Fruit cakes!

Lunch Lady issue 12 - Fruit cakes

EASY PEAR CAKE

Serves 8–12

• 260g / 9.2oz light buckwheat, light spelt or plain flour

• 2 tsp baking powder

• pinch of fine salt

• 2 tsp ground cinnamon

• 2 large free-range eggs

• 175ml / 5.9 fl oz maple syrup

• 2 tsp vanilla paste

• 250ml / 8.5 fl oz natural yoghurt

• 175ml / 5.9 fl oz olive oil or grapeseed oil

• 3 pears, cored and sliced into pieces around 4mm / 0.25″ thick

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

2. Grease and line a 20cm / 8″ round cake tin with baking paper.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well incorporated.

4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all the wet ingredients until completely smooth.

5. Whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until there are no lumps.

6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin and arrange the pear slices lightly on top.

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45–50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Rotate once halfway through baking.

8. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing to a wire rack.

pears!

The pear is a humble fruit, as far as its nutritional characteristics go. It isn’t going to wow you with promises of stratospheric levels of exotic vitamins and minerals or with shameless brags about antioxidants and phytochemicals. It contains modest amounts of many of these things, including vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. But where the pear really comes to the fore is in the fibre department. Yup. It might not be the most glamorous claim to fame, but pears are just packed with plain-old, keep-you-regular, plant-based roughage. One serving of pear contains about a fifth of your daily requirement of dietary fibre. (A lot of this is stored in the skin, so eat the peelings if you can!) Given most of us are falling short when it comes to getting as much fibre into our bodies as we ought to, this quiet achiever really deserves a bit more applause than it gets.

FLOURLESS CHOCOLATE + APRICOT CAKE

Serves 8–12

Gluten-free

• 2 large free-range eggs

• 85g / 3oz sugar

• 1 tsp vanilla paste

• 200g / 7oz almond meal

• 50g / 1.76oz cacao powder

• 1 tsp baking powder

• pinch of fine salt

• 125ml / 4.2 fl oz milk

• 9 apricots, fresh or canned, halved and stones removed

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

2. Grease and line a 20cm / 8″ round cake tin with baking paper.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla paste until pale and fluffy.

4. Add the dry ingredients and stir well.

5. Add the milk and mix until the milk is completely incorporated and there are no lumps.

6. Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin and then arrange the apricot halves on top.

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

8. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing to a wire rack.

apricots!

A is for Apricot and appropriately so, ’cos apricots are hella high in vitamin A. Also known as ‘retinol’, vitamin A plays an important role in maintaining skin health, vision, neurological function and immunity. Apricots also contain decent amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium and iron. When apricots are dried, the concentration of most of these nutrients becomes even higher—though so does the relative sugar and fibre content, so gutsing on too many at once can lead to, ah, how shall we put this … unwanted side effects. Also, you’ll want to steer clear of the kernels: these contain a poisonous compound known as ‘amygdalin’, which converts to cyanide in the body. So unless you’re a Russian spy, maybe eat around these and toss the stones in the bin, yeah?

LEMON + STRAWBERRY CAKE

Serves 8–12

• 260g / 9.2oz light spelt or plain flour

• 2 tsp baking powder

• pinch of fine salt

• 2 large free-range eggs

• 110g / 3.88oz caster sugar

• 1 tsp vanilla paste

• 250ml / 8.5 fl oz natural yoghurt

• 175ml / 5.9 fl oz olive oil or grapeseed oil

• zest of 2 lemons

• juice of 1 lemon

• 400g / 0.9lb strawberries, hulled and cut in half

1. Preheat your oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4.

2. Grease and line a 20cm / 8″ round cake tin with baking paper.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients until well incorporated.

4. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Whisk in the yoghurt, oil and lemon zest until completely smooth.

5. Add the dry ingredients, as well as the lemon juice, into the wet ingredients, and whisk until there are no lumps.

6. Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Scatter the cut strawberries on top and press lightly into the top of the cake batter.

7. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45–50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Rotate once halfway through baking.

8. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing to a wire rack.

lemons!

Lemons, like all citrus fruits, are best known for bursting at the seams with vitamin C. As in, 100g of fresh lemon flesh will get you almost two-thirds of your daily requirements—though we will concede that it’s unlikely too many people voluntarily eat 100g of straight-up fresh lemon flesh outside the context of a college hazing ritual. While they aren’t especially high in too many other nutrients, lemons are very low in sugar and do offer the essential vitamin folate (vitamin B9), which helps prevent anaemia, along with a number of phytochemicals that play an important role in cardiovascular and metabolic function. The important thing to remember is that you don’t just have to make lemonade if life gives you lemons—you can always use them to make cake instead!

strawberries!

Honestly, don’t strawberries just seem too good to be true? These tasty, tart-sweet mouthfuls of flavour are somehow relatively low in sugar while being chock-full of vitamin C—even more so than citrus fruit, by weight. Strawberries also contain decent amounts of fibre, potassium, folate and phytochemicals (including some of the same ‘anthocyanins’ contained in raspberries), giving them especially good digestive and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as a number of cardiovascular benefits. Population-level studies have also shown that consumption of strawberries is associated with lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure and improved control of blood-sugar spikes after high-sugar meals. Maybe that’s why they’re so good with dessert?!

RASPBERRY FINANCIER CAKE

Serves 8–12

Gluten-free option

• 140g / 4.9oz unsalted butter

• 85g / 3oz almond meal

• 85g / 3oz plain or gluten-free flour

• 200g / 7oz icing sugar

• pinch of salt

• 1 tsp vanilla paste

• zest of 1/2 a lemon

• 6 large free-range egg whites

• 300g / 10.6oz frozen raspberries

• 20g / 0.7oz flaked almonds

• a little warm jam to glaze, optional

1. Preheat your oven to 170°C / 325°F / Gas Mark 3.

2. Grease and line a 22cm / 9″ round cake tin with baking paper.

3. Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool slightly.

4. In the bowl of a stand mixer, measure in the almond meal, flour, icing sugar, salt, vanilla paste and lemon. Add in the egg whites and mix with the beater attachment on low speed until well combined.

5. Once the melted butter has cooled to warm, slowly drizzle the butter into the mixing bowl while the mixer is running. Continue to mix until all the butter is fully incorporated into the batter.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top with a spatula. 

7. Scatter the raspberries on top of the batter, leaving 2.5cm / 1″ around the edge. Fill this little edge with the flaked almonds.

8. Bake in the centre of the oven for around 1 to 1 1/4 hours, or until a skewer inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Cover the cake with aluminium foil after 40 or so minutes if the raspberries start to burn.

9. Allow to cool slightly in the tin before removing to a wire rack.

10. For an extra shiny and delicious cake, warm a few tablespoons of jam in a saucepan over low heat until the jam loosens, and then lightly paint the jam onto the top of the cake, using a pastry brush.

raspberries!

Raspberries are a flashy mob of pocket rockets—nutritionally dense little fruits full of goodness. Like most red or purple-pigmented plants, they’re high in phytochemicals called ‘anthocyanins’, which have been shown in labs to have positive antioxidant properties. In addition, they’re a great source of vitamin C, copper, manganese and fibre, all while being low GI and low in sugar. This broad nutritional profile means raspberries offer a range of potential health benefits, including cardiovascular support, anti-inflammatory properties and metabolic stability, making them an especially promising subject for researchers on issues like heart disease, Alzheimer’s and type-2 diabetes.

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Recipe + styling: Amber Rossouw
Image: @jacinta__moore