After last weeks flapjacks which were truly historic, I felt we needed more in the way of cake and to try something a little fruity and new to us when Apricot, Pistachio and Honey Upside-down Cake popped into view from Martha Collison’s lovely book Twist. The first cake I ever baked was an upside down pineapple cake, in junior school, I was aged about nine, I might have been younger. Our junior school had its own fully fitted kitchen (and carpentry room and a swimming pool!) so we would have been cooking once a week from the first year, but very basic foods such as bread and pastry, they soon whizzed us up to the heady heights of kedgeree and cottage pies, biscuits and cakes. I can remember going to secondary school and the cookery teaching, at least for the first couple of years, seemed a bit pedestrian compared to what we had been achieving.
I digress, the big reveal, I can still remember the wonder of the big reveal when the cake was turned upside down and the glistening brightly coloured pineapple circles and bright red glace cherry’s in their centre came into view. It was magical, such a pretty cake for a child to make, it is almost guaranteed success, even if it was a bit heavy, which I have no doubt that mine probably was, it is none the worse for it, just adding a bit of ballast to the heavy, glistening with syrup fruit on top.
So when I saw this grown up version of my favourite pineapple upside down cake, I knew I had to try it. I love the pistachio and honey flavours that are used in the delicate flaky pastries called Baklava that come from the Ottoman Empire, so to combine those flavours with a gently cooked fresh apricot enrobed in vanilla cake and combined with a fresh cup of tea would be, well, heavenly – it was certainly worth a try. Firstly make some golden caramel. Add a little butter, let it foam andpop it into your cake tin and swirl it around until its level and flat. Now before this stage I think you were meant to line the tin but for some reason I was going with the method I had used many years ago to make an apple tarte tatin. Which was to use a relatively new pan so it wouldn’t stick and to turn it out quickly, experience for me shows that anything more than a minute sitting before turning allows the fruit and caramel to harden too much which is when you have apple or in this case apricot stuck to the tin. And also because I am predominately an idle reader and had sped read that bit! Freshly shelled pistachios roughly chopped with my mezzaluna, normal knives still apply but these are so much fun, apricots at the ready. I would have used more apricots, and had bought two pounds extra because I knew greedy guts would dig in. I think it was a bit of a strain for hubby to leave me as many as he did. Lay them on the caramel which has hardened by now, well mine had and sprinkle the pistachio’s in the gaps and then top with the vanilla sponge mix. Which had a very interesting method, one I hadn’t used before. Fifty minutes later.. you have this.
I swirled a sharp knife very quickly around the edge to loosen the cake and placed a large plate on the top and flipped, a couple of knocks on the bottom of the pan and it had released and voila, one perfect cake.
It smelt heavenly and it tastes divine, I think it would be lovely for a dinner party, buffet or afternoon tea, or a very decadent reviver half way through the morning, warm or cold, perfect.