I have a bad habit when it comes to fruit. I buy it with the best intentions, loading up in the morning with apples, oranges, pears, bananas; everything I plan to snack on during the day at my desk. Then, at the end of the week, after spending five days rolling and bumping around the bottom of my bag, the fruit is dutifully returned to the fruit bowl, often a bit worse for wear. The OH hates it.**
Anyway, as luck would have it I am such a good person and very resourceful and generous with my time and my bag-fruit. So once a fortnight (sometimes more often, depending on how bad I’ve been at actually consuming my five-a-day), I make a fruit bowl cake, into which I throw all of the bumped and bruised apples, oranges, bananas, and anything else that’s past the point of edibility.
The beauty of this recipe is that it’s less a recipe than a set of guidelines, coming with the added bonus of redeeming you when you don’t eat your fruit. As a result, it tastes different every time you make it, but these guidelines should ensure you get a good cake every time.
As a rule, I tend to sub out 40g of sugar for every average size piece of fruit I include in the recipe. As a result, it’s not the sweetest cake you’ll ever eat, and the icing on top will counter that a little bit – you can always add more if you have quite a sweet tooth, or swirl a handful of raisins or sultanas through the batter for baking. It’s a good way to wean yourself off sugar, if that’s what you’re trying to do, simply because of the diminished sweetness compared to what you’d usually expect from a loaf cake. I love it.
There’s also no pressure to use any particular flour, so this could be gluten free if you wanted.
The use-up-everything Fruit Bowl Cake
(makes 1 loaf cake)
150g Plain flour
50g strong brown bread flour
1 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
Half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon
a large pinch of mixed spice
100g baking margarine
100g unsalted butter, softened (you can just use 200g butter if you prefer)
200g caster sugar – subtract 40g from this amount for every piece of fruit you use*
Fruit from the fruit bowl, grated or chopped – apples, pears, plums, kiwi fruit, oranges, peaches, pineapple, etc etc
A hefty pinch of finely grated zest from an orange, lemon or lime
For the icing
About 60g icing sugar
1 tblsp clear runny honey
A squeeze of lemon
*If you intend to go totally sugar-free, use a banana in place of at least some of the sugar, so you have something to cream together with the butter at the beginning of the recipe
A 1kg loaf tin
- Preheat the oven to 170 degrees, and grease and line your loaf tin
- Grate your fruit using a box grater, discarding pips, stalks and cores
- Cream the butter and sugar (or banana, if you’re sugar-free) together in a large bowl until light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time, making sure you’ve fully incorporated each one before adding the next – you should have quite a wet, yellow batter
- In a separate bowl, combine the flours, spices, baking powder and salt, ensuring the ingredients are fully worked together
- Add the grated fruit, the citrus zest and the flour mixture to the batter. Fold in until just combined – as you would with a muffin mixture.
- Transfer the batter to the loaf tin
- Bake for 30 minutes, then turn the oven down to 160 degrees and bake for another 10-15 minutes (you might need to cover the cake with foil when you check it after 30 minutes). The cake is done when a knife comes out clean from the centre.
- Leave the cake to cool completely, then transfer it from the tin, still in its baking paper
- Mix up the icing ingredients in a cup until you have a runny, but not drippy mixture. Drizzle the icing over the top of the cake, making sure you get some down the sides too.
I had fun posing my fruit bowl fruit for portraits and still lifes before I put them in the cake. The light was just beautiful and the crispness of the freshly cut fruit against the slate was just lovely. You can’t see in the photos, but the fruit halves are perched on marbles to keep them steady! #Foodstylinghacks #Yourewelcome
**He frequently references a time when he was helping me move back home from university, and I’d ‘packed’ an orange in amongst my bags of clothes and books. The orange sat happily in storage for about 6 weeks, until the time came to transport everything back to my parents’ house, at which point it burst. Not my finest moment.