Tu Bishvat Cake
A festival of love: for trees, for fruit, and for realfood eaters.
Tu Bishvat is looming. Tu Bishvat? That’s Hebrew for the 15th of the month of Shvat, marked in the Jewish calendar as the “New Year for Trees”. This time around it coincides with February 8th, 2012. The almond trees come into bloom all around Israel, recalling the staff of Aaron the High Priest that bloomed in the desert [Num.17:23] and the country is splashed in pastel pink and white, almost as though Jackson Pollock made a weensy nick in each of two cans of paint, and then went walkabout. What a gorgeous sight! But don’t be tempted to try the wild almonds covering the trees later on!
Tu Bishvat is a perfect opportunity for baking a cake using almonds, and some of the tree fruits included in “the seven species” [Deut.8:8] such as grapes and dates. By the time Tu Bishvat comes around, though, none of the fruits are in their natural fresh state so dried fruit is the stand-in. Dried figs have too many gritty seeds so they’re not suitable. But I do make use of other options when I bake this during the year – the cake’s very adaptable, as you'll see.
A delivery of organic dates and sultanas, sun dried and not dunked in any kind of sugar coating to make them shiny, is on the kitchen table as we speak, so let’s get to work. But I must make a confession before we start: I’m real lazy and hate washing up. My motto is: if I need more than 5 utensils, then we’re talking hard work and need to reconsider. If you're like me, you'll love this recipe: 1 bowl, 1 fork.
Ingredients and method:
BEAT: 2 free range eggs with the fork.
7 Tablespoons flour (see below)
1.5 teaspoons baking powder
0.5 teaspoons baking soda
200 g dried fruit
200 g walnuts or pecans
SPRINKLE almond flour on base of cake pan
POUR into an English-cake pan
BAKE for 30-40 minutes at 160-170 degrees Celsius
Cool well before serving.
Here’s where the fun starts.
Did you notice there are no liquids added to this recipe? No, I didn’t forget to list it - the fruit releases what’s need during baking. But the lack of added liquid is why the batter will seem very gooey, and why a fork’s the best utensil for folding everything in.
Sugar: organic cane sugar, or brown sugar. Take a nibble of the fruit first. Freshly dried organic fruit tends to be far sweeter than regular dried fruit, so I don’t add sugar. If your fruit is not very sweet, add up to 3 tablespoons of organic cane sugar.
Flour: this recipe started out 30+ years ago with regular white flour but morphed quickly to organic almond flour. It’s possible to mix almond & coconut flour, but don’t use all coconut.
Fruit: your preferences. Sometimes I use only raisins. Other times raisins are about 1/3 to 1/2 the total quantity of fruit and the rest is coarsely chopped dates and/or apricots and/or prunes. My American friends always toss cranberries into the mix, too.
Nuts: if you get whole walnuts and/or [non-sugared!] pecans, place them in a kitchen towel, gather up the ends and hold them tight, and whack them (the bottom of a coffee cup does it for me) to break them into coarse pieces. Walnuts are my top choice because of the moisture they release, but the cake will work well with pecans, which layer the flavor a little differently. You can mix walnuts and pecans, and a tablespoon or two of almonds for flavor, but basing the cake on other kinds of nuts won't do the job quite as well.
Make a double batch. If your family’s home, the first cake will disappear as soon as you let anyone touch it!
A real-food thought:
Because my kids, when younger, had a variety of food sensitivities, I started subbing less-good things for better, and using no convenience foods at all. For them, this baked item is ‘cake’ and therefore, a snack. For me, it was a way to show my love, and serve them healthy food.
|Tu Bishvat Cake Oozing Goodness|