Apricot crumble cake

Thomasina Miers chooses one of her favourite cake recipes for Country Life.

‘Nigel Slater is the master of comfort food, and nothing could illustrate that better than this gooey, crumbly, gently spiced cake full of dried apricots poached and scented with vanilla. It’s a sweeter, naughtier version of apple crumble, but, somehow, refreshingly different. Further more, one could almost persuade oneself that it was healthy eating (I know I can). It’s so delicious that I would happily give it to friends for supper with great dollops of crème fraîche, knowing that, should any remain afterwards, it will go down very well with a pot of tea. Bliss’

Apricot crumble cake (serves 2)
(Extract from Nigel Slater’s The Kitchen Diaries II, published by Fourth Estate)

This is the grown-up version of the little cakes I made a week or so ago. A family cake, suitable for tea or dessert, in which case it will benefit from an egg-shaped scoop of crème fraîche.

250g dried apricots
175g softened butter
175g golden caster sugar
2 eggs
80g ground almonds
175g self-raising flour
A pinch ground cinnamon
A few drops vanilla extract

For the crumble
100g plain flour
75g butter
2tbsp demerara sugar
3tbsp jumbo oats
2tbsp flaked almonds
A little cinnamon and extra demerara
Sugar for the crust, and perhaps a little icing sugar to finish

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Preheat the oven to 160˚C/gas mark 3. Line the base of a 22cm round cake tin with baking parchment. Put the apricots in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and leave them to cool a little.

Beat the butter and sugar in a food mixer for 5-10 minutes, till light and pale-coffee coloured. Break the eggs, beat them gently just to mix the yolks and whites, then add them gradually to the mixture with the beater on slow. Fold in the ground almonds, flour and cinnamon, then add the vanilla extract. Scrape the mixture into the tin and smooth the surface.

Drain the apricots and add them to the top of the cake mixture. Make the crumble topping: blitz the flour and butter to crumbs in a food processor, then add the demerara sugar, oats and flaked almonds and mix lightly.

Remove the food processor bowl from the stand and add a few drops of water. Shake the bowl a little-or run a fork through the mixture-so that some of the crumbs stick together like small pebbles. This will give a more interesting mix of textures.

Scatter this loosely over the cake, followed by a pinch of cinnamon and a little more demerara. Bake for about an hour, checking for doneness with a skewer; it should come out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven and set aside. Dust with a little icing sugar if you wish and slice as required. The cake will keep well for three or four days.