As the weather cools, my thoughts often turn to baking and the joy of curling my hands around a steaming mug of tea. Afternoon tea was somewhat of a thing in our house when I was growing up - mugs of earl grey tea with a dash of milk and honey were often accompanied by slabs of Mum's banana cake with carob icing, or her peanut brownie cookies that were always slightly singed on the bottom from the wood-fired coal range she cooked in for much of my childhood.
This pretty cake, with its toasted hazelnut crumb and generous pieces of jammy end-of-season plums is exactly the kind of thing I love to sit down to and savour with friends and family, over multiple pots of tea.
Plum and toasted hazelnut cake
SERVES 8-10 | GLUTEN-FREE | DAIRY-FREE
1 cup ground hazelnuts
3/4 ground almonds
1/2 cup unrefined raw sugar
1/2 cup arrowroot or gluten-free organic cornflour
1 tsp gluten-free baking powder
1/4 tsp fine sea salt
2 large free-range eggs, at room temperature
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup almond, rice or coconut milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4-6 ripe plums, halved and stones removed
1 Preheat oven to 180C. Grease a 23cm round springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking paper. Combine ground hazelnuts and almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat and toast for 5-8 minutes, stirring often, until lightly golden and aromatic.
2 Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl, setting aside for 10 minutes to cool slightly.
When cool, add sugar, arrowroot or cornflour, baking powder and salt and whisk to evenly combine.
3 In another bowl, whisk eggs, olive oil, milk and vanilla. Pour on to dry ingredients and mix to form a smooth batter. Pour into prepared tin and arrange plum halves, cut side up, over the batter. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove from oven and set aside to cool in tin. This cake stores happily, airtight, for 2-3 days, or even longer in the fridge.
NOTE: If you can't buy ground hazelnuts, simply toast whole hazelnuts in an oven preheated to 180C for 8-10 minutes until golden. Rub off the skins, cool and grind in a small food processor until fine. If you do this, skip toasting the ground nuts in a pan.