A few weeks ago, I posted about Mocha Meringue Kisses, which I made for my little sister’s birthday tea. This is the cake that accompanied them. I know, I know… it doesn’t really look spectacular for an 18th birthday cake, but it tastes absolutely spectacular and the Wednesday my sister turned 18 she had class until 8 p.m. and wasn’t home until 9:15, so a huge birthday party was kind of out of the question. Instead of making her a huge cake, we surprised her with a classy little after dinner (after school) tea, with lots of flowers, presents, sweets, cake and of course tea!
Now, my sister is one of those unfortunate people who cannot be in the same room with any type of tree nut, as they make her cough, and sneeze and wheeze…
For a peanut butter addict like myself, it’s virtually unthinkable to have to go without my daily dose of nuttiness and I have always felt extremely sorry for her, because anything good simply comes with some type of nut! I mean, what would it be to never eat a Nutella sandwich, or enjoy a chicken kebab dripping with peanut sauce, or to simply sink your teeth in a beautiful fluffy macaron?!
Okay, so I think I made my point; I feel really bad for her. Thank God she loves fruit and has her birthday in September, when gorgeous fruits such as nectarines are in season, ready to be used in a birthday cake! I decided to make her a simple, but deliciously fruity birthday cake, with nectarines and raspberries.
However, because I know my sister loves nuts, and dearly regrets not being able to eat them, I wanted to give this fruity cake a non-lethal kind of nuttiness in the form of brown butter.
As we all know, butter doesn’t contain a trace of tree nuts, so is perfectly safe to be consumed by those with tree nut allergies. However, when butter is browned – aka: caramelized – it gets a beautiful nutty flavor. Hence the French term: beurre noisette, which translates into ‘hazelnut butter’.
Perfect for my nut-deprived little sister’s birthday cake!
To make this cake, start with some brown butter. And yes, I know it doesn’t really look attractive at this stage, but love is blind, right?
Anyway, cream it up with some sugar.
Don’t worry, I didn’t do it by hand. I used a mixer, like any other sane person would…
Add the eggs on at a time, mixing well after each egg…
… until the mixture looks smooth and wonderful.
See those little specks of caramelized milk solids?
Okay, that probably didn’t sound (aka: read) appealing at all, but those dark brown specks are the caramelized milk solids from the butter and that’s actually where all the flavor is.
Once both the eggs have been added, add some milk, vanilla, salt and flour.
Stir it together with a spoon, then give it a good whiz with the mixer.
Spread the batter evenly in a cake pan lined with baking parchment. I used a springform pan, because I have them in several different sizes, but you could use a regular round cake pan.
Now it gets interesting…
Grab a couple of beautiful nectarines. There are two in the picture, but I ended up using three, so just imagine there’s one more sitting right next to the second one…
Okay, moving on…
Chop the nectarines in little pieces by first making a vertical cut (starting at the stem end of the the fruit) through to the pit, and running your knife all the way around the fruit. Then twist both halves in opposite directions until one half comes free from the pit.
Then just start chopping the freed half into little pieces, remove the pit from the other half with the tip of your knife and chop that half into little pieces too.
Next, place all those little pieces of gorgeous fruit on top of the cake batter. Don’t worry about crowding the surface of the batter; as the cake bakes, the fruit sinks into the cake a bit, exposing the batter a little, which may look a little meager…
Just use as much fruit as possible!
In fact, sprinkle some frozen raspberries on top!
I guess you can also use fresh or thawed raspberries, but I can’t be sure, as I didn’t try it. Just experiment a little and keep an eye on the cake as it bakes, as changing the fruit may affect the cooking time.
Bake it up and enjoy it straight out of the oven, warm or cold, with or without a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream or a dollop of softly whipped cream.
My sister loved it!
- 125g (or ½ cup + 3 teaspoons) brown butter, softened at room temperature
- 165g (or ¾ cup + 4 teaspoons) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 125ml (or ½ cup + 1 teaspoon) milk
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 225g (or 1¾ cup + 3 teaspoons) self-raising flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 3 nectarines
- 80g (or ⅔ cup) frozen raspberries
- Preheat your oven to 160°C/320°F (standard oven setting). Line a 24-cm (9-inch) cake pan with baking parchment. You can make the parchment stick to the sides of the pan with a little bit of butter.
- NOTE: I find that the batter rises more evenly when the cake pan is lined with parchment. Simply buttering the pan will often result in a very domed cake.
- Using a mixer, cream together the brown butter and the sugar in a medium-sized bowl, until the mixture has become slightly pale and fluffy (this should take a few minutes). Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until incorporated after each addition and scraping the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula when needed. Add the milk, the vanilla, the self-raising flour and the salt, and stir the mixture with a spoon or a rubber spatula, until the flour has become absorbed by the liquid. Mix with the mixer until the batter is completely smooth.
- Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Wash the nectarines and cut them into little pieces. Place the nectarine pieces on top of the batter and sprinkle the raspberries (still frozen) on top. Try to completely cover the top of the batter with the fruit.
- Pop in the oven for about 50 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Serve either warm of cold, with or without whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.