where the cake batter had gone.
What I wanted was a moist sponge with a slightly dense crumb and deeper flavours, studded with plump raisins and delicate candied fruits. A light-golden crust, made soft with ground almonds on the batter and a generous wash of tea-infused sugar syrup on the warm loaf.
I made the cake this morning, as water was boiling for the first of many French-press-fuls of coffee. And I liked it so much that I thought you might too. Et pour toi aussi Maman <3
I had to leave out the candied fruits, because I didn’t have any at home, and really, I’m pretty certain that the Swedes are wise enough to leave them out from their supermarkets’ shelves; yes, I truly think I haven’t spotted any since we moved here, not that I’ve been restlessly looking for fruits confits.
It made for a wonderful almond and raisin tea cake, but if you’re after a cake aux fruits confits, you could most definitely replace some of the raisins with candied fruits, as noted in the recipe below.
Almond and raisin tea cake
Makes one loaf
100 g raisins
1 Breakfast tea bag
125 g butter, soft
70 g light brown sugar
50 g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla sugar
100 g plain flour
80 g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
120 g raisins or candied fruits (see note above)
A hour before staring, soak the raisins in boiling water – enough to cover them completely. Add the tea bag and set aside until needed.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (for a fan-assisted oven). Butter and line a loaf tin with baking paper.
Drain the raisins, pressing well to get rid of any excess liquid, and making sure to save the soaking liquid, which we’ll later use to make a syrup to brush the warm loaf with.
Cream the butter and sugars for 5-6 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
In another bowl, mix the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and raisins (or candied fruits, if using).
Pour over the butter mixture and fold gently using a wooden spoon or spatula, until smooth. Finally fold in the soaked raisins and pour the batter into the prepared tin.
Bake for 10 minutes at 180°C, then reduce the temperature to 160°C and bake for a further 30-35 minutes, or until the sponge feels springy to the touch.
In the meantime, weigh out 100 g of the soaking syrup into a small pan and add 70 g of caster sugar. Bring to the boil. When the cake is baked, immediately brush the syrup on top of the warm loaf.
Allow to cool down completely and unmould.
This cake will keep for days at room temperature,well-wrapped in clingfilm.
Cake aux raisins ou Cake aux fruits confits
Pour un cake
100 g raisins secs
1 sachet de thé anglais
125 g beurre, mou
70 g vergeoise blonde
50 g sucre
1 càc sucre vanillé
100 g farine T55
80 g amandes en poudre
1 càc levure chimique
120 g raisins secs ou fruits confits
Un heure avant de commencer, placer les raisins secs dans un bol supportant la chaleur et verser de l’eau bouillante pour les recouvrir. Ajouter le sachet de thé et laisser infuser pendant 1 heure.
Préchauffer le four à 180°C (pour un four ventilé). Beurrer un moule à cake et le recouvrir de papier cuisson.
Egoutter les raisins en prenant soin de bien les presser afin d’extraire un maximum d’eau. Réserver l’eau de trempage qui servira par la suite à imbiber le cake.
Battre le beurre avec les sucres pendant 5-6 minutes. Ajouter les oeufs, un à un, en battant environ une minute après chaque oeuf.
Dans un bol, mélanger la farine, poudre d’amandes, levure chimique et fruits confits (ou la seconde pesée de raisins secs pour un cake aux raisins). Verser sur le beurre et incorporer la farine à l’appareil en utilisant une cuillère ou spatule jusqu’à obtention d’une pâte bien lisse.
Finalement, ajouter les raisins secs préalablement égouttés et mélanger brièvement.
Verser l’appareil dans le moule à cake beurré.
Cuire 10 minutes, puis abaisser la température à 160°C et poursuivre la cuisson pendant environ 30-35 minutes.
Pendant ce temps, verser 100 g du liquide de trempage des raisins dans une petite casserole et ajouter 70 g de sucre. Porter à ébullition et réserver.
Une fois cuit, imbiber le cake encore chaud à l’aide d’un pinceau. Laisser refroidir complètement, puis démouler.
Ce cake se conserve très bien à température ambiante, enveloppé dans du papier film.
Let me tell you the story of yesterday. Or rather, of yesterday afternoon.
We stopped at the gas station. Two French hot-dogs and bad cups of coffee later we turned right on the old road towards Kusmark. It had only been a couple of weeks since our last trip and yet, the never-ending sun turned the fields into a thousand shades of green. There is the blue-green of the conifers, and the vibrant tarnished-gold of sunrays through the birch leaves.
A wonderful forest made of apple trees and lilac, bursting and blooming, not unlike a kaleidoscope.
And just like the road, Svante’s garden had become a wonderful forest made of apple trees and lilac, bursting and blooming, not unlike a kaleidoscope.
I took my shoes off as I stepped out from the car and ran to the rhubarb plants, wondering how big they would have grown.
And if it’s anything to go by I’d say that it must have been much warmer this year than last, as they reached a good twenty centimeter above my head.
We picked and trimmed. And picked again.
Two bushes gave us a little over twenty kilograms, perhaps even thirty. All while we left the last plant – the one by the mountain of chopped wood, drying for the winter – mostly untouched.
This is the aftermath. A beautiful mess, of some sort. The bigger-than-I’d-ever-seen leaves went into the compost, and the stalks – at times green, at times red – were washed under ice-cold water, and stuffed into plastic bags.
There is something about it that I can’t quite pinpoint. Most likely one of these cliché childhood memories of my grand-parents potager [vegetable patch] in Fouras.
And just like a forever-carousel of happy recollections, neatly-arranged jars of confiture de rhubarbe [rhubarb jam] and silent wishes, here is my not-so-official June* rhubarb list.
1.Dipping peeled rhubarb stalks in sugar, just like K. told me about a few years ago, on one of the many summer nights we spend on the south bank. 2. Cooking rababersaft [rhubarb cordial], which everyone here freezes in small water bottles to bring a bit of summer throughout the winter days. 3. Maybe, making a batch of rabarberbullar [rhubarb buns]. 4. And an upside-down rhubarb cake. 5. I’ve been looking forward to trying Tartine bakery’s galette dough; and really, I think a rhubarb galette needs to happen. 6. Baking my favourite cake: a soft vanilla sponge with bits of chopped rhubarb and a swirl of rhubarb jam, little pockets of cheesecake and a heavy handful of streusel sprinkled over its top. 7. Of course, rhubarb jam. Not a year should go without. 8. I’ve been dreaming of creating a simple ice-cream recipe – with no special sugars (hejdå dextrose and atomised glucose) and no stabilisers (with perhaps, cornflour or gelatin as a thickener). And given the state of my fridge-turned-rhubarb-storage, I might have to start with rhubarb creamsicle ice-cream. TBC. 9. Thick sliced of brioches, French-toasted just so, with a generous spoonful of rhubarb compote. 10.What’s your favourite rhubarb recipe? How do you deal with your bountiful plants?
* June because living in the north of Sweden means just that: rhubarb in June. Enough said :)