A colourful, tea-time loaf with a novel combination of flavours that do work well together. The sponge is light and moist and the topping is striking as well as tasty.
Serves: 8 – 10
Time: 2hr 15 min + cooling time
Difficulty: Reasonably straight-forward
Equipment: A 900g/2lb loaf tin + paper liner; an electric mixer (recommended, but not essential)
- 175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 3 medium eggs
- ½ tsp almond extract
- 150g/5½oz self-raising flour
- ½ tsp salt
- 100g/3½oz ground almonds
- 200g/7oz seedless black grapes, halved TOPPING
- 70g/2¾oz seedless black grapes, halved
- Up to 100g/3½oz icing sugar
- About 30g/1oz flaked almonds
- Preheat oven to 160C/fan 140C/Gas 3. Have ready a 900g/2lb loaf tin (Either grease and line it or – much easier – simply insert a paper liner.)
- Sift the flour into a medium bowl then add in the salt and ground almonds. Stir well to mix. Set aside for now.
- Lightly beat the three eggs in a bowl and add in the almond extract. Also set aside.
- Cut the grapes in half and toss them in a tablespoon of flour to cover each one.
- In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 – 4 minutes using an electric beater.) In 3 – 4 stages, add in the eggs with a tablespoon of the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.
- Fold the rest of the flour mixture into the wet mixture then stir in the floured grapes, distributing them as evenly as possible.
- Spoon or pour into the prepared loaf tin and level the top. Bake for 60 – 70 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
- Cool in the tin for 15 – 20 minutes then carefully turn it out onto a wire rack.
- Place the 70g of halved grapes in a small roasting tin with 2 tbsp water. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, until soft but still holding their shape, then remove onto a plate. (Don’t pour away the liquid.)
- Add another tablespoon of water (preferably warm) to the roasting tin and scrape up the purply grape juices with a spoon*. Gradually sift in the icing sugar to form a thick but spoonable icing. (*If it doesn’t give the desired purple colour or enough liquid you may have to cheat and add more water plus a small amount of food colouring, e.g. grape violet.)
- Spoon the icing over the cake, allowing it to run down the sides randomly. Decorate with the cooled roasted grapes and flaked almonds. Leave to cool fully before cutting.