Prune, Apple and Armagnac Cake with Almond Streusel Topping
This is a cake that borders on being a dessert, and would be my choice for a celebration supper party, served warm with crème fraîche.
If you are not a lover of Armagnac, the prunes also taste good served with port or amaretto liqueur.
Although the ready-to-eat prunes are not supposed to need soaking, we prefer to soak them just the same (the advantage is having them ready stoned).
Start the recipe the night before you want to serve the cake by placing the prunes in a saucepan along with the sugar and 5 fl oz (150 ml) of water and simmer them very gently for 15 minutes. After that drain them, discarding the cooking liquid, then place them in a bowl, add the Armagnac, stir well, cover and leave overnight.
When you're ready to make the cake, begin with the streusel topping: place the sifted flour and the butter in a bowl and rub the butter in until the mixture becomes crumb-like. Then add the sugar, mixing it in evenly, and after that sprinkle in 1 dessertspoon of cold water and fork the mixture until it is coarse and lumpy. Now leave it to one side with the almonds.
The cake mixture is very simple indeed – all you do is sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients (except for the apple) then, using an electric hand whisk or a wooden spoon and some old-fashioned elbow grease, beat the mixture together until smooth. After that, fold in the apple, then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin. Now arrange the prunes all over the mixture, then fork the streusel topping over the prunes and finally sprinkle the shredded almonds evenly over the surface. Place the cake on the centre shelf of the oven, bake it for 1 hour, then remove from the oven.
Leave it in the tin for 30 minutes before turning it out to cool on a wire rack. Just before serving, sift the icing sugar over the surface.
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4, 350°F (180°C).
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