Friday 7th August 2020
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Serves 35
Preparation time: 20-25 Minutes
Cooking Time: 40 Minutes

225g soft unsalted butter
225g caster sugar
125g ground almonds
100g fine polenta
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 large free-range eggs
Zest of 1 lemon
Roughly 9 apricots – halved (longways) and then each half sliced longways so you have 2 large and 2 smaller discs

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Recipe by Dominic Franks

The sweet taste and vibrant appearance of apricots inspires Dominic Franks to create the perfect tray bake for sharing this summer.

It finally feels like summer is here in the UK. (Although as I write this the sun has just gone in and it’s started raining again!) However, when the sun does stay out, it’s glorious. The kitchen doors are wide open to the beautiful garden and the warm air is billowing into the house whilst the fragrant air of an apricot, almond and polenta upside down tray bake cake wafts out.

Apricots are in all the shops at the moment which is lovely because they’re my favourite stone fruit. So versatile; they work just as well in savoury dishes such as a lamb tagine or roasted with a chicken as they do baked into a cake. I love that they are both sharp and sweet at the same time (and any reader of these pages will know this is my favourite combination.) They are also such an incredible colour. The ones I bought today have a rosy blush over them that looks like a sunset.

This cake is naturally gluten-free. You could of course easily substitute the ground almonds and polenta for regular cake flour but I think they make the cake so light and moist, and the ground almond particularly makes the whole cake take on a middle-eastern vibe which I’m loving. The grated lemon zest adds a little zingy kick to the batter which consolidates this tray bake as the taste of summer.

Just a quick one before you read the ingredients: this is genuinely the best cake I’ve ever made. I don’t mean to sound arrogant but it really is superb. So easy to make and just so tasty!

Grease and line the base and sides of a 23cm x 9cm baking tray and pre-heat the oven to 180°C – sprinkle the base of the tray with Demerara sugar and set aside.
In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk until pale.
Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture, followed by one egg, then alternate dry ingredients and eggs, beating all the while. Finally, beat in the lemon zest.
Lay the cut apricots into the base of the tray and and then carefully spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and bake in the oven for about 40 minutes.
The cake is cooked if a skewer comes out cleanish and the edges of the cake begin to shrink away from the sides of the tin.
Remove from the oven to a wire cooling rack, but leave in its tin. When it’s cool, invert the cake onto a tray or chopping board and slice into squares to serve.
Eat and of course, enjoy!

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