Prune Cake with Armagnac and Walnuts

Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh's prune cake recipe with brandy and walnuts is deliciously boozy and makes a decadent festive dessert.

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Introduction

This looks best made in a 23cm bundt tin, but a 23cm round springform tin also works well. If you make it in the round tin, you’ll need a little more crumble than for the bundt tin; we’ve listed both sets of quantities below.

The prunes need to be prepared the day before you start baking, to allow them time to soak. The crumble can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container.

Serves 12

Ingredients

250g pitted prunes, quartered
100ml Armagnac (or brandy)
1½ tsp finely grated orange zest (1 orange)
300g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
200g unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
230g crème fraîche, removed from the fridge 30 minutes before needed
Icing sugar, for dusting
For the crumble:
(the bracketed weights are for the 23cm round cake tin; the salt remains the same in both)
40g (or 60g) soft light brown sugar
2 tsp (or 1 tbsp) ground cinnamon
40g (or 60g) walnut halves, roughly chopped into 0.5cm pieces
1/8 tsp salt

Essential kit

You will need: a 23cm bundt tin (or 23cm round springform tin) and an electric mixer.

Instructions

1. Place the prunes in a bowl with the Armagnac (or brandy) and orange zest. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave at room temperature overnight to soak, stirring a few times.

2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Grease and flour a 23cm bundt or 23cm round springform tin and set aside.

3. To make the crumble, combine all the crumble ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

4. Sift the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt together into a bowl and set aside.

5. Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on a medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mix alternately with the crème fraîche, beginning and ending with the flour mix to stabilize the mixture and prevent it from curdling. Remove the bowl from the machine and, using a rubber spatula, fold in the soaked prunes along with their syrupy alcohol.

6. Spoon half of the cake batter into the tin and sprinkle over the nut crumble. Follow this with the remaining batter and bake for 50–55 minutes, or 60–65 minutes for the round springform tin, or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 minutes in the tin. If using a bundt tin, invert it on to a cake plate, or simply lift it out of the springform tin on to a plate. Dust with icing sugar, if serving warm, or set aside to come to room temperature before dusting and serving.

Cooks tip: this is at its absolute best eaten warm, fresh from the oven or on the day of making. Don’t worry if you can’t eat it all, though: it will keep well for up to 3 days in an airtight container. You’ll just need to warm it through for 5 minutes (wrapped loosely in foil) in an oven set to 180°C/160°C Fan/ Gas Mark 4 before serving.

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