Friday, August 19, 2011

Soft Dutch Cake: The Anti-Fruitcake


Soft Dutch Cake is the opposite of fruitcake: a moist, very soft cake whose white crumb is studded with gorgeous pieces of fresh fruit.   I used sugar plums and apricots, but the recipe says "any kind of fruit," not even specifying if one should use fresh fruit or how much.  But I love stone fruit, so thought I'd post this recipe before its all-too-short season comes to an end.


I bought this beautiful fruit at the Lower East Side Youthmarket, a farm stand operated by GrowNY and staffed by graduates of Henry Street Settlement's Young Adult Internship Program.  Folks on the LES get farm fresh produce and the youth get business experience -- how perfect is that!  (The stand is open Thursdays from 3 to 7 p.m. in front of the Abrons Arts Center, 466 Grand Street.)



The fruit glistens like jewels in the batter.  As it bakes, the batter rises up and surrounds the fruit, hiding it until one cuts into the cake, revealing the delicious surprise.



Like many of the hand-written recipes in my collection, this lists ingredients and doesn't give a method, so I just mixed all the dry ingredients together first, and then added the softened butter, milk and the egg (which I beat lightly before adding).  After mixing these wet and dry ingredients together, I poured the batter into a 9-inch cake pan and placed the slice fruit atop the batter.  Next, I followed the instruction to mix sugar, cinnamon and butter together and then dotted the batter with this mixture.

Recipes like these -- flexible, fun and easy -- show that baking is as much an art as a science.  And you can create all sorts of different cakes, based on the fruit you choose.  Do try this at home.



11 comments:

  1. Delicious looking, I love apricots and I'll bet this would be a good base for a 'fall' dutch cake with apples and pears- BTW letting you know I've made a first attempt at bread from your 8 hour chicken sandwich post, came out pretty good and I know what to do differently next time, looking forward to a 2nd attempt. Thanks for your advice!!! :-}

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  2. Oh, SugarBeam, so happy you made the bread (and know how to do it better next time)! And I agree, that apples and pears would be lovely in this cake. Happy baking!

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  3. What I love about old recipes like this, handwritten by a woman (undoubtedly) on a little card, is the brevity itself and the obvious assumption on the part of the writer that the reader will--of course!--know how to assemble the ingredients. To list instructions would be superfluous, sort of like telling an early- to mid-20th century woman how to mend a sock or diaper a baby. These are beautiful relics and I love the way your blog shines a light on them.

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  4. Jane: My sentiments exactly! It's amazing how many early recipes are simply lists of ingredients, leaving me to wonder if I'm baking a real recipe or just someone's shopping list. But you're right, there was some universal, shared knowledge among these housewives -- they all knew how to put together a pound cake or a fruit pie. I guess when something like the chiffon cake was introduced in the 1940s, it was a real revolution! Thanks for your comment!

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  5. Hello, I am unable to make out how much butter this recipe calls for - does it really say 1 table spoon of table butter?

    Thank you :)

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  6. I'm making this tonight (well tomorrow... um today [it's midnight]) - suffice it to say, I'M MAKING THIS - it looks amazing!!

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  7. oh yeah, and p.s., thank you 'cause I hate fruitcake!!

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  8. Or anyone can respond to my above question on amount of butter in this recipe. i'm dying to make this cake!!

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  9. @Anonymous: So sorry for the delayed response. I read the recipe to say one tablespoon of butter. I had softened the butter and may have used just a bit more than that - you don't have to measure that accurately for this recipe. And then for the topping I used even more butter (can't recall how much) but you can be as generous as you like with the butter, sugar and cinnamon. Let me know how it turns out!

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  10. @LBDDiaries: Thanks for finding A Cake Bakes, and do report back on your baking adventures! (I'll admit that I've never even tried traditional fruitcake!)

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  11. Thank you very much, Susan! :)

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